Labor has finally made some headway in trying to reverse its reputational damage with voters, but parity with the Coalition remains elusive, today's Essential Report finds. The economy, health and education remain the key issues for voters in determining how they will vote, with economic management rated by 66% of voters as one of their three most important issues, up from July this year. Health is rated by 57% of voters as important and education by 35%. Treatment of asylum seekers has fallen back to 6% after spiking at 10% in July. In terms of voter trust in handling important issues, Labor has cut the gap between it and the Coalition across virtually every issue, but not enough to take a lead on most of them. The Coalition leads Labor 45-31% on economic management, for example -- down from an 18 point gap in July. Labor trailed the Coalition slightly on education in July but now leads it by five points, 38-33%, but still trails on health, 32-35%, down from six points in July. The Coalition's lead on controlling interest rates fell from 18 points to 11 points, but barely shifted on asylum seekers, falling from 20 points to 18 points. Labor's only other lead is on industrial relations, which increased from six points to nine points. Labor's plunge in the polls has been marked by a collapse in voter trust across all issues, even those where under Kevin Rudd it held big leads over the Opposition, demonstrating the extensive reputational damage it has incurred since 2010. This is the first time there has been some positive movement on voter trust, but it's insufficient to get Labor back ahead. On voting intention, the Coalition picked up a point to 46% primary vote, as did the Greens, to 10%; Labor's vote fell to 36% for a 2PP outcome of 53-47 in the Coalition's favour. There's very high support from voters for the government's royal commission into institutional child s-x abuse, with 88% of voters supporting it. Support is slightly weaker, but still very strong, among Catholics, at 83%, and strongest among non-Anglican Protestants (93%) and those with no religion (91%).

Catholic voters also differ from other voters on whether the royal commission should address the removal of those in positions of authority who allowed abuse to occur: 27% of Catholic voters agree that was important, compared to 39% of all voters and 48% of those with no religion. Preventing future abuse, prosecuting offenders and removing those who allowed abuse to happen were the most commonly-cited outcomes voters wanted to see.