Voters believe the Abbott government is handling the asylum seeker issue poorly, this week’s Essential Report shows, as the Coalition’s boat towback and boat buyback schemes collapse and Australia’s relations with Indonesia enter crisis mode.

The government’s handling of asylum seekers is considered “poor” by 40% of voters, compared to 28% who believe it’s “good” and 27% who are ambivalent.

While Labor and Greens voters are predictably strongly opposed, only 56% of Liberal voters rate the government’s performance as good, with 30% saying it’s neither good nor bad. Independent voters are also unimpressed, with 50% rating the government poorly compared to 12% who say its performance has been good.

The government’s “Operation Sovereign Borders” has been dogged by failed attempts to turn boats back, the abandonment of the government’s “boat buyback” policy in the face of Indonesian resistance, and anger over Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s refusal to provide information about the program.

Turning to the budget, 65% of voters believe that it’s important for Australia to be in surplus, while 27% rate it as not important. That compares to 69% back in February and 68% just over a year ago. But 68% of voters don’t think it’s likely that Joe Hockey will deliver a surplus in his first year, despite Hockey making that explicit promise back in January, before later adopting the same fiscal policy as Labor as the election neared. In fact, 40% of voters believe the Coalition won’t deliver a budget surplus at all in its first term, compared to 37% who think it might.

However, the election — and the departure of many senior figures from the previous government — has left Labor exposed in terms of trust on key policy issues. On trust to handle the economy, the Coalition’s lead has extended from 15 points to 25 points compared to just before the election. Its lead on “political leadership” increased from nine to 23 points; on “controlling interest rates” from 12 to 21; even Labor’s lead on “ensuring a fair industrial relations system” fell from 10 points to two points — as did its lead on education. In policy terms, Labor starts opposition at the nadir of trustworthiness.

On voting intention, little change from last week. The government remains on 44% and Labor on 35%; the Greens remains on 9% while independents/others are on 11%, down one point. The 2PP outcome remains on 53-47% in the Coalition’s favour.