Essential Research: leader ratings and protest laws

Discouragement for Newspoll’s notion of an Anthony Albanese approval surge, plus a mixed bag of findings on the right to protest.

The latest fortnightly Essential Research poll still offers nothing on voting intention, though it’s relative interesting in that it features the pollster’s monthly leadership ratings. Contrary to Newspoll, these record a weakening in Anthony Albanese’s ratings, with approval down three to 37% and disapproval up five to 34%. Scott Morrison also worsens slightly, down two on approval to 45% and up three on disapproval to 41%, and his preferred prime minister read is essentially steady at 44-28 (43-28 last month).

Further questions relate to the right to protest, including the finding that 33% would support laws flagged by Scott Morrison that “could make consumer or environment boycotts illegal”, while 39% were opposed. Fifty-eight per cent agreed the government had “the right to limit citizen protests when it disrupts business”, with 31% for disagree; but that 53% agreed that “protestors should have the right to pressure banks not to invest in companies that are building coal mines”, with 33% disagreeing.

The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1075 respondents chosen from an online panel.

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.

1,832 comments on “Essential Research: leader ratings and protest laws”

  1. Climate denialism is bought and paid for by a rotten political system

    Bernard Keane in Crikey ($)

    “Coverage of the dramatic escalation in debate about climate change last week was a classic example. A number of journalists, including some of our best political observers, wrung their hands at the state of climate debate in Australia. Several engaged in a lame moral equivalising, putting climate denialists and angry Greens on the same level; others more openly acknowledged the role of the Coalition in acting to stymie climate action. None explained why; a visitor to Australia wondering why we were yelling at each other last week might have thought it was all the result of some peculiarity in our political psychology.

    But the reason is that federal politics is corrupt. Not corrupt in the brown paper bag, ICAC-style sense that we’re so familiar with from NSW Labor, or the persistent corruption of local government by property developers, but pervaded by a soft, entirely lawful corruption that comes from the dominance of political donations in public life, the lack of transparency around donations, and the way they facilitate the influencing of policy by vested interests.

    So if you want to know why Australian politics has failed to address climate change for over 20 years, it’s not merely the psychological composition of the old and middle-aged white men who have wielded power for most of that time. It’s the way they were paid to stymie climate action.

    Look at the political donations data of recent years. Fossil fuel and energy companies are some of the largest donors in the country; flush with profits from repeated commodity and investment booms, as a sector they rival the big banks (and, in recent years, the four big accounting firms) as the most dominant industry in political donations.

    In this decade alone, since 2011, mining and energy companies have given $8.4 million in donations to the Coalition’s state and federal branches, as well as $2.8 million to the ALP’s branches. In comparison, the financial industry gave around $12 million in total to both sides, split roughly $7m/$5m.

    That donor list is dominated by major carbon emitters. It is headed by Woodside, one of the most powerful Australian companies, which has been assisted by successive Australian governments, including with the use of ASIS in illegal commercial espionage against Timor-Leste. It has handed over $1 million in donations to the Coalition since 2011 and nearly $900,000 to Labor.
    :::
    And just as there was a revolving door between the financial services industry and political ranks, with multiple financial services ministers being former bank executives, so too is there a revolving door between fossil fuel industries and political ranks.
    :::
    Climate denialism and the unwillingness of Australian politicians to devise effective climate action policies is no fluke, any more than the long-term willingness of the Liberal Party to defend the big banks and enable their misconduct was a fluke. It was the result of millions in donations, the influence of industry figures at both staffer and political levels, and the capacity of mining companies to offer politicians lucrative jobs after they leave public office.

    That’s how power works in Australia, and it happens out of sight, courtesy of a near-complete lack of transparency about how influence is wielded — and the strange reluctance of the media to explain it.”

  2. Had Turnbull lead the Liberals and the ALP ran the same campaign then yes its possible the Liberals would have held on but if Queensland’s hatred of Turnbull was that great then we might have seen a phony or Palmer candidate pick up a seat or two.

  3. Chris Woods in Crikey ($)

    How are politicians trying to spin the climate crisis?

