Australians remain strongly opposed to our continuing involvement in Afghanistan, polling from Essential Research has found.

The weekly online poll of 1043 voters shows 64% of voters want us to withdraw from Afghanistan, with 21% wanting to maintain our current presence and 4% wanting to see an increase. The numbers are virtually identical to those of November 2011, as is the non-partisan nature of the opposition — Labor, Coalition and Greens voters are all strongly opposed, although Greens voters tend to be even more strongly opposed than others.

More voters (44%) believe women are not “respected and treated fairly” in the defence forces than think they are (31%); there’s also little to distinguish voters on party lines on this question, except that Greens voters are more likely to believe women are respected. There is, however, a significant gender gap: men are almost evenly split, 40-37%, whereas women are strongly of the view that they aren’t respected in the defence forces, 48-25%.

And more than a year on from WikiLeaks’ release of diplomatic cables and despite incessant attention on Julian Assange’s possible extradition to Sweden, voters continue to support WikiLeaks, with 53% supporting the media organisation’s release of material and 26% opposed, almost the same result as December 2010.

Around a third (36%) of voters also think the government has failed to provide sufficient support for Assange in the face of possible extradition to Sweden and to the United States, compared to 22% who think he’s received appropriate support; there’s a big “don’t know” element (41%) suggesting many voters may not have kept up with the ongoing legal case.

With WikiLeaks announcing that Assange will stand for the Senate (and run a candidate against Julia Gillard in Lalor), Victoria also emerges as the state most sympathetic to Assange out of the larger states, with 38% believing he hasn’t received appropriate support, compared to 33% of Queensland voters and 36% of NSW voters.

Essential also asked about support for unions with 48% of voters saying they’d been good for workers and 17% bad; predictably, the result reflected partisan  divisions, with Labor and Greens voters strongly pro-union and Coalition voters evenly split 31-31%. There’s also strong agreement unions remain important for working people, 56-19%.

On voting intention, there’s been a slight rise for Labor: primary vote up a point to 32% and the Coalition down a point to 48%, and the Greens up 1 point to 11%. The two-party preferred result slips back to 56-44% in the Coalition’s favour compared to 57-43% last week.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW