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”

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  1. ru

    You really need to learn when to stop digging.

    Patients with mental health problems can be admitted without being detained. That is the most common way they are admitted.

    Show me legislation where it says all mental health patients have to be detained.

    You cannot.

  2. Finns

    [BTW, is our speed of light the same as everyone else’s speed of light?

    BW, nah we are faster]

    Ah. I get it.

    E equals M (C squared plus one.)

  3. Finns

    [BW, on that fateful Friday afternoon, Ziggy Stardust said “Fukushima was just a minor accident”]

    I think he meant that it was just a humungous major bad accident but it came out the wrong way.

  4. [Show me legislation where it says all mental health patients have to be detained.]

    I showed you the SA legislation where even voluntary patients can be detained.

    PS Shows, F*ck off. 😛

    Nite all.

  5. Tim Costello: “$1 machines are OK but the crack cocaine of some machines is something else”.
    He spoke of logarithms again instead of algorithms.

  6. Clubs wallah with a silly hair-do on 7.30 against Tim Costello said that if you made playing the pokies too hard the punters would just go and do something else.

    I thought that was the bloody point?

  7. ru

    [I showed you the SA legislation where even voluntary patients can be detained.]

    Umm, no you didn’t. By definition, a patient who is voluntary is not detained. If you are detained, you cannot leave, therefore you are involuntary.

  8. Thefinnigans TheFinnigans天地有道人无道
    The quality of #ABC730 improved 110% without Chris Ulhmann #auspol
    5 minutes ago

  9. [What a bloody shocker is the pokies clubs mouthpiece!

    Love the hairdo. He looks like a choc top ice cream.]

    Didn’t you love George Negus’ question to the pokies flak;

    Do you have sympathy for the stance of the AFL and NRL against the anti-pokies legislation?

    I mean seriously, Negus is a fool.

  10. [What a bloody shocker is the pokies clubs mouthpiece!]

    He reminds me of the snake oil salesman the Australian Hotels Assoc drag out to defend the rights of sleazy nightclubs.

  11. [ Love the hairdo. He looks like a choc top ice cream.

    And just about as smart!

    I heard him on Rad Hadley this morning. Truly awful.

    Hadley asked him about the $1 machines which are exempt. Choc Top took a deep breath on the other end of the phone, coughed once and then said that was wrong. ALL pokies would be “taxed”.

    Hadley let him get away with it. Not surprised.

  12. [The quality of #ABC730 improved 110% without Chris Ulhmann #auspol]

    The Uhlmann Experiment has well and truly failed according to the ratings.

  13. Why can a government minister not thoroughly expose the lies, misrepresentations and plain selfish stupidity of the types of the clubs mouthpiece?

  14. [The Uhlmann Experiment has well and truly failed according to the ratings.]

    I have this vision of him begging the grim faced producers to give him just a couple more weeks to get the ratings up. Why, he’ll even get a new hair cut. Plastic surgery. Botox. Anything!

    The atmosphere on the set must be one of despair.

    The two of them have ruined the franchise, wrecked it.

  15. [The Uhlmann Experiment has well and truly failed according to the ratings.]
    At the Senate inquiry today the ABC said that “New Inventors” was pulled because of falling ratings.
    Er, 7:30????????

  16. Diogs

    I know there is a psych facility attached to our regional hospital. Visited a friend there a while ago.

    Had a scary experience a few years ago where I realised a friend was suicidal (had at first dismissed what she said as a joke, then driven off, and realised on reflection she was totally serious).

    Took me over ten phone calls to find someone – anyone – who was prepared to help her.

    I kept being referred to the police – which might be correct protocol, but wasn’t appropriate in the circs.

    In the end, I rang the psych facility, who advised me to contact her GP, who went straight to her house.

  17. BK:

    I wondered this the other day. Poss tweeted a series of short, sharp, compelling facts about pokies addiction, the squillions that venues make at the expense of gambling addicts, and the likely costs to society.

    They speak for themselves, and should be in the armory of every Labor MP targetted by the clubs’ campaign of lies. With public support for pokies reform, according to recent polling, this should be a win-win for the govt!!

  18. Diogenes @ 63


    The psych hospitals

    What friggin psych hospitals?

    SA has a dedicated psych hospital (Glenside). Used to have another (Hillcrest).

    Qld has The Park.

    Well Victoria beats those…

    We have Port Philip Prison, Barwon Prison, etc.

    Plus we grant many of the mentally ill the freedom to wander the streets talking to their voices and sleeping rough.

    Sure beats those ghastly asylums doesn’t it?

  19. Thefinnigans TheFinnigans天地有道人无道
    #TheirABC axed “The New Inventor”. They should rename #ABC730 to “The New New Inventor”. It needs one #auspol
    50 seconds ago

  20. The thing is that people don’t need to be communicated to about pokie addiction.

    They know already.

