Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Kate Geraghty Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Kate Geraghty
Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Kate Geraghty
Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Kate Geraghty
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s second budget has been much better received than his first. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Tony Abbott poses for photos with members of the Sydney Young Chinese Business Association. Photo: Kate Geraghty
Sketch: 100 days on Tony Abbott discovers the ‘good government’ trickAnalysis: Tony Abbott cuts through to those who will count on polling day
Swinging voters driven to back Labor by the unfairness of the Abbott government’s first hard-cutting budget have swung back after a “softer and milder” 2015 budget giving them “less to worry about”.
Exclusive focus group testing of the nation’s swinging voters commissioned by Fairfax Media shows the 2015 budget was viewed in direct comparison to the 2014 budget and was marked favourably because it contained far less “direct pain”, prompting voters to say the Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey had “learnt their lesson”.
It comes as economic conditions for households also align more favourably for the government with the minutes of this month’s Reserve Bank board’s meeting leaving open the possibility of yet another rate cut to follow the one in May.
The two factors have driven consumer confidence higher than at any time since November according to the ANZ-Roy Morgan Australian Consumer Confidence index, which recorded a 3.4 per cent spike since the budget and a cumulative rating of 114.6 – which is above the long-term average of 112.7.
The results explain why the government has begun to claw back support in middle-Australia, suggesting it can survive if it maximises the advantages of office between now and the election.
Exclusive post-budget qualitative research commissioned by Fairfax Media, and using the identical methodologies approved by the major parties, has found voters expected worse and felt a “sense of relief” when the 2015 budget avoided deep cuts and contained $10 billion in spending for childcare and small business.
And it found the measure to provide $20,000 instant asset write-offs for new small business purchases to be “the icon item”.
The research was undertaken by the political market researcher Tony Mitchelmore, who also does such market testing for the ALP among other clients.
Voters participating in the four focus group discussions were specifically selected for their history as past Labor voters who had switched to support the Coalition in 2013.
Two sessions each were held in Melbourne and in Sydney.
“These are the critical voters both sides of politics will be focusing on in their research and messaging,” Mr Mitchelmore said.
“They are the voters Tony Abbott and the Liberals have to keep to hold power and who Labor need to win back to regain it.”
He said the difference between the tone of swinging voter discussions in 2015 to 2014 was stark.
“Last year the temperature after the budget was red-hot, this year, it was milder, there was less fear and anger involved,” he said.
Key words and phrases that emerged among the welter of responses to the budget shone a light on which political messages cut through to voters and which ones glanced off.
Mr Mitchelmore said the strongest positive cut-through of the budget was the small business package, which achieved what market researchers call “talk ability” and which prompted a strong level of recall with specific mention of the $20,000 deduction figure.
“Things like the small business tax cut is brilliant,” said one woman in the video-taped sessions.
Another noted that the asset write-off would allow cafes and businesses to buy table, chairs, and so on.
“I think it’s good because we need a bit of stimulus in the economy,” she said.
Debt and deficit also featured in discussions but respondents said it was the speed of the repayment that needed to be considered in order to avoid immediate hardship.
“People understand the debt has to be paid, but don’t want it all at once, they’d rather spread the pain,” said one woman.
However, another felt the situation was even worse than it is.
“We’re in a good position, only in relation to Greece,” she said. ” I mean it’s crap [the situation], because we owe so much money.”
Voters appear to want their politicians to be at once more sensitive to voter concerns, and more determined to ride roughshod over them to do what has to be done.
“I don’t think they’ve got any backbone left in them any more,” opined one female voter.
“They’re not game to carry out whatever needs to be done, or to do what they say they were going to do because as soon as the opinion polls go skew-wiff, they’re gone – politicians aren’t game any more to follow through.”
Opinion polls conducted since the budget have charted a recovery with the recent Fairfax-Ispos poll putting the government on even standing with the opposition and showing Mr Abbott ahead of Labor’s Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister for the first time in a year.
The RBA’s May minutes left open the possibility of more interest rate relief in June when deciding on the May cut to a cash rate of 2 per cent.
“Members agreed that … the statement communicating the decision would not contain any guidance on the future path of monetary policy,” its minutes said.
“Members did not see this as limiting the board’s scope for any action that might be appropriate at future meetings.”
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.