Essential Research: COVID-19, leader attributes and more

A new poll finds a dip in the federal government’s still strong ratings on COVID-19, with only a small minority of respondents planning to skip the vaccine.

The latest fortnightly Essential Research poll does not include leader ratings or voting intention, but does have the following:

• The regular question on COVID-19 response finds the federal government’s good rating suffering a seven point dip to 62%, returning it to where it was for several months before an uptick in November, with the poor rating up two to 14%. The small sample results for mainland state governments also record a drop for the Victorian government, whose good rating is down ten to 49%, while the New South Wales government holds steady at 72% and the Queensland government’s drops three to 73%. As ever, particular caution must be taken with the Western Australian and South Australian results given the sample sizes, but they respectively retain the best (down three to 85%) and second best (down one to 78%) results out of the five.

• The poll finds 50% of respondents saying they will get vaccinated as soon as possible, 40% that they will do so but not straight away, and 10% that they will never get vaccinated. Variation by voting intention is within the margin of error. By way of contrast, a US poll conducted by Monmouth University last month produced the same 50% result for the “soon as possible option”, but had “likely will never get the vaccine” markedly higher at 24%. This increased to 42% among Republicans, and doesn’t that just say it all.

• The poll includes a pared back version of the pollster’s semi-regular suite of questions on leaders’ attributes in relation to Scott Morrison, but not Anthony Albanese. The consistent pattern here is that Morrison is a bit less highly rated than he was last May, but substantially stronger than he was during the bushfire crisis in January. However, he has done notably better on “good in a crisis” (from 32% last January to 66% in May to the current 59%) than “out of touch” (from 62% to 47% and now back up to 59%), whereas his gains since January on “more honest than most politicians” (now 50%), “trustworthy” (52%) and “visionary” (41%) are all either 11% or 12%. Two new questions have been thrown into the mix: “in control of their team” and “avoids responsibility”, respectively 56% at 49%.

• Respondents were asked to respond to a series of propositions concerning “the recent allegations of rape and sexual assault from women working in Parliament”, which found 65% agreeing the government has been “more interested in protecting itself than the interests of those who have been assaulted”. Forty-five per cent felt there was “no difference in the way the different political parties treat women”, though the view was notably more prevalent among men (54%) than women (37%), and among those at the conservative end of the voting spectrum (53% among Coalition voters, 41% among Labor voters and 30% among Greens voters).

• A number of questions on tech companies found an appetite for stronger regulation, including 76% support for forcing them to remove misinformation from their platforms.

The poll was conducted Wednesday to Monday from a sample of 1074; full results here.

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.

2,565 comments on “Essential Research: COVID-19, leader attributes and more”

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  1. Tingle gets to the nub of it:
    “This overlooks the obvious problem in this particular case: that the woman at the centre of the case died last year, apparently by suicide, without making a formal complaint — which meant any suggestion in the Prime Minister’s calls to leave the matter with police, that this could put an end to it, was disingenuous at best.”

  2. [‘Two cabinet ministers attended the 1988 university debating competition at which a woman has alleged she was sexually assaulted by Christian Porter, although members of the Morrison government insist they had no ongoing association with her.

    Guardian Australia can reveal that the health minister, Greg Hunt, and communications minister, Paul Fletcher, attended the tournament – two of the numerous alumni of the tightknit world of university debating that graduated to high-profile careers in politics and law, including the attorney general who has strenuously denied wrongdoing.’] – Guardian.

    It was Fletcher who somewhat impertinently insisted that Buttrose must answer his questions about the November, 9 “Four Corners” expose of Porter’s & Tudge’s unbecoming behaviour in and around Canberra. It’s now apparent as to why Fletcher was so insistent.

  3. Lynchpin @ #2250 Saturday, March 6th, 2021 – 7:32 am

    Tingle gets to the nub of it:
    “This overlooks the obvious problem in this particular case: that the woman at the centre of the case died last year, apparently by suicide, without making a formal complaint — which meant any suggestion in the Prime Minister’s calls to leave the matter with police, that this could put an end to it, was disingenuous at best.”

