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Flatlining

Federal Labor and Julia Gillard have experienced no improvement in the latest Fairfax/Nielsen poll, despite seeing off Kevin Rudd.

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Labor's national broadband network is more popular than the Coalition's cheaper version, according to the first national poll on the policies.

Of those who had heard about the government's NBN, about 63 per cent of those surveyed supported it, reveals the Fairfax/Nielsen poll of 1400 Australians.  However, of those who have heard about the Coalition's alternative, only 41 per cent back it.

Support for Labor's NBN was consistently high across the states with most registering levels of support between 60 and 70 per cent. 

The poll was taken from last Thursday to Saturday, two days after Tony Abbott and his communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull launched their NBN policy. 

Labor's version of the network will cost an estimated $37.4 billion in capital expenditure and involves running fibre optic cables to 93 per cent of homes around the country.

The Coalition's plan will cost about $17 billion less and involves the cheaper method of running fibre to cabinets on street corners, then switching to copper telephone lines to move the data across the ''last mile'' from the footpath to the house.

The NBN has long been one of Labor's most popular policies with more than 70 per cent of Australians supporting it in the most recent Essential poll.

Many commentators believe the Coalition announced its NBN policy so early in the election season to mollify fears that an Abbott government would ''demolish'' the high-speed network. 

The Coalition has been criticised heavily since announcing its cheaper, scaled-back NBN. A social media campaign has branded the policy ''fraudband'' and images are circulating online that portray Mr Abbott as a Luddite. Images of his face have been photoshopped next to tin can telephones and mocking slogans including ''stop the bytes''. 

But such criticisms do not appear to have dented the Coalition's popularity. In the same Fairfax/Nielsen poll, Labor's primary vote fell two percentage points to 29 per cent. The Coalition's primary vote rose two percentage points to 49 per cent. That represents the Coalition's equal highest primary vote since last May at the height of its scare campaign against the carbon tax.

Support for the NBN depends a good deal on which political party one favours. Labor and Greens voters overwhelmingly support the government's plan, with about 85 per cent backing the faster and more expensive network. The same voters dismiss the Coalition's alternative, with more than 70 per cent from both parties opposing it.

Coalition voters oppose Labor's NBN by a small margin, with 43 per cent for and 48 per cent against. About 60 per cent of Coalition voters support the opposition's alternative network.

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