Polls point to Gillard wipeout

first_img“We’re at a stage where we have to face the electorate honourably, and as we are.Maria Vamvakinou MPWith opinion polls this week showing that almost one in two voters are backing the Coalition, if the results were replicated on election day in September, Julia Gillard’s government would be annihilated, bringing the curtain down with a bang on six years of Labor government. The Newspoll published in The Australian newspaper showed the Coalition’s primary vote up three points to 49 per cent. Labor is one point lower at 30 per cent. After preferences the Coalition has a 16 per cent lead, 58 points to 42. The poll suggests Labor is facing a national swing against it of 8 per cent, enough to cost it 35 sitting Labor members, if there was a uniform swing across Australia. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s satisfaction rating fell once again – 3 per cent to 28 per cent, since the last poll a fortnight ago. Accordingly, Tony Abbott has stretched his lead as preferred prime minister to eight points. It’s gloomy stuff for Labor supporters, who have watched their party tear chunks off itself as its popularity has waned. This week Labor party staff were supplying briefing packs for their federal MPs on how to handle questions from the media about the polls. No doubt many copies were left unread. Phrasing responses to such questions is nothing new for Labor’s federal parliamentarians, whose numbers may be massively decreased after the September 14 election. Some have even been reported this week to be clearing their desks in Canberra, in readiness for their electorate’s damning judgment. To gauge the level of despondency that must affect every Labor MP currently, Neos Kosmos spoke to Greek Australian parliamentarians. Maria Vamvakinou MP said that she had not looked at the media briefing, but the phrase “the only poll that counts is the one on election day”, still stands, despite this week’s gloomy predictions for her party. “We’ll all find out on the day. We are in difficulty and we have been for some time,” said the member for Calwell, who – as a known supporter of Kevin Rudd during the damaging on-off leadership challenges – accepts that the time is over for debate on replacing Julia Gillard. “We’re at a stage where we have to face the electorate honourably, and as we are,” says Vamvakinou. “People are unhappy, but I believe a Labor government is in my constituents’ and Australia’s interest, and I’ll continue to spread that message.” South Australian MP, Steve Georganas, described the most recent polling – in a towering example of understatement – as “not that crash-hot”. “If you look at [the polls] today, it’s a tough battle,” said the federal member for Hindmarsh, who added that he expected no last-minute acrobatics in terms of a leadership challenge. “Kevin Rudd has been asked the question again this week, and he’s ruled it out,” said Georganas. “There is no challenge and I’ve heard no chatter or rumours. “My job is to sell the Labor message, and that’s what I’ll continue to do over the next 99 days or so.” In Canberra, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon said the polls were “not so much within the margin of error as within the margin of disaster”. “I don’t know how much worse these polls can get,” he told reporters, saying that Labor MPs were “despondent”. From a State perspective, former NT Labor government minister Kon Vatskalis, who has been an outspoken critic of Labor’s inaction in the face of ever worsening polls, told Neos Kosmos: “The chickens are coming home to roost. We face a dire situation. Everybody is blaming Julia Gillard, but there is a cabinet and caucus; they are all responsible and are all partners in crime.” Vatskalis says that even at the eleventh hour, Labor should look to its history to find its salvation. “We need to look at what happened in 1983, when they dumped Bill Hayden and brought in Hawke. There might be a glimmer of salvation if they can find a clean-skin quickly. “A new leader at the last moment is something that can be done, but no one is prepared to put up their hand.” The former NT minister believes that the fall-out of a Labor wipeout on September 14 goes beyond losing an election. “The reality is we’re going to lose a lot of good members who can rebuild the party,” he says. “I’ve been a member of this party for 30 bloody years and I feel betrayed by what’s happening today.” Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img