Support for the government’s building of a National Broadband Network has strengthened in the last 12 months according to today’s Essential Report, with 69% of voters believing the NBN’s construction is important, and 25% of voters seeing it as “not so important” or not important at all. The comparable figures in November 2009 were 65% and 26%. About 35% of voters now see the NBN as “very important”, up five points over the year.

There is also a strong perception that the NBN will be of widespread benefit, with voters having strengthened in their view of who will gain from the construction of the network. About 84% of voters believe the network will be of benefit to Australian business, including 55% who believe it will be of “great benefit”, compared to 80% a year ago; 78% believe it will benefit the general public (76% in 2009), 65% believe it will benefit them personally (66% a year ago) and 71% believe it will benefit the economy, up from 65%. More than 70% believe it will benefit children and 78% believe it will benefit schools, including 48% who believe it will “greatly benefit” schools.

The area in which voters most thought the NBN would be “of little benefit” was to them personally, at 27%. Only 11% thought it would be of “little benefit” to the economy.

The poll also reveals that Labor appears betwixt and between on gay marriage. Asked which party was closest to their own views, voters preferred either the Liberals (21%) or the Greens (20%) over Labor (13%), although there was a high Don’t Know outcome for that question. 19% of Labor voters and 13% of Liberal voters prefer the Greens’ position over their own parties’, although Liberal voters much more strongly prefer their own party’s position (44%) compared to Labor voters, only 29% of whom believe their party’s position is in alignment with their own. The Greens don’t have anything like that problem.

On the issue itself, there is 50% support for gay marriage compared to 37% opposition, with Liberals being the only party where opposition (50%) outweighs support (38%). Major party voters are less likely to regard the issue as “very important” or “quite important”. Only 15% of all voters rate gay marriage as “very important” and 22% as “quite important”. 29% rate it as “not at all important”.

On party support, the Coalition retains its 51-49 2PP lead from the last month, although the Liberals lost a point on their primary vote and the Greens picked up one. The Greens’ primary vote of 11% is now well off its nadir of 8% of several weeks ago.