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Essential: voters convinced carbon pricing will hurt them

Labor voters are prepared to back Julia Gillard on her carbon pricing mechanism, but new polling from Essential Research reveals just how few people understand the policy.

Overall, support for the carbon pricing scheme has risen 4 points in a week to 39% according to Essential’s online-collated poll — it had been steadily falling since May. Opposition is down to 49%. As previously, voting intention strongly correlates with opposition, with Labor and Greens voters equally strong for the scheme (75%) and Liberal voters against (79%).

One of the few positive outcomes for Labor in recent months is that an initial hesitance on the part of Labor voters in supporting the scheme has been replaced with strong support — although probably as a consequence of hostile former Labor voters shifting to the Liberals.

The strong focus on the scheme has ensured few voters are unaware of it — only 4% of voters said they had read or heard nothing about the scheme, while 30% said “little”; 65% said they had read or heard “something” or “a lot”. And this appears to have translated into awareness of the scheme: 57% said they felt “very well informed” or “somewhat informed” about the scheme and its impacts, which applied across voting intention.

However, only 10% of voters said they would be better off as a result of the scheme, while 69% said worse off. There is a strong partisan aspect to that response, continuing an emerging theme in recent polls that partisan attitudes seem to colour even issues ostensibly unrelated to party identification. While around 50% of Labor and Greens voters said they’d be worse off, 85% of Liberal voters believed they would be worse off, including 55% who believed they would be “much worse off”, a literally impossible outcome under any permutation of income under the scheme. About a third of voters thought the scheme would be good or very good for Australia, and 46% bad or very bad, again with the same partisan element to the response — 44% of Liberal voters think the scheme will be “very bad” for Australia.

Asked about how they viewed the scheme, the strongest response elicited by Essential was to the statement “a carbon price will lead to a big rise in the cost of living”, another mathematically impossible event, which attracted 68% agreement. Half of voters agreed the scheme “won’t reduce our carbon emissions” compared to 34% disagreeing. And only 31% agreed “the government has got the balance right in compensating households for a carbon price”, with 48% disagreeing. Similarly, 49% agreed “there’s not enough compensation for households” (29% disagreement). A third agreed there was too much compensation for industry, with 32% disagreeing.

However, 46% did agree the scheme would lead to more investment in renewable energy (33% disagreement), and 59% agreed “politicians should just get on with taking action on climate change”. Moreover, 54% agreed that “Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party are more interested in votes than tackling climate change”, compared to 32% who disagreed. And Labor has a rare lead when voters are asked whether they think the government’s carbon pricing scheme or the Coalition’s plan to pay companies to reduce emissions will be more effective in reducing emissions, 34-28%. Only 52% of Liberal voters think the Coalition’s discredited “direct action” plan will be more effective than a carbon price.

On voting intention, no news is, in effect, good news for Labor. It has pulled back a point on its primary vote and the Coalition has lost one, yielding a 2PP result of 56-44%. At the moment, not going backwards is the best Labor can hope for.

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  • 1
    Brady
    Posted Monday, 18 July 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    After seeing the latest poll on TV which had Abbott at 51, and Gillard at 39 as preferred PM I just about necked myself. It’s true what some people have said in other posts on Crikey, the Australian people are the most innately stupid people on this planet. Hell, if having Abbott as PM would effect only them, and not me, I would love for them to get their wish, they deserve someone like him. Is there not a way in which we can divided Australia in half and let all the Liberal lovers f*** off with him? I do apologise for the language, but my frustration is at an all time high. How depressing.

  • 2
    Mark Duffett
    Posted Monday, 18 July 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    …55% who believed they would be “much worse off”, a literally impossible outcome under any permutation of income under the scheme.”

    “a carbon price will lead to a big rise in the cost of living”, another mathematically impossible event, which attracted 68% agreement.

    It may be mathematically impossible when looking only at the instantaneous impact, but I’d say it’s highly probable most of these respondees were thinking longer-term.

  • 3
    D. John Hunwick
    Posted Monday, 18 July 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    The only way people can think that the carbon tax can hurt them is if they are ignorant of the gains to be paid from paying it. Give up explaining the carbon tax and spend time and space on explaining why we have to act on climate change - and give some names of those who support it, and the names of those who don’t for comparison.

  • 4
    Robert Barwick
    Posted Monday, 18 July 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Who is this yahoo Bernard Keane?!!! “Mathematically impossible”? What a joke. It is designed to drive up the cost of living, in a way that it is impossible to financially compensate, or else there is no point to it. The Australian people aren’t that stupid.

  • 5
    david
    Posted Monday, 18 July 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    More to the point Who The Fek are you Mr Barwick? Your two and a half lines indicates a rude, pompous, big mouth git.

  • 6
    granorlewis
    Posted Monday, 18 July 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Your bias is showing again Mr Keane!!

    You say “85% of Liberal voters believed they would be worse off, including 55% who believed they would be “much worse off”, A LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE OUTCOME under any permutation of income under the scheme. “

    Every small business operator is going to pay through the nose with this tax, from electricity through almost every input to his/her business. They might get back $10.10 per week but the increased outgoings are going to be far more than that.

    If they pass it on, the consumer will pay, and we are not allowed to know how treasury modelling deals with that. Nevertheless this carbon price will unquestionably lead to a big rise in COL. Otherwise if they absorb it, they will soon go out backwards. Most small business operators will be hard hit even by a small percentage increase in the cost of operation. Those who are heavy power users eg refrigeration and aircon will be the hardest it, but ALL will feel it at the bottom line, where any tax reduction will have no real effect..

  • 7
    Robert Barwick
    Posted Monday, 18 July 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Half a line more than you, david with a little d.

  • 8
    CHRISTOPHER DUNNE
    Posted Monday, 18 July 2011 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, some of the lemmings have wandered into the blog, with their myopic stupidity and collective suicidal ignorance.

    Gawd love ‘em, as they do offer insights into the limits of rodent intelligence and little else, poor things.

  • 9
    granorlewis
    Posted Monday, 18 July 2011 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    A real shame when valid debate is highjacked by half- brained zombies who can scarcely put two sensible words together.

  • 10
    Hugh (Charlie) McColl
    Posted Tuesday, 19 July 2011 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Granorlewis, you think that “….. small business operators will be hard hit even by a small percentage increase in the cost of operation….”, and that therefore the carbon tax will lead to a big rise in the cost of living. You are passionate about your point of view even though it is constrained by not knowing how the Treasury modelling has arrived at its findings.
    And yet, Treasury modelling has predicted only a tiny increase in the cost of living - miniscule compared with the impact of the GST.
    What do you mean by “hit hard”, “hardest hit”, “pay through the nose” etc. These phrases are meaningless unless you just want to exaggerate, obfuscate and generally hijack a valid debate.

  • 11
    granorlewis
    Posted Tuesday, 19 July 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Hugh - you hit the nail on the head when you write that I - and you - do not know how the Treasury modelling has arrived at its findings. I have modelled a range of small businesses just covering electricityand other identifiable effects, and it is clear to me that the effect will be just as I wrote. Treasury modelling seems to concentrate on households only - just to con the voters in that category.

    In fact it is the Government that is “obfuscating.” If indeed their Treasury modelling was so convincing, they would release it for all to read and understand. Failing that, I know my figures - and my opinion - hold water.

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