The government’s proposed legislation targeting the construction industry has support from about a third of voters, as does Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to use the ABCC bill as the basis for a double dissolution election, according to today’s Essential Report.

Voters support the government’s ABCC bill by two to one (35%-17%), with even Labor voters supporting it 27%-26%, although there’s a high “don’t know” response. Better yet for the government, that level has lifted since late 2013, when support overall was 29%-22%.

And voters also support a double dissolution election based on the ABCC bill. While this poll was conducted before Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement yesterday, it indicates voters back his intention to go to an election if the Senate refuses to pass the ABCC bill.

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Even Labor voters support an early election, 34%-28%, although, again, there’s a strong “don’t know” response across all voter categories. Labor voters, however, may have mixed motives for wanting an election, because the parties are still locked at 50-50 on the two-party preferred outcome. As we enter what will likely be the longest election campaign in Australian history, the Coalition’s primary vote is up a point to 43% while Labor’s primary vote is up two points to 38%, while the Greens are down a point to 10%.

Essential also asked about sexual harassment: 28% of women and 14% of men reported that they had been sexually harassed at work at some point.

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People working part time and those who’ve been in the workforce longer, unsurprisingly, are more likely to report harassment. What constitutes harassment? That produces a surprising result: men and women have roughly similar views about what kind of behaviour is sexual harassment. “Sending sexual emails” was most commonly cited as an example of sexual harassment (61%), with another 27% saying it “sometimes” would be harassment; 60% of men and 62% of women agreed it was. “Touching someone in a familiar way” was the next most widely agreed form of harassment, with 46% saying it was always harassment and 37% saying it was sometimes harassment; women were slightly more inclined to see it as harassment than men (49% to 44%). Men and women were broadly in agreement about “telling sexual stories” (28% always, 47% sometimes) and also almost identical in how they viewed “if your superior asks you on a date” — 26% always and 39% sometimes, while “flirting with a co-worker” was seen as always harassment by only 19%, with 50% saying “sometimes” and 23% saying it was never harassment.

And in light of Malcolm Turnbull’s dogged support for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, Essential asked what other issues voters wanted a plebiscite on. Sixty one per cent of voters want a plebiscite on euthanasia — almost certainly to overturn the current ban on euthanasia imposed by politicians, given strong community support for medically assisted death for terminally ill people. And 58% want a plebiscite on abortion, another area where strong community support far outstrips that of politicians, who across different states have retained a series of restrictions on it.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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