Scott Morrison is doing a better job as Treasurer than Malcolm Turnbull is as Prime Minister, according to Australian voters, who have also singled out economic management as a strength of the Coalition over Labor.
The latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll of 1400 respondents has also found Mr Morrison is the preferred treasurer over his Labor counterpart, Chris Bowen, leading 38 per cent to the latter's 29 per cent.
And in a bright light for both Mr Morrison and his boss, a healthy 56 per cent of voters believe Mr Turnbull has provided better economic leadership as Prime Minister than Tony Abbott, who was preferred by just 25 per cent.
Mr Morrison's approval rating is in positive territory, albeit narrowly, while Mr Turnbull has slipped back into the negative.
Both men registered approval ratings of 42 per cent for the way they are doing their respective jobs, but while 38 per cent disapproved of the way Mr Morrison was performing – giving him a net approval rating of 4 per cent – more people disapprove of the way Mr Turnbull is performing than approve, giving him a net rating of minus 5 per cent. It had been in positive territory in May.
Speaking on the ABC's Insiders program on Sunday, Mr Morrison suggested the creation of 240,000 jobs in the last fiscal year showed the labour market was tightening, which would lead to increased demand for higher wages.
"As the labour market tightens, that's obviously going to lead over time to a boost in wages," he said.
"That's why I talk about the better days ahead because we can see all these things lining up – more jobs, more investment, profit performance improving."
The poll was conducted across three days from September 6 to 9, with the data weighted to provide a nationally representative profile. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 per cent.
The Coalition leads Labor on the question of which party is best equipped to manage the economy at 39 per cent to Labor's 28 per cent – virtually identical to the preferred treasurer ratings.
Thursday marks two years since Mr Morrison became Treasurer.
The numbers provide some hope to a beleaguered government which has tanked in the polls since the July 2 election in 2016.
With stubbornly flat wages, soaring household and business electricity costs, emergency level interest rates, and public debt ballooning beyond the psychologically important $500 billion mark, Australians might be expected to be grumpier than ever on economic matters.
But instead the survey suggests Mr Morrison has somehow managed to maintain moderate public support, at least among those voters who recognise him.
A third of respondents either did not know who was the better treasurer between Mr Morrison and Mr Bowen. Some 29 per cent said "don't know", and a further 4 per cent nominated someone else entirely.
Nonetheless, Mr Morrison's plus 4 approval rating is a solid 29 points higher than that of former treasurer Joe Hockey in April 2015.
Among Coalition voters, the incumbent's performance is rated most highly at 69 per cent approval to 14 per cent disapproval. Labor voters were much harsher with 26 per cent approval for Mr Morrison compared to 57 against.
Despite steering Australia successfully through the global financial crisis in 2008-09 without a recession, then treasurer Wayne Swan was narrowly shaded by Mr Hockey as preferred treasurer in March 2012, 45-43.
While the government trails Labor by 6 points on a two-party-preferred basis in the September Fairfax-Ipsos poll, the fact that voters still rank it higher on economic management is likely to be seen as a guide to future success.
It will strengthen the confidence of those within the cabinet, including Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison, who believe a poll recovery next year is possible if the current same-sex marriage and dual citizenship imbroglios can be resolved.
However, energy policy remains the definitive challenge for the Coalition, with pro-coal forces gathering strength. The Nationals voted on the weekend to freeze all subsidies for renewable energy providers for a year before removing them altogether.
The story Fairfax-Ipsos poll: Voters give Scott Morrison, Coalition big ticks on economic management appeared first in The Sydney Morning Herald.