Tony Abbott. Photo by Getty
Tony Abbott has laughed off suggestions that his
weakening approval rating as coalition leader should prompt a
departure from the Liberal party's top job.
The latest Nielsen opinion poll showed Mr Abbott's
disapproval rating at 63 per cent, the second-worst in the
But the opposition leader defended himself and the actions of
"The coalition has been doing the right thing by the people
of Australia," he said, laughing after being asked by a
reporter if the poll result should see him step aside from
"We have been holding a bad government to account. We have
been demonstrating that we are a credible alternative. We've
been saying to the Australian people `it can be better than
Among Liberal politicians, Mr Abbott's disapproval rating
came second only to Andrew Peacock's rating of 72 per cent
recorded in October 1984.
The latest poll, published by Fairfax Media on Monday, put
the coalition ahead of Labor by 52-48 per cent on a two-party
preferred basis, while Julia Gillard remained preferred prime
minister, leading Mr Abbott 50-40 per cent.
Labor's primary vote, which has been at 34 per cent for the
past three months, was at 35 per cent while the coalition's
fell two points to 43 per cent and the Greens fell two points
to 10 per cent.
Damaging Mr Abbott's image was his handling of the Australian
Workers' Union issue and pursuit of Ms Gillard over some
minor legal work she did pro-bono for the union 20 years ago,
said Nielsen director John Stirton.
Treasurer Wayne Swan further labelled Mr Abbott "a thug when
it comes to personal attacks".
"Every time the government hyperventilates about the
opposition it demonstrates it has no positive plans for the
future of our country," Mr Abbott said of the treasurer's
Of the AWU issue, he stood by the coalition's call for a
judicial inquiry and said it should be remembered that a
member of the Labor government first raised the item.
Mr Abbott left London yesterday, where he spent five days
attending a series of meetings.