Essential Research: 56-44 to Coalition

For all the convulsions it has faced on the political front, in one respect the Gillard government has presented a model of stability in recent months: its opinion poll ratings, as measured by the weekly Essential Research report, have been set in stone since the middle of June. This week’s result shows no change at all on the previous week, with Labor on 32 per cent and the Coalition on 49 per cent of the primary vote, and the Coalition leading 56-44 on two-party preferred. The only change is a two-point gain for the Greens, who are up to 12 per cent at the expense of other parties and independents. Respondents were also asked to rate the performance of Tony Abbott as Opposition Leader, with slightly better results than he is used to from his personal approval ratings: 38 per cent agreed he was “performing the role of opposition leader well and is keeping the government accountable”, with 45 per cent taking the commonly heard view that he is “just opposing everything and is obstructing the work of the government”.

Other questions fielded by Essential Research probe the complex area of public opinion on asylum seekers, and as usual they offer little to help guide political leaders through the minefield. Whereas other surveys have indicated surprisingly high support for onshore processing, the latest survey illustrates how dependent such results are upon the options given to respondents. Only 21 per cent were found to indicate a preference for onshore processing when the available alternatives were offshore processing “in any other country” (11 per cent), offshore processing “only in a country where human rights are protected” (31 per cent) and turning the boats around (28 per cent).

Respondents were further asked to rate features of a good refugee processing system, and here too the public seems determined to make life difficult for the government: the two features rated most important were “keeping costs down” (rated very important or somewhat important by 81 per cent) and the possibly incompatible objective of “protecting human rights” (80 per cent). It might be thought a surprise that the objective of “stopping the boats” only came in third, at 74 per cent. The least pressing concern was ensuring that asylum seekers were not returned to the country from which they had fled (49 per cent).

A question on trust in various Australian institutions emphasises how much work our churches have to do to recover confidence: only 29 per cent declared a lot of trust or some trust in religious organisations, against 72 per cent for the High Court, 67 per cent for the Reserve Bank and 61 per cent for charitable organisations. Interestingly, federal parliament (55 per cent) rated higher than the ABC (46 per cent), environmental groups (45 per cent) and trade unions (39 per cent). Last but certainly not least, the AFL grand final attracted the most interest out of three looming sports events: 32 per cent declared themselves interested, against 20 per cent for the NRL grand final and 10 per cent for the Rugby World Cup.

The weekend brought another polling tidbit from Adelaide’s Advertiser, which has conducted an in-house poll of 642 respondents from the state electorate of Port Adelaide. The poll is a product of the almost universal anticipation that the seat’s current Labor member, Kevin Foley, will head for the parliamentary exit not long after he stands down from the ministry in October 20, in tandem with Premier Mike Rann. Whereas there is little expectation Labor will be troubled in the resulting by-election for Rann’s seat of Ramsay, Port Adelaide-Enfield mayor Gary Johanson is thought to be a serious prospect as an independent candidate in Port Adelaide. The poll nonetheless shows Johanson attracting only 14 per cent support at this stage, with 37 per cent backing Labor, 31 per cent Liberal and 11 per cent for the Greens. Labor has a two-party lead of 55-45, pointing to a swing to the Liberals of about 8 per cent. The poll’s margin of error is around 4 per cent.

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.

646 comments on “Essential Research: 56-44 to Coalition”

  1. SK 592 +1

    I also think it was the way Rudd was dumped that has damaged Gillard. I preferred Rudd to Gillard as PM, but that doesn’t mean I think Rudd was faultless; far from it.

    I was a member of the Queensland PS when Rudd was head of the Office of Cabinet, de facto head of the QPS, at age 34. Not just control freaks, they were nasty. It wasn’t only Rudd – there was a whole group, including Jackie Byrne and others – but they were very unpleasant. The “gulag” for old National Party senior servants was terrible.

    There was also a lot of nepotism and people using party connections to advance their careers. In fact, PS career structures were destroyed for many public servants. In the line department I worked in there was a blatant takeover by Labor leaning people appointed at SES level that obviously knew less about how to run the department than their predecessors. Working conditions worsened greatly. As a party member at the time, it was embarrassing.

  2. SK

    Exactly right – the problems with the people running the QPS under Goss were ego driven. They were smart enough but they just wouldn’t listen to other people.

    In many ways I think the whole manner in which we select leaders today is ineffective. It pre-selects those who are most ambitious to nominate themselves, not those who are the best leaders. This applies to the PS, corporate and political worlds. By comparison, look at how football clubs select captains. the idea of saying “those who want to be captain apply to the club secretary with why you would be the best captain, would be a joke.”

    Off to bed for me. Night all.

  3. [To those in the throws of bridal madness, some of the most beautiful wedding dresses are to be found in Salvos stores for about $75.]
    Yes I have bought three.

  4. Watching QANDA in W.A.

    Oakshotte worth listening to. He’s not impressed with the Fib/Nats at all is he?

    The ALP dude presents very well. Speaks to the point and the question.

    Coonan a washed out hack. Riots?? The derision with which this was greeted was quite pointed.

    Planet Janet? That woman is such a waste of space. She deserves Fiberal pre-selection.

  5. Shows,
    Buy something small from a swanky bridal shop and get one of their big fancy bags to put the Salvo dress in. Remember, age and cunning beats youth and enthusiasm.

  6. [Buy something small from a swanky bridal shop and get one of their big fancy bags to put the Salvo dress in. Remember, age and cunning beats youth and enthusiasm.]

    You sneaky old bugger! My daughters only 8 at the moment, but you can bet i’ll remember that one! 🙂

  7. [Shows,
    Buy something small from a swanky bridal shop and get one of their big fancy bags to put the Salvo dress in. Remember, age and cunning beats youth and enthusiasm.]
    I’m not that fussy, so long as the dresses fit on my hips I’m OK with them.