    I think Morrison was hoping it would take the police longer to make a decision.

  4. Mavis

    It’s now apparent as to why Fletcher was so insistent.

    And why the SMH picked today to publish a puff piece on the Fletcher ‘lovebirds’ ?

    .

    Opposites do attract – just ask federal MP Paul Fletcher

    Federal Minister for Communications and the Arts Paul Fletcher, 56, met his wife, jewellery designer Manuela Zappacosta, 53, while sharing a house during university. But it wasn’t until years, miles and continents later that love bloomed.

    https://www.smh.com.au/national/opposites-do-attract-just-ask-federal-mp-paul-fletcher-20201203-p56kf0.html

  5. The worst thing about the latest round of alleged sexual assaults is that nothing will change, those with the attitude that nothing needs to change and to kick the issue down the street will win. Having a review of parliament will do nothing, it is clear what needs to change another review is not needed – action is.

    There are two posters who posted a lot last night who will see that as vindication of their position, it is not it is a reflection of no real position or character ie recognition for change.

    Starting to agree that nothing will change.

    That is horrific in itself.

  6. LP

    “The allegations go to his fitness to be a minister in the Australian government.”

    I don’t agree with this or the framing of the issue as a public law question with the administrative inquiry approach thereby the right one.

    The question posed is whether the AG committed a criminal act and indeed one of its most serious. The answer to that question , subject to any challenge, certainly determines his fate if yes and probably if no.

    The head of the inquiry will have a counsel assisting and they are going to have to work out, given its unusual nature, a threshold of proof and admissibility and if what they have is enough even to kick the inquiry off. That last bit is unprecedented in inquiry terms albeit it is the same question police have to answer when investigating and the DPP has to consider when effectively he or she certifies the prosecution as appropriate.

    Whatever the process, someone, with the appropriate skills, has to look at the threshold question as to whether there is enough to start with.

  7. Geoffrey Watson doesn’t think there are any legal impediments to an Inquiry.

    So, as I said last night, let the Inquiry go ahead and let the cards fall where they may because only then will we get a more complete picture and that will be the time to pass judgement on fitness or otherwise to hold office based upon the evidence presented and the determination of the judge in charge.

  8. Georgie Dent, Editor of Women’s Agenda:

    It came to me last night as I attempted to find my way into slumber. I tossed, I turned, I despaired.

    The last few weeks have been intense even for a statistically “lucky woman” like me: a women who hasn’t experienced sexual assault or sexual violence. Harassment and sexism, of course, but never assault or violence. I hate that that makes me lucky. But it does. I hate to imagine the distress and grief and anguish and anger and fury and fear that women less lucky – through no fault of their own – have endured these past few weeks.

    To describe the craven allegations of sexual assault related to Parliament House that have dominated Australian politics as deeply disturbing is woefully inadequate. The alleged crimes have ruined lives. It is utterly shattering to contemplate the anguish experienced by the victims – and their loved ones. And it is utterly enraging to consider the callousness with which they have been treated by the Prime Minister.

    The shameful absence of an adequate response from the Prime Minister and his government has led to the eruption of white hot rage among women – and many men – that can only be described as volcanic. That in the face of allegations so shocking and serious that they could readily undermine a government, the current Prime Minister does not consider himself to have any questions to answer? Breathtaking.

    Since February 15th Scott Morrison has done what Scott Morrison does best. He ducks. He smirks. He disregards. He obfuscates. He minimises.

    https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/prime-minister-morrison-youre-on-notice-the-women-of-australia-have-had-enough/

  9. shellbell

    You seem to be stuck in lawyer mode.

    Inquiries – particularly workplace inquiries – happen all the time.

    There are other methods of testing claims than adversarial court cases.

    Of course, Porter could take advantage of the court system and sue, which seems to me to be the only path left for him if he wants to remove doubts about his innocence.

  10. Yes C@t that goes without saying, went out for a curry last night with a group of my ol school mates from 30 years ago , discussion re what has occurred re recent alleged sexual assaults was raised by one of them. To say that I disagreed with his point that Porter is the victim and has been persecuted by the media would put it mildly. It was not only the curry that was heated I admit I was as well.

