Essential Research: 54-46 to Labor

Labor continues to dominate on voting intention, though few seem impressed by its stance on Adani.

The latest fortnightly Essential Research poll has Labor’s two-party lead at 54-46, up from 53-47 last time. Primary vote numbers will be with us later. Also featured are Essential’s monthly (I think) leadership ratings, and they find Malcolm Turnbull little changed at 41% approval (up two) and 41% disapproval (on one), but Bill Shorten improving to 37% approval (up four) and 44% disapproval (down two). Turnbull’s lead as preferred prime minister is 41-26, compared with 42-25 last time.

Other questions relate to Adani, on which 30% favour the Greens’ position, 26% favour the Coalition’s and 19% favour Labor’s, though it would be important to see the question wording on that one. Other findings related by The Guardian are that 42% support and 39% oppose company tax cuts; that regulating energy prices had 83% support, an “Accord-style partnership” 66% support and boosting Newstart 52% support; and that same-sex marriage is supported by 65% and opposed by 26%. Essential Research’s full report should be with us later in the day.

UPDATE: Full report here. Primary vote gains for the major parties at the expense of other/independent, with the Coalition up one to 36% and Labor up three to 38%, with the Greens down one to 9% and One Nation steady on 8%. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1025.

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.

2,546 comments on “Essential Research: 54-46 to Labor”

  1. Apparently there is a Bank Royal Commission starting today.

    I am so confused. Didnt the leader of the government, the PM, rule this out only a few months ago? I remember it. He looked so confident with a ‘you of little understanding’ grin on his face.

    He is still the leader, right?

  2. “He said the dividend imputation system was designed so shareholders did not pay tax twice:”

    People affected by labor’s change don’t pay any tax. What they do is get a refund of tax paid by someone else.

    Fair? Not in my book.

    It’s like when Howard gave pensioners a bonus. My mum asked what it was for. I told her it was a bribe, to get her to vote liberal. Well it won’t work, she replied.

  3. The point of the dividend imputation scheme is indeed to stop the profits from being taxed twice – but what happens in the refund case is that they aren’t being taxed *at all*.

  4. Labor will have a number of policy announcements, both economic and social, locked in and ready to go over coming weeks.

    Today was just the start. Announce savings measures , let the Tories scream and then roll out the announcements.

    Cheers.

  5. TPOF @ #123 Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 – 10:16 am

    Consider this:

    A person over 60 who has retired from the workforce can put $25,000 into a self-managed super fund in a single financial year and claim a tax deduction for that $25k. However, the money is taxed in the super fund at 15% (which is $3,750).

    For someone whose taxable income is $52,000, that tax deduction is worth $8625. After taking out the 15% tax, there is a net benefit of $4,875. If you have a taxable income of $205,000 or over, there is a tax deduction of $11,750 and a net benefit of $8,000. Of course, you need to have $25k to start with, but if you are over 60 currently you can take that out of your super fund untaxed and then put it straight back in. And if you are still earning a lot or have a big income in one year because of a lump of capital gains tax you are doing really well.

    And for the same $25K the richest get more back than the middle income earner – just because they were already doing well enough to have a big taxable income.

    Also consider the inevitable Coalition counterpoint.

    They’re going to cherrypick one, two, or a small handful of retirees and have them go on national TV to deliver sob stories about how Labor’s changes mean they’ll all be left homeless and starving to death in the gutter. No numbers (or facts, or evidence) required. But will it be effective? You bet it will.

    Emotional blackmail is easily more powerful than facts and figures.

  6. The point of the dividend imputation scheme is indeed to stop the profits from being taxed twice – but what happens in the refund case is that they aren’t being taxed *at all*.

    And the reason they aren’t being taxed *at all* is because the receiver of the dividends (in my case, me) has a very low income. Do you believe in a tax free threshold, or a progressive taxation system, because if you do then surely a low income earner not paying income tax is … expected.

    So the implication that there is tax being dodged is … uncalled for.

  7. Jackol

    Tax has been paid by the company at a certain rate. Dividend imputation – designed to avoid paying tax twice – effectively ‘converts’ the income from being assessable as company income and paying company tax to being personal income on which personal income tax is paid. If no (or little) personal income tax is liable, then the individual gets the difference.

