Newspoll issues survey

The Australian has published a follow-up to its weekend Newspoll survey, showing issues rated most important and the party considered best equipped to handle them. Labor holds handsome leads on six of the eight listed issues, the exceptions being the economy and national security. Interestingly, the Coalition’s score on industrial relations has increased to 34 per cent from 31 per cent at the previous survey in June, after hovering around 30 per cent since the beginning of 2006. Industrial relations is also the one issue where there was no appreciable shift to Labor when Kevin Rudd became leader. The other issue to run against the overall trend is national security – it surged to Labor as strongly as any other when Rudd took over, but the Coalition has since recovered to levels near those of the Beazley era.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

874 comments on “Newspoll issues survey”

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  1. As I’ve been saying all year, WorkChoices is overestimated as the cause of the ALP’s good standing in the polls up to now.

    Labor need to get rolling with this campaign as it’s looking terrible for them at the moment by any objective viewpoint.

    Current prediction: Coalition by 7 seats.

  2. Every article in the Government Gazette is negative for the ALP today. As usual Dennis is screaming at the top of his lungs about how Labour has to catch up with the government.

    I thought it was the government that was behind in every poll since Kevin Rudd took over. Then again I suppose this is to be expected. Uncle Rupert is not going to let Kevin win without a huge fight. And I have always said, Howard has a huge warchest to spend and the Australian people’s greed is astonishingly huge.

    I await the narrowing.

  3. Speaking of the economy Peter Hartcher lets fly in the smh:

    JOHN HOWARD has dared history, the Reserve Bank and the constraints on growth by claiming that Australia can grow indefinitely. He has recast economics as a matter of national attitude rather than a matter of the factors of production.

    In a soaring Reaganite assertion of the power of conviction over the constraints of the concrete, he told the Herald yesterday: “We have to get out of our systems this idea that we can’t be successful for a long period of time. We must throw off this cultural inhibition.

    Sounds to me like we must throw off the cultural aspects of voodoo economics, ie the people who falsely claim that a 16 year boom was engineered by them instead of the Hawke/Keating reforms and an insatiable China buying our resources of late.

    As Hartcher goes on to say:

    The reality is that the Prime Minister is seeking to bluster his way through a six-week election campaign with an inflationary growth plan. He is hoping fervently that the Reserve Bank will not raise rates in the middle of his campaign. And that it will mop up the inflationary consequences later, once he has been safely re-elected. Fortunately for the national interest, the central bank is now independent.

    I am always sickened by the LNP’s actual performance, like how they have ignored infrastructure (and education) except for pork purposes in marginal seats. They are the worst economic managers, ever, and have squandered the boom proceeds for so long it’s a national disgrace.

  4. I am always sickened by the LNP’s actual performance, like how they have ignored infrastructure (and education) except for pork purposes in marginal seats. They are the worst economic managers, ever, and have squandered the boom proceeds for so long it’s a national disgrace.

    Peter, I couldn’t agree more. There is so much that needs to be done or could be done, such as matching the states in terms of funding at the very least. Howard’s defence on why this was not occurring was that the states were putting more in because of the GST. Isn’t this the same GST that the federal government is also receiving a part of?

    The other thing that bothers me is that the Coalition has presided over a long period of economic sunshine, and has never had to deal with any adversity whatsoever, Yet they keep dishonestly pushing the line that it’s all their doing.

    It seems, though, that the public is waking up. If I’m reading things correctly, the latest “big bang” tax cuts by the government were poorly received because they weren’t going on services. Maybe this time the electorate has had enough.

    I really hope Rudd hammers this point home at every opportunity. Don’t even bother to match the coalition’s tax cuts, but instead come up with a more modest scheme, then spend the rest on the big three: health, water and education.

  5. Governments should deliver for the people. Delivering tax cuts is a cop out which says we have no idea how to improve services so we are leaving it up to you joe citizen.

  6. Try for Rudd to get this soundbite out: “The Howard era is over.” Set it up so that within three weeks, the press will be talking about an ALP government as a fait accompli. Change the topic: the Liberals can make up ground on the economy. Change the subject, ever so slightly, or at least drag Costello in front of the cameras more – a way of saying “this is your new Prime Minister, whaddya think?” Push the Libs off message a bit. Put them on the grill on an ALP strong subject.

  7. Political Pilgrim Of The Month issues “grab” from byway’s edge.

    “I await the narrowing.”

