Double dissolution election (maybe) minus nine weeks

To tide us over through a quiet spot, a closer look at the Australian National University’s latest survey on issues of public concern.

We’re about half-way between the weekly BludgerTrack and when I’m anticipating the next opinion poll, this being the period of pre-budget calm before the storm, and a new thread is wanted. So I’ve decided to hang this one off the latest ANUpoll survey, an exercise conducted by the Australian National University two or three times a year to gauge the public mood on a specific area of public policy, and track the salience of various issues over time. The subject of the latest instalment, which was conducted by phone from a sample of 1200 in February and March, is tax and equity in Australia. Among various findings on tax that would be familiar from those who follow Essential Research, the report also finds support for increased spending on social services at its highest level since the series began in 1987. The report also finds that, in spite of everything, 56% consider the existing system “moderately fair”, on top of another 4% for “very fair”, while 22% rate it “not too fair” and 18% “not at all fair”.

The survey also features regular questions in which respondents are asked to name the first and second most important political problems, out of a list that presently includes 27 options. To make this easier to interpret, I’ve condensed results into various categories, which are hopefully generally self-explanatory (particularly economy/budget, environment and better government – security/external covers wars, terrorism, defence and immigration, while services covers health and education and such). The progress of these results since 2008 is shown in the chart below.


From which a number of points are clearly worth noting. Concern about service provision mounted to giddy heights after the 2014 budget, but promptly returned to normal after Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister. The combined result for the various economic issues is at a low point in the latest survey, having peaked in the years immediately following the global financial crisis. Security/external and crime/society, which are largely conservative concerns, are on an upward trend. “Better government”, I’m guessing, was a popular response among Coalition supporters while Labor was in power, but is not a correspondingly popular choice for Labor voters now it’s the Coalition’s turn.

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.

1,251 comments on “Double dissolution election (maybe) minus nine weeks”

  1. Turnbull and the Government more broadly had their chance at a clean slait. The media certainly gave them exactly that. The electorate also gave them that, as shown by the polls. Turnbull had two options he could have chosen to take advantage of this. He could have gone straight to an election, and likely won big. He could have used his political capital to stand up to the nutters in his party and at least pick a couple of policy issues to distance himself from the Abbott agenda, and likely won comfortably. He did neither. The chance to reset has passed. That’s not to say the Government may not win, I suspect they will, narrowly. But this will most likely just lead to more instability and policy the electorate does not want.

  2. I’d rather a coalition with the nationals.

    Like a Scandinavian-style farmer-worker coalition? Not the worst suggestion, particularly as many people in rural areas a treated like serfs, even if they won’t acknowledge it.

    Anything that contributes to breaking the myth that middle class workers are sub-capitalist and naturally Lib voters is to be encouraged.

  3. As we know, Labor are just itching for the election to be called, it seems next Friday, so that they can get access to the Public Service. So I wonder what it is that they want to get access to? I’m sure they have kept a few aces up their sleeves which probably need some input from the boffins before they let them loose in the election campaign proper.

  4. DN @ 11.13

    Unfortunately I screwed up the formatting. The first paragraph came from the SMH report, the second was my comment.

    I agree that there is no new agenda. It is just talking up the budget – which will be counter-productive if the budget falls flat. It reminds me of those hoardings around a shop in a shopping mall that has closed down, and the mall manager has a sign on the hoarding saying ‘an exciting new shop opening here soon’. And eventually, when something does open it is another outlet for some boring clothes shop that already has a dozen outlets within a 20 km radius.

  5. @Geoffrey

    No they certainly not. They haven’t even started; why would they? They will wait until the general and they will be at it all the way to November. This is just one of my concerns about Clinton. She already has high unfavourability ratings. I think she is a very vulnerable candidate who will not excite swing voters.

  6. I grew up in Bankstown. I used to get the train to Cronulla, change at Sydenham, about 40km. Took about 1.5 hours depending upon connections. The only beach readily accessible without a car.

    I subsequently found out (from the film ‘Puberty Blues’) that the locals called us blow-ins ‘dickheads’.

  7. [Hilary kept going in 2008.]

    Yeah, and your point?

    Hillary was less than 100 pledged delegates behind at May 1 2008 and went on to win a majority of the vote (meaningless as that is due to caucuses).

