Support for the government’s mining tax is back over 50%, according to new polling from Essential Report, as the government negotiates to secure passage of the tax before parliament rises for the year this week.

In September, support for the MRRT in Essential’s weekly online poll was at 46%, with 34% opposition. This week, support is up to 51% and opposition on 33%. Support for the tax is still strongly along with party lines, with support among Liberal voters almost exactly the reverse of all voters.

Support for the government’s carbon pricing package is still weak, however, and has barely changed since October. Just 38% of voters support it (down one point since October) and 53% oppose it, with 80% of Liberal voters opposing it and 86% of Greens voters supporting it — Labor voter support is 66%. In fact, looking at support for the carbon pricing package across the year, what is notable is the lack of change, despite first the details of the package being unveiled, and then the legislation being passed.

In March, support was 35% for, 48% against; since then, opposition has slowly but consistently crept upward, but support has wavered within a narrow band in the high 30s.

There’s also good, or at least better, news for the Coalition in relation to WorkChoices. Just over half of voters believe that the Liberal would bring back WorkChoices if they were elected, but that’s down from 56% in July 2010. Labor and Greens voters are virtually identical on this — about three-quarters think the Liberals will bring back WorkChoices, but Liberal voters are torn, with 33% thinking they will and 44% saying they won’t.

However, there’s less concern about the reintroduction of WorkChoices among voters compared to 2010. A quarter of respondents said they’re “very concerned” (down 3%) and 15% say “quite concerned”, down 4%. Those professing to be “not concerned” have risen to 27%, up two points.

But there’s also voter support for one of the growing complaints about the Fair Work IR system from business — that unions have too much power to raise issues that are the prerogative of management, like job security. Around 66% of voters believe employees should have a lot or some say on offshoring jobs, 65% support employees having a say on redundancies and 59% support employees having a say on CEO salary and bonuses.

Only an employee role on “board decisions” attracted low support — 44% of voters thought employees should have a say on board decisions, with 22% saying “no say at all” and 29% “a little.”

There was also an intriguing response to Essential’s question about support for the sale of uranium to India, which Julia Gillard has committed to back at the ALP’s national conference next month. Thirty per cent of voters support exports to India, and 45% oppose them. What’s interesting, though, is the relatively uniformity between major party voters.

While Greens voters are predictably strongly opposed — 66% of Greens voters oppose exports — 31% of Labor voters and 35% of Liberal voters support them. But Liberal voters are more strongly opposed — 47% — than Labor voters — 40%, a rare issue on which Liberal voters appear to be more “left-wing” than Labor voters.

The opposition comes despite a small rise in support for nuclear power in Australia, from 35% in March to 39% now, and a fall in opposition from 53% to 45%. The March result was after the Fukushima accident, and reversed what had until then been much stronger levels of support of around 43% to 37%, but this week’s result shows memories of Fukushima are still strong. Support on that question is more along with party lines, with Liberal voters supporting a domestic nuclear power industry 50-37%.

On voting intention, Labor’s momentum appears to have come to an end — Liberal-National support is up a point to 48% and Labor support down a point to 34%. With the Greens steady on 10%, the two-party preferred has crept back up to 55-45% in favour of the Coalition.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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