- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 20 September 2012 03:07, Updated 20 September 2012 04:43
While her policies may not be popular, there is a grudging admiration growing for Prime Minister Julia Gillard that is reflected in the most recent polls. After months of taking every brickbat that has been thrown at her, Gillard has her highest approval rating in the past 16 months, the most recent Nielsen poll shows. The survey of 1400 voters put Gillard up three points to an approval rating of 42 per cent, while her disapproval rating fell 4 points to 53 per cent. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, meanwhile, has found that his negative campaigning has pushed him backwards; his approval rating fell 3 points to 36 per cent while his disapproval rating rose 2 per points to 59 per cent putting him now at his most unpopular since he became Liberal leader. So what’s changed?
Certainly not Labor’s policies nor their implementation. BRW has written often that while this government’s policies can seem reasonable on paper they are flawed in practice. The carbon tax is a case in point. The government’s ridiculous fudge in bringing in a carbon tax that was to morph into a carbon trading scheme by 2015 has been underlined by its recent decision to scrap the carbon floor price of $15 a tonne that was to underpin the trading scheme.
While this has been scrapped for good reasons – essentially to allow Australian companies to trade credits in the much larger European market-based carbon scheme – the backflip just goes to underline how compromised the government’s thinking has been on carbon.
What has changed, however, is that the government has got some of its more controversial legislation over the line and has proved that what voters fear in anticipation, they often accept in practice. Taxpayers, both individuals and companies, are like the simmering frog in this instance; already used to being highly taxed, we scarcely notice the impost of new taxation. It’s much the same with the national broadband network. As the Liberal Opposition has accepted that voters want faster internet connections it is reduced to arguing over technical details such as whether the optical fibre being rolled out should stop in the streets or run right up to peoples’ homes. While such detail is important, most voters don’t care about these points. All they want is a faster connection.
The change of power in the states also brings back much-needed political tension between a federal Labor government and state Liberal governments. As the Queensland and NSW Liberal governments cut public spending, they become easy targets for Labor’s rhetoric of how Liberal policies reduce public services.
Finally, voters seem to be secretly impressed with Gillard’s resilience since she was elected. The combination of a minority government, dissent in her own ranks and a hard-ball opponent should have felled her by now but she has got back up every day to face a public and a parliament baying for blood, giving a lesson in standing firm. Resilience, both in life and in business, was a popular concept during and after the global financial crisis. At first we had no idea how long the recovery would take. Now we know it’s going to be long, sideways, grinding and probably without the mining boom there to mask how other sectors are already in recession. It’s at points like these that we find out what we are made of – as Gillard is demonstrating.