The Government deck-clearing and controversy over its decision to shelve its CPRS has taken a bite out of Kevin Rudd’s personal approval rating, according to polling in today’s Essential Report.

And Tony Abbott has recovered much of the ground he lost following his poor performance in the health debate.

Compared to the end of March, Kevin Rudd’s personal approval rating has fallen 7 points to 46%, the first time his approval rating has fallen below 50%. His disapproval rating has lifted by a similar amount to 42%, putting the prime minister in danger of nearing an election with a net disapproval rating.

Abbott suffered a disastrous fall in approval ratings in the wake of the health debate, but has reversed much of that collapse with a mirror-image of Rudd’s fall, picking up 6% in approval ratings to 39% and losing 7% to 43%. However, he is still well short of his February high point, when he had a 9% net approval rating.

Much of the damage to Rudd would have been incurred in the last 10 days, when his win at the COAG summit on health was followed in quick succession by Government reversals on the future of the insulation scheme and childcare centres, and then an unplanned announcement that its emissions trading scheme was being shelved. Given the relatively high level of support for the Government’s decision to drop the CPRS (38% approval to 41% disapproval, with even Labor voters evenly split on the decision), it suggests voters might mark the Government down for back-flipping even when they endorse the individual decisions.

For a government that has worked hard to advertise where it has kept its election commitments, Essential’s finding that most people rate it the same or worse than previous governments at delivering its promises will be deeply frustrating. Only 32% of voters rated the Government better than its predecessors at keeping its promises, with 42% thinking it is worse and 20% thinking it is the same — although the results tended to follow party lines.

Essential also asked how much attention voters would be paying to next week’s Budget, with 67% saying they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ interested, although younger voters and women showed significantly less interest.

Peter Fray

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