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”

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  1. “Is that so difficult to comprehend?”

    Not at all. It’s an opinion piece.
    One must also keep in mind the politics of the debate, which is also not difficult to comprehend.

  2. Max Boot – Conservative columnist nails the infectious diseases the Trump White House is suffering from

    On Wednesday, conservative columnist Max Boot revealed the “diseases” at the heart of President Donald Trump’s administration that are weakening their capacity to respond to the very real disease threat from coronavirus.

    Diseases, far more than any human enemy, ruthlessly expose and exploit the weaknesses of their victims. Now the coronavirus outbreak is laying bare the pathologies of the Trump administration — which include compulsive lying, pandering to dictators, ideological aversion to “globalism,” inveterate hostility toward experts and expertise, and (in a related development) sheer incompetence.

    “Covid-19 has already infected more than 80,000 people in 37 countries, causing more than 2,600 deaths, and experts doubt it will slow in the spring,” wrote Boot. “That a virus that started in China could have a bad impact on the United States should be no surprise: To cite but one example, many of the medicines and medical supplies that Americans need, including N95 face masks, come from China.”

    “At a time like this, it would be a lot more reassuring to think that there were actual, you know, experts in charge of the government rather than ignorant ideologues chosen for their dedication to a supreme leader unconstrained by fact, logic or morality,” concluded Boot. “Where’s the ‘deep state’ when you need it most?”

  3. “Katesays:
    Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 2:13 pm
    This is Ian Mackay’s list. OTT?”

    Bleach AND toilet cleaner? That seems OTT. Bleach will quite handily clean a toilet.

  4. C@tmommasays:
    Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 2:13 pm
    Thank goodness Paul Keating handed CSL a licence to print money for Australia.

    And if you are a superannuation fund member then you are likely benefiting from this. Great. Keating did some very good things.

  5. C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Bellwether @ #703 Thursday, February 27th, 2020 – 1:28 pm
    Much as I am loathe to argue with a great warrior of the Left, (that is meant sincerely) you repeat this furphy that U.S. medicare for all will take health insurance away from those with employer funded plans. To be fair, you might just be expressing the opposition opinion.

    I can’t believe you think that private insurance is preferable to single-payer, taxpayer-funded medicare systems. It’s fairly obvious that medicare for all will provide better coverage than these Americans enjoy. They will lose nothing and will gain improved access to health care.

    And as for forcing them to give it up, do you approve of the Australian government’s policy of forcing people to take up private health insurance by punitive loading of premiums and then spending billions of tax dollars to subsidize that industry?.

    Take a look at the series of Grattan Insitute articles which analyze the problems with Australia’s two-tier health system.

    And with respect, the idea that we should give up on all improvements for society just because the bad guys have the numbers in Parliament is strange coming from someone like you who has lived the life that deserves the kind of social policies that you have fought for bravely and continue to espouse.

    As I’ve said, Labor has a great opportunity for the next election to make full-on Medicare its signature policy. And they won’t have the same degree of difficulty that Bernie Sanders will have convincing Americans that socialized medicine is not a commie plot.

    Labor’s “all bulk-billed, specialists and tests included” policy for cancer treatments at the last election was a timid start in the right direction. It was generally well-received, but it didn’t go far enough.

    Taking away the punters tax rorts didn’t work. This gives them something and wedges the Tories who will have to oppose it .

  6. To those who have decided to argue against Medicare For All purely because they are anti-Sandeers, here is some food for thought…

    The U.S. devotes more of its national income to healthcare relative to other OECD countries. On average, healthcare spending across these countries has remained in line with overall economic growth in the past decade. Since the financial crisis, health spending across the OECD averaged about 8.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) annually. Healthcare spending in the U.S., however, has risen from 16.4 percent of GDP in 2009 to 16.9 percent of GDP in 2018 — the highest among all OECD countries.


