Tries Lies: More Carbon Porkies to Come

Jun 27, 2012

First published on The Drum 26 June 2012

The ‘lie’ at the heart of Labor’s carbon tax has assumed legendary status. Never mind that the realities of the supposed falsehood are highly contestable – Labor’s carbon pricing scheme is arguably not a tax at all – “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead” has become the iconic political lie of our times.

Its ruthlessly successful exploitation by the Abbott Opposition has spawned a political craze in exposing opponents’ lies, in the hope of replicating this highly successful case study in trust-related brand damage.

But what about the Opposition’s penchant for stretching the truth on impacts of the carbon tax?

George Brandis’s assertion the carbon tax was responsible for 1900 job cuts at Fairfax was a cracker, but only a natural extension of years of dubious claims the carbon tax would wipe towns off the map, spark mass shut-downs of industry and send families to the wall under crippling power prices.

With not much else to look forward to, Labor hopes the sun rising on July 1 – towns and families intact – will expose the Opposition’s spurious rhetoric about the carbon tax. Who is calling us liars now, you liars?

The collapse in trust in politics as we’ve reported on before, is a defining feature of our current political culture, driven largely by the kind of negative politics that have characterised the carbon debate.

In this environment, Labor has been unable to win back support for its carbon pricing scheme, with support levels on the eve of its introduction at the same low level they were towards the start of last year.

Q. Do you support or oppose the Government’s carbon pricing scheme which, from July 2012, will require industries to pay a tax based on the amount of carbon pollution they emit?

 

7 Mar 2011

23 May

1 Aug

21 Nov

Total

25 Jun 2012

Vote Labor

Vote Lib/Nat

Vote Greens

Total support

35%

41%

39%

38%

35%

67%

13%

74%

Total oppose

48%

44%

51%

53%

54%

21%

81%

21%

Strongly support

9%

14%

15%

14%

14%

28%

4%

38%

Support

26%

27%

24%

24%

21%

39%

9%

36%

Oppose

19%

15%

19%

17%

19%

12%

24%

13%

Strongly oppose

29%

29%

32%

36%

35%

9%

57%

8%

Don’t know

18%

15%

10%

10%

11%

12%

7%

6%

 

If there’s a positive for Labor there, it’s that it has been able to win the support of its base on this issue, with two-thirds of Labor voters (admittedly a small pool – link to table) supporting the policy.

But despite Labor’s focus on selling the compensation elements of the carbon pricing reform, the public has bought the cost-of-living scare, with 71% believing their cost of living will increase moderately or a lot. A further 20% thought there would be a small increase and just 2% thought there would be no impact. Power, petrol, groceries and fruit and veg – people are expecting the introduction of the carbon tax to be a disaster for their hip pockets.

Q. And what impact do you expect the carbon tax to have on each of the following?

 

 

Increase a lot

Increase a little

Stay much the same

Decrease a little

Decrease a lot

Don’t know

Energy prices

67%

26%

4%

*

-

3%

Fuel prices

53%

31%

11%

1%

*

4%

Grocery prices

41%

41%

14%

1%

-

4%

Fresh fruit and vegetable prices

39%

39%

18%

*

*

4%

Unemployment

31%

27%

32%

2%

1%

8%

Interest rates

22%

18%

38%

8%

1%

13%

And herein lies the risk for Tony Abbott.

With the happy bonus that most of us aren’t really too sure what the carbon tax actually is, we can expect plenty more Brandis-style water-muddying as the carbon tax is blamed for job losses, power price rises, divorces and bad haircuts caused by completely unrelated factors.

But what if the Opposition can’t deliver carbon tax Armageddon? What if people accept that any moderate increases in prices have been offset by the one-off ‘cashforyou’ payments and associated support packages? Or, and this may be stretching it, what if the media starts questioning come of the tenuous links between price rises and carbon that the Opposition attempts to exploit?

If the world doesn’t end on Sunday, will people shift their opinion of the Carbon Tax or, worse still for Abbott, start to wonder whether they have been played for fools? Already the rhetoric is shifting from ‘death strike’ to ‘python’s grip’ but is this sustainable as a basis for the daily high-vis vest photo opp that has become the Oppostion’s modus operandi.

Another potential porky lies in the Opposition Leader’s promise to repeal the carbon tax.Abbott has pledged ‘in blood’ there would be no carbon tax under the government he leads.

Currently, we’re fairly evenly split on whether a pledge in blood is actually a core promise, with a slight majority believing he’ll go through with it.

Q. If they won the next election, how likely do you think it would be that Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party would repeal the carbon tax?

