'; ?> January 2009 | What The People Want
January 2009
January omnibus poll
Friday, 30 January 2009 03:22 | Written by Graham Young

We're conducting our latest omnibus poll which you can access by clicking here.

This time in addition to the standard political questions we are having an exhaustive look at your attitude to the current financial news.

You can see reports of our November omnibus survey on our December page.

If you are from Queensland you might be interested in the results of our survey on Queensland politics from earlier this month. The piece which summarised these was "Spin is in the swim".

If you know anyone who might like to join our panel, please send them the link to the latest survey.

Queensland politics - should Anna Bligh call an early election?
Thursday, 29 January 2009 01:46 | Written by Graham Young

While our samples are done for qualitative purposes, you can draw some quantitative conclusions. This is a good example.

We asked respondents whether they were more or less likely to vote Labor if there was an early election. 38% said they were less likely. How significant is that?

The dissection below gives you some clues.

You can basically disregard the views of LNP voters, because they weren't going to vote for the government anyway. There might be some potential defectors in the ALP voters column, but at six percent they are likely to be overwhelmed by other issues.

Family First, Democrats and One Nation are small samples, and this is partly a function of their distribution in the community, so their views are marginally important, although combined they could be important in a number of seats where small differences in preference allocation could be the determining factor.

Greens are very significant, and could make the difference for Labor, particularly if they just vote one and don't preference them. This is a bloc that runs two-thirds or better to Labor on preferences, and represents around 10% of the vote come elections.

Undecideds and Independents are also quite important. Independents are increasingly important in election results, and represent 5 seats in the Queensland Parliament. Our sample has eight percent declaring themselves as Undecided.

So, the cumulative effect of this is that there would want to be very compelling reasons for Bligh to call an election in February or March of this year. And if she does, voters should ask themselves just how bad things may be going to get.

Queensland politics - the leaders
Wednesday, 28 January 2009 21:33 | Written by Graham Young

In the last 6 months the position of Labor leader Anna Bligh has deteriorated somewhat. While adjustments to our sample to allow for it not being representative suggest that she is still the preferred premier by 50% to 39%, longitudinal analysis suggests Springborg is gaining on her.

When we compare samples, Bligh's preferred premier status has increased by one percentage point, but Springborg's has risen by six (although fewer people approve of Springborg than did six months ago, and more disapprove). The LNP is also regarded as more likely to win now than it was, with a six percentage point increase in the expectation that it will win, albeit that 47% of our sample think that Labor will win.

What are the factors contributing to these moves?

Leadership is one issue. In our previous poll Peter Beattie was a huge negative for Bligh. In this poll he has decreased in rank as an issue, at the same time as she has increased. Adding mentions of Bligh and Beattie together, means that one in five voters mentions one or the other in both surveys. This appears to indicate concerns about the length of time the government has been in power, and the style of government.

Bligh_Hesitation_Jan_09.jpgThis conclusion is reinforced by the hesitations in voting for Bligh (see table attached). Labor ranks as the highest hesitation, followed by Long (as in "too long"). This is the "It's time" factor.

Water and Recycled are the next two important hesitations. Water has doubled in importance over six months and refers to decisions on dams and recycled water. These are issues which help and hinder Bligh. Some respondents hesitate to vote for her because she appears to have reversed her previous positions; others because she has reversed them too late, or because they don't believe that the reversals are genuine.

The overall picture is of a reactive government that is perceived to have little confidence in itself, relying on media tactics rather than long-term planning, and is therefore viewed as increasingly unattractive.

On the other side, Springborg's largest problem is that he is seen to stand for nothing. Lack of Policies is the largest concern that voters have with him. Six months ago the Coalition was his largest problem (with the Liberal Party) being a subsidiary one. The founding of the Liberal National Party seems to have solved that problem to some extent, although the LNP is also cited as a hesitation.



"She is a better choice that the opposition, which is not areal choice. Both parties lack talent. Politicians only look to the next election." (Male, Labor, 55-64)

"She appears weak and indecisive; has no plans for the State's future...seems to be reactive rather than pro-active." (Male, LNP, 55-64)

"unresponsive on BCC rate rip off/tricky on north bank redevelopment/supported Beattie on forced amalgamations / political opportunist" (Male, Greens, 45-54)

"I want someone to give me a reason to approve of them - not someone who is just 'better than the others'. She/Labor isn't doing that." (Female, Greens, 55-64)

"I think she has some clear plans on the future she is quite different from the blokey Labor party on social issue is think she is very strong" (Female, Labor, 45-54)


