ANUpoll: Attitudes to Government and Government Services

The latest quarterly Australian National University poll on various aspects of public opinion was released earlier this week, this one targeting “attitudes to government and government services”, as well as asking its usual question on the most important problems facing the country. The poll is derived from a weighted sample of 2001 respondents to phone polling conducted between September 5 and 18, and boasts a margin of error of 2 per cent.

• Satisfaction with the “the way democracy works in Australia” produced the same results as obtained from the ANU’s Australian Election Study survey after last year’s election, with 73 per cent satisfied and 27 per cent not satisfied. Last year’s result marked a plunge from 86 per cent satisfaction recorded after the 2007 election, which was part of an apparent peak recorded in the middle of the previous decade. The report notes that of 29 advanced democracies surveyed in the 1990s, only the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and the United States had higher levels of satisfaction with democracy than Australia (I suspect the mentality at work in the latter country differed from the first three).

• The public appears to have soured on the federal tier of government since 2008, when 40 per cent of respondents were receptive to an expansion in federal power. This time it’s at 30 per cent, with opposition up from 39 per cent to 50 per cent. Western Australia stands out among the state breakdowns, recording only 18 per cent support compared with 29 to 35 per cent for the other states. The current results still compare favourably with 1979, the previous occasion when an ANU survey had posed the question, when 17 per cent were supportive against 66 per cent opposed.

• Respondents were a lot more inclined to believe taxes, unemployment and especially prices had gone up since Labor came to power than they were to believe that health, education and living standards had improved. In the case of prices, this is incontestably correct: the inflation rate may be a different matter, but this isn’t what was asked. However, 58 per cent believed prices had risen “a lot”, which is probably untrue in historical terms. The figures for unemployment offer an even more telling insight into voter psychology, with only 19 per cent believing it had done anything so boring as remain the same, which it essentially has. Forty per cent believed it had increased against 29 per cent who thought it had decreased, which no doubt tells you something significant about the government’s fortunes.

• A trend of recent years has been maintained with higher support recorded for increased social spending (55 per cent in the current poll) than for reduced taxes (39 per cent). The report notes that opinion on government spending “tends to be both secular – in that it is largely unrelated to partisan debates and changes in government – and cyclical – in that it is responsive to broader economic conditions”. Contra John Maynard Keynes, it seems that “national electorates are more likely to favour spending on social services and welfare when economic conditions are benign”. Tax cuts are preferred to government spending to stimulate the economy during downturns.

• The policy areas in which respondents most wanted more money to be spent were education (81 per cent want more spending) and aged pensions (71 per cent), with unemployment the only area where more wanted spending cut (33 per cent) than increased (20 per cent). Small businesses (66 per cent) beat people on low incomes (52 per cent) as most deserving of tax relief, with mining companies, banks and companies which produce carbon pollution essentially tied for least deserving (in each case 59 per cent thought they paid too little tax). Somewhat bewilderingly, all revenue-generating measures suggested to respondents recorded very strong support, and while “a carbon tax on the 500 largest polluting companies” was the least popular of the seven, it still had 63 per cent approval and 34 per cent disapproval.

• As always, respondents were asked to identify the two most important problems facing Australia today. Following the previous poll in July I produced a chart plotting the progression of this series since April 2008. If that were updated with the current results it would show “economy/jobs” continuing to trend upwards (37 per cent rated it first or second, up from 34 per cent) and “better government” jerking sharply upwards from 14 per cent to 26 per cent, taking third place behind a stable immigration (down a point to 31 per cent).

NOTE FOR READERS: Following a software upgrade, the feature which breaks pages down into digestible chunks of 50 comments is not working. This will be rectified, but in the meantime I will be keeping the posts frequent to keep the comments pages at manageable lengths.

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.

848 comments on “ANUpoll: Attitudes to Government and Government Services”

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  1. Would be interesting to know what FWA is asking QANTAS about. Might be about what plans do they have to start flying again.

    That gouge by Jetstar is just so wrong. ACCC, anyone?

  2. dovif

    You keep quoting Qantas’ international market share. How does that possibly justify them closing their entire fleet down, profitable domestic services included? This is no more legal than a secondary boycott by a union.

    But keep it up. If Tony Abbott latches onto this, then 50/50 2pp here we come.

  3. since qanats out-sourced most of their matainence, they are no longer seen as being a safe airline to fly, thats why they have lost market share more than anything else, so much for having to cut costs, eh Dovif

  4. [Probably asking them about their plans to move all operations to Asia]
    I think that would be irrelevant to this situation.

  5. Amelia Marshall is ABC tweeting.

    They are talking about back in the air. QANTAS says it would take days because they have to do risk assessment.

  6. That fool Joyce should be sacked tomorrow – I’d suggest an organised consumer boycott on Jetstar to shove their whole rotten strategy right back up their arse.

