26 September 2023

High cost of living top priority for most voters

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James Giggacher* says a recent poll has shown that cost of living is still front of mind for voters.

Almost two-thirds of Australians say reducing the cost of living should be the next federal government’s top priority, according to new analysis from The Australian National University (ANU).

The findings come from the latest ANUpoll, undertaken in April 2022, which asked more than 3,500 voters their views on policy and politics as Australia heads to a federal election.

The poll is the most comprehensive and representative survey to date on voters’ policy views during the current election campaign.

Study co-author Professor Nicholas Biddle said high living costs were “high on the minds” of most voters.

“Our survey shows 64.7 per cent of Australians think the high cost of living needs to be urgently addressed,” Professor Biddle said.

“This outranks all other major policy considerations.

“Interestingly, we also found that this was a view held by people who said they would vote for Labor, for people who said they would vote for the Coalition, and for those who weren’t planning on voting for either party.

“For Coaliton voters, 60.8 per cent said this was the highest priority.

“Among Labor voters it was even higher, with 68.8 per cent saying the same.”

The survey asked voters what the next government’s priorities should be across more than 20 policy areas.

It found the second highest priority was fixing the aged care system, with 60.1 per cent of voters highlighting this as a key issue.

The other top five priorities among voters included strengthening the nation’s economy (54.4 per cent), reducing the cost of health care (53.5 per cent) and dealing with global climate change (52.8 per cent).

The policy area considered least important was dealing with issues of immigration, which was only of concern to 22.3 per cent of voters.

Only 27.2 per cent of voters thought fixing the budget was a top priority.

Professor Biddle said the latest survey also outlined Australians’ voting intentions.

“We found that there wasn’t any significant change in the number of people who said they would vote for the Coalition – 31.2 per cent in April compared to 31.7 per cent in January,” he said.

“We also found there was also a small drop in the number of people who said they’d vote for Labor, with 34.3 per cent saying they would in April compared to 36.3 per cent in January.

“Meanwhile, the Greens saw a slight increase in support, increasing from 14.2 per cent of voters giving the party their vote in January to 16.2 per cent in April.”

Professor Biddle noted the findings augured well for Labor’s prospects at the polls on 21 May.

“At the midway point of the campaign, Labor is in an election-winning position,” he said.

“Voting intention data is reinforced by ongoing low confidence in the Federal Government – still at its lowest level since the Black Summer bushfire crisis – and voters prioritising policy areas that the government is struggling to create a positive narrative about, like cost of living, aged care and climate change.”

*James Giggacher runs The Australian National University’s media team and media engagement program

This article first appeared at anu.edu.au.

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