The election is less than a week away, and the first thing the Australian people need to do is decide who their next prime minister is.
The next leader of the Australian Labor Party is a matter of serious debate.
In the lead up to the election, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has faced the task of choosing between two very different candidates, both of whom have campaigned heavily on the issues of economic growth and climate change.
Turnbull has repeatedly said he wants to build a stronger economy, to cut carbon emissions and to increase jobs.
But a new ABC News/AAP/WITH.com opinion poll finds that most Australians, 58 per cent, are not convinced by Turnbull’s economic policies.
They are more likely to see him as someone who will be weak on climate change, who has done little to address climate change and who will not build a strong economy.
A new ABC/ABS/Zogby poll finds a similar result.
“We’ve got the strongest economy, the strongest jobs picture in history, the lowest unemployment rate in history,” says Tim O’Neill, an associate professor of political science at the University of Sydney.
What does this mean for the election?
The ABC/WGBH poll suggests that in the lead-up to the vote, Turnbull has been consistently rated as the most effective PM in Australian history.
The ABC/WRU/AUS Polling Report shows that since he took office, Turnbull’s approval rating has increased from 49 per cent in February to 70 per cent now.
And in the run-up, Turnbull repeatedly said that he had “no plans” to change any of his economic policies, despite a raft of new studies showing that the country is heading towards a recession in the next few years.
There is also evidence to suggest that the Turnbull government’s response to the crisis in Greece has made things worse for the Australian economy.
For example, Turnbull recently announced that Australia will cut $4.5 billion in aid to Greece and Greece will need to pay an additional $5.3 billion in taxes.
More broadly, the Australian electorate has grown increasingly sceptical of the political leaders of both major parties.
A separate ABC/ZG/Ipsos poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Australians now think that their governments “do not have the leadership skills to handle the economy”, while almost half think that “the governments of both the major parties do not have a plan for the economy”.
But despite these problems, the new poll also shows that more Australians want a change than a new leader.
This suggests that Turnbull’s decision to run as an independent is likely to backfire badly, at least in terms of voter support.
“A lot of people are very much looking for a change and for someone who has been elected on their platform, there’s a bit of a feeling that he’s not actually a credible choice, because he’s seen as having made the wrong choices in the past,” O’Neil says.
How the poll was conducted The ABC conducted its own poll in October and November this year.
It asked 1,000 Australians, including 1,300 who voted in the 2015 election, whether they would consider voting for the next Labor leader, based on the options of: 1.
a candidate who is a former leader of an opposition party (for example, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd or Bill Shorten) 2.
a former prime minister who has not yet entered politics (for instance, Bob Hawke) 3.
a leader who has held the position of prime minister for two consecutive terms, or who was a minister for more than two terms (for the example of John Howard).
The poll found that while a majority of Australians support a change of leader, only about one-in-three say they would be willing to change their mind about a candidate if they were faced with another candidate who did not share their political views.
“What you have is a bunch of people who, for whatever reason, feel very strongly that they’re not getting a fair go in this election,” O