4 Feb 2013

Govt down in polls after election announcement

8:29 pm on 4 February 2013

Support for the federal government in Australia has slumped, in the first opinion poll taken since prime minister Julia Gillard set the date for the 2013 general election.

In the latest Newspoll survey, Labor's primary vote was down six points to 32% , while the Coalition was up four points to 48%.

Ms Gillard's support as the preferred prime minister fell four points to 41%. Opposition leader Tony Abbott made ground, jumping six points to 39%.

The prime minister surprised many of her Labor colleagues on Wednesday when she announced the federal election would be held on 14 September.

The ABC reports it was the first of several surprises last week: Independent MP Craig Thomson was arrested on 150 fraud charges on Thursday and two Cabinet members resigned on Saturday.

The charges against Mr Thomson, a former Labor member, relate to his time as head of the Health Services Union. He was later granted bail to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court this week.

Mr Thomson's membership of the Labor Party was suspended last April following a request from Ms Gillard.