    Or better yet, just renationalise QANTAS. Thats what Air NZ did when the corporate reaiders and thugs hit it.

  7. Socrates

    As I said, Qantas wants the Federal government to act, that can be the only reason for them doing this.

    What Qantas does, is sell their customers to other airline at a loss to fill the other airline’s capacity, then they will have to pay $300 per pressenger to not fly Qantas today. Qantas is losing a lot of money because of this. The only reason can be that they think they have to force the Australian government to act.

    Or else they are stupid, Qantas has been planning this for a while, and they have spend millions on legal cost to get the right strategy, somewhere someone has told them they have to force the Gillard government to act. I do not know why, but it will be interesting to find out

    LOL, we have had a lot of business moving from Australia because of foreign competition. We are very happy having our clothes made in China, our cars made in China, and we do not fly Qantas when we go overseas. But when Mitsubishi closes their last plant in Australia, we call them greedy bastards.


  8. dovif – what you and the corporations don’t get is many people, myself included, will pay more to support national jobs. But when I pay the extra $200 for that Qantas flight I don’t intent it to line the pockets of the CEO while he shafts Australian workers – I intend it to go to ensuring that Australian workers at Qantas get treated well.

    And that is why he has just destroyed Qantas. He can start a new Asian airline but I have no loyalty to it. Big deal – is it better than Emirates or Singapore Air? No – too bad.

  9. don’t really understand why

    Dovif, I think you’ve demonstrated quite well that you really don’t understand very much at all.

    Why has Qantas market share fallen from 60% to 33%

    Could it be that Qantas management have been really really crap at running their business?

    Could it be related to the fact that the historical special restricted access to certain flight routes has been removed inherently opening Qantas up to competition it didn’t have to face before?

    Could it be that you really don’t know very much about this subject and yet feel that you can berate us for being poor lumpen citizens who don’t properly worship at the feet of our clearly superior and vastly intelligent business overlords?

    no we expect they to continue to employ everyone and make them more expensive, so we will not fly them in the future

    This is a straw man of your creation. I don’t expect anything of the sort. What I do expect is a long term plan on the part of Qantas to manage what have been decades long stressors on their business model. The fact that they have completely failed to adequately manage their product, their fleets, their workforce, their customer relations, and ultimately failed to manage and foster their brand over the last 20 years is all down to bad management.

    Qantas management does have to manage their workforce remuneration and conditions, and necessarily that requires negotiation and compromise. I have not seen any evidence that in this crisis induced panic about wages and conditions that Qantas management have any desire, or perhaps ability, to negotiate, and therein lies the problem. These stresses have built within the company over years, but Qantas management have failed to deal with them the way other better run companies have been able to. The cynic in me says that for bloody minded ideological reasons the current board have chosen the path of confrontation in order to smash the union influence over the workforce. ie management have inflamed this confrontation rather than controlling it. Qantas management, and obviously Mr Dovif, along with many right wing ideologues blame ‘intransigent unions’.

    I’m sure the unions are not entirely blameless, but they are doing what they exist to do which is to look after their members’ benefits and conditions – more power to them.

  10. Gweneth

    Australians had voted with their feet for a long time

    Not many people check the labels before they buy anything, the fruit smoothie I made from Coles Berries todays are made in Chile.

    I think the only people who should be making any comments about Qantas, should be someone who have never flew another airline. I have been overseas 20 times and I had always flew Qantas

  11. Jackol

    If Australians want to keep jobs in Australia, they will fly Qantas no matter how “bad” the “qantas” management is

    As I said only the people who have never flew another airline apart from Qantas out of Australia should be a part of this debate

  12. QANTAS says it would take days because they have to do risk assessment.

    bwahahahah. They’re truly a bunch of comedians. In order to run their normally scheduled business, they have to do days worth of risk assessment. If their processes are in order, then all their maintenance, supply chain management etc will all work exactly as if Alan Joyce hadn’t pulled the pin … what risk assessment needs to be done exactly?

    Qantas management truly have the greatest contempt for us all, don’t they?

  13. dovif,

    Where I like to be on Qantas is when I’m at miles above the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Then its nice to know the guy up front knows what he’s doing 🙂

  14. The question that people like Dovif cant answer is that when you outsource labour to cheaper overseas countries, what happens when that cheap labour takes action to raise their wages to parity with here ?
    (like they are doing around the world from the Phillipines to India and beyond)

  15. lefty,

    What I’d like to see right now is virgin match or offer slightly lower fares than jetstar. And advertise. That’d worry Joyce 🙂

  16. dovif – I check the labels. If you had flown another airline – and sometimes I had no choice as I wasn’t the one paying – you would have noticed that Qantas has not been a premier service for a long time. Many people are prepared to pay more for safety and for comfort. (especially safety) Qantas should be playing to that market not going budget! Bad management. Anyway. My call is this is dumb – not smart.

