ALMOST every Australian voter backs Julia Gillard's decision to establish a royal commission into the sexual abuse of children but this overwhelming support has not translated into an immediate boost for the government.
The latest Herald/Nielsen poll shows a record 95 per cent of voters support the royal commission, while only 3 per cent are opposed. The Nielsen poll director, John Stirton, said he could not recall a poll issue receiving such universal support.
Labor remains within striking distance of the Coalition but its momentum of recent months appears to have stalled. The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, also appears stuck, with personal ratings significantly inferior to those of Ms Gillard.
Has Labor's comeback run its course?
Since mid-year the opinion polls have told a consistent story, federal Labor's comeback, but new poll numbers today show the Coalition steadying.PT3M27S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-29kvy 620 349 November 19, 2012
The poll of 1400 voters was taken from Thursday night to Saturday night. Ms Gillard announced the royal commission last Monday after fresh allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church in NSW.
The royal commission, which will inquire into all institutions, not only churches, has the support of all political parties, state and federal, but some senior members of the federal Coalition are saying privately that the government announced it to try to wedge the Coalition because Mr Abbott is a staunch Catholic.
The poll shows the Coalition leading Labor on a two-party-preferred basis by 53 per cent to 47 per cent, a 2-percentage point increase in the Coalition's lead since the last poll.
Labor's primary vote remains unchanged at 34 per cent for the third successive month, while the Coalition's rose 2 points to 45 per cent and the Greens' rose a point to 12 per cent.
Support for the processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island has slipped slightly but remains high, despite initial signs that the threat of offshore detention had done little or nothing to stop the arrival of boats. The poll shows 63 per cent support the Pacific solution, a 4-point fall since it was announced in August. It finds 30 per cent are opposed, an increase of 3 points since August.
Also since the last poll, the government has abandoned its promise to return the budget to surplus this financial year and replaced it with an ''aim'' or a ''plan''.
This is because of the likelihood of global economic conditions worsening further, making it hard to deliver the threadbare forecast surplus of $1.1 billion.
The poll finds 53 per cent of voters believe a return to surplus is a high priority while 41 per cent are prepared to cut the government some slack, labelling it a low priority.
Mr Abbott's personal ratings will continue to be of concern within the Coalition. The poll finds Ms Gillard's approval rating at 47 per cent and her disapproval at 48 per cent, both unchanged since last month's poll. Mr Abbott's approval rating fell a point to 36 per cent and his disapproval rating was unchanged at 60 per cent.
Ms Gillard leads him as preferred prime minister by 51 per cent to 42. Mr Abbott's colleagues believe his association with negative attacks on the government has cost him personally and are urging him to do less.
Today Mr Abbott will release the terms of reference for a Productivity Commission inquiry into childcare, which he will order if elected. It concentrates on increasing the flexibility of childcare beyond the ''9-to-5 economy'' and will consider options such as bringing at-home nannies under the childcare subsidy net.
Mr Abbott has also been subject to a personal attack campaign by Labor while, at the same time, the Coalition has, through the Deputy Leader, Julie Bishop, pursued Ms Gillard over her actions as a lawyer 17 years ago.
Labor is hitting back and has started asking questions about Ms Bishop's role as a lawyer in the 1980s, when she represented CSR against victims of asbestosis.
The acting Minister for Families, Brendan O'Connor, raised allegations yesterday that Ms Bishop used procedural tactics to drag out cases so the victims would die first. Ms Bishop rejects any allegations of unethical behaviour.