Essential Research: leadership ratings, US and China, abortion law

Higher disapproval ratings for both leaders in the latest Essential poll, which also records lukewarm feelings towards the United States and cooler ones for China.

The latest fortnightly Essential Research poll again comes up empty on voting intention, but it does offer the pollster’s third set of leadership ratings since the election. As with Newspoll, these record a drop in Scott Morrison’s net approval rating, owing to a three point rise in disapproval to 37%, while his approval holds steady at 48%. However, Essential parts company with Newspoll in finding Anthony Albanese up on disapproval as well, by five points to 29%, with approval down one to 38%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister narrows slightly, from 44-26 to 44-28.

Further questions suggest the public leans positive on most aspects of the “influence of the United States of America” (defence, trade, cultural and business), excepting a neutral result (42% positive, 40% negative) for influence on Australian politics. The same exercise for China finds positive results for trade, neutral results for culture and business, and negative ones for defence and politics. Asked which of the two we would most benefit from strengthening ties with, 38% of respondents favoured the US and 28% China.

The small sample of respondents from New South Wales were also asked about the proposed removal of abortion from the criminal code, which was supported by an overwhelming 71% compared with 17% opposed. The poll has a sample of 1096 and was conducted online from Thursday to Sunday.

Note also the post below this one, being the latest Brexit update from Adrian Beaumont.

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.

1,826 comments on “Essential Research: leadership ratings, US and China, abortion law”

  1. I realise the comments aren’t in terribly great shape at the moment, BB. Briefly has indeed become a fantastically boring and useless presence here, and I can see that Pegasus might be a problem for you if you don’t agree with her politics. But then a good many of your own comments are nasty and/or fatuous, and if you’re taking it for granted that I think a vast qualitative gulf separates your comments from theirs, you are mistaken. Also, no one who matters a damn would ever think to judge me on what’s going in my comment threads.

  2. I’ve taken to lurking, with only about 3 comments in the last 3 months. The dearth of polls on voting intention relative to before the election is 95% of the reason. The other 5% is there is only so much that can fruitfully be said on why Labor/Greens should treat Greens/Labor as an ally/enemy. I suspect many still read this blog, but mainly just for WB’s article now, with just the odd skim of the comments.

  3. At least I try, William. Like trying to suggest a way out of the endless turf war between Labor and The Greens by suggesting they form a coalition and quit the useless squabbling.

    With reasons, not slogans, virtue signalling and formulaic squealing about misogyny.

    You’re the psephologist. What do you think? Or is the current relationship between the two parties so productive and positive that it couldn’t bear improvement?

    Professionally you can’t express a preference, but IF Labor and The Greens were to merge or partner-up, what do you believe would be the outcome?

    We know that the Coalition would crow and heckle, but that’s to be expected. Should the Left unite or continue to in-fight, lose elections and resume achieving nothing?

  4. The precedent of Labor-Greens coalition government in Tasmania has been, to put it mildly, highly discouraging on an electoral level. Ditto to some extent the Gillard government, which was gravely damaged by the impression it had to go cap in hand to Bob Brown to remain in power. Then again, bumbling along without the ability to command more than a third of the primary vote doesn’t seem sustainable either. Smarter minds than mine, both here and abroad, are quite at a loss to know what to do about the decline of social democratic parties, or the political centre more generally.

  5. Appreciating your honest expression of bewilderment at the current state of progressive politics William.

    I think its dismay at seeing democracy disintegrate that is fuelling the vicious power struggles on these pages.

    So disheartening to come here and read juvenile insults between people who all want better. We turn on each other trying to score obscure points to somehow feel better. It’s become a depressing place to be…….

  6. William,

    How about a whole new party? New name, full merger. Both “sides” would need to bury a lot of history, but at least they’d get to keep the good bits. Forget about Tasmania. Create a newer, better model.

    Any precedent for that (probably not, but worth asking)?

    I only ask because the matter’s gone beyond politics. Real damage is being done to “the planet”. If people of goodwill can’t get together, then there is only one loser: all of us, and our descendants.

