While Tony Abbott is convincing voters about his international credentials, the Coalition's recent momentum is going into reverse, this week's Essential Report suggests.

The Prime Minister and the government have improved significantly on a number of indicators about its diplomatic competence. Trust in the government's ability to handle international relations, which fell between November and June, is now back to 40%, a five-point increase in recent months, while lack of trust is down from 59% to 53%, leaving the government essentially where it was in November. However, the response is strongly driven by partisanship, with Labor, Greens and other/Palmer United Party voters all around 70-80% "little or no trust" and Coalition voters with 82% trust. Confidence in Abbott's ability to represent Australia has also grown a little since June, from 45% to 49%, with a similar partisan split. Perceptions of the government's handling of relations with Indonesia have also improved, albeit off a low base: 32% of voters think the government's handling has been good, compared to 39% who rate it as poor, a significant improvement from its 25%-43% rating from voters in May.