Gillard's party maintain a slim edge in Oz: Poll

Ms Julia Gillard's Labour party has edged past the Liberal-National coalition in the August 21 general elections in Australia, even as the country's first woman Prime Minister maintained a decent lead over her rival, Mr Tony Abbott, for the top job, a new poll has indicated. The latest Newspoll survey into its final weeks ahead of the vote showed that Prime Minister, Ms Gillard, has outpaced the conservative opposition leader Abbot by 52 per cent to 48. Meanwhile, the coalition remained well clear of Labour on primary vote support, and more people were coming to think the coalition will win the August 21 vote. Opposition Liberal party leader, Mr Abbott, officially launched the coalition's election campaign on Sunday while Ms Gillard started setting out her agenda for the future. There was no change in preferred prime minister, with Ms Gillard maintaining a 15-point lead over Abbott, 49 per cent to 34 per cent. The latest Newspoll, taken between Friday and last night indicated that the Labour government again squeezed in front on a two-party-preferred basis, using preference flows from the 2007 election, 52 per cent to 48 per cent, according to 'The Australian'. Previous weekend, Labour and Coalition were neck to neck at 50 per cent each. Primary support for the Coalition fell two percentage points to 42 per cent last weekend and Labour's primary vote went from 37 per cent to 38 per cent, it added. Mr Abbott's personal approval went back to where it was two weeks ago with a fall of three percentage points to 41 per cent with his dissatisfaction rose by three points to 49 per cent. Ms Gillard's approval ratings were virtually unchanged at 43 per cent satisfaction and 41 per cent dissatisfaction, although the dissatisfaction level is the highest she has recorded since becoming Prime Minister on June 24, it said. Party strategists believe there are huge regional differences in support for the government and there are still a large number of voters who have not yet decided how they will vote. According to the Newspoll survey, 57 per cent of respondents said they would vote for the party they nominated in the poll. However, 32 per cent said there was still a chance they would change their mind. The level of voter commitment is lower than it was at the same stage of the 2007 election campaign and about the same as when Mark Latham led Labour in the 2004 campaign.

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