    Say g’day to Godot while you’re there, Nozzie. And stay away from garbage bins.

  8. Health, education and water are the three big issues.

    All of been neglected for the past 11 years and the libs response is hurried back of the envelope plans.

    We have seen medical costs for the ordinary bloke go thru the roof and Howards response is to throw money at one hospital in Tassie. The local boards for Hospitals are a joke and a worry. Can a local board ban procedures they disagree with due to religous views, such as family planning, contraception, abortion, blood transfusions, can a local board Work Choices the staff?

    Education also means training, more doctors fro hospitals and skilled staff for our industries educated in Australia instead of importing unkown 457 visa workers.

    Water is more than a $10 billion uncosted plan drawn up overnight, the states have been asking for years for a national plan and assistance for pipelines and money to buy out large irrigators.

    You can’t fix 11 years of neglect in a 6 week campaign, the $34 billlion in tax cuts just emphasises how much the libs have ripped out of the system.

  9. AnthonyL @ 5:

    To leave the provision of services up to ‘Joe Citizen’ is current Liberal form. They are a bunch of market fundamentalists and economic libertarians – especially Minchin and Costello. If they had their way we would have an entirely deregulated labour and market. If you want good education – you pay for it. Good health? You pay for it. Provision of utilities such as phone and electricity? Well if you want good service, you will have to pay extra for it. Heck, if the road outside your front door needs fixing, set up your own tolls so your local community can fix it. (OK, we’re not quite at the point of having locals set up toll roads, but seeing the funding issues around the Old Pacific Hwy collapse at Somersby where 5 people died earlier this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned up.)

    Our Australian libertarians are not quite as rabid as the ultra-individualistic American types, but we have our share of them in the Libs. It’s all about I, me and my – that’s why they prefer giving out tax cuts, that way you can spend it on your health or education, but even better, go out and spend it on mindless consumer goods to help our economy keep booming.

    Geez I am sick of these guys.

  10. re tax cuts
    will the Australian voters be silly enough to be bribed by this? I think not
    when inflation & interest rates rise more are people really in front
    with a small tax cut.
    what about the money that was not spent on necessary social & infrastructure needs?

  11. Morning news shows are all running with the figures for the economy and industrial relations.

    None of the other stats are getting a look in, which makes it seem like LNP isn’t doing too badly.

    Its only when you see that there are 8 issues and LNP are ahead in only 2 that you think….”oh”

  12. Scotty @4, FWIW the Feds don’t receive any of the GST funding (except insofar as to cover their admin costs in collecting it). However, GST is falling as a proportion of GDP, whereas company tax (which the Feds DO got) is growing as a proportion of GDP.

    The States abolished a bunch of their taxes in return for receiving the GST revenue. Initially this left a shortfall, which the Feds made up (“Budget Balancing Assistance”). Currently, the GST now exceeds the value of those State taxes, at least in nominal terms (not sure about real terms). However, this isn’t the only funding that the Feds transfer to the States – the States also receive funding through Specific Purpose Payment arrangements, which generally involve an agreement for the Feds to provide “tied” funding in certain policy areas. SPP negotiations are always acrimonious, and usually involve onerous conditions placed on the States in order to get matched funding.

    The biggest SPP is the Australian Health Care Agreement, which is a big source of health funding for the States. This is the health agreement that Tony Abbott has, for several months, refused to renew – on the grounds that he was too busy (read: wanted the whip-hand in an election environment).

    The Feds’ contributions under SPP arrangements have, as highlighted in the last week, been declining as a proportion of the total over the last 5+ years, and given the chronic problems faced in the health and education systems at the moment – Australians have every reason to be outraged that the Feds engage in this underfunding for political reasons.

    Unfortunately, the average Joe doesn’t realise all of the argy bargy that goes on, they just see the likes of Tony Abbott on the nightly news saying “We’ve given the States $XX billion, and look how bad things are. Obviously State Labor governments are mismanaging things!”

  13. Fiztig @ 9

    Nice speech. Going on the general response to Howard’s tax-cut bribe, it seems more and more Australians share your view.

  14. Squiggle

    Morgan is interesting in that it talks about concerns after the election wereas the current Australian poll talks about issues concerning voters, slight distinction.

    Australian appears to what are the major issues and who do you think will handle them best, whilst Morgan appears to be asking if that party is elected what issues are you concerned about them handling.

    Actually the 2 results may be same, ie Australian – 80% of voters concerned about health and think labor can handle it better than the libs whilst Morgan – 10% concerned about how labor will handle health when they are elected.

