FIRST ON 7: A 7News ReachTEL poll has found opposition Communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull is far more popular than his own leader, Tony Abbott - and even more popular than Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
The poll of almost 3000 people taken overnight found 65% of Australians prefer Mr Turnbull over Mr Rudd as Prime Minister.
A hypothetical leadership change in the coalition would see the opposition’s two party preferred vote soar to 58% compared to Labor’s 42%.
As it stands, 52% of voters prefer Mr Rudd over Mr Abbott, but the coalition still leads in the all-important two party preferred vote by a margin of just two per cent – within the three per cent margin of error.
The result is a six-point leap for Labor since April, but would still see Kevin Rudd kicked out of the Lodge if an election were held today.
Early election speculation
The poll comes as speculation mounts that Mr Rudd will head to an early election to capitalise on his popularity since re-taking the Labor leadership in June.
The West Australian reports the Prime Minister is eyeing an August 31 election as he seeks a mandate for changes to the carbon tax.
Speaking at the National Press Club yesterday, Treasurer Chris Bowen suggested parliament would not resume this year, meaning an October or November election is unlikely.
Local government minister Catherine King added to the speculation by saying the Labor government would be willing to hold the referendum on constitutional recognition of local government separate from an election.
The referendum was scheduled to be held on former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s preferred election date of September 14, but Ms King says that is no longer necessary.
The earliest date Mr Rudd could hold an election is August 24, but an upcoming special Labor caucus meeting on Monday means August 31 or September 21 are more likely.
Mr Rudd has ruled out September 14 for the election, and the weekend of September 7 is unlikely because of the G20 summit in Russia.
Rudd expected to announce asylum seeker policy
Mr Rudd is today expected to announce a significant shift in Labor’s asylum seeker policy, taking an even tougher stance on people attempting to reach Australia by boat.
The asylum seeker issue is seen as Labor's main electoral weakness, and an area in which Mr Rudd needs to re-assert his authority as Prime Minister.
Since resuming the top job in June, Mr Rudd has attempted to re-take control of the discussion on the economy by challenging Mr Abbott to a series of debates – an invitation the opposition leader did not take up.
Rudd's new emissions trading scheme
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister announced he plans to bring forward the move to an emissions trading scheme by ‘terminating’ the carbon tax.
Mr Rudd has released the details of his plan to switch to a European-style floating price system a year early, saying it would lead to a reduction in the cost of living which would save an average family $380 a year from July 1, 2014.
Speaking in Townsville, he said households would continue to receive financial assistance and businesses would pay less for carbon permits.
The cost will be offset by new savings measures, including $1.8 billion raised by changing the fringe benefits tax for employer-provided or salary-sacrificed cars.