Australia’s Best Prime Minister

Jan 30, 2012

Q. Choosing from the following list, who do you think has been Australia’s best Prime Minister?

Term of office Total

19 Jan 2009

Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens Aged 18-34 Aged 35-54 Aged 55+
John Curtin 7 Oct 1941 – 5 Jul 1945 4% 2% 4% 1% 3% 1% 2% 3%
Ben Chifley 13 Jul 1945 – 19 Dec 1949 2% 1% 2% 1% 1% 1% 1% 3%
Robert Menzies 19 Dec 1949 – 26 Jan 1966 11% 11% 4% 18% 4% 4% 8% 21%
Harold Holt 26 Jan 1966 – 19 Dec 1967 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1%
John Gorton 10 Jan 1968 – 10 Mar1971 1%
William McMahon 10 Mar 1971 – 5 Dec 1972 1%
Gough Whitlam 5 Dec 1972 – 11 Nov 1975 9% 9% 15% 1% 18% 8% 9% 10%
Malcolm Fraser 11 Nov 1975 – 11 Mar 1983 3% 3% 1% 3% 6% 3% 6%
Bob Hawke 11 Mar 1983 – 20 Dec 1991 12% 15% 23% 5% 22% 12% 21% 10%
Paul Keating 20 Dec 1991 – 11 Mar 1996 8% 6% 12% 2% 10% 7% 6% 4%
John Howard 11 Mar 1996 – 3 Dec 2007 28% 33% 8% 61% 5% 33% 31% 35%
Kevin Rudd 3 Dec 2007 – 24 Jun 2010 20% 15% 21% 6% 27% 25% 15% 6%
Julia Gillard 24 Jun 2010 – present na 3% 8% 4% 6% 2% 2%

Note: Percentages based on those who gave an answer.

33% thought that John Howard has been Australia’s best Prime Minister, 15% chose Kevin Rudd and 15% Bob Hawke.

Among Liberal/National voters, 61% chose John Howard and 18% Robert Menzies. With 23%, Bob Hawke received the highest rating from Labor voters, just ahead of Kevin Rudd on 21% with Gough Whitlam on 15%. Greens voters favoured Kevin Rudd (27%) and Bob Hawke (22%).

While John Howard received similar scores across age groups, the 18-34 group were more likely to favour Kevin Rudd (25%), the 35-54’s Bob Hawke (21%) and the 55+ group Robert Menzies (21%). Compared to the results when this question was asked 3 years ago (when Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister), John Howard (+5%) and Bob Hawke (+3%) have improved their ratings while Kevin Rudd’s has dropped 5%.

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Next Election

Jan 30, 2012

Q. Do you think the Labor Government should run its full term until 2013 when the next Federal election is due or should a new election be held now?

5 Sept 11 5 Dec 11 Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
Should run to 2013 40% 47% 48% 80% 19% 82%
Should hold election now 48% 41% 41% 12% 73% 11%
Don’t know 12% 12% 10% 8% 8% 7%

48% think that the Labor Government should be allowed to run its full term through to 2013 and 41% think a new election should be held. This is very similar to the results of this question when last asked in early December. Views closely follow voting voting intentions.

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Most Important Roles of Government

Jan 23, 2012

Q. From the following list, what do you think are the three most important roles of the Federal Government? (Number from 1 to 3 where 1 is the most important, 2 the second most important, etc)

Most important Second Third Total
Delivering basic services like health and education 18% 27% 20% 65%
Managing the economy in uncertain economic times 20% 15% 14% 49%
Making the big decisions for the nations future 20% 12% 12% 44%
Ensuring that all Australians benefit from Australia’s wealth 13% 10% 11% 34%
Supporting Australian industries to provide jobs 8% 12% 12% 32%
Reducing government spending so money can be returned back to taxpayers 9% 8% 8% 25%
Investing in infrastructure including road rail and broadband 3% 7% 10% 20%
Providing support to the most disadvantaged 4% 4% 8% 16%
Don’t know 5% 5% 5% 5%

Respondents considered that the most important roles of the Federal Government were delivering basic services like health and hospitals (65%), managing the economy in uncertain economic times (49%) and making the big decisions for the nations future (44%).

The least important roles were providing support for the most disadvantaged (16%), investing in infrastructure including road rail and broadband (20%) and reducing government spending so money can be returned to taxpayers (25%).

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Important election issues

Dec 5, 2011

Q. Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election?

First Second Third Total 6 June 11 24 Jan 11 11 Oct 10 25 Jan 10
Management of the economy 39% 16% 7% 62% 61% 65% 62% 63%
Ensuring a quality education for all children 4% 8% 10% 22% 26% 26% 32% 23%
Ensuring the quality of Australia’s health system 12% 18% 17% 47% 49% 49% 48% 48%
Protecting the environment 4% 5% 4% 13% 15% 13% 12% 16%
A fair industrial relations system 3% 4% 4% 11% 8% 10% 11% *
Political leadership 7% 6% 5% 18% 17% 16% 16% 23%
Addressing climate change 3% 4% 3% 10% 15% 10% 11% 16%
Controlling interest rates 2% 4% 5% 11% 13% 21% 17% 15%
Australian jobs and protection of local industries 11% 12% 13% 36% 32% 30% 30% 33%
Ensuring a quality water supply * 2% 2% 4% 5% 6% 6% 12%
Housing affordability 3% 4% 6% 13% 16% 16% 17% 14%
Ensuring a fair taxation system 3% 5% 8% 16% 17% 18% 16% 14%
Security and the war on terrorism 1% 1% 2% 4% 8% 5% 6% 9%
Treatment of asylum seekers 2% 3% 3% 8% 5% 5% 5% *
Managing population growth 1% 3% 4% 8% 12% 11% 10% *

*Not asked

62% of people surveyed rated management of the economy as one of their three most important issues, followed by 47% ensuring the quality of Australia’s health system and 36% Australian jobs and protection of local industries.

