A majority of voters approve of the performances of Gladys Berejiklian and Daniel Andrews despite both premiers weathering bouts of intense public and political criticism in recent weeks, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll.
In results suggestive that incumbency is powerful during a global and national crisis, 68% of the sample of 1,082 voters approve of Berejiklian’s performance despite rolling controversy last week about the New South Wales premier’s undisclosed relationship with disgraced MP Daryl Maguire, and 54% gave Andrews the thumbs up despite ongoing political criticism about the Victorian government’s management of Covid-19.
Annastacia Palaszczuk – in the middle of a tough election fight in Queensland – also maintains majority support, with 62% of the sample expressing either approval or strong approval. The Western Australian premier, Mark McGowan, leads the pack on 84% approval and South Australia’s Steven Marshall has 52% approval.
Andrews has been criticised for months by senior members of the Morrison government, but has been largely muted in response. The Victorian premier blasted back on Monday, declaring he could have been political during the January bushfires, but chose not to. Andrews declared in future he would be calling out “political” criticism.
The latest Guardian Essential survey plots Scott Morrison’s approval at 63%, which is similar to last month’s result (64%), and the prime minister leads Anthony Albanese as preferred prime minister 50% to 25%.
Morrison’s disapproval stands at 27%. Albanese’s approval rating is steady on 44%, with 29% of the sample disapproving of the opposition leader’s performance.
The Coalition also continues to lead Labor in the national political contest, according to Guardian Essential’s two-party-preferred plus measure. This fortnight the Coalition leads 48% to 45%, with 8% of the sample undecided.
After the 2019 federal election, Guardian Australia suspended reporting primary and two-party-preferred voting results because both the polls, and the way the polls were reported, were not giving people a reliable picture of the likely election result.
The practice we have adopted post-election is to report these results on a quarterly basis, expressing the metric as two-party-preferred “plus”, which highlights the proportion of undecided voters, giving people a more accurate read on the limits of any prediction.
The quarterly data shows the government has led Labor in all polls taken during the last quarter except one survey in early September, where Labor was ahead 47% to 45% with 8% of the sample undecided.
The timing of that outlying survey coincides with a period where the government was under significant political pressure because of outbreaks of coronavirus in residential aged care facilities that have resulted in hundreds of deaths. The commonwealth funds and regulates the aged care sector.
Voters were also asked a number of questions this fortnight about the budget the Morrison government handed down on 6 October, and they were asked to share their perceptions about which political party were the better managers across a range of policy issues.
While more than half the sample believed the budget would help Australia recover from the first recession in 30 years and create jobs (56% and 53% agreed with those statements), there is also voter anxiety about the long-term implications of the current fiscal stimulus.
More than half the sample felt the budget would create long-term problems that will need to be fixed in the future (58%) and 62% thought the October economic statement – which saw government debt and deficit hit record levels – would place unnecessary burdens on future generations.
There has been a public debate post-budget about whether the Morrison government has crafted policies serving the needs of Australian women. But 54% of the Guardian Essential sample say the October statement balanced the needs of the genders.
There is a perception, though, that the budget – which includes a wage subsidy for workers under the age of 35 – put the interests of younger Australians ahead of older people (45% of the sample agreed with that statement and only 34% of the sample believe the measures balanced the needs of young and older people).
The budget is also seen as business friendly, with 42% of the sample agreeing with the statement: “This budget puts the interests of businesses ahead of the interests of employees.” Only 14% thought workers came first.
The survey suggests voters want the government to be accountable for the decisions it has made, for good or for ill. Seventy per cent of the sample agreed with the statement: “The government should take the recognition if their budget measures work, just as they should take responsibility if they do not.”
Another strong majority (75%) were of the view that decisions taken now were consequential for the economy in the future, and just over half the sample believed the government could have taken a different approach to solving the economic challenges caused by the pandemic – like investing directly in jobs and services (51%).
In terms of the management of various policy issues, the Coalition retains its historical dominance in voter perceptions that it is better at managing the economy than Labor, and more effective at reducing debt.
The major parties are level pegging when it comes to job creation and Labor is more trusted than the Coalition to support people in need, get people back to work after the pandemic and improve the financial position of Australian women.
Albanese used the first question time of the parliamentary week on Monday to highlight Labor’s commitment to overhaul the childcare subsidy system.