news A new poll has shown that support for Labor’s National Broadband Network project has risen over the past few months to a total of 73 percent, adding to a long-term trend of enduring support for the initiative demonstrated over the past several years; with even a majority of Coalition voters supporting the project.
The poll published today was recently taken by research house Essential Media, using a sample size of 1,874 Australians. One of the questions it asked was whether those polled supported or opposed a certain set of Government decisions, including the NBN, the Minerals Resource Rent Tax and the carbon tax.
In response to the question, some 35 percent of respondents indicated they strongly supported the NBN project, while some 38 percent supported it, making a total of 73 percent, up from 69 percent in a similar poll taken on 26 November last year. Only 9 percent of respondents strongly opposed the NBN policy and a further 10 percent opposed it, making only 19 percent in total of Australians which opposed the project. A further 8 percent of respondents didn’t know how they felt about the NBN.
“The decision which has the most support amongst respondents is the NBN, with 73% in favour and only 19% opposed – an increase in support since this question was last asked in November,” wrote Essential Media in its comments associated with the poll.
The detailed results also show that while support for the NBN was strongest amongst Labor and Greens voters (88 percent in both camps supported the NBN), the majority of Coalition voters also supported the NBN, with 61 percent in total supporting the project and only 33 percent against it. Only 18 percent of Coalition voters strongly opposed the project, while a further 15 percent opposed it.
The news adds to a long-term body of evidence which continues to show that the vast majority of Australians support the NBN project and that support for the project may actually be rising. For example, recent survey data, consisting of research conducted in the early stage NBN rollout zone in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, showed that 89 percent backed the NBN as a “good idea”, even if they hadn’t immediately signed up to use the project’s fibre infrastructure.
The survey adds to a number of other recent surveys and studies which have demonstrated enduring support for the NBN project amongst Australians in general. A similar study published in October 2012 (also by Swinburne) asked the question: ‘Do you think the development of the National Broadband Network is a good idea?’ According to the report, 35 percent strongly agreed with the proposition, and 32 percent agreed. Some 13 percent sat in the middle with an answer of ‘neither’, while 13 percent disagreed, and 7 percent strongly disagreed.
A similar survey taken in 2009, when the NBN policy was in its infancy, found that a higher percentage – 43 percent – strongly agreed, while 32 percent agreed, 17 percent sat in the middle, and 5 percent and 4 percent disagreed and strongly disagreed respectively. This may indicate that the Coalition’s ongoing criticism of the NBN has had some impact on the project’s popularity, with the amount of Australians strongly agreeing with the project slipping, although the project as a whole remains popular with the majority of Australians.
Another poll taken in February 2012 showed similar strong results for the NBN. The poll was taken by Australian social and market research company Your Source. The organisation sends out between 7,000 and 8,000 invitations to respond to each poll it conducts, from which it usually receives about 1,000 responses.
In February 2012 the company polled its audience with the following question: “From what you’ve heard, do you favour or oppose the planned National Broadband Network (NBN)”? The response displayed an enduring level of support for the NBN, with 56 percent of total respondents supporting the NBN in total, compared with 25 percent opposed and 19 percent stating that they didn’t know.
Just 10 percent of those polled strongly opposed the NBN, while 20 percent strongly favoured the project. Amongst Labor and Greens voters who responded to the poll, support was the strongest, with 80 percent and 77 percent supporting the initiative, 42 percent of Coalition voters supported it.
Over the preceding 14 months before the poll was taken, Your Source has asked respondents the same question on three other occasions, with respondents displaying a very similar support rate for the project — ranging from 48 to 56 percent. Those opposing the project have ranged from 19 percent of respondents to 27 percent.
The polling echoes internal Coalition research. A landmark internal report handed down in mid-2011 into the Coalition’s loss in the 2010 Federal Election highlighted a failure to adequately respond to Labor’s flagship National Broadband Network plan as a key reason for losing valuable votes, especially in the sensitive Tasmanian electorate, which is receiving the network before the rest of the nation.
The majority of the report did not mention the NBN, but one section quoted extensively from a similar report produced last year by Sydney academic Julian Leeser into the Tasmanian leg of the election, which has been reported in brief.
“The failure to properly explain the Liberal Party’s broadband policy and the Labor Party’s effective scare campaign was a major cause of the party’s failure to win seats in Tasmania,” the report states. “This was the nearly universal review of people making submissions to the review and is borne out by research undertaken by the Liberal Party. In the view of many, the party’s policy amounted to a threat to come into people’s homes and rip the Internet out of the wall.”
We’ve now seen quite a few detailed reports showing that Labor’s NBN project is overwhelmingly popular in the electorate, and the evidence from early stage rollout zones such as Brunswick also shows that the more Australians know about the NBN, the more likely they are to support it. In May I wrote:
“An overwhelming body of evidence is gradually being accumulated that Australia’s population as a whole is staunchly in support of the NBN. Views on this matter are not divided; research has consistently shown that the policy is very popular and that most Australians in all areas agree the project should go ahead.
Now, I’m not going to say that the Coalition has to do everything the population says, should it win government. Clearly, sometimes a Government needs to enact an unpopular policy because it’s the right thing to do. But such overwhelming support does mean that the Coalition needs to produce a higher burden of proof for why the NBN policy as a whole should be substantially modified.”
These comments have been true for quite a while and continue to be true.