    Or is that too wet and wishy-washy? Unsophisticated and politically naive? If so, when does the future of the environment start to matter?

    Both Labor and The Greens seem to be bluffing each other, but with all our futures as table stakes. In the meantime, the conservatives take the pot by default.

    The Amazon’s is on fire, FFS… TODAY.

    How many Lib-Lib, Lib-kin, Same-Same point-scoring exercises is that worth? What does Labor’s glorious working class past mean as we slowly fry? Who cares who gets more votes in Newtown, or Brunswick? Or Mt Isa, if everything else has already gone to shit?

    Believe it or not, it’s a serious question, the most serious I can think of.

  7. Pegasus says:
    Sunday, August 25, 2019 at 1:05 pm


    Still remaining mute in the face of frednk’s ignorance and inability to grasp why the sacred trees are important to First Australians.

    Sacred trees

    These are the remnants of Djab Wurrung culture. Through colonisation and changes wrought by European farming, Djab Wurrung land has been dug up, trees cut down and rivers and billabongs drained.

    But pockets of sacred landscape remain.

    This is one of them.

    Three days ago it was a birthing tree; then we had a sacred tree and now it is a sacred landscape. I suppose a reduction in the level of bullshit is progress of a sort.

    Still doesn’t alter the fact, red gums last 500 to 1000 years, if the tree is 800 years old it is towards the end of it’s days, if it has a hollow trunk it is on it’s last legs, time to think hard about how your going to replace it.

    With climate change we have a serious issue, concern for the environment needs to become mainstream, bullshit does no service to anyone.

    In my lifetime I have planted thousands of native trees on our property because I happen to think they are good for the farm., and I like native vegetation and the birds. If you fence off the red gums they actually look after themselves. One of my jobs in the next couple of years is to thin the creak regrowth out a bit.

    Other than thousands of cut and pastes trying to advance the Greens anti labor campaign, I wonder what your contribution to reforestation has been?

  8. bipartisanship on key issues is more important than any issues between the ALP and Greens. You want to change politics? Get thousands of progressive people to join the Liberal party, even in one state, and hijack it. 🙂

  9. Andrew_Earlwood @ #1677 Sunday, August 25th, 2019 – 6:34 pm

    Hi BB.

    Sounds good, on the surface, but even if both sides were willing I disagree with your conclusion that such a coalition would actually be enough. I reckon the ‘missing voters’ in the outer rim of our major cities and regional centres are hugely against the Greens as it is and are skeptical enough about Labor’s informal ties (both real and imagined) to them and ‘the left’ more generally to keep voting LNP (either directly or via their preferences). Even in the middle suburbs there is not much love for a Greens-Labor pact of any description.

    Oakeshott Country @ #1692 Sunday, August 25th, 2019 – 7:03 pm

    The coalition discussion ignores the visceral hatred a large proportion of the electorate has for the Greens. I suspect it would result in the Left getting to a base level. On the evidence of the 2011 NSW State election this is about a 35% PV

    What they said.

    I have serious doubts that any kind of formal or even informal coalition between Labor and the Greens is going to work, because it will not keep these voters onside. Could even be an electoral disaster.

  10. @William Bowe

    I personally am seeing what the New Progressive politics will be like, it is coming from people such as Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Yanis Varoufakis.

    In regards to Australia it would need to take something like an economic crisis, in order for this new progressivism to take root in Australia. Although I cant see anybody in the Federal Labor caucus who could be a Corbyn or Sanders style figure.

  11. For a while now, I’ve considered the founding of an entirely new party to be the centre-left’s best shot at regaining any kind of relevance. An actual new party, though, as opposed to a Labor/Greens merge-in-all-but-name, which the public would see through in a second, and which would most probably be unsustainable in any event.

    A “Social Democratic Party” seems good enough for most European democracies, so why not ours?

  12. A “Social Democratic Party” seems good enough for most European democracies, so why not ours?
    Only if it’s led by Dennis Denuto.

  13. “I cant see anybody in the Federal Labor caucus who could be a Corbyn or Sanders style figure.”

