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Gillard Approval Falls to Record Low on Australia’s Budget Cuts

Australian Prime Minster Julia Gillard’s public support fell to a record low in two opinion surveys as voters said cuts aimed at returning the budget to surplus would harm their quality of life.

Gillard’s approval rating fell four percentage points to 34 percent from two weeks ago, the lowest since she became leader in June 2010, a Newspoll of 1,139 people published in the Australian newspaper today said. A separate Newspoll of 1,201 voters showed 41 percent of respondents said they would be worse off after the budget announced last week. Both surveys had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The drop in popularity means Gillard is likely to finish her full term rather than call an early election, said John Warhurst, a political analyst at the Canberra-based Australian National University. Gillard, who must hold an election by the end of November 2013, yesterday rebuffed opposition Liberal- National coalition leader Tony Abbott’s call for an early vote.

“It’s more bad news for Labor, the government doesn’t seem to be able to communicate with voters,” Warhurst said of the poll results. “Julia Gillard isn’t about to march off and call an election with these ratings. I think she will run the full term.”

Early Election

Abbott called for an early election, saying the government had misled voters over its plan to reduce greenhouse emissions. Gillard said before the 2010 vote that there would be no carbon tax under her government, then as prime minister said an emissions trading system due to start next July would work like a tax before full trading begins. The climate laws need parliamentary approval.

Australia’s May 10 budget toughened rules for family tax benefits and welfare recipients as the government ended 23 years of spending growth to achieve a surplus in the year ending June 30 2013. The budget is the first for Gillard’s government, which was formed with non-party lawmakers after the August election delivered the closest result in 70 years.

“The trouble with this budget is that it was tough on families but it wasn’t tough on waste,” Abbott told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio today. “This is a government that never seems to learn.”

A Nielsen poll published in the Sydney Morning Herald today showed Gillard’s approval rating falling to a record low 43 percent, down from 45 percent a month earlier. The coalition led Labor by eight percentage points in the survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

The Labor party has promised to deliver a surplus to ease inflation from the biggest mining boom in history. It has pledged to create 500,000 new jobs to ease a skills shortage.

“It’s my job as prime minister to be explaining what we need for this nation’s future and that’s what I’m doing with the budget,” Gillard told reporters in Sydney today.