Labor MPs admit party in strife

AAP, with a staff reporter

Labor MPs admit they fear the worst as the latest round of opinion polls shows the Gillard government heading for a landslide defeat at the September election.

Labor senator Doug Cameron said the party's leadership team repeatedly had told MPs a J-curve would follow major policy announcements, with public sentiment dropping before growing to support the government.

"That J-curve hasn't come, so we have to be realistic," he said. 

"There's been policies not sold as well as they should have been. There's policies that have not been defended as well as they should have."

The latest Newspoll, published in The Australian, has the coalition stretching its lead to 16 points.

If the 58-42 per cent poll result was repeated at the September election, Labor's representation in parliament would be nearly halved to 37 seats, ABC election analyst Antony Green predicts.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said Labor's position was dire.

"These polls seem to be not so much within the margin of error as the margin of disaster," he said. 

"The Labor MPs I speak to are pretty despondent at the moment, and I think they're just hoping it'll tighten before election day."

Backbencher Graham Perrett's seat of Moreton, in suburban Brisbane, would be one of the first Labor seats to go on election night.

"We're in more trouble than Indiana Jones," Mr Perrett told ABC radio on Tuesday.

Tony Abbott has pulled away from Julia Gillard as Australia's preferred prime minister, according to newspoll. 

Mr Abbott has improved three points in the two weeks since the last poll to achieve a 43 per cent result amongst voters, while Ms Gillard has weakened four points to 35 per cent.

Independent MP Tony Windsor says Labor has taken a bit of a hit after last week's furore over electoral funding.

"The government was always going to take a bigger hit on that sort of thing," he said. 

Senator Cameron said it was of great concern to hear colleagues talking as though the election had been lost already.

"We need to always go into the election with the view that we're going to win," he said.

Herald Sun poll backs up Newspoll, saying Labor is looking over an abyss with even safe seats such as Isaac in Victoria, held by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus with a 10.4 per cent margin, likely to fall.

The paper's JWS Research poll, focusing on Victoria, shows Mr Dreyfus is facing a huge 15.4 per cent swing in what has been a Labor seat for 17 years.

The government has been torpedoed by the debacle over attempts to slip through public funding changes last week that would have handed $60 million to the political parties.

The Australian says the government has also been on the back foot in the past two weeks over fears of asbestos contamination in the NBN rollout and the continued arrival of boats carrying asylum seekers.

Based on preference flows at the last election, Labor would lose 35 seats and be swept away with a uniform eight per cent swing against it across Australia.

Fairfax Media has seen internal Labor polling that shows Treasurer Wayne Swan would be amongst those to lose their seats.

The Queensland polling is believed to show his primary vote has collapsed to just 28 per cent, compared to 41 per cent at the last election.

A "worst case" scenario indicates former prime minister Kevin Rudd could be Labor's last man standing in Queensland.

The poll will ring alarm bells for surrounding seats of Bruce and Holt, as well as McEwen and Bendigo, which party figures say are also at risk.

But significant personal support for Speaker Anna Burke suggests she will also buck the trend and retain her Box Hill-based inner eastern suburbs seat of Chisholm.

Support rises for Independents: Windsor

Independent MP Tony Windsor said support for independents remained significantly higher than at the 2010 election, reflecting the electorate's view of the major parties.

The primary vote for "others" was 12 per cent in the latest Newspoll, nearly double the 6.6 per cent recorded at the election.

"There has been disillusionment and there has been for some time with the major parties," Mr Windsor said.

Coalition 'underdogs' in election

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has warned coalition MPs not to get too carried away despite the latest opinion polls showing the Gillard government heading for a massive election defeat.

"If a week is a long time in politics, then 102 days (to the election) is an eternity," he told a coalition meeting in Canberra.

Mr Abbott said voters were now looking at the coalition with intensity and he emphasised the need for all opposition MPs to display a high sense of character.

"We have to give people a sense of our competence," he told the meeting.

The opposition leader also urged his colleagues to work "incredibly hard" between now and the election and to reinforce the coalition's key messages of hope, reward and opportunity.

Deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop warned Labor would sink to new lows in attempt to stave off defeat, citing a $500 million war chest in the budget.

"They are frightened and angry and it will get very nasty," she said.

Nationals leader Warren Truss also warned coalition MPs not to think the election was already won.

"In politics, you only have to be one day ahead every three years to win an election," he said.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said the electorate was not in the mood to be bought off or hear rash promises.

Liberal MP Jamie Briggs insisted the coalition would start as underdogs despite its big lead over Labor.

His colleague Simon Birmingham denied the coalition was becoming complacent about an election victory.

"Far from it. We know that no election can be taken for granted," he said, adding the Liberal Party had only succeeded in winning an election from opposition three times.

"We know people want a change, but we also know we need to earn their votes and earn their trust, and in the next 101 days that's all we'll be doing."