    Thank Christ. I speculated that some labor-Greens coalition-merger would see labor lose 10% off its right flank. The emergence of a Jezza or Bernie type figure would easily see that figure double.

    How about this: let De Natalie etc try to channel Jezza-Bern. Let the ALP free reign to go after the centre – and be prepared to take a hit on its left flank in the inner city areas.

    Let’s then see what would happen. How about that. Let the Greens be reds and let Labor be, well … Labor.

  14. @Diogenes

    These sorts of Progressives are not in power, yet. However I am pretty confident that they will be in the next few years, even if it takes some kind of a political revolutions in order for this to happen.

  15. For a while now, I’ve considered the founding of an entirely new party to be the centre-left’s best shot at regaining any kind of relevance. An actual new party, though, as opposed to a Labor/Greens merge-in-all-but-name, which the public would see through in a second, and which would most probably be unsustainable in any event.

    See through what, exactly?

    I’m not talking about a con-job. I’m talking about a serious effort to get something done, undertaken by people of goodwill.

    Both Labor and Greens have been wasting so much time trying to differentiate themselves from each other. What if they were both on the same wavelength? Or at least in the same spectrum?

    It’s not like the current situation is working all that well. Labor has dreadful trouble winning government, and The Greens can’t get much more than 10% of the vote. Yet millions hold either or both sides as their prime hopes.

    Any realistic member of either party must see the shitfighting is a recipe for chronic electoral failure. And these people must see that compromise is the only solution.

  16. itsthevibe @ #1765 Sunday, August 25th, 2019 – 8:06 pm

    For a while now, I’ve considered the founding of an entirely new party to be the centre-left’s best shot at regaining any kind of relevance. An actual new party, though, as opposed to a Labor/Greens merge-in-all-but-name, which the public would see through in a second, and which would most probably be unsustainable in any event.

    A “Social Democratic Party” seems good enough for most European democracies, so why not ours?

    I’ll give you $100 bucks to do it if it means you actually put your money where your mouth is and stop whining about the state of our current political parties.

  17. Labor could, and maybe should, end its system of union affiliation — which would pretty much amount to it becoming a “whole new party”. Maybe it could have environmental and other activist organisations affiliate on the same terms as unions, without the latter being in any way privileged. That could give you a more broadly based centre-left party that bites into support for the Greens. That’s all it would do though, because there would still be a market for a party of the left that’s not sullied by the compromises involved in being a party of government, and a lot of brand loyalty wrapped up in the Greens name.

  18. I have strong empathy with the ‘whatever it takes’ argument to regain the Treasury benches.

    Will woke Newtown/Prahran politics do it? Nah. Will calling back to the worker’s United will never be defeated do it? Nah. Both those ten percenters need to be in the cart, or at least 80% of their preferences.

    The majority of Australians are wealthy middle class, and newish arrivals want to join this. The majority wins elections. But they have a conscience – as long as it doesn’t hurt their hip pocket or aspiration.

  19. @Diogenes

    I am convinced that an economic depression in Australia, will be followed by a Revolution. Because the Morrison government will in my opinion use the economic depression to ramp up the authoritarianism, to the extent lots of people come to believe that Australia is no longer a democratic country.

  20. Only if it’s led by Dennis Denuto.

    Pretty sure he’d still be more electable than S- ARGH NO, must not trigger flame war, must not trigger flame war…

  21. As someone who actually lives in one of the mythical Outer Urban regional seats, my observation is that Labor has lost the Tradies, the Bogans, those who do Low Skilled work like working in pubs and clubs, cleaning and what we call ‘Arse Wiping’ jobs such as Aged Care, Child Care and Disability Care. Also the Yummy Mummies/Gym Bunnies, who think it is declasse to vote for Labor. They have also abandoned The Greens to a very great extent because they think it’s the party of ferals and ageing hippies. They have been the backbone of votes for celebrity Independent candidates who siphon votes away from Labor and The Greens and to the Liberal Party via these proxies. They have been retired cricket players, local A Grade soccer coaches and weekly local radio spot inhabitants.

