Guardian Essential poll: about half say Scott Morrison should resign over secret ministries

Poll finds 51% of respondents say the former PM should go, including a third of Coalition voters

About half of voters think Scott Morrison should resign from parliament over his decision to secretly appoint himself to five additional portfolios while prime minister, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll, which also finds trust in government in steady decline.

As the former prime minister continues to defend his decision to take on the additional portfolios without informing his colleagues or the public, the survey of 1,070 people found that about half (51%) agreed with the statement that he “should resign from parliament”, including a third of Coalition voters.

A further 24% neither agreed nor disagreed with that statement, with just 25% disagreeing.

A majority of people (58%) also believe he should appear at an inquiry into the issue which is being led by the former high court justice Virginia Bell. Morrison has indicated he may be prepared to cooperate, but has also said the inquiry should look more broadly into the management of the pandemic.

Despite the former prime minister being unrepentant about his behaviour, a majority of voters (58%) say his actions “diminished the reputation of his government”, with 45% of Coalition voters also marking him down for the move.

Morrison appeared on Paul Murray’s Sky News program on Monday evening – his first TV interview since the multiple ministry controversy – and gave no indication of plans to quit parliament.

Asked where he would be in a year, Morrison replied: “I anticipate I’ll be here … I look forward to continuing to be an effective local member of parliament, supporting a lot of my colleagues find their feet and turn into great members of the team.”

Morrison said he would also “do things in addition to my parliamentary responsibilities which a lot of members of parliament do”. In August Morrison updated his register of interests to include honorarium payments for recent speeches in Japan and Korea.

As the government prepares to introduce legislation for a new national anti-corruption commission (Nacc), the poll also asked voters how much they trust various institutions and organisations in Australia. Underscoring the need for the new integrity body, the poll finds federal parliament is the institution with the lowest levels of trust in the community, with just 46% of people expressing “a lot of trust” or “some trust” in the nation’s parliament.

More people (48%) said they had “little trust” or “no trust at all” in federal parliament – the worst-rated institution – with women and young people most likely to express a lack of faith.

Trust in federal parliament is in steady decline, with the latest result down nine percentage points since August 2020, when 55% expressed trust in the government as the country grappled with the early stages of the pandemic.

Scientific bodies such as the CSIRO had the highest trust ranking of 72%, with males and voters over the age of 55 expressing the most confidence, and females and young people the lowest confidence.

State and federal health authorities, and police, courts and the justice system also ranked well, with 62% of people having trust in these organisations, about on par with the 61% of people who trust universities.

The commonwealth public service has the trust of about half of those surveyed (53%) while state and territory parliaments fared slightly worse at 48%, which is also down from the 60% recorded in 2020.

Amid the grim findings, there is strong support for the establishment of a new independent federal anti-corruption body with 76% expressing support and just 15% against, with support strongest among Labor voters and those over the age of 55.

Most people support a model that has strong powers, with 61% backing the ability for the new commission to start a corruption investigation based on a complaint or whistleblower information, and 55% supporting public hearings “so the details of the case are transparent and allegations are known and reported”.

It also shows moderate support (35%) for the commission to be able to start an investigation before establishing that a crime has likely been committed.

However, Coalition voters are less likely to support a stronger model, with backing for the various powers about 10 percentage points less than for Labor, Green and independent voters.

The attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has been consulting on the new Nacc, with the legislation to be tabled next week after being signed off by the Labor caucus on Tuesday.

On Monday, Dreyfus said the legislation was a “key part of our agenda to restore public trust and strengthen standards of integrity in our federal government,” emphasising the powers of the new body that will include the discretion to commence inquiries on its own initiative or in response to referrals, as well as the power to hold public hearings.

While the poll findings suggest faith in politics is dwindling, Anthony Albanese’s approval ratings continue to surge, with the survey giving the prime minister a 59% approval rating, up 5% since August, with just 25% of people surveyed disapproving.

His approval ratings are higher among men at 64% compared with 55% of women, with 89% of Labor voters also giving the new prime minister the tick of approval.

Voter support is highest in WA (62% approval) and NSW (61%), while it is lowest in Queensland where his approval is still at 56%, and where 30% disapprove of the job he is doing.

In a sign of confidence in the government’s plans, 48% of those asked think Australia is “heading in the right direction” – a 5 percentage point increase since last month – and just 29% see the country as on the wrong track.

  • This story was amended on 6 September, 2022, to clarify the poll results.


Sarah Martin

The GuardianTramp

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