To tax or not to tax, that is the question

Mar 21, 2011

First published on The Drum: 15/03/2011

Context is everything. All of a sudden Labor’s political predicament does not seem as dire; no-one is dead or missing; nuclear reactors aren’t melting down; the only after-shocks are electoral.

The enormity of the Japan catastrophe wipes everything else from public consciousness, allowing a wounded prime minister and her team to step back from the limelight, reflect and regroup.

As this week’s Essential Report shows, there is a path to repairing the damage the government has suffered and a way of setting up a debate that could, in the long-term, see it regain the political initiative.

Like so much in politics, the secret lies in the questions you ask. Ask whether people support a price on carbon and the answer is a decisive ‘no’.

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Federal politics – voting intention

Mar 21, 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 = 1,947

First preference/leaning to Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago 2 weeks ago Last week This week
Liberal 40% 44% 45% 44%
National 3% 3% 2% 3%
Total Lib/Nat 43.6 43% 47% 47% 46%
Labor 38.0 39% 36% 35% 36%
Greens 11.8 11% 10% 10% 10%
Other/Independent 6.6 7% 7% 8% 8%
2PP Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago 2 weeks ago Last week This week
Total Lib/Nat 49.9% 49% 53% 54% 53%
Labor 50.1% 51% 47% 46% 47%

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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The Carbon Tax

Mar 21, 2011

Q. Thinking about the proposed carbon tax, do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Total agree Total disagree Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree Don’t know
A carbon tax will substantially increase the cost of electricity 79% 8% 47% 32% 6% 2% 13%
The cost of electricity will increase substantially even without a carbon tax 78% 11% 26% 52% 10% 1% 11%
A carbon tax is an effective way to force large polluting companies to reduce their carbon pollution 42% 43% 13% 29% 21% 22% 14%
A carbon tax will increase investment in renewable energy 41% 38% 14% 27% 20% 18% 22%

79% agree that a carbon tax will substantially increase the cost of electricity but 78% agree that the cost of electricity will increase substantially even without a carbon tax.

Respondents were evenly divided over whether a carbon tax is an effective way to force large polluting companies to reduce their carbon pollution (42% agreer/43% disagree) and whether a carbon tax will increase investment in renewable energy (41% agree/38% disagree).

Males (84%) were more likely than females (74%) to agree or strongly agree that ‘a carbon tax will substantially increase the costs of electricity.’

Females (53%) were more likely than males (41%) to agree or strongly agree that ‘a carbon tax is an effective way to force large polluting companies to reduce their carbon pollution.’

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Tony Abbott and Climate Change

Mar 21, 2011

Q. As far as you know, do Tony Abbott and the Coalition support action to address climate change or are they opposed to taking any action?

Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
Support action to address climate change 36% 27% 59% 31%
Are opposed to any action to address climate change 33% 47% 17% 48%
Don’t know 29% 26% 24% 21%

Overall, respondents were divided over the position of Tony Abbott and the Coalition on climate change – 36% believe they support action to address climate change and 33% think are they opposed to taking any action.

Those that intend to vote Lib/Nat were far more likely to believe that Tony Abbott and the Coalition support action to address climate change (59%).

Those that intend to vote for Labor (47%) or the Green (48%) were more likely to state that Tony Abbott and the Coalition are opposed to any action to address climate change.

Males (42%) were more likely than females (34%) to state that Tony Abbott and the Coalition support action to address climate change.

Females (39%) were more likely than males (19%) to state ‘Don’t know.’

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Troops in Afghanistan

Mar 21, 2011

Q.  Thinking about the Australian troops in Afghanistan, do you think Australia should –

25 Oct 2010 Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
Increase the number of troops in Afghanistan 10% 5% 7% 6% 1%
Keep the same number of troops in Afghanistan 30% 30% 26% 39% 16%
Withdraw our troops from Afghanistan 47% 56% 62% 48% 74%
Don’t know 14% 9% 5% 7% 9%

35% think that the Australian troops in Afghanistan should be increased or maintained and 56% think Australia should withdraw its troops. This is a significant shift (+9%) in favour of withdrawal since this question was last asked in October 2010.

62% of Labor voters and 74% of Greens voters support withdrawal. Liberal/National voters are split – 48% support withdrawal and 45 support increasing/maintaining troop numbers.

Males were more likely than females to state that Australia should increase the number of troops in Afghanistan (9% compared to 2% of females) or keep the same number of troops in Afghanistan (36% compared to 24% of females).

However, the majority of both males (49%) and females (63%) think Australia should withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

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Nuclear Power Plants

Mar 21, 2011

Q. Do you support or oppose Australia developing nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity?

27 Jan 09 20 Dec 10 Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
Total support 43% 43% 35% 29% 46% 18%
Total oppose 35% 37% 53% 58% 43% 78%
Strongly support 14% 16% 12% 10% 17% 7%
Support 29% 27% 23% 19% 29% 11%
Oppose 21% 21% 21% 23% 22% 15%
Strongly oppose 14% 16% 32% 35% 21% 63%
Don’t know 22% 19% 13% 13% 11% 5%

53% oppose Australia developing nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity and 35% support. This is a considerable shift in opinion since this question was last asked in December 2010.

Those that intend to vote Lib/Nat were more likely to support (46%) than oppose (43%)  Australia developing nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity.

There was strong opposition from Labor (58% oppose or strongly oppose) and the Greens (78% oppose or strongly oppose).

There is a considerable difference between the attitudes of males and females towards nuclear power plants – 49% of males, compared to just 20% of females support or strongly support Australia developing nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity.

There was also strong support from those aged 65+, with 47% either supporting or strongly supporting Australia developing nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity.

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Republic

Mar 21, 2011

Q.  Are you in favour or against Australia becoming a republic?

Jan 2010 Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens
In favour 41% 39% 55% 27% 63%
Against 32% 34% 20% 53% 15%
No opinion 27% 27% 25% 21% 22%

39% of respondents are in favour of Australia becoming a republic, 34% are against and 27% hold no opinion.

There has been little shift in attitudes from the Jan 2010 poll.

Labor (55%) and Green (63%) voters are more likely to be in favour of a republic. Lib/Nat voters (53%) are more likely to be against Australia becoming a republic.

Males (46%) were more likely than females (33%) to be in favour of Australia becoming a republic. However this did not translate to large numbers of females being against Australia becoming a republic (36% of females compared to 31%) of males, but rather more females (31%) than males (23%) stating that they have no opinion.

Those aged 45-54 were the most likely to be in favour of a republic (48%), but there were also surprisingly high level of support for a republic from older age groups – 41% of those aged 55-64 and 42% of those aged 65+ stated that they were in favour of Australia becoming a republic.

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Republic – with Prince Charles or Prince William as King

Mar 21, 2011

Q. Would you be in favour or against Australia becoming a republic if Prince Charles became the next King?

Q. Would you be in favour or against Australia becoming a republic if Prince William became the next King?

Total Prince Charles as King Prince William as King
In favour 39% 38% 37%
Against 34% 32% 33%
No opinion 27% 30% 30%

Attitudes towards Australia becoming a republic barely moved when respondents were asked their opinion if Prince Charles or Prince William were King.

There was no noticeable difference in attitude between the genders or the age brackets.

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