Voters’ views on the proposed referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the constitution are hardening, today’s Essential Report reveals, with a significant drop in voters responding “don’t know” and rises in both support and opposition.
Much of that resolution in sentiment has flowed towards the “no” camp, which has lifted from 10% to 16% in the past year — still far short of the sort of level that would threaten passage of a recognition proposal. Negative sentiment among both Labor (6% to 13%) and Liberal voters (16% to 21%) has risen. The weakness of support among Liberal voters — who are even less positive about the referendum than “other” voters — is an indication of Tony Abbott’s bravery in pushing hard on the referendum, which leaves him — unusually — exposed to attack from within his party base.
Coalition voters also remain in denialist mode on climate change, with 50% of Liberal voters saying anthropogenic climate change doesn’t exist, compared to 40% who believe it does. Seventy per cent of Labor voters accept the existence of climate change, and 95% (only 95%?) of Greens voters. Overall, 56% of voters accept climate change and 31% do not, not much of a shift from March or December, when the question was last asked, although 56% is the second-highest level recorded by Essential since 2009. In terms of international action, 28% of voters think we’re doing enough on climate change, while 53% think we’re not doing enough; voters split 26%/51% on that question in December.
Essential also asked about what carbon emissions targets should be set by Australia, ahead of the international climate conference to be held in Paris later this year. With Abbott saying the government would not reveal its hand until after the Coalition joint party room had debated the targets, just 18% of voters want the government to retain its current (bipartisan) target of 5% on 2000 levels by 2020. A quarter of voters want us to move to a higher target such as 10%, but 34% of voters support adopting the Climate Change Authority’s proposed target of 30% below 2000 levels by 2025. Coalition voters more strongly support retaining the current target, while Labor and Greens voters prefer the CCA target. Even “other” voters — who traditionally tend to be climate denialists — split evenly, 30% each, on a higher target and the CCA target.