Tries Lies: More Carbon Porkies to Come

Jun 27, 2012

First published on The Drum 26 June 2012

The ‘lie’ at the heart of Labor’s carbon tax has assumed legendary status. Never mind that the realities of the supposed falsehood are highly contestable – Labor’s carbon pricing scheme is arguably not a tax at all – “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead” has become the iconic political lie of our times.

Its ruthlessly successful exploitation by the Abbott Opposition has spawned a political craze in exposing opponents’ lies, in the hope of replicating this highly successful case study in trust-related brand damage.

But what about the Opposition’s penchant for stretching the truth on impacts of the carbon tax?

George Brandis’s assertion the carbon tax was responsible for 1900 job cuts at Fairfax was a cracker, but only a natural extension of years of dubious claims the carbon tax would wipe towns off the map, spark mass shut-downs of industry and send families to the wall under crippling power prices.

With not much else to look forward to, Labor hopes the sun rising on July 1 – towns and families intact – will expose the Opposition’s spurious rhetoric about the carbon tax. Who is calling us liars now, you liars?

The collapse in trust in politics as we’ve reported on before, is a defining feature of our current political culture, driven largely by the kind of negative politics that have characterised the carbon debate.

In this environment, Labor has been unable to win back support for its carbon pricing scheme, with support levels on the eve of its introduction at the same low level they were towards the start of last year.

Q. Do you support or oppose the Government’s carbon pricing scheme which, from July 2012, will require industries to pay a tax based on the amount of carbon pollution they emit?

 

7 Mar 2011

23 May

1 Aug

21 Nov

Total

25 Jun 2012

Vote Labor

Vote Lib/Nat

Vote Greens

Total support

35%

41%

39%

38%

35%

67%

13%

74%

Total oppose

48%

44%

51%

53%

54%

21%

81%

21%

Strongly support

9%

14%

15%

14%

14%

28%

4%

38%

Support

26%

27%

24%

24%

21%

39%

9%

36%

Oppose

19%

15%

19%

17%

19%

12%

24%

13%

Strongly oppose

29%

29%

32%

36%

35%

9%

57%

8%

Don’t know

18%

15%

10%

10%

11%

12%

7%

6%

 

If there’s a positive for Labor there, it’s that it has been able to win the support of its base on this issue, with two-thirds of Labor voters (admittedly a small pool – link to table) supporting the policy.

But despite Labor’s focus on selling the compensation elements of the carbon pricing reform, the public has bought the cost-of-living scare, with 71% believing their cost of living will increase moderately or a lot. A further 20% thought there would be a small increase and just 2% thought there would be no impact. Power, petrol, groceries and fruit and veg – people are expecting the introduction of the carbon tax to be a disaster for their hip pockets.

Q. And what impact do you expect the carbon tax to have on each of the following?

 

 

Increase a lot

Increase a little

Stay much the same

Decrease a little

Decrease a lot

Don’t know

Energy prices

67%

26%

4%

*

3%

Fuel prices

53%

31%

11%

1%

*

4%

Grocery prices

41%

41%

14%

1%

4%

Fresh fruit and vegetable prices

39%

39%

18%

*

*

4%

Unemployment

31%

27%

32%

2%

1%

8%

Interest rates

22%

18%

38%

8%

1%

13%

And herein lies the risk for Tony Abbott.

With the happy bonus that most of us aren’t really too sure what the carbon tax actually is, we can expect plenty more Brandis-style water-muddying as the carbon tax is blamed for job losses, power price rises, divorces and bad haircuts caused by completely unrelated factors.

But what if the Opposition can’t deliver carbon tax Armageddon? What if people accept that any moderate increases in prices have been offset by the one-off ‘cashforyou’ payments and associated support packages? Or, and this may be stretching it, what if the media starts questioning come of the tenuous links between price rises and carbon that the Opposition attempts to exploit?

If the world doesn’t end on Sunday, will people shift their opinion of the Carbon Tax or, worse still for Abbott, start to wonder whether they have been played for fools? Already the rhetoric is shifting from ‘death strike’ to ‘python’s grip’ but is this sustainable as a basis for the daily high-vis vest photo opp that has become the Oppostion’s modus operandi.

Another potential porky lies in the Opposition Leader’s promise to repeal the carbon tax.Abbott has pledged ‘in blood’ there would be no carbon tax under the government he leads.

Currently, we’re fairly evenly split on whether a pledge in blood is actually a core promise, with a slight majority believing he’ll go through with it.

