There is strong support for offshore processing of asylum seekers and mandatory pre-commitment technology for poker machines, today’s Essential Report shows.

Fifty three per cent of voters support offshore processing, compared to 36% who support processing in Australia. Labor voters are evenly split on the issue, 44% each, but Liberal voters strongly support offshore processing — 65% — and Greens voters even more strongly support processing here — 73%.

There’s also very strong support for the government’s poker machine reforms, instigated by independent Andrew Wilkie. Sixty seven per cent of voters back the reforms, up two points since April … 80% of Labor voters back them, 59% of Liberal voters and 78% of Greens voters.

This week also includes approval ratings for the leaders, and Julia Gillard, after a small rise in August, has slumped to her lowest level as Prime Minister, with 28% approval and 64% disapproval. Tony Abbott remains virtually unchanged on 39% approval (up two points) and 50% disapproval (unchanged). Gillard is preferred Prime Minister for 36% of voters, down 2, compared to 40% for Abbott, up four points, and reversing the small lead the Prime Minister took in August.

There’s less clarity around IR reform, with 42% of voters disagreeing with the argument that workplace laws need to be relaxed to allow greater productivity, with 40% agreeing. The outcome is unsurprisingly split on party lines, with 59% of Liberal voters agreeing but only 27% of Labor voters and 17% of Greens voters. On top of recent Essential results showing voters no longer saw the ending of WorkChoices as one of the government’s best achievements, this suggests there may be more room for the IR reform supporters within the Coalition to push for reform than normally believed.

On voting intention, there’s been a small increase in Labor support, up two points to 32%, with the Coalition steady and the Greens down one point to 10%. The resulting 2PP outcome is back to 56-44% from last week’s 57-43. All much of muchness for a government under siege.

Peter Fray

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