  15. I may be wrong but I think you will find that tax cuts would not be eaten up by interest rate rises, it really depends on several factors.

    The objective of raising interest rates is to reduce the amount of money in the economy and the speed of its movement through the economy.

    If more money is put into the economy through tax cuts, an interest rate rise would only be targeted to address the new money.

    I suspect the following will occur in the next three years regardless of who is in power.
    The high dollar will reduce exports, and although people keep harping on about mining, it is really only a small part of our exports.
    Reduced exports will lead to lower employment.
    Lower employment will lead to less wage pressure.

    The alternative is the dollar falls
    This leads to increased prices of things like oil
    The reserve bank can take two views of this
    1)SIMPLY=raise interest rates because inflation is high
    2)COMPLEX=does the increased price and flow of money overseas act in the same way as a rate increase would.

  16. Hi Arbie jay,

    I kind of agree, the only thing missing from the Australian/newspoll stats is a sense of which issues are most important.

    Morgan’s approach is interesting though, its like asking someone to think ahead to after they have voted, and to nominate what worries them most about the results of their vote.

    Off to work now

  17. The letters in the GG today are skewed towards the government. One writer typifies the selfish attitude that Howard promotes through ‘choice’. He says that those who want infrastructure etc can directly donate some of their tax cut towards that. How ridiculous – but Howard is saying exactly that right now across a humber of issues. It’s bread and circuses.

  18. Silly season has started so early.

    All of the changes in support on the eight key issues were within the margin of error since the last poll.

    And of more concern to the coalition, the biggest swings since October last year (pre-Rudd) have been to the ALP in the areas of health (up four points altogether), education (16 points), economy (eight points), welfare (10 points) and national security (eight points).

    In 12 months, the ALP has only lost ground on IR, eight points.

  19. Yes Coota, but that is the area which so many people have been saying will certainly cost the government at this election.

  20. LTEP – you’re right, yet dont forget the govt has had the aqdvantage of so many IR ads nin the lead up. Now we’re in the campaign both sides have some aprity on this issue, with the ACTU no doubt contributing as well.

  21. The AUD is only high against the USD.

    Try looking at AUD vs EUR next time. It shows that the current rate of A$1 buying 63 Euro cents is on the high side of average over the past few years but nothing to write home about. Or blog about for that matter.

    I think “If Only” is right. Howard must be thinking that exact thing right now…

  22. Hmm, I just found out something rather disturbing.

    The Commonwealth Treasury yesterday released their Mid Year Economic & Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) publication, which factored in the *Government’s* announced $34bn tax cuts. What this means is that those tax cuts are *Government* policy, not an election promise.

    This means that Rudd can’t spend that $34bn on anything else without winding back, as a Budget saving, the tax cuts that the electorate are now *entitled to*. Pretty poor practice on the part of Commonwealth Treasury, since MYEFO has been released after only 3 months of the year (ie not MID year), and very devious on the part of Costello et al.


  23. LTEP/Burgey

    I’d suggest part of the reason that national polls don’t bring out workchoices as a major issue is that the YRAW campaign is directed at 23 marginal seats.

    I’ve been volunteering in Eden Monaro and their is a very positive vibe around the awareness of people about their rights under workchoices and that this will change votes.

  24. And – the only reason the $A is high at present is because our interest rates are higher than many other countries so money comes here. Next Wed is the day to watch for the ABS inflation figures for Sep qtr. If the figure is much above .8, then the RBA will certainly act on 6 Nov. If the inflation figure is highish and the RBA doesn’t act, then they will be seen as acting politically. Glenn Stevens is a very straight guy – he wouldn’t care about Howard’s re-election chances.

  25. Yes Yo Ho Ho, I have to agree with you on Eden Monaro at least, I’ve seen the YRAW very active in the electorate, have signed a few petitions etc.

    I just hope they’re working hard in the more Liberal areas of the seat, Jerrabomberra, Cooma, Bega etc.

    As to Gary Bruce, someone can’t put forward their idea that WC isn’t a driving force for the ALP without getting called a stooge? Elections are rarely, if ever, decided on a matter of policy (at least positively). This election will be no different. But go ahead… think of me as a stooge if it’ll make a difference to your life.

