The latest weekly result from Essential Research, a rolling average of polling conducted over the past fortnight, shows little change on last week with Labor up a point on the primary vote to 39% and the Greens down one to 9%, while the Coalition and Palmer United are steady on 40% and 5% and Labor’s two-party preferred lead is unchanged at 52-48. The poll also includes the monthly personal ratings, which are the first such results from any pollster showing Bill Shorten leading Tony Abbott on preferred prime minister, the latter’s lead of 42-32 last month crashing to a deficit of 37-36. This is down to a slump in Abbott’s ratings, his approval down six to 35% and disapproval up eight to 55%, with Shorten’s ratings little changed at 35% approval (up one) and 37% disapproval (down one).
In other questions, the poll comprehensively gauged opinion the Commission of Audit’s recommendations, of which three have a positive net approval: university students repaying HELP debt once they earn minimum wage, relocation by unemployed young people to areas of high unemployment to retain access to benefits, and Youth Allowance rather than Newstart for those under 25. The least popular measures were raising the retirement age and increasing interest rates on HELP debts. Respondents thought the Coalition heavily favoured the rich (54%) over the poor (5%) and the average Australian (22%), while tending to place Labor in the middle, with 34% for the average Australian, 16% for the rich and 22% for the poor. The poll found broad awareness that Australia’s national debt was lower than other developed countries (45% believing it lower, 22% higher), and a belief that large companies and high-income earners paid too little tax and small businesses and low-income earners too much.