Labor embraces voters' warmer view of carbon tax

SENIOR federal ministers have seized on yesterday's Herald/Nielsen poll to back their claims that Tony Abbott's scare campaign over the price on carbon has begun to unravel.

But not everyone in the ALP was buoyed by the results.

Those who think Julia Gillard's leadership is terminal pointed out that Labor's primary vote remains disastrously low, despite attitudes to the carbon tax softening.

The poll, taken a month after the introduction of the tax, shows the proportion of voters who thought they would be worse off under the policy has slumped dramatically, while the proportion of those who feel it will make no difference has soared.

The Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, said people were now judging the carbon price by what they were actually experiencing, not what Mr Abbott was telling them. ''Now that the carbon price is in, people can test Tony Abbott's deceit against their actual experience and they are finding that Tony Abbott has been deceitful,'' he said.

The Trade Minister, Craig Emerson, said the poll was ''a big turnaround in people's attitudes'' and was bad news for Mr Abbott, who had claimed ''the sky would fall to the ground''.

''The only thing that's fallen to the ground is Mr Abbott's scare campaign and Mr Abbott's personal credibility,'' he said.

In last month's poll, taken just before the carbon price began, 51 per cent felt they would be worse off, 37 per cent felt it would make no difference and just 5 per cent felt they would be better off.

The latest poll finds 38 per cent feel they are worse off, a drop of 13 percentage points, while 52 per cent feel it has made no difference, an increase of 15 points. Again, just 5 per cent believe they are better off.

As Mr Abbott continued his campaign against the carbon tax yesterday, he dismissed the poll's findings, saying a large proportion of the population would be hurt by the policy.

The poll also found Labor's primary vote at 30 per cent and that twice as many voters preferred Kevin Rudd as Labor leader to Julia Gillard.

One Labor MP who backs a change of leader said so long as the main numbers remained depressed, pressure for a leadership change would continue.

The Labor MP Graham Perrett, who backs Ms Gillard, said the poll's findings on the carbon tax were ''one step in that journey towards convincing Australians of the right way to go''.

Anecdotally, MPs report complaints about the carbon tax in their electorates have abated and concerns about asylum seekers - who are arriving in record numbers - are more prominent.

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