Two pollsters have lowered their colours in recent days with poorly framed questions on the carbon tax. Last week, Roy Morgan conducted a phone poll which, among other many things, asked of respondents: “Australia is only responsible for about 1% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions. Are you aware of this or not?” This is essentially a political talking point framed as a question: understandable from a political party engaged in the desperate tactic of push-polling, but quite incomprehensible from a market research firm. Beyond that though, I don’t think the Morgan poll did much harm. As Peter Brent of Mumble rightly points out, results for the aforementioned question and those asked thereafter must be regarded as unreliable, but the nature of these questions was such that this is no great loss. The question on voting intention was presumably asked before the ones on climate change, and the first three climate change questions were usefully framed and produced results consistent with other polling. If the voting intention results from the poll do not seem plausible and they don’t this must be put down to sampling error and perhaps some systemic bias suffered by Morgan phone polls, although this hasn’t been evident in the past.
More troubling is today’s Galaxy poll, which targeted a small sample of 500 respondents on behalf of the Daily Telegraph. For the most part, its results are of genuine concern for the government. Only 28 per cent answered in favour of a carbon tax against 58 per cent opposed, corroborating the 30 per cent and 60 per cent from Newspoll when it last asked the question on April 29-May 1. Even worse for the government, fully 73 per cent said the tax would leave them worse off against only 7 per cent who opted for better off. Less remarkably, the poll found 20 per cent believe the tax would have a major impact on the environment, 46 per cent a minor impact and 29 per cent no impact.
The problem lies with the following: Does the PM have a mandate to introduce the tax or should she call an early election? This gives respondents no outlet for the obvious third alternative: that while the Prime Minister does not have a mandate for a carbon tax (and given her position during the election campaign, it could hardly be argued otherwise), the government should nonetheless govern as it sees fit and face the music at the end of its term. This happens to have been the default position for poll respondents since 1975, when 70 per cent opposed the blocking of supply despite the enormous unpopularity of the Whitlam government. There can be little doubt that many who wished to express a view that no mandate existed opted for the only available alternative. That a substantial proportion would have preferred the option Galaxy did not provide is illustrated by last week’s Essential Research poll, which asked the question the way it should be asked: Do you think the Government should call an early election over the carbon tax? Whereas Galaxy had 24 per cent choosing the has mandate option and 64 per cent should call early election, Essential had it at 42 per cent each way.
Considerably exacerbating the problem is that the poll was conducted for Australia’s most brazenly partisan metropolitan newspaper, the Daily Telegraph (UPDATE: The Herald-Sun is also selling it as its own work). And true to form, the Telegraph has today used the opportunity to run an editorial headlined voters demand a carbon tax ballot, in which it argues that an election now is very necessary. This is not the first time Galaxy has risked taking a hit from its association with the paper. During the election campaign the Telegraph tasked it with assembling an audience for a people’s forum involving the two leaders at Rooty Hill RSL in western Sydney, and there was little doubt that the room was pro-Abbott (sweet revenge, the Coalition might well think, for many a pro-Labor worm in leaders debates of elections past). On that occasion the culprit appeared to be the targeting of undecided voters concentrated in a part of the world which had been notably problematic for Labor. If the Telegraph itself had a hand in either the Rooty Hill methodology or the wording of the early election question, Galaxy might want to be a bit more firm with it in future, lest it jeopardise the reputation its polling record suggests it deserves.
For all that, there can be no denying that the carbon tax debate has so far been all pain and no gain for the government. The initial announcement in March saw the polling trend blow out from 51-49 in the Coalition’s favour to 54-46, and attitudinal questions have generally found the tax to be getting less popular rather than more. However, two caveats need to be added. Firstly, the phone polls conducted by Newspoll, Galaxy and Morgan have painted a more negative picture than the online methodology of Essential Research, which last week found 38 per cent support and 48 per cent opposition. Lest it be inferred that this represents a Labor bias from Essential, their two-party average since the carbon tax was announced has actually been worse for Labor than Newspoll’s (aided in no small measure by Newspoll’s rogue 51-49 to Labor result of March 18-20). Phone polling tends to get taken more seriously purely due to its long track record, but it could be that this disparity illustrates concerns that are increasingly raised about it: that in limiting its catchment to those with landline phones, it misses a more technologically fashionable and, perhaps, environmentally minded section of the electoral market.