    “The former foreign minister tried to deflect from Australia’s (and particularly the Coalition’s) inaction by deploying the tired “what difference would it make?” defence. Of course, literally no one is claiming that Australia is the sole contributor to climate change, just that the world’s largest coal exporter should maybe have a climate policy beyond “magic dirt“.
    :::
    Rather than take the fight to the party responsible for five years of emissions increases, Rudd, Joel Fitzgibbon and Craig Emerson have all complained about the Greens’ “hypocrisy” for rejecting the 2009 Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

    Never mind that the scheme was a) condemned by climate experts for its generosity to polluters and “pathetically low” target b) shelved by Rudd himself after being knocked back twice by the Senate c) replaced with an extremely effective, Labor-Greens carbon price in 2011 or d) happened a goddamn decade ago.”

  4. Does anyone have any insight into the “National Faster Rail Agency” ?

    https://www.nfra.gov.au/about

    I’m getting a bit tired of people in transport circles taking this seriously. It supposedly will be advised by an “expert panel”, but the web site has been promising that the panel will be announced shortly and has been doing so for months.

    I cannot think of a single person in this country who I would trust if appointed to the NFRA “expert panel” and I don’t want to name names, because the number of people who claim to be rail experts would fit in an average sized living room. I’ve met a number of them and frankly, it horrifies me given their propensity for mickey mouse band aid solutions.

    The Minister has been sold on the idea of “fastish” trains. By people who are pretending that such things are cheap. Its a bit of a boys club really.

    Meanwhile the NSW government has been running its own “fast rail” process, headed by Professor Andrew McNaughton (of HS2 fame). Someone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with. McNaughton understands that to get the benefits of high speed rail, you need to pay for it. However, the process can be still hijacked/wrecked by the usual suspects. So fingers crossed. If McNaughton succeeds in winning over some of the people in TfNSW who want band aid solutions, that will be a real coup. And perhaps it will influence the conversation Federally.

  5. City of Casey councillors held ‘very significant’ financial ties to developers, IBAC hearing told

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-18/ibac-investigates-casey-council-property-planning-land-deals/11711960

    Councillors voted for projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Victoria’s biggest and fastest-growing council area while receiving money, gifts and other benefits linked to developers, a corruption inquiry has heard.

    The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) has begun public hearings into allegations of corruption at the City of Casey, in Melbourne’s south-east.

  6. ICAC is meant to operate independently of the NSW government, and is primarily responsible for investigating public bodies and educating the community about corruption.

    Assistant Secretary of the Public Service Association (PSA), Steve Turner, has says the cuts have come at a curious time, as ICAC continues investigations into State government corruption:

    “We’ve seen them look into McDonald and Obeid, we’ve seen them look into the mining industry and five ministers in this current government,” Turner said.

    He believes the responsibility of ICAC to reveal and deter public corruption is likely to rise in the future, and that “[t]o cut funding now is to take accountability away from this government.”

    ICAC has released a statement saying the cuts will create a backlog of complaints and delay investigations. The statement pointed-out that the body already experienced a 7.5% funding reduction at the start of this financial year.

    https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/nsw-government-slashes-icac-funding-while-being-investigated/

  7. John Falzon, 2019 Labor candidate in ACT electorate

    Progressive and collective social struggle is the path out of neoliberalim

    So how would we go about building a path out of the neoliberal way of doing policy? Here are a few suggested principles:
    :::
    4. The best policy comes from collective struggles by ordinary people
    I cannot think of a single instance in which a progressive social change did not originate collectively with the people on the ground, sometimes literally taking to the streets.

    From women’s reproductive rights to First Nations people’s rights, from workers’ rights to tenants’ rights; from marriage equality to the climate emergency; from the struggle against patriarchy to the struggle against continuing colonisation; the policies that best address the problems are those that arise from the collective analysis and agitation of the people affected by them, in other words … the actual policy experts!

    When policy, no matter how well-meaning, is developed apart from, instead of by, the people affected, it will not hit the mark. The presumption that people are incapable of analysing their own situation is inherently disrespectful and disempowering.

    Progressive social change does not come from above. It is formed in the crucible of organised analysis and agitation, collectively, under the guiding stars of struggle and hope.

