Kevin Rudd’s dramatic comeback as Australian Prime Minister and Labour leader has not been able to reverse the heavy odds stacked against the ruling party as the opposition Coalition is still favoured to win the upcoming general election, a new opinion poll said on Friday.
The poll has shown that the opposition Coalition led by Tony Abbott was maintaining its lead over the Labour Party government despite Mr. Rudd taking charge.
The Coalition leads 52 -- 48 per cent after preferences and if the results are repeated Mr. Abbott would be able to form government with a comfortable majority of about 20 seats, the poll shows.
But it also indicated that 55-year-old Mr. Rudd was still preferred as Prime Minister in the 7News Reachtel poll, leading Abbott by 52 -- 48 per cent.
Voters were evenly split on the merits of the Labour leadership change with 44 per cent agreeing with the decision to replace Ms. Julia Gillard with Mr. Rudd, while 42 per cent disagreed.
Over 3,000 respondents took part on the latest poll which was conducted overnight, according to an AAP news agency report on Friday.
Labour cabinet minister Jason Clare commented that Mr. Rudd’s comeback has spooked the Coalition, which thought it would have an easy win at this year’s election.
“The Liberal party has been very cocky for three years; they weren’t cocky on Thursday,” the Home Affairs Minister was quoted by the report.
“They know now that the fight is on and there’s a real competition at the next election,” he said.
Mr. Clare said he switched his vote from Ms. Gillard to Mr. Rudd as he believed Labour was heading for a massive defeat under her leadership.
“This makes us more competitive. I can tell that just from Thursday in the Parliament,” he said.
Mr. Rudd also held his first press conference on Friday after being sworn in.
Soon after taking oath as Prime Minister, Mr. Rudd assured his party members that he will not “lurch to the Left” on asylum-seekers.
Media reports say, Mr. Rudd has been publicly asked to toughen Labour’s policy on asylum-seekers or risk seeing his government consigned to the “dustbin of political history“.
On election date of September 14 which was set by Ms. Gillard, Mr. Rudd seems to be weighing up whether to go earlier or delay the poll to maximise his chances of rebuilding public confidence in the Labour government. The earliest date he can call an election for is August 3.
Mr. Rudd has indicated a series of dramatic policy changes after ousting bitter party rival Ms. Gillard in a leadership battle securing 57 votes in a caucus ballot, compared to 45 for Ms. Gillard, 51, Australia’s first woman Prime Minister.