Cost of living concerns temper as support for energy transition grows
Our special edition on Mood of the Regions finds a clear service gap in relation to transport infrastructure, education access and healthcare services.
- For the first time this year, those nominating cost of living as their number one issue has fallen by 5% (55% down from 60%)
- Positivity towards Australia’s transition to renewable energy has risen significantly to 70% (up from 60% in June)
- The key issues for regional Australians are the cost of living, healthcare investment, strengthening the economy and providing affordable rental housing.
Australia’s concerns about the cost of living are tempering and may have peaked as optimism about the economy improves, our monthly Mood of the Nation report has found.
Support for the transition to renewable energy also seems to be growing among both urban and regional Australians. Our monthly national survey of more than 1,800 people this month includes a major focus on regional Australia as part of the annual Bush Summit.
- While still the top unprompted concern among Australians, the proportion nominating cost of living fell 5% (55% down from 60%). For the first time this year, specific cost of living concerns (e.g., petrol and grocery prices) have eased.
- However, concern about interest rates and inflation continues to creep up and there has been an uptick in concerns about COVID.
- Those who feel the economy will deteriorate in the next 3 months declined (52%, down from 57%). Attitudes for the next 12 months remain mixed while the 3-year outlook remains optimistic.
- Some 47% feel the Federal Government is doing a good to excellent job and this is up from 39% in June.
- In contrast, the Qld and NSW Governments have seen significant falls in perceived performance since June, likely related to their flood response and other integrity issues.
- Support for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament remains similar to May (57% vs 59%) although it is somewhat lower in regional areas (54%).
- Positivity towards Australia’s transition to renewable energy has risen significantly to 70% (up from 60% in June). Regional Australians are also mostly positive (64%) although negativity is slightly higher than metro areas (18% vs 9%).
- There is strong majority support for regional initiatives such as increasing solar generation, increasing wind generation and investing more in regional electricity transmission infrastructure.
- Nuclear energy is more contentious with only 41% support.
Mood of the Bush
For regional Australia, the cost of living, healthcare investment, strengthening the economy and providing affordable rental housing emerged as the top tier issues. The regions see a clear service gap especially in relation to transport infrastructure, education access and healthcare services. The survey found regional Australia is looking for the service gap to be met including through the shift to digital service delivery, and also through initiatives to lure essential workers to the bush to meet demand.
Among key regional findings:
- Regional development: There was strong support for regional development initiatives including:
- Encouraging essential workers to move to the regions (81%)
- Investing in adequate phone and internet coverage (87%)
- New transport infrastructure (83%)
- Promoting regional tourism, developing renewable energy zones and boosting skilled migration were also well supported
- Water: Water efficiency is the preferred option for the Murray-Darling water management. People prefer government to prioritise investment in on-farm efficiency programs (55% feel this should be the main priority) vs 13% who feel that water buy-backs should be the main priority.
- Digital: Most regional residents feel positive about the increased use of digital technology for work (71%) as well as for health delivery (71%) and education (61%) and this is an important opportunity to bridge some existing service gaps.
- Supply chain: Supply chain disruptions and worker shortages continue to impact regional communities. Only 34% of people in significantly impacted communities say their area has completely or mostly recovered from supply chain shortages and only 20% feel it has recovered from worker shortages.
- Bushfire recovery: In contrast, around three quarters (74%) feel their impacted area has recovered from bushfires with 54% saying their local area has now recovered from floods.
Contact us for more information about the full research report. We’ll be reporting on tracker results every two months in 2023.
Sue Vercoe, Managing Director, SEC Newgate Research – [email protected]
David Stolper, Special Counsel, SEC Newgate Research – [email protected]