That philosopher to the common-folk, Tony Abbott, is this week dealing with his own slings and arrows as he enters the political twilight zone of disapproval from which some never return.
Despite ongoing difficulties within the Labor Government, Abbott is showing no signs of establishing himself as anything more than an attack dog whose fortunes rise when he runs negative on issues that happen to also be currently unpopular with the public.
This leaves him exposed when he has a bad week, such as the past one when he split his front bench by attempting to come up with a way of paying for flood reconstruction by cutting back anti-terrorism programs before nearly jobbing a TV reporter.
As this week’s Essential Report shows the response has been a sharp rise in disapproval to 46 per cent and drop-off in approvals to 37 per cent. To put this into perspective, the ALP moved on Kevin Rudd when his disapproval rating hit 47 per cent, with 41 per cent approval.
Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Tony Abbott is doing as Opposition Leader?
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When the floods have receded, the cyclone has blown, the bushfires have burned out and Sydneysiders can sleep again, one question will remain: what if the hippies are right?
Willingness to convince the public there is a link between extreme weather and climate change will go a long way towards determining whether the Prime Minister can meet her own KPI of securing a price on carbon.
Recent history shows that the public responds to the need for action on climate change when warnings are being reinforced by their own experiences and observations. It is no coincidence that support for action peaked in the middle of the last drought and fell away as weather patterns returned to something close to normal.
Now we have a summer from climate apocalypse central casting – but as this week’s Essential Report shows – climate change is barely on the radar.
The nation opened their hearts to Queensland as floods threatened communities and cities over summer, but now they are being asked to open their wallets it appears to be a very different story.
After more than two decades of being conditioned to expect prosperity without sacrifice, Australians seem in no mood to kick the can when it comes to rebuilding Queensland’s infrastructure.
In the first public polling of attitudes towards the proposed floods levy, Essential Research has found majority opposition to the modest impost proposed by the Prime Minister.
Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the Government introducing a one-off levy on taxpayers to pay for damage caused by the recent floods?
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If our politicians are feeling bloody and bruised after a torrid year of spills and thrills, spare a thought for the one group on the national stage that had a harder time of it in 2010 – the humble pollster.
This was the year when hand wringing about the malign impact of political research became a national sport; if there was a problem with politics, political research was the cause. We were to blame for the uninspiring election campaign; for the dumbing down of political reporting; for robbing the ALP of its soul.
So as a purveyor of the Dark Art I want to end the year with a plea for understanding for the minority group I am part of, stealing the catchcry of the Shooters Lobby in the 1990s to proudly declare ‘polls don’t kill people, people kill people’.
Before doing so, I will readily admit that political research can be put to poor use – running focus groups to get ‘permission’ from the electorate to pursue particular policies is to misunderstand the point of such research.
If the mid-term drubbings and G20 currency fisticuffs with China are not enough, Barack Obama will return home with more bad news: Australians think his nation has lost its mojo.
While Julia Gillard and entourage were all smiles at the official photo call, they politely chose not to disclose they were representing a nation that thinks the USA is in decline.
In fact, 60 per cent of all surveyed in this week’s Essential Report see the American Empire’s influence becoming weaker, with just 20 per cent believing the USA’s influence on the world is on the rise.
The initial Better State site (betterstate.org.au) was built in October 2009 on a drupal platform.
We found that the site was too complex for people to take action, find content and created high barriers for revisitation and engagement.
We had a community of people who were linked to one or two services and were interested in how the umbrella campaign was running, but also wanted specific news and events from their delegates, union leaders and activists. They wanted to know about the service area they were involved with, not necessarily updates from all arms of the campaign.
Although there’s no such thing as a sure bet in Australian politics, a NSW Coalition government in 2011 is about as close as you’re likely to get. (The bookies have Labor at $6.25 to win next year. You won’t find those sort of odds in any 2011 NRL fixture.)
This climate of certainty makes a traditional approach to election time campaigning impossible.
Read Essential's ongoing research on the public response to Covid-19.Download this week's Report