Voters split on their reaction to the budget along party lines, but there’s some agreement about who won and lost last week, this week’s Essential Report shows.
Approval or disapproval of last week’s budget primarily falls along party lines, but even Liberal voters agree the budget disproportionately targeted people on lower incomes, new polling from Essential Research finds.
Across all voters, 52% disapproved of last week’s budget, compared with 30% who approved. However, that figure represents the strong disapproval of all non-Coalition voters: Coalition voters approved of the budget 69%-12%, while voters who support other parties disapproved at similar or stronger levels. Coalition voters broadly saw the budget as “fair and balanced”, but Labor and Greens voters disagreed.
However, there was greater consistency between different voters about who benefited and who suffered in the budget. The budget was good for “average working people” according to just 14% of voters; 59% thought it was bad (25% thought it was “very bad”). Coalition voters were more evenly split, with 30% thinking it was good and 26% bad for average working people. And voters agreed the budget was good for the well-off: Labor voters split 51%-15%, Coalition voters 39%-15%, Greens voters 52%-16%, with “other” voters on 45%-25%. Voters of all persuasions thought the budget was bad for people on low incomes, 66%-11%, although Coalition voters split evenly 39%-39%. Voters agreed the budget was bad for Australian families (62%-11%), older Australians (66%-10%) and younger Australians (55%-16%), although Coalition voters split 29%-31% on whether the budget was bad or good for younger Australians.
Essential also compared pre-budget expectations to post-budget views. The budget significantly “exceeded” expectations in relation to the benefit to Australian business and people who are well off, and was also regarded as better for the economy — 28% of voters thought the budget would be good for the economy ahead of the budget, compared to 40% who thought it afterwards.
The most disliked budget measure was the increase in pension age to 70 by 2035, opposed by 61% of those surveyed (17% supported the measure), although Labor voters are particularly hostile (80%-7%). The GP co-payment was opposed 50%-29% and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme co-payment increase by 58%-23%. However, forcing Newstart recipients to wait six months was only opposed 41%, with 39% supporting the move: strong opposition from Labor and Greens voters was almost matched by strong support from Liberal voters, who also supported Medicare co-payments. And making graduates repay HELP loans faster was strongly supported by voters, 53%-23%. The cut to the ABC’s budget was opposed 41%-27%, while Labor and especially Coalition voters supported foreign aid cuts.
Where the government had more success was in convincing voters there was a “budget emergency”: 56% of voters agreed there was a budget emergency, while 32% didn’t believe it. The problem rested in the budget itself — 24 percentage points, or nearly half, of that 56% didn’t believe the budget would help address it.
On voting intention, Labor’s primary vote lifted another point to reach 40%, though this week at the expense of the Greens, down one point to 8%. The Coalition remained on 40% and the Palmer United Party on 5%, maintaining Labor’s 52%-48% two-party preferred advantage for a third week.