Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is the voters’ choice to lead Australia in the event of another financial crisis or recession, according to today’s Essential Report.

Twenty four per cent of voters backed Rudd, ahead of 20% for Tony Abbott, and 13% for Julia Gillard and Malcolm Turnbull. Gillard led among Labor voters, 42% to 34%, but Rudd was strongly supported among Greens voters, 37% to 18% for Gillard, and among Liberal voters, 13% to 1%. Tony Abbott was well ahead of Malcolm Turnbull, 44% to 17%, among Liberal voters.

There’s also greater support for an election being held now than for Parliament running its full term, 48% to 40%, but the result is strongly partisan, with 84% of Liberal voters wanting an election now and almost the same levels of Labor and Greens voters opposed to one.

There is also strong support for Labor’s mining tax, with 46% of voters approving of it and 34% not approving. And while that result, too, is partisan, it includes 27% of Liberal voters who approve of the mining tax. Support is particularly strong among Greens voters, 82% of whom back the tax, despite Bob Brown’s ongoing criticism that it is not high enough. Voters don’t agree that the tax will “ hurt business and undermine the country’s economic recovery” — 44% disagree with that and only 36% agree, but there is strong support for the idea that the tax will keep mining profits in Australia instead of losing them offshore (57% agreement), for the idea of companies paying a “fair share” of tax (62%) and that all Australians should benefit from resources that belong to all Australians (67%).

In contrast to the recent focus on the troubles of the manufacturing industry, other industries are viewed as more important to Australia’s economic future by voters. While 37% of voters rated manufacturing as one of the three most important industries, mining was nominated by 67% of voters, agriculture by 58% and tourism by 46%. Retail only rated with 17% of voters, behind construction (25%) and just ahead of telecommunications (14%). However, there’s strong support for an inquiry into the manufacturing industry, with 49% approving and only 19% not, with strong cross-partisan support.

On voting intention, things get worse for Labor: the Coalition has remained steady on 49% primary vote but Labor has slipped 2 points to 30%. The Greens are up one point to 11%, for a 2PP outcome of 57-43%

Peter Fray

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