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 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.
Context is everything. All of a sudden Labor’s political predicament does not seem as dire; no-one is dead or missing; nuclear reactors aren’t melting down; the only after-shocks are electoral.
The enormity of the Japan catastrophe wipes everything else from public consciousness, allowing a wounded prime minister and her team to step back from the limelight, reflect and regroup.
As this week’s Essential Report shows, there is a path to repairing the damage the government has suffered and a way of setting up a debate that could, in the long-term, see it regain the political initiative.
Like so much in politics, the secret lies in the questions you ask. Ask whether people support a price on carbon and the answer is a decisive ‘no’.
It was a year ago today that the hottest gig in global warming opened in Copenhagen, amidst expectations that the world’s leaders would rise above their geographical interests and make a stand for the future.
Twelve months on and the hopes of Copenhagen seem as retro as a Midnight Oil album, the world has opted to sleep even when our beds are burning.
While the lack of political action over the past year has been well documented, this week’s Essential Report picks up another dynamic that is both a response to and a driver for this inertia. For the first time, we have found less than 50 per cent of Australians think climate change is real.
|Dec 10||Vote Labor||Vote Lib/Nat||Vote Greens|
|Climate change is happening and is caused by human activity||45%||53%||32%||76%|
|We are just witnessing a normal fluctuation in the earth’s climate||36%||27%||53%||14%|
The magic of Christmas lies in the expectation. You hang out the stocking, leave a piece of cake and a stubbie for Santa and head off to bed.
When you wake up, there it is laid out for you, something shiny and new that you really, really wanted.
In this spirit it should come as no surprise that the Federal Parliament’s final act of the year was the passage of legislation enabling the rollout of the National Broadband Network, the embodiment of Labor’s hope that something better lies around the corner.
And there are grounds for optimism. In an era of cynicism with nearly every aspect of politics – and despite a concerted Opposition attack – this week’s Essential Report shows strong and increasing support for the network.
As if dealing with four independent blokes, a Green bloke and a blokey bloke in charge of the Opposition is not enough, now Julia Gillard is developing a problem with blokes outside the Parliament.
Having politely indicated that they were happy with a female Prime Minister in the lead-up to the federal election, this week’s Essential Report picks up sharp moves in the attitudes of the brotherhood.
In the absence of any compelling policy development to explain the surge, we are left with the Bradley Effect, the theory created to explain why an African-American candidate lost the 1982 race for Governor of California despite having a massive lead in the polls.
The details of the Bradley Effect later, first some numbers from this week’s Essential Report.
There are some silly buggers going on in Canberra this week.
Firstly, there’s the NBN. With the Bill for the structural separation of Telstra hitting the Senate this week, the government is playing silly buggers on who’ll they’ll let get a briefing on the business case.
The government demanded Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and other interested parties provide signature on a confidentiality agreement that would have prevented him discussing its content of the business plan for seven years.
Then they reduced it to four years. Then a couple of years. And then, two weeks.
Good way to maintain credibility.
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