Australians in love with Kevin Rudd

Other News Materials 19 February 2008 04:03 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Australians are even more enamoured of Kevin Rudd than when they elected him prime minister in November, an opinion poll released Tuesday showed.

The Labor Party leader is the most popular premier since polling began - eight times better-liked than Brendan Nelson, who as Liberal Party leader is the alternative prime minister.

Rudd is the preferred prime minister of 70 per cent of those quizzed by Newspoll for The Australian newspaper. Only 9 per cent favoured Nelson, who became the first opposition leader to fall into single figures since polling began in 1987.

Last week's apology in parliament to Aborigines for past mistreatment helped Rudd to record popularity.

Almost seven out of 10 supported the apology to the so called "Stolen Generations" - the same proportion who agreed with Rudd that compensation should not be paid to those who were taken from their families in a misguided attempt at integration that ran for most of a century and ended in the 1970s.

Also buoying support for the mop-topped former diplomat was the accession to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which was Rudd's first act when he succeeded John Howard as prime minister. Over almost 12 years in office Howard had refused to ratify Kyoto and join every other developed country except the United States in accepting binding emissions-reduction targets.

Into only his second parliamentary week - and yet to celebrate his first 100 days in office - Rudd can expect further kudos from inviting 1,000 eminent citizens for a weekend summit in Parliament House in April at which the nation's future will be mapped out.

Political pundits have marvelled at the ardour of the Rudd honeymoon, with Sydney Morning Herald columnist Gerard Henderson noting that left-leaning colleagues were still swooning over the Mandarin-speaker.

He quoted Catherine Deveny, writing in The Age, who told her readers that on the morning after the electoral landslide that swept Rudd into power she "woke and felt like a woman in love ... buzzy and post-coital."