Secondly, Essential Research found the idea of a carbon tax to be a great deal more popular when it put it to voters that the money paid by big polluting industries would be used to compensate low and middle income earners and small businesses for increased prices. When the question was asked thus in mid-April, fully 54 per cent expressed support against 30 per cent opposed. However, I’m not inclined to think this offers the government more than limited comfort, unless and until it proves capable of framing the debate in such fortuitous terms.
128 comments on “Taxing credulity”
[Take out what you may or may not believe, is it worth the pain of many years in opposition and having the tax overturned regardless? ]
Absolutely it is. This must get done now. I’m a Green, but I’d gladly see the Greens reduced to holding meetings in phone boxes and the ALP reduced to a rump for 50 years than see them fail to act now. Admittedly, the ALP doesn’t stand for much worthwhile and is pandering to a lot that is very nasty, so it’s not as if there’s a significant downside risk here)
All the same, this issue is far more important than the fortunes of political parties.
That said, I agree with those who say that if the ALP just gets on with it and legislates, carries out the NBN then whoever is leading the LNP in 2013 will have a pretty tough gig, having embarrassed themselves with cries that the sky was falling andf having been exposed as rather cynical henny pennies.
It’s worth noting that in February 2001, it looked as if Howard would be turfed out. Then along came Tampa, and 9/11 and the rest is history. Projecting three terms ahead is a fool’s game.
I don’t think for a second that Abbott could run on tearing down a CO2 price precisely due to the sovereign risk issues. Can a party running on property rights and business certainty adopt a policy of stirring up uncertainty attached to investment in infrastructure? I don’t think so.
[The ALP on the otherhand, went to the election campaigning against a Carbon Tax]
No they didn’t. They merely said in passing that they wouldn’t be having one, because they favoured “a market-based mechanism”. That’s not the same as “campaigning against a carbon tax”.
It’s worth reflecting what something that really was “a carbon tax” might look like. Really, it would be a lot like a VAT — perhaps some assessment of the amount of carbon in (or perhaps entailed in making and delivering) the product would be made and a levy imposed on all end users. It would have little direct to do with emissions since many of the products would be made outside our jurisdiction.
There’d be no trade in the instrument, precisely because it would be a tax. Nor would these costs be tax deductible business expenses, because it would be a tax. The ALP isn’t proposing such a thing, or anything roughly like it. About 1000 emitters will be obliged to purchase permits at a fixed price, and then in 2015, at a floating price. Permits will be capable of being traded. That’s not a tax because you are purchasing a tradeable security.
I’m continually astonished at either the willingness to lie, or the ignorance of the commentariat on a matter where almost anyone who thibnks for a moment can see that the commentariat are uttering palpable nonsense.
There’s another side to the mandate argument: Gillard and the ALP actually lost the election, so none of their promises have received any mandate. (I don’t understand how everyone fails to acknowledge this. Like Whitlam, Rudd-Gillard’s Labor government was a three-year wonder. They did not win the election; they just didn’t lose it as badly as the Coalition did.)
Indeed, the rise of the Greens could be seen as a specific electoral rejection of Gillard’s promise to have no carbon tax. Mandate shmandate. Let’s move on from the one-per-cent argument and the mandate argument, let’s ask whether there is any “coalition of the willing” and whether Australia can have any influence creating such a coalition. If we can, then one per cent is our fair share. If we can’t, then it’s a waste of money.
People tend to get swept up in the emotion of climate and taxes, but thinking pragmatically you have to ask yourself of Gillard – Why? Why would you put yourself in this position? She had everything to lose and nothing to gain. Had she stuck to her original plan of ‘citizen’s assembly’ as dicky as it was and getting a consensus to ‘move forward’ she’d have a hellofalot more support than she has today.
