A Liberal bluewash across the Australian political landscape? No worries, according to most voters.

As new polling from Essential Research shows support for Tony Abbott’s federal government firming, respondents to the weekly poll weren’t particularly concerned about the Liberals controlling every state government. Tasmania turned blue on Saturday, and the Liberals may yet get up in a close South Australian poll after winning the popular vote, potentially leaving the ACT as Labor’s last stand.

Asked whether it’d be better to have the same party in power at the state and federal level, most voters (36%) said it “makes no difference”. And slightly more believe it’s better to have the same party in federal/state government (26%) than a different one (24%). The result differs little to when the question was asked in November, showing a lack of alarm about the prospect of Liberals dominating inter-governmental meetings.

So what should governments be doing? Opinions are predictable: the feds should handle health and climate change; the states public transport, road infrastructure and regional development. Interestingly, more voters believe the federal government should “mainly” have responsibility for education.

The Essential Report released today — an online survey of 1000-plus respondents — has a message for the government on media regulation. There is strong opposition to watering down ownership diversity regulations: 43% would oppose a law change (opposition is above 40% among both Labor and Coalition supporters), while just 29% would support it. And there is little support for deregulating the media broadly.

On the question of regulation in the media, most voters (36%) reckon the present media ownership framework is “about right”. About a third of voters think regulation could be beefed up, and few want to see it loosened — even Liberal voters aren’t enthusiastic about the “deregulation” being urged by Malcolm Turnbull.

Meanwhile, we’re increasingly worried about our internet security and privacy. Survey respondents were concerned (70%; 28% weren’t) about the information trail left for others to access online. Fifty-eight per cent of voters said there was a photo of them online — nearly three-quarters of under-35s, but less than half of over-55s, unsurprisingly — and nearly a third said family information about them was also available, while 12% (including a fifth of under-35s) said there was embarrassing information or photos of themselves online. But we’re getting smarter about protecting ourselves: most people said they’d cleared and disabled cookies, deleted browser history and avoided websites that “might be using information about you”. Smart cookies.

Essential also asked about the level of engagement of voters on their retirement incomes. Forty-two per cent of people said they paid little or no attention to their retirement income, an attitude not unexpectedly predominant among under-35s (56%), while only 21% said they paid a lot of attention. But 67% said they knew exactly, or approximately, how much they had in superannuation funds, including 80% of 35-54 year olds.

On voting intention, support for Labor federally has slipped 4 points in the past four weeks. Labor’s primary vote is now 36% — down 2 points on last week — but still up on the 33% figure at the last election. The Liberal-National primary vote rose a point this week to 43%, improving its two-party preferred position to 51-49%.

Peter Fray

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