I’ve summarised the differences here:
Rajat thinks that question wording might have had an effect. Essential Research asked:
Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the Government introducing a one-off levy on taxpayers to pay for damage caused by the recent floods?
While Newspoll asked:
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a plan to introduce a special levy to help pay for rebuilding of infrastructure in flood-damaged areas. Based on what you currently know, are you in favour or against the federal government introducing such a levy?
I think Rajat is right that question wording might be having an influence here. Polling has always shown more support for tax when it is to be spent on something voters generally approve of, and Newspoll’s question puts more emphasis on that angle, while Essential Research expressly mentions who is going to pay, which may push down support.
These differences, plus the way people seem to have followed their partisan cues, show that the public doesn’t have a clear majority view on this issue. I’m undecided on it myself. If the choice is a tax increase or spending cuts, I would opt for the latter. But if the choice is a tax increase or increased deficits, then we may as well pay now.