  8. Of course Australia can no more single-handedly prop up the world’s Coal industry any more than we can single-handedly stop Global Heating. Deniers cite the latter as a reason for inaction while saying nothing about the former.

  9. Does any PB’er know whether the Federal budget includes Capital or Infrastructure expenditure? Pardon my lack of knowledge on the subject.

  10. Thanks for that Keane snippet, Pegasus.

    Political donations is probably the most important issue to address at the moment because it’s the root cause of our policy failures.

    Very happy that David Marr addressed it on Insiders. Hope ABC continue to focus on it because the other commercial media networks certainly won’t be risking their advertiser money.

  11. enjaybeesays:
    Monday, November 18, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Does any PB’er know whether the Federal budget includes Capital or Infrastructure expenditure? Pardon my lack of knowledge on the subject.

    Yep, unless it’s something like the NBN which was always marked for sale once completed.

  12. lizzie @ #1623 Monday, November 18th, 2019 – 2:05 pm

    ICAC is meant to operate independently of the NSW government, and is primarily responsible for investigating public bodies and educating the community about corruption.

    Assistant Secretary of the Public Service Association (PSA), Steve Turner, has says the cuts have come at a curious time, as ICAC continues investigations into State government corruption:

    “We’ve seen them look into McDonald and Obeid, we’ve seen them look into the mining industry and five ministers in this current government,” Turner said.

    He believes the responsibility of ICAC to reveal and deter public corruption is likely to rise in the future, and that “[t]o cut funding now is to take accountability away from this government.”

    ICAC has released a statement saying the cuts will create a backlog of complaints and delay investigations. The statement pointed-out that the body already experienced a 7.5% funding reduction at the start of this financial year.

    https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/nsw-government-slashes-icac-funding-while-being-investigated/

    Cutting the budget of the corruption watchdog should be enough in itself to cost the Govt a large number of votes. But this is NSW we’re talking about so….

  13. lizziesays:
    Monday, November 18, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Morrison didn’t knock off Turnbull – Turnbull knocked himself off. Turnbull called on the challenge himself in the first ballot in which Morrison didn’t stand. In the second challenge Turnbull didn’t stand.

  14. ‘ItzaDream says:
    Monday, November 18, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    I remember a kill in the NT in the 60s. It was near a boundary fence. Never kill your own. Gun man up a tree. Cattle mustered below. BANG. The carcas was immediately roughly cut, and chucked onto some gum branches in the back of a ute. All the meat went to the station to be cooked every which way. The gizzards and offal were tossed to the attendant aborigines, Jimmy and Shiela JamTin. The air was thick with flies. The heat was oppressive. Jimmy and Sheila seemed happy with their lot. I felt sick.’

    Which station?

  15. Bucephalus
    That summed Turnbull up, he didn’t need to call a ballot and he could have made them come for him but instead he just jumped which makes me wonder if he had just had enough or was he really that weak on strategy

  16. Morrison had spent the best part of a year destabilizing Turnbull.
    The post-backstabbing ‘Who me?’ routine is par for Morrison’s course.

  17. Enjaybee

    Funny you should mention the Federal budget and infrastructure spending. IT used to be clear (that the Commonwealth funded national road and rail projects (capital) and maintenance of the National Highway system (only). But is is increasingly harder to tell from the very opaque way programs and commitments are reported in the budget.

    In the 2019/20 budget I could not tell what new infrastructure money SA had actually been given. Past and present projects were so entangled with current and future commitments that it was impossible to tell. As far as I could tell SA Federal infrastructure spending was falling, but that was well hidden. It has become obvious to industry since that that was the case, as people have started losing jobs. Now today the PM has made a virtue of “bringing forward $400 million in cash for SA.
    https://www.pm.gov.au/media/faster-delivery-road-and-rail-projects-boost-south-australias-economy

    Yet this is not the real story. Nearly 1/4 of the money ($101 million) is for cost overruns on existing projects. More than half of the money is for projects already under way or previously announced. The remaining quarter is for a slush fund of rural safety works with unspecified locations and delivery times. They are making a virtue of calling a collection of vague promises a “budget” then making a second announcement of when they finally reveal the details as though it is a new thing. Meanwhile the lack of certainty has meant nobody in industry could plan, and so workforces have been getting cut.

