By Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra
THE budget has driven the government’s vote down and pushed Bill Shorten decisively ahead of Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister, in two polls today.
The Nielsen poll in Fairfax Media has the opposition leader with an 11 point lead over Abbott as preferred prime minister, while the Australian’s Newspoll has him with a 10 point advantage as better prime minister.
In the Nielsen poll, Abbott’s approval has plummeted 9 points since April to 34%, while his disapproval is up 12 points to 62%.
His net approval is minus 28%, a massive 21 point fall, after a budget that people see as unfair, bad for Australia and bad for them personally – although they are equally divided on whether it is economically responsible.
Abbott’s rating is in the territory of Gillard’s in her dark days.
The Coalition’s two party vote has crashed 4 points. It trails Labor 44%-56% in a result that will wipe out speculation about a double dissolution and strengthen the resolve of Labor and the minor parties to resist controversial measures in the Senate.
Government and opposition have reversed position on primary votes in a month. The Coalition is at 35%, a 5 point drop, with Labor’s vote soaring 6 points to 40%. Palmer’s PUP has risen 2 points to 6% while the Greens are down 3 points to 14%.
The opposition leader’s approval has risen 4 points to 47%, while his disapproval is 39%, down 2 points. His net approval is plus eight, up 6 points.
Shorten has surged ahead to lead as preferred prime minister 51%, up 7 points, to Abbott’s 40%, down 5 points.
This is the first time Shorten has been in front as preferred PM.
Abbott has also fallen behind as preferred PM faster than any predecessor except Paul Keating, who started behind.
The public slapdown of the budget comes as Abbott rejected a call from premiers and chief ministers for a special meeting of the Council of Australian Governments to discuss the budget’s $80 billion cuts in health and education which they condemned in the strongest terms at a meeting in Sydney yesterday.
Nearly two thirds of those polled (63%) said the budget was not fair. This is 20 points up from the proportion who thought Labor’s last budget unfair. A question on fairness was asked after some eight of 19 budgets since 1996 – this was the first time a majority said the budget wasn’t fair.
Only one third believed the budget was fair – down 13 points since last year.
Nearly three quarter (74%) said they would be worse off from the budget; only 8% said they would be better off.
Almost two thirds (65% – up 17 points from last year) were dissatisfied with the budget; one third were satisfied.
More than half (53%) said it would be bad for Australia; 42% believe it will be good for the country.
While 49% said it was economically responsible, 48% believed it is not.
The poll of 1400 was taken Thursday to Saturday.
The government’s measure to increase the tax on petrol is strongly opposed (72% against, 25% in favour) but the income tax levy has public support (50% in favour, 37% against). Both measures broke Abbott’s promise not to increases taxes.
The abolition of the mining tax, which has not yet received Senate approval is opposed by 56% and supported by only 37%.
People are divided about the scrapping of the carbon tax, also awaiting the passage of legislation by the Senate – with 49% in favour and 46% against.
An increase in the GST – which the government has been trying to get the states to make a matter of active debate – is opposed by 66% and supported by only 30%.
In Newspoll, 48% said it was a bad budget for the country. The Coalition’s primary vote fell two points to 36% while Labor was up four points to 38%, giving Labor a two-party lead of 55-45%
When he was tackled in an ABC interview yesterday about his broken promises Abbott said: “People hear different things. But we constantly talked about Labor spending like a drunken sailor. It was always obvious that we were going to rein back unsustainable spending.”
He said that in the end it was for people to judge. “But I believe that we have fundamentally kept faith with the promises that we made pre-election.
“Yes, I accept that the deficit levy will impact on the top 3% of taxpayers. Yes, I accept that the fuel excise indexation will cost, in the first year, the average family 40 cents a week. I accept all of that. But we did say we were going to get the budget back under control and I believe that this was what the people of Australia elected us to do. If I’m wrong, they will cast their votes accordingly at the next election.
“Why would I be exposing myself, why would my colleagues be exposing themselves and ourselves to a world of political pain if we didn’t think it was absolutely necessary for the long term good of our country?”
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said there was “white hot anger in the community about this budget”. Labor is opposing measures worth some $18 billion. Bowen defended the size of its attack on the budget’s savings saying “what we are doing is voting according to our principles”.
Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
[Photo via the Prime Minister's Twitter feed]