    Now, that’s who is no longer voting for Labor and The Greens, thus why The Greens’ vote is stagnant and Labor’s is on the slide, especially in seats like this, even when the Liberals put up as their candidate someone who is so ineffectual and wishy washy that you’d think they would be an easybeat. But she is backed by a formidable team that sees crushing Labor and The Greens as their reason for getting out of bed every morning. They do it with a ruthless zeal and take great delight in succeeding, passing this playbook on to the younger generation of Liberals in this area. A well-oiled machine it very definitely is. Labor and The Greens getting together would just make their job 10 times easier because they could focus all their firepower on one target and they could simply use every anti Greens meme they’ve come up with in the past to tar and feather the new entity. It wouldn’t matter to them that they were lying about the nature of the new beast, they’d simply be overjoyed that the target had been made bigger as a result of the merger.

    Blowed if I can come up with a way to get back some of these demographics for Labor, or counteract the misinformation spewed out by the Coalition which seems to really be able to convince people that their enemy-the Coalition-is actually their friend, and their friend-Labor-is their enemy.

  22. Interesting point William, but is biting into the Greens Base really what Labor needs? Or the centre left more generally, for that matter? Labor + Greens falls short in some key population areas around the country, and maybe Labor should focus on that.

    If anything, this change in labor’s focus will allow the Greens to edge further into Labor in the inner city, but perhaps on the up side it may also free up Labor to go after these missing voters by not being so tied, affiliated or connected to Greens and left wing identity politics.

    From what I can tell the missing voters still love government services, and indeed strategic government economic intervention in making their life better. Things that the LNP find anathema. So it seems to me – that freed from the Greens yoke – that Labor could be very successful in targeting these voters. Indeed on my reading of past Labor electoral successes – when winning from opposition – it did exactly that.

  23. There’s always the Danish option:

    After losing power in 2015, the SD got tough on immigration and integration. It sought to take back the initiative from the Danish People’s Party (DPP), an anti-immigrant populist outfit that has captured an increasing share of the working-class vote over the past two decades. The DPP has dragged the country’s immigration policy far in its own direction: the centre-right government of Lars Lokke Rasmussen, which has governed since 2015 through a confidence-and-supply deal with the DPP, has slowed the arrival of asylum-seekers to a trickle with tough policies such as mandating that their valuables be confiscated to pay for the costs of housing them.

  24. @Diogenes

    The sort of political revolution I am envisioning is similar to the Ukrainian Euromadian Revolution in 2014. It could very well be triggered by people seeing Strikers and Protesters, being tasered, tear gassed and arrested by police officers in the hundreds, if not thousands.

  25. And here is the ‘birthing tree’ – for anyone who doesn’t understand ‘woke’, regarde..

    This ancient Birthing Tree is scheduled to be chopped down in Victoria. It’s over 800. Just to save a few minutes for commuters.
    Action you can take: phone Daniel Andrews office, 039651 5000 he’s taking submissions on objections.

  26. William wrote:

    Labor could, and maybe should, end its system of union affiliation…

    Sounds like another of my “nasty/fatuous” posts may have made it past at least someone’s outer ear.

    Labor has won its first fight, the one they fought throughout the 20th century, but doesn’t know when to quit now that the 21st century is upon us. I doubt whether there’s enough “working class” left in any unions to mourn a Labor-unions dissociation. What they’d mourn would be the end of regular Gravy Train services between Union HQ and a sinecure on red leather benches.

    I think William’s prescription is workshoppable: erstwhile lovers moving on from keeping house to “We’re just friends”. If Labor is relying on union rank and file to provide the bulk of its vote (separately to its MPs and Senators) then it’s relying on what’s fast becoming a stranded asset. Despite the nostalgia, those glory days are never coming back.

  27. And George Pell gagggle of fee-sucking lawyers have convinced the sheeple and their desperado client to waste another poultice on a hc appeal. The grounds?

    “Although Pell’s grounds for another appeal are yet to be finalised, legal experts familiar with the workings of the High Court believe they will centre on a broad provision which allows the court to intervene in any case “in the interests of the administration of justice”.

  28. William, I plead guilty to charges of being tedious. It’s true. The whole thing is as boring as can be. I’m certainly bored by repeating myself again and again.