    Scomo is a terrible manager. He has thrown the rulebook out the window. If only he got held to account.

  18. Bernard Keane on how political donations are corrupting our politics, specifically with regard to global heating:

    “But the reason [for inaction] is that federal politics is corrupt. Not corrupt in the brown paper bag, ICAC-style sense that we’re so familiar with from NSW Labor, or the persistent corruption of local government by property developers, but pervaded by a soft, entirely lawful corruption that comes from the dominance of political donations in public life, the lack of transparency around donations, and the way they facilitate the influencing of policy by vested interests.”

    https://www.crikey.com.au/2019/11/18/climate-denialism-rotten-political-system/?utm_campaign=Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&ins=R3VJRGJrbHVmSE9mNjZ3YXdrWUdIQT09 ($)

    I am less than fully convinced about the bit about it being “entirely lawful”.

  19. Re Capital Expenditure. If we had to pay $60 billion for submarines in one year (and I know that wouldn’t happen) but if we did that would affect the surplus or deficit for that year.

  20. Steve777 @ #1623 Monday, November 18th, 2019 – 1:33 pm

    Bernard Keane on how political donations are corrupting our politics, specifically with regard to global heating:

    “But the reason [for inaction] is that federal politics is corrupt. Not corrupt in the brown paper bag, ICAC-style sense that we’re so familiar with from NSW Labor, or the persistent corruption of local government by property developers, but pervaded by a soft, entirely lawful corruption that comes from the dominance of political donations in public life, the lack of transparency around donations, and the way they facilitate the influencing of policy by vested interests.”

    https://www.crikey.com.au/2019/11/18/climate-denialism-rotten-political-system/?utm_campaign=Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&ins=R3VJRGJrbHVmSE9mNjZ3YXdrWUdIQT09 ($)

    I am less than fully convinced about the bit about it being “entirely lawful”.

    Quite. How many “donations” go into the personal bank accounts of politicians (or entities they control)? How would we ever know, given the lack of “transparency”? There never has been a political system that did not include some “personal” as distinct from “political ” corruption. The main question is how much of it is going on – even the media that calls out “political corruption” appears to have no willingness to go there at all. Why? Have they been threatened or are they also involved?

  21. Steve777
    As I have said…I can’t take Labor seriously on global heating until it refuses political donations from the fossil fuel vested interests.

    Both major parties are in their deep pockets.


  22. Cud Chewer says:
    Monday, November 18, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Where do you use the XPT to and from?

    Always from Melbourne, to whatever large town closest to the NSW rural town I have to go to. I hire a car to finish the trip. Often involves a walk from the station, but I can still do that.

    I Once drove the distances involved but would not even consider it now. Too old, I would go to sleep and inspect a tree from a distance too close.

    For me it is either car or plane and i now hate planes as much as I hate buses. Planes have taken me from where I don’t want to go to where I don’t want to be too often. It’s not that I didn’t go to where I booked, it’s just that I would have preferred to be home watching my kids grow up.

    In my view it is a lovely train, exceptional value, a lot easier than flying and in same cases faster as you now pretty much have to go to Sydney for NSW rural services. Two flights take a long time.

    You do have to plan, it is often booked out. It is not a show up at the station and get a ticket job.

    The European (and the Chinese copy) high speed rail is faster and nicer and electric.


  23. Pegasus says:
    Monday, November 18, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    Steve777
    As I have said…I can’t take Labor seriously on global heating until it refuses political donations from the fossil fuel vested interests.

    Both major parties are in their deep pockets.

    Pegasus as the Greens policy is in many cases irrational and all they deliver is stunts or destroy the efforts of others it is difficult to take the Greens seriously on any issue.

  24. enjaybee
    The Federal Government uses the accrual based accounting method which offers some flexibility for when a cost is recorded.

  25. Pegasus as the Greens policy is in many cases irrational and all they deliver is stunts or destroy the efforts of others it is difficult to take the Greens seriously on any issue.

