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Source: Reuters

REUTERS POLL TREND-Australian PM Rudd's support at two-year lows

Published: 17 Mar 2010 21:44:39 PST

CANBERRA, March 18 - Support for Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd remains near two-year lows, although a comeback by conservative rivals appears to have stalled as Rudd moves economic management and health reform to the centre of his re-election push.

The latest Reuters Poll Trend found Rudd's government has a 7.2-point lead over the opposition, with 53.6 percent support compared to the opposition's 46.4 percent on the key two party basis which decides Australian elections.

The result, only fractionally down from February, shows Rudd has contained fallout from a bungled home insulation programme that opened his government to opposition attacks in parliament, and may strengthen his push for ambitious health funding reforms. <------------------------------------------------------------

For graphic on the Reuters Poll Trend: http://r.reuters.com/gas34j

For graphic on preferred PM ratings: http://r.reuters.com/has34j ------------------------------------------------------------->

If the result carried through to an election expected late in the year, Rudd's government would easily be returned with an increased majority that would reinforce his arguments for not only health changes, but also carbon trading and taxation reform.

Rudd's centre-left government has been frustrated by an obstructionist upper house Senate in which the conservatives hold the largest voting bloc, and he has been unable to deliver on several key election promises, hurting his popularity in recent months.

The conservative coalition remains deeply opposed to many of Rudd's key programmes and under new leader Tony Abbott, has won support from business for its opposition to carbon emissions trading, which Abbott has warned will increase taxation.

The next regular Australian election is due toward the end of 2010. Rudd won the last election with 52.7 percent of the two-party vote.

Rudd remains preferred Prime Minister with 55.6 percent support, down from a high of 70.7 in April 2008, compared to Abbott's 31.7 percent.

For a full table of Poll Trend results, click on [ID:nSGE62G05N].

For a Q+A on whether Rudd could lose elections, click on [ID:nSGE62F05U].

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