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Coalition's poll resurgence continues -

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Coalition's poll resurgence continues

Broadcast: 16/02/2010

Reporter: Ticky Fullerton

The 12 digit swing towards the Coalition in Altona has served as a warning to Labor, as the
industrial relations battle hots up in federal politics.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Analysts have been assessing recent polls to find out what they might
indicate about the mood of the electorate.

A revitalised Tony Abbott Opposition is attempting to change the political agenda ahead of the
federal election, and today's Newspoll had good and bad news for both sides.

Among the bad news for the Government: support for its carbon pollution reduction scheme is at a
new low and the Prime Minister's personal popularity has taken a hit. That follows last weekend's
big swing against Victorian Labor in a state by-election.

Now the Federal Government is again raising the spectre of WorkChoices.

But what's the actual mood in the community?

Ticky Fullerton visited Lindsay, the weathervane seat in Western Sydney.

TICKY FULLERTON, REPORTER: The seat of Lindsay lies deep in the mortgage belt, with areas like
Penrith, Emu Plains and the aspirational Glenmore Park. Labor holds Lindsay with a six per cent
margin. Quite safe, you might think.

DAVID BRADBURY, LABOR MP FOR LINDSAY: I never take anything for granted and I think the seat of
Lindsay is a litmus test in many respects for the mood of the nation.

TICKY FULLERTON: Mother of two boys, Kerry Griffiths, voted for Kevin Rudd in 2007, but not this
time around, she says.

KERRY GRIFFITHS, RESIDENT: Mr Rudd was going to take over the hospitals if they didn't improve,
which they haven't. He was gonna do grocery watch, fuel watch. They're non-existent now. Interest
rates: they're going up again.

TICKY FULLERTON: A federal takeover of under-performing hospitals is top of the list for Kerry
Griffith's son, a mental health nurse.

KIERAN GRIFFITHS, RESIDENT: You talk to any nurse anywhere in the hospital systems: they were very
disappointed that it actually didn't happen. ... You talk to any person in the public and you ask
them about the healthcare system and it's - all the answers are the same: that it's atrocious.

You're talking about 13 hours in ED, like, the emergency departments of our local hospitals, just
to even get seen by a doctor.

TICKY FULLERTON: The failure of Labor State Governments to fix up local services in areas like
Lindsay means they are largely ignored by the public.

Rebecca Huntley runs focus groups on what matters to voters.

REBECCA HUNTLEY, IPSOS MACKAY RESEARCH: What we are getting is a sense of: we don't care about the
NSW Labor Government anymore. We don't expect them to help us with the problems that we have.

Therefore the complete onus for state issues such as health, transport, dealing with bigger cities
and so forth is on the Federal Government.

TICKY FULLERTON: It's allowed the Opposition Senator Marise Payne to run hard on Kevin Rudd's
broken promises.

MARISE PAYNE, LIBERAL SENATOR, NSW: Well I think the Prime Minister's rather brought that upon
himself. These were his commitments, to deal with these issues. This is his massive Council of
Australian Governments agenda. Everything appears to go in at one end, but not a great deal appears
to be coming out the other side.

TICKY FULLERTON: Another blunt message cutting through in the electorate is the attacks on the
Government's emissions trading scheme as a great big tax on everything. Today's poll shows support
for the ETS falling.

VOX POP: I don't like the idea of it because I think it is an extra tax.

VOX POP II: Kevin Rudd's on the right track. I think that we all should take the warning that it is
actually happening and they should do something about it now and not later.

VOX POP III: I think it's just a big tax, you know.

TICKY FULLERTON: The Government's handling of climate change has created a very time-consuming
problem for local member David Bradbury.

DAVID BRADBURY: In the lead-up to Christmas I had approximately 100 local residents raise with me
the issue of the CPRS in one way, shape or form. I invited each of those residents to have a chat
with me about the issue and many of them took up that option.

MARISE PAYNE: It's about whether there's gonna be a great, big, new tax imposed on everything that
people do through the process of the ETS. And people are actually very concerned about that.

