Labor’s primary vote remains stuck in the low-mid 30s and shows no sign of budging, new polling figures show.

With increasing focus on Julia Gillard’s performance and whether she can make the government competitive against Tony Abbott’s opposition, weekly polling from Essential Research today shows Labor’s primary vote slipping by a point (well within the margin of error) to 33%, with the Greens picking up a point to 11% and the Coalition still far ahead on 47%. That yields a two-party preferred outcome of 54-46%, where it has been for some months.

The result suggests there has been nothing over summer to help the beleaguered Prime Minister, although conversely there has yet to be any apparent damage to her from her abandonment of her commitment to Andrew Wilkie, or the Australia Day debacle that saw a media adviser resign.

Essential also examined voters’ attitudes to public institutions. The Commonwealth Public Service, considered one of the finest bureaucracies in the world, is rated poorly by voters, with only 10% saying they had a lot of trust in the public service and 15% saying they had no trust at all. The Australian Defence Force was most trusted, with 41% saying they had a lot of trust and another 37% saying they had some trust.

The Federal Police also rated strongly, with 27% saying they had a lot of trust in them and another 41% saying they had some trust. The Federal and High Courts also scored well, at 24% and 36% respectively, but the Family Court was less well regarded with only 15% saying they had a lot of trust, and 15% saying they had no trust at all. Intelligence agencies like ASIO scored better, with 20% reporting a lot of trust.

The RBA scored 19% and 37%, but banking and business regulators scored worst of all, with just 6% of voters saying they had a lot of trust, and only 27% saying they had some trust. A remarkable 27% said they had no trust at all in those charged with regulating financial institutions.

Essential also asked about perceptions of workplace IR laws, with 24% of voters saying they thought the Fair Work framework favoured workers, 25% saying it favoured employers and 34% thought it balanced the interests of both.

And voters uniformly thought Australian workers were productive: 15% believed we were very productive and 59% quite productive, results that tended to be relatively uniform across voting intention (though Liberal voters were a little less positive about our industriousness).

Peter Fray

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