Australia’s first female prime minister will enjoy only a brief honeymoon with voters, opposition Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott said on Saturday.

He was speaking after opinion polls showed Labour had gained ground after dumping Kevin Rudd and that Julia Gillard had grabbed an election—winning lead.

“The government has tried to fix the headlines, but they can’t fix the problems,” Mr. Abbott said. “The headlines won’t stay fixed unless they fix the problems.” Ms. Gillard, who deposed Rudd on Thursday, has said she will call an election before the end of the year.

Polling showed a sharp turnaround in support for Labour, with Mr. Abbott slipping behind Ms. Gillard as preferred prime minister.

Ms. Gillard, who was Mr. Rudd’s deputy, will be the fourth new Labour leader in four consecutive parliamentary elections.

Mr. Rudd is the only prime minister in Australia’s history not to complete his first term of office.

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