    _______________________________

    It’s very much a definitional thing Jackol. As originally designed under Keating, it was to address an issue of double taxation. A business would pay tax on its earnings and then the taxpayer would pay tax on the dividends – that is, the after tax earnings of the business as distributed to the shareholder. If the shareholder’s income was so low that they did not pay tax on the dividends, then they would not be subject to double taxation in the first place. And if it was higher than the company tax rate, they only were credited with what the company had paid.

    In essence, the tax was paid once and should not need to be paid again on the same money. What Howard did was to change this tax payment to some sort of hybrid where it looked like it was tax paid by the company on behalf of the taxpayer, so that if the taxpayer was not liable for that much tax or none at all they would be refunded the difference. But that is not the way the laws are written. It is still company tax and if Turnbull’s giveaway goes ahead, the maximum franking credit will go down from 30% to wherever it ends up. So it is and always will be company tax, not personal income tax or super tax or any other form of tax.

    Both technically and from a public interest perspective, Howard’s change was not a consistent legitimate tax amendment, but an illogical and unsustainable give-away, especially as accountants have now worked out how to maximise financial benefit from it.

    A lot of people get money from the government where they have paid no tax. Medicare, social security, etc. There is nothing wrong with that. But it should be labelled as it is. While you have taken advantage (quite properly) of a tax concession to help support a lean lifestyle, the question remains about whether the demonisation of non-income earners (unless they are family members of high income earners) has undermined the moral and ethical duty of society to support those who cannot work for whatever reason. Which, in a way, brings us to the debate about whether everyone should get a standard income, regardless of their employment or other status. It would be a lot more efficient and effective than a system that most benefits those with enough money to make more.

  8. mikehilliard,

    Labor has around $150 billion in savings after today ready to go and there will be more on the way.

    Get set for numerous Health, education, business incentives to counter the ” tax cuts for big business are good ” bullshit from Turnbull, welfare policy announcements etc etc etc.

    The coming weeks will be action packed.

    Cheers.

  9. doyley @ #162 Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 – 12:25 pm

    mikehilliard,

    Labor has around $150 billion in savings after today ready to go and there will be more on the way.

    Get set for numerous Health, education, business incentives to counter the ” tax cuts for big business are good ” bullshit from Turnbull, welfare policy announcements etc etc etc.

    The coming weeks will be action packed.

    Cheers.

    Tell them to leave income tax alone !

  10. Do you believe in a tax free threshold, or a progressive taxation system, because if you do then surely a low income earner not paying income tax is … expected.

    But Jackol, it is company tax – the tax applied to company profits – that is not being paid, not income tax.

    The tax-free threshold applies to income from personal labour, not passive income from capital ownership.

    (And please don’t think I am suggesting that you didn’t labour in order to accumulate the capital wealth in the first instance.)

  11. p1

    Goodness me, P1 you just took the goal posts and shifted them to the other side of the oval!

    My point is NOT that Dutch agriculture has no impact on biodiversity. Of course it does. To start with, most of Dutch agriculture is happening on the seabed which equates to 100% biodiversity loss. You can still pick up the scallop shells in the paddocks.

    But my point is the reverse: biodiversity (plant genes aside) has almost no impact on Dutch agriculture.

    Almost irrelevant to my point, the Dutch have developed some novel techniques to this end. For example, some traditional potato growing areas in Australia have been abandoned because of difficulties with nematode control. To address this, the Dutch build a low dyke around affected fields and flood them for long enough to eradicate the nematodes. These temporary wetlands do a good job of annihilating productivity-sapping biodiversity. As you drive past them you will notice another effect – they attract large numbers of waterfowl. Tsk tsk.

    Much of the higher value produce is grown in totally artificial extra-biodiversity farming systems – as close to zero biodiversity as the Dutch can make it.

    My point is that Dutch agriculture is phenomenally productive by avoiding (plant genes aside) biodiversity impacts on agriculture to the greatest extent possible. The practical evidence is that isolating agriculture from biodiversity generates increased productivity, not reduced productivity.

