UPDATE 3-Poll advantage narrows for Australia’s Gillard

* Australian PM Gillard slips in election polls

* Miners resume anti-tax campaign

* Opposition upbeat on polls, TV debate

(Adds mining group quote)

By James Grubel

CANBERRA, July 26 (BestGrowthStock) – Australian Prime Minister
Julia Gillard suffered twin setbacks on Monday after a poll
showed her lead slashed ahead of an Aug. 21 election and
smaller miners resumed an advertising campaign against her new
mining tax.

The Newspoll published in the Australian newspaper pointed
to a revival in support for opposition leader Tony Abbott, who
on Sunday was deemed a narrow winner of a televised election
debate.

Abbott, who has promised to scrap the proposed mining tax
if he wins office, was buoyed by the latest poll and his
performance in the leaders’ debate as he campaigned in the
northern Queensland state.

“I do feel pretty good. It’s quite a challenge going before
a national audience, some critical journalists and your
principal political opponent for a full hour. But I thought it
went well,” Abbott told Australian radio.

Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd as prime minister on June 24
and immediately sought to neutralise a tax fight with the
booming mining sector by forging a deal with global miners BHP
Billiton (BLT.AX: ) (BLT.L: ), Rio Tinto (RIO.AX: )(RIO.L: ) and
Xstrata (XTA.L: ), and agreeing to cut the tax from 40 percent to
30 percent.

But small and mid-range mining companies are upset they
were not included in negotiations, and their lobby group. the
Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC),
promised to resume an advertising campaign against the tax.

“We still have an enormous amount of uncertainty out in the
industry,” AMEC chief executive Simon Bennison told reporters
in the western city of Perth. “Investment levels are at their
lowest … especially the exploration sector.”

MINING TAX DEFENDED

Treasurer Wayne Swan defended the government’s compromise
on the mining tax, which is due to start in July 2012, saying
it was good for small miners because it set a A$50 million
($44.8 million) threshold before the tax kicks in.

“We have put in place in the final design, measures that
the small miners asked for,” Swan said in Perth.

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For full Australian election cover, click on [ID:nAUVOTE]

For full cover of the mining tax, click on [ID:nAUTAX]

Online coverage http://www.reuters.com/places/australia

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The latest Newspoll found support for the ruling Labor
Party fell to 52 percent from 55 percent a week ago, while
support for the conservative opposition rose to 48 percent from
45 percent.

Gillard’s rating as preferred prime minister tumbled seven
points to 50 percent, while Abbott’s rating climbed seven
points to 34 percent.

The results still give Gillard an election-wining lead, but
point to a closer result. The latest Reuters Poll Trend on July
22 gave Gillard a 7.0 point lead. [ID:nSGE66L0BU]

The latest poll was taken before the televised debate, but
after Gillard on Friday announced her key climate policy which
confirmed a delay of at least two years before the government
will try to reintroduce its plan for carbon trading. Abbott is
opposed to any carbon trade plan.

Gillard refused to comment directly on the polls or her
performance in the debate, where audience meters found she was
more popular with women voters than men.

“The judgment here is for the Australian people to make and
they will make it on the 21st of August,” Gillard told
reporters in the southern state of Tasmania.

Both Abbott and Gillard on Sunday signalled major cuts to
Australia’s immigration intake, due to concerns from crowded
outer suburbs in big cities.

But the move has angered business groups, who want
immigrants to help fill labour shortages and sustain economic
growth as the population ages.

About one in four Australians were born overseas, including
both Gillard and Abbott. Both were born in Britain, but moved
to Australia as children.

Stock Market Investing

(Editing by Ed Davies)

UPDATE 3-Poll advantage narrows for Australia’s Gillard