Survey Reports

Our Members’ thoughts on Turnbull’s Leadership, Syrian Airstrikes and more

Nicholas Cokis summarises the surveys put to UWA Politics Club Facebook members, including issues in Australian politics, international military intervention and climate change.

Over the past two months, members of our Facebook group were asked a series of questions on different topical issues. Find out below how they responded.

Malcolm Turnbull

Early in April our members were asked whether or not Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should resign if he reached 30 consecutive Newspoll losses. When Turnbull ousted Abbott for leadership of the Liberal Party in 2015, he used Abbott’s loss of 30 consecutive Newspolls as his justification for assuming the leadership.

Some believe that Turnbull should hold himself to the same standard as he did Tony Abbott, but others say that circumstances within the Liberal Party have changed and Turnbull has every right to maintain leadership of the party. Among our members, a narrow majority supported Turnbull’s leadership ongoing leadership, while 34% maintain that he should resign. Interestingly, 11% voted that they were deeply conflicted about the issue, showing that the issue is perhaps not as clear cut as it seems.


Military Strikes in Syria

Our members were then asked whether or not they supported allied airstrikes in Syria carried out in response to chemical weapon attacks allegedly perpetrated by the Syrian Government. Taking place on the 14th of April, American, British and French aircraft bombed three government sites, all involved in the production or storage or chemical weapons according to the Pentagon.

President Trump commended the attack, calling it a “mission accomplished”, and likewise the Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne stated that Australia supported the attacks. It’s clear our members were largely divided on this issue, but a majority of 57% disagreed with the sentiment of our government and did not support the attacks.


Lowering the Voting Age

On the 23rd of April it was announced that Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John would be introducing a bill in the Senate that would lower the legal voting age in Australia to 16. If passed, the bill would allow a further 600 000 Australians to vote in federal elections, although for 16-17 year olds voting would not be compulsory under the bill.

Our community members were given several different options for this poll, which represented different approaches on the way in which the voting age would be lowered. The overwhelming majority voted against voting the lowering age at all, with only 35 respondents supporting the bill moved by Senator Jordan Steele-John. Other versions of the policy including limiting underage voting to local council elections, raising the voting age and allowing minors to vote in all elections garnered little support.


Capitalism vs Socialism

In light of the Capitalism vs Socialism debate that was hosted by the Politics Club on May 15th, in the leadup to the debate we asked whether Capitalism or Socialism could better meet human need. Among our members, 76% agreed that Capitalism was the better system, with only 24% casting their votes for Socialism.

Despite that disparity in our poll, the debate proved to be very constructive with both sides putting forward quality arguments. At the end of the day however, it seems most of our members are satisfied with keeping the status quo.


Increasing GDP at the Expense of Increased Emissions

In our last poll posted on the Facebook page, we asked what our members would rather, a 20% fall in GDP with a 20% fall in emissions, or a 20% rise in GDP with a 20% rise in emissions. Economic research has shown that over the past 50 years, increased in GDP for a given country have been linked to an increase in carbon emissions released by that country. With Australia having ratified and committed to the Paris Climate Accords in 2016, the pressure is now on for the government to meet Australia’s emissions target.

Sacrificing our economy to combat climate change however is clearly a hard decision to make, with 52% of our members agreeing that lowering emissions should be of a higher priority, while 48% would rather an increase in GDP while also increasing emissions.


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