    Higher healthcare spending can be beneficial if it results in better health outcomes. However, despite higher healthcare spending, America’s health outcomes are not any better than those in other developed countries. The U.S. actually performs worse in some common health metrics like life expectancy, infant mortality, and unmanaged diabetes.

  7. Well that did it for my family members who were due to go to the US next week
    Trump says everything is under control with respect to COVED19.
    Which only means it isnt, and they are not going now.


    But you have to dive deep into the 393 page document, to page 326, to see the low performance of the U.S. in one specific sub-index which is what underlies America’s declining life expectancy and risk factors to living well: on the “basic requirements sub-index,” the U.S. garners the 25th spot on the list of 137.

    What comprises “basic requirements?” we’re begged to ask. These pillars are institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomics, and health and primary education.

    Most of the data points underneath these pillars correspond to social determinants of health: beyond health and primary education (which are prime SDOHs), macroeconomics sets the context for health citizens’ financial wellness, job and income security. Infrastructure can bolster or diminish public health through clean (or dirty) water, clean (or dirty) air, safe and healthy physical built environments, and accessible and active transportation networks.

    And so on.. Note the connection between life outcomes, these “basics” and Sanders’s polucies. Education. Clean water. Transport. Etc

  9. Victoria @ #760 Thursday, February 27th, 2020 – 2:37 pm

    Well that did it for my family members who were due to go to the US next week
    Trump says everything is under control with respect to COVED19.
    Which only means it isnt, and they are not going now.

    My son is reconsidering when he will move to the US to live too. He probably still will but is adopting a wait and see approach before he buys his ticket.

  10. Far from being “extreme left”, most of what Sanders proposes is really about dragging the US out of the Third World and towards being a modern, civilised country.

    And a lot of Americans know this. Including millions who haven’t voted previously.

  11. Socrates

    Since North Sydney is now a “regional” area, no doubt the same is true of Adelaide’s Eastern Suburbs

    The don’t call it Burnside “Village” for nothing!

  12. The take of bull herring was in the thousands of tonnes in the 1970s… mostly recreationally taken…..the catch is insignificant now and the south coast is closed.

    The scallop biomass/production in WA has decline by more than 95% this century. The abalone biomass has fallen more than 90% this century. The beach-seine salmon fishery is vastly less than was the case as recently as, say, the 1980s or 90s.

    The marine environment in WA is changing very rapidly. This is undeniable.

  13. Not sure if it’s a new thing, but I’ve noticed Albanese giving Morrison the shaka hand signal (the surfers’ ‘hang loose’ sign) in QT a bit this week.

  14. beguiled again,
    I can’t believe you think that private insurance is preferable to single-payer, taxpayer-funded medicare systems.

    As a champion for Medicare in Australia I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I am a supporter of Private Health Insurance per se. However, in America I know it has its place, especially considering the plans that good and strong unions there have negotiated for their members. Such as the Culinary Union.

    They made the very reasonable point that the reason they wouldn’t support Medicare For All is that the benefits they have negotiated for their members are much better than the standard of medical care they would receive under Medicare For All. From memory I believe they even have their own hospital that union members can attend.

    So, in short, that is why I think that it is better to advocate for ‘Medicare For All Who Want It’, at least in the short term. Maybe at some later stage in the future, after 2 Terms of a Democratic President, the nation may decide that they want to go the full monty. I just don’t think that time is now.

    I mean, even in Australia where we have Medicare, we still have Private Health Insurance. The nation of Australia has not indicated a preference for Medicare For All. So I just don’t see a cataclysmic change that leap frogs over countries like ours happening in America. At least not this year.

  15. C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    Thank goodness Paul Keating handed CSL a licence to print money for Australia.
    A great success story that makes Telstra look pathetic.

    Keating 1 Howard 0

  16. C@t I don’t see a particularly strong argument for having private health insurance here in Australia. Maybe there are niches I don’t know of.