TICKY FULLERTON: So what would need to change for Kerry Griffiths to vote Labor?

KERRY GRIFFITHS: Well, his tax, his tax - he would have to change that.

TICKY FULLERTON: The ETS?

KERRY GRIFFITHS: Yeah, the ETS, yeah, because all it is is a tax. And, I'm sorry, but we're - we
can't afford it. I mean, we're gonna lose jobs over it in Australia.

TICKY FULLERTON: Labor's record on jobs should be a key strength come election time, with
unemployment now at 5.3 per cent. David Bradbury argues that many promises have been delivered and
Labor's strong handling of the financial crisis is its biggest achievement.

DAVID BRADBURY: The fact that we are now in a situation where we're not talking about unemployment,
we're talking about challenges that no other country in the world is in the privileged position to
be able to talk about shows the underlying strength of our economy.

And I think that the great transformation that has occurred over the last 18 months to two years in
Australian politics has been that the Rudd Government has been able to seize the mantle as the
superior economic managers. And I think that it's on the strength of our economic record that we'll
be going to the next election.

BARNABY JOYCE, SHADOW FINANCE SPOKESMAN: We are getting to a point where we can't repay it.

TICKY FULLERTON: Gaffes in the last fortnight have hit the Coalition's economic credibility, but
Labor's own mistakes softened the blow.

Rebecca Huntley says economic management is not high in the public mind at the moment. And while
she sees no mood for change in the electorate, voters are not rushing to reward Kevin Rudd.

REBECCA HUNTLEY: Consumers have kind of moved on. When we asked them at the end of last year what
were the big issues for them, it was healthcare, it was transport, it was growing cities, it was
immigration, it was water, it was renewable energy. They weren't really talking about the economy.

KERRY GRIFFITHS: You know, he talks about the economy and he's kept us out of a recession, but,
like, at the moment, Mr Rudd, he's pouring a lotta money into it, so that is going to make the
interest rates go up anyway. You know, like, the stimulus package, I think that he should now wind
back a bit.

TICKY FULLERTON: One of the biggest turn-offs may well be the Prime Minister himself, with a
personal low in today's polls.

KERRY GRIFFITHS: Prime Minister Rudd, he talks in, um, yeah, like, language that I just don't
understand.

TICKY FULLERTON: Contrast this with the simple sound bytes of Tony Abbott.

KERRY GRIFFITHS: He speaks in terms that I understand and he's got ...

TICKY FULLERTON: Would you have voted or thought about voting Liberal if Malcolm Turnbull had been
there?

KERRY GRIFFITHS: No. No. Not at all.

TICKY FULLERTON: Tony Abbott certainly hasn't won over everyone in Lindsay, though.

VOX POP IV: Needs to keep his mouth shut on some issues.

VOX POP V: Oh, I think Tony Abbott has spent way too much time in politics for me to know that he's
not good for it. I'm for Kevin Rudd. At least he hasn't told me to go into the kitchen.

TICKY FULLERTON: The Coalition is vulnerable on policy too. This week, Labor and unions stepped up
their campaign, warning Tony Abbott will bring back WorkChoices.

Did you vote Labor last time round?

VOX POP VI: First time ever.

TICKY FULLERTON: You voted Labor?

VOX POP VI: Yeah.

TICKY FULLERTON: And what about this time around?

VOX POP VI: Nah, nah, no, back to Liberals. The only reason I voted Labor is because of their
WorkChoices.

TICKY FULLERTON: Perhaps the most dangerous territory for Labor is illegal immigration.

VOX POP VI: The immigration they've totally stuffed up. I think the Liberals had a better one.

KERRY GRIFFITHS: I kind of think that they should put a stop to it. I think that what we had in
place before was a good idea. We've had so many boats coming into the country.

TICKY FULLERTON: The odds are against a Coalition victory this year; in fact it would be the first
time since the War that a Federal Government was unseated after just one term in office.

But the concern for Labor is that it loses enough seats, perhaps even this one, to put the
Coalition within striking distance the next time around.

Ticky Fullerton, Lateline.