The G20 was a waste of time, Tony Abbott performed poorly, and the electorate’s trust in the government on international relations has deteriorated, today’s Essential Report shows, while voters believe we’re on the wrong path on climate change.

In the wake of the G20 in Brisbane, 55% of voters believe it was an expensive talkfest unlikely to change anything, compared to 26% who believe it delivered real outcomes. That’s an improvement on the electorate’s view prior to the event, when 62% of voters believed it would be an expensive talkfest and 16% thought it would achieve real outcomes. Labor, Greens and Other voters all strongly believe it was a waste of time (a view almost certainly that would have been reversed for Labor voters if a Labor Prime Minister had hosted it), while Coalition voters split almost evenly, 43%-40% saying it was a talkfest. Indeed, it is Coalition voters who have shifted their views most of the major-party voters, having split 54%-23% ahead of the event.

Voters tended to split along partisan lines on Tony Abbott’s performance at the G20, with 37% overall saying he’s performed poorly, including 24% who said very poor, while 31% thought he’d performed well. Fifty-nine per cent of Labor voters and 75% of Greens voters said he performed poorly, while 67% of Coalition voters said he performed well. But overall trust in the government’s handling of international relations has dropped in the aftermath of the G20 and APEC, with 57% of voters saying they have little or no trust (the latter, 37%) while 38% say they have some or a lot of trust (the latter, 15%). Again, voting intention more or less determines voters’ response, but even 19% of Liberal voters have little or no trust in the government’s capacity to handle international relations.

After the government’s humbling on climate change by US President Barack Obama, 42% of voters believe Australia is taking the wrong approach to handling the issue of climate change compared to 28% who believe it’s the right approach: 14% of Coalition voters believe it’s the wrong approach and 13% of Labor voters believe it’s the right approach; even 36% of Other and PUP voters — normally socially conservative and not strong climate action supporters — believe our approach is wrong, compared to 25% who believe it is the right one. And approval of the government’s free trade agreement with China has increased in the wake of coverage of its conclusion, with 51% of voters backing it compared to 44% last week, while opposition has edged up from 18% to 20%.

On voting intention, the Coalition remains on 40%, Labor is up a point to 39%, the Greens remain on 10% and the Palmer Not So United Party on 3%; the two-party preferred outcome remains the same at 52%-48%.

Peter Fray

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