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Essential: Gillard comes out ahead on AWU

Voters are indifferent to the AWU scandal, but still think the Prime Minister is too soft on asylum seekers.

Voters are indifferent to claims about Julia Gillard’s involvement in the AWU scandal 20 years ago and rate her handling of it far ahead of the opposition and the media, new polling from Essential Research finds.

After a week of unremitting coverage in the last parliamentary week of the year, 31% of voters said they had heard a lot about the scandal and 29% said “some”; 37% said they’d heard little or nothing. And 39% of voters rated the Prime Minister’s handling of the issue as “good”, compared to 35% who rated it “poor”.

This was well ahead of the opposition, which repeatedly accused the Prime Minister of illegality last week and twice backed away from the claim. Coalition Senator and shadow Attorney-General George Brandis called the Prime Minister a “crook” inside Parliament but then refused to repeat the claim without parliamentary privilege. Twenty per cent of voters thought the opposition’s handling of the issue was good, but 49% thought it was poor, including 28% who thought it was “very poor”. Twenty per cent of voters thought the media had handled the matter well, while 37% thought it was poor; 36% thought it was neither good nor poor.

Asked whether the issue had affected their view of the Prime Minister, 59% of voters said they either hadn’t changed their view or viewed her more positively; 38% viewed her more negatively as a result.

That outcome strongly follows party lines, confirming that to the extent that it gained any traction among voters, the smear campaign tended to confirming existing views rather than change them. Sixty-four per cent of Liberal voters said they viewed the Prime Minister more negatively; 89% of Labor voters said they viewed her the same or more positively, and 77% of Greens voters said the same. However, 35% of Liberal voters said it had no effect on their view of the Prime Minister.

There were also differences depending on the degree to which voters had paid attention to the issue. Voters who had heard a lot about the issue rated the Prime Minister’s handling of it poorly in net terms, compared to all voters, and more likely to say they viewed her more negatively as a result as well. This should give some hope to those continuing to push the smear campaign in the media and the opposition. However, those who had heard a lot about the matter were even more likely to view the opposition negatively as a result, and also more likely to rate the media’s performance poorly as well.

There’s better news for the Coalition on asylum seekers: Tony Abbott leads the Prime Minister in positive perceptions about handling of that issue. The Opposition Leader is regarded as a little more principled, more balanced, more responsible and more fair, but few voters believe either leader particularly matches those descriptions. Voters are more comfortable with words such as “stubborn” (Gillard 13%, Abbott 17%), “just playing politics” (Gillard 39%, Abbott 42%) and “populist” (13% and 11%). Interestingly given the incessant publicity about how cruel conditions are on Nauru, 32% of voters still believe Gillard is “too soft” on asylum seekers, compared to only 9% who believe that of Abbott.

Similar questions were asked in October 2011; the Prime Minister has significantly improved on “stubborn”, from 26% to 13%. And fewer people think Gillard is “too hard”, down from 10% to 6%, but the number of people who think she is “too soft” has increased from 21% to 32%.

On voting intention, Labor has edged up a point on its primary vote to 37% on Essential’s rolling fortnightly average, while the Greens have dropped a point to 9%. The Coalition is steady on 47% for an unchanged two-party preferred outcome of 53-47%.

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  • 1
    tonyfunnywalker
    Posted Monday, 3 December 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    And the Biggest Losers are — - The Press. Comparing the results with News Ltd — Who are Galaxy? The Market Research Society need to investigate them.
    I note the Fairfax Press has seen the light even with an expose on Abbott. Bolt give Abbott a Free kick and his bias by not querieng him on his ” Slush Fund” and OZ of course wants the whole transcript. In my workplaces termination notices and salary levels are confidential to the person under the Privacy Provisions.
    I wonder what a few Golden Parachuted CEO’s may be thinking about this propopsal?
    At least the electors and their view of the Press again reinforces their irrelevance to most people and is purely aimed at their own self importance.
    BTW well done First Dog on the Moon on the Walkley at least you deserved it.

  • 2
    jennatilz mckrackin
    Posted Monday, 3 December 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I was given the exact opposite impression from a channel ten news report last night. They only quoted parts of that survey and used it to say Gillard was getting slammed.

  • 3
    Peter Fuller
    Posted Monday, 3 December 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    jen mck.,
    It sounds like the report you heard was from a different poll, one by Galaxy, which on the basis of what seemed like loaded questions, reached a more hostile conclusion. The difference might also reflect when the polls were taken, Galaxy was either Thursday/Friday or Wednesday/Thursday (I’ve heard conflicting reports); presumably Essential was later.

  • 4
    Pedantic, Balwyn
    Posted Monday, 3 December 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    So after Tony Abbott & Co has wasted the whole week of the time we elected them to represent the people in offering an alternative policy, but spent it in castigating Ms Gillard the result is ZILCH.
    It really is becoming difficult to elect these dills. They lack strategic competence, logical thinking and any semblance of policy.
    So much legislation was passed without comment that they have demonstrated that they are not capable of Government.

  • 5
    Patriot
    Posted Monday, 3 December 2012 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Journalists will be asking Gillard questions about her involvement in the Boulder fraud soon. Her party will be asking her to step down. She’ll either resign or she’ll flip out under the pressure and lose her marbles.

  • 6
    Achmed
    Posted Monday, 3 December 2012 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    The big losers last week were the Australian taxpayers. I thought we paid our politicians to manage the country, but instead all we got was unsubstantiated allegations, false allegations, insults and smear.

  • 7
    Patriot
    Posted Monday, 3 December 2012 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    It’s “sleaze and smear”. Get it right. She must have said it a hundred times by now. She said it 8 times on Meet the Press alone. You failed to mention that Victorian and West Australian taxpayers got police investigations into Gillards criminal conduct. I don’t think my taxes have ever been spent on a more worthwhile cause.

  • 8
    Achmed
    Posted Tuesday, 4 December 2012 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    I was more concerned about the lack of debate about things that impact on Aussies. But then as a Liberal you are more interested in “sleaze and smear” than debating policy. Can’t debate what you haven’t got.
    If all the Liberals are relying on is the “she’s bad mantra” to get re-elected then we really are in trouble.

  • 9
    Graeme Weber
    Posted Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    All these comments on the lack of debate on important things. Get a grip, the AWU scandle is being raised in Question Time, not policy time! The HSC & AWU questions are important for Australia as they show the lack of integrity and honesty of sections of the Union Movement and current leaders of the Government. I wonder when Bill Shorten will be asked to explain his role in hiding this?

  • 10
    Achmed
    Posted Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    So its Ok to waste QT on allegations instead of asking questions about policy?
    The way Liberal supporters carry on about integrity and honesty of Unions. But blithely ignore the fraudsters in businesses. Like the businesses that rorted and stole taxpayer money during the Pink batts. Really just shows their hypocricy and lack of any credibility, honesty and ethics

  • 11
    Edward James
    Posted Friday, 7 December 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    The need to make sure when Labor is voted out of government. Voters need to number their ballots below the line directing their own preferences. Putting Labor and their supporters last on any ballot paper. To make sure they are are also voted right out of our parliament. If taxpayers want to take their first step toward achieving honest open representative government! Edward James

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