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It will be a well deserved thrashing. The ALP and Gillard in particular have chased their ideals at the expense of decent hardworking Australians. They have knocked the stuffing out of this country and yet they'll still have their hands out wanting a reward for what they've done. Absolutely disgraceful. I'll watch Oakeshott and Windsor fall as well as they are the two fools most responsible for making us all suffer three years of Gillard.
There is still another 103 days until the election; unless there is a circuit breaker, in my opinion our economy will be on the rocks by 14/9/13; there will be a big spike in the unemployment rate, banks will be provisioning for much higher bad debts, there will be no work available for many businesses who will face insolvency. The PM is solely responsible for all of this because she called an election 9 months prior, and the economy has ground to a halt as a result. Labour is about to suffer the mother of all defeats, and the 2 independents should hold their heads in shame as to what they have done.
It certainly does look like it Peter, if there had not been the mining boom over the past six years of Labor government the patchwork economy bad patches would not have been overlooked and ignored, the increasing small business failures etc.
The treasurer Mr Swan is now focused on converting Australia to a republic. So what I take from that, is that everything else is going very well in Australia. There is nothing more urgent or more important that requires Mr Swan's attention in our economy. We have nothing else to worry about in future.
That what is referred to as an ALP "diversionary" tactic, Maroy. Shorten and Conroy are also at it in respect of the NBN rollout; you watch, next week they will come out and say the NBN is now behind schedule and massively over-budget "because" of the pit asbestos matter; another pink batts on the way there.
The problem for swan, as I see it anyway Maroy, is that becoming a republic will not save his seat either! lol :o)
Even Phillip Adams is advising Julia Gillard to step down!!!!!!!!
The ALP has been aware that even their branch members, the rank and file, have been disenchanted with the direction the party has taken since at least the 1980s. During the Hawke-Wran listening tour members made this very clear to them. The ALP was no longer the party they belonged to. The union movement had hijacked it and moved union executives into safe seats after pushing the sitting members out. A grab for union power. A plan to control the governments federal, state and territory. And we can now see what a disaster that has been. A complete overhaul and change of personnel closer to the centre-left will probably take a decade or more to achieve, but there is no other option if the ALP is to survive.
"Divide and conquer", clearly, does not work in Australia. "Unite and prosper", appears to be more applicable to the mainstream thought process. The libs, will have to fund a war zone, that has economic carnage everywhere, however Abbott may be able to do it. If and only if, he is prepared to consult with unions and show that a strong economy, requires a workforce that is prepared to work hard to achieve a good lifestyle and set the parameters, for all to benefit. The far right and the far left, must be trashed, there is no place in an egalitarian society, for radical political doctrines. Australians are easy going people, capable of great things. Don't ever make the mistake, of telling them they are fools - them's fighting words and we, are sick of fighting. We want to see our country, our people (don't forget that includes Aboriginies), with a vision.
Sadly 30% of Australians are fools. Anyone who could still vote for this mob after them having opened the borders to >40,000 illegal immigrants, put the country in debt to the tune of 300 billion, sent manufacturing falling off a cliff, pushed the cost of living sky high, closed down small businesses throughout the nation, destroyed confidence and divided a nation, but still 30% will vote for them. Just how incompetent do they need to be before this 30% will see the light?
Doug Cameron - it is an "S" Bend, not a J curve.
Gosh! Is it possible that the loony fragments - known as Independents - are skidding under the radar because they have managed to feather their electoral nests/supporters without being too highly scrutinised. Both of the major parties (sorry Greens, you fit in the loony category with the Independents) may well be in a somewhat odious position with the electorate but do we really want a country run by"splinters" rather than "forests". Hopefully a major party win (from the Blue Corner) will relegate the loons - such as Windsor - to the wilderness. The "splinters" currently wield way too much influence and power.
If Labor were smart they would call an election now. The trend is decline in polls and this will likely continue - as Labor can't help but kick their own goals and use the time they have in Parliament to grab more goodies for the mates, which does not go over well with the electorate. Then there is the potential for a slowing economy to make the electorate even more unhappy with Labor.
"There's been policies not sold as well as they should have been. There's policies that have not been defended as well as they should have." This type of stubborn and obstinate thinking from people like Cameron - who purport to represent the working class - and yet do everything in their power to "divide and cause grief". And yet true ALP "leaders" like Martin Ferguson depart a party in turmoil - an I am sure he could see it. Where the fights being waged have become about us vs them, employer vs employee, union vs non union, low paid vs high paid, blue collar vs white collar! Do you think that Australians are sick and tired of this argumentative and combative approach? Not according to Cameron and his supporters. I reckon more than 50% of them are.
The voting public never learns. When Howard won his last election and had the majority in both houses, he went mad with power to the extent that he and his government were thrown out in 2007. The electorate, if it is an intelligent entity, will hopefully return a balanced government that has to argue and debate its position to win support to legislate. A landslide victory would be more than Abbott and his inexperiennced crew could handle and we would all suffer and the L/CP govt. would be short lived. I know this will not be a popular view on this Murdoch press site but you should all think about it.
Good observation by Dennis on the ALP, it seems to be tearing itself apart. The ALP will never win elections with its union friendly stuff - the average Australian considers unions to be run by thugs and crooks (and on balance the average person are right). The ALP did not defeat Howard with the union friendly stuff they won because Howard lost 'Howard's battlers'. I am amazed the ALP has not worked this out and where the middle ground is. Gillard sounds shrill and Swan reminds me of a high school teacher who was bullied when he was a kid.
Who would you rather be? The ALP or the Melbourne Football Club? At least the Melbourne Football Club have only left their own club heavily in debt, but both won't be featuring in September!
Maybe the Demons will win a premiership before Labor next wins a federal election.
Yep - lots of comments & like the poly's lots of self interested guff, reckon Tony A isn't quite David Copperfield yet. J curves S curves I see a bit of the movies here, particularly Dumb & Dumber. I don't want to in the 30% coz like all those above I know that the LNP has the interests of "Howards Battlers" at heart (truly) not the interests of big cheque books and of course unlike the incumbents they will also be able control the world economy from Canberra (Hockey is already looking leaner). Can't see much more than self interest anywhere I look, and I pity those poor soles who are in parliament that actually have the countries interest at heart not there own. Yep disillusioned with the lot - bring on Clive Palmer
Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard are just another face of traditional politician vowed to fulfill their personal ambition.