Since June, there have been only minor changes in these figures – there has been an increase in the importance of Australian jobs and protection of local industries (+4%) and declines in the importance of addressing climate change (-5%), ensuring a quality education for all children (-4%), managing population growth (-4%) and security and the war on terrorism (-4%).

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Return to Surplus

Nov 28, 2011

Q. Do you think it is more important for the Government to return the budget to surplus by 2012/13 as planned – which may mean cutting services and raising taxes – OR should they delay the return to surplus and maintain services and invest in infrastructure?

April 4 Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
Return to surplus by 2012/13, cut services, raise taxes 14% 13% 13% 19% 7%
Delay return to surplus, maintain services, invest in infrastructure 69% 71% 76% 68% 82%
Don’t know 17% 15% 11% 13% 11%

13% support the return to surplus by 2012/13 if it means cutting services and raising taxes and 69% think the Government should delay the return to surplus and maintain services and investment. Opinions are unchanged since this question was asked in April.

No more than 19% of any demographic or voter group supported the return to surplus by 2012/13.

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Measures Government should take to Return to Surplus

Nov 28, 2011

Q. In order to meet their commitment to return to surplus in 2012-13, which measures should the Government take?

April 4 Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
Increase taxes for big corporations 63% 72% 81% 65% 86%
Reduce tax breaks for high income earners 51% 59% 63% 57% 64%
Reduce defence spending 32% 37% 32% 37% 67%
Cut “middle class welfare” such as the Baby Bonus, first home buyers grant and Family Tax Benefit payments 36% 35% 31% 40% 29%
Cut spending on unemployment and disability benefits 21% 21% 15% 28% 13%
It does not need to return to surplus so quickly 38% 58% 65% 56% 61%

The most favoured measures for returning the budget to surplus were increasing taxes for big corporations (72%) and reducing tax breaks for high-income earners (59%).

Labor voters were more likely to support increasing taxes for big corporations (81%).

Liberal/National voters were more likely to support cutting spending on unemployment and welfare benefits (28%), and cutting “middle class welfare” (40%).

Since this question was last asked in April, support has increased for increasing taxes for big corporations (+9%) and reducing tax breaks for high income earners (+8%).

However, the major change since April has been a substantial increase in support for the position that the Government does not need to return to surplus so quickly – up 20% to 58%. This position is supported by 65% of Labor voters and 56% of Liberal/National voters.

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Federal politics – voting intention

Oct 24, 2011

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 = 1,888  respondents

First preference/leaning to Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago 2 weeks ago Last week This week
Liberal 46% 45% 45% 45%
National 3% 3% 3% 3%
Total Lib/Nat 43.6% 49% 48% 48% 48%
Labor 38.0% 32% 33% 33% 32%
Greens 11.8% 12% 10% 11% 11%
Other/Independent 6.6% 8% 9% 8% 8%
2PP Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago 2 weeks ago Last week This week
Total Lib/Nat 49.9% 56% 55% 55% 55%
Labor 50.1% 44% 45% 45% 45%

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.

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Opinion of Government Decisions

Oct 24, 2011

Q. Thinking about some of the major decisions the Federal Government has made over recent years, do you think the following decisions have been good for Australia or bad for Australia?

Total good Total Bad Very good Good Neither good nor bad Bad Very bad Don’t know
Introducing the GST 39% 30% 10% 29% 24% 17% 13% 7%
Privatising Qantas 23% 44% 4% 19% 20% 31% 13% 13%
Privatising Telstra 20% 53% 4% 16% 16% 32% 21% 10%
Privatising the Commonwealth Bank 26% 42% 7% 19% 19% 25% 17% 13%
Floating the dollar 46% 11% 13% 33% 22% 7% 4% 21%
Free trade agreements 41% 21% 11% 30% 21% 13% 8% 18%
Compulsory superannuation 79% 7% 42% 37% 10% 4% 3% 5%
Medibank (now Medicare) 76% 6% 38% 38% 12% 4% 2% 6%

Only the Government decisions to introduce compulsory superannuation (79%) and Medibank (76%) were considered good for Australia by a majority of respondents – although opinions of floating the dollar (46% good/11% bad), free trade agreements (41%/21%) and the GST (39%/30%) were more likely to be positive than negative.

The decisions to privatize three major national enterprises were more likely to be considered bad. Although Labor voters were more negative about privatisations, Liberal/National voters were also more likely to describe them bad for Australia – Qantas 47% bad/34% good, Telstra 49%/29% and Commonwealth Bank 38%/36%.

47% of Labor voters thought the introduction of the GST was bad while 50% of Liberal/National voters thought it was good.

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