Essential Research: carbon, coal and coronavirus

A quick look at this week’s Essential Research report, and a deeper one at last week’s ANU survey on the impact of the bushfires.

The latest fortnightly poll from Essential Research finds 75% support for a net zero carbon pollution target by 2050, with only 25% opposed; 32% wishing to see coal-fired power plants phased out as soon as possible and another 47% wanting an end to subsidies and government support, compared with 21% wanting government support for both existing and new plants; and 80% support for the government preventing people entering the country from China due to coronavirus, with only 6% opposed. There are further questions and breakdowns in the report, but not a lot to get excited about on the whole – I can only beseech the pollster to bite the bullet and get back in the voting intention game.

To add more meat to this post, I will instead probe deeper into the report on the political impact of the bushfires published last week by the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods. This was based on a regular panel survey conducted by the centre on a roughly quarterly basis, largely dealing with questions such as satisfaction with governments, public institutions and life in general. Since most of the respondents had also completed previous surveys, the report is able to explore changes in voting intention and attitudes over time. On this occasion, the survey was supplemented by questions on respondents’ exposure to the bushfires.

The study found a slump in electoral support for the Coalition, from 42.6% in the October survey to 37.2%, with Labor up from 33.7% to 35.8%, the Greens up from 14.4% to 14.7% (which is obviously too high at both ends) and others up from 9.3% to 11.2% (after excluding non-respondents, of which there were 5.1% in October and 6.6% in January). However, it did not find evidence that the fall in Coalition support was particularly pronounced among those who had been exposed to the bushfires.

Some of the factors that did associate with defection from the Coalition suggest an intensification of trends evident at the election, with university-educated voters more likely to have abandoned the Coalition and voters aged 75 and over less likely to have done so. However, the Coalition had a particular drop in support outside capital cities, though not in a way that suggested exposure to the fires was the reason. Out of the sample of 618 Coalition defectors, 43.9% supported Labor, 14.3% the Greens and 24.7% others, with the remainder uncommitted.

Consistent with the findings of the Ipsos Issues Monitor survey in January, the number of respondents rating environmental issues as the first or second most important facing the country rose from 41.5% in the October survey to 49.7%. For whatever reason, there was a significant effect here for indirect exposure to the bushfire (having friends or family whose properties were damaged or threatened, having travel plans affected, or exposure to smoke or anxiety), but not for direct exposure. However, as the report notes, what the survey registered as concern for environmental issues extended to blaming “the greenies” for the extent of the fires.

Support for new coal mines was down from 45.3% in the June survey to 37.0%, with the fall particularly pronounced among Coalition voters, down from 71.8% to 57.5%. However, those directly exposed to the bushfires who had expressed support for coal mines in June were relatively resistant to this trend.

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.

1,024 comments on “Essential Research: carbon, coal and coronavirus”

  1. UK Labour Leadership Voting Intention:

    Keir Starmer: 53% (+7)
    Rebecca Long-Bailey: 31% (-1)
    Lisa Nandy: 16% (+9)

    Via @YouGov
    20-25 Feb.
    Changes w/ 13-15 Jan
    Includes members, affiliates and registered supporters

  2. Info from twenty years ago went along the lines that in Victoria if there was a pandemic then all non-emergency patients would be discharged and all non-urgent surgery would be cancelled then all available beds would be turned over to patients with the illness. Hospitals often have spare beds that can be opened to add capacity.

  3. beguiledagain:

    I have been trying to generate a discussion on medicare without success until today.

    Now let’s go forward and push Labor to adopt a full-on, everything-bulkbilled medicare policy for the next election.

    You say you want a discussion, but then you give the answer you want t0 hear!

    Healthcare in Australia is underfunded by about 2% of GDP (about $30bn / annually) relative to comparands (i.e the nations with advanced economies, excluding the anomalous USA). This underfunding both damages the interests of Australians in relations to their health and adversely affects the Australian health industry (including the public sector), particularly in relation to exports.

    Healthcare in Australia is notably efficient and of high quality overall, but also contains notable inefficiencies that should be improved, and embedded quality problems.

    I think the questions are:
    1 – what changes should be made to improve quality and efficiency in current and expanded operations
    2 – to what purposes should extra healthcare funding be deployed
    3 – what mix of funding sources (public direct, public monopsony, public-private-partnership, private insurance, private integrated care, private out of pocket) should fund current operations, capital works and expanded operations
    4 – role of for-profit (and limited liability corporations) versus not-for-profit trusts in private sector provision

    To an extent the answers to 1 and 2 determine the appropriate funding mix in 3. For example:
    – The Northern Beaches fiasco suggests PPP is not an appropriate funding model in that scenario
    – I have had very good experience with private oncology rehab but am also aware of serious mistreatment of older rehab patients (including a retired doctor in one case; as one might expect this ended up being fixed at great cost to the provider) within the private sector

  4. Player One @ #705 Thursday, February 27th, 2020 – 10:02 am

    Barney in Tanjung Bunga @ #703 Thursday, February 27th, 2020 – 12:47 pm

    Player One @ #701 Thursday, February 27th, 2020 – 9:45 am

    Barney in Tanjung Bunga @ #700 Thursday, February 27th, 2020 – 12:44 pm

    Time to leave the rabbit hole.
    Bye! 🙂

    Don’t let the hole collapse on you as you continue to dig your way down.

    Yep, P1 logic;

    You leave a hole by travelling downwards.

    You’ll reach China eventually.

    Once again demonstrating how poor your grasp of even the basics of science is.

