LABOR is heading for a heavy defeat in September, according to the first polls taken since the election campaign was launched.A Newspoll in The Australian gives the coalition a 56 per cent to 44 per cent lead over Labor on a two-party preferred basis, while a Galaxy poll in News Ltd newspapers puts the lead at 54 per cent to 46 per cent.
The Newspoll, which was conducted over the weekend, has also given a strong lift to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in the preferred prime minister stakes.
Newspoll shows Labor's primary support has plunged six points to 32 per cent with that of the coalition strengthening four percentage points to 48 per cent in the past three weeks.
The Galaxy poll, taken between February 1 and 3, reveals Labor's primary vote is at 35 per cent, down three points from the 38 per cent achieved at the 2010 election.
The Coalition has climbed from 43.6 per cent at the last election to 48 per cent.
There was more good news in the numbers for Mr Abbott, with Julia Gillard's support as preferred prime minister falling four percentage points from 45 per cent to 41 per cent, while Mr Abbott gained six points from 33 per cent to 39 per cent.
It is the closest the two have been since September last year.
Meanwhile, Ms Gillard is wasting no time getting her new ministers straight into the job with the official swearing-in by the Governor-General to be held in Canberra today.
With last week's surprise resignations of Senator Chris Evans and Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, the prime minister took the opportunity to reshuffle the cabinet and bring in new blood.
Mike Kelly gets his first ministry being appointed minister for defence materiel.
Chris Bowen will replace Senator Evans as minister for tertiary education, skills, science and research with responsibility for small business.
Mark Dreyfus will replace Ms Roxon as attorney-general and minister for emergency management, relinquishing the role of cabinet secretary to Jason Clare, who retains home affairs and justice.
Brendan O'Connor will become minister for immigration and citizenship and Mark Butler takes on housing and homelessness.
Ms Gillard said the departure of Senator Evans and Ms Roxon opened the way for fresh talent, new ideas and new energy.
"It means a rejuvenated team who will keep building a smarter, fairer modern Australia," she said in a statement.
New parliamentary secretaries Yvette D'Ath (climate change and energy efficiency), Kelvin Thompson (trade) and Melissa Parke (mental health, homelessness and social housing) will also be sworn in.