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Labor to copy Obama poll plan

<i>Illustration: Matt Golding</i>.

Illustration: Matt Golding.

Labor MPs and candidates summoned from around the country will be told to get vigorous local campaigns under way as quickly as possible, at a briefing in Canberra early next month.

In an approach reflecting last year's highly successful Obama strategy, ALP strategists insist the party must have much stronger ''on-the-ground'' campaigns than it did in 2010.

As an Essential poll on Monday showed the ALP trailing the Coalition 46-54 per cent in two-party terms, Labor national secretary George Wright said: ''The field campaign in the election will be critical.''

Pointing to the US Democrats' experience, Mr Wright said the central message to those attending the February 3 meeting would be ''to be effective you must get active and you must get active early''.

''This meeting is an important part of building the infrastructure, resources and activism we will need to beat our opponents on the ground,'' he said.

The role of online activities in building local activism will be part of the discussion.

Private polling is being done for the ALP this month. In a letter to MPs and other candidates, Mr Wright said the meeting - two days before Parliament resumes on February 5 - would be ''an important opportunity to discuss Labor's plans, our research and campaign themes and the tools available for use during the campaign''.

With election year gearing up - Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott fire their first major salvos in appearances on consecutive days at the National Press Club next week - the Essential poll has Labor on a 36 per cent primary vote, the Coalition 48 per cent and the Greens 9 per cent.

This poll is much less encouraging for Labor than last week's Newspoll, in which the ALP primary vote rose to 38 per cent, its strongest level since the election, and Labor's two-party vote was 49 per cent.

MPs are expected to raise two controversial issues - the level of Newstart and the amalgamation of anti-discrimination laws - when caucus meets at the start of the first parliamentary week.

Essential found a three-way split about the adequacy of the unemployment benefit. A quarter thought it too generous, 30 per cent said it was about right, and 33 per cent said it was not high enough.

Senior cabinet minister Anthony Albanese told Sky TV that Newstart would be looked at in the budget context.

''There's an issue with regard to payments for people and an argument is being had in the community … about what the level of payment should be, what is affordable to pay for it and that's an issue that the government will of course consider in the context of our budget considerations,'' he said.

In the poll, those most likely to believe unemployment benefits are not high enough are Labor voters (43 per cent), Greens voters, those on lower incomes, people not working, and those aged 45-64. Those most likely to believe unemployment benefits are too generous are Coalition voters (32 per cent), people aged under 45, those in full-time work and higher-income earners.

The poll also found 52 per cent believe religious organisations should not be allowed to refuse to hire people who don't live according to an organisation's beliefs. The Left in the Labor Party is critical of the government for maintaining exemptions for religious organisations in the consolidated anti-discrimination legislation. Senate hearings on this legislation will be held in Melbourne and Sydney this week.

The opposition supports the continuation of the exemption. Shadow attorney-general George Brandis said it was ''fair enough'' that people who professed a religion that contained certain ethical teachings were entitled to ''conduct their institutions consistently with the teachings of their religion''.

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74 comments

  • Let us hope Australians dig deep within themselves and ask can I really support this wayward Gillard Government, can we as a country really afford another term of their recklessness.

    Commenter
    Lionheart
    Date and time
    January 22, 2013, 8:03AM
    • Unemployment at 5%, inflation below 2% (even with carbon pricing) and interest rates at 3%. Yeah, what a shocking set of numbers. The school rebuilding program not only replaced decades old portable classrooms, it also kept Australia working. Insulation in an additional million houses is reducing heating/cooling costs for families as well as the carbon footprint. The financial world, elsewhere, has recognised Wayne Swan and his work in maintaining jobs and keeping a AAA rating. The lazy way is to deliberately create unemployment like the Liberals are doing in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. Too bad about the families affected.

      Commenter
      Paul
      Location
      Melb
      Date and time
      January 22, 2013, 8:34AM
    • Wish we could have a two-term maximum head of government like in the US and not our 'stay in at any cost' Prime Ministership that we have here. Absolute power corrupts absolutely!

      Commenter
      Torch
      Date and time
      January 22, 2013, 8:59AM
    • No Lionheart, we cannot afford this government to win another term.

      Commenter
      Treasury
      Date and time
      January 22, 2013, 9:01AM
    • I think as people "look deep in their heart" they will say we can't risk reckless Tony Abbott. With his dog whistling, 1950's world views, environmental vandalism and economic illiteracy.

      Under the most difficult of circumstances, Gillard has led Australia in difficult circumstances. Low unemployment, low debt and plans for the future.

      Commenter
      Steve
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      January 22, 2013, 9:08AM
    • "Recklessness"? You're confused and must be referring to the spendthrift Howard/Costello years; according to the IMF report released last week?

      Commenter
      FrankM
      Date and time
      January 22, 2013, 9:17AM
    • Paul

      Please tell us why we have low interest rates.

      Commenter
      $keptic
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      January 22, 2013, 9:24AM
    • @Paul...please define the official Australian government interpretation of "employed".

      Commenter
      Phibes
      Location
      NSW
      Date and time
      January 22, 2013, 9:41AM
    • @Paul - You forgot this set of numbers:
      Lying & betrayal: 50%
      Waste 75%
      Incompetence: 90% (including hundreds of deaths from multiple policy bunglings)
      Union puppets: 100% of them

      @Steve's comment shows the Left have nothing but baseless smear. It shows Abbott is a fine Australian that he has no flaws to mention, such that they have to make stuff up to demonise him. Pathetic. Steve and his ilk takes Australians for fools.

      Commenter
      Gatsby
      Date and time
      January 22, 2013, 9:49AM
    • Phibes, the government (ABS) definition of employed is the same as it has been for the last couple of decades (I think it was changed under Hawke /Keating). It is the same fopr Rudd/Gillards time as for Howard, as it will be for Abbott. So does your scepticism extend to the blue bloods as well?

      Commenter
      Facts are facts
      Date and time
      January 22, 2013, 10:04AM

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