catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Do Australians value honesty in a political leader?

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According to a poll reported in this morning’s Fairfax broadsheets 46% of voters believe Peter Costello’s version of events at the meeting in 1994 to discuss the Liberal leadership, with only 35% accepting the Prime Minister’s account of what was said.

This is far from the first time that the public has doubted John Howard’s word. On the children overboard affair, 60% believe that he deliberately misled them. 50% thought he knew of the Abu Graihb prisoner abuse scandal prior to April 2004, despite his claims to the contrary. A Saulwick Poll earlier this year found that 70% of respondents thought that the federal government was aware of the AWB kickbacks to Saddam Hussein. The Iraq war itself, however, has been on of the few integrity issues where the Howard government has received the benefit of the doubt, with a Newspoll (pdf) finding that though in early 2004 62% of voters thought they had been misled on the issue, less than half of that group, 26%, thought they had been “knowingly” misled.

Yet throughout this time John Howard has been clearly ahead in the preferred Prime Minister polls, with this morning’s poll being no exception – 53% to Kim Beazley’s 38%. This can’t just be Liberal partisans, since the Liberal primary is on 41% according to ACNielsen. Nor can be it just be because people think that all politicians are dishonest – since Kim Beazley is thought “trustworthy” by more people than the Prime Minister. This seems to be the pragmatic Australian view of politics at work. You have to take the good with the bad with politicians as with other people, and fudging things a little is no more than a misdemeanour. The Left’s John Howard Lies campaign fell flat as a result. What matters politically is not so much trust as confidence that a political leader will deliver better than his rivals on key issues. On that count, for the meantime at least, Howard is ahead.


Written by Admin

July 17, 2006 at 9:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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