Nielsen: 56-44 to Labor; Newspoll: 55-45

The hostile reaction to the government’s first budget comes into sharper focus with two bruising new opinion poll results, both of which show Bill Shorten opening up a big lead as preferred prime minister.

UPDATE (Morgan): The fortnightly Morgan face-to-face plus SMS result sings from the same song sheet, with Labor up 1.5% to 38.5%, the Coalition down 2.5% to 35%, the Greens steady on 12%, and Palmer up a point to 6.5%. Whereas Morgan polls usually combine two weekends of polling, this one is entirely from Saturday and Saturday, so all the responses are post-budget and the sample is somewhat smaller than usual. On two-party preferred, Labor’s lead is up from 53.5-46.5 to 56.5-43.5 on 2013 election preferences, and 55-45 to 57.5-42.5 on respondent-allocated preferences.

After a relatively mild result from yesterday’s Galaxy poll, in which the government may have benefited slightly from an earlier polling period (Wednesday to Friday, the budget having been brought down on Tuesday night), two big name pollsters deliver horror results for the Coalition:

• Newspoll, conducted from Friday to Sunday, has Labor’s two-party lead out from 53-47 to 55-45, from primary votes of 38% for Labor (up four), 36% for the Coalition (down two), 11% for the Greens (down three) and 15% for others (up one). Worse still for the Coalition are the leadership ratings, which have Tony Abbott down five on approval to 30% and up four on disapproval to 60%, while Bill Shorten leaps seven points on approval to 42% and drops two on disapproval to 39%. Shorten has opened up a big lead of 44-34 as preferred prime minister, after Abbott led 40-38 a fortnight ago. The Australian’s report here.

• Even worse for the Coalition is the monthly Nielsen result in the Fairfax papers. Conducted from Thursday to Saturday, it shows Labor’s lead out to 56-44 from 52-48 a month ago. The primary votes are 40% for Labor (up six), 35% for the Coalition (down five), 14% for the Greens (down three from am implausible result last time, but still very strong) and 6% for Palmer United (up two). Tony Abbott sinks nine points on approval to 34% and adds twelve on disapproval to 62%, whereas Bill Shorten is up four to 47% and down two to 39%, and shoots to a 51-40 lead as preferred prime minister after trailing 45-44 last time.

The leadership ratings in particular invite comparison with Julia Gillard’s low points. While Abbott still has a way to go before matching the worst of Gillard’s ratings in Newspoll, his present net approval rating of 28% in Nielsen was exceeded by Gillard on only two occasions, in September and October of 2011, and equalled in July 2011. Gillard’s final result before she lost the leadership in June 2013 was 36% approval and 61% disapproval. Abbott himself scored fractionally worse figures as Opposition Leader in December 2012, of 34% approval and 63% disapproval.

Both pollsters also have results gauging reaction to the budget, with Nielsen finding 63% considering it unfair against 33% for fair. The deficit levy finds support, with 50% in favour and 37% against, but there’s a surprisingly narrow majority of 49% to 46% in favour of abolishing the carbon tax. The poll finds predictably strong opposition to the notion of increasing the GST, with 30% for and 66% against.

Newspoll’s results on budget reaction are particularly illuminating, as it has been asking the same three questions after every budget since 1988. Forty-eight per cent rate this budget as bad for the economy versus 39% for good, with 4% opting for neither; 69% say it will leave them worse off, compared with just 5% for better off and 20% for neither; and 39% believed that Labor would have done a better job, with 46% saying they wouldn’t have.

The latter result can be put into context with the following chart, showing the positive result minus the negative result for the equivalent question going back to 1988, with Labor budgets in red and Coalition budgets in blue. This shows that the only budget to record a net result in favour of yes was in 1993, when the Keating government followed its surprise election win by breaking its L-A-W tax cuts promise. As such, the slight net negative result for this budget is an historically weak one for the government – particularly when taking into account an apparent tendency for governments to perform strongly on this measure when newly elected, and decline thereafter. This takes a good deal of gloss off the consolation the Coalition might have taken in the result being better than the last three for the previous government.

