Kevin Rudd

Voters expect big business, banks, high income earners and people using private schools will be the groups that will do best out of the Turnbull government, according to polling in this week’s Essential Report.

Confirming the Liberal Party’s reputation for being close to the top end of town and the wealthy, 49% of voters say large corporations will be better off under this government (including 26% who say they’ll be a lot better off) while 9% say they’ll be worse off; 48% say banks will be better compared to 8% who say banks will worse off; 43% say people on high incomes will be better off while 13% say they’ll be worse off; 28% say those with children at private school will be better off and 14% worse off.

Contrarily, voters expect people on low incomes (45%), pensioners (40%) and single parents (39%) to be worse off, as well as the unemployed (40%), average working people (38%) and families with children at public school (35%). And only 16% of people expect people and families on middle incomes to be better off, while 31% expect them to be worse off.

But Malcolm Turnbull’s refusal to nominate former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for the UN Secretary-Generalship is a narrow winner with voters. With most of the poll responses made prior to Turnbull’s announcement that he would not be nominating Rudd last week, 39% of voters say he should not nominate Rudd and 36% say he should. Predictably, partisanship plays a strong role: 53% of Labor voters say he should be nominated, while 57% of Coalition voters should he should not. Greens voters are split almost evenly, 40% for and 37% against.

Essential August 2

Voting intention, however, plays out unexpectedly on the issue of the government’s superannuation taxation changes, supposedly of particular concern to Liberal and higher-income voters. Overall, 34% of voters say they oppose the changes while 29% approve. But Liberal voters approve more strongly, 38%-33%, compared to Labor voters (25% approval, 34% opposition), while Greens voters also back the changes, 37%-31%. And it’s true that high income earners — respondents earning more than $2000 per week — oppose the changes (support, 28%, opposition, 45%), that’s not as much as low income earners (less than $600 per week) who oppose them, 16%-34%.

The results may possibly reflect voter confusion over the impact of the changes, and the perception they’re aimed at preventing additional contributions to superannuation, rather than curbing the generous tax treatment of them, or simply reflect that supporters of the government of the day tend to support that government’s policies more than if the same policies were proposed by the other side.

There’s also been a marked improvement in voters’ view of Tony Abbott and his continuing role in politics: whereas in March, 47% of voters wanted him to resign from parliament and just 33% wanted to see him remain in politics as either a backbencher or a minister, now 37% want him to leave politics, 21% want him to remain on the backbench and another 25% want him to be given a ministry — including 43% of Coalition voters.

On voting intention, little change from last week: the Coalition remains on 39%, Labor is still on 37%, the Greens are on 10% and NXT on 4%, for a 2PP outcome of 52%-48% in favour of Labor.

Peter Fray

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