Media Release – Labor remains ahead of the Coalition in voting intention – Fairfax Ipsos poll

Majority support return to a federal budget surplus

Labor is still ahead of the Coalition in the latest April Fairfax Ipsos Poll.

The national poll of 1,404 respondents, interviewed from Thursday to Saturday, 9-11 April 2015, shows Labor with 54% of the two-party preferred vote (up 3 since February), ahead of the Coalition on 46% (down 3 since February), based on 2013 election preferences. This indicates a 7.5% swing against the Abbott Government since the September 2013 Federal election.

“The two-party stated preference vote shows Labor on 55%, which was up 3 since February, leading the Coalition on 45%, which was down 3 since February,” Ipsos Director Jessica Elgood said.

“First preference votes put Labor on 38%, up 2 since February, and the Coalition on 39%, down 3 since February. The Greens continue to lead the minor parties with 13%, up 1 since February. The Palmer United Party (PUP) is on 1%, down 1 since February, which is the lowest figure measured for PUP. Others are on 8% which was unchanged since February.”

Five per cent of respondents are undecided. These are excluded from the two-party stated preference figures.

Key findings

  • The Coalition is seen as the political party with the best policies for managing the Australian economy (41%), in contrast to 32% who mention Labor and 3% saying the Greens
  • 58% believe returning the Federal budget to surplus should be a high priority (a 4 point rise since March 2014); 34% believe it should be a low priority (an 8 point fall since March 2014)
  • 37% support increasing the rate of GST (a 7 point rise since May 2014); 59% oppose a GST increase (a 7 point fall since May 2014)
  • 43% support reducing superannuation tax concessions; 50% are opposed.

Leaders’ approval and preferred Prime Minister

Tony Abbott’s approval rating is 34% (up 2 since February). His disapproval rating is 60% (down 2 since February). This gives a net approval of -26 (an improvement of 4 points since February).

Abbott’s figures continue to slowly improve among Coalition voters with 69% saying they approve of his performance as Prime Minister. This marks a 4 point increase since February, but remains significantly below his November rating of 82% approval. A quarter (24%) of Coalition voters say they disapprove of his performance, giving a net approval rating among Coalition voters of +45.

Bill Shorten’s approval rating is 42% (down 1 since February). His disapproval rating is 44% (up 1 since February). This gives a net approval of -2 (a fall of 2 points since February). His net approval among Labor voters is +42.

Bill Shorten remains the referred Prime Minister, at 46% (an increase of 2 points since February); 38% favour Tony Abbott as Prime Minister (a fall of 1 point since February).

Treasurer approval

A third (33%) approve of Joe Hockey’s performance as Federal Treasurer, while 58% disapprove. This gives a net approval rating of -25, and a dramatic change from his ratings prior to the 2014 budget, when he had an approval rating of +20.

Q.B2 How strongly do you approve or disapprove of the performance of Mr Hockey as Treasurer?
(%) 13-15 March
9-11 April Change ±
Approve 55 33 -22
Disapprove 35 58 +23
Net approval +20 -25


Among Coalition voters, 61% approve of Joe Hockey’s performance as Federal Treasurer, and a third (32%) disapprove. This shows a marked fall in approval among Coalition voters; in March 2014 his approval rating stood at +76, compared to the current figure of +29.

When the approval ratings for Tony Abbott, Bill Shorten and Joe Hockey are compared, on balance, the public is critical of the performance of all three, with negative net approval figures. Abbott and Hockey are equally unpopular and Shorten is less so.

Best party for managing Australian economy

Forty-one per cent consider the Coalition the political party with the best policies for managing the Australian economy; 32% say the Labor party; and only 3% believe the Greens have the best policies for the economy.

Not all voters believe the party they plan to vote for offers the best policies for the economy. One in nine Labor voters (11%) say the Coalition has the best policies for management of the economy, and almost half of Green voters (45%) think Labor has the best policies for the Australian economy.

Labor’s policies for the economy received more support from those on lower incomes (41%), while Coalition policies received more support (49%) among those households earning more than $100,000 per year.

Budget measures

The public is increasingly convinced of the need for the Federal budget to be in surplus, with 58% saying this should be a high priority. A third (34%) disagree describing this as a low priority.

Q.B3 Do you think returning the Federal budget to surplus should be … ?
(%) 15-17 Nov 2012 13-15 Dec 2012 14-16 Feb 2013 16-18
April 2015
Change ±
A high priority 53 49 54 55 54 58 +4
A low priority 41 45 41 39 42 34 -8


Around a half of Greens voters believe that returning the Federal budget to surplus is a low priority for the Government, whereas Labor voters are more divided (47% saying ‘high priority’ and 46% ‘low priority’). Three-quarters (78%) of Coalition voters think it should be a high priority.

The proportion of Australians supporting an increase in the rate of GST continues to rise, with 37% backing this change. This reflects an increase in support of seven points since May 2014.

Q.B4 Do you support or oppose an increase in the rate of the GST?
(%) 15-17 Nov 2012 15-17 May 2014 9-11 April
Change ±
Support 12 30 37 +7
Oppose 86 66 59 -7


The majority of Labor and Greens voters are unconvinced of the need to increase the rate of GST, with 67% and 61% opposed, respectively. In contrast, half (49%) of Coalition voters now support an increase in the rate of GST, while 46% remain opposed.

Support for an increase in the rate of GST is significantly higher among those living on household incomes of more than $100,000 per year (46%), compared to those on lower incomes (32% support among those earning $40,000-$100,000, and 35% support among those earning less than $40,000).

Opinion is divided on the suggestion of reducing superannuation tax concessions; 43% support this change, and half (50%) oppose it. Labor (48%) and Greens (51%) voters are significantly more likely to support this change than Coalition voters (38%). Support for reducing superannuation tax concessions also varies by income, with those earning less more likely to support this proposition.

Poll Profile

Fieldwork dates: 9-11 April 2015
Sample size: 1, 404 respondents
Sample: National, aged 18+. 31% of sample comprised mobile phone numbers.
Method: Telephone, using random digit dialling.
Statistical reliability: ±2.6% is the maximum margin of sampling error that might apply to this sample
Analysis: The data has been weighted by age, gender and location (metro/non-metro) to reflect the population distribution.

For further information contact:

Jessica Elgood Mark Davis
Ipsos Director Ipsos Public Affairs Managing Director
0431 656 217 0412 508 188

Rochelle Burbury
Third Avenue Consulting
0408 774 577

About Ipsos Australia

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