Voters strongly back the government’s move to eliminate “double dipping” on government-funded and employer-funded parental leave, today’s Essential Report shows, while they also back the stationing of US military aircraft in Australia to counter Chinese aggression. And support for allowing voluntary euthanasia has hit a new high.

Voters back the removal of taxpayer-funded parental leave for people who have accessed employer-funded leave 56%-27%. While Liberal voters most strongly supported it, Labor voters also supported it 47% to 36%; even Greens voters nearly split evenly, 37%-40%. Men more strongly supported it than women, and older voters significantly more than younger voters.

Forty-two per cent of voters also support the presence of US military aircraft stationed here “to counter China’s growing military power”, while 32% oppose it. In the wake of the government rushing to deny that US B1 bombers would be stationed here in order to deal with possible Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, Labor voters split almost evenly 38-39%; Liberal voters and Greens voters perfectly mirror each other in supporting and opposing it, 56%-19% and 19%-56%.

The budget has helped Joe Hockey’s image in the eyes of voters, with 34% approving of the job he was doing and 44% disapproving — better than the week before the budget (30%-48%) and back to about where his numbers were in August last year (35%-44%). However, his lead as preferred Treasurer hasn’t shifted significantly — he leads shadow treasurer Chris Bowen by 6 points, compared to 8 points before the budget.

Voters also strongly support urgent action on climate change. Forty-five per cent want action by world leaders on climate change immediately; another 10% want it within 12 months. Fifteen per cent say they don’t need to act, and another 14% say they only need to act in the next five years or longer. Voters want more action on renewables: 71% say they want more emphasis on solar (compared to 70% in September last year); 62% want more emphasis on wind (60% last year); 55% hydro (46% last year). Voters split evenly on gas — 22% more emphasis, 20% less, compared to 23%-22% last year — while 9% want more emphasis on coal and 50% want less emphasis on coal (9% and 53% last year). Support for nuclear power splits 23%-32%, up from 18%-41% last year. Voters also believe renewables are better for jobs (37%) and the economy (42%) than fossil fuels (20% each). They also believe renewables are better for electricity costs, 47%-18%. That outcome compares to 45% to 19% last year, suggesting the government’s efforts to demonise renewables as contributing to higher electricity costs has failed.

There’s also been a significant lift in support voluntary euthanasia, to the strongest levels in five years. Seventy-two per cent of voters believe it should be permitted in certain circumstances while 12% oppose it, a shift from 66%-14% in October last year. Support is strong across all voting groups.

The strongest support is from the 45-54 age group, at 80%; weakest support is from 18-24 year olds (61%). Over 65s are around average, at 71% support, but oppose it more strongly, at 19%; they have a lower “don’t know” response than everyone else, at 10%.

On voting intention, little change: the Coalition is on 41%; Labor is down a point to 39%; the Greens remain on 10% for an unchanged two-party preferred result of 52%-48%.

Peter Fray

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