Had she done that she’d have bought herself more time and probably seen off Abbott as a contender. That may even have brought Turnbull back in to the game and halved the contest.
Whoever advises her on political strategy is not too clever.
[You can’t achieve much from opposition.]
Correct and that is exactly why you don’t put off programs you want to do in government. Well said.
Billy, you’re worrying over something you won’t be changing. All the ‘shoulds’ in the world will change nothing.
[But even if the Carbon tax gets up for the ALP, there is very little to be gain by the ALP. All those people who are happy with the Carbon tax will support the Greens, the only party who had never flipped position on the Carbon tax, and who eventually force Gillard into one. Anyone who is upset by the carbon tax will go to the coalition.]
I disagree. Tone will have to explain his course of action at the next election which has very few, if any, supporters. He will also have to explain why he is taking money away from people. He will need to try and convince people that the power companies, once the tax is lifted will lower their rates, something very few will believe. Tone will not have an easy run at the next election.
[Had she stuck to her original plan of ‘citizen’s assembly’ as dicky as it was and getting a consensus to ‘move forward’ she’d have a hellofalot more support than she has today.]
If she’d done that, I’d be pushing for a new election, because the last one would evidently have failed. That policy would have had zero credibility — a mere figleaf over naked kowtowing to the polluters. What would be the point of such a government? What possible good purpose could be served by having them occupy the government benches? None. All it would have done would be to sandbag progressives and make those voting ALP seem utterly daffy or unprincipled.
The Liberals in power might actually be better, because then at least the failures of government would not be the responsibility of the ALP. If they refused to price Co2 explicitly, then they’d have to either abandon the whole idea of emissions reduction or get themselves into a mess pretending they were serious — either way, our turn next.
Oh Gary – I’m not worried – Given the closeness of the last election Gillard needed to perform at her very best or she’d suffer. And suffer she will.
I just doubt that the price Gillard will pay will be worth it for a tax that will likely be repealed anyway. Same for the Greens in a sense. If all the Greens stand for is a tax on a relatively clean country (by world standards), then they don’t stand for much.
[Oh Gary – I’m not worried – Given the closeness of the last election Gillard needed to perform at her very best or she’d suffer. And suffer she will.
I just doubt that the price Gillard will pay will be worth it for a tax that will likely be repealed anyway. Same for the Greens in a sense. If all the Greens stand for is a tax on a relatively clean country (by world standards), then they don’t stand for much.]
If you are just willing to sit back and do nothing so that you don’t frighten the horses what good is being in government? You might as well be in opposition.
Stop be concerned, it will play itself out.
That’s the problem Billy, nobody in Labor asks “why”. They just ask “How many votes are there in this for us?”
[I just doubt that the price Gillard will pay will be worth it for a tax that will likely be repealed anyway. Same for the Greens in a sense. If all the Greens stand for is a tax on a relatively clean country (by world standards), then they don’t stand for much.]
Just as I suspected, you are against the CT. Say no more.
[That’s the problem Billy, nobody in Labor asks “why”. They just ask “How many votes are there in this for us?”]
Have you seen the polls lately? What a joke.
[There’s another side to the mandate argument: Gillard and the ALP actually lost the election, so none of their promises have received any mandate.]
Not this crap again!
The party who has executive power and who form a Govt after the election won the election. Thats why we have elections, to decide that issue. And the issue was decided legitimately and according to the laws of the land.
Lots to play out yet. Clock is ticking to July when the Coalition no longer has the numbers to play silly buggers in the Senate.
Galaxy is a mouthpiece for the LNP and the News Corp ratpack.
Unfortunately the general public dosent take enough interest in politics ( apart what is fed to them by gutter tabliod rags like the HeraldSun) to work out these selfserving polls are just there to boost Abbott and the LNP prospects.
As far as Im concerned Australia is fast becoming a ‘pissant” country and if the News Corp/Murdoch urgers get their way it will become more so!.
[Oh Gary – I’m not worried – Given the closeness of the last election Gillard needed to perform at her very best or she’d suffer.]