The next chart plots the result for each budget on “impact on own financial position” along the x-axis and impact on the economy along the y, with the current result indicated in red. This shows a clear association between the two results, demonstrating that people generally decide whether a budget is good or bad, and deem it equally so for both themselves and the economy. To the limited extent that variability exists, there does appear to be at least some constituency for the view that the pain inflicted in the current budget will be good for the economy – whereas the trendline indicates that the minus 64% rating on own financial position could be expected to associate with 24.5% on the economy, the latter figure in fact comes in at a relatively presentable minus 9%. Nonetheless, the outstanding fact to emerge from the chart is that the budget inhabits a zone of extreme unpopularity with only 1993 to keep it company. The budget the government might have been hoping to emulate, Peter Costello’s cost-cutting debut of 1996, had a plus 37% rating on the economy despite a minus 21% rating on personal financial situation.

Finally, a table showing the net result for all three measures at each budget, with averages by party at the bottom. This shows that despite the current results, Coalition budgets tend to be better received than Labor ones, with the gap being wider on impact on the economy. Partly this is down to historical circumstance – Labor was marked down for the recession-era budgets of the early 1990s, while the Howard government made political hay out of the revenue boom in its later years in office (though obviously not to the extent of saving them from the electoral cycle in 2007). However, it also reflects the tendency for the Coalition to outperform Labor in “best party to manage the economy” polling, a point illustrated by the averages for “would the opposition have delivered a better budget”. For more context on the individual budgets, here’s a very helpful resource from the Sydney Morning Herald.

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.

1,941 comments on “Nielsen: 56-44 to Labor; Newspoll: 55-45”

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  1. sk

    [PS – Who is the Informal Party? I missed something there.]

    You certainly have.

    The Informal Party ran a campaign last election based on the principle:

    ‘If no party is worth voting for, it is worth voting for no party.’

    The IP believes that the problem is not the sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists who rise to the top. The problem is the party systems and processes that enable these sorts of people to rise to the top with monotonous regularity.

    The problem is not any particular grab bag of incoherent and mutually inconsistent policies. The problem is the lack of systems and processes that throw up these grab bags.

    The IP therefore campaigned on the basis that if it was broken, don’t keep using it.

    Fix it.

    The IP views with alarm the very rapid erosion of the reform push inside the Labor Party.

  2. Yes, Ostrom was one of a fine generation of institutional economists — the economists who didn’t sell themselves to corporatist capitalism under the cover of mathematical rigour.

  3. K17

    Many reasons to read the fin review, for example:
    – you live in Perth and your only other options for a daily paper are the Oz and the West
    – Laura Tingle is one of the few readable press gallery journos – generally does better than anyone writing for the Age or SMH
    – pretty comprehensive business news
    – relatively decent range of op ed writers
    – it’s easy enough to avoid reading Stutchbury’s nonsense editorials and I can see through the ideological prism often applied to reporting (ie I can think for myself and disagree with something I read in a newspaper).

  4. LU

    [The lower your income, the greater the proportion of it you spend on goods and services that attract the GST. Hence it is always regressive in the real world.]

    Indeed. However, if the package attending it skews benefits towards lower income groups, relieving them of other costs they would otherwise have to bear, then its net effect may be neutral or progressive.

    Everyone has to have housing, and the marginalised tend to get the worst housing available if any, so quality housing is an obvious place to start. Having children constrains one’s ability to work, so childcare is again an obvious thing to support. Concessional access to public transport is useful too. The poor pay a disproportionate number of fines in rail transport (and of course $200 to a person unemployed or studying but not yet receiving any welfare benefit is huge),and if you don’t pay your fines, your licence and registration can be cancelled, with disastrous consequences for random third parties.

    I’d like to see publicly funded food coops where people could buy bulk goods at a concessional rate. I like the idea of after school care for adolescents where trained teachers could help students get through homework or run sports. Perhaps classes in cooking and budgeting could be run for parents.

    There are many ways in which you can ensure that benefits that break down social disadvantage are in fact delivered without lots of cash benefit attending it.

  5. [If you tax wealth, wealth is taxed again.]

