Tony Abbott’s so-called achievement in scrapping the carbon tax last week has not arrested the government’s downward trajectory in the polls, with Labor’s primary support rising by three points and voters still favouring Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for a third consecutive month.
Abbott’s overall “trustworthiness” rating now stands at a record low of 35 per cent after Joe Hockey’s first budget, which has also shredded his standing as preferred treasurer.
Christopher Pyne’s “popularity” amongst voters remains steady at minus 35 per cent.
The budget’s mix of harsh cuts and new imposts, including the $7 GP co-payment and an increase in fuel tax, have wiped out a 17 percentage point advantage Mr Hockey had over shadow treasurer Chris Bowen in March.
That collapse comes after weeks of policy inertia by the government, which delivered a budget containing measures expressly ruled out before the election and for which it has since done little to build a case.
The Treasurer vacated the budget battleground during the carbon tax argument, only to return from holidays threatening to introduce harsher cuts unless the Senate capitulated to his demands.
The nationwide survey of 1400 people was taken from Thursday, July 17, to Saturday, July 19, and shows Labor well ahead of the Coalition on two-party preferred terms at 54 per cent to 46 per cent, based on 2013 preference flows.
That amounts to a swing to Labor of 7.5 per cent since September.
The survey period straddled the deaths of 37 Australian citizens and residents aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday night.
Mr Abbott’s assured handling of the atrocity in the hours since has been well received but this has not resulted in any lift in the polls.
His approval rating has improved mildly since the June survey but he remains deeply unpopular with a net rating – the percentage of those who approve of his performance minus those who disapprove – sitting at minus 18 per cent.
That is a seven-point improvement but he still trails Blib Shorten. The Opposition Leader’s net approval slipped into negative territory but is much healthier at just minus 3 per cent.
On preferred prime minister, Mr Shorten continued to lead by 5 per cent at 46 per cent to 41 per cent.
Pollster John Stirton said the result was a bad one for the government and especially for Mr Abbott.
”Mr Abbott fell behind in May 2014 after eight months in office, faster than any previous prime minister with the exception of Paul Keating who started out behind,” he said.
”Julia Gillard was preferred PM for her first 13 months in office … Kevin Rudd was never behind and John Howard was preferred PM for 21 months after being elected.”
When respondents were asked to say whether Mr Abbott or Mr Shorten was a ”strong leader”, the Prime Minister had a seven-point lead over his rival. But that same strength shows up in negative ways, with just 38 per cent of voters viewing him as open to ideas compared with 58 per cent for Mr Shorten.
On competence, Mr Shorten leads Mr Abbott by five points, 57/52, and Mr Shorten has a 10-point lead on the question of trustworthiness, 45/35.
Both men were seen as safe from internal challenge, with about two-thirds of voters believing they had the confidence of their parties.
However, Mr Abbott was way ahead of Mr Shorten on the issue of ”vision for Australia’s future”, leading 54 to 38 per cent.
Just 28 per cent of voters regard Mr Abbott as open to influence by minority groups compared with Mr Shorten, who is seen as malleable by 42 per cent.
Mr Abbott also leads on foreign policy competence, 43/38, and decisively on an ability to make things happen, where he is ahead by 22 points on 58/36.
On economic policy, the two are evenly poised but on sensitivity to social policy the Opposition Leader scored best at 58/34.
Nauru’s Government has confirmed Hollywood actress and UN refugee envoy Angelina Jolie has accepted an invitation to visit the country.
Nauru President Baron Waqa made the invitation while attending the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence Against Women in Conflict last month.
Ms Jolie opened the conference in her capacity as Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Nauru’s government says the issues dealt with at the conference do not happen in Nauru, but it was an opportunity to discuss the impact of violence in times of conflict on refugees and asylum seekers.
In a statement, Nauru’s government says it believes the visit will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the facilities for refugees on Nauru, which it believes are world’s best practice.
It says the date and details for Ms Jolie’s visit are yet to be confirmed.
Nauru hosts an Australian asylum seeker processing centre and has begun resettling refugees processed there into its community.
Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says the visit by Ms Jolie is a matter for the Nauru government.
“Who visits Nauru is a matter for the Nauruan government, so I’ll leave that to my colleagues in Nauru,” he said.
The UNHCR last year slammed living conditions in the Nauru centre as “rat-infested, cramped and very hot”.
While Australia’s reaction to Ian Thorpe’s revelation that he is not quite straight has been overwhelmingly supportive, it is self-evident by the very fact that he felt it necessary to remain “in the closet” for so long confirms the fact that in Australia it is still not okay to be gay.
And in the same weekend that Ian Thorpe made the brave decision to be upfront with the Australian public, the very ignorance and homophobia that compels people to be fearful of disclosing their sexual orientation was also on display.
As Geelong AFL player Harry Taylor was carried on the shoulders of his teammates for his 150th game on Saturday night, he farewelled the crowd with a royal wave.
