Less than a quarter of voters approve of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s restoration of British-style “knights and dames” honours, but the move is popular with older people and Coalition voters, new polling from Essential Research reveals.

Some 43% of voters disapprove of the move, including 57% of Labor voters and 63% of Greens voters, but 46% of Coalition voters approve of it, compared to 25% who don’t. Twenty-one per cent of voters strongly disapprove, compared to 6% who strongly approve. Of voters over 55, 39% approve.

But opinion is more divided on the government’s proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act: 44% of voters don’t approve but 38% do, with Coalition voters strongly in favour, 56%-25%, compared to Labor voters (30%-53%), Greens voters (16%-81%) and other voters (38%-46%). Men narrowly approve of the changes, 43%-40%, but women more strongly disapprove, 47%-34%.

Confidence about the state of the economy is also edging up, with 38% of voters saying the economy is currently good compared to 24% who say it’s poor — up from 34%-26% in January. However, voting intention still influences voters’ view of the economy, with Liberal voters splitting 47%-14% compared to Labor voters, who split 38%-24%. Voting intention strongly affects whether voters feel the economy is headed in the right direction, with Liberal voters splitting 67%-15% compared to Labor voters who split 25%-43%; Greens voters split 22%-50%, and other voters split 21%-61% on whether the economy is heading in the right direction.

On voting intention, Labor is back in the lead on the two-party preferred outcome, after swapping 2 points with the Coalition. Labor picked up 2 points on its primary vote to move to 39%, and the Coalition fell 2 to 42%. The Greens remains on 9%, the Palmer United Party fell a point to 3%, and others remain on 7%, for a two-party preferred outcome of 51%-49% to Labor.

While voters are split on the overall level of regulation — 24% believe there is too much regulation of business, 26% believe there’s not enough and 24% think the current level is about right — voters tend to want more regulation in areas that directly affect them. So while older voters are more likely to think there’s too much regulation generally, they are more likely to want regulation of financial planning than other voters and more likely to want aged care regulation than others.

And those on high incomes are also more likely to want more regulation of financial planning. Aged care (47%), banking (42%) and financial planning (40%) are the professions that people most want to see more regulation for, although there’s a strong view (57%) that the biggest positive impact of deregulation will be company profits, compared to 41% who think deregulation will be good for jobs. Some 40% of voters think deregulation will be bad for ethical behaviour.

Peter Fray

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