Essential Report

The Punch: Gillard dumps focus groups, focus groups will like that

Aug 3, 2010

Originally published on The Punch 3/08/2010

Our Prime Minister has joined the bandwagon complaining that this is a focus group- driven election – but isn¹t this the way of the Wiki? After all, books have been written about how the wisdom of the masses provide a more compelling truth than the voice of authority.

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The Punch: Why the election has got nothing to do with you

Jul 27, 2010

First Published on The Punch 27/07/2010

If you are a political junkie like me, chances are you found Sunday night’s debate a little like watching a nil-nil draw without even the climax of the penalty shoot-out. About the only thing more boring than the debate is the pundits who say the debate was boring.

It’s the curse of Australian elections, if you are engaged in politics and have a defined set of ideological values, then the campaign has very little to do with you.

Put another way, if you are reading The Punch the parties don’t really care what you think. Comments »

The Punch: Even with a strong economy, jobs are a top concern

Jul 20, 2010

First published on The Punch 20/7/2010

With the major parties flexing their muscles on border protection, the Australian public has sent Canberra a message that it is the protection of Australian jobs that is the real security issue for them.

In what looms as the sleeper issue for the 2010 election campaign, a quarter of all voters placed “Australian jobs and the protection of local industries” as key election issue, behind only economic management and health.

As the latest Essential Report shows that economic protectionism towers over headline-grabbing issues like climate change, asylum seekers, housing affordability, industrial laws and population growth as a priority election issue.

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

Essential Report

Essential Report

What is striking about the high rating for protecting Australian industries is that it comes at a time of relatively low unemployment and a period where there has been little or no media attention on Australian jobs being sent offshore.

Instead the issue is emerging from the grass roots, the thousands of Australians in manufacturing industries – and a growing number of workers in white-collar industries like the banking sector – who see their jobs under threat from lower wage economies.

And while our leaders can crow about “turning back the boats”, 25 years of economic deregulation makes it very hard to turn back the corporate people smugglers.

It is an issue where the Liberal Party, with its knee jerk support for big business, pledges to cut government spending and reductions to the size of the public sector is struggling to gain any traction.  While it leads on issues like managing the economy and asylum seekers, when it comes to Australian jobs, people trust the ALP to the tune of 42 per cent to 28 per cent. Comments »

The angry fish that could change Australia

Jul 6, 2010

First published on The Punch 6/7/2010

There is a wildcard hanging over the upcoming election, a factor outside the control of the any politician – it resembles an angry fish, and it is looking for someone to bite.

Question: Over the next 12 months do you think economic conditions  in Australia will get better, get worse or stay much the same? Source:  Essential Report

Question: Over the next 12 months do you think economic conditions in Australia will get better, get worse or stay much the same? Source: Essential Report

It is the long-term trend line on people’s economic confidence, and it shows that after we sounded a collective sigh of relief last year, we are beginning to fear the worst again, a sense of economy insecurity that can affect our work, our home lives – and the way we look at politics.

The story of the fish charts the highs and lows of first term Labor, it also offers some tantalising clues about what happens next. Why a fish? As the graph above shows, the competing stories of confidence and despondency have taken a wild journey over the past two years.  With fear surging as the GFC hit, curtailing as stimulus stabilised the economy, but now rising again.

Kevin Rudd inherited a nation fearing the worst – the US sub-prime was not just a theory – big banks collapsed, homes were lost, mass lay-offs. As the word ‘contagion’ was bandied around – it emerged that many Australian local councils had unwittingly invested in the toxic loans to bad security risks. Economists warned us of our unsustainable levels of household debt. The notion of economic carnage in Australia was real.

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The Punch: Leadership change should spark primary rethink

Jun 29, 2010

First Published on The Punch 29th June 2010

The Australian public’s reaction to last week’s execution of their Prime Minister came in two courses. The first: “Don’t break the eggs!”  The second: “Nice omelette!”

By chance, I was observing focus groups on the night Rudd was rolled and the general feeling was one of surprise, anger, even outage, “it’s our job to throw out a leader, not their’s”, a sense that something fundamentally undemocratic was occurring.

But more remarkable than this emotional reaction, was the fact that it was so fleeting, having vented people who ready to move on and embrace our first female Prime Minister.

This strange dynamic is backed in this week’s Essential Report, which finds 40 per cent of voters disapprove of the takeover, yet finds just 24 per cent say they are less likely to vote Labor because of it. Comments »

The real leadership story: Abbott remains unelectable

Jun 22, 2010

First published in The Punch 21st June 2010

This is the week when another round of disastrous opinion polls was meant to spark a mass uprising within the Labor Caucus, as members convinced they were facing one-term oblivion hitched their wagon to Julia Gillard.

Everything was in place, a bunch of unsourced comment pieces predicting a move on the PM, an early Newspoll published in Monday’s Australian. And then? Well apart from a slight narrowing in preferred PM, no real movement in the polls.

Entering the spirit of leadership speculation, Essential Research asked our own series of leadership questions. What emerges is a completely different story – the failure of Tony Abbott to convince voters he is the man to lead the Coalition to the election. Now before you all start flaming me (again) for being a Left-ist agent of the evil ALP, let’s have a look at the questions we asked. Comments »

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