24 Feb 2012

ALP prefers Gillard, but polls back Rudd

5:32 pm on 24 February 2012

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard looks to have the numbers in the Australian Labor Party caucus - but opinion polls tell a different story, pitting Kevin Rudd as the much preferred leader.

Ms Gillard says she expects to win a ballot on Monday against the man she deposed in June 2010 and holds the support of various Labor heavyweights including the Treasurer Wayne Swan, Nicola Roxon and Simon Crean.

Mr Rudd has not yet confirmed if he will contest the ballot, but he has said he has significant support - among them Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, Robert McClelland, Martin Ferguson and Kim Carr.

But when it comes to the polls between Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard, the ABC reports it is Mr Rudd who holds the majority of public support.

However, pollsters say those numbers may not matter because current figures show the Labor would be voted out if an election was held now, regardless of who the leader was.

Kevin Rudd arrived back in Australia on Friday morning. He quit as Foreign Minister in Washington DC on Wednesday night while on a diplomatic trip saying he could no longer work with Ms Gillard.

Mr Rudd posed the question of who is best to defeat Tony Abbott in the next elections.

Labor 'will lose next election'

Newspoll chief executive Martin O'Shannessey told Lateline on ABC that the latest results show the Gillard government would lose significantly to the Coalition, led by Tony Abbott.

Mr O'Shannessey said that even if Mr Rudd wins Monday's ballot, it is hard to see any Labor leader beating Mr Abbott.

Galaxy Research and Nielsen Polls report similar results.

Mr Rudd's supporters are likely to point to the poll results when it comes to Monday's ballot and his forces are urging MPs to think about who they want standing beside them during the next election.

Ms Gillard says she will go to the backbench and renounce future bids for the leadership if she fails and called on Mr Rudd to do the same.