 

Total

Vote Labor

Vote Lib/Nat

Vote Greens

Total likely

44%

28%

64%

42%

Total unlikely

40%

62%

22%

41%

Don’t know

17%

11%

14%

17%

 

But what if he can’t get the numbers through the Senate? What if he is forced to negotiate and, God forbid compromise, with those holding the balance of power? Will this be a case of a politician dealing with the hand they are dealt or just another example that all politicians lie?

While it’s easy to dismiss the dealing in truth and lies as business as usual politics, but in turning it into a Weapon of Mass Destruction it will be interesting to see if the Opposition leader has not set set his own future government onto a path of Mutually Assured Destruction.

 

 

Federal politics – voting intention

May 14, 2012

Q. If a Federal Election was held today to which party will you probably give your first preference vote? If not sure, which party are you currently leaning toward?

Q. If don’t know -Well which party are you currently leaning to?

Sample size = 1,904 respondents

First preference/leaning to

Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago

16/4/12

2 weeks ago

30/4/12

Last week

7/5/12

This week

14/5/12

Liberal

45%

46%

47%

47%

National

3%

3%

3%

3%

Total Lib/Nat

43.6%

48%

50%

50%

50%

Labor

38.0%

31%

31%

29%

30%

Greens

11.8%

11%

11%

11%

11%

Other/Independent

6.6%

9%

9%

9%

9%

 

2PP

Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago

2 weeks ago

Last week

This week

Total Lib/Nat

49.9%

56%

57%

58%

57%

Labor

50.1%

44%

43%

42%

43%

NB.  The data in the above tables comprise 2-week averages derived from the first preference/leaning to voting questions.  Respondents who select ‘don’t know’ are not included in the results.  The two-party preferred estimate is calculated by distributing the votes of the other parties according to their preferences at the 2010 election. These estimates have a confidence interval of approx. + or – 2%.

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Approval of Julia Gillard

May 14, 2012

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Julia Gillard is doing as Prime Minister?

 

19 Jul 2010

20 Dec 2010

14 Mar

2011

14 June

12 Sept

12 Dec

16 Jan 2012

13 Feb

12 Mar

16 Apr

14 May

Total approve

52%

43%

41%

34%

28%

34%

37%

36%

32%

32%

31%

Total disapprove

30%

40%

46%

54%

64%

54%

52%

53%

61%

58%

60%

Strongly approve

11%

10%

7%

6%

5%

6%

6%

6%

8%

7%

5%

Approve

41%

33%

34%

28%

23%

28%

31%

30%

24%

25%

26%

Disapprove

17%

24%

22%

29%

28%

25%

27%

26%

29%

31%

26%

Strongly disapprove

13%

16%

24%

25%

36%

29%

25%

27%

32%

27%

34%

Don’t know

18%

17%

13%

13%

8%

11%

12%

11%

7%

10%

10%

Julia Gillard’s approval rating has changed little since last month. 31% (down 1%) approve of the job Julia Gillard is doing as Prime Minister and 60% (up 2%) disapprove – a change in net rating from -26 to -29 over the last 4 weeks.

69% of Labor voters approve (up 2%) and 24% disapprove (up 3%).

By gender – men 31% approve/61% disapprove, women 30% approve/58% disapprove.

Comments »

Approval of Tony Abbott

May 14, 2012

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Tony Abbott is doing as Opposition Leader?

 

18 Jan

2010

5 Jul

2010

20 Dec 2010

14 Mar

2011

14 June

12 Sept

12 Dec

16 Jan 2012

13 Feb

12 Mar

16 Apr

14 May

Total approve

37%

37%

39%

38%

38%

39%

32%

35%

35%

36%

38%

36%

Total disapprove

37%

47%

39%

47%

48%

50%

53%

51%

53%

52%

50%

53%

Strongly approve

5%

8%

9%

7%

6%

8%

6%

7%

6%

7%

7%

7%

Approve

32%

29%

30%

31%

32%

31%

26%

28%

29%

29%

31%

29%

Disapprove

20%

23%

21%

24%

25%

23%

25%

25%

23%

23%

23%

24%

Strongly disapprove

17%

24%

18%

23%

23%

27%

28%

26%

30%

29%

27%

29%

Don’t know

26%

16%

22%

16%

15%

11%

14%

13%

12%

12%

13%

11%

Tony Abbott’s approval rating has declined a little over the last month. 36% (down 2%) approve of the job Tony Abbott is doing as Opposition Leader and 53% (up 3%) disapprove – a change in net rating from -12 to -17 over the last 4 weeks.

71% (down 1%) of Coalition voters approve and 19% (up 2%) disapprove.

By gender – men 38% approve/53% disapprove, women 33% approve/53% disapprove.

