Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s popularity has plummeted to a record low after she announced plans for a carbon tax, an opinion poll published this week showed.
The dismal findings come as Ms Gillard is on a high-profile visit to the United States to meet US President Barack Obama and address Congress.
The Newspoll findings show that support for Ms Gillard’s Labor Party has crashed from 36 to 30 per cent in the past fortnight – a level not seen since support for Labor hit 31 per cent under Paul Keating during the 1993 recession.
“In just two weeks, Ms Gillard’s personal support has gone from its best since she became prime minister (50 per cent) in June last year to her worst (39 per cent),’’ The Australian newspaper added in publishing the poll.
The survey of 1,202 people found that most (53 per cent) opposed the carbon tax while only 42 per cent supported Gillard’s plan for the tax, which she plans to replace with a full carbon emissions trading scheme after several years.
Australia is the world’s worst per capita polluter.
The conservative opposition – which has claimed Gillard lied about placing the price on carbon, is enjoying more solid support at 45 per cent – its highest level since March 2006, the paper said.
Speaking from Washington, Gillard refused to comment on the poll but said she knew the carbon reform debate would be “tough’’ and that opposition leader Tony Abbott would run a “ferocious scare campaign’’ on the issue.
“But it’s one that I am determined to win so that we price carbon from the 1st July 2012 and transform our economy into a clean energy economy,” she told reporters on Monday.
“Australians, I believe, will come to see that pricing carbon is the right way of dealing with climate change.”
Abbott’s personal approval rating climbed one point to 39 per cent. – AFP