5 May 2009

Australian PM's popularity dented

2:49 pm on 5 May 2009

Australia's worsening economy and rising borrowing have begun to hurt the popularity of the government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

A Newspoll survey in The Australian newspaper showed on Tuesday that support for the Labor Party fell 5 percentage points to 42%, based on primary votes. The opposition conservative coalition was four points behind Labor at 38%.

The poll is the first to show the government's primary vote going backwards.

The Newspoll survey found 47% of voters believed Mr Rudd should reduce the size of the budget deficit by scrapping tax cuts due to come into effect on 1 July, which Labor promised during the election in 2007.

Some 78% of respondents said a third-round stimulus package expected in the budget should be spent on infrastructure such as new roads or schools.

Support for Mr Rudd's government remained at 55% when votes were distributed to the two main party groups.

But Labor's 42% support in the primary vote is below its 2007 election result of 43.3% as voters begin to question Mr Rudd's handling of the economy.

However, he continues to be preferred as prime minister by 64% of the 1201 voters polled. Support for opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull was unchanged at 19%.