    The only time the Greens had some legislative power we got a CEP that actually lowered emissions. Hardly a ‘stunt’.

  26. Our parliament would be far less corrupted by anti-social vested interests if the Greens had the balance of power. That’s been proven already.

  27. I am for one who takes scientists warnings about the likely catastrophic consequences of global heating very seriously. Especially given I have thought since the 2000s that global heating could been much more rapid than even scientists were predicting, given what has happened in the past often when the climate has changed

    Indeed I see the challenge of global heating to be even greater than Nazism was in WW2. Because if it is not limited it will result likely in the end of civilization as we know it.

    Since Australia through its coal exports and the massive amount of land clearance, contributes considerably more to greenhouse emissions than some in politics and the media are saying.

    However combating global heating and greenhouse emissions, an opportunity for this nation to achieve the following;

    Transforming our economy, turning Australia into a renewable energy superpower.

    Massively upgrade the infrastructure of the country, which would include moderate high speed railways connecting the major cities along with regional cities.

    Rebuilding our manufacturing base so we can actually making stuff can be exported.

    Provide at least hundreds of thousands well paying, secure jobs.

    Transform our agricultural sector, so it does not place a strain on the ecosystem of the continent. Also to give First Nations sovereignty over their land which was never ceded.

  28. Socrates says:
    Monday, November 18, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    ‘…
    The remaining quarter is for a slush fund of rural safety works with unspecified locations and delivery times.
    …’

    This the pork barreling bit.

    Rebadging is a time-honoured lurk but the last three Coalition governments have turned it into a systematic form of disinformation. They are also rather too fond of setting out spending based on ten year time frames. Neither are real. Both contribute to the utter cynicism of the electorate who, rightfully, believe that the Coalition governments have been setting out deliverately to deceive them.

    The Greens do the same but by way of play acting, being barred by the voters from the real thing. For example, the Greens brag that all their programs are fully costed and fully funded. But they have neither costed nor funded the mitigation aspects of their plans to destroy a considerable proportion of the economy of rural and regional Australia.

    Some of the major distortions in spending patterns have to do with the surplus. The Reef Foundation half a billion was done in a huge hurry so that the money could be spent before the planned ‘surplus’ year, for example. Similarly, a significant amount of the Coalition Drought spend STARTS at the beginning of the next FY. Which is one reason farmers were getting increasingly grumpy.

    A little-reported aspect of the ‘surplus’ is that it has been achieved by cost-shifting to the states. This is everywhere but is not obvious. For example, the Feds used to pay 50/50 on some fire fighting equipment. They now pay 10%.

  29. Cud

    Thanks for that link to the National Faster Rail Authority. Hilarious! Like you I had not heard of any of the key managers listed before. After some time on Google I note that three are bureaucrats taken out of the Federal DIRDC. I note that two list a background in resource management and fisheries. That will help planning rail lines, I’m sure 🙂

    Reading through the list of NFRA “projects” it is the usual rebadging and claiming credit for State projects. I note Geelong – Melbourne is listed as the highest priority. Given that the current line runs broad gauge diesels capable of 210 but limited to 160 by track, and the last third of the route is in suburban Melbourne, how will they ever average 160 km/hr for this journey? I do not see any easy fix for this unless there is to be a new, separate route connecting to Melbourne CBD. And other lines to Parkes and Shepparton when there is no serious plan to service Woolloongong or the Sunshine Coast??

    Speaking of rail expertise, there might be some spare floating around. Or not.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/dozens-of-top-roles-spilled-in-shake-up-of-nsw-transport-bureaucracy-20191108-p538r7.html

  30. The true Greens corruption is intellectual.
    They tout an impossible Zero/2030.
    But they do not come clean on the colossal destruction they will wreak on rural and regional Australia.
    They make up stuff about millions of jobs.
    They brag about fully costed and fully funded programs but then neither fully cost them nor fully fund them.
    They indulge in doomist hyperbole.
    They do not tell the truth about their 30 years of electoral failure.
    But the corruption is deeper than all of the above.
    The people who suffer from Greens policies are not Greens supporters.
    And the people who benefit from the amenity outcomes ARE Greens supporters.

