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Issues Monitor December 2014: National

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Top issues facing Australia

The turn of a year represents a sensible opportunity to pause and reflect on the previous twelve months. To analyse the knowns, theorise what it all means and place bets about what the next year will bring. When reflecting on the top issues facing Australia, 2014 ended as it started. ‘The Economy’ was – and is – the top issue facing the nation. ‘Healthcare’ was – and is – in second place. Bookends. However, there is more to the story.

While it is true that the issues that occupied Australians have been constant in 2014, relative anxiety around ‘The Economy’ has heightened over the year. In December, 51% selected ‘The Economy’ as a top issue facing the nation. Only once before – in post-budget May 2014 – has an issue reached majority concern. On that occasion the issue was also ‘The Economy’. Historically, the distance between the two top issues facing the nation has been negligible – around five percent. Currently, there is a 15% gap. It has been more than four years since we observed such a distance between first and second place. To cap it off, ‘The Economy’ was the top issue facing the nation in ten of 2014’s twelve months.

For a few years, Australia was the darling of the post-GFC economic world. And, while it is true that we experienced post-GFC growth superior to most OECD countries, Australians are observing evidence that the tide is receding. Worries about the sustainability of our economy as we’ve known it – and the lifestyle it affords – speak directly to our national identity. Sensibly, Australians are greatly concerned.

As Australians concerns around ‘The Economy’ heightened through 2014, our confidence in the Coalition’s ability to manage that issue deteriorated. An inverse relationship, if you will. In December, 32% of Australians selected the Coalition as most capable to manage ‘The Economy’, relative to 41% when elected. While the Coalition is still regarded as most capable to manage that issue, the distance between the Government and the ALP is a paper-thin one percent. In September 2013, that gap was 17% percent. The ALP is now considered the party most capable to manage the balance of the top issues facing Australia.

While the turn of a year may represent an opportunity to reflect, analyse and theorise, the only thing worth placing a bet on is that ‘The Economy’ shows no sign of disappearing off Australians’ list of top concerns any time soon.

Last updated February 2015