    But I dispute the allegation that my remarks are useless. They have changed the perspectives a bit here and there. They’ve changed the language a bit too. This is necessary. We have to rethink everything and have to start with the material political and electoral facts. We’re going down the chute otherwise.

  29. C@t: comrade – labor held Robertson until 2013. I reckon that in a shifting demographic country, seats like Robertson are the new Bell Weathers. I reckon Labor could do worse than use it as a case study. Ditto Forde in Queensland. These type of seats change hands with government.

    Focus on their needs and I reckon we can pick up them and another 10 like them.

    Focus on the needs of Gladstone, Rockhampton and Townsville will see us competing in about 10 similar seats.

    Focus on Reid and Chisholm and we can tie up the middle ring suburbs.

    There are some commonalities I reckon as between each of those types of seats. We are not hitting our mark there.

    Freed of the Greens, and pop left inner city identity politics generally, I reckon we can go after and win these seats back. They may be low information and low interest. Feckless they may be, but they all respond to a message of hope and the hip pocket.

    I am prepared to throw seats like Sydney, Grayndler, Batman and Melbourne Ports (or what ever they are now called) under the proverbial Green bus to get them back.

  30. Why not just build the road around the 260 trees or at least the most important ones. Sometimes we act as if we are on a little island when we are not.

  31. On a happier note for me, I drafted quite a bit of new policy for adoption by WA Labor at the State Conference. The areas included health, education and the environment. It all went through uncontested. I’m very pleased.

  32. “Is it No Smith No Aussie batting lineup?”

    No, but it is a newer version of the Autralian team with 50% less cheaters on the field wearing the baggy green.

  33. C@tmomma wrote:

    Labor and The Greens getting together would just make their job 10 times easier because they could focus all their firepower on one target and they could simply use every anti Greens meme they’ve come up with in the past to tar and feather the new entity. It wouldn’t matter to them that they were lying about the nature

    Agreed that this is the first reaction, and is what everyone believes. But is it necessarily so?

    Millions vote for Labor and The Greens as separate parties. Enough to get close enough to government to be a serious threat to the cosy Tories.

    Why would the combined vote be less if the two parties amalgameted or formed a coalition? If both Labor and the Greens endorsed the marriage, why would previous voters ignore this and actually vote for The Enemy?

    And let’s not forget defectors from the other side, leftwards.

    Presently Labor and The Greens, via their perpetual pissing contest, do the Coalition’s job for them. United they might make the Tories work for a living, for a change. Shit, the current situation couldn’t be worse, could it?

  34. Bludgers might also be interested to note that WA Labor’s new rules, adopted this afternoon, will help broaden the reach of non-union voices by improving their ability to organise and to be represented within the decision-making structures. This is not the same thing as ‘dumping’ unions. Not at all. But it is intended to modernise the way the Party connects with the community generally and at extending democracy in the Party.

    It’s not a case of unions and Labor disassociating from each other. It is about adding to Labor’s membership system rather than dismantling it. This reform has been instituted from within by Labor and unions and has been fought for by the Left. It will bring new members and networks into the policy-making and electoral process. This is a good thing. Labor has to continually modernise. We are.

  35. An ALP/Green merger would lose primary votes just as a full merger between the Libs and Nats would and in Queensland has.

    And Queensland has turned out so badly for the LNP, hasn’t it?

  36. I don’t reckon the Australian public really gives a fuck about the internal processes, memberships, agreements and so on that make up the messy sausage factory inside political parties – for all that the parties will try to bash each other with those things.

    All they really care about is the appearance that it’s the people they see on the TV who they collectively voted in are the ones ultimately calling the shots. They don’t care if Albanese’s foot soldiers are all card-carrying unionists so long as it looks like he’s the one with the baton.

  37. This is not the same thing as ‘dumping’ unions. Not at all.

    What Briefly can’t accept is that the unions have deserted Labor. They’ve been bludging off the easy pickins, the cheap superannuated seats in Parliament and the maudlin nostalgia for so long that the shrinking world has just passed both of them by, sans regret

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