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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Essential: Abbott ends year with a collapse –

Essential: Abbott ends year with a collapse –

Essential: Abbott ends year with a collapse

Approval of Tony Abbott’s performance has plunged to its
lowest level as Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has
again opened up a lead as preferred Prime Minister, today’s Essential
Report reveals, as the government ends the year in chaos and

The Prime Minister’s approval with voters has slumped seven
points from November to 32%, below his previous lowest level of 34%, and
equal to his worst performance as opposition leader. Disapproval is up
five points to 55%, for a net disapproval rating of 23 points. This
includes 15% of Coalition voters, similar to the 16% of Coalition voters
who disapproved of Abbott’s performance mid-year in the aftermath of
the budget. Abbott’s net disapproval among women voters is a remarkable
34 points.

It caps off a dismal year for the Prime Minister that has
seen him lurch deep into negative territory, with a brief international
affairs-led recovery choked off by bungling embarrassment at his own G20
meeting and the government’s inability to convince voters or crossbench
senators to support its agenda.

Bill Shorten’s approval ratings have drifted slightly lower
this month, but at 35% (down two)/39% (up one), they’re about where
they’ve been since mid-year — and his disapproval rating also includes
15% of Labor voters, but that’s around about average for Shorten. The
Opposition Leader’s ratings since being elected after the 2013 election
have been far more consistent than the Prime Minister’s.

However, Shorten now leads Abbott as preferred PM 36% to
31%, the first time he has led Abbott since September and his biggest
lead yet.

Voters were also asked to rate the performance of senior
politicians and party leaders throughout 2014. The only politician rated
positively was Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, rated positively by 47%
of voters and negatively by only 19%. Bill Shorten was rated 26%/31%;
Tony Abbott 27%/49%; Christine Milne 16%/39% and Joe Hockey 22%/46%.
Worst of the lot was Clive Palmer, rated positively by just 9%, while
59% rated him poorly.

How voters see 2014 illustrates at least one reason why the
government is struggling. Asked to rate whether the year has been good
or bad for different issues, 20% said the year had been good for the
economy and 33% said bad — the same outcome as 2013, despite the
Coalition’s promise that its election would spur economic confidence.
And voters are still dismayed by politics — 12% say it’s been a good
year for politics, compared to 65% who say it’s been a poor year. That
net rating of -53 is lower than 2013, but that’s not saying a lot since
it was -62 last year. But voters thought it had been a good
year for large corporations, unlike 2013 — the net result there was 14,
compared to -9 last year. They also thought it was a slightly less worse
year for small business (-45 to -28), but they hadn’t changed their
minds about how the average Australian fared (-22 to -23); employees
thought their workplace had got worse (8 to -5) and “you and your family
overall” went from 18 to 3.

Looking forward, voters split 23%/33% on whether 2015 would
be good for the economy — the same net result as 2014; politics is
expected to be worse (net 24% for 2014, 29% for next twelve months),
worse for the average Australia (-9 to -17) and positive expectations
for personal finances (6), workplaces (15) and “you and your family”
(25) at the end of 2013 have been replaced with 0, 0 and 10. Only large
corporations are expected to do better — at the end of 2013, voters were
evenly split on whether 2014 would be good for large corporations, but
now 30% think 2015 will compared to 17% who think it won’t be.

It’s a sour outcome: voters haven’t changed their minds
about their negative expectations for the economy and don’t rate 2014
very highly in regard to their own circumstances, nor do they expect
2015 to be much better. The only group they identify as persistently
doing well are large corporations, almost certainly reflecting voters’
view that the Coalition is closely aligned with the interests of big
business. Nor has the profound disenchantment with politics been
dispelled by this government. After spending 2013 watching Labor tear
itself apart and waiting for the opportunity to throw them out, voters
are hardly less hostile to politics after a full year of Tony Abbott.

On voting intention, the 2PP outcome is unchanged at
53%-47%. The Coalition is down a point to 39% and so is Labor; the
Greens have recovered a point to 10%, and the PUP has hit a new low of
2%. At least Abbott will finish the year knowing he’s doing better than
Clive Palmer.

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