Essential Research: 53-47 to Labor

Labor maintains its solid lead in this week’s Essential Research, which also finds respondents to have become curiously indecisive on the republic question.

This week’s Essential Research poll finds Labor retaining its 53-47 lead after gaining a point last week, with both major parties on 39% of the primary vote – the Coalition down a point, Labor steady – the Greens down one to 9%, and Palmer United up one to 4%. Further questions relate to the international big picture:

• For some reason, there has been a turn to indecision on republican sentiment: for and against are tied on 31%, respectively down two and down 11 since the question was last asked in April, with “no opinion” up 13 to 38%.

• Respondents were asked to evaluate the importance of our various international relationships, with the results little changed since the last time the question was asked in June. The United States, United Kingdom and China headed the pack – Saudi Arabia and Russia were included in the list for the first time, but both ranked bottom out of the 10.

• Perceptions of the government’s handling of international relations have improved, with 40% saying they had a lot of or some trust (up five) and 53% little or none (down six). Forty-nine per cent professed confidence in Tony Abbott representing Australia abroad, up four, with 47% not at all confident, down three. The government’s handling of the Indonesia relationship was rated good by 32%, up seven, and poor by 39%, down four.

• Seventy-three per cent rated the G20 meeting important to Australia’s economy, against only 17% for not important.

• On a different note, respondents were asked to identify the three most important achievements of the Whitlam government (without allowing naysayers an outlet for indicating that there weren’t any). Establishing Medibank was first on 68%, with daylight second.

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.

664 comments on “Essential Research: 53-47 to Labor”

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  1. Less panic

    [Dallas nurse Amber Vinson probably survived Ebola because she’s young and was wearing protective equipment that prevented her from getting a large dose of the deadly virus, doctors familiar with her care said.

    Vinson, 29, yesterday become the second Dallas nurse discharged after a relatively short and uneventful hospital stay for the virus. She and 26-year-old Nina Pham were infected by Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national they treated for the disease in a Dallas hospital. He died Oct. 8.]

  2. Better news…sort of…

    [The number of new Ebola cases appears to be dropping in Liberia, the West African country hit hardest by the virus, a World Health Official said Wednesday.

    The WHO has noted that new cases have been falling for more than a week. Officials aren’t sure if there were really fewer cases, however, or if people had stopped going to the hospital, or if overwhelmed medical staff had simply stopped reporting cases, said Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general in charge of operational response at WHO.

    “It appears the trend is real in Liberia,” Ayward said. “There may indeed be a slowing of the epidemic there.”

    The epidemic is far from over, however. The number of cases has jumped to 13,703 — an increase of about 3,000 reported cases in just a few days — with about 5,000 deaths, mostly in the hard-hit nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, Aylward said. The jump is most likely because of a backlog of earlier cases that hadn’t been reported.

    Ebola cases continue to increase in Sierra Leone and Guinea. Mali reported its first case last week. “We’re seeing this thing burning quite hot in parts of Sierra Leone right now,” Aylward said.]

  3. Abbott wins the prize for cowardice, with a special mention for unusual stupidity….

    [(Reuters) – Sierra Leone on Tuesday branded a visa ban imposed by Australia on Ebola-hit nations in West Africa counterproductive and discriminatory against 24 million people living in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

    Alpha Kanu, Sierra Leone’s information minister, said on Tuesday that Australia’s move was “too draconian”. He said that measures at Sierra Leone’s Freetown airport had successfully prevented anyone flying out of the country with Ebola.

    “It is discriminatory in that…it is not (going)after Ebola but rather it is … against the 24 million citizens of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Certainly, it is not the right way to go,” Kanu told Reuters. “This measure by the Australian government is absolutely counterproductive.”]

  4. While Obama applies reason…

    [Federal health officials on Monday revamped guidelines for doctors and nurses returning home to the United States from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, stopping well short of controversial mandatory quarantines being imposed by some U.S. states.

    Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), called for isolation of people at the highest risk for Ebola infection but said most medical workers returning from the three countries at the center of the epidemic would require daily monitoring without isolation.]


    [As more Ebola cases emerged around the capital, Sierra Leone’s president warned that the country won’t win the war against the epidemic until people change their behavior, including refraining from touching the sick and the dead.