  5. My question posted earlier was easy: Hepburn & Streisand. What’s more difficult is to establish how they garnered equal votes. I refuse to mention Gregory Peck, given at the time, Streisand was not a member 0f the Acamedy – a three-year membership in those days being requisite.

  6. Now let’s go forward and push Labor to adopt a full-on, everything-bulkbilled medicare policy for the next election.

    Absolutely. There is no need for private health insurance or gap fees. Fund the public health care system to the full extent that is necessary to mobilise the real resources that are available to meet people’s health care needs. Invest heavily and wisely in preventative health care, primary health care, good town planning, full employment, strong workers’ rights, healthy work-life balance, and other core underlying factors that shape people’s health.

    The only reason there are people who wail, “But surely private insurance and gap fees must always play an important role in a health care system?” is that they have been thoroughly conditioned by neoliberal framing.

  7. a r:

    Bucephalus @ #998 Thursday, February 27th, 2020 – 10:01 pm

    How he will get a security clearance is beyond me.

    If “Russia, I hope you’re listening” Trump can have one, Sanders can have one too.

    The President does not require a security clearance, nor does the Vice President.

    Familiarity with the process and US Constitution shows why it is completely infeasible to have it as a requirement.

  8. E. G. Theodore says:
    Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 11:44 pm

    beguiledagain:

    I have been trying to generate a discussion on medicare without success until today.

    Now let’s go forward and push Labor to adopt a full-on, everything-bulkbilled medicare policy for the next election.

    You say you want a discussion, but then you give the answer you want t0 hear!

    ———————————————————————

    By the time you came along the discussion had ended. See the various contributions of the PBers I thanked. I think if you polled them they would agree with my objective.

    But I am quite open to any additional evidence.

    As I am learning from a review of the history and the evil work of the British Medical Association in the 40’s and 50’s, Prime Minister Albanese is going to have to call for a constitutional amendment to remove the landmine clause Chifley inserted to get the bipartisan support of Menzies. This provision has effectively prevented governments from achieving the objective I seek. It’s time to throw off this vestige of British colonialism.

  9. A doctor consription referendum would never pass. It is not needed to scrap gap fees for medical services or even ban private health insurance, only for the Commonwealth to ban private medical practice or conscript doctors for civilian purposes (the states are not banned by the constitution from banning private medical practice or conscripting doctors for civilian purposes).

  10. The Australian Medical Association only became the Australian Medical Association in 1960, before that it was the local branch of the British Medical Association.

  11. And meanwhile in the real world…
    https://theconversation.com/albanese-says-we-cant-replace-steelmaking-coal-but-we-already-have-green-alternatives-126599

    Despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary, some still propagate the myth that the world will need Australian coal for decades to come. Last weekend Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese joined in, saying thermal and metallurgical coal mining and exports would continue after 2050, even with a net zero emissions target.

    Metallurgical coal (or “coking coal”) is mined to produce the carbon used in steelmaking, while thermal coal is used to make steam that generates electricity.

    Albanese argues there’s no replacement for metallurgical coal, but this is not the case. The assertion stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of modern steelmaking, and places Australian manufacturers at risk of missing out on massive opportunities in the global shift to a low-carbon economy.

    Australia manufactures a relatively small amount of steel – 5.3 million tonnes, or 0.3% of world output. Yet, we’re one of the biggest exporters of raw materials for steel production.

    There is potential to not only strengthen Australia’s steel manufacturing industry, but also to grow it using the ore (rock containing metals like iron) we currently export and our extensive renewable energy sources.

  12. Nicholas says:
    Friday, February 28, 2020 at 12:10 am

    Now let’s go forward and push Labor to adopt a full-on, everything-bulkbilled medicare policy for the next election.

    Absolutely. There is no need for private health insurance or gap fees. Fund the public health care system to the full extent that is necessary to mobilise the real resources that are available to meet people’s health care needs. Invest heavily and wisely in preventative health care, primary health care, good town planning, full employment, strong workers’ rights, healthy work-life balance, and other core underlying factors that shape people’s health.

    Too right.

    The thing is: if the public sector is sufficiently effective, the private sector will shrink. It’s not necessary to abolish it. The project should be to extend and improve the public sector in all respects.

  13. The virus has made it into dense and richly socially-connected populations. It’s distribution is escalating. We’re all in very serious trouble.

  14. The markets for every good or service that is socially consumed or supplied are going to be paralysed to varying extents. We’re in grave medical and economic trouble.

  15. The GFC was a serious event. The virus event is likely to be far more serious and prolonged than the GFC. The downside risk to global GDP is profound. Maybe 30% or more of global income is at risk.

  16. The data suggests that more than 0.5 million people are infected with the virus. In the absence of effective detection, diagnosis and quarantine, the numbers infected globally will double every 10 days or so. We’re truly in serious trouble.

  17. Shit Briefly, “we’re all doomed, doomed I say.” You must be tired after trudging up and down the pavement with that heavy sandwich board on all day. Did you have the medical apocalypse reference on the front and the economic one on the back?


  18. Bushfire Bill says:
    Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    The salesman told us that the lead time used to be 14 weeks, from China. Unfortunately, as all the Chinese furniture factories are closed, this lead time is now 26 weeks, with no guarantee even of that. He told us they can’t get an answer from their suppliers, but the reality was that he expected 36 to 52 weeks lead time.

    I’m now involved in two jobs that can’t meet delivery because we can’t get stuff out of china. It is going to be a mess.

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