    And what is the problem with that!?

    Where does the surplus that creates wealth come from?

  6. 😆

    “@JoeHockey: This Budget delivers even more debt, deficits, taxes and broken promises from a Government that can’t be trusted. #budget”

    I think someone has been hacked

  7. Boerwar.

    I like the mantra. I have advocated to anyone who will listen (which is very few) that there needs to be a box for a protest vote along those lines so we can differentiate the informal votes due to errors in voting to protest informal ones.

    I think I lose the listeners when I then say if the protest vote is over 30% all parties need to disband and start a new election.

  8. LU, Ostrom started me thinking on local government and changed my view to that they should be smaller and given more power. There is a Planning Review happening in SA at the moment and it would appear the purpose is to take more power away from local gov.

  9. Essential Poll is unchanged at 48/52 to the ALP.

    Budget: Approve 30%, Disapprove 52%

    Would like to know the rest of it

  10. Zoidy

    Let the DD triggers pile up and for people to see nothing is being passed while all the nasties are hanging over everyone’s head thus overtime the demand for change may well become greater.

  11. Here is a reaction to Morgan’s latest dismally bad consumer confidence survey, posted at macrobusiness….

    I’ve been saying this for a while. We’re in retail and as soon as it became obvious that Abbott was going to win (i.e. about this time last year), things began to tighten up and spending stalled. If these stupid f****s don’t change their tune soon, we’re stuffed. Why they can’t at least say they can see a light at the end of the tunnel or something (after all they’re excellent at BS) and get everyone in a better mood, I’ll never figure. I suppose it doesn’t fit their ‘tough’ narrative. A virulent pox upon them.

  12. LU

    RE: Land Tax

    In light of the $80 billion cut to hospitals and schools besides the GST would I be right to say Land Tax will need to be considered by the states as it is one of their taxes

  13. I agree whole-heartedly with your intentions wrt housing, Fran.

    I think a more straightforward way to get the price of shelter down is to directly attack, first, market distortions that inflate its price, such as CGT, -ve gearing, availability to self-managed superannuant speculators, etc, and second, some of the natural conditions that lead to its price exceed its worth (i.e. its quasi- monopolistic characteristics), by applying a rent-based tax.

    Of course, this is a long-term goal, while it seems to me that your suggestions can be implemented in the short-term.

    [I’d like to see publicly funded food coops where people could buy bulk goods at a concessional rate. ]

    It’s a good idea, but how would adverse selection could be avoided?

    On a similar note, are you familiar with the idea of buying “suspended” coffees? If the GP co-payment was to pass into law, Mrs U suggested setting up a program for “suspended” GP co-payments. 😉

  14. [Because then you are not rewarded for success.


    If you were trying to reward the success you’d tax wealth instead of income because much more wealth is held divorced from success where most income is linked to success.

  15. Centre, I ask again, where does the surplus that creates most wealth come from?

    “success” is not a valid answer.

  16. We don’t need to increase taxes as such, the real leakage is the subsidies and concessions.

    Also clarify which level of government is responsible for which services for example state schools should be fully funded by the state governments.

    Australia’s tax rate seems to me to be mostly fair and well balanced but some of the subsidies and concessions seem to be depleting the tax tax and thus weakening the bottom line.

  17. [1856….Fran Barlow]

    Let’s just tax land and/or wealth instead of consumption, improve the allocation of services and goods-in-kind and deliver more cash at the same time. It has the virtue of simplicity.

  18. @MB/1865

    From my reading of the DD triggers and Anthony Green’s comments is they will get reset after July.

    So we will have to go through the whole process again.

  19. LU

    I’d like to see publicly funded food coops where people could buy bulk goods at a concessional rate.

    It’s a good idea, but how would adverse selection could be avoided?

    You will need to explain the relevance. Just guessing …

    Presumably, only those who passed a means test and had the relevant stored value card could access the concessions, or would have to be members. Is that what you’re asking?

    On housing, I’d like a progressive increase in LVRs so that over time, people would eventually have to have 20% equity to buy, which would tend to cap price growth and underpin savings. Capped price growth would allow the state to acquire housing stock more cheaply for public housing.