    Sanders is 300 pledged delegates behind and 3 million votes behind. It isn’t really close at all.

    As I said, every other Dem as far behind as Sanders pulled the pin long ago in any previous primary.

    I don’t have any particular problem with him continuing, he has every right to, but let’s not kid ourselves that he’s a chance of getting the nomination so long as Hillary stays alive. I fully expect him to endorse Clinton before the convention. To do otherwise would just be ridiculous.

  8. Steve777 @ #957 Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    I grew up in Bankstown. I used to get the train to Cronulla, change at Sydenham, about 40km. Took about 1.5 hours depending upon connections. The only beach readily accessible without a car.
    I subsequently found out (from the film ‘Puberty Blues’) that the locals called us blow-ins ‘dickheads’.

    I was a bit south of you at Revesby and not all that interested in the beach. I was in a swimming club and trained at Bankstown pool
    Trains were great, some mates and I used to travel down to Royal National Park and go bush walking. 10 cents for a weekend excursion IIRC.

  9. tpof
    Your formatting seems ok on my end. I was being unclear, in that was I responding only indirectly to you, by responding to Turnbull in the quote. A bit like shouting at politicians on my TV ;-).

  10. blind freddie could do tax reform and gently steer the economy back to safe harbours – the libs have been in delusional high seas for years and just about wrecked things – there is no time for amateurs now, the good old days are past – trimming, tucking, and tighening cross many areas would do the trick – gearing, super, trusts etc etc etc – even gst – but just a little esp at first … i thought that was what turnbull was on about – moderate changes – but he’s as reckless as last captain – mutiny please

  11. Labor was burnt in the polls when they opposed tax cuts for high earners in 2005.

    Peter Martin at wrote:

    Lifting the second-highest threshold from $80,000 to $85,000 would cost just $600 million. Most of it would go to very high earners. Lifting the threshold further to $90,000 would cost $1.1 billion. The cost of lifting thresholds by that much at the lower end of the scale would be enormous, which is one of the reasons Morrison’s predecessor Peter Costello rarely tried it.

    Word is the tax cuts are due to kick in on July 1. If Labor opposes or blocks them Turnbull will go to the election claiming high taxing Labor are blocking tax cuts for ordinary Australians on average incomes. Given how little they cost I think there’s too much risk for Labor in opposing them. I’m sure however the Government would love it if Labor did try to block this.

    Now things might get tricky if the Liberals also put up corporate tax cuts in the same legislation (assuming they can get the legislation introduced in time). Section 53 of the Constitution states that “The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.” In such an instance blocking a corporate tax cut would also block income tax cuts. The Government might well claim that this legislation is urgent and needs to pass before the election is called. If the Senate failed to pass the legislation it might well play into the Government’s hands.

    Note average adult full-time earnings is just over $80,000. Of coures the mean is not the median*, as Morrison might well discover on Wednesday.

    * I haven’t been able to find any up to date numbers foe median adult full-time earnings. Matt Cowgill in 2013 wrote the average full time wage was $72,800 per year (I think that might have 2012 figures) and the median full time wage in August 2011 was $57,400.

  12. warrenpeace

    i serious doubt turnbull will be head of liberals in three months and that is that as far as that little political cabal goes

  13. Re Bemused @11:29Pm: Bankstown pool was one of my favourite hangouts in the 60s. Went therd with family or friends. Also liked to get the train to the Royal National Park and go walking and/or hire a boat. I recall that I went there the day Harold Holt went missing (found out when I got home).

    Anyway, past my bed time. Good night all.

  14. Labor could come in with a tax cut for the 74 per cent of the nearly 10 million Australians who have income of less than $80,000

  15. Morning all. The government has promised “substantial change” in the budget, including to super concessions for the wealthy! But not to negative gearing.

    Meanwhile it turns out there is an honest MP in the Liberal party who will admit what everyone else already knows.

    Unlike others, I think there is minimal risk for Labor in opposing any dubious income tax cuts. The world has moved on since 2005. The mining boom is over. Tax rorting is today what interest rates were in the run up to the 2007 election. Everyone knows that tax cuts, or a continuation of current tax rorts, hurt us all. There will be political gain for whoever calls a halt to the madness first.