“I am up here getting ready for the game and I’ve just seen that crap from Harry – he’s a big poofter,” Channel Seven commentator Brian Taylor said.
As Fairfax journalist Eryk Bagshaw observed, it was a remark displaying the casual homophobia that still permeates some living rooms, offices, bars and stadiums around the country, only this time it was heard on national TV.
Taylor’s fellow commentators chortled like an old-boys’ club.
The comments, made on the same night that Ian Thorpe announced that he was gay, held up a mirror to attitudes still faced by many gay athletes.
“It goes to the core of the problem that we have in this country,” said Andrew Purchas, founder of the Sydney Convicts rugby club, “The connotation of Brian Taylor’s comments was that [Harry Taylor] was doing something weak and unmasculine.”
It is not the first time Taylor has made a jibe about homosexuality on air.
“I don’t want to offend his upbringing or his parents … but he looks gay,” Taylor said of 3AW colleague Seb Costello earlier this season.
When these dinosaurs are no longer granted a microphone to broadcast their ignorance and stupidity perhaps Australia might be in danger of becoming a better place.
The following article is by Michael Gordon from Fairfax….
Scott Morrison is now a victim of his own triumphalism.
Having used every opportunity to trumpet the success of his hardline approach to stopping the boats, the Immigration Minister alone has determined that any arrival, under any circumstances, for any duration, will be viewed as a sign of policy failure.
So, rather than risk being accused of weakness, the minister is prepared to hand asylum seekers back to the very authorities they say forced them to flee their homelands after what appears to be the most superficial assessment of their claims.
“Enhanced screening” of claims for refugee status is an imperfect mechanism at best when applied to asylum seekers who have been taken ashore – and quite possibly in breach of Australia’s obligations under the refugee convention.
As the United Nations refugee agency has made plain, claims for protection should be determined through a ”substantive and fair” process to establish whether they may be at risk of persecution or other human rights violations.
Asking a few questions and making a decision on the basis of top-of-the-head responses hardly fits that description. But enhanced screening is far more controversial, and far more problematic, when applied on the high seas to asylum seekers who are stressed, anxious and fearful.
In a sense, it is even more radical than turning back boats that have set off from a transit country, because the asylum seekers face return to the country from which they fled – the country in which they say they face persecution.
Had Morrison not used every question time in Parliament to taunt the Labor Party over its policy failures, invariably giving the latest tally of how many days since a boat arrived (it was 200 days on Monday), it would have been unremarkable for him to have the claims of Sri Lankan asylum seekers assessed on Christmas Island.
But he has raised the bar so high that anything remotely nuanced seems to be off limits.
Had he not chosen to withhold information, on the grounds that operations could be compromised, it would be far easier to establish if Australia is honouring its obligations.
The minister’s response is to say ”trust us”, but that is not the way the system works, especially where people’s lives are involved. Transparency, accountability and checks and balance are all essential, even where those in charge have earned the trust of those they are supposed to serve.
In every state, every age group, among men and women, the city and the country, Tony Abbott’s dissatisfaction ratings are soaring.
And it’s not just because of voter backlash against the Budget. Australians far and wide are rejecting the government’s blatant lies and broken promises and are reeling over senior minister Scott Morrison’s silence over the fate of asylum seekers at sea.
Voter support for the government has plummeted by three points to 37 per cent, and even more heavily in the usually stronghold states of Western Australia and Queensland.
Government support has collapsed by six points to just 40 per cent in WA and by down four points to 37 per cent in Queensland.
There has also been a significant fall in backing from older voters, with support among those aged between 35 and 49 tumbling three points to 34 per cent, and among those 50 and older falling from 48 per cent to 45 per cent.
Tony Abbott has taken a body blow, with only 38 per cent of voters in the prime minister’s home state of NSW preferring him in the top job, compared to 42 per cent who say they’d back Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
The prime minister’s personal rating has fallen sharply in all states and every demographic group.
Basically, no one likes him.
Nationally, he is preferred as prime minister by 37 per cent of voters (a drop of four points) while nationwide approval for Mr Shorten has jumped from 36 per cent to 41 per cent.
Meanwhile the Abbott government has created a hub of 37 communication and social media specialists to monitor social media and offer strategic communications advice costing taxpayers almost $4.3 million a year.
Details released in Senate documents show the ‘‘Strategic Communications Branch’’ was implemented late last year, where the 37 staff are expected to oversee media within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, including Indigenous Affairs and the Office for Women.
According to the documents, staff are expected to monitor social media, offer strategic communications advice and create internal newsletters graphic design support, among other duties.
Details released to the Senate show the departments of Immigration, Border Protection and Australian Customs have 85 permanent and 10 other staff responsible for media monitoring, internal communication and public relations.
Pictured above is a famous person. Can you guess who it is yet?