    I strongly believe that it is men like I (ie very middle class, white and educated) are those that need to listen and listen to women. These are also discussions I have with my 13 year old son.

    I have not seen this from any of our current government ‘leaders’ , have not seen leadership at all that includes accountability and actions.

    Change is needed .

  11. …there is a 30 page document. Testing the various claims it makes would be the basis of the inquiry.

    I’ve heard some prominent (women) lawyers (and Pru Goward) over the last few days saying that there’s no problems with holding one.

  12. “Reminds me of when Mirabella lost her seat.

    She was Shadow Industry Minister.

    For months, the msm reported, straight faced, that the Liberal government didn’t have an industry policy because Mirabella had lost her seat.”

    You need to remember that Mirabella’s loss would have come as a shock to the Liberals though. She held her seat on a very large margin and had easily seen off challenges from Labor Party candidates in previous elections before the independent Cathy McGowan turned up and got the job done.

    The Liberals probably became complacent in Indi due to how little progress Labor had made in the seat up until that point. In 1996, the Labor primary vote in Indi was 28.03%. 14 years later in 2010, the same Labor candidate that stood in 1996 faced Sophie Mirabella and received just 27.20%. Considering that, you can see how someone with Mirabella’s poor attitude would fall into the trap of taking the seat for granted. As they say, you can only play against the opposition that’s put up against you – the first time she faced a serious challenger she was exposed badly and lost, becoming the only Liberal in 2013 to lose her seat and thus missing out on joining the Abbott Government.

  13. Barney in Tanjung Bunga @ #2253 Saturday, March 6th, 2021 – 10:37 am

    Lynchpin @ #2250 Saturday, March 6th, 2021 – 7:32 am

    Tingle gets to the nub of it:
    “This overlooks the obvious problem in this particular case: that the woman at the centre of the case died last year, apparently by suicide, without making a formal complaint — which meant any suggestion in the Prime Minister’s calls to leave the matter with police, that this could put an end to it, was disingenuous at best.”

    I think Morrison was hoping it would take the police longer to make a decision.

    Just a comment on your latest location. As a kid I lived in Tanjung Tokong, just up the road from you. Number 3 Jalan Meranti to be precise.

  14. Lynchpin writes:

    Bushfire Bill, there needs to be an enquiry as to Porter’s fitness for office. It’s got nothing to do with criminal law or presumption of innocence.

    Or are you saying that the only standard to which a Minister of the Crown should be put, and the only time that he should be turfed out, is when he is convicted of a criminal offence?

    If that’s your argument, I think you are barking up the wrong tree.

    No, it’s not my position.

    Putting the rape case aside for a moment, if there are credible complaints against Porter that can be investigated by interviewing and testing evidence from both sides of the equation, then by all means that should happen. At the moment there are murmers, rumours, but no complainants claiming sexual harassment, breach of the Bonk Ban, or other workplace offences. Let them come forward.

    Now, back to the rape case.

    Rape is a very serious criminal matter, one of the most serious. I’m arguing against anything short of a proper criminal investigation, followed by a trial if appropriate. You can’t ethically find that someone “probably” committed a serious crime and leave it at that. You have to follow through, which would mean a referral to the police anyway.

    The catch is that the police have already given up on an investigation, because the primary witness of fact (who is also the victim) is unavailable for the kind of questioning necessary to support a rape prosecution, and for cross-examination at any trial.

    Pointedly, she is unavailable, reportedly at her own choice, in that she is said to have committed suicide. Although some have guessed why she might do so, no-one knows for sure, no matter how much they claim to be experts in such matters. Unless it is argued she had no choice but to kill herself (does anyone argue this?), then her removal of the main foundation of her own case was voluntary.

    A criminal investigation into rape needs to establish factually that the act occurred, but also needs to establish factually that consent was not given. The woman had a chance to give a sworn statement to police to this effect, but voluntarily gave that up. There is no statutory declaration, no affidavit in place of a signed record of interview, despite the fact that she was consulting lawyers on the matter.

