PM's royal commission backed by 95% of voters

Almost every Australian voter is behind setting up the royal commission into child sex abuse in a Fairfax-Nielsen poll that shows little change in support for the parties or leaders.

An extraordinary 95 per cent back the inquiry, which has bipartisan backing although it does not as yet have terms of reference.

It is highly unusual for a political decision to have such a level of support.

However, the Coalition would win an election held now on a two-party vote of 53 per cent (up 1 point since last month) to Labor's 47 per cent (down 1 point).

Labor's national primary vote is steady on 34 per cent, while the Coalition's vote has risen by 2 points to 45 per cent, and the Greens is up 1 point to 12 per cent.

This is the third consecutive month that Labor has been stuck on 34 per cent, after earlier rises.


Nielsen poll director John Stirton said it was too early to say whether the trend to Labor - which has shored up Julia Gillard's leadership - had run its course.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's approval has fallen a further point, to 36 per cent, while his disapproval rating - which has been a matter of concern in Coalition ranks - is unchanged at 60 per cent.

His net approval is down a point to minus 24, a personal record low.

Ms Gillard's approval rating is steady on 47 per cent; while her disapproval rating is steady on 48 per cent, giving her an unchanged net approval of minus one.

She has a nine-point lead over her opponent as preferred Prime Minister - up 1 point to 51 per cent, while Mr Abbott is up 2 points to 42 per cent - in the national poll of 1400 voters, which was taken from Thursday to Saturday.

With the misogyny debate still resonating, Mr Abbott's disapproval rating among women is 63 per cent, compared with 56 per cent among men. On the other hand, 52 per cent of women approve of Ms Gillard but only 43 per cent of men.

Only 3 per cent oppose the royal commission, which will look at abuse in a wide range of institutions.

ALP supporters are a little more likely to support the commission than Coalition voters (97 per cent to 93 per cent).

The poll also found a majority of voters (53 per cent) believe a return to a surplus budget should be a ''high priority''; 41 per cent think it should be a low priority. A surplus is important to almost half the ALP supporters (49 per cent), while more than six in 10 Coalition supporters say it should be a high priority.

The Prime Minister and her ministers have refused to guarantee that the $1.1 billion surplus for 2012-13 projected in the recent budget update will be reached, as the opposition has pursued them to make it a definite promise.

Treasurer Wayne Swan on Sunday noted that the International Monetary Fund - which reported on the Australian economy last week - ''makes the point the forecast return to surplus gives the Reserve Bank more room to move on interest rates''.

The government's claim that the carbon tax is going off the boil as an issue is boosted by a 2-point rise to 39 per cent in support of carbon pricing. Meanwhile 56 per cent say the tax is making no difference to them, which is up 2 points.

But the opposition's insistence that it is still a potent issue is given credence by 56 per cent saying it should be repealed.

On the issue of asylum seekers - which has seen the boats still coming and a hunger strike on Nauru - 63 per cent support the decision to resume offshore processing, down 4 points since August. Support was highest among Coalition voters (76 per cent) and lowest among Greens supporters, with 56 per cent of ALP voters backing it.