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Mar 25, 2014

Essential: we think we’re highly taxed; Labor claws back voter esteem

Australians believe they're highly taxed compared internationally, and that it's getting worse, today's Essential Report finds.

Australians believe that they are more highly taxed than other developed countries and that their tax burden has increased in the last five years, today’s Essential Report shows — but they believe taxes are high enough to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Gonski education reforms and other social service programs.

Sixty-four per cent of voters believe taxes are higher in Australia than in other developed countries, Essential found. Only 8% think they’re lower. And while 69% of Coalition voters think they’re higher, so do 64% of Labor voters (and the same proportion of other voters), while Greens voters are split 47%-15%. According to OECD-compiled data (using Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, not Australian, methodology) up to 2012, Australia had the fifth-lowest tax-to-GDP ratio out of 34 countries, 26.5%, compared to an average of 31%. Only Mexico, Chile, the United States and South Korea have lower tax-to-GDP ratios than Australia.

And 65% of voters think taxes have increased in the last five years, while 9% believe they’ve decreased. However, 72% of Labor voters believe they’ve risen, compared to 65% of Coalition voters and 46% of Greens voters. Some 24% of voters believe taxes have “increased a lot” — again, with more Labor than Coalition voters believing it — while 20% believe they’ve stayed the same.

According to budget figures, taxation receipts as a proportion of GDP fell from 21.7% of GDP in 2008-09 to 21.4% in 2012-13, and are estimated to be 21.8% of GDP this year. In the final year of the Howard government it was 23.6%. Labor implemented its election promise tax cuts in 2008, almost fully copied from the Coalition election promise in 2007, although these were partially reversed by the temporary flood levy and then the NDIS levy.

However, 47% of voters think the current level of taxation is sufficient to fund services such as the NDIS and the Gonski education reforms, which many economists and Treasury insist can’t be afforded without tax rises. Thirty-three per cent of voters believe taxes will need to rise to pay for them. Labor voters are the most optimistic, with 52% of voters thinking current taxes are enough to pay for reforms and 28% who think they aren’t. Coalition voters split 48%-39%. Greens voters split the other way, 31%-43%.

The figures demonstrate the success the Coalition had in portraying the previous government as high-taxing one, helped of course by a relentless focus on the carbon price and the mining tax, even as Labor cut income taxes and falling company tax collection savaged the budget bottom line. However, the Coalition now faces the flip side of its success, having encouraged Australians to believe they are highly taxed, as voters are less inclined to believe taxes may need to rise to fund new expenditure like the NDIS.

The Labor Party has also improved its standing in the eyes of voters on a range of attributes. Compared to November last year, it has improved on a range of positive indicators and declined on negative indicators: it has fallen 14 points on “divided”, from 72% to 58%, gone up 8 points on “clear on what they stand for” to 42%, and gone down 4 points on “out of touch”. The Coalition, meanwhile, has mostly done the opposite: down 6 points on “clear on what they stand for”, up 7 points on “divided”, up 4 points on “will do anything to win votes”. However, the Coalition has declined on “extreme” and actually fell a point on “too close to the big corporate and financial interests”. A comparison shows the Coalition still ahead on many indicators, but for the first time since 2009, Labor looks competitive on voter esteem.


On voting intention, it’s still 51-49 to the government, with Labor and the Coalition both picking up a primary vote point to 44% and 37% respectively; the Greens remain on 9%, Clive Palmer’s party on 4%.

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7 thoughts on “Essential: we think we’re highly taxed; Labor claws back voter esteem

  1. klewso

    Where would the deficit be if not for Howard’s vote-buying tax cuts and Iraq?

  2. Chris Hartwell

    Essential demonstrates that the majority are still low-information voters. Unfortunately.

  3. R. Ambrose Raven

    Blame the media just as much as the Noalition.

    Abbott does not care what he says, nor do the duplicity of ideologues in the mainstream media. In contrast to the relentless media campaign against Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Abbott was and is allowed to get away with heaps, then and now.

    Abbott’s industry election promise was of five pillars to unlock our potential in manufacturing innovation, advanced services, agriculture exports, education and research, mining exports. He and Hockey then worked to destroy the car industry and SPC, sacked large numbers of scientists and closed specialist research organisations, while promoting live animal exports despite shipping incidents and deaths that would give pause to the less obsessed, readied signing of a sell-out FTA with Korea, worked to destroy our potential in renewables innovation, and approved mining industry applications with no examination of nett benefit.

    Abbott actually told the workers to be sacked at Holden that the destruction of their existing work was actually “liberation”.

    None of that has received any significant media criticism. It was a measure of the perversion of social values that the horrific stresses of unemployment due to large employer closures were generally not even acknowledged by the media; it was infotainment. It also reflects the mainstream media’s determination to advance transnational interests.

    When in Feb ’14 regarding SPC’s application to the Noalition for assistance was rejected, Abbott, Hockey, Abetz, and their duplicity of ideologues in the mainstream media all worked to an agreed memo. Coca-Cola Amatil was profitable and worker conditions were overly generous, the “age of entitlement” was over, workers get nine weeks of paid leave a year, etc. Important issues such as the dumping of cheap foreign imports into the Australian market, tariffs imposed on exported products and the high dollar were and will be carefully avoided.

    When Liberal MP Sharman Stone (MHR for Murray) accused the Prime Minister and Treasurer Joe Hockey of “lying” and of playing up ‘piffling’ provisions in the fruit factory’s enterprise agreement, the media let the matter quickly fade away. Even the “lying” was presented in inverted commas.

  4. AR

    Low information voters they may be but still smart enough to realise they made a mistake in Sept,

  5. CML

    I just don’t believe Essential’s polls. When you have Morgan positive for Labor – 54.5% to 45.5%, and Newspoll also Labor’s way – 52% to 48%, these numbers just don’t add up! Either that, or this is a rogue poll?

    As for the ‘attributes’ table – is that some kind of a joke, or are the voters that stupid?
    “Have good policies”? The Libs don’t have any.
    “Trustworthy”? The Libs couldn’t l+e straight in bed.
    “Keeps its promises”? An even bigger joke.
    “Has a good team of leaders”? Old, jaded, white men who are living in the last century!
    “Have a vision for the future”? A vision for the past, more likely.
    And that’s just for starters!!!

  6. CML

    I can ‘t believe it!!! That stupid rAbbott has now reintroduced Dames and Knighthoods.
    The bloody world has gone mad (or ar least the Oz bit of it).

    And as for our celebrated (soon to be ex GG) accepting a “dameship”? Early onset dementia perhaps? She just lost all credibility IMHO.


  7. MJPC

    CML; it’s bread and circuses for the masses. And what does Comrade Brandis say this morning on the radio…interest in the royal family is on the rise which will be proved by the visit next month!
    I think Abbott and crew need to stop visiting nursing homes for their input on public opinion.
    This sort of guff keeps the real issues off the front pages, such as Manus Island, Sinodinos. Why else is Abbott front and centre on the MH370 seach taskings? Doesn’t Australia have a transport minister?