Four weeks after the poisonous internal fight that led to the Liberal party dumping Malcolm Turnbull and replacing him with Scott Morrison, Labor leads the Coalition 53% to 47% on the two-party preferred measure. The result a fortnight ago was Labor 54%, the Coalition 46%.
The Coalition’s primary vote in the new survey of 1,030 respondents is 37%, up a point from a fortnight ago. Labor’s is on 36%, which is down a point.
Morrison – who has accelerated his operating tempo over the past couple of weeks as the Coalition battles the after-effects of the leadership change – has signalled his intention to press ahead with legislation safeguarding religious freedom.
But with the detail still under wraps as the Liberals attempt to hold Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth at a looming byelection, voters aren’t sold, with 37% of the sample supportive, 26% opposing the idea and 37% undecided.
The new prime minister has also resisted the idea that the Liberal party could adopt quotas to boost female representation in parliament. A wide-ranging debate has flared in the wake of the spill about party culture, and some Liberals have floated quotas as a means of getting more women preselected for safe seats.
While Morrison and other senior figures have opposed that change, the new survey suggests the public is on board. While some in the Liberal party allege the conservative base would oppose the imposition of quotas, the Guardian Essential survey suggests otherwise. A majority of the sample – 61% (including 68% of Coalition voters) – support quotas for the Liberal party, while 21% say no.
Voters were also asked questions this week about gender issues more broadly. The sample was given five statements and asked whether they agreed or disagreed.
There was clear majority agreement with the statement “there should be laws that require equal salaries for men and women in the same position” (78%) and “although there has been significant progress on gender equality there is still a long way to go” (66%).
For other statements, the sample was more evenly split: 47% agreeing with the statement “gender equality, meaning that men and women are equal, has come far enough already” and 44% demurring.
With the statement “gender equality has already been mostly achieved”, 47% agreed and 46% disagreed. “Work to achieve gender equality today benefits mostly well-to-do people” attracted agreement from 45% and disagreement from 36%.
There were also several questions about corruption. There was emphatic majority support for the establishment of a federal anti-corruption body (82% in favour) and only 5% opposed.
There has been a 5% increase in the number of voters (45%) believing there is widespread corruption in politics from when the question was last asked in April 2016. Almost half (49%) of Labor voters believe there is widespread corruption in politics compared with 31% of Coalition voters.
Reflecting the unrelenting spotlight of the banking royal commission, there was an 11% increase in the number of voters (36%) believing there was widespread corruption in the banking and finance industry, and a significant drop (down 13%) in the number of voters perceiving corruption in the building sector and large corporations.
Voters were also asked questions about their level of trust in institutions. Guardian Essential respondents trusted federal and state police the most (70% and 67%) followed by the high court (61%), the ABC (54%) and the Reserve Bank (50%).
Trade unions, religious organisations, the federal parliament and business groups were less trusted, and political parties were trusted by only 15% of the sample. The level of trust in political parties is down by 3% since the question was last asked a year ago – but support for local councils is up by 4%.