Farm poll: 'we want Howard'

By By Lucy Skuthorp
Updated January 5 2016 - 6:13pm, first published October 4 2007 - 11:00pm

DESPITE being two of the hottest agricultural issues in Canberra this year, wheat marketing and climate change rank among the least important issues for farmers at this year’s Federal election, according to an exclusive poll by Rural Press.The special farmer-only poll by the publisher of Stock & Land reveals they also believe Kevin Rudd will be the next Prime Minister of Australia, even though most said they will vote for the Coalition.The survey, conducted by Rural Press Marketing Services, polled 721 farmers exclusively, and did not extend to rural towns or the broader agribusiness community.More than 50 per cent of the respondents are older than 55, with cattle, sheep and cropping the predominant enterprises.Labor will win the election, according to 44pc of farmers, while 34.7pc believe the Coalition will be returned. However, 21.4pc are still unsure what the result will be.Typically the most traditional and dependable conservative voters, 79.9pc of farmers have said they will not be changing their vote this year, while 11.5pc said they would vote differently at the next election, and 8.6pc are undecided.The poll reveals many farmers voting for Labor could be doing so for the first time, with the majority qualifying their support as because “it’s time for a change”.More than 15pc of farmers say they will vote Labor this year, yet close to 10pc of farmers still have not decided who they will vote for at this election.Combined support for the Coalition was 71.2pc, with 47.3 per cent of farmers indicating they will vote Liberal at the coming election, and a further 23.9pc will vote for The Nationals.Independent support is 1.2pc, and support for the Greens is 1.8pcBut while there is overwhelming support for the current government to be reinstated, exactly one third of farmers said current political representation at a Federal level was “poor” or “very poor”.Only a quarter of farmers believed the current political representation of country people federally was “good” or “excellent”, with 41.7pc saying it was “average”.Health, water and drought top the list of the most important election issues for farmers, while trade reform was considered of little importance.The outbreak of equine influenza in Australia in late August is largely behind the elevation of quarantine as another major election issue for farmers.Only 5.1 per cent of farmers view climate change as an important election issue.When it comes to running the country, 68 per cent of farmers said John Howard was their preferred prime minister, while 18.6pc wanted Kevin Rudd to be the next PM.Peter Costello was preferred by 4.2pc, followed by Mark Vaile (2.4pc) and Julia Gillard (2.1pc).More than a quarter of farmers (26.9pc) could not name their Federal electorate, signalling farmers have perhaps not been interested in the election, or been too concerned with other factors like drought to be worried about the electorate they live in.Notably about 42.4pc of farmers polled thought The Nationals and Liberals should merge and become one political party.Most of these believed a merged entity would be stronger. However, there was still considerable support for The Nationals to remain a stand-alone party, with 39.8pc of farmers opposed to a merger of the current Coalition partners.More than half of those not in favour of merging the two said rural Australia needed its own separate voice, and many others actually believed The Nationals would be stronger if they kept their separate identity.

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