Issues-Monitor-Generic banner

The Issues Monitor March 2015: National

Download the infographic

Top issues facing Australia

Is Australia about to slide into a winter of discontent?

‘The Economy’ has been the top issue facing Australia for eight consecutive months and for 15 of the 19 months we have been under a Coalition government. ‘The Economy’ was never the top issue under Ms Gillard or Mr Rudd. Australians were much more concerned about ‘Healthcare’ and, for a brief (pre-interest-rate-cut) period ‘Cost of Living’.

Sometimes the sun is at your back. Other times dust blows in your face.

It really wasn’t that long ago that Australia sailed through the eye-of-GFC-storm at an even keel and with barely a splash on the bow; a sensible banking system our saviour, geography and geology our two greatest assets. The slashing of interest rates helped stimulate the economy and our relative post-GFC growth brought jobs, revenue, previously unseen wealth to many and, of course, a hope that it will continue for forever and a day.

But Australians have been observing a receding economic-tide for some time, informing our concern around ‘The Economy’. We are worried about the sustainability of our lifestyle and the commitments that the good-times afforded us. While low interest-rates are helping keep household debt at relatively sustainable levels, these same cuts are delivering a genuine investor-led boom in housing prices in Sydney and Melbourne. An uncertain jobs-market and no real measure yet on how beneficial the dipping dollar has been to tourism and exports are also informing our concern.

As argued by Steinbeck, “it’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone”.

While any sensible Australian would acknowledge that the economic conditions facing the Coalition are less favourable than what was afforded their predecessor, we are – as a nation – less confident in the Coalition’s ability to manage that issue now compared to when they were elected. And, as Mr Abbott and team prepare to deliver their mid-term budget on what will undoubtedly be a chilly Canberra evening, it remains to be seen whether they will be able to warm the nation at all through this winter.

Last updated April 2015