Australians tell Gillard to abandon Citizens' Assembly

According to 64% of Australia's largest focus group, the What the people want project run by eJournal On Line Opinion, Julia Gillard's Citizens' Assembly should be abandoned.


Out of 1,666 responses, only 24% approved while 64% disapproved.


Only ALP voters favoured the proposal, and then only by a margin of 56% to 23%. 92% of Liberals, 88% of Nationals and 61% of Greens voters were opposed.

Chief Editor of On Line Opinion Graham Young said that the pool of responses from the What the people want qualitative survey was 11 times larger than the proposed 150 people who would form Ms Gillard's assembly, and probably more statistically significant.

"The responses show this was an unwise move by PM Gillard. The overwhelming majority of respondents attributed the move to bad faith, although other respondents believed it was a good move to consult the community."

"Analysis of the data using Leximancer software reveals a number of key themes. A large percentage of voters believe that parliament is elected to make these decisions, that they are decisions which should be taken at an election, and that an assembly would be a waste of time."

"Other voters were more cynical and saw it as a political move, designed to delay real action until after the election, or to avoid it altogether. Kevin Rudd was frequently accused of being all talk and no action, now it is Julia Gillard's turn."

Mr Young said that while supporters were less numerous they also felt strongly about the issue.

"Supportive respondents stressed the need to involve the community and people in the process and supported the idea of a consensus."

An image of the Leximancer concept map is below and it links to a website where the data and responses can be viewed.


"We already have a citizen's assembly, it's called Parliament. Parliamentarians are elected to make hard decisions, not sit back and wait for opinions from unelected voters. Randomly selecting 150 - 200 people from the electoral roll or phone book makes for a rabble, not a citizen's assembly" Female, 35-44, 2015

"The Government already has the mandate. I believe it should lead rather than follow the electorate" Male, 55-64, 2093

"At least there woukld be some imput from people without a vested interest in big Australia" Male, 65-74, 7112

"As hse says there needs to be community input into this very important question, in order that the matter can be resolved without politicians playing politics to gain office.and divding the comminity, as said it is a very important matter, despite Mr Abbot's denial that it is so." Male, 65-74, 2529

"Waste of time. There are more effective ways to get a feel for what voters want." Male, 55-64, 4557

"Although it's a delaying tactic, I'm prepared to give the benefit of the doubt here. Given the amazing success of "Climate Sceptics" in Australia, I think that this is quite a good approach to getting the issue properly discussed." Female, 65-74, 3162

"In the life of this gov't we have had 2.5 years of talk, posturing, and changing stance. They have had committees, groups and all sorts of other information and opinion gathering activities." Male, 45-54, 3150

"What a joke, this is just a political stunt, who is going to pick Joe average, reminds me of Rudds big get together. Gillard and Rudd are so much alike, full of spin." Male, 45-54, 6107

To interrogate our respondents, click here.


Citizen_Assembly Other ON Grn ALP Lib Dem Und Ind Nat CD FF Grand Total
Strongly_Approve 10% 11% 6% 25% 2% 0% 2% 5% 2% 0% 0% 9%
Approve 5% 0% 19% 31% 2% 10% 13% 13% 2% 4% 0% 15%
Neither_approve_nor_disapprove 5% 0% 11% 20% 4% 19% 8% 11% 7% 13% 3% 11%
Disapprove 25% 0% 27% 15% 15% 24% 30% 13% 10% 17% 28% 19%
Strongly_Disapprove 50% 89% 35% 8% 77% 43% 43% 59% 78% 65% 69% 45%
Unsure 5% 0% 2% 2% 0% 5% 5% 0% 0% 0% 0% 2%
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Total approve 15% 11% 25% 56% 4% 10% 15% 18% 5% 4% 0% 24%
Total disapprove 75% 89% 61% 23% 92% 67% 72% 71% 88% 83% 97% 64%
Net approve -60% -78% -37% 34% -88% -57% -57% -54% -83% -78% -97% -40%


Leximancer Map

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0 #1 Great media release. I would like the LTrudy 2010-07-25 10:46
Great media release. I would like the Labor Party to take notice.
0 #2 The idea was born out of the success of Dee 2010-07-25 11:39
The idea was born out of the success of the media to promote CC as crap.
Bolt,Akerman & most media shock jocks have promoted the idea that CC & AGW is a creation of governments wanting more tax money.
This is why this type of forum is important. It is designed to bring the people along with the government. To provide 'Facts', not fearmongering embellished poppycock.
0 #3 The result of the survey is not surprisiGary 2010-07-25 11:58
The result of the survey is not surprising. This issue has never been explained properly and there are many misconceptions about it. It is both an environmental and an economic issue. It is in the interests of all for this issue to be properly examined, exposed and debated and for political parties to develop sensible and responsible policies around it, instead of simply using it as a political football.
0 #4 I think that the citizens forum is just Hadrian 2010-07-25 12:26
I think that the citizens forum is just another delay tactic for yet another government in denial about the seriousness of the issue and the political unpalatability of taking decisive action that hurts the electorate in the short term. It is a big dilemma for any Government as politicians can't face up to the longer term tragedy of the 'do nothing' option. The climate sceptics are able to maintain their 'feeding frenzy' because they are operating in a policy vacuum and have plenty of short sighted, profit driven coal miners to finance them. The Rudd Govt, now the Gillard Government is looking little different to the Howard Government on taking decisive action on Climate Change. Even the US Government is now looking green by comparison.
0 #5 Would agree with comments here, but haveFelix 2010-07-25 13:39
Would agree with comments here, but have to ask the obvious question: why isn't the same thing being asked of the Liberal Party's 'plan' to throw a little money at the issue of climate change, plant a few trees and, most importantly, (falsely) assume that the population is right behind it. Neither side has the political heart to approach the issue root-and-branch . In the same way that the NSW government has consistently avoided the hard decision of considerable investment in infrastructure, making public transport more realistic etc. etc. And I couldn't agree more with Hadrian regarding the US looking green by comparison. And as the latter's exports of green technology cranks up, we will be buying it in due course rather than providing realistic seed-funding to it now. Would I vote for the Liberal Party on the grounds that Gillard has proposed another talk-fest? No, and for the simple reason that the Liberals have not provided something of substance themselves! Roll on 4-5 year terms, and greater focus (and political heart) from incumbent governments....
0 #6 A citizen led response to climate changeSimon 2010-07-25 19:54
A citizen led response to climate change sounds like common sense. For the Greens to be against consensus decision making is quite extraordinary - as the Greens are run entirely as a consensus based organizations - which is why they could never organize a cut lettuce. It would seem that for the Greens - those in the party get to make the decisions and the rest of us can go get stuffed.
0 #7 This delaying tactic by Gillard is reminJoe QLD 2010-07-26 13:21
This delaying tactic by Gillard is reminding voters of the failed 2020 summit she was part of and is making her look more and more like Rudd, who was all spin and no substance. This committee idea is loose/loose. Those who want action see it as a delay and indecision. And those who don't want a great big new tax, see that it will be stacked for an ETS anyway.

Abbott, with all his faults is coming across as so much more of a real person than the plastic Dullard. Abbott has a mortgage and a family. He makes a few mistakes. But he is honest with his answers and won't be focus group driven and people respect that. Voters don't like Gillard's condescending spin, slogans and non answers to questions.