CANBERRA, AAP – Fewer than one in five Australians believe the Morrison government has a clear plan to reduce the budget deficit.

The latest Guardian Essential poll found only 16 per cent of respondents felt the government had a clear deficit-reduction plan, while 43 per cent believed that there was a plan but that it had been badly communicated.

Worse still, 41 per cent feared there was no plan at all.

This month’s budget showed the government’s books will remain in the red for at least the next decade.

Sixty-five per cent of the 1100 people surveyed thought it was OK to spend whatever it takes to help the economy recover but that there needs to be a clear plan to repay debt in the future.

One in five thought the debt was something that should be managed down the track and just 16 per cent thought the government needed to engage in debt retirement now rather than wait.

Of the budget’s $17.7 billion centrepiece spend on aged care following the damning findings of the royal commission, only 22 per cent believed there was a clear plan to reform the sector.

A further 39 per cent again thought there was a plan but it was badly communicated, while the same proportion had no confidence of there being a plan at all.

However, more than half (55 per cent) thought the budget was about helping the economy recover from the pandemic and building over the long-term, while 45 per cent thought it was about helping Prime Minister Scott Morrison win the federal election that is due in the next year.

Just over three-in-five respondents thought any post-budget sprint to the ballot box this year, rather than going the full term into 2022, would be political opportunism, while 39 per cent said it would be reasonable given that a lot had changed since the last election.

A lower house and half-Senate election can be held between August and May.