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Sep 19, 2011

Essential: we'll cop a carbon tax with compensation

The federal government has failed to sway those opposed to a carbon tax, though more than half of voters are prepared to support it with compensation for lower income households, new polling finds.

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The federal government has failed to sway those opposed to a carbon tax, though more than half of voters are prepared to support it with compensation for lower-income households, new polling finds.

Opposition to the tax on polluters has firmed slightly to 52% in the latest Essential Research online poll, with just 39% supporting the tax. Support hit a high of 41% in May.

But when Essential asked whether voters would support a carbon tax “if the money paid by big polluting industries was used to compensate low- and middle-income earners for increased prices and to invest in renewable energy”, the result is effectively reversed: half support the tax while 37% oppose it. Not surprisingly Labor (77%) and Greens (84%) voters support the tax most strongly, with Coalition voters remaining cynical of the compensation package (27%).

Part of the cynicism is clearly in how the government has delivered the scheme. More than half of respondents say the issue “has been rushed and needs more time to consider”, while 38% believe it’s been “discussed enough and it is now time to make a decision”.

There’s no joy in the poll for Labor, with its primary vote locked at the disastrous 32% level it has been at for the past month. The Coalition has a primary vote of 49% and continues to lead the two-party preferred race by 12 points — 56-44%.

And voters appear set to punish the government in the Senate, too. Respondents were asked whether the Coalition should hold a majority in both houses after the next election and more said this would be good (38%) than bad (31%). That result seems to go to the demand for stability: in a list of scenarios, 36% would prefer a majority in both houses over split control (21%) or the Greens holding the balance of power (16%).

Following the 9/11 anniversary, Essential also quizzed its panel on terrorism and security. Most believe the world — and Australia — is less safe now than it was 10 years ago.

About 30% say the world is less safe; 36% believe Australia is also more dangerous. Just 19% believe Australia is a safer place than before the 9/11 attacks.

Q. Do you think Australia is a safer or less safe place than it was 10 years ago?

Jason Whittaker Whittaker —

Jason Whittaker Whittaker

The Mandarin managing editor and former Crikey editor

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5 thoughts on “Essential: we’ll cop a carbon tax with compensation

  1. Sean Doyle

    Call me a stick in the mud, Mr James, but I’m pretty sure that in spite of how many Australians may be there, Bali is still considered by most political geographers to be a part of Indonesia. The focus of the 88 Australians who died while generally ignoring the other 114 victims (which included 38 Indonesian nationals) tended to make me suspicious of the sincerity of people’s proclaimed sorrow over the victims of the bombings.

    Also, as Blackivory pointed out, the poll showed a plurality of “About the same” for the safety question. Whilst we might run with a preferential voting system here, I’d suggest that the 6% lead after the first preference count would make it likely that “About the same” would get over the line after the distribution of preferences. Then again, I may be biased since I agree with the plurality.

    Has Mr Whittaker made the common mistake of political commentators in two party systems of thinking in a binary way when the real world presents us with a broad spectrum of possibilities (and not just Blairite-Clintonesque “Triangulation” rubbish)?

    I might also have query with his claim that a plurality of respondents saying that they want the Coalition to hold both houses suggests a “demand for stability” given that:
    (a) it would be a change from the current situation and the general practice of the last few decades at least, and therefore inherently unstable; and
    (b) the Coalition behaved quite radically (i.e. WorkChoices, NT Intervention) in a way that was convincingly repulsed by the Australian electorate (OK, maybe less so for the NT Intervention) at the next available opportunity.

    Surely if voters want stability, they will then demand non government control of the Senate (like 37% (which is greater than 36% according to most climate change scientists) of respondents prefer) and therefore continue with the current situation and the situation that has prevailed for most of Australia’s recent political history. It would also provide greater stability in the policy direction of Australia by making sure that legislation had to pass two houses of differing composition rather than in 2004-07 when the government was, by and large, able to ramrod through whatever it liked while treating even a fig leaf of democratic debate and review with contempt.

    Maybe Mr Whittaker has spent too long in Canberra, where much of the press gallery seems to think that parliament is so unstable that we are one errant HoR MP away from becoming another Yugoslavia. I fear for them that the reality will bore them due to the system being much more robust than they understand (or should that be “hope”?) it to be.

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