    But wait, there’s more. Currently these systems are still largely based around, and limited to and by, vascular plants. There can be almost no doubt that four existing trends will converge to feed the extra billions of people: cheap renewable energy, developments in farming non vascular plants (ironically based on research vastly speeded up in the search for biogas), GMO technologies, and nano technologies. It looks increasingly probable that ONLY way to feed the extra billions in the pipeline is by way of mass produced foodified non vascular plants.

    Results from biogas experiments indicate that one of the potential massive benefits for food production is that non vascular plant growth can be 24/7.

  12. Jackol

    Not financial advice, but consider selling the shares with dividend imputation and reinvest in companies which pay unfranked dividends or trust distributions. Most of the property trusts are like this, or companies with large offshore earnings. Check the offshore index funds as well.

    Otherwise, term deposits are edging up or commercial debentures, but do your own due dilligence on these.

  13. Rex Douglas @ #150 Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 – 12:04 pm

    So savings from this policy announcement will go to income tax relief ?

    Why not further funding increases to services ?

    This Lib-Lab messaging that ‘taxes are bad’ is damaging and wrong.

    Hey Rex!

    I saw you in a photo with the Green dastards at their gathering in Batman.

    You were the on holding the “Lib – Lab, Same – Same” placard. 😆

  14. Again, I’m not saying that these proposals are wrong, necessarily (although I do feel that the emphasis is wrong, and a bit unfair). And I’m not saying that there should never be any losers.

    Because this is a blog about politics I just thought I should point out that the narrative about ‘wealthy investors’ ‘rorting’ the system is not the whole story, and if the ALP, or ALP supporters think that they can sell this as just effecting wealthy tax dodgers … think again.

    I will get by regardless of what happens. Things may be a touch grimmer than they would have been otherwise, but in comparison with people suffering actual hardship I don’t, and won’t, compare.

  15. Morrison better sharpen his lines a bit – the initial AAP report had him saying something like “this will amount to double taxation by denying refunds to those who don’t have any taxable income”, which probably makes the case for the change better than anything Shorten would say.

    Of course, while the logic/fairness part is difficult to argue with, there is still the issue that a bunch of people will actually end up worse off (and they are a loud/powerful minority highly motivated to muddy the water on a complicated issue as much as possible)- which, unfortunately, is usually the death knell of any meaningful tax changes in this country.

  16. “Labor has around $150 billion in savings after today ready to go and there will be more on the way.

    Get set for numerous Health, education, business incentives to counter the ” tax cuts for big business are good ” bullshit from Turnbull, welfare policy announcements etc etc etc.”

    I’d say that this is, politically, right where the ALP has been setting up to be ahead of the 2018 Budget. They will have the maneuvering room to do their Budget in Reply well, and probably in ways that will blindside ScoMo and Co once the Govt commits to proposals in their budget. That will feed into the expected coalition kaos, division and bullshit.

    In terms of concrete policy proposals? I would really not expect a lot from the ALP now until close to or after the Budget comes down. Let the Govt commit to a course and then launch a full spread of torpedoes. 🙂

  17. bemused @ #167 Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 – 12:36 pm

    Rex Douglas @ #150 Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 – 12:04 pm

    So savings from this policy announcement will go to income tax relief ?

    Why not further funding increases to services ?

    This Lib-Lab messaging that ‘taxes are bad’ is damaging and wrong.

    Hey Rex!

    I saw you in a photo with the Green dastards at their gathering in Batman.

    You were the on holding the “Lib – Lab, Same – Same” placard. 😆

    I’m flattered.

  18. Bob’s Uncle says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    Of course, while the logic/fairness part is difficult to argue with, there is still the issue that a bunch of people will actually end up worse off

    This is probably a good thing for Labor. Every complaint will translate to “Shorten is tough. Labor are unafraid.””

  19. LU – the current system is clearly about magically morphing company income into personal income. No ifs, no buts. The logical extension of that is that if the individual receiving income from the company is below the tax free threshold, then no tax should be paid on that income. That’s the system, it is logical enough. If you think dividend imputation makes sense (and, admittedly, Australia is way out there on this part of our tax system), and our progressive personal income tax system makes sense (a bit less controversial there), then what happens now with refunds is the logical conclusion.

