( AFP ) - Australian Prime Minister John Howard has narrowed the distance between his conservative coalition and the opposition but is still facing defeat at this month's election, a poll released Tuesday showed.
The Newspoll puts the centre-left Labor Party led by Kevin Rudd ahead 53 percent to 47 percent once the minor parties are stripped out.
But the survey of 1,708 voters showed that Howard has won back some lost ground, while the Labor Party has squandered its lead on green issues, with support for its environment policies slumping 10 points in the past month.
The poll found the gap between the government and the opposition has narrowed from eight to six percentage points since last week's poll, and is the smallest since before Rudd became Labor leader in December.
The prime minister has improved his personal performance rating, with 49 percent saying they were satisfied, compared with 47 percent in the previous poll.
Howard has also gained ground on the question of who would make the better prime minister, moving from 41 to 43 percent, according to the survey published in The Australian.
Rudd, however, remains the preferred prime minister, nabbing 47 percent of the vote, with 10 percent uncommitted.
But it was on the environment that voters appeared to have altered their support, with only 29 percent of respondents saying they supported Labor's policies, compared with 39 percent in October.
Support for the government's green policies was only slightly lower, down from 25 to 24 percent, it said.
The Australian said Labor had lost support over a series of green blunders, including the party's environment spokesman Peter Garrett's support for a controversial pulp mill in Tasmania.
Garrett, a former rockstar, also hit the headlines this week for telling a radio shockjock that Labor would change its policies once elected. Garrett later said the comment was a joke.