Early opinion poll heavily favours Coalition

SOUTH-WEST residents hoping for a marginal seat this September will be disappointed by the pro-Coalition results produced by Wannon voters in a national poll of more than 3000 Australians. 

Readers have used Fairfax Regional Media's inaugural national poll, Election 2013: Hot or Not?, to deliver a resounding vote of no confidence in Labor and its leader, Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The poll, which attracted 3200 responses across the country, was designed to gauge the political temperature of rural and regional Australia.

Less than 30 per cent of those who participated said they would vote for Labor at the September election. 

Asked to rate Ms Gillard’s performance as Prime Minister, 62 per cent said it had been poor or very poor. 

In another body blow, one in three didn’t even know the government’s key salesman in the bush, Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean, existed.

Of the 57 south-west residents who took part in the online survey, 34 per cent did not know there was a Minister for Regional Australia.

The result suggests the billions of dollars thrown at country infrastructure projects — a key sweetener in Labor’s 2010 minority government agreement with independent rural MPs — has failed to sway voters.

Survey participants overwhelmingly backed the Coalition: nearly 55 per cent said they would vote for it at the ballot box. 

About 52 per cent of Warrnambool respondents said they would give their primary vote to the Coalition, while almost 29 per cent chose Labor, seven per cent favoured Independents, under five per cent chose the Greens and the rest selected “Other”.

But the results weren’t all positive for Tony Abbott.

More than 43 per cent overall thought the Opposition Leader’s performance had been very poor or poor. 

On a brighter note, Mr Abbott secured the prized position as preferred prime minister, with Malcolm Turnbull coming in second.

The two were tied among south-west voters as the most popular candidates for the top job, each receiving 30 per cent approval, while Ms Gillard won only 19 per cent of votes. 

Click here to see an interactive summary of the national survey results.

Half of the south-west respondents said they were satisfied with the performance of member for Wannon Dan Tehan, with 45 per cent either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

Nationally those surveyed were almost evenly split over the performance of their local member — 33 per cent were dissatisfied and 32.9 per cent were satisfied.

In a surprise result to many, just 13.5 per cent of respondents said Kevin Rudd was their preferred PM.

The mining tax and national debt were rated as the federal issues of highest importance among Warrnambool residents, with economic management scoring the lowest of the 10 issues listed.

This result was the polar opposite of most respondents, with economic management, trust and leadership, health and education, immigration and the environment listed as the top five most important issues to consider at the voting booth on September 14.

The National Broadband Network, which promises to transform the way regional Australia works and plays, was not the vote-winner the government might have hoped it would be, ranking as the least important election issue.

Fairfax Regional Media’s Election 2013: Hot or Not? opinion poll will be held monthly.


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