Polls apart: Gillard gets taste of good, bad, ugly
ALP backbencher Kevin Rudd during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares
You can picture the scene. A new day has just dawned in the national capital. The Prime Minister has barely opened an eye - not even had time for a cup of tea - as an adviser hovers nervously: ''PM, do you want the good news or the bad news?''
On Tuesday, a new poll rang out across the land. But as Julia Gillard supporters winced in anticipation, came these encouraging stats: Labor's primary vote was up (up!) three points, narrowing the two-party chasm to 52 per cent to 48 per cent (Tony Abbott's way). The faceless men could put their faces back on.
But the poll also chimed a more sinister note. If Rudd was Labor leader, the ALP's two-party position high-jumped to 56 per cent, with the Coalition trailing at a mere 44 per cent. Where did that leave people's mugs? As the day got out of bed and headed into the office, things continued to give with one hand and snatch away with the other.
Nationals MP Darren Chester diverted from the Coalition script to offer Gillard some (kind of) words of support. The Victorian MP said he had noticed an un-Australian vibe from members of the public regarding Gillard in recent weeks.
''I must say that I am disturbed by the tone of the political debate and the increasingly personal nature of the attacks on our Prime Minister,'' he told reporters. ''I believe we need to lay off the Prime Minister.''
The good tidings continued over on the juicy green front lawns, where Gillard was marking Canberra's 100th birthday, complete with a glass of centenary champagne. Cheers, Darren!
But if the Coalition was taking the high road and the latest poll had, at the very least, confused people, the public was harder to win over.
A gaggle of anti-Gillard/ALP protesters had also gathered outside Parliament, complete with head gear that read ''extreme wing nut + proud of it''.
In other words, hold that second glass of bubbles. Indeed, the displeasure followed the Prime Minister into the chamber, where five members of the public had the gumption to call out while she and then Albo were at the dispatch box.
''You liar!'' yelled a man from the galleries, who sat there as if nothing had happened for a few minutes until the guards turfed him out. ''You're out of control!'' came another woman's shout, as the Prime Minister defended the government's 457 visa stance.
But if anyone noticed that Gillard had more unscripted interaction with the general public during half an hour of question time than she did during a whole five days in western Sydney, they didn't say a thing.