    I’d be more comfortable talking about scrapping dividend imputation altogether, combined with a substantial rework of company tax, but that’s not where the ALP is going with this…

  20. Paul Keating brought in dividend imputation to grow the Australian economy, by encouraging the growing soverign wealth being collected in mandated super funds to invest in local companies.

    Sad that these visionary macro settings have been latched upon by the rorters and spivs (Not you Jackol) – firstly to trim the not for profit industry super funds, and then to organise affairs such that individuals and SMSF’s don’t pay tax as they don’t earn anything.

  21. Jackol @ #168 Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 – 12:39 pm

    Again, I’m not saying that these proposals are wrong, necessarily (although I do feel that the emphasis is wrong, and a bit unfair). And I’m not saying that there should never be any losers.

    Because this is a blog about politics I just thought I should point out that the narrative about ‘wealthy investors’ ‘rorting’ the system is not the whole story, and if the ALP, or ALP supporters think that they can sell this as just effecting wealthy tax dodgers … think again.

    I will get by regardless of what happens. Things may be a touch grimmer than they would have been otherwise, but in comparison with people suffering actual hardship I don’t, and won’t, compare.

    Your comments on this announcement give a perspective that’s needed in the debate. Thankyou.

  22. I think Labor has totally underestimated the number of full, regular, non-wealthy pensioners that receive franking credits for income. A $50000 investment with 100% franking credits with a pre-franked yield of 6% (eg NAB) would provides an additional $1287 of income per year in addition to the base yield of $3000. This person’s annual investment income would decrease from $4287 to $3000. I am sure there are plenty of wealthy people that game the system, however people with very modest levels of assets and/or investments are going to get slammed by this. I think Labor should look at means testing their plan, otherwise they might lose the election on this one.

  23. Kold Konnection @ #180 Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 – 12:52 pm

    I think Labor has totally underestimated the number of full, regular, non-wealthy pensioners that receive franking credits for income. A $50000 investment with 100% franking credits with a pre-franked yield of 6% (eg NAB) would provides an additional $1287 of income per year in addition to the base yield of $3000. This person’s annual investment income would decrease from $4287 to $3000. I am sure there are plenty of wealthy people that game the system, however people with very modest levels of assets and/or investments are going to get slammed by this. I think Labor should look at means testing their plan, otherwise they might lose the election on this one.

    Jackol is a good example of the person you are talking about. But I think you massively over-estimate the individuals who satisfy your description.

    I am constantly surprised by the number of intelligent middle income Australians I come across who know nothing about shares at all. I don’t think that is going to change.

  24. We should not be paying for investors, this drives up the housing affordability

    I wasn’t arguing the merits of Labors plan. I was simply saying that there is a significant number of ‘voters’ that are not wealthy that will see a significant drop to their annual income due to this. That has electoral consequences. This policy won’t ‘gain’ labor any votes, but it will lose them votes.

  25. Kold K

    I have avoided saying this so far, but people receiving divdend imputation would be 99% Liberal voters. There will be no votes ‘lost’ by this measure.

  26. TPOF

    As I mentioned I have a very small personal share holding acquired through various means. AMP from the demutualisation, the 500 Coles share I bought decades ago for the shopping discount morphed into some Wesfarmers stock and as a former employee I have some Seven West Media shares (don’t laugh).

    On retirement I was going to sell them all but my advisor said to keep them, the franking credits refund makes them worth while he said.

    That may change if Labor gets in.

    When I see the returns of my modest super funds invested in Australian and overseas stocks and managed by experts I am happy to leave it to them.

  27. but people receiving divdend imputation would be 99% Liberal voters

    That’s the same as saying that 99% of people that have investments in shares are Liberal voters. That is simply not true. Half my family are Liberal and the other half are lefties and both sides equally have investments in shares, albeit the Lib voters do have more invested, but that is to be expected and makes my argument easier. The ones that will be hurt more and the ones with less and probably Labor voters.

  28. You do realise the scale of the savings being generated from these announcements @Rex? You think that they’re just going to announce everything now?

