Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Essential poll: majority of voters think inequality in Australia is increasing

Extract from The Guardian

The Guardian Essential Report

Labor remains ahead of the Coalition on two party preferred basis, but margin of lead narrows as government’s primary vote increases

Fifty-two percent of voters think economic inequality in Australia is on the rise. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Katharine Murphy Political editor
Tuesday 1 August 2017 04.00 AEST Last modified on Tuesday 1 August 2017 04.01 AEST

A majority of voters think economic inequality in Australia is increasing, and also favour the adoption of four-year parliamentary terms, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll.
The latest survey of 1,805 voters showed a slim majority, 52% of the sample, believed economic inequality in Australia was on the rise – including 43% of Coalition voters, and, interestingly, 55% of voters planning to support someone other than the major parties.
Twelve per cent of the sample thought inequality was decreasing and 26% thought it was staying much the same.
On the adoption of four-year parliamentary terms, 58% of the sample supported the change floated recently by Labor leader Bill Shorten, including 64% of Coalition voters – with 24% opposition to the concept.
The latest opinion survey shows a small positive shift this week in favour of the Turnbull government. Labor remains ahead of the Turnbull government on a two party preferred basis, 52% to 48%.
The last three weeks have seen Labor ahead of the government, 53% to 47%, 54% to 46% and 53% to 47%. The positive movement in the Coalition’s direction this week is within the poll’s margin of error.
The Coalition’s primary vote increased over the past week from 35% to 36%, and Labor’s primary vote declined from 37% to 36%.
The Greens were steady on 10% and support for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party went up one point, despite a rolling controversy about whether or not Malcolm Roberts had been a dual citizen at the time he nominated for the Senate.
Voters were also asked to nominate their preferred leaders of the major parties. The trend in the survey was positive for Malcolm Turnbull, less so for Bill Shorten.
One quarter of the sample believe Malcolm Turnbull is the best leader of the Liberal party (up 5% since March), while 20% prefer Julie Bishop (up 3%) and 10% prefer Tony Abbott (no change) – while 13% (down 5%) prefer “someone else”.
Turnbull’s position as preferred Liberal leader has firmed among Coalition voters since March, while Abbott’s position has declined by two points.
Twenty per cent of the sample think Bill Shorten would make the best leader of the Labor party (down 1% since March), while 13% prefer Tanya Plibersek (no change) and 13% back Anthony Albanese (up 2%). Among the others, 13% prefer someone else and 34% don’t know.
Shorten’s standing among Labor voters has taken a significant hit since March. Among Labor voters, 34% (down 12%) prefer Shorten, while 15% (up 2%) favour Plibersek and 15% (up 5%) prefer Albanese.
While Shorten’s indicators are moving in the opposite direction to Turnbull’s, the latest poll shows strong levels of community support for increasing taxation on companies and higher income earners – which fits with Labor’s broad political positioning.
Shorten has spent the last couple of weeks speaking about rising inequality, and championing progressive changes to the tax system to curb the capacity of high wealth individuals to minimise their tax bills.
The survey showed 82% support for forcing multinational companies to pay a minimum tax rate on Australian earnings, 61% support for increasing the income tax rate for high earners, 71% support for a “Buffett rule” forcing wealthy people to pay a minimum 30% tax rate, and 86% support for a measure to stop companies and wealthy people using legal loopholes in minimise tax payments by sending funds offshore.
Labor’s policy to cap deductions for tax accounting fees to $3,000 had 52% support, and there was 51% support for a measure stopping people from using trusts to split income among family members.
The Guardian Essential poll was in the field before Labor unveiled its new policy at the weekend to impose a 30% tax rate on distributions from discretionary trusts as a measure to crack down on income splitting.
Voters were also asked to prioritise the most pressing issues the Turnbull government needed to address in the coming twelve months. Top of the list was improving the health system (42%).
Next was improving housing affordability (36%), reducing unemployment (32%), looking after national security and terrorism (32%), dealing with tax avoidance by big companies (26%) and protecting the wages and conditions of workers (22%).

The main changes since last November was an increase in importance of housing affordability (up 5%) and declines in the importance of reducing the budget deficit (down 5%) and protecting Australia’s borders (down 5%).

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