Gillard made the last election close by repudiating the achievements of the government and promising that their mistakes would be continued and aggravated.
Had she embraced what was good (an early robust ubiquitous price on emissions, the BER, HIP, the government building the nation), rejecting what was unworthy (eg mandatory detention, the polluter gets paid CPRS, obsession with “surpluses”, pandering to little Australia) and held the election in November, she’d have got a swing in her favour. People would have come out to support her because she’d have had a rationale for dumping Rudd — to do better.
Instead, it was as if the LNP had staged a coup in the government, and now you had to decide if you wanted a real LNP government or one that was its feeble shadow. No wonder epople were divided on that. Even then, had NSW and QLD been in better shape, she’d have got a larger majority.
imacca, the truest words spoken after the election were by Rob Oakeshott when he said:
[This is not a mandate for any government. We should have a great big swear jar for the next three years and if anyone uses that word mandate they should have to chip in some money. No one party has dominance over the executive or the parliament, that is the reality of the way we’re going to do business of the next three years and that is a good reality.
Nor is it an endorsement of any philosophy, of any brand, of any campaign … I suspect that plenty of people that went into the ballot box on August 21st … thoroughly unimpressed with the state of play of major party politics in Australia today.]
If you have a problem with “this crap again”, take it up with one of the independent MPs who can change the government like flicking a switch, any time they want to.
Snappy handle, 3578871ea074bdf4ed98dc021da22a9e.
Have you got a nickname we can use?
All those people who are upset at the Carbon tax/cost of living/who thinks global warming/climate change etc is crap, will not be voting for the ALP or the Greens, If Abbott was found to be the Antichrist 1 day prior to the election, they will probably still vote for the Liberals, that is why Liberals are a solid 46% atm.
The ALP said no to work choice too, stupid me for thinking they would scrap it.
Definition of No
pl. noes (nz) KEY
A negative response; a denial or refusal: The proposal produced only noes.
A negative vote or voter.
There I was thinking no means …. NO, pretty stupid of me
Have you got a nickname we can use?
Billy, i think that 3578871ea074bdf4ed98dc021da22a9e’s nickname is more like “SerialNumber” or “SoftwareKey”
[All those people who are upset at the Carbon tax/cost of living/who thinks global warming/climate change etc is crap,]
And these people are in a small minority according to the polls.
BTW dovif, not even the Libs officially think climate change is crap.
The crap i have a problem with is when people try and run the line that the Govt has no mandate to govern. Seems to me that usually means that they think the govt shouldn’t do anything they don’t want them to do. Like em or loathe em, they are the Govt. Considering an Australian election as a contest between the two major parties, Gillard won, Abbott lost. Close, but no banana Tones, on account of his lamentable lack of people and negotiation skills.
Yup, we have an executive in power that is more accountable because of the numbers in the HoR. Everything has to be negotiated through competing interests. That is a good thing. We are lucky that the minors of influence in the HoR seem to want a Govt that is accountable and actually works, rather than dictatorial and works. ALP went to the election with a platform and they are actually going about implementing it fairly well I think, considering the make up of the HoR and Senate.
Oakeshott seems to me to be a good member, but has the occasional odd position, like his vote on the Speakers naming of a member last week. Push cometh to shove though, I don’t think he will be pulling the plug on his support for the Gillard Govt on confidence and supply. If he does that, Tones will be in the drivers seat heading to another election asap on any available pretext, where on current polling Oakeshotts chances of influence in the next parliament are zip.
Looks like the Ooppo are setting the stage for a back-flip on the NBN?
It funny that they are now touting going fiber to the node as an option. Malcolm seems to have forgotten that if they do that the most likely outcome down that path is Telstra will take any money they get from that deal and overbuild with fiber to the home in the most profitable areas.
Still, i think the FTTN proposal is probably just a stepping stone along the way to the Ooppo accepting the current FTTH proposal and neutralizing NBN as an issue at the next election which would be a sensible move for them. Sooner they do it the sooner people will forget the silliness they have been going on with about it for the last couple of years.
