The latest monthly Nielsen survey confirms a recent trend of Labor’s already parlous position deteriorating still further. The Coalition has opened up a two-party preferred lead of 56-44, which I believe is a new low for the government in any published poll. Labor’s primary vote has fallen to 31 per cent (down two on the previous Nielsen poll), with the Coalition on 47 per cent (up two) and the Greens on 12 per cent (steady). Neither Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott are favoured to lead their respective parties, although there must always be the suspicion that such results are contaminated by mischief-making from supporters of the rival party. Kevin Rudd has opened a big lead over Gillard of 55-38, while Malcolm Turnbull leads Tony Abbott 41-28. Gillard’s approval rating is down two to 45 per cent while her disapproval is up three to 50 per cent; Abbott’s approval is down one to 41 per cent and his disapproval is down one to 51 per cent. Both sets of figures are actually better than what they’ve been getting lately from other pollsters.

The poll also gauged opinion on the carbon tax proposal, finding opposition has mounted from 44 per cent to 56 per cent to 59 per cent since February, while support is at 34 per cent. Andrew Wilkie’s call for limits on poker machines is rather more popular, with 66 per cent support. Echoing other poll results, respondents purport to be relaxed about whether the budget returns to surplus as promised by 2012-13, but clearly the government believes the matter will serve as a litmus test of its economic management credentials.