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Gillard’s Labor Support Slips 5 Months From Election, Poll Shows

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s government slipped further behind the opposition in an opinion poll less than five months from an election, as voters opposed a plan to curb tax concessions on retirement savings.

Support for the Labor government slid 2 percentage points to 29 percent, the weakest since June 2012, compared with 49 percent for the Tony Abbott-led opposition, a Nielsen survey published in Fairfax newspapers today showed. On a two-party preferred basis, Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition led the government 57 percent to 43 percent. Labor won 50.1 percent of the vote at the 2010 election to form a minority government.

Gillard traveled to China last week for talks with the new leadership of Australia’s biggest trading partner. Earlier in the month, the government announced A$900 million ($950 million) in savings over four years by cutting tax breaks for the wealthy as it bids to plug a budget shortfall. Even as the government said changes to taxation of pension savings impact just 16,000 individuals, the poll showed 52 percent of voters opposed them.

Abbott leads Gillard 50 percent to 42 percent as preferred prime minister, the Nielsen poll showed. The prime minister in January set an election for Sept. 14 and has struggled since then, culminating in a ballot for the Labor leadership on March 21 that her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, chose not to contest.

Rudd, who declared afterward that he would never challenge for the leadership again, was preferred Labor leader with 57 percent of survey respondents, down from 62 percent in March, today’s poll showed. Gillard’s support versus Rudd rose to 35 percent from 31 percent, it showed.

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