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Essential: Gillard a model of stability, Greens gain ground

For all the convulsions it has faced on the political front, in one respect the Gillard government has presented a model of stability in recent months: its opinion poll ratings, as measured by the weekly Essential Research report, have been set in stone since the middle of June.

This week’s result shows no change at all on the previous week, with Labor on 32% and the Coalition on 49% of the primary vote, with the Coalition leading 56-44 on two-party preferred. The only change is a two-point gain for the Greens, who are up to 12% at the expense of other parties and independents.

Other questions fielded by Essential Research probe the complex area of public opinion on asylum seekers, and as usual they offer little to help guide political leaders through the minefield. Whereas other surveys have indicated surprisingly high support for onshore processing, the latest survey illustrates how dependent such results are upon the options given to respondents.

Only 21% were found to indicate a preference for onshore processing when the available alternatives were offshore processing “in any other country” (11%), “offshore processing” only in a country where human rights are protected” (31%) and turning the boats around (28%).

Respondents were further asked to rate features of a good refugee processing system, and here too the public seems determined to make like difficult for the government: the two features rated most important were “keeping costs down” (rated very important or somewhat important by 81%) and the possibly incompatible objective of “protecting human rights” (80%). It might be thought a surprise that the objective of “stopping the boats” came in third at 74%.

The least pressing concern was ensuring that asylum seekers were not returned to the country from which they had fled (49%).

Respondents were also asked to rate the performance of Tony Abbott as opposition leader, with slightly better results than he is used to from his personal approval ratings: 38% agreed he was “performing the role of opposition leader well and is keeping the government accountable”, with 45% taking the commonly heard view that he is “just opposing everything and is constructing the work of the government”.

A question on trust in various Australian institutions emphasises how much work our churches have to do to recover confidence: only 29% declared a lot of trust or some trust in religious organisations, against 72% for the High Court, 67% for the Reserve Bank and 61% for charitable organisations. Interestingly, federal parliament (55%) rated higher than the ABC (46%), environmental groups (45%) and trade unions (39%).

Last but certainly not least, the AFL grand final attracted the most interest out of three looming sports events: 32% declared themselves interested, against 20% for the NRL grand final and 10% for the Rugby World Cup.

  • 1
    Posted Monday, 26 September 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    It seems the Greens are basing their opinion that there is majority support for on-shore processing on the strength of ONE poll. Your results would confirm that this is indeed not the case. Since their is not much support for the Malaysian arrangements (“off-shore processing in any other country 11%), what on earth is the government to do? Looks likely that on-shore processing will happen by default, and there will be more trouble, more boats.
    I like the phrase read somewhere of “Abbott’s Armada”!

  • 2
    Posted Monday, 26 September 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Why would you write that “the Gillard Government is a model of stability” with its polling at 32%, without also adding that the Abbott opposition is also a model of stability at a rate approaching 60% for several weeks.

    At least try to be balanced, and give credit where due.

  • 3
    Posted Monday, 26 September 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Why do you ask questions about something that has no legal basis?

    There is no such thing as “offshore’ refugee protection assessments, by law people have to be here.

    Are all the pollsters in this country so frigging ignorant they still don’t understand that simple point?

    If people are off shore you morons they cannot apply to have protection is Australia and that is the point Gillard wants to get to.


    Honest to god, with 8 people a day it’s time the media and morons like Lewis shut up.

  • 4
    Posted Monday, 26 September 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    CML, if there are more asylum seekers so what? It is a legal right whether you like it or not.

    I find it amazing that some get their knickers in such stupid knots over these sorts of bullshit lies.

    Three times more asylum seekers fly here and most of them are the frauds we should be talking about, most who come by sea are actual refugees.

    Just once I want the moron pollsters to ask questions based on law instead of nonsense or didn’t you hear the high court scream out loud IT’S ILLEGAL.

  • 5
    Posted Monday, 26 September 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink


    And this is what happens if people apply outside Australia.


  • 6
    Posted Monday, 26 September 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Certainly time for balanced reportage - the blatant bias in favour of Tony Abbott is surprising in this source. He is not “just opposing everything and is constructing the work of the government” - he is blatantly OBSTRUCTING the work of government.

  • 7
    Jenny Haines
    Posted Monday, 26 September 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that the preference for the Coalition is 56/ 44, but only 28% of respondents in the questions asked favoured turning the boats around. Seems like Tony Abbott has some message problems.

    And for Labor, it seems the leakage to the Greens continues but Gillard and her team continue to miss this and shift every rightward chasing the conservative vote in marginal seats. Mind you if Labor is on a primary vote of 28 to 32%, even with Green preferences, votes in marginal seats aren’t going to matter!

  • 8
    Posted Monday, 26 September 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Certainly time for balanced reportage - the blatant bias in favour of Tony Abbott is surprising in this source. He is not “just opposing everything and is constructing the work of the government” - he is blatantly OBSTRUCTING the work of government.”

    Oops. Sorry ‘bout that.

  • 9
    Posted Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    You won’t find any balanced reporting or credit on here, it’s a festivus for lefty insanity as asylums fill up all over Australia with people who vote Green! The madness will continue unabated until the people of Australia come to their senses and throw this useless Government out on it’s ear! Now there is talk of a KRudd comeback?…how early the fruit is falling this season!

  • 10
    A. N. Onymus
    Posted Monday, 3 October 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    William Bowe,

    If you’re “Sorry ‘bout that” why haven’t you corrected it in the article?