Turning around the Titanic

Mar 8, 2011

First published on The Drum: 08/03/2011

The media works in eight-hour news cycles, politicians live and die by three-year cycles, while the planet’s climate is working on a significantly longer time frame.

The way these three cycles interplay over the next few months will determine not only the outcome of the next federal election but whether Australia will be a beneficiary or a victim of the shift in energy use that climate change will inevitably require*.

As this week’s Essential Report shows the Government has taken a short-term hammering after it’s decision to move on a carbon price. Not only has the Government failed to win popular support for its carbon pricing scheme, this has translated into a 4 per cent turnaround in the Two Party Preferred.

Of particular concern to Labor would be the high level of strong opposition, compared to strong support for the plan and the fact that barely half of Labor voters are backing the scheme.

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Action on Climate Change

Mar 7, 2011

Q. Do you think the Government needs to take action on climate change as soon as possible, should they wait a few years before taking action or don’t they need to take any action at all?

Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
Need to take action as soon as possible 47% 60% 33% 85%
Can wait a few years before taking action 24% 19% 33% 8%
Don’t need to take any action 19% 9% 29% 3%
Don’t know 11% 12% 5% 4%

Nearly half of respondents (47%) believe that the Government needs to take action on climate change as soon as possible, 24% think they can wait and 19% think they do not need to take any action.

52% of respondents aged under 35 think they need to take action as soon as possible compared to 44% of those aged 55+.

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Climate Change and Natural Disasters

Feb 14, 2011

Q. Does the extreme nature of the recent floods and cyclone make it more or less important for Australia to take action to address climate change or does it make no difference?

Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
Total more important 49% 60% 35% 83%
Total no difference/less important 47% 38% 63% 14%
Much more important 27% 35% 16% 59%
A little more important 22% 25% 19% 24%
Makes no difference 44% 37% 57% 12%
A little less important 1% * 1% 2%
Much less important 3% * 6%
Don’t know 4% 2% 2% 4%

49% believe that the extreme nature of the recent floods and cyclone make it more important for Australia to take action to address climate change and 47% think it makes no difference or is less important.

Opinions tend to be related to voting intention – 60% of Labor voters and 83% of Greens voters believe it is more important, while 63% of Liberal/National voters think it makes no difference or is less important.  55% of respondents aged under 35 think it is more important compared to 39% of those aged 65+

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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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Important election issues

Jan 24, 2011

Q. Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election? (Number from 1 to 3 where 1 is the most important, 2 the second most important, etc)

One Two Three Total Total 11th Oct 10 Total 25th Jan 10
Management of the economy 37% 18% 10% 65% 62% 63%
Ensuring a quality education for all children 5% 10% 11% 26% 32% 23%
Ensuring the quality of Australia’s health system 13% 20% 16% 49% 48% 48%
Protecting the environment 4% 3% 6% 13% 12% 16%
A fair industrial relations system 2% 4% 4% 10% 11% *
Political leadership 6% 5% 5% 16% 16% 23%
Addressing climate change 3% 3% 4% 10% 11% 16%
Controlling interest rates 5% 8% 8% 21% 17% 15%
Australian jobs and protection of local industries 10% 8% 12% 30% 30% 33%
Ensuring a quality water supply 1% 2% 3% 6% 6% 12%
Housing affordability 5% 5% 6% 16% 17% 14%
Ensuring a fair taxation system 4% 6% 8% 18% 16% 14%
Security and the war on terrorism 1% 2% 2% 5% 6% 9%
Treatment of asylum seekers 1% 2% 2% 5% 5% *
Managing population growth 2% 5% 4% 11% 10% *

*Not asked

65% of people surveyed rated management of the economy as one of their three most important issues, followed by 49% ensuring the quality of Australia’s health system and 30% Australian jobs and protection of local industries.

Only 10% rate addressing climate change as one of their three most important issues and 6% rate ensuring a quality water supply.

