Nearly twice as many voters reject Tony Abbott’s claim that he has “fundamentally kept faith with them” as believe it, today’s Essential poll shows, while there is widespread opposition to the government’s remaining unpassed budget measures.

Last week, as he unsuccessfully battled to overcome criticisms the government’s $300 million cuts to the ABC and SBS weren’t a breach of his election commitments, the Prime Minister told Parliament the government had “fundamentally kept faith with the Australian people”. Voters don’t believe him, with 56% disagreeing, including 34% who strongly disagree, compared to 31% who agree, with even a fifth of Liberal voters disagreeing with Abbott.

But despite the recent focus on the Prime Minister’s broken promise about ABC and SBS funding — to which he finally admitted yesterday — voters haven’t marked him down on his personal attributes. Across a range of positive and negative attributes, Abbott has shifted little since the immediate aftermath of the budget: perceptions he is “good in a crisis” have lifted 7 points to 42%; perceptions he is “hard-working” have increased 5 to 62%, but otherwise perceptions haven’t shifted. Perceptions of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have shifted even less, except for a 5-point drop in perceptions he is a “capable leader”. The result is that most voter perceptions of Shorten remain significantly better than for the Prime Minister.

Voters also oppose the remainder of the government’s unpassed legislative program. The only measure with any support is the proposal to make the young unemployed wait six months before claiming benefits, which is opposed 48%-39%. Most strongly opposed is the indexation of the fuel excise, opposed 72%-18% and the Medicare co-payment (68%-24%). The government’s funding cut for universities of 20% is opposed 65%-20% and its proposal to deregulate university fees 56% to 23%. Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme, which he said yesterday he would not be backing away from, is opposed 57% to 30%.

The Australian Defence Force pay deal, which at 1.5% amounts to a real pay cut, is also opposed, but only narrowly, with 47% to 42% saying it is unfair, with both Liberal voters (50%-43%) and Greens voters (42%-33%) saying, on balance, it is fair.

On voting intention, Labor has picked up a point, to 40%, while the Coalition remains on 40%; the Greens are down a point to 9%, while the PUP remains at 3%. The two-party preferred outcome shifts a point further in Labor’s favour to 53%-47%.

Peter Fray

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