  16. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Has Morrison said there will be budget sweeteners for all but the relatively poor?–but-no-relief-for-those-earning-under-80000-20160501-gojif1.html
    Peter Martin with some advice for Morrison.
    Ross Gitttins tells us what NOT to believe in budget night.
    Education is fronting up to be a key election battle. Labor describes the government’s latest effort as “pathetic”.
    Peter Martin on how the budgets of the “corporate cops on the beat” have been slashed in the last three years.
    Michelle Grattan says Morrison has much to prove tomorrow night.
    John Alexander has probably already had an angry call from the PM’s office over this.
    Peta Credlin with a warning to the government.
    Ken Davidson rejoices the fact that there is a Treasurer who isn’t running scared of debt.
    Australia is a bad neighbour says Tim Dick.

  17. Section 2 . . .

    George Williams looks at the High Court case that good derail Turnbull’s DD election tactic. But he doesn’t fancy the chances of its success.
    The RBA – Will they or won’t they?
    Here is Greg Jericho’s detailed discussion on the interest rate decision.
    “No Road Map” declares Turnbull as if he needs to tell us he’s utterly lost.
    Another CentreLink cockup.
    Here’s a bit of what’s in Bill Shorten’s book which was released last Friday.
    Michael West on Google’s changes to its taxation structure and all the other leeches who will still pay no tax here.
    “View from the Street” on the pre-election advertising blitz and Duffer Dutton’s floundering over Manus.
    Sydney is in the middle of a building and construction boom so they halve TAFE trades training.
    Alan Fels is enraged over y-Eleven’s slow action on wage payouts. Google.
    This is a nice feel-good story.

  18. Section 3 . . . with Cartoon Corner

    What an arsehole!
    Being crazy has served Trump well.
    From the US bible belt.–the-toilet-20160429-goi0xe.html
    Matt Golding and budget coaching.

    Ron Tandberg is suggesting Turnbull’s day might ne numbered.

    John Spooner conflates the budget with the submarines decision.

    Pat Campbell on the future of geoblocking.

    Mark Knight and little Chrissy Pyne’s day out.
    David Rowe and Morrison’s Mission Improbable.

  19. Socrates

    Progress on the NBN may have been slow, but a satelite for rural users (and voters) is launched just in time for the election

    Would that be the one when Labor announced it Truffles said it was an unnecessary extravagance , dismissing it as the “Rolls Royce option” ?

  20. The government has promised “substantial change” in the budget, including to super concessions for the wealthy! But not to negative gearing.

    Will we see a James Massola article headlining a Liberal Party ‘split’? Thought not.

  21. TPOF @ #984 Monday, May 2, 2016 at 7:48 am

    The government has promised “substantial change” in the budget, including to super concessions for the wealthy! But not to negative gearing.

    Will we see a James Massola article headlining a Liberal Party ‘split’? Thought not.

    Nor will we see a James Massola ‘Liberal Party Split On Negative Gearing’ article because of this:

  22. Turnbull might have realised a little too late to try to win back votes in Victoria when Andrews have been out-progressing Turnbull.

    After a lot of chest beating about the Melbourne Metro Rail project, the Federal Government has unexpectedly announced it will hand over $857 million to Victoria to fund the nine-kilometre underground rail tunnel between Kensington to South Yarra.

    The Turnbull government will announce the funding in tomorrow’s federal Budget, News Corp reports.

    Last week the the state government said it could go it alone to fund the $10.9 billion project. The cash injection now poses interesting questions about federal government control and the right to impose conditions.


  23. Turnbulls advisors need to be sacked. They continually provide bad advice. Why on Earth would you go around spruiking how there will be “substantial reform” contained in the budget when clearly there will not? It just causes the many unaware voters to expect this and now they’ll see it as a negative when it’s not there tomorrow night. The smart thing to do would be to play it down so they think a “do nothing” budget from a “do nothing” govenrment is exactly what was required. They continue to baffle me with their tactics. It really is as if they “want”to lose.

  24. Turnbull’s advisors are just as unsackable as Credlin was – and in Turnbull’s case, he’s definitely sleeping with his main advisor.