Imacca, is there nothing that you do not misrepresent? Your response to what you thought I said about mandates is irrelevant to what I did say. You seem to have realized this and covered up with a whole lot of rambling about everything on your mind. Now you misrepresent the opposition’s view on broadband. FTTN always was an option, a good option, subject to a proper analysis of whether it will give users value for money.
The latest opposition view on broadband is here. Please note the part at the bottom about whether low income people will even be able to afford the NBN service. I realize you think the Coalition are Satan’s spawn and you want a free range of topics to make that point, but at least base your replies on what they say instead of basing it on your imagination.
I’m loving the right wing triumphalism exhibited here over fairly meaningless push poll.
Because as so often said in politics, the only poll that matters happens on election day and by the time we hold our next election, Australian’s will have had almost 18 months to see the REAL effect of putting a price on carbon.
They will SEE how it works and understand how it impacts on them personally and on our wider economy generally. They will KNOW those impacts were massively distorted and over stated for political interest of the Right and the economic interests of a wealthy few to the detriment of the national interest
They will KNOW that at this particularly ugly moment in Australia’s political history,they were subjected to possibly the most toxic and deceitfully destructive propaganda campaign since Hitler’s Nazi’s convinced the German people gassing 8 million Jews was a reasonable thing to do.
You can fool a lot of less well educated Australians some of the time but not all the time …and in time, they always work out where their bullshit detector failed them
Hence I just love Richard Glover’s idea in todays SMH where he said ..
“Surely it’s time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies”
The one thing we know for sure is that when all this is done and dusted decades from now – few of this army of wing nuts who stood shoulder to shoulder in defiant opposition to the necessary action on climate change our grandchildren will laud as visionary – will willingly admit they were amongst the ugly, ignorant mob who stood foaming at the mouth gasping for the opportunity to trash the planet for the profits of a few fossil fuel dinosaurs
[If all the Greens stand for is a tax on a relatively clean country (by world standards), then they don’t stand for much.]
do you understand the science of Global warming from the above it seems not.
[The one thing we know for sure is that when all this is done and dusted decades from now – few of this army of wing nuts who stood shoulder to shoulder in defiant opposition to the necessary action on climate change our grandchildren will laud as visionary – will willingly admit they were amongst the ugly, ignorant mob who stood foaming at the mouth gasping for the opportunity to trash the planet for the profits of a few fossil fuel dinosaurs]
what a great statement i would like to copy and past this for my granddaughter
one remembers the criticism Darwin got for his beliefs.
ok freeby, i’ll try and keep it simple. you said:
[Gillard and the ALP actually lost the election, so none of their promises have received any mandate. (I don’t understand how everyone fails to acknowledge this.)]
Pretty clear that you don’t consider them to have any mandate to govern which implies that you consider them somehow an illegitimate govt (or at least thats how i took the thrust of your comment).
Now the illegitimate govt thing is simply not true and I don’t understand how everyone fails to acknowledge this. 🙂
Yup, sometimes i do comment on things that are somewhat OT. Sometimes others actually pick up and comment as well and sometimes a comment like that sinks without a trace. Thats cool. The conversations here can range a bit which is good.
NBN and its success or failure is something that is going to have a major influence on the 2013 election so actually its not that OT, or at least not enough to get moderated out.
I do have an issue with the Ooppo’s attitude to communications policy but thats because they never come up with anything particularly coherent on this issue. FTTN died a death as an NBN alternative when Conroy was told that Telstra would overbuild them. Even the Telstra people at the time agreed they would.
So, rather than:
[FTTN always was an option, a good option, subject to a proper analysis of whether it will give users value for money.]
Its more likely to be a way of wasting a lot of taxpayers dosh on financing a market dominant infrastructure position for Telstra.
Thank you for the link to Malcolms speech but as he’s promoting FTTN i think he’s talking out of his bottom on this issue.
[ I realize you think the Coalition are Satan’s spawn]
No actually, i’m sure that many of them are wonderful people, …. well,…ok maybe some of them. Its just that as a group they are small minded, nasty morons, who to date have not up anything meaningful in the way of policy position since the election.
