Bernard Keane at Crikey reports Essential Research has the Coalition’s lead unchanged on last week at 55-45, from primary votes of 34% for Labor (unchanged), 47% for the Coalition (down one to a six-month low) and 9% for the Greens (down one). The monthly personal ratings have Julia Gillard up four on approval to 35% and down three on disapproval to 54%, while Tony Abbott records his worst net rating yet with approval down four to 32% and disapproval up four to 55%. Gillard now leads 40-37 as preferred prime minister after trailing 38-36 last time. There are also the following findings on the present government’s reforms:

The introduction of a carbon price is the only major Labor reform with net voter opposition, Essential found. Only 28% of voters thought the introduction of a carbon price was good for Australia, with 51% rating it bad — indeed, 35% of voters rated it “very bad”. Otherwise, support for Labor reforms seems to split into three: highly contested reforms that have majority support, such as the mining tax (supported 49-25%); the NBN (43-28%) and the abolition of WorkChoices (42-27%); mid-tier reforms with widespread approval — paid parental leave (52-20%); stimulus spending during the GFC (54-22% – the BER program is supported 53-20%); accepting the recommendations of the Houston panel on asylum seekers (45-15%) and paid parental leave 52-20%.

Then there are the reforms with very high support: lifting the age pension (70-11%); increasing super to 12% (68-9%); lifting the tax-free threshold to $18,200 (75-4%); the NDIS (58-5%); marine reserves (controversial in some areas but with 67-8% support); dental care (77-5%) and the Gonski education reforms (54-8%).

Also canvassed are Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan and the role of unions in the wake of the HSU scandals and the CFMEU/Grocon dispute in Melbourne – matters which were also covered in a Morgan phone poll of 410 voters conducted Wednesday, results of which can be seen here and here.

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