Treasurer Joe Hockey’s standing with voters has slumped in the wake of the budget, with just 35% of voters approving of his performance, according to today’s Essential Report. However, the Coalition has managed to hang on to its polling gains since the MH17 disaster. Forty-four per cent of voters disapprove of the Treasurer’s performance, including 13% of Coalition voters. That’s a reversal of his standing since November, when 45% of voters approved of his performance and just 28% disapproved. Hockey’s approval is noticeably lower among women (30%) than men (40%). However, Hockey holds a comfortable lead over shadow treasurer Chris Bowen: 34% trust Hockey to handle the economy, compared to 23% for Bowen, though a remarkable 43% profess to not know, including 23% of Coalition voters. Voters on balance don’t approve of the government’s proposal to require job-seekers to apply for 40 jobs a month, with 48% voicing disapproval compared to 44% who approve, including 30% of Liberal voters (possibly small business owners who’ll be swamped with applications). Opposition was strong not merely among Labor and Greens voters but also among other/Palmer United voters, 57% of whom opposed it. However, there was strong support for extending Work for the Dole to all Newstart recipients, with 68% of voters approving of it and just 25% opposing it. Even 53% of Labor and Greens voters support it, with 40% of Labor voters disapproving and 38% of Greens voters opposed.

Essential

Voters also support sending Australian Federal Police officers to the MH17 crash site, but would prefer if they were armed and had the approval of the Ukrainian government. Fifty-one per cent of voters support sending unarmed AFP officers (which the Abbott government has done), but 64% support sending armed officers. However, just 26% support doing it without the support of the Ukrainian government. On voting intention, the two-party preferred outcome remains at 51%-49% in favour of Labor, with the Coalition primary vote on 41% (no change), Labor on 39% (up a point), the Greens unchanged on 9% and PUP down a point to 4%.