    In any case, Porter disputes both elements of the allegation. It’s not good enough to just say he has form. What form? Has anyone else accused him of rape? Being a slimebag, maybe, but rape?

    If any civil inquiry was to find such evidence, where the police have so far been unsuccessful, then ethically that civil inquiry would have to cease its enquiries and report the matter to proper authorities, ie. the police. This is basic stuff, based on the principles of Natural Justice, and the idea that civil inquiries shouldn’t be used as short cuts to get around criminal inquiries.

    In summary, if any complainants come forward regarding Porter, then investigate these by interviewing both the complainant and respondent, under oath. If it is apparent that serious criminal matters are involved, stop the inquiry immediately and inform the police.

    If it stops short of a criminal matter, for example sleazy behaviour short of criminal behaviour, or a breach of the Ministerial Code, or workplace bullying, then so find, put it in the report, and recommend Porter be sacked. If he is the arsehole people seem to think he is there should be no shortage of witnesses prepared to so swear.

    But the serious crime element should always be left to the appropriate authorities.

  15. Paul Barratt
    @phbarratt
    ·
    1h
    How did we get ourselves into a situation where it seems the prime qualification for running the country is success at university debating whilst a teenager FFS?

  16. zoomster @ #2264 Saturday, March 6th, 2021 – 11:07 am

    …there is a 30 page document. Testing the various claims it makes would be the basis of the inquiry.

    I’ve heard some prominent (women) lawyers (and Pru Goward) over the last few days saying that there’s no problems with holding one.

    What do you mean that there is no problem with holding an inquiry. That statement is incorrect. An inquiry might find evidence against Porter and we can’t have that can we now?

  17. I have politely stood and listened while a angry women reads this.

    These experiences can be trivial and transient – the normal irritations of getting on in a society that congratulates itself for being equal, but really isn’t.

    But some women have endured searing experiences of being silenced – experiences that rupture their lives.

    Every woman I know who has been sexually assaulted, and every woman I know who has loved another woman who has been sexually assaulted and tried to help them recover from that cruel violation, had one life before that incident, and another life after it.

    In the life before, they suspected they might be vulnerable. In the life after, they knew they were vulnerable. These experiences are much more common than many people think.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/mar/06/canberras-pale-stale-and-male-tribe-is-missing-the-moment-as-it-did-with-julia-gillards-misogyny-speech

  18. The complete Morrison LNP fiasco may only be resolved by a sheltered electorate, very reluctant in the best of times to engage in politics.
    The electorate will only tolerate the “lolly scramble” of “sweets” just before elections, totally ignore the insider analysis and occasionally have a laugh at the scare campaigns.
    The scare campaigns appeal to the Australian love of the ridiculous. Hence Morrison’s popularity.
    The next platter of assorted polling will in all likelihood set the tone for the next whenever election.
    If the polling cannot pick up a need to censure the obviously dishonest, secretive, disingenuous, dupliticious and self-interest only Morrison government then the lucky country is prepared to stake their future on the vagaries of good fortune in a world hardly remaining constant from day to day.
    Politics in Australia are despised and are the workplace of the “conniverous”.

  19. How did we get ourselves into a situation where it seems the prime qualification for running the country is success at university debating whilst a teenager FFS?

    Of course it is . The ability to argue passionately and convincingly for something you may know is utter bullshit is an invaluable skill for pollies.

  20. I can’t imagine how Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, believes that the newest investigation/report will make any changes, when the last one didn’t. A bit naïve. I assume the “how” is because she’s pleased to keep the job.

  21. Warrigal

    Zoomster: agreed. The Crikey report reads like a poor summary.

    Disclosure: I have some professional knowledge of mental health and this is not good reportage from that perspective.

    KayJay: My opinion is that the subject lady may have read a book. Changes nothing.

    As ever you are on the money.

    Agree 100%.

