JULIA Gillard is ending the year with Labor's vote again creeping up, in an Age-Nielsen poll showing Tony Abbott has suffered a backlash from the Coalition's intense pursuit of the AWU affair.
Mr Abbott's disapproval has risen three points to 63 per cent - the second highest for an opposition leader in the poll's 40-year history - while nearly two-thirds of those aware of the issue were critical of how he handled the slush fund affair.
Labor's two-party vote has increased a point to 48 per cent since mid-November but the Coalition, on 52 per cent (down a point), would still win an election held now.
Abbott's popularity hits new low
Tony Abbott's popularity among voters has fallen once again, with the AWU affair apparently backfiring on the opposition leader.PT4M43S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2bhsq 620 349 December 16, 2012
The ALP primary vote is up one point to 35 per cent - the highest since November 2010. This comes after the vote had plateaued on 34 per cent for three months. The Coalition has fallen two points to 43 per cent and the Greens are down two points to 10 per cent.
Of the 75 per cent aware of the AWU affair - in which Ms Gillard, as a lawyer, advised on setting up an entity from which her then-boyfriend and another official siphoned money - 47 per cent approved of her recent handling of the issue, while 40 per cent disapproved. In sharp contrast, only 24 per cent approved of Mr Abbott's handling of it, with 64 per cent disapproving. More Coalition voters disapproved than approved.
More than seven in 10 said the AWU matter had not influenced their view of the Prime Minister.
Her approval is down a point to 46 per cent, her disapproval is up two points to 50, giving her a net approval of minus four.
Mr Abbott's approval is down two points to 34 per cent, a new personal low. His 63 per cent disapproval is a personal record and the highest for an opposition leader since Andrew Peacock's 72 per cent in October 1984. Mr Abbott's net approval is minus 29 per cent.
Ms Gillard has widened to a 10 point lead over Mr Abbott as preferred PM - 50 per cent (down a point) to 40 per cent (a fall of 2 points). Pollster John Stirton said: ''The ALP ends 2012 roughly where it began. Labor is competitive - but would lose an election held now with a swing of 2-3 per cent''.
The ALP might have been assisted in the Nielsen poll of 1400, taken Thursday to Saturday, by its strong attack on the Coalition after Justice Steven Rares on Wednesday threw out the sexual harassment case against former speaker Peter Slipper brought by his then staffer James Ashby.
The government continued to prevaricate on Sunday over whether it will set up an inquiry into the Ashby affair, in which Justice Rares said former minister Mal Brough, Liberal National party candidate for Mr Slipper's seat of Fisher, had joined with Mr Ashby to seek to damage Mr Slipper. Leader of the House Anthony Albanese said ''we're getting proper advice about what options are available''.
He seized on the admission by opposition whip Warren Entsch - first reported by Fairfax Media in May - that he had heard of the coming story the night before it was published and tried to ring Mr Abbott - his phone went to voicemail.
Mr Albanese called on Mr Abbott to release computer records which indicated his press release had been generated the night before the Ashby claims were published. Mr Abbott's office said the time coding reflected an IT error.