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Spotlight on Australian Politics: Can Abbott recover?

As usual, this quarterly State of the Nation report also contains the latest statistics on Australians’ attitudes and behaviours, as revealed through extensive interviews across the country.

Roy Morgan Research CEO Michele Levine has today presented the latest State of the Nation Report, with a special in-depth look at the Australian Political scene at the halfway mark of the first Abbott Government.


L-NP trails Labor; Abbott trails Turnbull and Bishop; Shorten trails Plibersek

The Coalition’s primary vote has fallen 7% points since winning 90 of 150 seats at the 2013 Federal Election. The latest multi-mode Roy Morgan Poll shows the L-NP has 38.5% of first preference votes to Labor’s 38%. On a two-party preferred basis, Labor now leads 53% to 47%, but the L-NP has been reclaiming ground since dipping below 40% after announcing its first Budget.

The majority of Australian electors (53%) disapprove of Abbott’s job performance and just 12% of all electors cite him as preferred Liberal Party leader, well behind 38% for Malcolm Turnbull.  Since June 2014, support for Julie Bishop as Liberal Party leader has increased dramatically from 7% to 27%. It’s a much closer three-horse race among L-NP supporters: 30% cite Turnbull as preferred Liberal Party leader, 25% cite Abbott and 25% cite Bishop.

But the grass is also greener when it comes to the ALP leadership, with Tanya Plibersek overtaking Bill Shorten as preferred Labor leader among both the general electorate (now 23% compared with 21% for Shorten) and ALP supporters (30% cf. 26%).

Government Confidence still in the pits

More Australians believe the country is heading in the wrong direction than the right direction—a negative mood consistent since the Budget announcement last year. The latest Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating is 88.5 points, down from 111—the week after the Coalition came to power.

Unemployment and Under-employment remain a huge problem in Australia

Australia’s real level of unemployment (10.8% - 1.37million) and under-employment (7.7% - 970,000) is far higher than the official ABS unemployment estimate (6.1% - 760,000). More than 2.34 million Australians are looking for work or looking for more work. Youth unemployment is particularly bad, with 16.4% of the workforce aged under 30 now unemployed.

Both Consumer Confidence & Business Confidence are down since the 2013 Federal Election

Since the election of the Abbott Government, Business Confidence has fallen from a record high of 136.3 to 112.4 (down 23.9pts, or 17.5%) and ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence has fallen from 124.1 to 111.8 (down 12.3pts, or 9.9%). However, in Abbott’s favour, Consumer Confidence also fell by around 10% during the first 18 months in office of the previous three Prime Ministers.

Economic Issues still dominate for Australians

Almost half of Australians nominate an Economic Issue as the biggest problem facing Australia (49%). These include Unemployment (13%), the Economy/ Economic problems/ Interest rates (9%), and other issues including Cost of living/ Inflation, the Federal Budget, Poverty and the gap between the rich and the poor and Over-reliance on Mining.

Michele Levine – CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Despite falling behind, the Abbott Government has every chance to win the next Federal Election. A quick look at history tells us that many first-term Federal Governments in Australia faced significant problems during the first half of their terms, but then recovered and won the next election.

“Implementing tough and unpopular reforms can often be the best way to regain support. Some of the most successful Governments advocated tough reforms and carried them through, from John Howard introducing the GST prior to the 1998 Federal Election to NSW Premier Mike Baird recently winning re-election while advocating the 99 year lease of energy assets. In New Zealand, conservative Prime Minister John Key – widely regarded as the most successful centre-right politician in the world today – increased the GST and since then has easily won the next two New Zealand elections.”

As usual, this quarterly State of the Nation report also contains the latest statistics on Australians’ attitudes and behaviours, as revealed through extensive interviews across the country.

Access State of the Nation 20 - Spotlight on Politics - Slideshow PDF here.

For more information or to organise an interview with CEO Michele Levine, please contact: 

Vaishali Nagaratnam
Telephone: +61 (3) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%