A new poll finds voters are seeking policy changes from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his government. Photo: Andrew Meares Across all voters, poll results suggest Malcolm Turnbull would have majority public support for progressive policy changes. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Turnbull can afford to dump the Abbott script
Voters are hungry for progress on a range of social and environmental issues in the wake of the combative Abbott government period, and they expect Malcolm Turnbull to deliver.
That is the clear message from a nationwide issues poll conducted by Research Now for the left-leaning Institute.
The 1407-strong online survey found that even those voters who identified as Liberal supporters mostly want to see Mr Turnbull overcome a reluctant party room to enact more humane asylum seeker policies, get going on marriage equality, strengthen the response to climate change and the take-up of renewable energy and to lift funding to schools.
Across all voters, the results suggest Mr Turnbull would have majority public support for progressive policy changes, even where internally he would encounter major, potentially career-limiting problems from changing course.
Asked if he should take “stronger action” even in the face of internal opposition, 55 per cent of voters said yes to more humane asylum seeker policies, and 76 per cent backed improved schools funding.
And on the two signature issues on which Mr Turnbull had reassured colleagues there would be no significant change if he replaced Mr Abbott – climate change and marriage equality – the results were also stark. Sixty-one per cent of voters say he should defy his conservative colleagues to achieve progress on marriage equality and 67 per cent say they want tough action on climate change than the government’s “direct action” policy.
Mr Turnbull is well known to favour a market-based emissions trading scheme model to mitigate global warming and has publicly supported the legalising of same sex marriage, even though he promised he will not accelerate the Abbott time-table to put that question to a national plebiscite during the next term if the Coalition is re-elected.
“The research shows that Malcolm Turnbull has considerable support both in the wider community and the Coalition voter base to do more on issues like renewables, refugees, equal marriage, and Gonski school funding,” said the Institute’s executive director, Ben Oquist.
“The results also probably indicate that Tony Abbott and the hard-right in the Coalition had got increasingly out of touch on these issues.”
Eighty-one percent of voters back stronger policy on renewable energy. Even among Coalition voters, this figure is 75 per cent.
Earlier this year, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced Labor would set a target of achieving 50 per cent renewable energy production by 2030. The poll reflects the popularity of that with 90 per cent of Labor voters backing it.
Support for refugees is highest among young voters aged between 18-24 and lowest among those over 65.
While 52 per cent of Liberal voters want faster progress on marriage equality, the figure jumps to 71 per cent among Labor voters and 84 per cent for Greens.
While the first Abbott/Hockey budget proudly trumpeted its decision to slash $80 billion from future schools and hospitals funding to the states over a decade, the poll shows no one else thought much of it with support for more money staying firmly above 70 per cent across all age groups, including those aged between 45-54 of whom 80 per cent backed stronger action.
Unsurprisingly, support for marriage equality is lowest among older voters with less than half of those over 65 (46 per cent) calling for Mr Turnbull to push ahead.
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