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Essential: Labor opens a lead again, asylum seeker approach popular

Federal Labor has cemented its recent comeback and has now opened a substantial lead on the Coalition, today’s Essential Report poll shows.

Based on Essential’s two-week rolling sample, both Labor and Liberal have drifted slightly lower in primary votes, with the Greens picking up again to 13%. Labor has retained a three-point primary vote lead, 41-38%, and the 2PP gap has widened to 55-45%.

And while the gap between the parties has closed among men, it remains solid with women, with another 7% lead to Labor among female voters, although these are raw numbers and inclined to be volatile.

The poll, taken last week after Julia Gillard’s asylum seeker announcement and subsequent shifting of position, also focussed on reaction to the mining tax deal and the government’s handling of the asylum seeker issue.

The mining tax deal gathered strong support from voters, with 50% of voters approving it and only 28% disapproving of it. Gillard’s handling of the issue also scored highly, with 58% of voters approving of the way she negotiated a deal with the largest mining companies, versus 20% who weren’t happy.

Gillard’s announcement of an East Timorese version of the Pacific Solution last week — since the subject of dispute by both the East Timorese government and Gillard herself — also appears to have enhanced the government’s hitherto-poor credentials on the issue. The number of voters thinking the government was ‘too soft’ on the issue fell from 65% in April to 56% last week; the number agreeing it had the right approach has gone up by three points to 21% and, significantly, the number of people thinking the government was “too tough” on the issue rose from 6% to 10%, suggesting the key message Gillard wanted to convey, of toughening up Labor’s stance on the issue, has been imparted to voters.

Gillard’s own handling of the issue, despite her bizarre fumbles on the issue last week, also has support, although not as great as on the MRRT: 42% approve of her handling of the issue over 33% who disapprove. As a result, Labor has narrowed the once-large gap between the parties in voter assessments of who is best at handling the issue: 57% of voters now think either the Labor Party is the best party to handle the issue (24%), or think there is no difference between the parties (33%), compared to 51% in April.

The poll also found the proportion of voters convinced the Liberals are likely to bring back WorkChoices — despite Tony Abbott recently signing a contract committing not to — remained high, at 56%, albeit slightly lower than in May. But voters were now slightly more concerned about the possibility the Liberals would renege on their commitment.

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  • 1
    Jenny Haines
    Posted Monday, 12 July 2010 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    That 8% of voters who walked out of the Labor Partyover asylum seeker policy and towards the Greens are stubbornly refusing to come back to Labor. No wonder when the Government is prepared to appease the anti asylum seeker lobby, shift to the right, and take Abbott’s ground from him, but ignore those on the progressive side of politics in the cynical belief that they may vote Green in their primary vote, but their preference will probably go to Labor. Lovely principled politics!! Not!

  • 2
    susan elfert
    Posted Monday, 12 July 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Well said, Jenny. It’s vile that anyone should reduce the tragedy of refugees to an election issue, and while we might wish that Jules hadn’t blundered in her first fortnight, offending the East Timorese and driving Labor’s early bounce back to the Greens, at least she has people talking about the one thing we’d rather not discuss. With 20 to 40 million people displaced and/or endangered as we speak, it was only a matter of time before we’d all have been forced into serious discourse about how this driest of continents might accommodate its fair share in an over-populated and polluted world. That conversation is now on.

  • 3
    David
    Posted Monday, 12 July 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Rather we have discussion, than Tow Boat Tony’s policy of send the boats back from whence they came. He, this morning interviewed on the ABC, declared he didn’t mean turn them all around, just the boats that were able to be turned around. What a load of twaddle. Just what does he think the boats passengers will do when they relaise they will be towed away, sit there and applaud? How does he decide if a boat can come or go? Send a few surveyors on board to check if they are seaworthy.The man has no idea just what he will do unles of course he leaves them to their fate, which not even this chest thumper is stupid enough to allow. Abbott is the great thrower of wont do policy. He is big on what all Oppositions do, promise with no substance. It’s cheap and on asylum seekers, nasty.

  • 4
    Rena Zurawel
    Posted Monday, 12 July 2010 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    This is such a con! manipulating votes competition..
    I would rather know what either of the (now) three major parties think about i.e. … ceramic fuel.

    The only contact with politicians the voters seem to have is through the media. That’s why we, taxpaying - voters, are basically cooked.
    And the polls go on….

  • 5
    jenauthor
    Posted Monday, 12 July 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    I watched Julia’s speech today in SA. Shame not everyone will get to see it in its entirety.

    It spoke to Australia as a whole (with the utmost respect) and the few barbs in it very squarely landed on the shoulders of TA and co for their negativity and backward-looking policies. She spoke about the general direction her policies would take and the word ‘forward’ figured prominently … something that is a positive for her and the govt.

    I also watched some of TAs speech this morning. More negativity. More scaremongering. More looking backward. More reasons why I wouldn’t vote for him in a 3 legged race, let alone an election!

    One thing that struck me. He carried on about the ‘evil ALP’ factions. Who the heck was it, that made him opposition leader if it wasn’t a right-wing reaction ‘Faction’ within the Liberal party? Just because they don’t call them factions, doesn’t mean they aren’t!!! He thinks the electorate are mugs.

  • 6
    Broggly
    Posted Tuesday, 13 July 2010 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    Jenny, I don’t know to what extent the Greens are made up of swinging-preferencers (as opposed to being a pure Left Flank), but it would certainly be useful if Labor believed that we’re starting to think that both major parties are as bad as the other and might start prefering Liberals if the ALP doesn’t pick up their game (which might easily have happened if Turnbull’s wets had scraped through). At this point though Abbott is right wing enough that it’s not really a credible risk (especially in view of what the polls say about Greens voters swinging strongly towards Labor since Gillard’s rise).

    I for one have already decided to vote against Tony, so I can afford to take a wait-and-see approach to Gillard’s actual policies until she doesn’t have to keep the electorate happy.

  • 7
    Rupert
    Posted Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    As political writers in other parts of the media have stated, if Rudd had handled the Asylum Seeker solution as poorly as Gillard, he’d have been pilloried. As it is, acolytes of Ms Gillard are running around putting a positive spin on every pitfall she stumbles in to. It pays to pander to the ‘right’ factions in the Labor Party. They better get Cinderella to the election before the clock chimes midnight.

  • 8
    David
    Posted Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Rupert….surname isn’t Murdoch surely, your contribution has all the ingredients of something he would demand of his (jurnos!!!!)….for over two years News Ltd did all they could to drag Rudd down. Now all of a sudden he is the hard done by darling of the Murdoch press and PM Gillard is the bogey woman. News Ltd is so pathetically transparent it is pathetic.

  • 9
    Rupert
    Posted Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    David … You should read a bit more broadly than News Ltd. Nothing worse than an overdose of the ‘pathetically pathetic’.

  • 10
    David
    Posted Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    As I read ’ broadly ’ Rupert, I am in a position to compare the pathetic with the rest.

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