Australia’s cost of living concerns appear to have peaked with the RBA’s current pause of interest rates hikes but there is growing dissatisfaction with corporate Australia as record profits are unveiled in a period where many people feel under severe financial strain.
SEC Newgate’s Mood of the Nation study finds the national mood and economic outlook has slightly improved since June but there is a higher dissatisfaction with the performance of governments and corporates during this period.
In this edition we also take a deeper dive into Australian’s views of future societal challenges that are concerning them.
Amidst a recent string of record profit announcements by the country’s leading businesses and brands, we found that attitudes to Australian corporates are hardening; 46% now disagree that businesses are “Behaving ethically and doing the right thing”, up from 42% in August and 39% in April. Dissatisfaction is consistently strong amongst men and women, and across all age groups.
For the second consecutive survey the perceived performance of all governments across Australia has fallen; 36% feel the Federal Government is doing a good or better job (down from 39% in June and 46% in April) and the performance of the Victoria, NSW and Queensland governments are also down between 7 and 8%. The ratings are worse for the long running Queensland and Victorian Labor governments with 44% and 43% respectively rating their performance as ‘very poor’ or ‘poor’.
It remains the top national issue although unprompted mentions of it have fallen for the first time in our study (63% down from 69% in June). Reduced concern with grocery prices (down 6% to 84%) as well as easing inflation and paused official interest rates are likely behind the trend.
57% of respondents still feel Australia is heading in the wrong direction, but this is down from 61% in June. Economic predictions are also less negative with 44% feeling the economy will deteriorate in a year – down from 55% in June.
Australians remain uneasy ahead of the RBA’s 5 September meeting with 49% expecting rates to rise, 42% expecting them to stay unchanged and 3% thinking they’ll fall. Only 26% expect interest rates to be lower in 1 year but 47% think they will be lower in 3 years.
At this stage 54% intend to vote no and 46% to vote yes. The Yes case is only ahead in Victoria (51%) and is weakest in WA (37%) and Qld (37%). 39% of Labor voters say they will also vote No. However, our polling has picked up an issue that may well affect the outcome of the referendum, likely to be held on 14 October. On a question around intention to vote, the average stated likelihood to vote amongst ‘yes voters’ is quite high at 8.3 out of 10. However, it is significantly lower amongst ‘no voters’ (at 5.4 out of ten). Put another way, 19% of ‘no voters’ say they have no intention of actually voting. Based on this data, a lower turnout would favour the Yes campaign and, as such, the contest could be much tighter than raw voting intention results suggest.
In Victoria only 41% support the state’s recently announced bans on residential gas connections for new housing developments (with 44% opposed) and there is only 40% for similar measures across Australia, with 41% opposed.
On a key issue related to the energy transition, we found a polarisation of views between metro and regional respondents around support for the compulsory acquisition of private properties along the route of transmission lines and towers in rural and regional areas. Support in metro areas is almost half at 47% (29% opposed), while support in regional areas is only 38% (35% opposed), reflecting the reality of the impact borne by regional areas of the transition of the economy.
There is little support for new measures to fund aged care with only 35% supporting superannuation “ring fencing” or a Medicare-style levy and only 28% supporting a 1% increase in income tax to fund Australia’s growing aged-care bill.
Special Section on attitudes on the future of Australian society.
In this edition we took a deeper look at the future of modern Australian society and found that nearly half (49%) feel society is declining with only 26% believing it is improving. Young people are more optimistic with 39% believing society is improving while 35% feel it is deteriorating.
So, what are the big problems? Amongst a list of 21 modern ills, Australians are most worried about:
Contact us for more information about the full Mood of the Nation research report.
David Stolper, Partner, SEC Newgate Research – [email protected]
Sue Vercoe, Managing Director, SEC Newgate Research – [email protected]