There’s surprising unanimity among voters about the need for government support for manufacturing, polling from Essential Report shows.
Sixty three per cent of voters agree with the statement “with government support, Australia can have a successful manufacturing industry”, while only 17% believe government support is a waste of money and the industry has no future. And while Liberal voters are a little more likely to think that support is a waste of money, 63% of Liberal voters agree about government support for a successful industry, compared to 67% of Labor voters and 68% of Greens voters.
When it comes to forms of support, however, voters prefer less visible mechanisms. Forty one per cent disapprove of direct subsidies and grants, compared to 35% who support them. And only 25% support the idea of bringing down the Australian dollar, compared to 46% who oppose it. But 66% of voters support “protection from overseas competition”, 67% like the idea of joint ventures between government and business, 78% support giving preference to local manufacturers even if they cost more, 77% want more defence materiel sourced locally and the same number support requiring major project builders to give local preference.
The most popular measure was for governments to bring forward major infrastructure projects and have higher local preference requirements in their construction, at 82%.
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The results are consistent with previous polling that suggests lingering voter antipathy towards key reforms of the past 30 years, particularly around privatisation.
Voters also expect the forecast Coalition cuts to the public service, with 53% expecting they will lead to poorer services, although 37% of Liberal voters think they will make no difference, compared to 31% who think they’ll make services worse and 25% who think they’ll improve them. There’s a similar divide around levels of concern about public sector job cuts — 26% of voters say they’re “not really concerned” about them, compared to 23% each who say they’re “very” or “somewhat” concerned, but 42% of Liberal voters say they’re not really concerned.
Thirty per cent of voters believe “many of the Commonwealth public sector functions should be outsourced to private companies” but 48% disagree; nor, surprisingly, is there much higher support for outsourcing public sector functions to charities and NGOs — 32% agreement to 42% disagreement.
Voters are also divided on whether an Abbott government would make them worse off — 32% say it will, 30% say they expect to better off and 24% think there’ll be no difference. But voting intention heavily skews the results, with Liberal voters strongly expecting to be better off and Greens and Labor voters expecting to fare poorly.
On voting intention, there’s only been fractional shifts in the primary vote: the Coalition is still on 49%, Labor on 32% and the Greens on 10%, for a two-party preferred outcome back to 56-44%.