Guardian Essential poll: most Australians support an Indigenous voice – but they don’t know too much about it

Two-thirds of respondents back constitutional recognition, including 77% of Labor voters and 53% of Coalition voters

A clear majority of Australians are on board with an Indigenous voice to parliament, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll, but a majority of respondents also haven’t heard very much about it.

Asked whether or not they would support a constitutionally enshrined voice to parliament to provide advice on policies impacting First Nations people, 65% of 1,075 Guardian Essential poll respondents said yes, and 35% said no.

The majority favour the proposed overhaul, including 77% of Labor voters, 53% of Coalition voters, 81% of Greens voters and 56% of people who vote for someone other than the major parties).

But 65% of respondents reported having heard hardly anything, or nothing at all, about the concept first proposed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart back in 2017.

Only 35% of respondents said they had heard either a lot or a fair amount about the voice, while only 5% of respondents characterised themselves as knowing a lot about the proposal.

Anthony Albanese used a recent visit to the Garma festival in Arnhem Land to outline draft provisions for the landmark constitutional change that will be put to the Australian people during this parliamentary term, most likely towards the end of next year.

The prime minister said he had floated some proposed wording as a “basis for dialogue” – not a as a final form of words but rather “something to give the conversation shape and direction”. The shadow attorney general, Julian Leeser, contends it will be up to the government to explain to the Australian people how a voice to parliament would operate in practice.

Inflation agitation

The poll also suggests Australians are worried about rising inflation. Given high consumer prices, a majority of Guardian Essential respondents also want the Albanese government to extend the Morrison government’s temporary cut in fuel excise.

Inflation is expected to peak at an annual rate of 7.75% by the December quarter of 2022 before falling gradually, according to the new government’s forecasts. That cost of living pain has been compounded by the Reserve Bank of Australia has hiked the cash rate four times in four months, which increases mortgage repayments for homeowners.

The latest poll shows 84% of respondents are worried about inflation, and 61% want the current petrol tax relief to continue (11% oppose that idea and 28% neither oppose nor support it).

The excise cut was imposed by the Coalition in the March budget as a temporary measure.Labor has continued to signal the cut will end in September as originally scheduled because of the $3bn cost to the budget.

And after the first two parliamentary sitting weeks of the new 47th parliament, a majority of Guardian Essential respondents (55%) said they approved of the prime minister’s performance.

Albanese’s approval bounced significantly after his victory in May, going from 42% to 59% between May and June, while disapproval went from 41% to 18% in the same period. After the post-election high, approval of Albanese has slipped back a few points and disapproval has nudged up 10 points over the past three months (18% in June, 24% in July and 28% in August).

The majority of respondents were prepared to provide a broadly positive scorecard for the new government as it approaches 100 days in office, with 56% saying Labor was focused on the things that matter (44% thought otherwise) and 54% saying they were getting things done (46% disagreed). More than half (52%) think Labor is addressing long term problems, while 54% say Labor is not out of touch with ordinary people (46% disagree) and 51% say Labor is not too idealistic (49% thinks otherwise).

With the Albanese government’s first budget looming in October, the latest poll suggests voters are more concerned about the deficit than they were 12 months ago, although there is still strong support for improving social services like aged care and childcare.

The government would have the option of boosting the budget by delaying the Morrison government’s stage three tax cuts that predominantly benefit higher income earners. But only 42% of respondents would support the new government changing course on that issue (26% would support a delay and 37% are on the fence).


Katharine Murphy, Political editor

The GuardianTramp

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