SYDNEY, Oct 27 (Reuters) Australia's ruling conservative coalition is trailing the opposition Labor Party badly in the ''litmus test'' seat of Eden-Monaro, according to an opinion poll published today four weeks out from national elections.
Eden-Monaro, south of the national capital Canberra, has been taken by the party which wins government at every Australian election since 1972.
The poll, conducted by Patterson Market Research early this week for the Canberra Times newspaper, shows support for the Labor candidate, former army officer Mike Kelly, on 56 per cent, against 44 per cent for four-term Liberal incumbent Gary Nairn, a Special Minister of State in Prime Minister John Howard's government.
Howard told reporters on the campaign trail today that he would not comment on the Eden-Monaro poll, or on any other opinion polls.
The prime minister, now 68 and in power for more than 11 years, is struggling to make up ground ahead of the November 24 election.
Two weeks into the official campaign, polls consistently show Labor running ahead of the Coalition nationwide by about the same margin as in Eden-Monaro.
REUTERS LPB KN0934