Oh, they did come up with Direct Inaction is suppose, but policy wise thats crap as well.
Sorry mate. My wife and I who vote on the conservative side and are against the carbon tax only use mobiles. We don’t bother with hard lines. Most successful and active small business types from trades to lawyers are pretty much the same ie mobiles even when driving the car, truck ,ute etc. To characterize that landliners are more conservative a mobilers more environmentally is merde.it implies you have no idea about how modern people live. I get texts and MMS from over 75 years parents as do heaps of others. Oldies use Skype etc some even twitter.
We consider ourselves , keen, practical environmentalists but just don’t subscribe to the Green Left Weekly , Crikey socialist Green.
Try spending a few months away from University and Inner city types you might want to change your stereotypes then. It will Also help with your poll analysis and predictions.Just like a few contra views might make your blog a bit more interesting and less predictable, apparently not many people here like Tony Abbott or the Liberals as we get to hear from the zealots 24/7. Ever thought he might be planning the long game too nah he’s as dumb as the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz? Right!
Acid Muse @ 77:
‘They will KNOW [your emphasis] that at this particularly ugly moment in Australia’s political history, they were subjected to possibly the most toxic and deceitfully destructive propaganda campaign since Hitler’s Nazi’s convinced the German people gassing 8 million Jews was a reasonable thing to do.’
Do you not think you’re overstating the matter just a little there?
True it is that the print and electronic media – especially News Ltd – is biased in a lot of its reporting & opinion pieces, on a scale not seen since the 18 months leading up to the dismissal; but to draw an analogy with the Holocaust is plain ridiculous & demeaning of those who died and suffered during this terrible blot on history, albeit you qualified your opinion with the adverb ‘possibly.’
If you wish to have your opinions treated seriously I would urge you to consider the use of more temperate language than was displayed on this occasion.
Wasn’t someone on Sky News the other night from Essential Research and he was openly called a ‘leftie’. So how unbiassed are their poll questions as well?
Perhaps pollsters are too close to those who commission them, in much the same way as the medical profession is to pharmaceutical companies.
Take for instance the Morgan question cited. It is clearly push-polling in the grand tradition of US politics.
Morgan has been in the game for some 60 years and conducts all manner of research. On its online site it boasts that it ‘…has been a leading provider of market insights in Australia. Much of that reputation has been built on the quality of Customised Research that we have provided to industry at large.’ Yet would industry or commerce accept the results of polling of their goods or services with a similar preamble to that posed in its subject phone poll(?) I doubt it.
With a question such as “Australia is only responsible for about 1% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions” those polled, save for the informed, would immediately questions the efficacy of a carbon tax & any further question would be polluted by the preamble. Perhaps that is why political parties place more reliance on their private polling. But, the harm done by inexact & biased polling conducted by the majors still has untoward effects in that it can give rise to a perception that a political party has lost its way or is even in crisis.
The tendency to copy the US model of polling now appears entrenched in Australia, evidenced by Morgan and other major polling companies. I guess the only action one can take is to write to them and their advertisers. But I think it really is a case of shutting the gate after the horse had bolted.
stanny @ 81:
What the hell was that all about?
Granted, on the other threads there is usually a predominance of centre-left and left posters. But, if your arguments stand up to scrutiny, you’ll be a given a fair go.
However, if your posts are anything like 81, you will be crucified – and rightly so.
Maybe you need to let some air out of your butt plug, lighten up a little and accept the right of others to communicate their ideas as colourfully as they wish..
It’s a perfectly apt analogy in terms of the degree to which the truth is being distorted and in terms of the likely ramifications of said propaganda campaign being successful in stoping action on climate change.
[Obviously you never read the Pentagon Report leaked in 2004 that predicted “Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters”](http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2004/feb/22/usnews.theobserver)
I did 🙂
The Right continually uses colourfully cutting metaphors and and outrageous analogy to convey their message .. and given they seem to be winning the public debate on many fronts because of that – I would suggest it’s time the Left got over it’s obsession with political correctness and start fighting fire with nuclear fission.
