What if the hippies are right?

Feb 8, 2011

First published on The Drum: 08/02/2011

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.

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Federal politics – voting intention

Feb 7, 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 = 1,936

First preference/leaning to Election

21 Aug 10

2 weeks ago Last week This week
Liberal 42% 42% 43%
National 3% 3% 3%
Total Lib/Nat 43.6 45% 45% 46%
Labor 38.0 37% 37% 38%
Greens 11.8 11% 11% 10%
Other/Independent 6.6 7% 7% 7%
2PP Election

21 Aug 10

2 weeks ago Last week This week
Total Lib/Nat 49.9% 51% 51% 51%
Labor 50.1% 49% 49% 49%

NB.  The data in the above tables comprise 2-week averages derived 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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Attributes to describe the Prime Minister

Feb 7, 2011

Q.  Which of the following describe your opinion of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard?

5 Jul 10 4 Oct 10 7 Feb 11 Difference
Intelligent 87% 81% 75% -6%
Hard-working 89% 82% 76% -6%
A capable leader 72% 59% 52% -7%
Arrogant 37% 39% 44% +5%
Out of touch with ordinary people 35% 44% 50% +6%
Understands the problems facing Australia 68% 55% 52% -3%
Visionary 48% 38% 30% -8%
Superficial 51% *
Good in a crisis 61% 46% 46%
Narrow-minded 28% 35% 43% +8%
More honest than most politicians 45% 37% 37%
Trustworthy 49% 42% 40% -2%

Julia Gillard’s key attributes were hard-working (76%) and intelligent (75%).

Major changes since this question was asked in October 2010 were increases of 8% for narrow-minded (to 43%) and 6% for out of touch (to 50%) and decreases for visionary (down 8% to 30%), a capable leader (down 7% to 52%), intelligent (down 6% to 75%) and hard-working (down 6% to 76%).

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Attributes to describe the Opposition Leader

Feb 7, 2011

Q.  Which of the following describe your opinion of the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott?

5 Jul 10 4 Oct 10 7 Feb 11 Change
Intelligent 70% 71% 64% -7%
Hard-working 76% 78% 72% -6%
A capable leader 47% 52% 48% -4%
Arrogant 59% 60% 58% -2%
Out of touch with ordinary people 57% 53% 54% +1%
Understands the problems facing Australia 50% 53% 50% -3%
Visionary 32% 31% 27% -4%
Superficial 45% *
Good in a crisis 40% 42% 41% -1%
Narrow-minded 56% 53% 51% -2%
More honest than most politicians 33% 32% 31% -1%
Trustworthy 33% 35% 34% -1%

Tony Abbott’s key attributes were hard-working (72%), intelligent (64%) and arrogant (58%).

Major changes since this question was asked in October 2010 were decreases for intelligent (down 7% to 64%) and hard-working (down 6% to 72%).

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Comparison of Leader Attributes

Feb 7, 2011
Julia Gillard Tony Abbott Difference
Intelligent 75% 64% +11%
Hard-working 76% 72% +4%
A capable leader 52% 48% +4%
Arrogant 44% 58% -14%
Out of touch with ordinary people 50% 54% -4%
Understands the problems facing Australia 52% 50% +2%
Visionary 30% 27% +3%
Superficial 51% 45% +6%
Good in a crisis 46% 41% +5%
Narrow-minded 43% 51% -8%
More honest than most politicians 37% 31% +6%
Trustworthy 40% 34% +6%

Julia Gillard leads Tony Abbott on all positive attributes and Tony Abbott leads on all negative attributes except for superficial (Gillard 51%/Abbott 45%).

The main differences between the leaders were for arrogant (Gillard 44%/Abbott 58%), intelligent (75%/64%) and narrow-minded (43%/51%).

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Flood Response

Feb 7, 2011

Q. The Federal Government has announced a one-off levy on tax-payers and cuts in spending to fund the damage from the recent floods across Australia. Do you agree or disagree with each of the following actions they have taken?

Total agree Total disagree Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree Don’t know
A levy on taxpayers earning over $50,000 44% 50% 14% 30% 23% 27% 7%
Scrapped cash for clunkers (Grants for owners of old cars to buy new cars) 59% 29% 24% 35% 18% 11% 11%
Scrapped the Green Car innovation fund 43% 39% 16% 27% 25% 14% 17%
Deferred grants for development of carbon capture and storage technology 45% 40% 17% 28% 26% 14% 16%
Deferred or capped grants for solar energy programs 32% 56% 10% 22% 33% 23% 12%
Scrapped Higher Education Capital Development Pool (for building new tertiary education centres) 31% 51% 9% 22% 33% 18% 17%

Respondents were more likely to agree with the Government decisions to scrap cash for clunkers (59% agree/29% disagree), scrap the Green Car innovation fund (43%/39%) and defer grants for development of carbon capture and storage technology (45%/40%).

However, they tended to disagree with the levy on taxpayers earning over $50,000 (50% disagree/44% agree), defer or cap grants for solar energy programs (56%/32%) and scrap Higher Education Capital Development Pool (51%/31%).

70% of Labor voters agreed with the levy and 26% disagreed while Coalition supporters disagreed 69% to 24% agreed. Older respondents were more likely to agree with the levy – 50% of those aged 45+ agreed and 43% disagreed. For those aged under 45, 38% agreed and 53% disagreed.

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Flood Response – Parties

Feb 7, 2011

Q. Who do you think has the best approach to funding the damage from the recent floods across Australia?

Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
Julia Gillard and the Labor Party 36% 79% 4% 55%
Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party 28% 3% 60% 8%
Don’t know 36% 19% 36% 37%

Q. Who would you trust most to manage the program of rebuilding infrastructure after the recent floods across Australia?

Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
Julia Gillard and the Labor Party 36% 78% 3% 63%
Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party 35% 5% 75% 6%
Don’t know 29% 17% 22% 31%

Overall, respondents tend to favour the approach of Julia Gillard in funding the flood damage – 36% prefer the Labor Party approach, 28% the Liberal party and 36% don’t know.

However, in terms of managing the rebuilding of infrastructure, 36% favour Julia Gillard and the Labor Party and 35% favour Tony Abbott and the Liberal party.

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Floods and Climate Change

Feb 7, 2011

Q. Do you think the recent floods across Australia were linked to climate change or were they just a natural occurrence?

Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
Linked to climate change 31% 42% 18% 68%
Just a natural occurrence 59% 49% 76% 28%
Don’t know 10% 9% 6% 4%

31% believed that the recent floods were linked to climate change and 59% think they were just a natural occurrence.

Those most likely to think they were a natural occurrence were aged 55+ (72%) and residents of Queensland (69%). Among those aged 18-34, 43% thought the floods were linked to climate change and 44% thought they were a natural occurrence.

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