Tony Abbott won’t make it to the next election as Prime Minister, voters believe, and they think we’re doing too little on climate change, according to today’s Essential Report.

Belief that “climate change is happening and is caused by human activity” is at its highest point since Essential began asking in 2009, at 57%, with the view “we are just witnessing a normal fluctuation in the earth’s climate” endorsed by 29%, the first time that has dropped below 30%. In contrast, in December 2010, voters split 45%/36% on the same views, and as late as October 2013 they split 52%-36%. Even Coalition voters are now almost evenly split, 42%/44%, while Other voters — traditionally climate sceptics — split 49%-38%. Fifty-one per cent of voters say they have become more concerned about climate change over the last two years, while 35% say they’ve remained “about the same”; Coalition voters split 38%/43%. And 51% of voters believe Australia is not doing enough on climate change; 26% believe we’re doing enough (and 6%, too much). However, more voters think the US (53%) and China (63%) should be doing more in climate change (despite China’s massive investment in renewables and nuclear power).

The government’s adjustment to an “optional” GP co-payment has improved voter sentiment about the proposal, but not enough: 44% of voters, including 25% of Coalition voters, oppose the new proposal in which doctors would receive a lower rebate and be encouraged to charge a co-payment.

Asked whom they believe will win the next election, 46% of voters say Labor and 27% the Coalition; 16% of Coalition voters believe Labor will win (just 2% of Labor voters believe the Coalition will win); Other voters split 40%/16% to Labor. But voters also believe Tony Abbott won’t lead the Coalition at the next election: 51% say he is unlikely to be leader, while 29% say he is likely to be. That includes 29% of Coalition voters who say he is unlikely to be. Forty seven per cent of voters say Bill Shorten is likely to be leader come the next election; 20% think it unlikely he’ll still be leader; 12% of Labor voters say it’s unlikely Shorten will still be leader.


The government also has a credibility gap over the Great Barrier Reef, with 55% of voters saying they believe UNESCO when it says the Reef is in danger, rather than the government, which says everything is fine with the Reef — a position accepted by 20% of voters. The issue is heavily partisan, though — Greens voters split 86%-1%, Labor voters 69%-12% and Coalition voters 34%-38%. There’s also strong opposition to further expansion of the coal industry, with 40% of voters saying the coal industry should not expand further, compared to 34% who believe it should continue to expand.

On voting intention, Labor ends the year ahead 52%-48%, down from last week’s 53%-47%. The Coalition is on 40% (up one), Labor on 38% (down one); the Greens and PUP steady on 10% and 2% respectively.

Peter Fray

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