  31. Boerwar

    Rebadging is a time-honoured lurk but the last three Coalition governments have turned it into a systematic form of disinformation. They are also rather too fond of setting out spending based on ten year time frames. Neither are real. Both contribute to the utter cynicism of the electorate who, rightfully, believe that the Coalition governments have been setting out deliberately to deceive them.

    Cos voters really believe that the Coalition have a magic pudding, being such clever economic managers.

  32. frednk @ #1630 Monday, November 18th, 2019 – 2:54 pm

    Pegasus as the Greens policy is in many cases irrational and all they deliver is stunts or destroy the efforts of others it is difficult to take the Greens seriously on any issue.

    While I don’t think much of the Greens policy either, a Labor spruiker criticizing it for being ‘irrational’ is just a bit rich.

    How ‘rational’ is it to tell coal miners that “coal has a future” when the IPCC has pointed out that we must reduce our coal use to zero within 30 years to avoid catastrophe? The coal industry won’t even last the working lifetime of most current coal miners, let alone future ones.

  33. What I’m having trouble coming to terms with is despite a “balanced” budget the Government’s debt has increased by some (I think) $250 billion or so. Something doesn’t seem to add up.

  34. Lizzie
    The last election was a rejection of the ALP than any endorsement of the Liberals. The Liberals for all their faults keep things simple without just looking to ramp up taxes or to take from people despite the merits of reforming the tax system.

  35. enjaybee
    The budget is in deficit but instead of saying that the government is claiming its a balanced budget. The latest announced update showed a $690 million dollar deficit.

  36. enjaybee
    A rule of thumb with financial statements is if the information is confusing then that is because someone has something to hide or they need a better accountant.

  37. Mexicanbeemersays:
    Monday, November 18, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    Lizzie
    The last election was a rejection of the ALP than any endorsement of the Liberals. The Liberals for all their faults keep things simple without just looking to ramp up taxes or to take from people despite the merits of reforming the tax system.

    Easy to keep it simple if you do little!

    Labor found out how difficult it is to propose change from Opposition.

    Change means uncertainty and scares many people, resulting in much push back.

    Anyone who has been involved in implementing change would understand the difficulties.

  38. Enjaybee

    Most governments these days like to announce surpluses at budget time. It is reassuring to those who do not understand what they are talking about. Sometimes (e.g. when Keating was Treasurer, or when they get lucky with a mining boom) the forecast of a surplus might be meaningful.

    In Scomo’s case the forecast budget surplus was pure fiction, built on assumed growth in wages and taxes that were questioned at the time, and have since proven unachievable. So with wages, taxes and hence revenue in decline, a surplus can only be achieved by delaying spending (hence all these rubbery dates for when promised infrastructure projects might start) and cutting social services (hence NDIS is being gutted). Even with these cruel accounting tricks and induced suffering, a surplus looks doubtful. Meanwhile, the economy, driven by a Greek austerity-style budget, slides towards a Greek style recession. Ironically, the much demonised mass-immigration is the only thing saving us from immediate recession.

  39. Barney in Tanjung Bunga
    Yeah but the thing I find hard to believe is why didn’t the ALP already know it, its not like they are new to elections or campaigning. The Liberals only needed to hold on and Morrison ran a perfect campaign in that sense but he has also created a situation where he has little real mandate.

  40. Boerwar @ #1652 Monday, November 18th, 2019 – 3:14 pm

    The true Greens corruption is intellectual.
    They tout an impossible Zero/2030.
    But they do not come clean on the colossal destruction they will wreak on rural and regional Australia.
    They make up stuff about millions of jobs.
    They brag about fully costed and fully funded programs but then neither fully cost them nor fully fund them.
    They indulge in doomist hyperbole.
    They do not tell the truth about their 30 years of electoral failure.
    But the corruption is deeper than all of the above.
    The people who suffer from Greens policies are not Greens supporters.
    And the people who benefit from the amenity outcomes ARE Greens supporters.

    Anyone would think you’re a shill for the anti-social vested interests that prop up Labor and the LibNats.

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