The top issues facing the nation: April 2012

The Ipsos Social Research Institute Issues Monitor is an ongoing quantitative survey of Australians about the issues facing the nation, Australian states and territories and Australians’ local areas. Since November 2010, Ipsos has asked approximately 1,000 Australians per month to select the three most important issues facing Australia, their state/territory and their local area from a list of 19 issues.

When comparing the top five issues from the most recent quarter to the same quarter last year we can see that there has been one dramatic change: the economy has been much more widely reported this year, up 10 percent since April 2011. It sits in third position this quarter and has pushed crime/law and order/violence/anti-social behaviour down to fourth and housing/price of housing out of the top five. Meanwhile, the top two issues of a year ago, healthcare/hospitals and inflation/cost of living, remained in the top spots in the most recent quarter.

The top five issues facing the nation

Issue

Feb 2011
– Apr 2011

Feb 2012
– Apr 2012

Change over the year*

Healthcare / Hospitals

44%

41%

-3%

Inflation / Cost of Living

37%

36%

-1%

The Economy

17%

27%

+10%

Crime / Law and Order / Violence / Anti-Social Behaviour

27%

26%

+1%

Immigration

20%

20%

-1%

*Numbers may not add up due to rounding.

Economic news has dominated the past year and it is no surprise to see that the two issues that have increased the most in the eyes of the Australian public are the economy and unemployment, ten and eight percent respectively. The other issue to see a significant rise over the past year has been education, up three percent.

Significant increases since February 2011 – April 2012

Issue

Feb 2011
– Apr 2011

Feb 2012
– Apr 2012

Change over the year*

The Economy

17%

27%

+10%

Unemployment

8%

15%

+8%

Education

14%

16%

+3%

*Numbers may not add up due to rounding.

It is interesting to note that whilst macroeconomic issues surged over the past 12 months (see above), the issues of housing/price of housing and household debt/personal debt both retreated, down four and two percent respectively. Social issues also declined with population/overpopulation and race relations/racism each down two percent. The issue that declined the most, however, was that of environmental/pollution/water concerns, down four percent from a year ago.

The biggest decreases since February 2011 – April 2012

Issue

Feb 2011
– Apr 2011

Feb 2012
– Apr 2012

Change over the year*

Environmental / Pollution / Water Concerns

18%

14%

-4%

Housing / Price of Housing

23%

19%

-4%

Healthcare / Hospitals

44%

41%

-3%

Population / Overpopulation

9%

7%

-2%

Race Relations / Racism

6%

5%

-2%

Household Debt / Personal Debt

14%

12%

-2%

*Numbers may not add up due to rounding.

For further information about the Ipsos Social Research Institute Issues Monitor or to subscribe to the quarterly national and state based (Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia) updates, please contact Dan Evans at dan.evans@ipsos.com.

Tom Clement
Research Executive