  17. qantas outsourced their maintainence to os, where it was cheaper.
    Now bits and pieces of Qantas planes fall off, in mid-flight.
    Great success that cost-cutting excersise has been, eh Dovif ?

  18. dovif

    If cost is all that matters why don’t we outsource all our economists to Asia as well? I’m sure they could write their tripe much cheaper in Mumbai. As a non-hypocritical market economist you should be leading the charge. Unless you cost less to employ here than your Indian equivalent, you are part of our competitiveness problem. You need to emigrate, Dovif. Off you go then. Fly Emirates 🙂

  19. If Australians want to keep jobs in Australia, they will fly Qantas no matter how “bad” the “qantas” management is

    Er, no, that doesn’t follow. There is no “all or nothing” aspect to any consumer experience. In fact, most of economics is devoted to showing that markets are based on sliding scales – ratios, relationships, not hard cut offs. ie the historical advantages that Qantas had in relation to support for Australian businesses and employees, public good will, respect for the safety culture of the organization, the ‘warm fuzzy’ aspect of how everyone used to like Australians, an expectation of good service etc. All of these things provide the ability to increase the price charged for fares while keeping the same level of demand, but not indefinitely. A premium if you will for these intangible aspects. But not an arbitrarily large premium. Recognizing and planning to enhance these aspects of the business could have increased the potential premium Qantas could have charged – obviously leaving the bargain basement market to Jetstar to pick up. They didn’t pursue this business strategy, they simply went down market with service, maintenance and safety, offshoring, etc, etc, etc – deliberately burning their previous strengths.

    An Australian workforce is one of those aspects – again, people would be willing to pay a little bit more for it, but not an arbitrary amount more.

    As I said only the people who have never flew another airline apart from Qantas out of Australia should be a part of this debate

    Ah, Dovif adjudicates on who is worthy of making comment. I do believe this is a variant of the ‘Greens who take overseas holidays are hypocrites and can’t comment on CO2e reduction’. In fact I do believe Dovif was a prime proponent of that completely bogus “logic” in the past.

  20. [This little black duck

    Posted Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 1:15 am | Permalink

    Why is anyone asking Tony Abbott what he thinks?

    Note thne lack of questions ibn Abbott’s Presser – says it all

  21. loobes #qantas staff at head office confirm 5000 redundancy/termination letters printed yesterday….

    Wow, I can really see Qantas management looking to ‘negotiate’ with those letters. They have no intention of reaching a resolution. This is Qantas “nuking them from orbit”.

  22. They just replayed Lyndal’s faux pas. She had said that unions / QANTAS had approached the government for intervention. They hadn’t.

  23. Good old JWH, he warned us back in 07 that the unions rulled the roost. When you look at the back door boys and all the other crazy left wing union thuggery going on, its not hard to look back and say “yep, the old man was right”. Same old Labor.

  24. FWA back at 2PM. Unions pushing the public (ASX) openness angle. Failure to inform ASX about negative risk assessments is a NO NO.

  25. Night all. Interesting to see how this plays out.

    The government must not take sides, but must enforce the law. IF one side is breaking the law the government should act. Also, they must do all they can to assist those stranded, or explain why they can’t. Beyond that, Alan Joyce has the explaining to do.

  26. Rummel – riiiiiight.

    So the fact that days lost to industrial disputation is basically at an all time low over the last few years is a sign of unions out of control?

    That a management team that has obviously been bent on confrontation has managed to pick a fight is proof that the unions are “ruling the roost”.


  27. Frank

    I just left a comment on that PR piece published in the Terrorgraph. Somehow I doubt whether it will get past the gatekeepers, so hear it is:
    [What a crock.

    Since when does a company’s PR release constitute “news”.

    Alan Joyce and his fellow band of “crooks” have completely trashed the Qantas brand, and robbed shareholders blind.

    The union dispute(s) were costing the company $15 million a week.

    This action is going to cost $20 million A DAY.

    I hope Qantas shareholders get a class action law suit up against these gangsters that call themselves the company’s Board.]

  28. The futility of CHOGM
    Apart from being a bit of a party for Heads of Govt,the CHOGM meertings are pointless and futile
    The Age captures this very well


  29. Julia Get out of Afghanistan
    It’s a lost cause …and Aussie lives are lost for no good purpose
    and the Afghan Army is a totally unreliable ally.

  30. [

    Karina_CarvKarina Carvalho

    WA Tourism Min Kim Hames says while #QANTAS grounding keeps #chogm visitors in #Perth for longer – it stops many more from coming here

    3 minutes agoFavoriteRetweetReply]

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