Today’s Essential Report shows support for a carbon price has lifted to its highest ever levels, but is still well short of opposition levels. In its fourth tracking question since the proposal was announced, support had risen to 39% after dropping in late March to 34%. Opposition had dropped a little, to 49%. The closing of the gap between support and opposition to 10 points, from 17 points three weeks ago, comes after Labor made a point of selling the line that millions of households would be better off under compensation arrangements for the carbon price scheme.

Support for a carbon price among Labor voters still remains strong, after initially being lukewarm — 63% support a carbon price. This week’s rise is support has mainly been driven by Liberal voters, 21% of whom now support it.

Voters also continue to like the idea of a carbon price when explicitly asked about household compensation, although support has fallen since a month ago: 51-33% support a carbon price “if the money paid by big polluting industries was used to compensate low and middle income earners and small businesses for increased prices.”

Despite media attention on NBN’s decision to scrap a major procurement process, support for the NBN has increased since February — 54% of voters support it, and 28% oppose it — down from support levels in September 2010 (56-18%), but higher than in February when support had dropped to 48-31%.

Essential also asked about voters’ views of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. When asked what they thought was the biggest obstacle to peace, voters opted for the refusal of both sides to compromise far more often than any other reason — 33%. 8% blamed Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, another 8% blamed opposition to Israel from other Middle Eastern countries, 6% on Israeli settlement-building and 5% on Palestinian terrorist attacks; however, there was a very high Don’t Know result.

That’s very different to the responses of European voters to the same questions earlier this year where more than 50% blamed unwillingness to compromise but 41% blamed “Israeli oppression of Palestinians” , 40% settlements, 39% Palestinian terrorist attacks and nearly a third in-fighting between Hamas and Fatah.

However, despite recent attempts to label the NSW Greens anti-semitic for backing a boycott of Israel, most voters rejected the link. Only 10% agreed that being critical of Israel makes someone anti-semitic, while 46% disagreed. Voters also think the conflict promotes both anti-semitism and anti-Muslim feeling in Australia. And asked whether they agreed that Australia should support Israel rather than the Palestinians, only 14% agreed, and 23% disagreed. Again, there was a high Don’t Know result.

On voting intention, there was no change on the primary vote, with the Coalition on 47%, the Government on 35% and the Greens on 11%. The two-week average 2PP result moves a tad in favour of the Coalition, to 54-46%.

Correction: the Coalition increased 1 point this week from 46% last week.