The latest Newspoll has the two-party vote at 50-50, after an anomalous 52-48 in Labor’s favour a fortnight ago. Labor has 34 per cent of the vote, the Coalition 41 per cent and the Greens 14 per cent. More to follow.

UPDATE: Full Newspoll results here. The Labor lead from a fortnight ago may have proved ephemeral, but the improvement in Julia Gillard’s personal ratings has mostly stuck: her approval is down a point to 45 per cent and her disapproval up one to 38 per cent, while her lead as preferred prime minister has narrowed slightly from 54-31 to 52-32. Tony Abbott’s approval is steady on 42 per cent and his disapproval is down two to 43 per cent. On climate change, scepticism is found to have fallen since February but rise since July 2009, belief having gone from 84 per cent to 73 per cent to 77 per cent and non-belief from 12 per cent to 22 per cent to 18 per cent. When it was put to respondents that the federal government’s carbon pricing plans could lead to higher energy costs, 47 per cent said they remained in favour while 49 per cent were against.

Some bedtime thoughts from George Megalogenis in Quarterly Essay:

I know I’m whistling in the wind, but wouldn’t it be nice if Newspoll were to go back to one poll per month? The Australian’s survey of federal voting intensions went fortnightly in 1992 and Newspoll made its reputation in the following year’s election by picking the late swing to Labor. Don’t change what works, right? Unfortunately, two Newspolls per month throughout a term provide too much temptation for mischief. Every half-smart backbencher can pull together a spreadsheet to show why their boss should be rolled. Lobby groups just have to wait for a couple of bad polls before they put the squeeze on government.

It may be coincidence, of course, but there has been a dizzying turnover of political leadership talent since Newspoll went fortnightly. The Liberals were the first Opposition to have three leaders in a term between 1993 and 1996. The man in the middle, Alexander Downer, was the first major-party leader not to contest a federal election. On the Labor side, Simon Crean was pulled down at the end of 2003, before he could face the people in the follwing year. Labor also had three leaders between 2004 and 2007. But these were mere dress rehearsals for the chaos of the past three years, when a first-term government had two prime ministers and a first-term Opposition had three leaders. The trend is clearly accelerating.

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