    IMHO the Government will go with this legislation as soon as they have rounded up sufficient numbers or next May, whichever comes first.

  21. The Finnigans

    [Thefinnigans TheFinnigans天地有道人无道
    #TheirABC axed “The New Inventor”. They should rename #ABC730 to “The New New Inventor”. It needs one #auspol]

    Wadda do you reckon about calling it the “The 7:30 News Inventors Report” ?

  22. [At the Senate inquiry today the ABC said that “New Inventors” was pulled because of falling ratings.]

    Indeed. As with the arts shows on RN. The ABC can’t expect some of its shows to live and die by the ratings game and not others.

    Uhlmann is a flat out dreadful interviewer, and I therefore see no compelling reason for him to retain a primetime TV current affairs co-hosting role where he does the bulk of the show’s political interviews. Steve Cannane would be great – a proven talent.

  23. [Dan Gulberry
    Posted Monday, September 26, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Dan_Gulberry Citizen Dan
    Talk about chalk and cheese between the Costello brothers. Tim – decent, honest man: Peter – lying fascist scumbag #auspol ]

    Tim has always been twice the man. Had he gone into politics he’d either have made it to PM or be a major independent like Windsor.

    If the government starts to lose the PR war on poker machine gambling limits (so far they’re doing OK despite the huge $s being poured into the pokies interests), they could do worse than bring Tim and a few victims families to the fore.

    There does seem to be ground support for this measure despite the media noise about how poor all our clubs and pubs will become.

    GG ran an interesting contra view, but the point really is similar for the reason for the restrictions on alcohol sales, and driving/road safety rules. Some restrictions, as distinct from total bans, are necessary for the greater public good, and the protection of innocent third parties.

  24. [Wadda do you reckon about calling it the “The 7:30 News Inventors Report” ?]

    poroti, are you trying to be funny about our Auntie?

  25. Thefinnigans TheFinnigans天地有道人无道
    Notice how quick they are prepared to forgive the “Greece Debts” whereas they wouldnt forgive previous Asian and African debts #auspol
    14 seconds ago

  26. If anyone around here needs to get urgent help with suicidal folk we can contact our local LifeLine.

    They are well-networked and can help summon a crisis team.

  27. The Finnigans

    [Wadda do you reckon about calling it the “The 7:30 News Inventors Report” ?

    poroti, are you trying to be funny about our Auntie?]

    News these days seems to be largely invented (see KR challenge,AFL rage against the pokies legislation),the prog starts at 7:30 and it is a report. Nothing funny there 🙂

  28. Tim and Peter followed different trajectories. There is no knowing what would have happened to Tim had he gone into politics. The necessary comprimises tend necessarily to compromise even the best and the brightest.

  29. Boerwar:

    Straight-talking on the issue of pokies addiction would kill the clubs’ campaign dead. Eg:

    1) it is an industry built on human misery and suffering
    2) clubs generate millions in profit on the back of family ill health, social, emotional and financial dislocation, yet give back so little to the community relative to the profits they make
    3) ~ 40% of those diagnosed with gambling addiction (according to DSM-IV) are addicted to pokies. (IIRC this was a Poss tweet, I haven’t checked the actual figures)
    4) insert WA to every lie the clubs come out with about the death of their club, the death of their sport, the loss of jobs etc etc.

  30. Leigh Sales made a rather one sided statement about Australia`s vote at the UN. She said that we would either abstain or vote against. She then spoke about things that would be perceived to be negative, by most of the audience, about abstaining.

  31. BH
    [I’m surprised at an Essential poll showing such poor support for onshore processing.]

    Perceived intake of asylum seekers as a proportion of annual immigration seems to be a variable that alters support for onshore processing.

    Only 25% of all respondents are aware that the proportion of asylum seekers arriving by boat constitutes 1% or less of our annual immigration. This is up 7 points since 7 June 2010.

    Greens voters are the most likely to think that the percentage was 1% or less, with 39% of Greens respondents selecting this response followed by Labor on 26% and Lib/Nat on 24%.

    When asked “Thinking about the issue of asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat, which of the following alternatives do you think is the best way to process those arriving:” 42% of respondents who correctly knew that asylum seekers arriving by boat is 1% or less support onshore processing.

    The only group with majority support for onshore processing is the Greens voters (58%) followed by Labor voters (24%) and Lib/Nat (11%).

  32. gusface @ 127:

    [wilkie is just being a politician

    you dont fold at the first challenge]

    You’re right about folding ‘at the first challenge.’

    But, whereas former Senator Harradine, for instance – arguably the greatest exponent of pork-barrelling in the history of the federal Parliament – Mr. Wilkie’s campaign has national implications, which if implemented has the potential to alleviate much suffering.

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