The Albanese Government’s honeymoon period with the Australian public appears to be over.
Perceptions of both federal government leadership and competency have dropped in the first half of 2023 according to our data, sliding after a rise in these metrics following May 2022’s federal election.
The rise in these metrics appears to have been something of a ‘sugar hit’, with the public remaining generally dissatisfied with the leadership of federal government. Addressing this dissatisfaction and improving leadership perceptions is sure to be a key part of any future success for the Albanese Government, particularly as the upcoming Indigenous Voice To Parliament referendum approaches.
Better leadership but room for improvement
Overall, our data indicates that the Australian public views the Albanese government as an improvement over the Morrison government.
All four of our core metrics are above where they were sitting prior to the election despite the recent decline in these metrics. For example, current leadership perceptions sit seven points higher in Apr-Jun 2023 (59/100) than the results for Jan-Mar 2022 (52/100).
But the momentum built in 2022 hasn’t been sustained this year. As seen below (figure 1), results plateaued at 61/100 for leadership and have dropped two points since. Currently, the federal government is four points below the national average for all institutions (63/100), which indicates that the public expects a lot more from the federal government in terms of leadership.
Waning perceptions of competence
One of the core factors in that plateau has been perceptions of federal government competence. Initially a core driver of the improvement in overall leadership perceptions, the competency of the Albanese Government appears to be being questioned by the public as the government attempts to manage the housing and cost of living crisis and propel a successful Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum.
Reaching highs of 62/100 for competence on our survey results in Jul-Sep 2022 (figure 2) it appeared that Labor not only had public support for its policies but was judged as competent to enact them, stemming the prevailing tide of public dissatisfaction in the federal government.
But those perceptions have been in decline for the first half of 2023. With the bill for years of COVID-related spending coming in, financial pressures have ramped up for the public and accountability for those pressures has started to be fall onto Labor federal leadership. The public expects our leaders to successfully manage this issue as they themselves manage their own personal finances.
The stumbling approach to the Indigenous Voice to Parliament has also likely been a driver in this decline in competence perceptions, with No campaigners appearing to pick up significant momentum while the government attempts to fine tune its messaging behind closed doors. Recent polling indicates a 53-47 preference lead for the ‘No’ campaign, a big change from ‘Yes’ campaign leads that were as high as 20-30 percent earlier in the year.
If those trends continue and the government fails to convince the public of the benefits of the Voice to Parliament, then not only will the referendum fail to pass but public confidence in the federal government’s competence will likely be shaken further as well.
Heightened perceptions of integrity
The Albanese Government can hold its head high in one clear area, however: integrity. As shown in figure 3, there is a 10-point difference between the pre-election and post-election integrity scores for the federal government, something the Albanese Government has been able to sustain in 2023.
Outperforming the Morrison Government for this metric is not the highest of bars, plagued as it was by a number of integrity scandals across a range of ministers and portfolios, including Scott Morrison’s secret self-appointment to number of important portfolios.
But without similar scandals popping up we believe that this integrity score will continue to improve, as the Albanese Government takes firm stands on what it believes in and follows through on the promises it makes.
Whether the Albanese Government is competent enough to fulfill those promises may be another question.