An aborted Labor Party leadership coup has badly tainted the standing of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s office, with most voters also seeing her a “lame duck” leader, a public opinion poll showed yesterday, six months ahead of a general election.
The first opinion poll since Gillard called a shock leadership ballot on Thursday to counter rising tensions within the party also said the majority of those questioned would prefer former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd in charge.
After weeks of rampant speculation, Rudd opted out of challenging Gillard for the party leadership just minutes before the vote was held, saying that he had realized that he did not have the political numbers to unseat her.
Gillard was re-elected unopposed, but significant damage has been done to the highest office in the country, the poll of 1,005 voters conducted by the Sydney Sunday Telegraph showed.
Asked if the public in-fighting had damaged the prime minister’s office, 71 percent said it had, while 60 percent believed Gillard was now a “lame duck” leader just six months after national elections were held in September last year.
Most felt that the Labor Party had made the wrong decision in rejecting Rudd as leader, with 53 percent of those surveyed backing him against 32 percent who preferred Gillard.
The poll also showed Labor trailing on 32 percent to the conservative opposition’s 47 percent in the primary vote, which excludes the impact of minor parties.
Voters were divided on whether an early election was needed, with 44 percent wanting it to be held now and 47 percent happy to wait until Sept. 14.
In an editorial, the Rupert Murdoch-owned Telegraph lashed out at the “utter disrespect” Labor had for the prime minister’s office.
“Last week’s leadership coup was a naked display of self-interest that had nothing to do with good government, leadership or what’s best for the future of this country,” it said.
Gillard is expected to announce a Cabinet shake-up as early as today after losing four senior ministers who backed Rudd.
For his part, Rudd has pledged to never challenge for the leadership again and on Saturday said it was vitally important to now “bind up the wounds.”