Australian Labor Party leader urges supporters to "take a cold shower" over poll results

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The newly appointed leader of the Australian Labor Party, the main opposition party in Australia, Kevin Rudd has urged his supporters to "take a cold shower" after the release of a Newspoll showing a jump in support for the ALP.

The poll showed that the ALP's two-party preferred vote has risen to 55 percent compared to the incumbent government's 45 percent. Mr Rudd is also gaining support as potential Prime Minister with his figures in a "preferred prime minister" poll published by The Australian being only 3 points behind John Howard at 36 percent. In the prior Newspoll, Mr Rudd's predecessor Kim Beazley had only 25 percent support.

Speaking during his "listening" tour in the Queensland city of Townsville, Mr Rudd said that the poll indicated a protest vote against the Howard government and was not an endorsement for him or the ALP.

"I think what you're seeing in these polls today is really a protest vote against Mr Howard about becoming more and more out of touch," Mr Rudd said. "I don't think at this stage the process represents an entrenched vote for me, or for the Labor Party.".

Mr Rudd conceded that he would need to "work hard over the next nine months to earn the electorate's respect". The next election is expected to be held in late-2007 and will be called by the Governor-General at the request of the Prime Minister.

Mr Howard said he expected for the ALP to lead polls for months as the new leader goes through a "honeymoon period". Speaking on Southern Cross Radio, Mr Howard said "I knew that Labor would get a bounce in the polls. That was going to happen and it doesn't surprise me in the least bit. When you have a new leader, the new leader has a honeymoon. I would expect Labor to be comfortably ahead in the polls for several months and it won't be until well into next year that we'll get a better fix on how the Government and the Opposition are going."