Voters slam Aussie leadership tussle


An aborted Labor party leadership coup has badly tainted the standing of the Australian prime minister’s office, a poll showed Sunday, six months before an election.

The survey of 1,005 voters for the Sydney Sunday Telegraph, the first opinion poll since Prime Minister Julia Gillard called a shock leadership ballot Thursday to counter rising tensions within the party, also said the majority of those questioned would prefer Kevin Rudd as prime minister.

After weeks of speculation, Rudd opted out of challenging Gillard for the party leadership just minutes before the vote was to be held, realizing he did not have the backing to unseat her.

Asked if the public infighting had damaged the prime minister’s office, 71 percent said it had, while 60 percent believed Gillard was now a “lame duck” just six months out from a national election on Sept. 14.

Most felt Labor had made the wrong decision in rejecting Rudd as leader, with 53 percent of those surveyed backing him against 32 percent for Gillard.

The poll also showed Labor trailing at 32 percent to the conservative opposition’s 47 percent in the primary vote, which excludes the influence of minor parties.

Gillard is expected to announce a Cabinet shakeup as early as Monday after losing four senior ministers who backed Rudd.