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Rudd support sliding -

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Broadcast: 07/06/2010

Reporter: Heather Ewart

Today's AC Nielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers puts the Opposition in the box seat with an election
just a few months away; Labor ministers in marginal seats are growing increasingly nervous. The
polls also suggest the Rudd Government is losing the argument on the mining tax and asylum seekers.


KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: During his 2007 election showdown with John Howard, Kevin Rudd said
victory would be like climbing Mount Everest. But if the downward spiral of the latest polling
continues, he's going to dig out his alpine gear for another tough climb to the summit, this time
against Tony Abbott.

Today's AC Nielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers puts the Opposition in the box seat, with an election
just a few months away, and Labor MPs in marginal seats are growing increasingly nervous.

The polls also suggest the Government is losing the argument on the mining tax and asylum seekers.

The big question mark is the way Kevin Rudd's seemingly unassailable position as Prime Minister has
collapsed in the public eye.

Mr Rudd's appearances today were dominated by awkward questions about his anger, after publication
of a major and very candid essay on what drives him by author and journalist David Marr, and I'll
be talking with David Marr shortly.

But first, this report from political editor Heather Ewart.

HEATHER EWART, REPORTER: The punters are starting to turn against the Rudd Government big time.
It's showing up in opinion polls, it's showing up in talkback radio calls, it's even showing up
with the bookies.

DANIEL HOARE, BETFAIR AUSTRALASIA: Over the last few months, according to the betting trends, the
Rudd Government was a clear favourite, but in the last couple of days there's been a dramatic shift
away from the Rudd Government.

HEATHER EWART: Last week's damaging Newspoll revealing Labor's primary vote had fallen to the
mid-30s was no one-off. More polls in The Australian and Fairfax newspapers today indicated a clear
and worsening trend.

KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: The truth is if these polls were reflected on election day, Mr Abbott
will become the prime minister.

HUGH MACKAY, SOCIAL RESEARCHER: We're really looking at a long haul unwinding of disenchantment and
disappointment that was almost inevitable from about six months into the life of this government.

KEVIN RUDD: So the challenge for me and for the Government is to work harder into the future.

GRAHAME MORRIS, FMR LIBERAL STRATEGIST: There is something very strange going on in the electorate
at the moment and I think it's a sense that the Prime Minister is not what he was.

KEVIN RUDD: I've got a huge amount of work to do.

JULIA GILLARD, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: I always expected in 2010 we'd see a tough, close contest,
but Heather, I'm looking forward to that tough, close contest.

HEATHER EWART: The backbenchers in marginal seats certainly aren't. Today's polls have confirmed
what they've been feeling for some time: that they're in trouble and the top levels of government
have not been listening to them.

HUGH MACKAY: The real challenge that I guess Kevin Rudd faces when he looks in his shaving mirror
every morning is, "Can I win an election?"

GRAHAME MORRIS: Look, there are about 25 marginal seat holders at the moment who would be very
nervous. They gave up careers to enter Parliament, and all of a sudden many of them might be what's
called "oncers" - only there for one election. Nobody wants to be a oncer.

HEATHER EWART: The potential oncers were not putting their faces to camera today, but many were not
reassured by the damage control approach put into action by Kevin Rudd and his advisors.

KEVIN RUDD: An election is about alternatives. And our plan's clear on the economy, on health, on
hospitals. Mr Abbott's is reasonably clear now in term of WorkChoices.

HEATHER EWART: Trouble is, marginal seat holders worry the Government's plans aren't too clear at
all and say privately the Prime Minister is simply not cutting through to their electorates. Worse
still, a series of policy backflips means maybe they've stopped believing what they hear.

HUGH MACKAY: Hyperbole has become a sort of trademark of the Prime Minister and that's part of his
problem: everything has to be a revolution, everything has to be the greatest challenge ever, the
people smugglers have to be the lowest form of life. The overstatement has got him into a lot of

HEATHER EWART: The Government's TV advertising campaign launched this week to promote its mining
tax is supposed to simplify and sell the message, at least on this one policy area, to counter the
big mining companies. But it might also have to counter this perception reflected in today's polls.

HUGH MACKAY: It now stands as another one of these rather disturbing examples of how not to
introduce a new policy.

KEVIN RUDD: We believe we've got the overall design of this tax right.

JULIA GILLARD: I think in this debate about mining there are some things that are emerging as
points of agreement. Maybe that's hard to see under all the argy bargy in our airwaves.

HEATHER EWART: Whatever they are, they're certainly not apparent, and the Prime Minister isn't
backing away from warnings negotiations could take a very long time.

GRAHAME MORRIS: If I were the Prime Minister I'd be taking the barnacles off the Government policy.
And if that doesn't work, then I think somebody should be saying, "Well, do we give Julia a go or

HUGH MACKAY: The electorate is warming towards Julia Gillard as an alternative to Kevin Rudd.

HEATHER EWART: It's the sort of speculation that flows from bad opinion polls like this. There's no
doubt there's growing mention of it in Labor circles.

JULIA GILLARD: The speculation in my view is completely ridiculous.

HEATHER EWART: For the most part Labor continues to hope there's an anti-Tony Abbott factor that
will work in their favour at the next election which is looking further away by the minute.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Political editor Heather Ewart.