Swinging voters up for grabs on climate change Media Release

Mar 08, 2009 - 1:00am

The mantle of leadership on climate change is up for grabs – especially among swinging voters, results of an unique Auspoll survey* shows.

The poll, commissioned by the Climate Institute, showed that a 56% majority of all voters see little difference between the major parties, 37% see them as the same, 19% are undecided.

Among ‘swinging’, or ‘soft voters’, 40% consider both parties the same and 35% are undecided.  Of female, ‘swinging voters’ 40% see both parties the same and 45% are undecided.

The poll showed that concern over climate change has moved down a barely significant four per cent since October 2008, and is still strong at 78 per cent, and even stronger among ‘swinging voters’ where 83 per cent are concerned or very concerned.

“Jobs and the economy are front of mind for people but climate change concern and hunger for climate action is still strong,” said John Connor, Climate Institute CEO.

“Critically, people don’t see economic and climate change action as disconnected, or mutually exclusive. Progress to a low-carbon, low emissions economy, is seen to be logically linked to stimulating jobs, growth and addressing climate change,” Mr Connor said.

Despite the current economic climate there remains little appetite for delaying action on climate change, only 35 per cent thought the Government should delay because of the state of the global economy and just 28 per cent support delay until the US and China set targets.

Seventy five per cent of people believed addressing climate change created opportunities for new jobs and investment in clean energy, and 69 per cent want to see Australia be a world leader in finding solutions to climate change.

81 per cent of swinging voters agreed with the statement that the Government should stimulate the economy and jobs by increasing funding for renewable energy projects like solar, wind and geothermal.  This compares with just 48 per cent agreeing that such stimulus should be through giving cash bonuses to families and pensioners.      

 “Globally, 2.3m people are already employed in the renewable energy sector - more than directly employed in oil and gas industries. Multi-billion dollar markets already exist in clean energy, clean transport, green buildings and carbon markets. Other world leaders and commentators recognise these are critical growth areas,” Mr Connor said.

“Australia will miss many of these economic opportunities unless Government fixes flaws in the CPRS, increases our emissions reduction targets and provides extra incentives and conditions for investment in economic and jobs growth in clean energy and energy efficiency.”

Labor is still seen as the stronger party amongst all voters with thirty-two per cent considering them as the better major party to manage climate change, compared with 12% for Liberals. The majority, 56 per cent, of swinging voters are undecided about Kevin Rudd’s climate performance so far.  Amongst all voters this number drops to 44 per cent.

*The online poll was conducted between 30 January – 4 February. The sample size was 1411. This included a sample of 1011 respondents as well as boost of 400 soft voters. Soft voters were defined those who were either “not that certain” or “not certain at all” about their voting intention.

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