Today’s Essential Report still has Labor trailing on the 2PP vote, 49-51, despite a slight drop in the Coalition’s primary vote and a lift in the Greens’ vote. Labor is on 39%, the Coalition on 45% and the Greens on 10%, up from 8% last week.

Last week Essential asked voters about foreign affairs, the banks and same-s-x marriage. There is strong support across party lines for more banking competition — 68% want to see more competition and only 21% think there’s enough now. And voters trust Joe Hockey and the Coalition more in handling bank issues than Wayne Swan and Labor — 38-33%.

Asked about the importance of having close relationships with a number of countries, 90% of voters thought a close relationship with the US and New Zealand was very important or quite important, 87% thought a close relationship with the UK was important (although fewer thought it “very important”), and 89% of voters thought a close relationship with China was important. Then comes Japan (83%), Indonesia (78%), India (69%), Germany and South Africa.

Asked about which relationships we should be strengthening, China was most frequently considered the country we should be getting closer to — 30% of those polled thought we should be seeking a closer relationship with China, 9% thought we should be trying to put some distance between ourselves and Beijing. Only 20% wanted a closer relationship with the US, and 11% wanted us to have a less close relationship.

The UK was also on 20%; 29% wanted a closer relationship with New Zealand (rather hard short of actual union), and 23% nominated Indonesia, although Indonesia scored highest as the country we wanted a less close relationship with, at 15%. The Japanese also scored higher than the Americans and the Brits (21%), as did the Indians (22%), although India was second highest when it came to having a less close relationship.

60% of voters thought the influence of the US was becoming a little or a lot weaker, a view more strongly felt by Greens and Coalition voters than by Labor voters.

On gay marriage, 53% of voters believe people of the same s-x should be allowed to marry, compared to 36% who oppose it. Greens and Labor voters are the strongest supporters, but even conservative voters are divided – 45% of Liberal voters back gay marriage and 45% oppose it.

Peter Fray

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