    The West African country is one of the hardest hit in the Ebola outbreak that has sickened more than 10,000 people. In Sierra Leone alone, nearly 3,900 people are believed to have caught the disease, according to World Health Organization figures.

    The government’s own numbers show a steady rise in confirmed cases reported in the capital and surrounding areas. On Tuesday night, for instance, 26 new confirmed cases were reported in the country’s western districts, which include Freetown, during the previous 24 hours. Similar or higher numbers have been reported every day for those districts in recent days. In Bombali district, in the north, 32 new confirmed cases were reported.

    On a visit this weekend to some of those hard-hit areas, President Ernest Bai Koroma said several treatment centers are being built around the country, but that the battle will only be won when people start following the experts’ advice: avoid touching the sick or those who may have died of Ebola, don’t wash the bodies of the dead and quickly report to health centers if you fall ill.

    If attitudes don’t change, “we will continue to work without results,” he said, according to a government statement released late Tuesday.

    Koroma said that areas in the country’s far east — where the outbreak first hit Sierra Leone — have seen a marked decline in cases because they are following the recommendations.

    He encouraged traditional leaders to help spread the message about how Ebola is transmitted and how to prevent it. Rumors, misinformation and fear have greatly hampered the ability to curtail the outbreak, which has also severely affected Liberia and Guinea. People have sought bogus cures, attacked health workers they thought were responsible for the disease and hid in their homes for fear that Ebola treatment centers are simply places to go to die.]


    [Castlemaine resident Michael Gillies Smith is in the heart of Ebola-affected areas of Sierra Leone, but he’s more worried about the work he’s there to do.

    While Australia has temporarily banned travel to Ebola-affected countries like Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, Castlemaine resident Michael Gillies Smith is already there.

    He’s there with the International Red Cross and it’s not the first time he’s found himself in a part of the world in crisis, after working as an aid worker in New Zealand following earthquakes and in Queensland after the floods.

    And while a virus outbreak is different to a natural disaster, he says his work as a media and communication officer is vital, no matter the situation.

    “Media is very important during emergencies because it gives us a chance to raise awareness of the humanitarian issues, whether people have lost their homes or been affected by bushfires, or in this case affected by Ebola,” he said…..

    There are justifiable fears around coming into contact with the disease, but Michael is adamant that he’s not fearful for his own safety, despite being in one of the most affected areas.

    “So long as you don’t touch anybody you are very safe. There are chlorine buckets and taps absolutely everywhere. The virus isn’t airborne; it’s only transferred through physical direct contact with bodily fluids.”]

  7. Abbott – the shame magnet…

    [Sierra Leone, Liberia and the United Nations have condemned Australia’s decision to suspend entry visas for those travelling from Ebola-infected countries, and called the move “counterproductive” and “discriminatory.” Australia’s travel ban, issued Monday, closely followed the U.S.’s decision to isolate its military personnel returning from Ebola-hit countries.

    Australia’s decision has also reportedly been criticized by Amnesty International while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that travel restrictions would severely hamper efforts to curb the virus’ spread. The World Health Organization, or WHO, has also warned that travel bans and restrictive quarantine measures could discourage health workers to travel to Africa to help tackle the disease. And, authorities are concerned that deploying health workers in affected regions is becoming a challenge amid travel bans and isolation measures implemented by various governments.

    World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim has estimated that the three worst-hit countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea need 5,000 overseas health workers to tackle the virus.

    “Right now, I’m very much worried about where we will find those healthcare workers,” Kim said, according to BBC, adding: “With the fear factor going out of control in so many places, I hope healthcare professionals will understand that when they took their oath to become a healthcare worker it was precisely for moments like this.”]

  8. Meanwhile in Iraq, it’s still “Thanks, but no thanks.”

    [Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari reportedly said earlier this month that Baghdad was “absolutely against foreign military bases and the presence of foreign military forces”.

    “Yes, we did ask for help, but it concerned air cover,” he said. “The question of sending troops in was discussed several times and we were very frank and stated clearly that we are completely against the deployment of foreign troops on our territory, as it can cause justifiable fears and concerns among the Iraqi population.”

