As the campaign nears its final stages, the ruling Labor Party is now in a dead heat with the Coalition party. This comes after a ten point drop in the polls for Labor.
There was 44 per cent voter approval for the Coalition standard bearer, Mr. Tony Abbott especially in the areas of economic management, national security and asylum seeker policy. The poll was taken Newspoll for the newspaper The Australian.
In response, Ms. Julia Gillard blamed the fall in polls on the apparently stage managed campaign of the Labor handlers. “I think it’s time for me to make sure that the real Julia is well and truly on display,” she said to reporters during a campaign sortie covering Sydney and Melbourne. She vowed to take the campaign into her own hands and did so by sidelining long time campaign bosses for her party. She declared she would to “throw that rule book out and really get out there”.
The sharp drop was pinpointed to the fallout of her predecessor’s midnight ouster. There were also damaging leaks of her private conversations about her views on pension fund increases and other “sacred cows” of the Australian welfare state. These include her apparent obtuseness on paid parental leaves over the next ten years. There also was her apparent railroading of citizen consultation on climate change, a program which she unveiled last week without pushing through on her promise of full participation of all stakeholders. The drama reached a crescendo as her predecessor Mr. Kevin Rudd was admitted to the hospital for gallbladder surgery.
Another turning point was Australian sentiment over her performance as the current Prime Minister. This includes her snafu over the asylum seeker policy and her handling of the mining tax issue as she assumed office.
Now as Ms. Gillard has changed her strategy, she has become more visible, hobnobbing with common folk on their commute and chatting with café workers in stops at Parramatta.
Mr. Abbott though is not impressed, saying that the change of tact is but a glimpse of “the real nature of the government is being exposed.” He further added that, “This is a government which has been utterly incompetent for three years,” Abbott told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio today from Cairns in Queensland state. “No one is going to believe that they are going to learn how to be competent in just three weeks.”