    I do not know if the Crikey article is just poor reporting, or if it is reporting disinformation that someone is trying to get in the media. Either way the Crikey article is confabulating two very different things:

    Repressed memory – associated with PTSD. The basic events are remembered, but detail comes as pretty awful flashbacks. Common in military PTSD as well as in domestic violence scenarios, among other things

    Recovered memory – someone goes to see a therapist about depression / anxiety, and the therapist is convinced that they are completely repressing some horrific event. Commonly associated with UFO abductions, and rightly thoroughly discredited.

    The effect of the Crikey article, whether intended or not, is to link V1 (thanks Mavis for the shorthand) to the Recovered memory scandals, providing an explanation for why the woman was so sure about what happened, as well as explaining why Porter is obviously innocent of any wrongdoing.

    David Crowe’s piece in the SMH, linked by BK (and thanks as ever for the Dawn Patrol) is a far mire balanced take on the same story:


    The woman who accused Attorney-General Christian Porter of rape drew on counselling that she said helped to “resurface” a trauma that she said she had known about for years.
    ……..
    But her account makes clear her belief that she “always” remembered the alleged rape and that the help she sought later added to her understanding.
    …..
    “I have always remembered these things,” she wrote of her allegation that Mr Porter raped her at a college at the University of Sydney.

    “I had a better understanding of these memories, and only really understood them, once my Sydney based psychologist (who specialises in counselling sexual assault survivors) referred me to The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma in September 2019.

    “I had not previously heard of it, nor had I read it.”
    ……..
    The woman also wrote that her account was based on “near contemporaneous” notes of the rape based on information from 1989, 1991 and 1992.

    Her written account includes several appendices with what she describes as details from the time of the alleged rape.

    https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/woman-drew-on-counselling-before-recounting-alleged-rape-20210305-p578at.html

  22. But the serious crime element should always be left to the appropriate authorities.

    Except the crime is rampant. The existing framework of the law, the police, prosecution and the court is not dealing with this significant societal problem. It is unacceptable for this crisis to continue – the current systems are clearly not capable of or interested in solving it.
    I share the concern some here have put about an inquiry into Porter. I worry an inquiry into him alone could miss the broader goal; misconstrued as a political witch hunt, or even a scapegoat. However, Porter is emblematic in the sense that it is entirely possible – probable – that rapists who have not been held to account for their crime will hold and are holding positions of great importance and power in the nation.

    EDIT – that is poorly worded. I do not suggest that Porter is guilty.

  23. The previous Jenkins report was more likely to be generic across all workplace sex discrimination and harassment issues.

    The new one is focused, should be laser focused, on the parliament power imbalances – especially the MoPS Act. Staffers in particular have no ‘normal’ workplace rights. Anyone who has worked there knows you serve at the pleasure of the member or senator – with overlays of the Whip and leader’s offices, and the Party. You can be sacked, moved, promoted at any time for any or no reason – you can even be fast tracked for a seat in the chamber itself.

  24. I’m with Shellbell. I’m struggling to see how a civil inquiry into a criminal matter can possibly be appropriate. In all the workplaces I’ve worked in, including those where I’ve had managerial responsibility for dealing with cases of bad employee behaviour, accusations of major criminal acts aren’t investigated administratively but are turned over to the cops. Doubly so for those relate to events from long before the accused came to work for the organisation.

    But the cops have said there’s nothing in it for them. So the only viable option I can see is a Royal Commission into the case. Or perhaps into all possible cases of sexual harassment/assault involving current MPs and their staffers. Or even into cases involving former MPs. Or even those involving senior public servants. Where does it stop? And can all and every possible accusation be accepted?

    Seriously, would anyone really want this? I know that Abbott set a precedent with his ridiculous inquiries into pink batts and (in effect) JG’s past.

    But two wrongs don’t make a right.

  25. BTW, if anyone believes any inquiry, commission or whatever could somehow be limited to the Porter case, they’re having themselves on.
    The thing is likely quickly to spiral out of control.

  26. poroti @ #2282 Saturday, March 6th, 2021 – 11:37 am

    Simon Katich
    But are those “appropriate authorities” actually (still) appropriate ?

