LABOR’S standing on the Border and elsewhere in regional Australia is in tatters, with an online opinion poll delivering a fresh blow to the beleaguered party.
Nearly 60 per cent of Albury-Wodonga voters think Julia Gillard has performed poorly as Prime Minister — on par with the views of the rest of the country.
Readers have used Fairfax Regional Media’s first national poll — Election 2013: Hot or Not? — to deliver their resounding vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister.
More than 260 people from Albury-Wodonga took part in the poll on The Border Mail website between Monday morning and midnight Tuesday.
It attracted 3200 responses.
Less than 30 per cent of those who participated said they would vote for Labor at the September election.
Asked to rate Ms Gillard’s performance as Prime Minister, 62 per cent said it had been poor or very poor.
In another body blow, one in three didn’t even know the government’s key salesman in the bush, Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean, existed.
It was the same on the Border despite Mr Crean delivering the funding for the Albury-Wodonga cancer centre and attending the opening of Wodonga’s The Cube last year.
The snub suggests the billions of dollars thrown at regional infrastructure projects — a key sweetener in Labor’s 2010 minority government agreement with independent rural MPs — has failed to sway voters.
Dr Troy Whitford, a political scientist with Charles Sturt University in Wagga, said Labor had repeatedly neglected opportunities to better connect with regional residents.
“Labor needs to run candidates who are local people; those people have to be prepared to run over a long period of time to build up voter confidence and they need good money to campaign,” Dr Whitford said.
“They are three things Labor hasn’t been able to deliver to the bush in quite some time.”
Not surprisingly, due to the Border’s stranglehold on the conservative seats of Farrer and Indi, the Coalition dominated the poll in all areas.
More than half of Border voters picked the Coalition as the party they’d vote for if the election was held today.
They also believed the Coalition cared more about regional Australia, health and education, would better manage tax and the economy and was better placed to tackle living pressure costs.
Fairfax Regional Media’s Election 2013: Hot or Not? Opinion poll will be conducted monthly.