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Newspoll shows turnaround for Government -

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TONY JONES: Well is it the start of a Government fight-back, or just a reminder that Labor looks
like romping it in?

The opinion poll to be published in tomorrow's Australian newspaper shows a reversal of fortune for
the Coalition. Labor's lead on the primary vote, and after preferences, has been pegged back, but
still has the contenders heading for a clear victory.

And as the Opposition today continued to pressure the Prime Minister on naming an election date,
the Government countered with a spirited assault on Kevin Rudd.

From Canberra, Ben Worsley reports.

BEN WORSLEY: John Howard promised Parliament would be sitting this week and so it is. And as much
as the Opposition welcomes any forum to further the Government's woes, Labor's getting itchy feet.

STEPHEN SMITH, OPPOSITION EDUCATION SPOKESMAN: The time is up for the phoney election campaign and
John Howard should simply get on and call the election and let's get down to it.

WAYNE SWAN, SHADOW TREASURER: What the Government is doing is using this additional time, holding
off calling the election so it can spend tens of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money on blatant
political advertising.

BEN WORSLEY: Not content with its faux campaign launch on the weekend, Labor wants the leaders'
debate to begin.

JULIA GILLARD, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Of course we know Mr Howard and Mr Costello are busy
debating the Liberal leadership. What they're not prepared to debate is they're not prepared to
debate the Opposition on the issues that matter to Australian working families.

BEN WORSLEY: Three debates in all they want, one of them on the internet.

ALEXANDER DOWNER, FOREIGN MINISTER: YouTube is more important to Mr Rudd than the national
Parliament of Australia. YouTube is more important than the national Parliament of Australia. What
a phoney. What a phoney. I mean, that really is pathetic, it's about time you people really, you
know, savagely turned on him (laughs), ran some of his lies.

BEN WORSLEY: In case the media wasn't listening, the Government took its line to the house. Kevin
Rudd, they want voters to know, has promised nothing more than Government-by-committee.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: I've done a little bit of homework and I've gone through some of these
lists, Mr Speaker, and every time the leader of the Opposition opens his mouth, he establishes a
new committee.

MARK VAILE, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Establishing committees and putting off decisions is weak
leadership.

MAL BROUGH, INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS MINISTER: Real leadership, not new leadership, real leadership is
when you have a position, you take it, you argue it, in the nation's interest.

PETER COSTELLO, TREASURER: When we decided to restore Australia's credit ratings, we didn't set up
a committee.

JOHN HOWARD: I don't want to bore the house but this list goes on and on.

BEN WORSLEY: So do the opinion polls.

JOURNALIST: Are you feeling nervous about Newspoll?

DENNIS JENSEN, LIBERAL MP: Well, I'll just wait and see what it says.

BEN WORSLEY: What it says is the Government has made significant ground on Labor. The Newspoll in
tomorrow's Australian shows the Coalition closing the gap on the primary vote by eight points.
After preferences, the Coalition has also picked up four points. John Howard, though, has had
little joy as preferred Prime Minister.

BEN WORSLEY: Newspoll still points to a thumping victory for Labor but this result will no doubt
put a spring in the step of the Coalition. More than anything, the Government will hope it finally
puts the leadership issue to bed.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: The Labor party cheer squad that are running around saying we've won this
election and starting to think about how they're going to hold Government in 2010. My experience is
that people like that can so often be deeply disappointed. The preconditions are not there to throw
the Government out.

STEPHEN SMITH, OPPOSITION EDUCATION SPOKESMAN: I do not believe that this election is in the bag or
won yet. We are a long way from that.

BEN WORSLEY: And it seems some way from knowing when the election might be.