The government has increased its lead over Labor in two-party preferred polling, out to 53% to the opposition’s 47% in this week’s Essential poll. The result puts the Coalition at almost the same polling levels as when it won the 2013 election, but voters are less sure the Coalition has what it takes to handle the economy.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has been no stranger to media appearances, but he is yet to convince voters that he has the goods when it comes to economic management, with just 27% saying they trust Morrison to handle Australia’s economy over shadow treasurer Chris Bowen. Bowen didn’t fare too well either, with just 18% of voters saying they trusted him over Morrison to handle Australia’s financial future. More than half of voters, 56%, didn’t know who they trusted more on the economy.

Despite new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s message of excitement and opportunity, voters are still overwhelmingly pessimistic about the economy, with 75% saying the cost of living is worse than it was 12 months ago. Some 53% of voters believe the economy overall is worse than a year ago and more than half believe national debt, job security and unemployment have all got worse. These results are similar to when voters were asked about the economy in March.

Q. Do you think the following have become better or worse compared to 12 months ago?

While people are pessimistic about the economy as a whole, they are also unsure of their own finances. Some 43% say their own personal financial situation is worse than a year ago, and 54% of Australians believe that their income has fallen behind the cost of living. Just 20% of Australians believe their financial situation is better than it was a year ago. Meanwhile, 40% of those polled believed their household’s income had either gone up more than (14%) or stayed even with (26%) cost of living.

Speaking of pessimism, Australians aged over 45 are more likely to approve of Australia’s superannuation system than those aged 18-34, who still have a lifetime of work to accrue a decent retirement nest egg. Overall 54% of Australians approve of our current superannuation system, with 62% of people in the 45+ bracket approving compared to just 45% of those aged 18-34. A majority of Australians (64%) think that superannuation should be compulsory, while 29% believe workers should be able to spend their income as they please.

While the coal industry has mounted a concerted campaign to tell Australians that coal is amazing, the message has failed to get through, with 47% of voters saying they support a proposal for a ban on new coalmines or coalmine expansions. Just 25% of Australians oppose a ban, while 28% don’t know. Unsurprisingly, 80% of Greens voters, and 60% of Labor voters support the ban with 36% of Liberal/National voters saying they would support a ban.

Q. A group of prominent Australians have signed an open letter calling on world leaders to discuss a ban on new coalmines and coalmine expansions. Would you support or oppose a ban on new coalmines and coalmine expansions?

Peter Fray

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