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PM suffers setback in polls -

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PM suffers setback in polls

The World Today - Tuesday, 3 June , 2008 12:14:00

Reporter: Lyndal Curtis

ELEANOR HALL: The latest opinion poll has prompted the Coalition to label the Prime Minister as a
phoney, a conman and all froth and bubble.

In fact the party ratings haven't moved at all in the Australian newspaper's Newspoll since last
month. But Kevin Rudd's rating as preferred Prime Minister and his voter satisfaction rating are
both down and that's putting a spring in the Opposition leader's step.

The Government is acknowledging that in the short-term it has got some problems pushing its
legislation through the Parliament but it says it is focusing on the long-term.

In Canberra Chief Political correspondent, Lyndal Curtis reports.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Opinion polls have the capacity to bring both sunshine and gloom in equal measure,
it just depends from which side you look at them.

The Greens leader, Bob Brown, was looking at the sunny side this morning, he didn't even need to be
asked for a comment.

BOB BROWN: 10 per cent in the polls (laughs).

LYNDAL CURTIS: Labor backbenchers were singing from the same hymn sheet when they did their best to
gloss over the gloom.

JASON CLARE: The people of my electorate aren't interested in polls. They expect us from day one to
be working hard on their behalf, to get results from them. Polls go up, polls go down.

DAVID BRADBURY: Look the polls, they'll come, they'll go up, they'll go down. We all know that. We
have been around long enough to see that. We are in this for the long haul.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Opposition MPs chose to play the man, Kevin Rudd and not the ball.

SHARMAN STONE: I think the public is realising that Mr Rudd has been a lot of froth and bubble.

STEPHEN CIOBO: Look I leave it to others to comment on the polls. What is clear though is that the
Australian population is rapidly realising that Kevin Rudd is a conman.

PETER DUTTON: Like Kevin Rudd is certainly funny.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And long time Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey was just perplexing.

WILSON TUCKEY: Well, yes but when you prick a balloon you are bound to get gas aren't you.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Opposition does believe it is making headway but says the Rudd honeymoon is far
from over. Although the gap between Mr Rudd's satisfaction and dissatisfaction rating is shrinking
- down from 50 to 30 points one source says Mr Rudd's satisfaction needs to fall below 50 - a
further six points from where it is now - for the Coalition to start getting traction.

Government Ministers such as Treasurer Wayne Swan aren't surprised by the hit in the polls after
the messy FuelWatch debate and Cabinet leaks.

WAYNE SWAN: Well, you know we are not about short term popularity. We are about long-term

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese is predicting it'll happen again.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We'll continue to pursue our long-term agenda. Now in the short-term, that might
result in even further hits in the polls but we will do what is right.

LYNDAL CURTIS: As leader of the Government in the Lower House, Mr Albanese is trying to get 22
pieces of legislation through by the end of this week.

The Opposition says the Government isn't allowing proper scrutiny in the House and is considering
which Bills it feels deserve the closer scrutiny a Senate Committee could provide a move which
would delay their passage.

The Opposition leader, Brendan Nelson, has appealed to the Government's sense of democracy.

BRENDAN NELSON: We recognise that there are always some circumstances where the government of the
day will need to hurry legislation through but most of these Bills do not have any sense of urgency
about them and for goodness sake, we live in a democracy. Every man, every woman that comes to this
Parliament, whether Labor, Liberal, National or independent has a right to express a view on behalf
of his or her constituents.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But the Government argues the Bills are urgent and Mr Albanese says the Opposition
only has itself to blame if it is feeling pressured by the legislative timetable.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is also an Opposition that has wasted almost 10 hours of Parliament's time
on self-indulgent dissent motions in the Speaker, censure motions in the Prime Minister and whoever
else it disagrees with, which is twice the time that was spent on these procedural issues during
the 2007 election year.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Some of the bills need to be through before the end of June because money for
childcare, hospitals and dental programs amongst others is due to start flowing from the first of

After the end of the July the Senate changes and the Government has to convince the Greens, Family
First and one independent to pass its legislation.

Bob Brown has indicated the Greens want to negotiate, not block.

BOB BROWN: I'd be happy to give the government a double dissolution trigger on nothing. I don't
think we should have a double dissolution and the Greens will be working very hard to make sure
that we improve legislation. We will be using the balance of power responsibly.

LYNDAL CURTIS: All this activity is likely to keep the public servants at work, but if they are
aggrieved after having their concerns about working hard for little result dismissed by the Prime
Minister last week, they will have a place to air their views.

The Special Minister of State, John Faulkner, says questions have been added to a yearly survey of
the state of the public service.

While they were added before the Prime Ministerial edict to work harder, the questions do look at
working hours, leave and flexibility of working arrangements.

ELEANOR HALL: Lyndal Curtis with that report.