Prime Minister Julia Gillard received a pleasant surprise after returning from her trip to soldiers in Afghanistan and the Group of 20 leaders summit in France.
The popularity of her Labor Government increased three percentage points to 32 per cent, according to the latest Newspoll published in The Australian. This is a six percentage-point increase since a record low in September.
Ms. Gillard still lags one point behind Opposition Leader Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister and has slightly lower satisfaction ratings. The Coalition leads 53-47 per cent after preferences.
"We're happy with where we sit; it's a large lead," Opposition frontbencher Sen. George Brandis said.
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Despite these numbers, fellow frontbencher Craig Emerson said it was a bit of encouragement for Labor. Abbot’s voter dissatisfaction rating is at a record high of 57 per cent with six out of 10 voters dissatisfied with his performance, and one in three satisfied.
"People are coming to appreciate that Tony Abbott may go down as the best Opposition leader this country has ever seen because he says no, no, no, no, no," Emerson said. "You need more than that if you are going to be a serious candidate."
Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan said this poll appears to reflect the tough decisions the Government has made for the long term. However, opinion polls do not affect it “one way or the other.”
"They don't govern what we do," Swan said in Canberra. "We are going to continue to make the right decisions for the country, irrespective of what the opinion polls say in any particular week."