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Gillard Tops Abbott as Preferred Leader as Labor Support Slips

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Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard overtook opposition leader Tony Abbott as the nation’s preferred leader for the first time in six months even as support for her Labor government declined, a poll showed.

Gillard’s rating as preferred prime minister rose to 40 percent from 39 percent two weeks earlier, her highest rating since July, according to a Newspoll survey of 1,143 people Nov. 18-20. Support for Abbott as preferred leader slipped 5 points to 35 percent, the lowest in nine months, according to the poll published by the Australian newspaper today.

The governing Labor Party continues to trail the Liberal-National coalition, with support falling two points from a seven-month high to 30 percent, according to the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. Support for the opposition rose to 48 percent from 44 percent, according to the poll.

Gillard’s personal standing rose amid a month of diplomatic commitments, including attending a meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders and hosting talks with U.S. President Barack Obama. Her government yesterday won support from independent lawmakers for a levy on coal and iron-ore profits, ensuring the bill will gain approval in the lower house of parliament.

The government has pledged to lower the corporate tax rate by using the A$11.1 billion ($11 billion) the levy will raise over three years from companies including BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group.

To contact the reporter for this story: Phoebe Sedgman in Melbourne at psedgman2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Johnson at ejohnson28@bloomberg.net

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