Prime Minister John Howard has warned his colleagues the next few months will be the most crucial in the life of his government.

He told yesterday’s party room meeting that while the Budget is a good one, MPs should not expect an immediate turnaround in the polls.

He said the past few weeks had been good for the Government, but he warned Labor was hungry for an election win and would do anything to take power.

“This will be arguably the most crucial few months the Government has faced since 1996,” the PM said. “We are a long way behind, we must see everything go right.”

Howard cautioned coalition MPs against expecting a sudden turnaround in the polls after the Budget.

“We are dealing with a party which is determined to do anything to win, they’re desperate to win – they’re hungry for office,” he said.

“If we lose, for the first time since Federation, every government in Australia will be Labor and they’ll be dominated by the trade unions. The Labor Party is run by the unions.

“For the sake of our country, we cannot have Australia run by wall-to-wall Labor governments,” he said.

The PM said the recent ALP national conference had damaged Kevin Rudd, as because it was obvious he had not paid attention to the detail of the party’s industrial relations policy.

“He left it to Gillard, who gave the unions what they asked for,” he claimed.

Howard told the party room a perception Labor was controlled by unions had taken hold in the community over the past two weeks.

The party room spokesman said MPs told the meeting that unions are out of touch.

It’s clear to see the line of attack. The Prime Minister hopes that fears about Labor’s economic skills, doubts about the competency of state government – combined with some good old union bashing – will make voters think twice about booting him out.