    Just as taxes aren’t bad, some tax cuts aren’t all economic vandalism… it’s VERY clear for those who wish to see, that the savings aren’t being directed to tax cuts elsewhere to any significant degree.

    But that involves discussion that isn’t based on slogans and simplifications.

  29. Kold Konnection says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 1:03 pm
    We should not be paying for investors, this drives up the housing affordability

    I wasn’t arguing the merits of Labors plan. I was simply saying that there is a significant number of ‘voters’ that are not wealthy that will see a significant drop to their annual income due to this. That has electoral consequences. This policy won’t ‘gain’ labor any votes, but it will lose them votes.

    I agree with that. But with the amount of money Labor now has to spend on other policies I am sure they will have worked out that they will end up gaining more votes than they have lost.

  30. Mafia investigates itself and finds that it is a totally law abiding organisation.

    (CNN)Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee reached an opposite conclusion Monday from the intelligence community they oversee, announcing that Russian President Vladimir Putin was not trying to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election.

    The Republicans also said they found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and that they are shutting down their yearlong investigation.

    Their viewpoint — which perfectly aligns with Trump’s view on election meddling — will be met with sharp disagreement by Democrats and is bound to inflame partisan tensions on a committee that’s been beleaguered by partisanship throughout its Russia probe.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2018/03/12/politics/house-republicans-russia-conclusions/index.html,/a>

  31. J341983 @ #190 Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 – 1:28 pm

    You do realise the scale of the savings being generated from these announcements @Rex? You think that they’re just going to announce everything now?

    Just as taxes aren’t bad, some tax cuts aren’t all economic vandalism… it’s VERY clear for those who wish to see, that the savings aren’t being directed to tax cuts elsewhere to any significant degree.

    But that involves discussion that isn’t based on slogans and simplifications.

    Shifty Bill was at pains to emphasise more than once that savings would allow for income tax relief to be announced later. I argue there is more a need for increasing funding to services than income tax relief.

  32. As Shorten says these cash payments are unsustainable.They started off at $550m and are projected to grow to $59 billion over the medium term.Surely this is sound economic management to rein in these freebies.The Liberals will launch their scare tactics as usual.All they are doing is trying to protect their own rich voters as usual.

  33. 19% favour Labor’s

    Yes but which of Labor’s many positions on Adani do this 19% of respondents support?

    Could the 19% even accurately describe Labor’s position?

    Could Labor even accurately describe its position?

  34. Nicholas @ #196 Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 – 1:36 pm

    19% favour Labor’s

    Yes but which of Labor’s many positions on Adani do this 19% of respondents support?

    Could the 19% even accurately describe Labor’s position?

    Could Labor even accurately describe its position?

    Someone spelt it out with crystal clarity earlier today.
    You Greens do seem to suffer from cognitive difficulties when you deliberately don’t want to understand something.

  35. Because SOME tax relief would be popular and probably help some households out. Yes, there is MORE need to increase effectiveness and availability of services. But you can do both. Shorten didn’t say, we’re going to save $150 billion and we’re going to direct that to tax cuts. But your hate-boner for Shorten is blinding you.

    “Shifty Bill” that’s a Trump-level cheap moniker.

  36. J341983 @ #198 Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 – 1:44 pm

    Because SOME tax relief would be popular and probably help some households out. Yes, there is MORE need to increase effectiveness and availability of services. But you can do both. Shorten didn’t say, we’re going to save $150 billion and we’re going to direct that to tax cuts. But your hate-boner for Shorten is blinding you.

    “Shifty Bill” that’s a Trump-level cheap moniker.

    The negative messaging re tax is straight out of Howards handbook of buying elections. It’s unsustainable and needs to be called out.

  37. bemused @ #197 Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 – 1:41 pm

    Nicholas @ #196 Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 – 1:36 pm

    19% favour Labor’s

    Yes but which of Labor’s many positions on Adani do this 19% of respondents support?

    Could the 19% even accurately describe Labor’s position?

    Could Labor even accurately describe its position?

    Someone spelt it out with crystal clarity earlier today.
    You Greens do seem to suffer from cognitive difficulties when you deliberately don’t want to understand something.

    The people are awake to all of Shifty Bills positions on Adani.

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