    If they are failing society then no. They may be found to be part of the solution. The tinkering over the last 10 years has helped, but not enough. Perhaps a different branch of the police and prosecution dealing with allegations against senior political and government figures and figures of high public profile. It certainly seemed that the police in this case were kinda hoping it would go away and perhaps using the wellbeing of the victim as an excuse to keep it on hold. You would have though the public interest test for such a senior government official would have demanded a speedier and more thorough effort.

  27. poroti:

    Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 10:43 am

    [‘And why the SMH picked today to publish a puff piece on the Fletcher ‘lovebirds’?’]

    I’m very happy for them. I think Fletcher may have been testing the waters when going the full-monty on Buttrose, obliquely warning her not to go further with perhaps the allegation against Porter, all of them friends from way back. The plot doth thicken, the frat-club of the ’80s now in positions of power, all sworn to protect each other’s interests, on pain of being sent to Coventry.

  28. One final point. Some on here and elsewhere seem to be arguing that the assault on Porter’s reputation is somehow justified by the despair of all the victims in the past who weren’t listened to/were too scared to come forward/etc.

    I find this argument extremely disturbing: pointing towards the world of the show trial. Porter has to account for his own possible guilt, not that of anyone else. And, as he said himself, what if he’s innocent?

  29. Simon Katich.

    You are posting some wild stuff today.

    I suggest you consider removing your slur that the NSW police didn’t act because they were hoping the case would go away.

  30. This is how it should have gone: The prime minister is alerted to Brittany Higgins’ alleged rape, and right away makes a statement about how he’s distraught over what she went through. He says he’ll make sure this never happens again and will do everything in his power to see she has access to the resources needed for justice to be served. Then a few days later, when allegations of a historical rape made against a cabinet minister come to light, the prime minister steps up and says he’s doing everything in his power to find out what’s alleged to have happened. The accused parliamentarian has been asked to step down until the police decide about an investigation. The prime minister demands an overhaul of the toxic culture of Canberra. “He’s clearly sincere in his efforts to shirtfront toxic misogyny and rape culture,” the public thinks, and we applaud him for his empathy and concern.

    https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion/diary/2021/03/06/gadfly-bursting-the-canberra-bubble/161494920011200

  31. Vic hotel inquiry failed to uncover what happened just a couple of months beforehand.
    How the hell would the Porter inquiry uncover what happened 33 years ago.

  32. lizzie: no. I was suggesting that accusations might emerge against all manner of politicians and other important people, past and present, and there will be pressure for the inquiry to look into them. And, while all that is happening, inncoment people’s reputations might be publicly destroyed.

    Something like this happened quite recently in the UK.

  33. meher baba

    If he is innocent than a independent inquiry would likely bring the whole charade down.

    The weirdness in all this is an independent inquiry can’t make it worse for him. As things stand his political career is finished, if he is innocent it could make it a lot better for him.

    Which of cause then raises the question, why the opposition?

  34. meher baba,

    The very same argument was made regarding the establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

  35. An example of the ingrained sexism in the system. This will take more than a generation to change, just like the acceptance of women being able to own property without a male signature.

    @MadamEarth
    12h
    Just remembered. When Ms 11 was in hospital recently for her knee op, when it came to discharging, the nurse was going through paperwork with me and when it came to signing, she asked me when the father would be in to co-sign and verify all my answers.

  36. meher baba:

    Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    [‘Simon Katich.

    You are posting some wild stuff today.

    I suggest you consider removing your slur that the NSW police didn’t act because they were hoping the case would go away.’]

    Please explain why the NSW Police failed to conduct an electronic record of interview with V1 via available technology? Or why they didn’t apply to travel to Adelaide to interview her despite C.19 restrictions.

  37. I’m not really feeling the, once we turn over a few rocks we might find a lot of spiders, argument compelling.

    The only viable option I can see is a Royal Commission into the case. Or perhaps into all possible cases of sexual harassment/assault involving current MPs and their staffers. Or even into cases involving former MPs. Or even those involving senior public servants. Where does it stop? And can all and every possible accusation be accepted?

    I mean, I would have thought it would be a good thing to uncover all?

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