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Gillard trending down: Pollster

Worrying numbers for the Gillard government in the first Fairfax/Nielsen poll of 2013. John Stirton discusses the results.

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Kevin Rudd, whose fortunes, according to the bookies, have streaked to Black Caviar territory on the back of the latest Fairfax/Nielsen poll, made himself inscrutably absent from the national stage on Monday.

Having spent the previous week darting from TV studios to radio interviews - at one point, memorably, blaming Treasurer Wayne Swan for the mining tax debacle - he spent the day in Melbourne avoiding reporters to the point that his adviser simply refused to say where he might be found. Even his Twitter account - normally humming - lay silent.

A little sleuthing revealed he spent part of the day attending low-key events among the constituents of Labor backbencher and member for Holt Anthony Byrne. A cameraman who had the temerity to turn up to a school Mr Rudd was visiting in Hallam was barred.

The Age
News
18/02/2013
picture Justin McManus.
Kevin Rudd arriving at a function at the Noble park RSL.

Low profile: Kevin Rudd at the Noble Park RSL. Photo: Justin McManus

It was merely a warm-up for a fund-raiser at the Noble Park RSL, organised by the member for Bruce, Alan Griffin.

Mr Griffin, widely known as Mr Rudd's chief numbers man, was keen to point out the function - a $75-a-plate shindig - had been organised months ago. The rapidly shifting and uncertain dynamics within the Labor Party right now means no one, not even a numbers man, wants to be seen cavorting with Mr Rudd unless they can declare they made the appointment ages ago.

The numbers, which is to say the mood of ALP members and thus the future of their leadership, are uncertain even to the most knowledgeable.

As for whether a humble reporter might be able to squeeze into the function and listen to what Mr Rudd might have to say: ''All the tickets are sold and we know how to recognise you,'' chuckled Mr Griffin.

Mr Rudd's adviser declared the show ''totally private, no media'' and those who answered the phone at the club became instantly wary and out of answers when they realised the media was calling.

The club itself proved out of bounds. Bouncers in all black refused entry to the small knot of reporters (two), photographers (three) and TV cameraman (one) who figured out the venue, declaring the entire building reserved.

Mr Rudd arrived in his big white car 47 minutes late, grinned, offered to the media that ''it's nice to see you'', and rushed away between bouncers and door. It seemed very un-Kevin. Not a word about taking cold showers or putting questions about leadership in cryogenic suspension. He's done all that. Time now, perhaps, for his good work to mingle with the polls; no further comment necessary.

Whatever he might have told members of the club, they have further delights in store.

Roy Orbison and the Legends of Rock is on the bill this weekend, though Roy himself seems unlikely to appear, having decamped in 1988. Members disappointed by the absence of the actual Big O can console themselves with the club's Parma and Pot for $15 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Big Bucks Bingo every Monday and Wednesday.

And they can always say Kevin Rudd spoke to them on a steamy day when, unaccountably, he was dodging everyone waiting to discover whether a storm would break his way.

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