SYDNEY – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s attempt to marginalize the opposition by claiming it would change abortion rights and sideline women has backfired with a poll Monday showing male voters are deserting her.
Gillard, the country’s first female leader, last week reignited a simmering gender war by saying in a speech that government would be dominated by “men in blue ties” should opposition leader Tony Abbott assume office in September elections.
“It’s a decision about whether, once again, we will banish women’s voice from the core of our political life,” the embattled leader, desperate to shore up waning support, said in the speech.
“We don’t want to live in an Australia where abortion again becomes the political plaything of men who think they know better.”
But the ploy has backfired with a poll in Fairfax Media showing male voters are abandoning Gillard and the Australian Labor Party and there is little sign of more women getting behind her.
The poll of 1,400 voters found that since the last survey a month ago, Labor’s standing has continued to slide, led entirely by a 7 percent exodus of men.
Under a two-party vote, the conservative opposition would romp home in the Sept. 14 elections with 57 percent (up three points) to 43 percent (down three points) for Labor.
Labor’s primary vote, which strips out the support of minor parties, has slumped to just 29 percent with the opposition at 47 percent — a huge lead that would wipe out 35 Labor MPs, the poll showed.