Mixed reception for the third Turnbull/Morrison budget - Fairfax Ipsos Poll

The Labor Party has increased its lead over the Coalition in the May 2018 Fairfax Ipsos Poll.

The national poll of 1,200 respondents, interviewed from 9-12 May 2018, shows the Labor party on 54% (up two points since April), with the Coalition on 46% (down two points since April), based on 2016 election preferences. 

“This indicates a 4.4% swing against the Coalition Government since the July 2016 Federal election,” Ipsos Director Jessica Elgood said.

The two-party stated preference vote shows the Labor party on 53% (up three points since April) and the Coalition on 47% (down three points since April).

First preference votes put Labor on 37% (up three points since April) and the Coalition unchanged on 36% (unchanged since April).   The Greens are on 11% (down 1 point since April), One Nation is on 5% (down three points since April), Nick Xenophon Team is on 1% and others are on 8%.

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

Key findings

  • Leaders’ approval ratings: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s approval rating is 51% (up four points since April), and disapproval at 39% (down four points since April). Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s approval rating is 39% (up one point since April), and disapproval at 51% (down two points since April).
  • Preferred Prime Minister: 52% prefer Malcolm Turnbull as the Prime Minister (unchanged since April); 32% prefer Bill Shorten (up one point since April)
  • Fair Budget: 39% believe the budget was fair and 33% think it was unfair.
  • Personal affect of the Budget: 38% think they’ll personally be better off as a consequence of the Budget; the highest rating of personal benefit from a Budget since 2006.
  • Tax cuts or paying off government debt: 57% would prefer the Government to use extra revenue to pay off government debts; 37% prefer this revenue to be used to cut income tax.

Leaders’ approval and preferred Prime Minister                                                                   

Malcolm Turnbull’s approval rating has continued to improve, 51% (up four points since April); his disapproval rating is 39% (down four points since April).  This gives a positive net approval of +12 (up eight points since April); his most positive approval rating since April 2016.  His approval rating of 51% is the highest for a PM at Budget time since Kevin Rudd in 2009.

Bill Shorten’s approval rating has nudged up to 39% (up one point since April) and his disapproval rating is 51% (down two points since April).  This gives a net approval of -12 (up three points since April). 

Malcolm Turnbull remains the preferred Prime Minister, at 52%, unchanged since April; 32% favour Bill Shorten as Prime Minister (up one point since April). 

Fair Budget

On balance, Australians consider the third Turnbull/Morrison Budget fair, but do so by a narrow margin; 39% believe it was fair, and 33% say it was not a fair budget (net fair +6).  Furthermore, almost three in ten (28%) don’t have an opinion.

This positive balance of opinion means the Budget was seen as more fair than the 2016 and 2017 Turnbull/Morrison budgets.

The Budget was seen as fair by the majority of Coalition voters (65%), but was seen as fair by only small minorities of Labor (24%) and Green voters (17%) suggesting it failed to persuade those not currently Liberal or National party supporters.


Q.MAY2  Thinking now about how the Federal Budget will affect you personally, do you feel you will be better off or worse off?




Coalition voters

Labor voters

Green voters

Better off





Worse off





Make no difference





Don’t know/refused






It also was more likely to be seen as fair among high income voters, at 45% (those with a household income of over $100,000 per year), than among medium ($40,000-$100,000 per year), at 39%, or low income voters (under $40,000 per year), at 35%.

Personal affect of the Budget

More than a third (38%) believe they will personally be better off following this Budget; a quarter (25%) think they will be worse off and almost two in five (37%) think it will make no difference or ‘don’t know’.  Not since the 11th Howard/Costello budget, in 2006, has the public been so likely to believe that they will personally be better off following a Federal Budget.

Perceived Budget impact divides along party lines, with the majority (53%) of Coalition voters think they will personally benefit from the Budget measures, but only 29% of Labor and 33% of Greens voters think they will feel better off.

Tax cuts or paying off government debt

Despite welcoming the personal benefits of the Budget, the majority (57%) of Australians would have preferred that the Government use extra revenue to pay off government debts; only 37% prefer the Coalition’s chosen approach of cutting income tax.

Coalition voters are significantly more likely than other party supporters to prefer using revenue to pay off government debts (68%, compared to 52% among Labor voters and 49% among Greens voters).

Poll Profile    

Fieldwork dates: 9-12 May 2018

Sample size: 1,200 respondents

Sample: National, aged 18+, 30% of sample comprised mobile phone numbers.

Method: Telephone, using random digit dialling.

Statistical reliability: ±2.9% is the maximum margin of sampling error that might apply to this sample

Analysis: The data has been weighted to reflect the population distribution.