Australia’s Labor Party Falls in Poll After Queensland Loss

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor Party lost support in an opinion poll taken after a defeat in Queensland state, falling behind the opposition Liberal-National coalition by 20 percentage points.

Labor had 27 percent support in the Nielsen poll conducted March 29-31 and published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, compared with 47 percent for the coalition led by Tony Abbott. In the previous poll conducted Feb. 22-23, Labor had backing from 34 percent of respondents to 44 percent for Abbott’s group.

Labor’s landslide defeat in the March 24 Queensland vote deepened Gillard’s woes on the national level ahead of elections due in 2013. The loss left Gillard with allies governing just two of the nation’s six states and her party is expected to lose 44 of the 51 seats it held in the state’s regional parliament.

“Labor is suffering in the polls after all the negativity that came out in the Queensland election,” said Malcolm Mackerras, a political analyst at the Australian Catholic University in Canberra. “The party should bounce back to a degree as it now has a chance to get its message through to the voters, but a win in next year’s federal election from here looks highly improbable.”

The latest Nielsen poll of 1,400 people had a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

Federal Seats

Today’s survey is at least the second to show support for Labor falling after last month’s vote in Queensland, a state that accounted for more than half the federal seats the party lost in 2010. Should voters replicate Labor’s 15.7 percentage point state loss on a national level, the party would lose all eight of its federal seats, including that of Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan.

In a Newspoll survey published in the Australian newspaper March 27, Abbott’s coalition led the Labor party by 12 percentage points. The survey of 1,153 people conducted March 9-11 had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Gillard’s minority government, which needs the backing of independent and Green party lawmakers to pass legislation, is set to introduce laws on July 1 that will tax carbon emissions and the profits of iron-ore and coal producers including BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group.

Parliament is on hiatus until May 8, when the government will announce its annual budget that seeks to balances a drop in revenue with a pledge to deliver a surplus in the 12 months through June next year. Gillard said yesterday returning the budget to surplus is “the right thing to do” while pledging to support jobs.

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