It has become a regular event for some months to see consistently bad poll results for the federal ALP, lagging behind the Coalition, with the occasional uptick sparking hopes among Labor circles that it might lead to a long-term trend toward taking a poll lead on a two-party-preferred basis. For Labor of late that hasn’t been the case, with the polls hovering around the same low mark and even in recent weeks, getting even lower and this week’s Essential Poll fits in with that trend downward.
The primary vote for the Liberal and National Party in the latest Essential Poll remains unchanged from last week, with Coalition support sitting on 50%. By the same measure, the survey has the ALP primary vote on a grand total of 29%, well below the so-called “death zone” and two percentage points down on last week’s primary vote numbers of 31%
On a two-party-preferred basis, the Coalition has a commanding lead in the polls, sitting on 58% versus 42% for the ALP, a result in itself just above the primary vote “death zone”. The 2PP vote count for Labor is 1 down on last week’s count which had the two sides at 57% to 43% respectively.
In somewhat of a double-edged positive/negative, Essential asked respondents how they thought the Australian economy was travelling compared to other countries.
A total of 66% of those surveyed stated that the Australian economy was performing better when measured against those of other nations as opposed to just 15% who said that the economy is worse than those overseas.
This indicates that even though many think the economy is performing better, there are still worries for Australians when they think of the economic performance of the nation. This appears to correspond with a further question asked by Essential Media which shows that 46% of those asked think that the economy will get worse over the next 12 months as opposed to just 23% who think it will get better.
In the same questionnaire, Essential Media also asked which party respondents thought would best manage another Global Financial Crisis, with 42% saying that the Coalition would manage the economy better during another GFC and just 25% indicating that the ALP were capable of managing the economy better than the Opposition.
The Coalition have tended to be referred to by voters as better economic managers, but these results, combined with the continued historically low poll numbers, staying around the same dreadful mark will continue to cause great worry for the ALP.
Today it became clear that Jeff Lawrence, the boss of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) would be leaving the post in the near future. Some say Mr Lawrence leaves under duress, being forced out after losing the confidence of senior union officials in recent times, for being an ineffective communicator particularly when it comes to media. The ACTU boss on the other hand says that he was certainly not forced out of the position, reportedly last Friday and instead could simply not complete another 3 years in the job as he approached 60 years of age.
Going by experience it is almost certain that the former is true, the head union official was likely pushed out by those in the union movement unhappy with the way he has performed in the role since assuming the position. It seems as though the coup has been even more seamless than those in the ALP that have highly involved the union movement in recent years.
The ACTU Secretary, by any objective or subjective analysis has been a very poor performer in the position since taking the reigns. His media presence has at times been so non-existent as to foment questions as to his whereabouts, well not really, but you get the picture. This media spotlight has consequently been grabbed by other media hungry union bosses, including such well-known men who now have a face like Paul Howes of the Australian Workers Union and Dave Oliver of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.
In a cruel twist one of the names touted to take over the position of ACTU Secretary is Dave Oliver, whose media profile has sky-rocketed in the past 12 months in particular, gaining regular access to the ear of Julia Gillard as the Prime Minister attempts to work through the manufacturing woes which have escalated since around the time of the GFC.
But it is not only the lack of media presence that Mr Lawrence brought to the role. The ACTU boss is very poor at delivery of message and was not even effective at displaying feigned anger, even at issues which usually provoke animated debate with the union movement, like labour market deregulation.
Since the “Your Rights at Work” Campaign too, very few people would be able to associate Jeff Lawrence with any particular high-profile public relations campaign on any workplace related issue, no matter how hard they tried.
Predictably, on announcing his departure as a union boss, Mr Lawrence took the opportunity to have an ineffective prod that came across almost as a pat at the business community who are calling for some flexibility in the workplace.
The union movement, still obviously cocky from their very effective campaign against the Howard Government WorkChoices legislation, which in large part led to its downfall, think that any tinkering with the Gillard Government’s “Fair Work” laws equates to a wholesale return to WorkChoices, so the ACTU Secretary obviously could not resist temptation.
A return to WorkChoices is never going to happen, the collective pants of the Coalition are scared off permanently save for a desire for some meagre flexibility changes which would not even qualify as the ugly cousin of that divisive thing called WorkChoices. But hey, what do the unions have to talk about which scares people en masse if they don’t have something which actually does like WorkChoices? Not very much.