  8. My d bought her own and totally rejected the white dress, after looking at 10,000 odd wedding dresses, chose a beautiful dark pink gown suitable for evening wear and fiance had a bespoke tailored suit made for him. Park by the beach, no cars flowers etc etc, but a boat along the harbour onto an excellent meal at the Opera House restaurant. Less than 10Ktops. AAA+++ event, especially for new hubby’s British rellies who flew out for it. Blew their minds. 👿

  9. Interesting Newspoll numbers. If those were the numbers at the election (I know, 2 years etc) you’d be looking at the Coalition gaining about 29 seats from Labor (with QLD and NSW providing the bulk loss)

    One could only guess how indies would go but, best case scenario for the Coalition is they could topple Crook, Oakeshott and Windsor. So, they’d be getting 101-103 seats with this result. Even with this level of dissatisfaction, it probably won’t be that high. But a seat count in the low 90s would not be off the books.

  10. Wonder if Tony would still say this even if Wilkie did come to him again? Not that I expect him to:

    [The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, said he would not give in to Mr Wilkie’s demands should the independent switch sides. ”Mandatory pre-commitment is going to be very expensive, quite ineffective and that’s why it’s not Liberal Party policy,” he said.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/labor-in-spin-over-backlash-on-pokies-20110926-1ktny.html#ixzz1Z4auANee
    ]

  11. [Puff, the Magic Dragon.

    Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    Frank,
    Let the Abominable No-Man enjoy it will he can, two more years, two more years…
    ]

    A PPM of 41% ?

    A Drovers Dog could win with that figure.

  12. I’m just shocked the Oz quoted this totally representative example:

    [When April Noon, from Thornlands, east of Brisbane, cast her ballot at the last federal election, the idea of a woman leading Australia was one of the driving reasons for her vote. Now the lustre of the nation’s first female prime minister has worn off for the 22-year-old bank operations assistant, who has become disappointed in Ms Gillard’s leadership.

    Ms Noon, who lives in the LNP-held electorate of Bowman, said Ms Gillard’s failure to sell the carbon tax to the public and the constant bickering across the political divide had led her to consider voting conservative for the first time.

    Ms Noon said she did not consider either leader particularly likeable, and that her vote could be won with a leadership change.

    She said she would happily support Labor under the leadership of Kevin Rudd, as she had in the 2007 election.

    “If Kevin came back, definitely – I love Kevin,” she said. “I would be more inclined to vote [Labor].” ]

  13. [The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, said he would not give in to Mr Wilkie’s demands should the independent switch sides. ”Mandatory pre-commitment is going to be very expensive, quite ineffective and that’s why it’s not Liberal Party policy,” he said.]

    Sour grapes.

    He is clearly on the record as having promised the world to the indies for their support. One of the reasons he scared them off. They knew he had no way of meeting those promises and he was just lying through his teeth to get his foot into the door so he could entrench himself, then call a new election asap and go back on his promises.

    That’s why the “black hole” doesn’t bother them so much. They all know they’re just fibs and empty promises. Not that it matters. It’s ok when they do it.

    He’ll just go on 7:30 and, with a barely contained smirk, explain how his Santa Claus promises won’t happen but, instead, there will be an ultra-conservative agenda. Uhlmann will gleefully guide the interview so it’s Labor and the Greens’ fault that they can’t keep their promises.

    It’ll be 2004 all over again. Except, this time, they will learn from their previous mistake.

  14. [631

    Puff, the Magic Dragon.

    Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    rishane,
    At 22, she would have voted in 2 federal elections at the most.
    ]

    Yup,

    2007 and 2010

    I wonder who she voted for in 2007 ?

  15. He’ll be here shortly with his “Sorry if this has already been posted (snigger) but Julia Gillard …”

    Or the other one with ” The back stabbing Labor vipers who post here will be proud to note that Gillard ….”

  16. [At 22, she would have voted in 2 federal elections at the most.]

    Irrelevant.

    Without the younger voters, you would have a Coalition government. Just remember that.

    It’s the QLD thing. They seem to think they’re entitled to dictate how the country is run.

  17. [He’ll be here shortly with his “Sorry if this has already been posted (snigger) but Julia Gillard …”

    Or the other one with ” The back stabbing Labor vipers who post here will be proud to note that Gillard ….”]

    or

    “I see the Gillard cheerleaders are still blinded by their delusions and their relentless bashing off Rudd not to realise….”

  18. [Carey Moore

    Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    At 22, she would have voted in 2 federal elections at the most.

    Irrelevant.

    Without the younger voters, you would have a Coalition government. Just remember that.

    It’s the QLD thing. They seem to think they’re entitled to dictate how the country is run.
    ]

    As I said – Quincelanders are in a world of their own.

    Sir Joh has a LOT to Answer for.

  19. Carey, Robbie burns had it right all those centuries ago when he said “O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursel’s as others see us”.

  20. There is a subtle contrast between the two peas in that pod..

    One is a fool who thinks he’s clever, and the other is clever but behaves like a fool.

  21. Somehow this petition will be a fizzer:

    [Convoy of No Confidence.
    The petition calling for the Gillard Goverment to be disolved (Anti Carbon Tax), organised by the National Road Freighters Association (NRFA), now need to be collected this week and sent to the NRFA by this Friday the 30th.
    Thank you so much to everyone who have been collecting signatures for the petition.]

  22. BK @ 468 re the Repugs:

    [There is no good pollie among the Republican presidential front runners. Nuts – all of them.]

    Yeah, agreed. Romney is a perennial, ‘tho, but destined to be always the bridesmaid? It’s illustrative, isn’t it, of how right-wing politics in general is infested with nasty, bigotted, divisive groups.

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