Soldier’s death casts shadow over poll

Perth-based SAS Trooper Jason Brown became the 18th Australian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan.

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He died on Friday in northern Kandahar after being shot by the Taliban.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said news of the death of another Australian soldier is devastating but Australia’s mission in Afghanistan will continue.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says the opposition continues to fully support the Australian commitment in Afghanistan and the country can never again become a safe haven for terrorism.

The soldier’s death won’t stop politicians from a barrage of TV appearances on Sunday, which is the traditional time for them to have their say on the box.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will be interviewed separately on TV on Sunday morning, while a rare interview with former prime minister Kevin Rudd will air in the evening.

New reporter and former Labor leader Mark Latham – whose recent antics have dominated campaign coverage – will also present a TV segment on Sunday night.

Polls favouring Coalition

Meanwhile the coalition is leading the government and is on track to win the 17 seats it needs for an election victory, according to a Galaxy Poll.

On a two-party preferred basis, the coalition is ahead of the ALP 51.4 per cent to 48.6 per cent, the opinion poll published by News Ltd on Sunday shows.

The poll of 4000 voters in 20 marginal electorates in five states predicts devastation for Labor in Queensland, where a potential swing of 5.4 per cent against the government could cost it 10 seats.

In NSW, polling in Eden-Monaro, Gilmore, Macarthur and Macquarie found a swing of 2.4 per cent against the government, while the coalition was likely to win all the seats polled, plus three others if the swing was statewide.

Coalition in front in WA

The coalition is also in front in Swan and Hasluck in Western Australia, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

In the Prime Minister’s home state of Victoria, the Galaxy Poll found a swing in Labor’s favour of 1.6 per cent.

But the average swing across the five mainland states is 1.7 per cent to the coalition.

On the question of preferred prime minister, coalition leader Tony Abbott has the most support in NSW and Queensland (37 and 38 per cent respectively), while Ms Gillard is most popular in South Australia on 54 per cent, followed by Victoria on 51 per cent.

The Greens’ primary vote is 10.2 per cent, but 12 per cent in Victoria, the poll shows.

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