Over the past 12 months there has been an increase in the importance of controlling interest rates (from 15% to 21%) and a decrease in the importance of addressing climate change (from 16% to 10%).

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Important election issues

Jan 24, 2011

Q. Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election? (Number from 1 to 3 where 1 is the most important, 2 the second most important, etc)

Total Labor Liberal/ National Green
Management of the economy 65% 63% 77% 47%
Ensuring a quality education for all children 26% 33% 20% 24%
Ensuring the quality of Australia’s health system 49% 52% 47% 37%
Protecting the environment 13% 12% 6% 42%
A fair industrial relations system 10% 18% 5% 8%
Political leadership 16% 11% 25% 14%
Addressing climate change 10% 10% 5% 22%
Controlling interest rates 21% 17% 22% 19%
Australian jobs and protection of local industries 30% 33% 32% 18%
Ensuring a quality water supply 6% 4% 6% 5%
Housing affordability 16% 15% 13% 21%
Ensuring a fair taxation system 18% 17% 19% 14%
Security and the war on terrorism 5% 5% 8% 5%
Treatment of asylum seekers 5% 3% 5% 15%
Managing population growth 11% 8% 12% 9%

Compared to the average, Labor voters are more likely to rate ensuring a quality education for all children (33%) and a fair industrial relations system (18%) as important.

Liberal/National voters attach more importance to management of the economy (77%) and political leadership (25%) while Greens voters are more likely to nominate protecting the environment (42%), addressing climate change (22%) and treatment of asylum seekers (15%).

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Party best handling important election issues

Jan 24, 2011

Q. And which party would you trust most to handle the following issues?

Labor Liberal Greens Don’t know
Management of the economy 33% 43% 2% 22%
Ensuring a quality education for all children 39% 33% 4% 24%
Ensuring the quality of Australia’s health system 33% 33% 7% 27%
Protecting the environment 16% 19% 40% 24%
A fair industrial relations system 40% 30% 5% 25%
Political leadership 28% 37% 4% 31%
Addressing climate change 18% 20% 34% 28%
Controlling interest rates 22% 40% 2% 35%
Protecting Australian jobs and protection of local industries 36% 33% 4% 27%
Ensuring a quality water supply 21% 28% 20% 31%
Housing affordability 26% 30% 7% 37%
Ensuring a fair taxation system 28% 35% 4% 32%
Security and the war on terrorism 23% 37% 4% 36%
Treatment of asylum seekers 20% 33% 12% 35%
Standing up for regular Australian working families 41% 27% 6% 25%
Managing population growth 21% 36% 7% 37%
Making sure Australian working people got fair treatment at their workplace 41% 29% 6% 25%

Labor is trusted most to handle a fair industrial relations system (40%), ensuring a quality education for all children (39%) and standing up for regular Australian working families (41%).

The Liberals are trusted most to handle management of the economy (43%), controlling interest rates (40%), political leadership (37%) and security and the war on terrorism (37%).

In October, Labor was considered substantially better to handle 5 of the issues surveyed and Liberals 5 issues – compared to this survey where Labor leads on 4 issues and Liberals on 8 issues. The Liberals have now established a lead on political leadership (+9%), water supply (+7%), and taxation (+7%).

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Climate change? Scepticism becomes mainstream

Dec 7, 2010

First Published on The Drum 07/12/2010

It was a year ago today that the hottest gig in global warming opened in Copenhagen, amidst expectations that the world’s leaders would rise above their geographical interests and make a stand for the future.

Twelve months on and the hopes of Copenhagen seem as retro as a Midnight Oil album, the world has opted to sleep even when our beds are burning.

While the lack of political action over the past year has been well documented, this week’s Essential Report picks up another dynamic that is both a response to and a driver for this inertia. For the first time, we have found less than 50 per cent of Australians think climate change is real.

Dec 10 Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
Climate change is happening and is caused by human activity 45% 53% 32% 76%
We are just witnessing a normal fluctuation in the earth’s climate 36% 27% 53% 14%
Don’t know 19% 20% 15% 10%

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