    The Australian soldiers largely from the elite Holsworthy-based 2nd Commando Regiment are expected to be partnered with an elite brigade of Iraqi special operations forces to help them battle against Islamic State militants.

    Chief of the Defence Force Mark Binskin said earlier this month that the troops would “partner with like organisations” in their role advising and assisting local forces.

    Most military analysts believe the battle against the Islamic State will not be won from the air alone and will require a massive effort by Iraqi forces on the ground and Kurdish Peshmerga forces. But the Iraqi forces, in particular, are not effective on their own and need support from international troops.]

    Read more:

  9. They’ve lost their minds…

    [Australian commandos could work alongside soldiers from the feared Iranian Quds forces in the battle against the Islamic State group in Iraq, Defence Minister David Johnston has said.

    Senator Johnston said the crisis created by the Islamic State’s brutal capture of vast tracts of territory was sufficiently acute that differences should be put aside in the common interest of stopping their reign of terror….

    Senator Johnston, when asked whether Australia’s commandos, who will advise and assist Iraqi forces, would work alongside Iranians, told Sky News: “They may be. I don’t see a problem in that, given the nature of the threat.”

    The revelation highlights the complexity of the battle against the Islamic State, which has brought together a broad but brittle coalition of countries that are often usually at odds and whom, in many cases, are continuing to pursue their own interests on the side, even as they work in common to stop the militant group.

    Iran’s Quds force – a special forces element of the Revolutionary Guard – has been involved in the fight against the militants in Iraq since at least June and has reportedly been pivotal to key victories by the Iraqi military and the Kurdish Peshmerga.

    But there are fears the Shiite giant’s military involvement in the country – typified by the Quds’ powerful commander, Qasem Soleimani – underscores the sectarian dimension to the conflict and could drive Sunnis further into the embrace of the Islamic State.

    A spokesman for Senator Johnston later said: “Australia is there at the invitation of the Iraqi government to advise and assist Iraqi forces … lt is a matter of public record that Iraq has asked Iran has to disrupt and degrade ISIL.”]

    Read more:

    [The Quds Force was created during the Iran-Iraq war as a special unit from the broader IRGC forces. Both during and after the war, the Quds Force provided support to the Kurds fighting Saddam Hussein. The Quds also expanded their operations into neighboring Afghanistan, most notably aiding Abdul Ali Mazari’s Shi’a Hezbe Wahdat in the 1980s against the government of Mohammad Najibullah. It then began funding and supporting Ahmad Shah Massoud’s Northern Alliance against the Taliban. However, in recent years, the Quds Force is believed to be helping and guiding the Taliban insurgents against the NATO-backed Karzai administration….


    A 1998 document by the Federation of American Scientists says that “a primary focus for the Qods Force is training Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups.” It further states that the Quds Force was linked to Irans’s Office of Liberation Movements, which maintains and builds contacts with underground Islamic militant organizations throughout the Islamic world.

    In January 2010, the mission of the Quds Force was expanded and the Force along with Hezbollah started a new campaign of attacks which targets include not only the US and Israel but also other Western bodies.]

  10. Senator Johnston is one of the least impressive thinkers I’ve known. In every possible way, this is a very bad idea…

    [Senator Johnston, when asked whether Australia’s commandos, who will advise and assist Iraqi forces, would work alongside Iranians, told Sky News: “They may be. I don’t see a problem in that, given the nature of the threat.”]


    [(Reuters) – Australia’s newly appointed Ebola tsar challenged the government’s blanket ban on visas from West African nations affected by the deadly virus, saying the controversial measure was not supported by medical evidence….

    Dr. Lyn Gilbert, a leading infectious disease expert who was earlier this month placed in charge of the nation’s response to the virus, said there was no evidence to back its claim.

    Gilbert is the top government medical official to speak out against the ban, which was blasted by leaders in Liberia and Sierra Leone as draconian and discriminatory.

    “The evidence indicates that an asymptomatic traveler from an Ebola-affected country, who has not had contact with a symptomatic person suffering from Ebola in the last 21 days poses no risk to anyone,” she told Reuters.]

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