Most voters want higher corporate taxes to help reduce the Budget deficit, and there is little support for cutting welfare payments, according to today’s Essential Report.
Asked which measures the Government should adopt to return the Budget to surplus, 63% of voters supported higher corporate taxes, including 51% of Liberal voters. Next was cutting tax breaks for high income earners, which was supported by 51% of voters, again with strong support across party lines. 36% backed cuts to middle-class welfare — Liberal voters are particularly supportive of taking the razor to handouts such as Family Tax Benefit payments and Baby Bonuses — and 32% wanted defence spending cuts, which received much stronger support from Greens voters than other parties.
Only 21% supported cuts to unemployment and disability benefits, which both Labor and the Coalition have made a policy priority in the lead-up to the Budget. 38% said they did not see the need to return to the Budget quickly — particularly Greens voters.
When asked what they believed was responsible for the deficit, 23% blamed poor economic management by Labor — although nearly all of those were Liberal voters. 19%, almost uniformly across party lines, attributed it to GFC stimulus spending, while only 13% agreed with the Government’s oft-repeated statement that the impact of the GFC on tax revenue was the primary cause. 17% of voters blamed large corporations not paying enough tax, while 14% blamed spending on projects like the NBN.
On other questions, Tony Abbott’s welfare reform proposals were mainly considered as simply making life harder for welfare recipients — 47% — compared to actually reducing unemployment — 36% — with views strongly aligning with voting intention. Unusually, Labor has a narrow lead over the Coalition on the issue of who was most trusted to handle welfare issues, 34-31%, with 25% saying there was no difference. A characteristic of Labor since 2009 has been the evaporation of what were once substantial leads on which party was trusted to handle key issues, to the extent that Labor has fallen behind the Coalition even on issued it “owns” like superannuation.
Voters also distinguish between Labor and the Greens, with only 5% — nearly all Liberal voters — believing the parties have exactly the same policies, and 14% believing they are “similar on most issues”. 8% and 15%, respectively, believe they’re totally or mostly different, suggesting Coalition efforts to link the two parties aren’t working.
On voting intention, the Government has lost a point on its primary vote, down to 35%, while the Greens are up 1 point to 11%. The parties remain at 53-47% to the Coalition on 2PP. The Prime Minister has plunged further into the red on her approval rating, and now has a net disapproval rating of 13 points (37% approval, 50% disapproval), up from 5 points in mid-March. Tony Abbott has edged lower, and is now 36%-48%, compared to a 9 point net disapproval in March. Ms Gillard’s lead as Preferred Prime Minister is down to 42-33%, down 2 points from March. It seems neither leader is doing it for voters at the moment.