Voters' views of Tony Abbott have slumped alarmingly in the wake of the budget and regard Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is seen as superior across a wide range of attributes, today's Essential Report shows.
Since mid-April, the Prime Minister has deteriorated in voters' eyes across all leadership attributes. In particular, he has significantly worsened on "out of touch" (11 points), "trustworthy" (11 points), "good in a crisis" (down 10 points), "hard-working" and "a capable leader" (9 points). The Opposition Leader, however, has lifted in voters' estimation, lifting 9 points on both "understands the problems facing Australia" and "capable leader". Head-to-head, Shorten is much more well-regarded than the Prime Minister by voters:
Voters are also much more supportive of lifting the rate of the GST than extending it to cover exempt items. Opposition to raising the GST to 12% is 58%-32%, whereas voters oppose extending the GST to cover fresh food 75%-18%. The big difference is in Liberal voters, who are almost evenly split on lifting the GST rate but oppose extending it to food by almost as much as Labor and Greens voters.
Essential also asked about who has too much or too little influence over the major political parties. Property developers (53%) and mining companies (52%) are seen as having too much influence over the Liberal Party, as does the media (44%), while average citizens are seen by 79% as having too little influence, along with welfare groups (66%) and students (64%). On Labor, unions are seen by 47% of voters as having too much influence, and 46% say the media; 64% say average citizens don't have enough and 45% say employer groups don't have enough.
Fifty-one per cent of voters also expressed concern -- some or a lot -- about the secret nature of the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently being negotiated in secret between the United States and a number of other Pacific and Asian states, while voters are split on the resettlement of asylum seekers in Cambodia, with 37% supporting it and 39% opposing it.
And just 5% of voters support the government confining the quarter-billion dollar school chaplaincy program to religious chaplains only, with 17% preferring it was confined to secular counsellors only, 37% wanting it open to both and 23% wanting no program at all.
On voting intention, no shift from last week except Labor and the Greens swapped a point. Labor is on 39% (down one point); the Coalition on 40%, the Greens on 9% (up one point) and PUP are on 5%, for an unchanged 2PP outcome of 52-48 in Labor's favour.