Back home, PM faces voter back­lash US praise for Gil­lard

Townsville Bulletin - - News -

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.

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