  25. Raaraa
    Here’s the reality about the funding:

    Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the asset recycling funding was not new money.

    “It is funding that even Tony Abbott was going to provide,” he said.

    Mr Pallas said that when the asset recycling fund was introduced, the federal government promised it would not dictate where the money should be directed as long as it went to “economy growing infrastructure”.

    “What we have is just another broken promise by a Coalition government more intent on self promotion than keeping its word.”

    Selling the Port of Melbourne is expected to generate more than $6 billion, which the Andrews government will put towards removing level crossings across Melbourne.

    Under the federal asset recycling program agreement, states that sell assets and reinvest the proceeds in infrastructure projects will receive bonus payments of up to 15 per cent of the sale price.

  26. Good morning all,

    Time is ticking down until the release of the governments election platform, policy agenda budget.

    And, that is where I am confused. It must be staring me in the face but I still fail to comprehend.

    So, I was wondering if someone more learned and knowledgeable than myself could help.

    How could the government progress through a election campaign releasing policy on a almost daily basis with the obvious revenue and expenditure implications without making their recently released budget redundant before it even begins ?

    Would not all expenditure and revenue measures need to be set out tomorrow night and how could the government pull policy rabbits out of the hat during the campaign without blowing holes in budget projections ?

    Thanks in advance.


  27. All the Budget goodies add up to an old-fashioned fistful of dollars exercise.

    It’s mostly ad hoc, a grab-bag of stuff they reckon will wow the punters.

    The Media is running it all as if there’s no question we’ll be impressed.

    But there’s no plan, no narrative. It smacks of a whip around of all the ministries for their focus group issues.

    They pay nominal attention to a “problem” by throwing a few bucks at it, so that their tame journos can say “Malcolm Turnbull has all the bases covered”, “economy-wide reforms”, “breathtaking in its depth of coverage of the key economic issues facing the nation” and so on.

    Saw quite a bit of this with Mark Kenny a few weeks ago when he wrote up a list of Turnbull “achievements”. Kenny listed not only concrete proposals (whether later withdrawn or not), but alsomere mentions (“sniff of an oily rag”) of policies were declared to have been “covered” by Turnbull. The aim of this article was to show that Turnbull’s had not been a “do-nothing” government. He’d been quietly “beavering away behind the scenes”, “governing” etc. according to Kenny.

    Also saw this technique applied by ABC Fact Check after the 2014 Budget. At one stage Fact Checkers were promoting the idea that, far from breaking promises, the Abbott government had actually kept more promises than any Labor government had ever kept.

  28. Doyley @ 8.39

    Surely you must realise it’s just common sense! Like Turnbull’s scare campaign on negative gearing. And if you don’t get Turnbull’s ‘common sense’ (TM) just take the word of the smartest guy in the House.

  29. Once again ABC news and current affairs sounded like its political reporting came direct from the PM’s office.
    If it wasn’t for a brief snippet from Albo, once again the opposition didn’t exist.

  30. Geez this site is visually dreadful! It’s as though the redesign is deliberately trying to turn people away from the site, or at least not actively trying to encourage visitors.

    Even the pub next door can manage avatars and page numbers.

  31. I’ve noticed before that Murdoch’s sometimes runs articles contrary to the usual Murdoch line. Today:

    TREASURER Scott Morrison has warned his first Budget won’t be filled with sweeteners, and it looks like he’s sticking to his word.
    Even the few offers of relief for taxpayers buried in the pages of the document to be released tomorrow will only affect a few Australians.
    The Federal Budget is expected to deliver tax cuts for Australians earning more than $80,000, which is around what the “average” fulltime taxpayer earns.
    The only problem is, the cuts will affect only a handful of taxpayers, with three in four earning below the amount the cuts are expected to kick in.
    The measure is designed to tackle bracket creep, with wage inflation estimated to push 300,000 middle income earners into the second highest tax bracket where they’ll be taxed 37 cents in every dollar they earn.
    But the offer of tax relief for high wage earners has been met with raised eyebrows by the estimated 75 per cent of Australians earning below what Mr Morrison has declared the “average wage”.

  32. I’m already over the budget and we haven’t even seen it yet! And if I never see or hear Scott Morrison again I’ll be a happy gal.

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