Issues Monitor August 2013

While Australians continue to cite ‘Healthcare’ as the single biggest issue facing the nation, its distinction as the clear front runner has declined in recent months, as anxieties around key economic issues come to the fore.

In August, 2013 the Ipsos Issues Monitor shows that concerns around the three key economic issues: ‘Cost of Living’, ‘The Economy’ and ‘Unemployment’ have made their way into to the top five issues facing our nation for the first time. In late 2010, one out-of-every two (51%) Australians selected at least one of these as a top issue.  This month, two out-of-every three (69%) Australians did so.

Historically, these economic issues have been important to different cohorts for different reasons.  And, to this end, while ‘Cost of Living’ continues to be the most important issue for younger Australians (aged < 50 years) and of considerably less significance to those older (5th most important issue for those aged > 50 years), anxieties around ‘The Economy’ – typically a concern for the superannuation generation (aged > 50 years) – and ‘Unemployment’ – historically an issue of greater concern for younger Australians – have converged, with concerns around ‘The Economy’ coming into the frame of the working age and ‘Unemployment’ pushing into the consideration of those in the twilight of their careers.

These three issues will frame how Australians vote on 7 September. Critically, the Liberal-National Coalition is seen as more capable to manage each of these issues than the government: 1.6 times more capable to manage ‘Cost of Living’, 1.5 times for ‘The Economy’ and 1.3 times for ‘Unemployment’.  While it’s likely this will all bode poorly for the Rudd Government, it’s worth recognising that the ALP are better positioned under Mr Rudd than they were under Ms Gillard.top_issues_august13_national

One of the world’s most revered economists, Milton Friedman, once said the Great Depression ‘was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.’  Whoever takes the keys to the Lodge on 8 September could do worse than listen to this advice as we ink the next chapter of Australia’s story.

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