If you thought coverage of the Queen’s hats and curtsey-gate was bad, just wait until Air Force One touches down in Australia this week.
There will be excruciating live crosses counting down the minutes until president Obama lands on Australian soil; describing in detail each element of the motorcade snaking through the roundabouts of Canberra.
It’s hard – make that impossible – to imagine an Asian head of state receiving such fanfare.
But it turns out media overkill is no guide to the way Australians understand our place in the world.
We might admire the Queen’s class and staying power, we might love the thrill of a POTUS visit; but we hold our cultural allegiances at arms length from our views on our future prosperity.
With the carbon debate set to hit the pointy end of Federal Parliament this week, get set for more character analysis of our beleaguered Prime Minister.
With her public persona now inextricably tied to her decision to accept that her approach to carbon pricing amounts to a broken promise, it’s worth looking into what’s fuelling the ‘Juliar’ phenomenon.
After all – Politician Lies – there’s hardly a headline in that right?
Q. Which statement best reflects your view:
|Total||Vote Labor||Vote Lib/Nat||Vote Greens|
|When a politician makes a statement or commitment they should stick to it no matter what.||17%||12%||21%||16%|
|As situations change, it is reasonable that politicians change their positions.||47%||65%||36%||61%|
|Politicians almost always lie – it’s naive to think otherwise.||36%||23%||43%||23%|
Tony Abbott’s attempts to turn the nation’s richest households into welfare victims has resulted in a self-inflicted political wedge that turns the Coalition’s creed of self-sufficiency onto its own support base.
It was the sideshow of budget week, reporters scouring the nation for hard-working Aussie families, victims of Labor’s decision to finally begin winding back the system of universal direct cash payments that became a feature of the Howard years.
Manufacturing outrage at the moves to cap payments to families on incomes of under $150,000 was always a big ask; after all a constituency of 15 per cent – concentrated at levels far above the threshold – is hardly a mass movement.
As results from this week’s Essential Report show, the measures had the majority support of not just Labor and Green voters, but also Coalition voters and families earning above the threshold.
The compelling narrative emerging from the Canberra Press Gallery is that Labor is dead, Gillard is a dud leader and the whole show should put itself out of its misery and hand power to the Coalition.
It’s a message reinforced with the release of each major opinion poll; take this week ‘Budget falls flat’, ‘Gillard on the nose’, ‘More troubles with boatpeople’.
The problem is that polls and analysis are completely different beasts and if you judge the national debate purely on the numbers, there is a very different story – a government weighed down by a major reform, stabilising in key areas.
1. Preferred Party
The Coalition has an election-winning lead, but it is two years out from the election. The polling numbers have been stable since the announcement of the carbon tax – proof that Labor requires a long game if it is to win the next election.
This week’s Essential Report actually picks up a minor bounce to Labor, exaggerated by some rounding issues, but like the other polls, Labor is behind but not miles behind.
|2PP||Election 21.8.10||4 weeks ago||2 weeks ago||Last week||This week|
The vindication of Lindsay Tanner’s thesis that the Canberra Press Gallery has turned politics into a celebrity blood sport may be the fact that his key argument is being largely ignored.
Behind the war stories, Tanner’s thrust is that the trivialisation of politics is a natural function of a media industry fighting for its very survival under the pressure of technological change, increased competition and dwindling audiences.
With so much focus on our twin domains of media and politics we couldn’t resist using this week’s Essential Report to test some of these propositions.
First, we tested people’s level of interest in politics, finding that while older Australians are highly engaged, younger people increasingly are not.
The Prime Minister has been dedicating a significant slice of stump time in recent weeks to explaining the differences between the ALP and the Greens, how one emerges from real-world struggles and the other is a group of out-of-touch extremists.
A similar debate has been being waged within the Greens following their underwhelming NSW state election performance, where a local candidate’s intervention in the Middle East peace provided the platform to portray the party as a collective of bat-faced ideologues.
But as the debate about the Greens’ orientation gains pertinence as they move to assume the balance of power in the Senate a more basic fact is being missed: Labor voters and Green voters agree on just about everything.
A review of findings to Essential Research questions over the past few months finds that on nearly every big debate the similarities between Greens voters and Labor voters far outweigh their differences.
That philosopher to the common-folk, Tony Abbott, is this week dealing with his own slings and arrows as he enters the political twilight zone of disapproval from which some never return.
Despite ongoing difficulties within the Labor Government, Abbott is showing no signs of establishing himself as anything more than an attack dog whose fortunes rise when he runs negative on issues that happen to also be currently unpopular with the public.
This leaves him exposed when he has a bad week, such as the past one when he split his front bench by attempting to come up with a way of paying for flood reconstruction by cutting back anti-terrorism programs before nearly jobbing a TV reporter.
As this week’s Essential Report shows the response has been a sharp rise in disapproval to 46 per cent and drop-off in approvals to 37 per cent. To put this into perspective, the ALP moved on Kevin Rudd when his disapproval rating hit 47 per cent, with 41 per cent approval.
Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Tony Abbott is doing as Opposition Leader?
|18 Jan||29 Mar||5 Jul||16 Aug||20 Sep||18 Oct||22 Nov||20 Dec||17 Jan 2011||14 Feb 2011|
When the floods have receded, the cyclone has blown, the bushfires have burned out and Sydneysiders can sleep again, one question will remain: what if the hippies are right?
Willingness to convince the public there is a link between extreme weather and climate change will go a long way towards determining whether the Prime Minister can meet her own KPI of securing a price on carbon.
Recent history shows that the public responds to the need for action on climate change when warnings are being reinforced by their own experiences and observations. It is no coincidence that support for action peaked in the middle of the last drought and fell away as weather patterns returned to something close to normal.
Now we have a summer from climate apocalypse central casting – but as this week’s Essential Report shows – climate change is barely on the radar.
The nation opened their hearts to Queensland as floods threatened communities and cities over summer, but now they are being asked to open their wallets it appears to be a very different story.
After more than two decades of being conditioned to expect prosperity without sacrifice, Australians seem in no mood to kick the can when it comes to rebuilding Queensland’s infrastructure.
In the first public polling of attitudes towards the proposed floods levy, Essential Research has found majority opposition to the modest impost proposed by the Prime Minister.
Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the Government introducing a one-off levy on taxpayers to pay for damage caused by the recent floods?
|Total||Vote Labor||Vote Lib/Nat||Vote Greens||Qld||NSW||Vic||Other states|
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