I can but wonder if you also got your knickers in a similar knot over Paul McGeogh describing Israeli gunboats “circling like hyenas” (Q&A tonight) around the peace flotilla he joined to protest the Gaza blockade?
This Facebook poll is keeping it simple “Should Australians have a Carbon Tax?”
Stanny, you’ve got no more idea than I have as to whether the notion that “landliners are more conservative a mobilers more environmentally (sic) is merde”. Where you and I differ is that I’m smart enough to recognise that I don’t know.
imacca, if you’re going for the prize of most annoying imbecile on this thread, you are in with a shot at the title. Even up against a blogger who thinks everyone who disagrees with her is a Na-zi, another blogger who calls the author “Bilbo” just to annoy him, and the author himself who returns fire by lampooning what was otherwise quite a fair comment.
In the unlikely event that anyone intelligent and reasonable is still reading this farcical thread, my point at post #52 was that no side won the election. Three things follow from this:
(1) Our Constitution provides for minority government to be formed in such a situation, and that’s what happened, so there is no need for an early election as long as the minority government is able to function.
(2) All bets are off as far as pre-election promises made by any side before the election, because no electoral mandate was received for any such promise.
(3) Commentators should therefore move on from running interference on questions of mandates and promises, assume that a majority of Australians believe in AGW and want to do their bit — within reason and as part of a global effort — and concentrate on whether a unilateral carbon tax will contribute meaningfully to a solution.
Acidic Muse @ 86:
Yes, I should probably take your advice to ‘lighten up a little’ but that wouldn’t change my view that your Holocaust comparison is way over the top.
Thanks for the Guardian link.
Just because the Right uses ‘colourfully cutting metaphors and outrageous analogy to convey their message’ doesn’t justify the Left following suit.
Smart, witty language and fact-based argument usually does more to win an argument than resorting to the same level of the Right.
Maybe it’s time someone got serious about polls. They are banned in many countries. Rather than ban them though it should be legislkated as a mandatory requirement when referring to poll results to publish the information necesssary to draw conclusions from them, i.e. the specific questions asked, the number polled and how they were selected. (This would remove them from tv news, as it would take more than the allowed five second grab!)
Labor and the Greens could lead the way, maybe with the help of Wilkie and Xenophon on the issue, come July.
So let’s go Swiss.
No controversies about what a poll implies, from the sample number or framing of a question.
No need for major elections to settle particular issues. If there’s doubt about public approval for a policy, and enough people demand it, a referendum gets held and the question is closed.
Nothing speculative about this. Direct Democracy has operated in Switzerland for hundreds of years, now. Stable, prosperous, without the need for shrieking demos in the streets. Every citizen has a say, in everything, equally.
This requires the understanding that Governments don’t get mandates to govern as they see fit, but to govern as they’re told by the citizens who selected them as representatives.
The Swiss model of direct democracy appears to work; but are there any drawbacks?
As you’d be aware, the Australian polity is governed by paramount legislation – the Constitution – and to change it requires a majority of people in a majority of states. Thus referendum questions rarely get up.
charlton challenged : “…and to change it requires a majority of people in a majority of states. ”
True. We’re not set up for the Swiss model. But like anything in a Democracy, that too can be changed by the citizenry, given a good reason.
Of the 44 referendum questions posed since Federation only 8 have got up and they were mostly non-contentious. So from the outset there is a huge barrier to overcome.
There could however be other ways to adopt a defacto Swiss model. For instance, a government could invite the constituency to register for online plebiscites, which would at least gauge public opinion on important issues.
But, quite often, the public, although in the majority, get it wrong, due mainly to being inadequately informed or not wanting to become informed. The death penalty immediately comes to mind. Most of the literature on this subject suggests that capital punishment is not a deterrent but the average citizen believes it is.
And, given the apathy of most voters, the interest in non-compulsory online plebiscites would probably wane and be taken over by interest groups.
I guess therefore attention should be turned to the methodology of pollsters. Perhaps when polls are reported in the media, it should, as someone pointed out earlier, be compulsory for the full question to be revealed. But how could this be acheived in 30 second grabs on TV & radio?
