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Mar 11, 2013

Essential: Gillard falls further, and voters hate privatisation

Julia Gillard has returned to the approval rating lows of mid-2012, even as voters indicate there are opportunities for Labor to capitalise on key issues. Gillard is now equally non-preferred as PM to Tony Abbott.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

The Prime Minister’s approval rating with voters has worsened, but the collapse in Labor’s vote appears to have stabilised, according to today’s Essential Report.

Julia Gillard’s net approval rating, which peaked in mid-January at net minus 8 points, is at its worst since August last year, with 36% of voters approving of her performance and 56% disapproving, up a point from net minus 19 points in February. Tony Abbott’s approval rating has lifted by a point and his disapproval rating has fallen by two points, giving him a net approval rating of minus 14 points. Abbott and Gillard are now equal on preferred Prime Minister, on 39% each, a fall of two points for the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader’s best outcome since August.

However, Labor’s primary vote has lifted two points to 34% after plunging to 32% last week, with the Coalition (48%) and the Greens (9%) coming off a point. The 2PP outcome is 55-45% to the Coalition, a shift of one point in Labor’s favour.

Asylum seekers rated well ahead of 457 visas as an issues of concern — 38% of voters said they were most concerned about asylum seekers, 20% about the use of 457 visas, and 18% said they were most concerned about the overall increase in Australia’s population.

But that outcome changed significantly when more detail was provided: when voters were asked whether they were most concerned about 15,000 asylum seekers arriving by boat or 150,000 foreign workers using 457 visas or a population increase of 300,000 a year, the number most concerned about asylum seekers fell to 33%, the number concerned about 457 visas rose to 31% and the number concerned about population increase was about the same (down 1 point to 17%). That suggests Labor’s effort to exploit the issue might yet bear fruit if it is able to get voters to focus more on the issue.

And just over a week after the Queensland government announced a new privatisation-heavy health policy, Essential asked about attitudes to privatisation, which have traditionally been highly negative in the electorate. Just over half — 58% — of voters say privatisation is a bad idea, and only 22% say it’s a good idea. Curiously, the dislike of privatisation is also unmarked by the usual partisanship: 64% of Labor voters think privatisation is a bad idea, but 54% of Liberal voters agree, as do 70% of Greens voters.

Voters also overwhelmingly prefer key infrastructure services run by government, in attitudes little changed since similar questions were asked in 2011. Sixty two per cent of voters think electricity is better run by government; 69% water, 64% public transport, 66% motorways, 61% universities, 69% schools. Only telecommunications and broadband is viewed differently — 45% think telecommunications is better run by the private sector compared to 44% who think government should run it.


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6 thoughts on “Essential: Gillard falls further, and voters hate privatisation

  1. zut alors

    Voters really do hate privatisation, ask Anna Bligh. In vain we tried to tell her.

  2. Bill Hilliger

    And so voting Anna Bligh out because she wanted to flog off public assets. We now have can-do-nuemann flogging off the same public assets. Joe Hookey has vowed to flog off medibank, and yes, we’re voting for that lot. You betcha!

  3. David Hand

    Here we have more push polling from the ALP research unit. Adding the quantum of people on 457 visas to be 10 times that of asylum seekers simply plays on voters antipathy towards immigration in general.

    This is a classic case of framing the question to deliver the required answer.

  4. shepherdmarilyn

    All these polls are worthless. When the hell are we going to stop having this crap presented as gospel news?

  5. Joel

    Indeed, the less facts that voters have their hands on, the better their votes will be. Nasty, grubby, things, those so-called “facts”. Best to leave them well out of the picture. Look, typhoid!

  6. MJPC

    So voters hate privatisation and they want to vote out the Labout party and vote in the LNP to whom privatisation is a God at whose alter they will sacrifice any service or infrastructure that the tax payers paid for (and, unfortunately, the Labour party is not averse to worship either).
    I am with shepherdmarilyn, the poles are crap no matter what they say. They are created by the media organisations to be fed upon by the media organisations. Evidence today’s with the PM back in the +% over Mr Abbott. When it was the other way around the chattering classes waxed lyrical about the end of Labour (helped along by innacurate assessment of the WA election). Now the poll results have changed they are waxing lyrical about Labour is finished because the WA results said so (but not the latest polls). Give us a break; it’s just so much BS!