Shorten’s popularity ‘an historic low’

TRUST in government has slumped to a record low while the 2019 federal election swung on Bill Shorten's unpopularity and the Coalition's economic record, according to new research.

The Australian National University's 2019 election study found nearly one in four voters identified managing the economy as the most important issue in the election, just ahead of health and Medicare.

New research has found Scott Morrison was the second-most popular leader to win an election since Kevin Rudd. Picture: AAP Image/Craig Golding
New research has found Scott Morrison was the second-most popular leader to win an election since Kevin Rudd. Picture: AAP Image/Craig Golding

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten's popularity "represented a historic low for any major party leader" while Prime Minister Scott Morrison was the second most popular leader to a win an election since Kevin Rudd in 2007.

And just one in four Australians had confidence in their political leaders and institutions, the lowest level on record, while satisfaction with democracy slumped to 59 per cent, the worst result since the constitutional crisis of the 1970s, the survey found.

Lead researcher Ian McAllister said the findings were a "clear warning" politicians needed to do better to represent everyday Australians.

"I've been studying elections for 40 years and never have I seen such poor returns for public trust in and satisfaction with democratic institutions," he said.

"There is widespread public concern about how our democracy is underperforming."

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten has recorded one of the lowest popularity ratings of any major party leader. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Former Labor leader Bill Shorten has recorded one of the lowest popularity ratings of any major party leader. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

In Queensland, the report found the average two-party preferred swing to the Coalition of 4.3 per cent was due to the large preference flows from One Nation and Clive Palmer's United Australia Party as well as Bob Brown's anti-Adani convoy stoking voter opposition among miners and rural voters.

The survey of 2179 voters identified the most important issues in the election as managing the economy (24 per cent), health (22 per cent) and environmental issues (21 per cent).

Co-author Jill Sheppard said the Coalition had a "strong advantage" on perceptions of how it would manage the economy while Labor was more trusted on environmental issues.

"What the study shows is that a key concern for voters was the economy and this is what tipped the balance in favour of the Coalition," she said.

Study co-lead author Sarah Cameron from the University of Sydney said the role of leadership in the May 18 election was different from other elections for two reasons.

"First, Bill Shorten's historically low popularity undoubtedly disadvantaged Labor," she said.

"Second, the Liberals switch from Malcolm Turnbull to Scott Morrison was the fourth time a sitting prime minister had been replaced outside an election since 2010 … voters are getting weary of constant changes of prime minister."



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