Australians want sugar tax on drinks

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A majority of Australians support a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, a new poll has found.

The Essential poll, released on Tuesday, found 53% of the 1,038 respondents were in favour of a sugar tax on drinks, compared with 38% opposed and 10% with no opinion.

A majority of all major-party voters backed the sugar tax, with Greens (60%) and Coalition voters (57%) most in favour.

In January the Australian Medical Association joined a renewed push for a sugar tax but the Turnbull government immediately ruled out the idea on the basis consumers should take “individual responsibility” for food choices.

The poll finds Bill Shorten’s approval rating has slumped over summer, with Malcolm Turnbull increasing his lead as preferred prime minister despite Labor maintaining its 53% to 47% two-party preferred lead.

Shorten’s approval slipped from 36% to 32% and disapproval increased from 45% to 49%, causing his deficit in net approval to nearly double from -9% in December to -17% in January.

Turnbull also lost popularity, with his net approval slipping from -3% to -7%. Some 45% disapprove of the prime minister’s performance compared with 38% who approve.

Turnbull led as preferred prime minister with 42% of respondents choosing him, over the 25% who picked Shorten, down 3% since December. One-third of voters were undecided (33%).

The poll showed women were increasingly undecided between the two leaders, with just 38% opting for Turnbull, 20% for Shorten and 42% choosing neither. Men preferred Turnbull (45%) to Shorten (30%), with only 25% undecided.

The poll, conducted from Thursday to Monday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.

The Essential poll found a majority of people thought offending had increased in all categories of crime tested: from drug-related crime (76%), youth gang crime (70%) and domestic violence (63%) at the upper end to white-collar crime (55%) and car theft (53%) at the lower end.

When asked to pick three types of crime as the “most important for the government to address” most nominated drug-related crime (72%), domestic violence (67%), violent crime, such as assault and murder (62%), and youth gang crime (53%).

The home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, has claimed that Victorians are “scared to go out to restaurants” because of “African gang violence”. The comments have earned rebukes from the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, the Law Institute of Victoria and the Law Council of Australia.

In 2017 New South Wales recorded the lowest crime rate in 40 years. Victoria’s crime rate was down 4.8% over the past 12 months but up 16.3% over the past five years.

The Essential poll found 44% of respondents support “Australia becoming a republic with an Australian head of state”, identical to when the question was last asked in January 2017. Some 29% were opposed to the republic and 26% had no opinion.

Over the summer, Turnbull suggested a postal survey could be used to determine Australia’s preferred method of republic but withdrew from the suggestion, ruling it out in this term of government.

 

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