Voters strongly oppose income tax cuts funded by a rise in the GST, and they remain unimpressed with Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten, this week’s Essential Report poll reveals.

Tony Abbott’s net disapproval rating has surged since August, with 33% of voters approving of his performance — down five points — and 57% disapproving, up four points, leaving the Prime Minister with a 24-point deficit, his worst since April. The only vaguely good news for Abbott is that there’s no longer a gender gap about him — men (23-point deficit) dislike him just as much as women (25 points).

Bill Shorten’s approval rating remains stuck at 29%, with just a fractional improvement since August on disapproval, down two points to 50%. Seventeen per cent of Coalition voters disapprove of Abbott’s performance, while 21% of Labor voters disapprove of Shorten’s performance. However, Shorten has again overtaken Abbott as preferred prime minister, where he leads Abbott 35%-32%, compared to Abbott’s four-point lead in August; that’s the first time Shorten has led Abbott as preferred prime minister since April. However, Abbott remains well ahead of Shorten in NSW (37%-29%), whereas Shorten leads in Victoria (39%-32%) and Queensland (33%-30%).

Joe Hockey is not quite as poorly regarded as the Prime Minister: 30% of voters approve of his performance as Treasurer and 52% disapprove, including 20% of Coalition voters. That’s Hockey’s worst result since March and down from his post-budget score of 34%-44%; and women (27%/49%) are far less impressed with Hockey than men (33%/43%).

And 42% of voters think Dyson Heydon should still stand aside from the trade union royal commission, compared to 32% who think he should continue — but opinion is heavily partisan, with 64% of Labor voters saying he stand aside and 62% of Coalition voters saying he should continue.

Over half of voters oppose a tax “reform” recently floated by the government — funding income tax cuts with a rise in the GST, almost double the 27% of voters who support it. Even Coalition voters are unimpressed with the idea, opposing it 43%-41%; men (43%-33%) opposed it much more narrowly than women (51%-20%).

On voting intention, no change from last week: the Coalition remains on 40%, Labor remains on 38% and the Greens on 11%, for a two-party preferred outcome of 52%-48% in favour of Labor.

Peter Fray

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