ReachTEL: ABC, republicanism, Cosgrove v Bryce

ReachTEL gives both sides of the argument something to go on in relation to ABC bias, and finds evidence of conservatism on matters vice-regal and republican.

The Fairfax papers today offer three attitudinal findings from a ReachTEL automated phone poll, which was conducted on Thursday evening from a sample of 2146 respondents:

• After Tony Abbott’s efforts to place the matter on the agenda earlier this week, a question on ABC bias finds 59.6% of respondents saying there is none. However, conservative critics of the public broadcaster can at least point to the fact that many more think it biased to Labor (32.2%) than the Coalition (8.2%). While the result at both ends may have been influenced by Abbott’s activism, it nonetheless offers an interesting supplement to the yearly ABC-commissioned Newspoll surveys, which consistently find overwhelming majorities considering its reporting to be “balanced and even-handed” without probing into respondents’ partisanship. The Sydney Morning Herald’s graphic features breakdowns by age and gender.

• Support for republicanism appears to be at a low ebb, with 39.4% in favour and 41.6% opposed. Tellingly, the 18-34 cohort joins 65-plus in recording a net negative rating (though by a considerably smaller margin), with those in between recording majorities in favour. Age and gender breakdowns here.

• There’s also a question on who is preferred out of the incumbent Governor-General and her designated successor, with 57.1% favouring Peter Cosgrove versus 42.9% for Quentin Bryce. I do wonder though about a method which requires a definite answer from all respondents to such a question, given the number that wouldn’t have an opinion.

UPDATE: And now a further finding from the poll that 52.5% agree that Labor should distance itself from the union movement”, compared with 25.6% who disagree.

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.

1,716 comments on “ReachTEL: ABC, republicanism, Cosgrove v Bryce”

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  1. Off to set up the Sunday Papers. Wonder what gems the Sunday Tele will provide today?

    Some interesting results from Reachtel, William.

    Up here the wind has finally dropped.

    Have a great day everyone.

  2. [ Psephos
    Posted Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Furthermore, this is a documented example of successfully turning back unauthorised boat arrivals, despite the general view here that it’s impossible. So that is a big win for Morrison.
    Three deaths.
    1/2 million dollar boat.
    Incursion into Indonesian waters.

    You Psephos are one crazy mixed up person.

  3. Just love it:

    [ And here’s the delicious part. On Thursday, in London, Prince Charles – the man Flint and Jones eternally champion to become the King of Australia – described denialists as a ”headless chicken brigade,” wilfully ignoring overwhelming scientific evidence, while also mounting ”a barrage of sheer intimidation” against all who speak sense on it.


    Your thoughts, Professor?


    I think we need to know.

    Read more:

  4. Could one venture to suggest that the link between a government’s actions and the deaths of the three AS would be quite a lot less tenuous than the one with pink batts?

  5. Perhaps Tony Abbott and Putin did have a little confidential conversation, after all. 😉

    [Is the ABC un-Australian? Is a review worth doing? Last December, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin tightened his control over that country’s media by dissolving the main state news agency and replacing it with an organisation that is to promote Moscow’s image abroad.]

    Read more:

  6. bemused

    your idea of the role of an MP and mine are exactly the same – certainly you haven’t been able to show that an MP’s role is anything more than ‘helping people solve problems’ — which was my contention.

    But that’s OK, because I know you find it hard to face up to it when you’ve been shown to be wrong.

  7. Bobalot

    as I’ve been saying, this is the trouble with Tony trying to mimic Howard’s ‘look, over there – a unicorn’ approach to crisis management.

    Howard’s distractions were always so nebulous that they faded away after a few days, having successfully changed the conversation whilst creating minimal public concern (which is why it’s hard to remember them!) so there was no political blowback by not following through with them.

    Abbott’s distractions seem to simply result in the need to create another distraction.

  8. Morning all. Good question BK on the comparison of AS deaths and pink bats.

    Regarding media bias, the framing of the question says a lot about the motives. It is impossible to say there is absolutely no bias in almost anything. The real issue is the overall balance, and whether there is any systemic bias. If you asked another question: which media outlet in Australia was the most biased, I doubt the most common answer would be “ABC”. It would be Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp, and the bias would be in favour of the Liberal Party.