  17. The don’t call it Burnside “Village” for nothing!

    Yeah. They do.
    Same with Stirling village.

    Uraidla and Mylor are more villagie. Or are they ‘hamlets’.

    I want to know which village the Village People came from.

  18. It could be argued that North Sydney is a region. Depending on which government agency map used then Sydney’s northern suburbs can be treated as one or multiple regions but there could be cases where the whole of the Sydney basin is treated as one region.

  19. Cud Chewer @ #775 Thursday, February 27th, 2020 – 3:01 pm

    C@t I don’t see a particularly strong argument for having private health insurance here in Australia. Maybe there are niches I don’t know of.

    YOU may not see a particularly strong argument for PHI but there are still a lot of Australians who do.

    Maybe we should ask Bucephalus what he likes about his PHI? He’s a pretty representative sample, I reckon. 🙂

  20. C@t I’ve nothing against buying PHI. What I’m saying is that a decent universal public system should leave very little room for PHI.

    For example I have ancilliary cover in part because it covers dental. But dental should have been part of Medicare.

  21. C@T
    The problem is we are so focused on digging dirt that other industries get ignored only for the Americans or someone else to snap up anything that should be better supported.

  22. I heard Olivia Newton-John was supposed to be the lead female actor in that movie. They said it was over creative differences – but I heard it was the topless spa scene that put her off and she did Xanadu instead.

  23. Experience last week in the public health system.

    OH broke nose at the gym.

    We immediately saw our GP, who recommended we go to the ED with a letter.

    But if we didnt want to wait in ED, we would get a referral to a private specialist which would still not be for appointment on same day.

    We opted for ED.
    It happened to be a very busy day, but we were assessed straight away and seen by ENT doctor a few hours later.

    After examination, we were advised that we would be contacted in next few days for follow up.

    We got call two days later for appointment following morning with ENT specialist.

    Saw ENT specialist, who advised that the break required a manipulation. Could be done immediately with injections at site, or under anaethestic at a later time.
    Opted for manipulation with injections. Within hour all done and appointment made for review in 6 weeks.
    Cost. Parking fees.
    If we had opted for private treatment even with PHI, we would have been hundreds of dollars out of pocket.

  24. Catmomma,

    Having my a collarbone rebuilt from 8 pieces by the shoulder surgeon who does all the AFL footballers in Perth a week after being hit by a car instead of having to wait in agony for a review after a month in a sling and then being put on a waiting list in the public system.

    Having major colorectal surgery for bowel cancer as soon as diagnosed by one of Australia’s leading surgeons and not having to wait on a waiting list.

    Having a snapped achilles tendon sewn back together by the surgeon who did Nic Natinui’s knees less than a week after snapping it while still waiting to get called in for a review by the public hospital system.

    Having two kids born in a very nice hospital with the Ob/Gyno of my wife’s choice. When my wife almost died in the first birth she had the best Gyno in Perth,if not Australia, working to save her. When my son almost died due to complications in the delivery getting expert lifesaving care in a NNICU. (I wanted to go for a third to see if we could have an uneventful birth but was overruled)

    All paid for by PHI. Excellent value for money.

  25. More on the US Medicare for All costing, the most interesting thing to me is that others have attempted to cost the plan:

    Galvani’s $3 trillion estimate is lower than the annual spending estimates produced by some other observers, including the libertarian Mercatus Center ($3.8 trillion per year) and the more centrist-oriented Urban Institute ($4.2 trillion per year) and RAND Corporation ($3.9 trillion).

  26. Bucephalus @ #794 Thursday, February 27th, 2020 – 3:23 pm

    And I didn’t mention all the ancillaries that we normally max out – physio, massage, dental, orthodontics, glasses.

    Just wondering if you’ve sat down and worked out how far ahead you are? I have the idea, probably misplaced, that for the vast majority staying in the black with health insurance over a couple of decades is a little like going to the club every Saturday night, playing the pokies, and expecting to come out in front.

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