"Tony Abbott would still win federal election despite Kevin Rudd's return as Labor leader, new poll reveals"
A NEW opinion poll shows the Coalition still on track for an election win.
The poll of 3000 respondents, taken last night, still has the Opposition leading the Government despite a big improvement in the Labor vote.
The Coalition leads 52-48 per cent after preferences.
If that result was repeated at an election, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would be able to form government with a comfortable majority of about 20 seats.
Mr Rudd is preferred Prime Minister in the 7News Reachtel poll, leading Mr Abbott 52-48 per cent.
Voters were evenly split on the merits of the Labor leadership change with 44 per cent agreeing with the decision to replace Julia Gillard with Mr Rudd, while 42 per cent disagreed.
It follows a Morgan Poll - conducted in the hours after Mr Rudd won the leadership battle - that showed his return had lifted Labor by five points to a two-party vote of 49.5 compared with 50.5 per cent for the Coalition.
Labor cabinet minister Jason Clare today said Mr Rudd's return as leader had spooked the Coalition, which thought it would have an easy win at the Federal Election.
"The Liberal party has been very cocky for three years; they weren't cocky yesterday,' the Home Affairs Minister told the Nine Network.
"They know now that the fight is on and there's a real competition at the next election.'
Mr Clare said he switched his vote from Ms Gillard to Mr Rudd at Wednesday's leadership ballot because he believed Labor was heading to a massive defeat under her leadership.
"This makes us more competitive. I can tell that just from yesterday in the Parliament.'
Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop said the return of Mr Rudd did not mean the Liberal Party would need to change its tactics.
"Why do we need to change our tactics? We've been expecting this,' Ms Bishop said.
She also disputed the new leader has boosted Labor's chances at the polls.
"I don't accept that because the policies are still the same.'
Carbon tax high on agenda
The results come as business leaders and Victorian voters in the nation's most marginal seat have pleaded for Mr Rudd to call an election now, amid reports he is expected to dump the controversial carbon tax in favour of an emissions trading scheme.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the carbon tax, which is due to rise by $1.15 per tonne to $24.15 next week, will top the agenda when Mr Rudd convenes his first cabinet meeting on Monday.
"This is a priority issue," a source close to Mr Rudd said.
Mr Rudd is widely expected to move forward the end of the fixed carbon price period by a year to 2014 - easing pressure on business, but lowering the money reaped by the scheme.
However, in a signal that he would conduct a consensus government, Mr Rudd indicated to colleagues no changes would be made without approval of the cabinet.
Election date game
Mr Rudd has indicated Ms Gillard's nominated date of September 14 was unlikely because it clashed with Yom Kippur. If it is held earlier that would also mean the controversial local government referendum will be shelved.
Mid to late August were last night seen as the most likely poll dates.
Mr Rudd suggested he would return to the practice of John Howard and others by keeping the date his strategic secret until he was ready but said "it's not going to be a huge variation one way or the other".
Mr Abbott said: "We should have an election as soon as possible because it's really the people's job to choose the Government and the Prime Minister."
Voters in Corangamite, Australia's most marginal seat, also demanded an election.
Business groups warned that patience with the Government's "anti-business policies" was close to breaking point and a poll was needed to get shoppers spending again.
There also was anger in corporate Australia that one of the first pieces of legislation passed under the new PM was a crackdown on 457 visa rules for foreign workers
Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said Mr Rudd had "missed a vital opportunity" to restore business confidence.
Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Mark Stone said it was time to clear the air and have an election.
"The change in leadership and resignation of a third of the Cabinet will not produce the stability business needs, nor will it reverse the anti-business policies this Parliament has delivered," he said.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said: "The quicker an election date is decided the better it is for the country."
Mr Rudd is due to name his cabinet today, which will include Senator Penny Wong, Science Minister Don Farrell and Defence Minister Stephen Smith - who's planning to retire from politics at the election.
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said the Rudd government was already in disarray, with a third of the cabinet having resigned and major policies up in the air.
"This is a joke, it's a bad joke. The Australian people are paying a price, that's the problem,' he told Seven this morning.
Mr Rudd was yesterday sworn in as PM by Governor-General Quentin Bryce at Government House with wife Therese Rein, his children and granddaughter, 1. Anthony Albanese became Deputy PM and Chris Bowen Treasurer.
On her last day in Parliament, Ms Gillard came close to tears as independent Rob Oakeshott said he sent her a message that her late father "would be proud of her."