Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's popularity has downslided due to the controversial carbon tax plan, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

The Essential Report on Tuesday showed that though 29 per cent voters were satisfied with Gillard's work, the opposition leader Tony Abbott managed to make a narrow lead by 39 to 37 per cent, compared to last year.

The ruling Labor Party trailed behind Tony Abbott's Liberal/National Coalition, which led by 50 per cent to 30 per cent, the report said.

Essential's pollster Andrew Bunn said if elections were to be held now, it would be "getting on to the proportion of the New South Wales State election", which was a massacre for the Labor government.

"This is the first time we've had him ahead and the approval ratings for PM Gillard have been rapidly reducing over the last couple of months," Bunn was quoted as saying.

"The major movement started in both voting intention and approval from the announcement in February of the carbon pricing.

“The two party preferred was neck-and-neck in February and it's now 57-43 per cent," Bunn said. 

"Prime Minister Julia Gillard has slipped even further in outright approval, with only 29 per cent of people approving of the job she is doing as Prime Minister and 62 percent disapproving. However, Abbott's approval rating is not in positive territory either, 39 per cent of those polled approve of the job he is doing as Opposition Leader and 49 per cent disapprove," Bunn said.

Essential's last poll showed former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to be more popular than Gillard and former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull as more favoured than Abbott.

He said it is not too late for Gillard to rekindle her electoral chances since even former Prime Minister John Howard revived from a similar position.

"What's going to be critical is the response over the next few months on the response to the carbon pricing scheme," he added.

The poll also shows the lowest approval for a carbon rise since Essential started polling in March - 53 per cent against and 35 per cent in favour.

The results were published as Julia Gillard began her campaign to sell the climate change plan.

 

(Agencies)