Embattled Australia PM Determined to Stay in Job


Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Monday she was determined to hold on to power until the next election in 2013 as two new polls showed she would be dumped by voters if one was called now.

Amid rising speculation that former Labor leader Kevin Rudd, ousted by his then deputy Gillard in a sudden party coup in mid-2010, will challenge for the leadership, the prime minister said she would stand firm.

"I will be prime minister until the 2013 election and then the people of Australia will have their say," she said.

The latest Nielsen poll published in the Sydney Morning Herald showed Gillard's center-left Labor Party has made gains since last month, rising three percentage points, but still polling at a dire 30 percent.

The conservative opposition Liberal/National coalition was at 48 percent.

Once minor parties' preferences were taken into account, Labor would be swept from power in a 57 percent to 43 percent landslide if an election was held today, the poll showed.

It was a similar story in a Galaxy poll in News Limited papers which had opposition leader Tony Abbott's coalition ahead 58 percent to Labor's 42 percent.

Both polls showed Rudd, now foreign minister, was overwhelmingly the more popular choice as Labor leader.

According to the Nielsen poll, 61 percent of voters preferred Rudd compared to 30 percent for Gillard, while Galaxy had him ahead 53 percent to Gillard's 29 percent.

Australia's last national election, held in August 2010, ended in a deadlocked parliament and Gillard rules only with the help of three independents and a Greens lawmaker.

The opposition has ramped up calls for a new election after the lower house last week passed a deeply divisive pollution tax, an idea which Gillard had rejected in the lead-up to winning office.