"Will the coalition last or will the tensions of the past rear their head again and cause an implosion? Do they really know how to govern? Is Springborg really a strong enough leader?" (Female, Family First, 55-64)

"Their past, they have been awful in govt in the past and responsible for more environmental destruction than other other party." (Male, Greens, 35-44)

"There still doesn't seem to be a unified outlook. Generally the reported comments are too conservative for me." (Female, Undecided, 65-74)

"I am concerned that there is not the range of talent yet available and I am concerned that the liberals might prove too often unwilling to compromise their so called ideals for the sake of good governance." (Female, LNP, 65-74)

Queensland politics - Heading in the right direction and important issues
Wednesday, 28 January 2009 01:36 | Written by Graham Young

It’s been just on 6 months since we did our last sample and while a few things have happened since then, nothing much has changed. The Liberal and National Parties have ceased to exist as separate entities, having formed the LNP. It’s also rained. Both of these appear to have had some effect on specific numbers, but the overall situation has not changed. According to our poll Anna Bligh is in trouble.

Before doing the analysis it is worth reviewing the nature of our panel. Our respondents aren’t completely representative of society, but they’re not unrepresentative either. What they are is a group of people who don’t belong to the political elite, but do think about politics and current affairs more than average. They are people who are much more likely than average to participate in public debates. So, what you get from this group is reflective of where the whole community may be when they start thinking about the issues. It is always important to remember that this is qualitative research, not quantitative.

The sample composition suggests a lack of enthusiasm from Labor voters for their state government. While Greens continue to be over-represented compared to the general community (23% against 8% last election), for one of the first times ever Labor voters are substantially under-represented at only 25% of the vote. By comparison LNP voters are 39%. Why are Labor voters so reticent?

These percentages represent no change on the last survey for the combined Liberal and National Party votes. On the one hand this should be discouraging for them, because it indicates no bounce from the merger. On the other hand, it contradicts the warnings that substantial numbers of former Liberal and National party voters would refuse to support the merged entity.

On the other side there has been a 5 percentage point deterioration in the first preference standing of the ALP. If this is borne out by the next statewide quantitative survey, then Labor is really in trouble.

State_Direction.jpgWhen asked whether the state is heading in the right direction, 54% disagree and only 26% agree, a net -28%. This is fairly similar to the last poll when it was -24%. As the table at the right suggests, there has been some change in the issues that respondents find important. Six months ago infrastructure was the largest issue by far, driven in part by drought. Now it is not that far ahead of water and health, which have remained in second and third spot. So drought is still important, but the combined scores suggest not as urgent.

At the same time Economic, which is related to the global financial crisis, which wasn’t even mentioned as an issue last time is in fourth position at 7.1%. It’s almost as though when the government gets on top of one problem it gets no credit for it, and that problem is then replaced by another. In this case it is replaced by the international economy – which the government has no power to control.

Education has also increased in importance as an issue, although it is not obvious from comments why this would be the case.

When asked what issue was the most important in determining their vote Health (19%) was the most important, followed by Infrastructure (14.6%) and Education (11.2%). Infrastructure was almost as important last time, but Health has gone close to being twice as important, as has Education.

While the substitution of one issue for another is not encouraging for the government, we know from other surveys that Health and Education are stronger for the Government than the Opposition. How these issues are framed in the campaign could have a large effect on the outcome of the election.


"We do not live in a perfect world and thus we cannot expect miracles from our political masters. Queensland is progressing. Whether it is progressing in the right direction is a matter of opinion. From my own viewpoint I would like to see less spin..." (Male, Labor, 65-74)

"Water grid, brilliant. But owrried that we are losing too much bushland to development, when are we going to start going UP! The coastal heathlands near Maroochydore are being lost. Worried that we spend too much time doing crap like renaming the city" (Female, Labor, 45-54)

"Too many hap-hazard decisions being made for political reasons. Major infrastructure plans are too concentrated within south east Qld whilst the rest of the state has been left wanting. Went a decision is made, it announced but is either not done or take" (Male, LNP, 45-54)

"Failure to treet the need to deal with climate change as an opportunity rather than something to hide from." (Male, Greens, 64-75)

"The current Government has been reactive to infrastructure issues, and not proactive and thinking forward to what may be needed in the future. Also they are arrogant, especially in how the shire amalgamation issue was handled..." (Female, LNP, 45-54)

"Too many decisions have been put off to committee discussion or have been cancelled/deferred to suggest that ant decisions are other than to prepare for an election" (Male, LNP,55-64)

"1. Anna has not stood at the polls on her own merit 2. Can't follow through: Traviston Dam, Desalinisation, Children Hospital, etc 3. Desperately need intelligent infrastructure spending" (Male, LNP, 35-44)

"Where's the direction ? We're becalmed on the edge of the global financial crisis and about to get sucked in." (Male, LNP, 45-54)

Backyard pool drowning
Tuesday, 27 January 2009 22:22 | Written by Graham Young


There is strong agreement across our respondents that drowning in backyard pools is an important, but chronic problem. 80% think it is important, but only 15% agree it has got worse over the last 10 years. This suggests that it is an important, but probably not urgent, issue to most.