  26. Lose the election please – “Yes Coota, but that is the area which so many people have been saying will certainly cost the government at this election.” And it still is. Labor holds a 13 percent lead according to Newspoll. The Libs are in the low 30’s on this, so even some of their own supporters think Labor will do a better job.
    I’m not at all phased by these numbers. When you think about it these issues polls have shown these types of preferences all year and yet Labor has maintained a very healthy lead. I don’t believe this will change now.

  27. The radio on the north coast of NSW was full of comments saying we need money spent on health, education and infrastructure. There was barely a single comment in favour of tax cuts.
    Labor supporters should not despair about the current situation.
    No doubt Kevin Rudd and co are digesting public response to the tax cuts as well as looking over the figures from Treasury.
    John Howard did the same in 96.
    Labor will likely opt for a mixture of tax cuts for the lower and middle, raising the tax-free threshold higher than the Coalition plus billions for infrastructure. They would then satisfy the public demand for better infrastructure and investment at the same time helping the genuine battlers.
    They may also come in with something like tax deductibility for interest payments, up to a limit, for first home buyers mortgages and fiddle with negative gearing – eg. restrict it to no more than two or three properties.
    Of course the conservative media will bag Kevin Rudd and the Labor party.
    Rupert Murdoch is after all an arch-capitalist and employs hard right editors. He had no effect whatsoever on the NSW state election.
    It grieves me that this election has been simplified in the media as just a duel between the old John Howard and the new Kevin Rudd.
    It is a very significant election in terms of where Australia is heading.
    It is so much more than a joust between two male bulls.
    We are down the end of John Howard’s dry gully with nothing in sight.
    We have had eleven and a half years of hard right conservative.
    government. Look where it has got us – a diminished international reputation as a result of our Iraq invasion and fawning over George W Bush, a squandering of the proceeds of the minerals boom, a gigantic trading debt and a significant loss of civil liberties. No progress has been made to deal with the most important issue of our time – global warming and its devastating consequences. Our health and education infrastructure are in ruins and inflation is about to break out as a result of John Howard’s profligacy.
    What we need is a sea change. Our current government led by John Howard is truly a government of the 20th century. It has not renewed itself.
    This election is not just about two men. It’s about whether we move forward as a nation or we stay stuck in the old conservative past.
    It’s out most important election in thirty years.

  28. Gary, further to that argument, if you look back historically you’ll see roughly the same issues going to each party at about the same percentage. Labor is always rated better with Health, Industrial Relations etc. The Coalition is always rated better with the Economy.

    Issues polls are basically completely irrelevant as people revert to stereotypes on the parties, regardless of the party’s performance in the area. The more important figures are the primary vote, and I’d say other questions, such as who you trust more. On both of these, the ALP has been polling well in front. We’ll see if that continues to election day.

  29. The ‘howard polls well’ headline is already gone from the front of the website – replaced with the ‘Tax Cuts for the rich’ message.


  30. RGee, of course I don’t support the Coalition. I can’t think of one thing they’ve done right in 11 years. Then again, I don’t know anyone who’s voted for them since 1996 (when just about everyone I know voted for them), so I can consider my anecdotal evidence pretty moot.

    I’m just trying to get into the psyche of the public who has returned this government on 3 occasions, twice resoundingly. To do this, I have to put myself into a frame of mind alien to my own, which is what I think the ALP tacticians should be doing. Plan for the worst and hopefully get the best result.

  31. Lose the election – I’m sorry if I’ve wrongly accused you of being a stooge but if you are a very negative ALP supporter I must say I personally find your negativity off putting because I don’t think it is based on the facts at hand. If I felt you had a good case I would say so but having someone wishing the ALP would win then constantly down playing their chances on flimsy evidence is not my idea political fun. Stop jumping at shadows. That’s all I’m trying to say.

  32. LTEP – “Issues polls are basically completely irrelevant as people revert to stereotypes on the parties, regardless of the party’s performance in the area. The more important figures are the primary vote, and I’d say other questions, such as who you trust more. On both of these, the ALP has been polling well in front. We’ll see if that continues to election day.”
    Now you’re talking and I agree with you 100%. That is why I believe nothing much will change over the campaign. You have made my case. I don’t believe this government is trusted anymore. The Libs have tried the throwing of money around – nothing has changed over the year. They’ve dog whistled – nothing has changed over the year. What does change is the primary vote when IR becomes the centre of attention – Labor’s vote goes up and that issue is yet to take off again. It will.