  9. It’s also important to remember that the attacks on ‘pink batts’ and the BER etc didn’t originate with the Opposition, but were memes created by the media – the Opposition then jumped on the bandwagon.

    In the early days, there was an obvious lag between the media getting all faux-concerned over a particular issue and the Opposition buying in, but then the whole act became more synchronised.

  10. Good Morning



    I am going to watch Insiders despite Abetz being the guest and Nikki Savva on the Panel.

    I want to see how divorced from reality they are and how Cassidy justifies the good week comments.

  11. Morning

    [In Shepparton, they’re getting used to a future that looms not with promise but with strings attached.
    As the town reels from federal cabinet’s decision to reject a $25 million assistance package to save SPC Ardmona, locals are contemplating a future without the company that forms its economic backbone – and a future that could see an abruptly distorted number of them reliant on a welfare system that is also using the town as an experiment.]

    Read more:

  12. If you don’t want to work Shepparton is going to be a good location, cheap housing, no jobs. To those that wanted a working poor I have always asked the question, where do you want the slums. We noe have the Victorian answer; Shepparton. Given who they electected, what can one say, “you voted for it”.

  13. Laurie Oakes a few days ago

    [TONY Abbott loves to be compared with John Howard. Comparisons with another former Liberal prime minister, however, cause him to bristle.

    He knows there has been concern among Liberal “dries”, hardline economic rationalists, that he could turn out to be like Malcolm Fraser – in their eyes, a prime minister who wasted reform opportunities and shied away from tough economic decisions to avoid unpopularity.]

  14. [TONY Abbott loves to be compared with John Howard. ]

    I didn’t like Howard, but even I can see that Abbott is no Howard.

  15. confessions

    The Howard Abbott comparison shows the superiority of the Labor way of running government.

    Under the LNP it seems entirely up to the character of the leader.
    Under Labor the PM is truly first amongst equals in a team effort.

  16. I rather suspect William, that one of the factors predisposing the lean in the poll dealing with the ABC is a general shift in the perception of what ‘balanced’ reporting looks/sounds like around a distinctively more jingoistic, xenophobic and anti-ALP consensus.

    IMO, the previous regime rather fostered this drift, by running dead against the Murdoch agenda. Importantly too, the ABC, through the confluence of a number of factors (reliance on the Murdoch media for its core reportage, perceptions of a need to align its tone with the balance of polling, fear of perceptions of bias against the apparently incoming regime, the general vacuity of staff employed by ABC and of course the notion that balance in news coverage rather than rigour and comprehensiveness) came off basically as a rather insipid version of the Murdoch media, with the consequence that many of those who see the ABC as ‘balanced’ probably do so because they see it as a more demure version of the Daily Telegraph or Herald-Sun, and those who see it as pro-ALP do so because they see its reservations about fully embracing the Murdoch/LNP agenda as evidence of ALP bias.

    One would need quite refined qualitative polling to refute or affirm these hypotheses and that would be very expensive to do at the scale needed, but certainly, for mine the frame of reference — what is sometimes called the Overton Window, has shifted sharply right since late 2009. We’ve seen an increasing tendency to blur the boundaries between fact/opinion, reporters as entertainers and personalities, with their opinions and maundering itself treated as news events, the use of language that calls the Murdoch side of the culture wars as ‘neutral’ (eg carbon tax, boat arrivals, pink batts) and a general emptying out from news of anything that goes beyond superficial summaries of claims in the public domain — at least in the most repeated reportage.

    The poll therefore doesn’t surprise me in the least. That TA could speak in public of the role of the ABC as he did almost certainly reflects this shift, but it’s important IMO, to note that the two institutions have nurtured the defensive and weak position they now occupy.

  17. [guytaur
    Posted Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 9:01 am | PERMALINK

    The Howard Abbott comparison shows the superiority of the Labor way of running government.

    Under the LNP it seems entirely up to the character of the leader.
    Under Labor the PM is truly first amongst equals in a team effort.]