717 completed surveys were received by the deadline with a further 6 received after.

We dissected responses by voting intentions, age, gender, dwelling type and pool ownership. While there were small differences between response rates it appears that the community tends to agree on causes and remedies, irrespective of factors which might have predisposed them to one view or another.

The importance of the issue is largely because:

  • It involves children
  • It is preventable

Respondents believe that the responsibility for preventing drownings rests with parents more than pool owners (78%). They have little faith in pool fencing on its own, and tend to believe that in cases where pool fencing is at fault inspections at any frequency will make little difference.

Accordingly their favoured solutions to the problem are:

  • Education of parents (66% rated as first or second most important)
  • Subsidised swimming lessons for toddlers (46% rated as first or second most important)

Their least favoured solutions are annual inspections (60% ranked last or second last most important) and four-yearly inspections (72% ranked last or second last most important). Their responses suggest that they favour pool fencing as a measure, but that they tend to assume that in most cases it is in place.

Some respondents also suggested a couple of other solutions which might be useful. These were:

  • Mandatory education in pool safety and first aid techniques for new pool owners
  • Education for parents in CPR.


Why is it an important issue?

"In general, I regard the unnecessary death of any child as a tragedy." (Female, 65-74, Very Important)

"I find it unacceptable when the risks are well known and these drownings are totally preventable." (Female, 25-34, Very Important)

"Pool fences didn't solve the problem. Teaching kids to swim would go much further. Also parental responsibility seems to have been passed to ALL of us, not just those with kids. I'd like to know the real statistics" (Female, 55-64, Very Important)

"Pools should be treated like driving a car-- need a licence, need first aid, and need to be vigilant-- aslo all kids need to know how to swim." (Female, 55-64, Very Important)

"Parents should be responsible. Are all roads fenced? No! and children aren't being run over. Are the Ocean or dams fenced? No! and children aren't drowning regularly. Why are pools the exception? How long before we have to fence buckets of water" (Male, 45-54, Unimportant)

"Any childs death from accident is concerning to me. Its important, but noting its hard to prevent totally, I am not sure I could rate the issue higher. Road deaths and abuse are higher order issues" (Male, 35-44, Important)

"It is a multifaceted issue. I think children will always be drowning in water - they love playing in water - parents cannot and do not supervise them 100% of the time. You can put down a thousand rules about pools and water - children will still drown." (Female, 45-54, Important)

"If one puts in a pool, one is responsible for one's own and visitors' children. Neighbour's kiddies are the responsibility of the neighbour to prevent the kiddies from straying, i.e. trespassing in other's yards." (Female, no age, Neither important nor unimportant)

"Every pool drowning is very sad but all the laws, regulations, mandated annual inspections etc will not achieve a significant reduction over time. All the talk re the above is media beat up and govt wanting to be seen to be doing something." (Male, 55-64, Neither important nor unimportant)

What is the most important factor

"It is the 0-5% factor - that moment in time when all the odds are stacked. Some things in life are like that." (Female, 45-54, Important)

"People do not watch their kids or have not taught them to survive if they fall in the pool." (Female, 55-64, Important)

"Children will always gravitate towards pools of water that cannot be stopped. Supervision of children is important but sometimes events occur that are not anybody's fault." (Female, 65-54, Important)

"Lack of parental supervision and children should be taught to float or swim at a VERY EARLY AGE" (Male, 65-74, Very Important)

"i believe most drownings occur because of a lack of supervision and pure bad luck?I say this because children can be very resourceful and persistant and it only takes a minute and it's too late." (Male, 45-54, Very Important)

"sheer stupidity brought on by complacency by the idiots who believe children can't climb, aren't attracted to water, and a shitty little fence is all they need to do" (Male, 45-54, Very Important)

"Lack of education and awareness - victim families seem to have had a false sense of security, with a need for research into how kids normally get unobserved access and development of better preventative and warning devices, even if 'unsightly'." (Female, 55-64, Very Important)

