Coalition ahead on Nielsen, as Leaders prepare for debate

Tony Abbott has maintained the Coalition’s election winning lead in the polls, at the end of the first week of the election campaign. AAP/Alan Porritt

Today’s Nielsen poll has the Coalition in front, leading Labor 52-48% on a two-party vote.

As Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott prepare to go head to head in an hour-long debate at the National Press Club tomorrow night, the poll shows a worsening of Labor’s position compared with the Nielsen poll of a month ago, when government and opposition were 50-50. But today’s result is the same as the Newspoll published on Monday. This would give the Coalition a narrow election win.

Labor’s primary vote has fallen 2 points from a month ago, to 37%, while the Coalition’s has risen 2 points to 46%. The Greens are on 10%, up one point. The poll was taken Tuesday to Thursday.

In further evidence that the Rudd honeymoon has faded, the Prime Minister’s approval is down 3 points to 48%, while his disapproval is up 4 points to 47%. Abbott’s approval has climbed 4 points to 45%, and his disapproval is down 4 points to 52%.

Rudd has also lost ground as preferred PM (down 5 points) although he retains a comfortable 50-42% lead over his opponent, who is up one point.

As the campaign goes into its second week, Labor will be concerned about how to get more momentum.

Rudd said yesterday: “We entered this race as the underdogs. We are still the underdogs.

"We are up against a whole bunch of opposition. We are up against a ferocious advertising campaign …funded in part by tobacco companies.

"We are up against the clearly defined position of Mr Murdoch through his papers that he wants Mr Abbott elected.

"But we intend to fight this one through to the very conclusion.”

Rudd challenged Abbott to issue his list of cuts before next Tuesday’s release of the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the final numbers which are signed off by the departmental heads of Treasury and Finance.

The PM also said people were asking about the future of the GST. He said Abbott was saying it was effectively on the table for a Coalition government to extend the rate and reach of the GST, presumably to include food. An increase in the GST to 12.5% and its extension to food would see a two litre carton of milk rise by 25 cents and a jar of Vegemite go from $4.17 to $4.69.

Abbott yesterday backed off the opposition’s earlier threat to reject the PEFO numbers. He said “the best estimate going will be PEFO. Hopefully it will be more accurate than previous figures that we’ve had and we will obviously be working off PEFO figures.”

He also said a Coalition government would set up within a month of taking office a judicial inquiry into Labor’s home insulation scheme, which cost several lives and caused many fires.