Labor support in the bush dries up as anger over water wastage proposals runs deep: Newspoll
Under Greenie influence, Gillard wants to let dammed water run out to sea rather than give it to farmers for use in irrigation
ANGER about the Gillard government's handling of proposed cuts in water use appears to have helped the Coalition overtake Labor in the latest Newspoll.
The weekend survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian, found the opposition ahead of Labor for the first time since before the August 21 election, by a margin of 52 per cent to 48 per cent in two-party-preferred terms.
The increase followed two dead-even results in previous post-election Newspolls. On election day, Labor won 50.1 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote to the Coalition's 49.9 per cent.
Although the poll shows only small movements in the primary vote since the previous survey, which was taken between October 8 and 10, Newspoll chief executive Martin O'Shannessy said last night that Labor had suffered a six-point plunge in primary support outside cities.
He linked the decline to the release of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's draft recommendation of large cuts in water usage, which have sparked angry protests in rural areas in the past fortnight.
"A deeper analysis of this poll shows a potential backlash against the Murray-Darling plan," Mr O'Shannassy said. "Comparisons between this Newspoll and the one of two weeks ago show a collapse of the Labor vote outside the five main capital cities. " Regional and country voters have punished Labor with a primary vote fall of just over six points to 31 per cent, down from 37 per cent just two weeks ago."
The Newspoll was based on 1150 interviews and the results include a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
It found Labor's primary vote was on 33 per cent - down two percentage points from the October 8-10 survey and five points down from election day. The Coalition was on 43 per cent in primary terms - down from 43.6 per cent on election day - with the Greens on 14 per cent.
An AC Nielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers published yesterday delivered almost identical results, with the Greens on 14 per cent - up two points. The Sydney Morning Herald reported this as an indication that Labor was continuing to lose support to the Greens.
However, the Newspoll - conducted more frequently than the Nielsen survey - has recorded support for the Greens steady at 14 per cent since the September 10-12 survey - up from 11.8 per cent recorded at the election.
Mr O'Shannessy said the fact that Greens support had not changed while Labor's had fallen indicated Labor's real losses were to the Coalition in rural and regional Australia. The Newspoll also identified a four-percentage-point reduction in voter satisfaction with Julia Gillard's performance, to 44 per cent, and a corresponding four-point increase in the dissatisfaction rate.
Voter satisfaction with Tony Abbott climbed two points to 41 per cent, while dissatisfaction with the Opposition Leader fell a point to 46 per cent, with 13 per cent uncommitted.
Ms Gillard remained favoured prime minister by a rate of 53 per cent to 32 per cent, with 15 per cent expressing no preference.