Possible solutions

"An education programm in schools. A stricter examination of the fencing surrounding the pools. The employment of pool fencing inspectors as their only duty." (Male, 65-74, Very Important)

"Introduce amendments if the Act needs strengthening. Otherwise ensure that local councils are policing the legisltion or provide more resources to do that and educate people with pools re their responsibilities." (Female, 55-64, Very Important)

"Education campaign directly targeting pool owners. Most pool fences work just fine already." (Female, 45-54, Very Important)

"Educate everyone. No-one wants to take responsibility for their lack of action be it the pool owner, the parent of the child. Everone has a role in protecting children, no one more so than the parents." (Male, 55-64, Very Important)

"Responsibilty is the answer. Heavy fines for inadequate fencing - involuntary manslaughter the charge if the child dies" (Female, 65-74, Very Important)

"limit pool ownership to those people who could pass a safety tests (ie. resuscitation + pool safety rules) Prosecute carers who allow children to have unsupervised access to pools" (Female, 55-64, Very Important)

"Seriously I agree with yealry inspections. If you can afford the pool you can afford a small feee for the inspection. A family should have to show they have all completed CPR courses before the pool is approved." (Male, 35-44, Very Important)

Spin is in the swim
Saturday, 24 January 2009 07:33 | Written by Graham Young

Move over Nanny State, parental responsibility is back. That's the headline message from 723 Queenslanders we interviewed in an online qualitative survey about backyard drowning and politics.

It is a message that has implications for Bligh and Springborg in this election year.

Frequently political decisions are made on the basis of the Yes Minister syllogism of "here is a problem, something must be done about it, this is something, therefore it must be done".

Our respondents don't buy that logic.

Just before Christmas the Bligh government floated the idea of 4-yearly, or even annual, inspections of pool fencing.

Our respondents disagree, whether they supported the government or opposition, were male or female, young or old, or owned a pool or not.

Out of a list of solutions, annual inspections were ranked second last and four-yearly inspections last by 60 and 72 percent. Highest ranked were educating parents (66 percent) and subsidising toddlers’ swimming lessons (46 percent).

This is not surprising. 78% believe that parents rather than pool owners bear the higher responsibility.

They see the government's role as marginal, and backyard drownings as an important, but intractable problem, to which there is no perfect solution.

In an era where governments declare war on every chronic problem this research carries an important message. The public doesn't believe many of these programs are any more than public relations.

The political questions in our survey reveal the danger of this approach.

Six months ago we uncovered dissatisfaction with the Bligh government not evident in quantitative polls.

Apart from the length of time Labor has been in government the big issues were to do with infrastructure - water and roads - and health.

These were the reasons for the dissatisfaction.

In this poll the infrastructure issues are much less significant, and Labor gets the credit for fixing a number of them, yet Bligh's net dissatisfaction has slightly increased.

There are two possible explanations. The first goes right back to issues like backyard swimming pools.

While problems are being addressed, Queenslanders think that the only reason they are being addressed is to give the government another media opportunity. They refer to this as "spin".

The second is that the economy didn't rank as an issue in the middle of last year, but now it ranks above roads, and is strongly linked to concerns about the future.

It is as though our respondents are determined to disapprove of Anna Bligh, no matter what she does. Good performance will be discounted as spin, and circumstances beyond her control will be blamed on her.

This might be good news for the Opposition, except they have similar perception problems. Springborg's net approval has increased a little, partly because of a real achievement in forming the Liberal National Party. That is where it stops.

The biggest problem Springborg has is he is perceived to have no policies.

Voters want to know what the LNP stands for, and while Springborg has been in Parliament for almost 20 years, they still want to know more about him too. Without that knowledge everything he says is spin too.

Which must make it difficult for the Premier in deciding when to hold the next election.

With early election speculation rife, 37 percent of our respondents said they would be less likely to vote for the government if an election was held in February or March.

But if the economy is only going to get worse, and everything you do is seen as just a media stunt, maybe this is as good as it gets, particularly as your opposition is still vulnerable to the same criticism.

Could be time to dive in.

First published in The Courier Mail on January 21, 2009

Queensland election?
Tuesday, 06 January 2009 22:53 | Written by Graham Young

There is plenty of speculation that Premier Anna Bligh may go to an early election, so we've decided to get in first.

You can find our first questionnaire of the year at http://polling.nationalforum.com.au/index.php?sid=39517&lang=en.

We're also looking at the issue of backyard drownings. The government has announced an inquiry and we will send them the results.