Kevin Rudd has won support for his sweeping health reforms among voters, with most believing it will have a positive impact on health services.

New Essential Research polling shows almost half (48%) of those surveyed last week approve of the agreement between state and territory leaders and the Commonwealth on new funding arrangements. A quarter disapprove of the agreement.

New South Wales and Queensland show the strongest support for the plan, while Victoria — among the more recalcitrant states to agree to the federal funding takeover — has the highest levels of disapproval and the lowest levels of approval. (Western Australia, which is yet to sign the agreement while disputing the funding arrangements, also shows minimal support, though the polling numbers are small.)

More than 70% of Labor voters back the agreement. Interestingly, more than a third of Coalition voters also support the deal (with 46% disapproving), complicating Tony Abbott’s decision about whether to use his Senate numbers to stymie the deal.

Most encouragingly for the Labor leaders who signed the deal, most of their constituents believe it will deliver results. The online poll of more than 1000 voters found 43% believe health services will “get better” as a result of the agreement, compared to 25% who believe services will remain the same and 15% who say the situation will get worse. There were no significant differences between the states in terms of whether health services will get better or worse.

If the government is to get a bump in support for securing the deal it’s too early to show up in the latest Essential figures. A two-week average of voting intentions among 1847 people shows static primary support, with Labor maintaining an eight-point gap in the two-party preferred stakes — 54% compared to the coalition on 46%.

2PP SUPPORT 6 months ago 4 weeks ago Last week This week
Total Liberal/National 41% 46% 46% 46%
Labor 59% 54% 54% 54%

Compared to six months ago the Liberal Party has clawed back 3% of those who will grant it their first preference under Abbott, with the Nationals static over the period on 3% total support. From the lofty heights of 50% support six months ago, Labor has dropped eight points — but support has been steady over the last month.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey