Australians back the government’s refusal to provide further assistance in stopping Ebola in west Africa, but believe the economy has declined since the Coalition was elected, today’s Essential Report shows.

The report shows 58% of voters believe the government is doing enough to help fight Ebola, compared to just 21% who think it’s not doing enough. Coalition voters (74%) are most likely to think enough is being done, but so too do Labor voters (54%) and even a large minority of Greens voters (36%, compared to 42% who don’t think we’re doing enough). Voters are happy enough for the government to provide more money (53% to 31%) and even happy to send workers to build hospitals (48% to 37%) but are divided on sending medical personnel (44% in favour to 41% opposed) and are opposed to sending troops to provide security and logistics  (36% to 48%).

Voters have rated the economy poorly over the last 12 months in all areas, with 50% of voters rating the economy worse compared to 12 months ago, and 28% rating it better.

Essential reveals 60% of voters rate unemployment worse, and 72% rate cost of living worse (despite very low inflation). Fifty one per cent believe public debt is worse; electricity prices are worse (67% — will the removal of the carbon price ameliorate that?) and 36% say wages have worsened in the last year (which is correct, given falling real wages). The only area where voters think things have improved economically is on company profits. On the specific issue of job security, 22% say they feel less secure about their jobs in the next two years; 35% say they feel about the same and 9% say they feel more secure. And 48% believe they will fall behind in terms of cost of living, while 31% say they expect they’ll stay even, while just 13% expect to get ahead.

On voting intention, the Coalition’s recent momentum has stalled. Its primary vote has dropped a point to 40%; Labor remains on 39% where it has been for a month and the Greens remain on 10%; PUP and Others account for 11%. That shifts the two-party preferred outcome back to 53%-47% in Labor’s favour, a poor outcome considering the recent national security and international focus, courtesy of Tony Abbott’s shirt-front diplomacy, was considered a boon for the government.

Essential also asked about approval for permitting euthanasia, with 66% of voters saying doctors should be permitted to assist a patient to commit suicide if living with terminal illness and severe pain. There’s minimal difference based on voting intention in that result; it’s a slight fall from November (68%) but opposition also fell, from 19% in November to 14% now.

Peter Fray

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