Date posted: 29/08/2016 5 min read

Chartered Accountants ANZ poll reveals Australian voters’ concerns

Trump, Brexit and constant leadership changes a worry while healthcare ranks as top policy priority

Australian voters see the leadership merry-go-round in Canberra as the biggest threat to the nation’s future. They also overwhelmingly think that Australia’s present system of Government is broken and want the Government to focus on healthcare as the number one policy priority.

These are some of the findings from a new poll conducted by I-view Omnibus poll for one of the country’s leading professional bodies, Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (ANZ).

According to the national survey of more than 1,000 people, healthcare ranked well ahead of other policy areas as the preferred focus for the Government. When asked to rank three policy priorities for the next term of Government, 61% of survey respondents nominated that issue, compared to 46% who chose jobs, 38% economic growth, 37% education and 33% housing affordability.

Only 5% of respondents said they wanted Canberra to focus on industrial relations or innovation, which has been positioned as a centrepiece of the Turnbull Government agenda. CEO of Chartered Accountants ANZ, Lee White, said the survey was a timely reference point for the Government as it settles on its legislative agenda for the new Parliament after a rocky post-election period.

“The Government needs to be careful that it does not become publicly bogged down in policy debates that are of marginal importance to voters. And the Government needs to clearly state how its innovation policy will boost jobs and drive economic growth which are important issues to 46% and 38% of respondents respectively. It’s the bread-and-butter issues that matter to the electorate at large,” Mr White said.

“The challenge is to address these while also taking the lead on the big economic issues – tax, superannuation, budget deficits and IR, for example – that underwrite our long-term prosperity”. Some 58% of respondents cited ‘continuous changes in party leadership’ as the greatest threat to Australia’s future, ahead of a lack of action on tax reform (39%) and climate change (38%), and the short-term political cycle (37%).

“Taking action on tax reform, sustainable retirement incomes policies and innovation, will help the government set the foundation to drive the economic reform agenda required to deliver the healthcare, education, jobs and growth that voters want,”
Lee White CEO, Chartered Accountants ANZ

Chartered Accountants’ survey reinforces the sense of disillusionment with politics-as-usual.

An overwhelming number of people surveyed said that Australia’s current system of Government was not working, with 52% saying Australia had too many tiers of Government, and 23% claiming that terms of Government were too short. Only 23% felt the system was working well currently.

“There is a job to do for the new Parliament to rebuild the faith of voters in the political system,” Mr White said.

“It’s not a stretch to conclude that what voters want above all is political stability, clear direction and leadership from their elected representatives. In the current political environment we encourage the Government to seek policy bipartisanship on its economic reform agenda, in the national interest. That’s a massive challenge but it’s critical if we are to make the economic and other reforms necessary for long term success.”

The survey also revealed a high number of respondents (40%) believed the US Presidential election would have a significant impact on the Australian economy; when invited to explain why they felt that way, many respondents cited the possibility of Republican candidate Donald Trump winning the presidency as a cause for concern. Some 31% said they did not know what impact the US election would have and the remaining 29% felt the impact would be minimal.

On Brexit, uncertainty in Europe over the impact of the UK referendum is reflected in Australia - 43% of respondents were unsure of what impact the vote would have on the Australian economy, compared to 33% who felt it would have a significant impact.

Note: The I-view Omnibus poll survey was conducted during the week before the Australian Federal Election on July 2 2016.

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