AS the parliament returns from the winter break, the Labor leader – whose personal rating is starting to rise after taking a battering over the carbon tax and other issues – has urged her ministers and backbenchers to talk up the government’s reform agenda.
“In this parliamentary session we’ve got some big legislation to deliver, legislation that’s right in the Labor tradition,” she told a meeting of her ministry in Canberra on Monday morning.
The prime minister said she understood Australians were watching global economic developments with some concern, but there was “no better place in the world to be than Australia as we deal with this global instability”.
She told a caucus meeting later, ahead of Tuesday’s sitting, that the government would not “leave anyone behind”, pointing to proposed reform in the areas of disability and aged care.
Gillard gains in latest polls
Her comments came as two polls showed the prime minister’s stocks were rising, but the coalition holding on to an election-winning lead.
The latest Nielsen poll published in Fairfax newspapers showed the coalition holds a two-party-preferred vote of 58 per cent, down three points.
There’s been a four point jump in the prime minister’s approval rating, to 38 per cent, while her disapproval has fallen five points to 57 per cent.
It came after Ms Gillard announced a deal with Malaysia on asylum seekers, resumed the live cattle trade to Indonesia and unveiled health reforms.
At the same time the approval rating for Mr Abbott – who has been in Europe on leave for just over a week but returned to Canberra on Monday for a shadow cabinet meeting – is down four points to 43 per cent and his disapproval rating is up four to 52 per cent.
An Essential poll also showed a rising approval and dipping disapproval rating for the prime minister, and the worst approval rating for Mr Abbott since the start of the year.
The poll also for the first time in weeks gave the Labor leader a narrow lead as preferred prime minister.
Mr Abbott told reporters that this week marked the anniversary of the Labor leader pledging there would be no carbon tax – a pledge she broke after the federal election.
“This government fundamentally lacks legitimacy, not because it lacks a majority but because it lacks integrity and nothing more highlights the government’s lack of integrity that this monumental broken promise,” Mr Abbott said.
But Mr Abbott’s bid to shift the focus back onto the carbon tax looks set to be distracted by calls within his party for workplace reform.
High-profile Liberal backbencher John Alexander says small businesses want to be able to negotiate penalty rates on an individual basis – a policy similar to the now defunct Work Choices.
Mr Abbott would not respond directly to the comments, only saying the coalition’s policy would be “based on problem solving not ideology”.