Crikey's "Poll Bludger", which aggregates all major opinion polls, records that a large and persistent shift in the two-party preference occurred as budget details began leaking in about April this year. It seems clear that voters don't like the budget. The Abbott government has never explained why the "lifting" must be done by people who are already missing out, while it continues giving tax concessions to wealthy individuals and profitable businesses. Entrepreneurs and economists are calling for the government to tighten these concessions rather than raise the top marginal tax rate – which is effectively what it did with its levy on high-income earners earlier this year.
And as work becomes more insecure – there are now ten jobseekers for every vacancy, and many in work are on casual or short-term contracts – the government intends to impose a strict and punitive regime for the jobless, as if their unemployment is their own fault. Despite its drive to "cut red tape", the government intends to make Newstart recipients apply for 40 jobs every week on top of their work-for-the-dole obligations. The Business Council of Australia's new president, Telstra chair Catherine Livingstone, makes the obvious point that this would most likely inundate prospective employers with masses of unwarranted applications. Senator Eric Abetz admitted the same on Lateline last night.
Yet government ministers cite anecdotes in the absence of any evidence supporting their scheme, and despite the feedback it's getting from experts and the general electorate the government remains determined to press ahead with this and other unpopular reform. In this context perhaps it's unsurprising that today's Newspoll shows no change in the two-party preferred vote, despite prime minister Tony Abbott's strong week on the world stage.
"A High Court challenge to the Abbott government's powers over asylum seekers it takes into custody on the high seas has been widened to include a claim for damages for false imprisonment."
Also: Australia asks India to interview Tamils held in WA (Paul Farrell, The Guardian); 157 Tamil asylum seekers denied access to lawyers (Ben Doherty, Fairfax)
Comment: An open letter from a reluctant refugee (Thu-Trang Tran, The Drum)
"1.64 million people who have no work or not enough work are potentially competing for available job vacancies. The labour force underutilisation rate of 13.5% suggests that there are around 10 potential job applicants for each vacancy."
Also: Work for dole schemes no help in finding jobs (Gareth Hutchens, Anna Patty and Dan Harrison, Fairfax); Job providers have been accused of failing Aborigines (Patricia Karvelas, The Australian)
"The federal government has given environmental approval for what will be the largest coalmine in the country, with coal due to be exported to India in three years’ time."
"Parliamentary question time has lost its original purpose and should be abolished, the former Labor leader Mark Latham argues in a new book, while calling for the establishment of Reserve Bank-style bodies to defuse politically toxic policy areas."
"Victorian Labor leader Daniel Andrews has suffered the worst day of his leadership and exposed the party to pre-election turmoil after failing to identify the ALP figure who criminally leaked an unauthorised recorded conversation of a political opponent."