Who says the
AWB scandal isn’t causing a stir. Gary Morgan has been working the phones and his
findings
are bad news for the Government:

A majority of Australians (54%) think Prime
Minister John Howard did not act ethically over AWB Ltd.’s wheat to Iraq… Similar proportions of Australians
aged 14 and over think Foreign Minister Alexander Downer (56%) and Deputy Prime
Minister and Trade Minister Mark Vaile (55%) did not act ethically…

Now four-in-five (80% up 3% since late February) Australians
are aware of the Royal Commission and only 20% (down 3%) are unaware of the
Royal Commission. When it comes to perceptions of the Federal Government as a
whole 63% (up 6% from 57%) think it acted ethically on the issue while 18% (up
1%) think it did not act ethically.

Almost two-thirds (65% up 6%) of Australians
think AWB Ltd. did not act ethically in their negotiations to sell wheat to
Iraq, 12% (unchanged) think it acted ethically and 23% (down 6%) couldn’t say.

Of those Australians who are aware of the Royal
Commission, 58% think Mr Howard did not act ethically, 63% think Mr Downer did
not act ethically and 63% think Mr Vaile did not act ethically. Almost
three-quarters (74%) of Australians who had heard of the Royal Commission think
AWB acted unethically and 68% think the Federal Government acted unethically.

A separate
Morgan Poll puts support for Australia’s presence in Iraq at an all time low:

Fifty-nine per cent of
Australians (up 8% since March 2005 and 13% since March 2004) think Australia
should not have a military presence in Iraq
a special telephone Morgan Poll finds. Only 35% (down 10%) of Australians aged
14 and over think Australia
should have a military presence and 6% (up 2%) couldn’t say.

How does
all of this translate into practical politics? Well, an election is 18 months
away – and we all know a lot can happen in that time.

Peter Fray

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