Comments »

Better Prime Minister

May 14, 2012

Q. Who do you think would make the better Prime Minister out of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott?

 

5 Jul 2010

14 Mar 2011

14 June

12 Sept

12 Dec

16 Jan 2012

13 Feb

12 Mar

16 Apr

14 May

Vote Labor

Vote Lib/Nat

Vote Greens

Julia Gillard

53%

44%

41%

36%

39%

39%

41%

40%

38%

38%

83%

4%

69%

Tony Abbott

26%

33%

36%

40%

35%

36%

34%

37%

36%

37%

3%

79%

5%

Don’t know

21%

23%

24%

24%

26%

25%

25%

23%

25%

24%

15%

17%

27%

38% (no change) believe Julia Gillard would make the better Prime Minister and 37% (up 1%) prefer Tony Abbott – a net change from +2% to +1% for Julia Gillard.

Men prefer Tony Abbott 39%/37% and women prefer Julia Gillard 39%/36%.

Comments »

Interest in Federal Budget

May 14, 2012

Q. Thinking about the Federal Budget – how much attention did you pay to this week’s Federal Budget?

 

2009

2010

2011

2012

Total a lot/some

66%

53%

52%

54%

Total a little/none

31%

44%

45%

43%

A lot

29%

18%

19%

20%

Some

37%

35%

33%

34%

A little

25%

29%

31%

31%

None

6%

15%

14%

12%

Can’t say

3%

3%

2%

3%

Just over half (54%) of respondents said they paid a lot or some attention to the Federal Budget. This is much the same as the corresponding figure of 52% for last year’s budget.

Those most interested were Liberal/National voters (61%), Labor voters (59%) and people aged 55+ (64%). Only 42% of respondents aged 18-34 paid a lot or some attention to the budget.

Comments »

Impact of Budget

May 14, 2012

Q. Do you think the Federal Budget was good or bad for you personally?

Q. Do you think the Federal Budget was good or bad for average working people?

Q. Do you think the Federal Budget was good or bad for Australian businesses?

Q. Do you think the Federal Budget was good or bad for the Australian economy overall?

 

You personally

Working people

Australian businesses

Economy overall

 

2010

2011

2012

2012

2010

2011

2012

2010

2011

2012

Total good

22%

11%

17%

31%

27%

20%

10%

36%

27%

26%

Total bad

26%

29%

26%

24%

32%

25%

43%

28%

29%

32%

Very good

3%

2%

2%

4%

3%

3%

1%

6%

4%

4%

Good

19%

9%

15%

27%

24%

17%

9%

30%

23%

22%

Neither good nor bad

33%

44%

44%

33%

9%

31%

29%

10%

25%

25%

Bad

18%

21%

17%

19%

22%

19%

28%

18%

21%

21%

Very bad

8%

8%

9%

5%

10%

6%

15%

10%

8%

11%

Don’t know

20%

16%

12%

12%

31%

23%

18%

26%

20%

17%

In terms of the economy overall there was a similar response to the 2012 budget compared to last year’s. 26% (down 1%) thought the economy was good for the economy and 32% (up 3%) thought it was bad.

44% of respondents thought the Federal budget was neither good nor bad for them personally – 17% (up 6%) said it was good and 26% (down 3%) bad. 28% of respondents aged 35-44 thought it was good for them while 38% of those aged 55+ thought it was bad.

31% thought it was good for working people and 24% thought it was bad. 35% of part-time workers thought it was good for working people.

43% (up 18%) thought the budget was bad for business, 10% (down 10%) good and 29% said it was neither.

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Approval of Budget Items

May 14, 2012

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the following parts of the Federal budget?

 

Total approve

Total disapprove

Strongly approve

Approve

Disapprove

Strongly disapprove

Don’t know

Reduced spending on defence

48%

43%

14%

34%

28%

15%

10%

Increased spending on dental health

87%

8%

30%

57%

7%

1%

6%

Bonus payments to low-income families with children at school

60%

33%

16%

44%

20%

13%

7%

Returning the budget to surplus

61%

26%

15%

46%

19%

7%

14%

Tightening eligibility for parenting payments for single mothers

65%

25%

26%

39%

17%

8%

10%

Increasing tax on super contributions for people on high incomes

60%

31%

28%

32%

20%

11%

9%

Respondents were divided on reduced defence spending – 48% approved and 43% disapproved. Support for reduced defence spending was highest among those aged 18-34 (57%).

On all other items measured there was quite strong approval – in particular on increased spending on dental health (87%). Other items received at least 60% support – including 61% approval of returning the budget to surplus. 71% of Labor voters and 58% of Liberal/National voters approved the return to surplus.

Increasing tax on super contributions for people on high incomes was approved by 52% of those on incomes of $1,600+ pw and disapproved by 40%.

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