Back home, PM faces voter backlash US praise for Gillard
US President Barack Obama has lavished praise on Julia Gillard, but back home voters have savaged the Prime Minister and Labor’s performance.
On her first visit to the White House as Prime Minister, Ms Gillard was welcomed as America’s closest ally by Mr Obama.
The two held 40 minutes of talks in the Oval Office, which included a lesson in how to hand-pass an Aussie rules football.
But the cheerful scene was in stark contrast to Ms Gillard’s showing in the opinion polls, with Labor’s primary vote plunging to 30 per cent – its lowest ever level – on the back of the proposed carbon tax.
Ms Gillard still holds a 45 per cent to 36 per cent lead as preferred prime minister over Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who has called for a US Tea Party-style ‘‘ people’s revolt’’ against the tax, but even this figure is down 13 points since February.
The clined Prime Minister deto comment on the POWER HOUSE: US President Barack Obama tries kicking an Aussie rules Sherrin football
in the Oval Office, as Prime Minister Julia Gillard gives advice poll, but reaffirmed her intent to bring in a carbon price from July next year followed by an emissions trading scheme.
‘‘ Every day that Mr Abbott is out there stoking fear, we’ll meet it with reason, with facts,’’ she said, adding that the Labor caucus was firmly behind the climate change policy.
Climate change was sidelined to issues of defence and trade during the meeting in the White House with Mr Obama. He praised the Prime Minister and Australia’s efforts in Afghanistan, saying 60 years after the signing of the ANZUS treaty the US has ‘‘ no stronger ally than Australia’’, and that she was doing an ‘‘ outstand- ing job’’.
With the evolving situation in Libya firmly on the agenda, Mr Obama later said Muammar Gaddafi and his regime would be ‘‘ held accountable for whatever violence continues to take place there’’.
He described the invitation to Ms Gillard to address a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday morning ( Washington time) as a ‘‘ high honour that is reserved for only our closest friends’’.
Ms Gillard, who labelled t he t wo nat i o ns ‘ ‘ g r e a t mates’’, said they had talked about economic reforms from last year’s G20 meeting and Australia and the US’s plans to progress the TransPacific Partnership trade agreement.
She said Afghanistan was also a key topic of discussion. ‘‘ I am very personally committed to seeing the mission done and to ensuring we play our part in training the Afghan national army and bringing security to Afghanistan,’’ Ms Gillard said.