Abbott widens lead as Labor puts its faith in negativity

The Labor Party are running new ads asking what might happen to health, education and workplace rights under an Abbott government.

Labor’s vote has dropped to its lowest level since Kevin Rudd regained the leadership in today’s Newspoll, as the ALP desperately fights back with a ferocious “spotlight” scare campaign about an Abbott threat to health, jobs, and education.

The poll show Labor’s primary vote at 34%, down one point, and the opposition on 47%, its highest since the leadership change.

On a two party basis Labor’s support is down 2 points to 46% and the Coalition up 2 to 54% in a week. This would give the Coalition a strong election win.

The Australian reports that despite his “presidential” style campaign over the past fortnight, Rudd’s personal support in Newspoll has continued to fall and Tony Abbott’s has steadily risen, with Rudd now in a worse position than when he was removed in 2010. Abbott is virtually equal as preferred PM.

Labor is trying to get back into the game with a highly negative assault including a big advertising buy and and rallies.

A TV ad blitz started last night – Labor’s biggest night of advertising so far - on the theme “If he wins, you lose”, showing various groups, including children, disappearing abruptly from a spotlight. It claims an Abbott government would cut “billions” from education, hitting schools that need the money most.

After a spate of bad polls in the last few days, Rudd delivered a fighting speech to a rally of health workers and Labor supporters in Sydney’s west yesterday, declaring: “This Government is determined to prevail. I am determined to prevail”

He said: “We’re not even in the middle of the second quarter yet if you play AFL, and we’re certainly not up to half-time yet if you’re in the NRL. There’s a long way to go.

"September 7 is three weeks away. We have campaigning to do each and every day - campaigning around one core proposition for the Australian people: we build a nation’s future - [Abbott] cuts, cuts and cuts the nation’s future.”

With more rallies this week Rudd, who yesterday highlighted health, will today home in on jobs and conditions.

During the week Labor field campaigners will hold community events, distribute campaign material and push messages through social media about the danger the Coalition would pose to jobs, health and hospital services, schools and infrastructure.

Rudd said immediately after his return to the prime ministership that people did not want negativity and promised to pitch positive messages.

But with the opinion polls increasingly pointing to a Coalition win, Labor believes its best, indeed only, chance is a fear campaign – about both cuts under Abbott and the prospect of a higher, broader GST (despite the Coalition ruling out any GST change).

Labor sources say that from nearly 800,000 campaign calls conducted in multiple locations around the country the party has picked up deep and increasing concerns about cuts by Abbott.

The Labor message that the Liberals have $70 billion in unfunded promises has also been getting through, according to the party (although this figure is denied by the Coalition and questioned by fact checkers).

Labor national secretary George Wright has written to supporters urging then to share the latest ad with friends. Australians need to know “what’s at stake if Tony Abbott wins,” Wright writes.

“Now is the time to put Tony Abbott’s real agenda in front of the voters so they can make their minds up. Let’s put the spotlight on him”.

The ad says: “If Tony Abbott is elected Prime Minister, families will lose the school kids bonus and low income workers will lose their increased super contributions. And what about those depending on penalty rates? And over time? 12,000 people will lose their jobs. And he’ll cut billions from education, including those schools that need it most. If he wins, you lose.”

The campaign material on jobs says Abbott has committed to cutting 12,000 public service jobs and has not run away from 20,000 job cuts.

Labor will highlight the number of public servants in marginal electorates. Bonner in Queensland is home to about 12,000 teachers, nurses, doctors, firemen and other public servants.

Flynn in Queensland has about 9600 in these groups; Bennelong (NSW) about 10,000, Boothby (SA) nearly 13,500, and Hasluck (WA) about 9500.

The Coalition today will release a small business policy promising to “lower small business taxes, cut red tape, remove structural impediments, encourage small business finance and change the culture of government, so that small businesses can grow and employ more people.”