  33. From comments here and yesterday, the ‘shock and awe’ tax policy of the Libs seems to have dented the morale of Labor supporters. But it’s really just the media reaction, not the view of voters which is what counts. Some journos in the GG are criticising Labor for not having their tax policy ready which is facile considering the Opposition didn’t have the Treasury information that Costello had. We’re only in Day 4 and there is a long way to go. Newspoll next Monday should be a good indicator. BTW, last night I saw the replay of the Howard gaffe on ACA on Mon, his grunt and pi–ed off expression at the end of the I/V was not nice, look of an angry old man.

  34. Gary, I think that LTEP is just more of a realist than a lot of the other ALP supporters on here.

    Being a natural pessimist myself, I understand where he’s coming from. And the ‘head in the sand’ downright chirpy optimism one sees on sites like this can be just as off putting to those of a more negative countenance!

  35. Fear not comrades, there will be the dead cat bounce in the polls next week and they will all cream themselves, but that’s all it will be. The following poll will be back to 55/45. the election 53/47

  36. I see Mr Shanahan over at the Govt Gazette is at it again. How about this little gem: “The Coalition has stretched its commanding lead over Labor on the key vote-changing issues of the economy and national security.”

    Labor’s commanding lead on everything else is described as merely “comfortable”, with nary a mention of “vote-changing.”

    Poor Dennis. Custer had a “commanding lead” over the Indians in the key “battle-determining” areas of surprise and mobility too, but he still got creamed. It could have had something to do with the Indians’ “comfortable” 50 or 60-to-one lead in manpower, weaponry and combat effectiveness.

    Keep bugling Garryowen for the Colonel by all means Dennis, but if you want to hang onto my scalp, I wouldn’t ride down into that valley with him, if I was you.

  37. I will go out on a limb here, and say that the next Newspoll will be 57-43. I think that people will see through the tax cuts as a vote-buying exercise and will make their views known. Watch the panic spread through Liberal ranks then!

  38. Look, we can’t tell how things have been going in this campaign until the first opinion poll taken after the tax cuts come out. Assuming it takes 3 days to build a proper sample, the earliest we can expect one out is tomorrow (no idea if this will happen, but hopefully it does).

    I have to say I’m annoyed at The Oz’s editorial today, criticising Labor for not releasing their tax policy. They even have the nerve to suggest that Labor may not have had a tax policy prior to the government’s tax cuts, which (I’m sorry) is a complete joke – Labor have been on record for weeks saying that they have a tax policy and they’re waiting for the appropriate time to release it.

    As for the dramatic fall for Labor’s national security ratings, I give you one word for an explanation:


  39. Is agree wholeheartedly with #39 when he says: “he ’shock and awe’ tax policy of the Libs seems to have dented the morale of Labor supporters.”

    I think maybe too many of us have been reading the GG. Its coverage so far has been incredibly biased with everything that happens being spun as the Coalition on its way back.

    I think they are channeling Crosby -Textor and trying their best to create and build a sense that the coalition will come from behind and win. They only have 6 weeks so their coverage with that theme has to be intense.

    The likes of Janet and Dennis are in full flight. Its painful to watch, but you have to step back a little and try and keep a balanced perspective. Really, only one thing of note has happened so far in the campaign. Libs have announced $34 billion in bribes. Its such a major announcement that nothing else will get traction until there are polls out at the end of this week, and then any movement / not-movement in the polls will be the story.

    The debate i think will be a non-issue. JWH turning up and speaking to 200 hand picked LNP supporters?? Well, i think talking may not be the only thing he does to himself at the moment……

    It will be interesting to see how KR plays this. I hope he flat out refuses to turn up under Rattus’s rules and then hammer him for cowardice.

    Or, the ALP releases its tax policy on Sunday 1 hour before the debate is due to start, and media attention gets firmly diverted from a little git doing himself on stage alone, to something of substance to the actual campaign.

    People say its early days in the campaign. Bollocks, its been on since January, and the ALP have been winning this campaign convincingly so far. 5 1/2 more weeks is a long time in politics people and the Coalition are the ones in deep deep manure.

  40. Yes, imacca, let us all take solace from the fact that The Oz is the least read of the daily newspapers and that all the other dailies seem to be more interested in Ben Cousins than the Newspoll…

  41. imacca wrote: “I hope he flat out refuses to turn up under Rattus’s rules and then hammer him for cowardice.”

    According to Crikey, Penny Wong has said “Instead, he’ll duck this debate in favour of three others.” The “he” is Kevin Rudd.

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