Friday, August 16, 2013

Voters reject Rudd factor - Sydney Morning Herald

EXCLUSIVE

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the CSIRO

Uphill battle: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the CSIRO. Photo: Andrew Meares

Federal Labor's hopes that the reinstatement of Kevin Rudd would put the party in a competitive position at the September 7 election are in retreat, as new polling commissioned by Fairfax Media in four hotly-contested Sydney seats shows ALP candidates lagging their Coalition rivals in three of them, with Tony Abbott trumping Mr Rudd as preferred Prime Minister.

In the seat of McMahon, held by one of Labor's star performers, Treasurer Chris Bowen, Labor is behind the Coalition on a two-party preferred basis by 47 to 53 per cent.

In John Howard's old seat of Bennelong, snatched by Liberal John Alexander in 2010, Labor's recently installed candidate Jason Yat-Sen Li is failing to deliver, trailing Mr Alexander with 35 per cent to his rival's 65 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

It is a similar story in Kingsford Smith, vacated by Peter Garrett, where Labor's Matt Thistlethwhaite, who stepped down from the Senate to contest the seat, is lagging his rival by 48 to 52 per cent.

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Of the four electorates tested by Reachtel on the night of August 15, only Jason Clare's seat of Blaxland holds any good news for Labor, with the Justice and Home Affairs Minister pegging ahead of Liberal Anthony Khouri by 52 to 48 per cent.

The sampling of more than 600 residents in each seat also gave the coveted preferred prime minister spot to Mr Abbott, though by a far wider margin in Bennelong than the other three electorates.

The Reachtel results in the four electorates also reveal that while Labor's hardline PNG solution might have allowed it to make up ground on the handling of asylum-seekers, it still lags the Coalition as best-placed to handle this issue.

The decision to topple Julia Gillard and reinstate Mr Rudd as Prime Minister was only supported by 30.8 per cent of respondents in Bennelong, 47.7 per cent in Blaxland, 39.6 per cent in Kingsford Smith and 47.3 per cent in McMahon, though a sizeable minority in all four remained undecided.

The grim news for Labor comes on the heels of reports on Friday of poor communication between the ALP's campaign headquarters in Melbourne and the tight pack travelling with Mr Rudd. There is mounting anxiety among party stalwarts that the comeback strategy is losing traction and focus.

Federal Environment Minister Mark Butler has been commandeered to join Mr Rudd's road team as link man to improve lines of communication between the two camps.

Former Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson also slammed Labor's campaign this week as a slow-moving ''shambles'' while former NSW Labor minister John Della Bosca, a one-time state secretary of the party, said there was a lot of '' froth and bubble'' around Mr Rudd's media appearances but the party had failed to communicate its '' new way''.

In the Queensland seat of Forde, polling for the Australian Financial Review has revealed that Labor's star candidate there, onetime state premier and party titan Peter Beattie, is also markedly trailing the incumbent Coalition member Bert van Manen.

In an interview last week, Mr Rudd was asked what he would do if he lost the election. He replied, ''I don't intend to.''


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