Voters have turned against Treasurer Joe Hockey since the budget, but still prefer him over shadow treasurer Chris Bowen.

Australians have gone from disliking the federal budget to disliking its author.

Joe Hockey’s approval rating has sunk into negative territory.

But the treasurer can draw comfort from the latest weekly Essential Research survey, which says he is still more trusted to handle the economy than Labor’s shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen.

The survey found that only 35 per cent of voters approve of Mr Hockey as treasurer, while 44 per cent disapprove.

It means his net approval rating has tumbled from plus 17 in November to minus nine.

But he has the edge over Mr Bowen – 34 per cent versus 23 per cent.

With a difficult budget to sell, at least Mr Hockey didn’t have to explain away an official interest rate hike after the central bank’s monthly board meeting on Tuesday.

The Reserve Bank kept the cash rate unchanged at 2.5 per cent. It has now stood at this record low for 12 months.

RBA governor Glenn Stevens gave no indication that such stability would end soon.

He said in his post-meeting statement that monetary policy was appropriately set to foster sustainable growth in demand and inflation outcomes consistent with its two to three per cent target band over the next two years.

While economic growth was firmer at the turn of the year, the bank expects growth to be a little below trend in the year ahead, or below 3.25 per cent.

Likewise, while there have been improvements in indicators for the labour market, it will probably be some time before unemployment declines consistently.

Mr Stevens also reiterated his concerns about a high Australian dollar preventing balanced growth in the economy.

“On present indications, the most prudent course is likely to be a period of stability in interest rates,” he said.

Data this week suggests that economic growth stepped down a peg in the June quarter.

June international trade data showed another large $1.7 billion deficit.

A deterioration in exports means during the June quarter deficits totalled about $4.8 billion compared with a $3 billion surplus in the March quarter.

It suggests exports will detract from economic growth in the June quarter, as will a downturn in consumer spending during the same period.

The latest ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence rating fell one per cent in the past week, showing signs of stability after the sharp swings since the budget, but points only to moderate consumer spending this year.