  20. [Let’s just tax land and/or wealth instead of consumption, improve the allocation of services and goods-in-kind and deliver more cash at the same time. It has the virtue of simplicity.]

    briefly, I really do admire the way you can construct one sentence conveying the same point that I take paragraphs to make 🙂

  21. Centre@1851


    Wealth is NET of tax.

    If you tax wealth, wealth is taxed again.

    Income tax and GST is a tax + tax.

    So by your lights, there should only ever be one tax?

    Good luck with that!

  22. One funny banner at the rally on Sunday was wtte that

    [How about we put Abbott on minimum wages.

    That moron is a waste of taxpayers money]

  23. Let me also admire those who’ve put the case for a proper land tax eloquently in a way I couldn’t!

    The don’t tax my wealth is hilarious as per usual.

  24. Lib Uni

    [where does the surplus that creates most wealth come from?]

    That doesn’t make sense, rephrase the point you are trying to make?

    WWP @ 1869

    *shakes head in bewilderment. Look I’m not responding to it.

  25. I’m more confused now than I was before asking for the clarification Centre, but thank you for trying. I don’t think my brain is geared towards economic issues.

  26. [Presumably, only those who passed a means test and had the relevant stored value card could access the concessions, or would have to be members. Is that what you’re asking?]

    Yes. How do you assess who qualifies, and what are the costs associated with including some people who don’t qualify? Or, as economists say, how would you avoid adverse selection and free-riding?

    [On housing, I’d like a progressive increase in LVRs so that over time, people would eventually have to have 20% equity to buy, which would tend to cap price growth and underpin savings.]

    Macroprudential tools such as LVR limitations are useful, but I would be surprised if the banks don’t find ways around them, and they are useless in the face of a large cohort of overseas buyers paying cash.

    [Capped price growth would allow the state to acquire housing stock more cheaply for public housing.]

    That’s an admirable end goal.

  27. There are plenty of ways to tax wealth without hitting the family home, and in truth the Australian government isn’t that hard up all it needs is to better target its services and to reduce concessions and subsidies.

    Responding to everything with a new tax is just as lazy and greedy as responding to the so called budget emergency with fiscally stupid changes to pensions and university fees.

  28. [There are plenty of ways to tax wealth without hitting the family home,]

    Remember that not everyone owns their shelter.

  29. MexB

    If you briefly ignore your reluctance for new taxes, are you against taxing the family home thru a Beneficiary tax?

  30. Where does the surplus that creates most wealth come from?

    [That doesn’t make sense, rephrase the point you are trying to make?]

    Production has costs (e.g. capital and labour), and is only undertaken when there is the possibility of reaping a surplus. When surpluses are accumulated, this is referred to a wealth; it is usually in the form of accumulated capital.

    So where does the initial surplus value come from?

  31. tielec

    It’s like you pay an income tax + a GST and are then left with x.

    You see, losers like WWP and Lib Uni are still jealous as some people may be left with a big X because they are rewarded for their hard work, innovation and business risks – and want them taxed again…on their X.

    Hope that helps 😎

  32. I agree with almost everything you say LU, but you do seem to have a bad habit of letting perfect be the enemy of good.

  33. Simon

    As I understand it a Beneficiary tax off-set is available to certain pensioners and centrelink receipts.

    I am not against new taxes just would prefer taxes be better targeted thus those that can paid do and those that can’t don’t.

  34. Let’s make it simple:

    Person 1 inherits 10 mill
    person 2 makes 10 mill from passive investments
    Person 3 makes 10 mill in income from being smart and hard working

    Who has been the success and who should really pay the most tax?

    I just fail to see how the guy who inherits is the success that should be rewarded or that the guy who adds most to the economy should be punished hardest.

  35. Lib Uni @ 1893

    Ahh, the correct word is earnings not surplus.

    No, when earnings are accumulated, they are referred to as profits.

    From profits, tax is paid. Net of tax is wealth – or to use your term accumulated capital.

    *knock yourselves out 🙂

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