The Gillard government’s backdown on gambling reform comes as a new Essential Report poll shows continuing support for mandatory pre-commitment on poker machines, even in NSW and Queensland where opposition has been orchestrated by the hospitality industry.

Sixty two per cent of voters support mandatory pre-commitment and 25% oppose it, a strengthening of support since October, when the figures were 61% and 30%. Support was stronger still among Labor voters (71% and 17%). In NSW, 52% of voters support it and 34% oppose; in Queensland, 54% support it and 30% oppose it. Support in Victoria is higher, 71% and 16%.

Voters also strongly supported assistance for the manufacturing sector and the automotive industry. Fifty eight per cent support further assistance for the car industry and 18% are opposed. While support is strongest among Labor voters, Liberal voters also strongly support assistance (63% support and 20% opposition); it’s Greens voters who are least enthusiastic, at 45% and 22%. Voters had virtually no idea how many worked in the car industry, with only 9% getting the figure of 50,000 and 66% saying they didn’t know. Told it was 50,000 jobs, support for assistance further strengthened to 68%/12%, with support increasing most notably among Liberal voters.

There’s also strong support for other manufacturing sectors receiving similar assistance: 62% of voters want assistance in other sectors; 15% believe the car industry should receive special treatment. Interestingly, that question reverses the results of previous questions – it is Greens voters who most want to see other forms of assistance, followed by Liberal voters, and then Labor voters. There’s also strong support for the claim, variously advanced by politicians such as Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, that Australia should be an economy that “makes things” — 79% agree with that line and only 6% opposed; Liberal and Labor voters are virtually indistinguishable, while Greens voters are less enthusiastic.

On voting intention, no change since last week except for a one point rise in the Greens’ primary vote to 10%. The Coalition is on 48%; Labor 35% for a 2PP result of 54-46%.