Your suggestion really poses more questions than it answers.
Sorry I didn’t attribute you by name with the idea you espouse at post 91.
Switzerland is a confederation. The constitutional power of the central government is limited, and the constitutional court often rejects referendum results. Most of the power is in the states. We citizens don’t know half as much as we think we do, and we frequently suffer from lapses of judgement. State borders in Switzerland form bulwarks that limit the damage democracy can do.
Not so in Australia. The federation was designed to have a balance of power and a competitive state structure with central government for natural monopolies on certain public functions. That’s long gone, because Australian central government monopolizes the tax base and uses conditional grants to coerce the states into doing whatever it wants.
That’s too much power to put in the hands of the demos without a couple of layers to protect it from itself. A direct democracy in Australia would behave very differently to the direct democracy in Switzerland. It would run amok and destroy almost everything our forefathers built for us. Not a good idea.
Better to stick with the Westminster system. Elected representatives mediate between the public and the expert advisors of the public service. Parliament elects an executive council to be responsible, and is charged with holding it responsible. We in turn hold Parliament accountable. Checks, balances, circuit-breakers, that’s what our system depends on and the sooner somebody reminds our politicians of this the more secure our future will be.
freecountry @ 97:
Our system is better described as ‘Washminster’ rather than Westminster.
From Westminster we borrowed the concept of responsible government; from Washington, the separation of powers doctrine. The former has at its root a system whereby the executive is drawn from and accountable to the legislature; the latter, a system of checks and balances between the three arms of government.
In the United Kingdom the power of the Parliament is in theory unfettered, as there is no constitution per se save for some paramount charters and acts, such as Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, & Act of Settlement. And, there is no equivalent of the protector of the Constitution – US Supreme Court and the High Court of Australia.
Judicial review is available, but if, say, the UK Parliament decided that – and here I’m not referring to possible remedies available in Strasbourg or Luxembourg – women should be denied the franchise, then technically it would not be ultra vires of the Commons.
We did not borrow the US doctrine of separation of powers. We borrowed its federal distribution of powers. There’s been a lot of confusion about this. The High Court has taken a view that being created in separate chapters of the constitution implies actual separation of the powers, which just goes to show that even the High Court is not averse to the occasional jaunt with the fairies at the bottom of the garden.
This has led to a myth being propagated in schools that separation of powers was something the federal fathers had aimed for and somehow missed. Well if they missed, they missed by about 180 degrees, so whatever they are supposed to have been drunk on must have been pretty good.
The Australian founders believed, like Isaac Newton, that they could stand on the shoulders of giants and see further than they had … design a federal balance of distributed powers which would not tear itself apart in civil war as America had; design a system of responsible government which would not bog itself down in bicameral deadlocks as Britain frequently did. Strengths and criticisms of the Swiss, Canadian, and German federations were also analyzed. See Richard Baker, The Executive in a Federation, 1897.
[But the American form of Executive is not advocated. When the Swiss after repeated trials of confederation (all resulting in failure) “looked to America,” and adopted a true federal form of government, they copied the excellencies and rejected the defects of their American model—the analysis of the admitted defects in the American form of Executive proves this. Can we not emulate Switzerland, and with the experience of the practical working of true Federation in America for over 110 years and in Switzerland for nearly fifty years, formulate a Federal Executive which will combine the excellencies and reject the defects of both models?]
freecountry @ 99:
I should have better explained my reference to the separation of powers doctrine.
The US system of government is based on a system of checks and balances where power is divided between the federal and state governments; where authority to settle jurisdictional differences is vested in the US Supreme Court; a bicameral system of government where the House represents the people, the Senate, the states; and, with each arm of government acting as a check and balance on the others. Does this look familiar?
Agree with you that the Founding Fathers’ rationale was to take the best of both systems and therefore avoid the defects of both models; but what we have in effect in Australia is a system of government very similar to that which prevails in the US, coupled with the Westminster concept of responsible government and the traditions and conventions that go with it.
By the way, may I ask you a personal question: is your avatar drawn from a service medal?
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