Tony Abbott’s forceful handling of the MH17 tragedy has sparked the first substantial recovery in the government’s polling for months, according to today’s Essential poll.

While Essential’s rolling two-week voting intention average has Labor still leading 52-48 (Coalition up one point to 39, Labor down a point to 39, others level), its numbers from last week, from responses mostly in the aftermath of the shooting down of MH17, show the government moving to trail Labor by just two points, 51-49 (with the Coalition on 40% and Labor on 36%). The results reflect the media consensus that Abbott has handled the tragedy, which claimed the lives of 37 Australians and Australian residents, well. The government has struggled for months to recover its standing with voters, after a politically disastrous budget that left both the Prime Minister and Treasurer Joe Hockey damaged.