Q. If they won the next election, how likely do you think it would be that Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party would repeal the carbon tax?

 

Total

Vote Labor

Vote Lib/Nat

Vote Greens

Total likely

44%

28%

64%

42%

Total unlikely

40%

62%

22%

41%

Don’t know

17%

11%

14%

17%

 

But what if he can’t get the numbers through the Senate? What if he is forced to negotiate and, God forbid compromise, with those holding the balance of power? Will this be a case of a politician dealing with the hand they are dealt or just another example that all politicians lie?

While it’s easy to dismiss the dealing in truth and lies as business as usual politics, but in turning it into a Weapon of Mass Destruction it will be interesting to see if the Opposition leader has not set set his own future government onto a path of Mutually Assured Destruction.

 

 

TRENDS: Loss of trust spreading beyond Parliament

Jun 25, 2012



Peter Lewis spells out how Aussies have little trust in anyone or anything — except maybe the ABC.

Trust is hot property in politics. Everyone wants to claim it while undermining their opponent’s. Broken promises are played hard in the hope of achieving political bingo: irreparable reputational damage.

Labor’s flat-lining polls are widely attributed to Julia Gillard’s ‘trust issues’. Mind you, Tony Abbott isn’t considered to be excelling in the trustworthy stakes either. They barely muster a pass mark between them.

But something even more insidious is beginning to occur, as this week’s Essential Report suggests. Loss of trust is contagious. We’re not just cynical about politicians; we are also losing faith in the institutions that underpin public life.

Read the full article on The Drum.

TRENDS: Trends with Peter Lewis

Jun 18, 2012


Peter Lewis dissects a survey which shows some alarming misconceptions about the nature of their own super.

Some recent polling by EMC shows that not only are people underestimating the amount of money they need to retire on, they also have no idea of how much they will have in reality.
However, there is one common factor. Peter Lewis tells 3Q that most people believe their super will not meet their expectations.

TRENDS: Half Yearly Report Card

Jun 12, 2012


EMC Director Peter Lewis runs the ruler over the first six months of polling and comes out wondering where all the bad vibes are coming from. When politics is toxic, he argues, the progressive side of politics loses.

TRENDS: Feeling the pain: fair go for Tories

Jun 4, 2012


Labor takes pride in being there for those up against hard luck. Targeted financial assistance comes in many forms, whether co-investment to an auto industry being hammered by the two-speed economy, childcare rebates to hard-up families, or the straight cash injection into middle Australian wallets.

It appears there is a new victim of the Australian economy in need of a rescue package: the Coalition voter.

With interest rates, inflation and unemployment all under the 5 per cent threshold, Australia is bucking the global trend in maintaining stability in the face of global unrest. But our polling this week shows only around one third of Australians are prepared to say the economy is performing well.

And while many are unimpressed with Australia’s performance, Coalition voters – and that’s a lot of people these days – are feeling the economic pain more intensely.

Read more on this at the Drum

TRENDS: Who loves a nanny state?

May 7, 2012


Peter Lewis talks us through our love for a nanny state — as long as it doesn’t overstep the mark

The metaphorical nannies are out to control us; to mollycoddle and corrupt us; to intervene and suppress the free spirit in those of us who just want to puff on a ciggie or punt on a pokie or jump off a cliff because the other kids are doing it.

But while collectively we denounce a controlling nanny state, EMC polling shows that most of us actually like a designated grown up. Peter Lewis talks us through the details on 3Q.

http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3982400.html

TRENDS: Seeing through the feel-good mining ads

Apr 30, 2012


Peter Lewis says the public no longer believes that mining has personal benefits – despite an expensive ad campaign from the industry.

The long-running ‘This is our story’ campaign is the soft side of the anti-mining tax’s shock-and-awe bombardment of 2010 that delivered the head of a prime minister and a windfall approaching $20 billion for its sponsors.

But in the intervening 18 months, the national tone has changed from one where the mining industry’s success was seen as central to the national interest to one where the question appears to be: is this ‘our’ story or just theirs?

http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3968928.html

TRENDS: Do we love the NBN?

Apr 23, 2012

Peter Lewis presents polling that shows public opinion is turning in favour of the $40 billion national broadband network.


Until now the NBN has been an abstract debate about national building and future proofing the economy on one hand, and a misguided venture designed purely to waste taxpayers’ money on the other. Now it’s about to shift from rhetoric to reality, with roll out plans for about a third of households and businesses released last week.