    Haha 🙂 you have to be kidding!!!

    “first amongst equals in a team effort” ?????? Were you asleep for the last 6 years of ALP government or something?

  18. After years of hearing about how the media is pro Coalition, proponents of such views are still unable to provide a scintilla of evidence.

    The only evidence that appears to be out there is:
    1. The public think the ABC is pro ALP rather than pro Coalition
    2. The reporters self describe themselves as leaning left rather than right by about 2:1

    Could it be that the ALP screws up and hence is voted out?

  19. [ Given who they elected, what can one say, “you voted for it”. ]

    Right on the money and plenty more look like being in the same position.

    But no difference between Labor & libs we are told…..

    Hockey doing the opposite of what he should –

    GrainCorp should have been approved by a tory Treasurer.

    SPC should have got the money, but with some conditions – it was a modest sum, it would have supported a lot of people plus the huge sunk costs of the irrigation infrastructure. Plus the dole outlays etc will be much much more should SPC close.

    The media wouldn’t have seriously challenged a ‘Yes’ nor would have Labor.

  20. I would love to see some more detailed polling on how those who see the ABC variously as leaning one way or the other or balanced came to their inferences. What data did they use?

    I’d also be interested in seeing whether people would prefer news media to be “fair and balanced” or “rigorous and informative regardless of its advantage for one interest group or another”.

  21. Ah, freedom of speech in CanJohland. The Bananafuhrer must be a sensitive petal.

    [Premier Campbell Newman joke removed from satirical play

    A joke about Queensland Premier Campbell Newman was cut from satirical play Australia Day after complaints from an audience member, allegedly linked to the Liberal National Party, following a Brisbane preview

    In what playwright Jonathan Biggins calls ”a dangerous precedent”, lines were rewritten and the sole reference to the Premier was removed
    … the play, which is about a small-town committee planning celebrations of the national day against a backdrop of political preselections

    ”One character says, ‘Why don’t you just merge the (conservative) parties like they did in Queensland?’, and the original bloke says, ‘I can tell you in two words … Campbell Newman’. That was it. That’s all it was.]

  22. [guytaur
    Posted Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 9:07 am | PERMALINK

    Labor dumped a PM for not being part of the team. LNP has never done that]

    Your argument for the ALP being team players is supported by the contention that the leader wasn’t a team player?

    Your argument for the LNP not being team platers is to point out that the LNP has never had to remove a leader for not being a team player?

    YIKES! :devil:

  23. What political story do you think was bigger this week than the state leader threatening to resign if his party didn’t dump one of its factional warlords?

  24. Dave when you start factoring in the sunk costs saving $25 million has just cost the Victorian economy several billion dollars.

    Penny wise, pound foolish. You have to know what a penny and pound was, so I suppose it would now be: Cent wise, Dollar foolish.

    On the plus side, there is going to be a lot of water allocations for sale.

  25. [guytaur
    ….Stops your talking point.]

    My talking point? It is you that is trying to pretend that the ALP is one big happy family.

    Have you not seen what has been happening in South Australia this week?

    Looks like Insiders was on the money making sure the public finds out about the instability.

  26. Everything


    I see you now ignoring the comparison completely.

    Thank you for confirming I was hitting the nail on the head.

  27. Hockey borrowed $8.8 billion and gave it to the RBA, who did not need the money. Interest is costing taxpayers $400 million a year.

    A wasted $400 million that could have been used to save jobs.

    This Govt stinks.

  28. Well, Cassidy worked for the ALP and was anointed by the last ALP government for a position before the backlash.

    Along with the other ABC luminaries who have run for the ALP in elections it is not surprising that three times as many people in each of the age brackets and both genders think the ALP is ALP-leaning versus LNP-leaning.

  29. Unfortunately Abetz was not presented with a follow up question on the Abbott Government’s choccy lolly folly:

    ‘Why should the tourist industry receive free government money?’

  30. [guytaur
    ….Thank you for confirming I was hitting the nail on the head]

    As long as you are reassured, guytaur, as long as you are reassured! 🙂

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