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Newspoll survey shows drop in approval rating for Coalition and no rise in popularity for Simon Crean.

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Tuesday 2 September 2003

Newspoll survey shows drop in approval rating for Coalition and no rise in popularity for Simon Crean


MARK COLVIN: The Prime Minister's approval r ating has taken a battering in an opinion poll out today. And the difference in the two party preferred vote has narrowed with the Coalition leading Labor by only 51 to 49 per cent. 


But John Howard is unlikely to be too worried because he still beats Simon Crean on the question of who would make the better Prime Minister, by a factor of three to one. Simon Crean claims the survey shows a narrowing of the gap between the parties. But the pollster involved says there's little good news for Labor in this survey. 


Catherine McGrath in Canberra.  


CATHERINE MCGRATH: The political landscape has been dominated over the last month or so by the ethanol issue, Wilson Tuckey's role in representing his son over a South Australian traffic fine, and Tony Abbott and his mission to bring down Pauline Hanson. 


All of these issues have impacted on the Prime Minister's satisfaction rating; it's down six points to 51 per cent. But the key fact here is that Labor hasn't really benefited and Simon Crean's satisfaction rating has also dropped, in this case to 25 per cent. As to who would make the better Prime Minister, 60 per cent of those surveyed said John Howard, and only 18 per cent said Simon Crean. 


Sol Lebovic from Newspoll. 


SOL LEBOVIC: But in terms of who voters believed would make the better Prime Minister, it's still a three to one gap in favour of John Howard, and Simon Crean's really making no headway in that area at all. 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: But how are people to make sense of this when, you're quite right, the Prime Minister is still a long way ahead as preferred Prime Minister, but his own satisfaction rating has gone down from a high of 61 per cent in June to 51 per cent now - 10 percentage points? 


SOL LEBOVIC: That's right. And I think this is a problem for Simon Crean, in that when the Prime Minister is going backwards and the Government have had quite a few problems in the last fortnight, in spite of all that, the Opposition Leader is not making any headway in terms of the better Prime Minister question, and even worse than that, Simon Crean's own personal satisfaction level is down four points.  


It's a time when you… it's an opportunity, if you like, for Labor and Simon Crean, and it's an opportunity they don't seem to be realising.  




But polls can be deceptive, and Sol Lebovic is the first to admit that there's a long way between now and election day. But politically, Crean needs his personal rating to lift, and that hasn't happened. On a two-party preferred basis the Coalition is ahead 51 to 49.  


Simon Crean took some comfort from that performance. 


SIMON CREAN: I think that the Newspoll is interesting because it shows over the past two months, you can never take too much in one particular poll, but over the last two months there has been a significant narrowing of the gap.  


I mean, the preferred Prime Minister, preferred Premier in any poll you take is always the incumbent, let's not get too excited about that. But the reality is there's been a closing from eight points to two in preferred party, and why?  


Because over the last two months we've seen a Government in the process of destroying a health system, and not telling the truth to the Australian people.  


CATHERINE MCGRATH: On the Coalition side, Treasurer Peter Costello said the Government had been under some pressure in recent weeks. 


PETER COSTELLO: There've been some rocky incidents in recent weeks, and yes, you would expect that they would have an effect. But in terms of Government policy in relation to defence and security, in relation to the economy, and in relation to domestic policy, I think the public believes that this is a government very much in control.  


CATHERINE MCGRATH: And he dismissed Simon Crean's claim over this poll. 


PETER COSTELLO: You know, I didn't think that the Labor Party was getting traction, actually. When I looked at that poll, I thought… 


JOURNALIST: 49 per cent. 


PETER COSTELLO: Well, I thought when I looked at their primary vote, that in fact they weren't. It occurred to me that, I don't know how they distributed all of those preferences, but it might be a One Nation factor in there.  


CATHERINE MCGRATH: The pollster is dismissing the closeness of the two party preferred vote.  


Sol Lebovic. 


SOL LEBOVIC: It is an improvement, but Labor are no better off than they were in the November 2001 Election, and in that particular election the Coalition won easily. So even though Labor have looked a lot worse in recent months, they're still quite a long way behind the Government in terms of voter support.  


MARK COLVIN: Sol Lebovic from Newspoll, ending Catherine McGrath's report.