Faster shift to renewables gets national support as cost of living anxieties spike
Our special edition on energy issues finds support for faster action on renewables and domestic gas reserves
Those nominating cost of living as their number one issue has doubled since March, up from 29% to 60% in June
60% of Australians feel positive about the transition to renewables, with 55% saying the transition was too slow
78% support the government setting aside domestic gas reserves, with almost half citing investigating nuclear energy as an option
Australians broadly support moves by the Albanese Government to accelerate the shift to renewable energy, as cost of living concerns continue to escalate, the latest Mood of the Nation survey has found.
This survey is a special edition on energy that shows the community wants to pick up the pace of energy reform and would also support action taken to reserve supplies of our gas for domestic use.
Australians are also pragmatic about relaxing planning laws and regulatory approvals to enable quicker renewable and transmission construction. There are some surprises too, including support for an investigation into nuclear energy.
Economic pessimism rising as cost of living concerns balloon
Among key findings of the June national tracking survey of 1,200 Australians aged 18+ are that:
- Those nominating cost of living as their number one issue has doubled since March, up from 29% to 60% in June.
- Pessimism about the economy is growing: in just one month, the number of Australians who think things will improve in three months has dropped 21% from 57% to just 36%.
- Even before recent moves by the banks to step beyond the official cash rate, concerns about interest rates were up 5% in a month to 38%. This is despite nearly half of those surveyed saying they believe the rise was appropriate.
- People’s biggest cost of living pain points were, in order, groceries, petrol, electricity bills, insurance policies, gas bills, rent and mortgages.
Here are some highlights from our special energy questions in this survey, which suggests the Federal Government has read the public mood on climate policy well so far:
- Majority see the energy transition as positive and want it to go faster: Some 60% of Australians feel positive about the transition to renewables, with 55% saying the transition was too slow against just 17% saying it was too fast. Unsurprisingly women were stronger supporters than men (59% over 50%) as are young people and Labor voters. Interestingly, Coalition voters were relatively evenly split.
- However, rising energy costs still the biggest concern: The impact of rising energy prices on households (86%) and businesses (71%) was a greater concern than the impact on either climate change (63%) or coal industry jobs (48%).
- Former government’s inaction and global commodity shock largely blamed: The perceived main causes of the unstable situation around energy were rising international prices (74%), action or inaction by the previous Federal Government (72%), electricity generators restricting supply (67%) and action or inaction by state governments (65%). Notably NSW and Victoria copped most blame (73% and 68%, respectively).
- Strong support for fast-tracking renewables and transmission projects: Australians also supported relaxing the usual regulatory and community planning requirements to speed up renewable projects (58%).
- Domestic gas reserves highly favoured and nuclear power not ruled out. 78% support government setting aside domestic gas reserves. Investigating nuclear energy as an option for the Australian energy market attracted 46% support.
- Energy efficiency highly favoured policy solution. Asked what energy policies they most wanted to see pursued, Australians nominated improving energy efficient building standards for new homes and major renovations (80% support), and programs to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes (79%).
Albanese Government’s report card
Overall, people were satisfied with the Federal Government’s performance to date with 71% thinking the Government is doing an excellent, good or fair job. Support for Federal Labor as the better party to manage cost of living has increased from to 42%, up from 30% in April. Reaction to the Government’s minimum wage increase was also favourable with 61% seeing it as appropriate.
The rise and rise of WA
Meanwhile NSW is lagging other states on perceptions of overall Government performance (39% rating it good to excellent against 45% for Victoria, 46% for QLD, 52% for SA and a remarkably positive 73% for WA). On the subject of WA, it seems the McGowan Government campaign to get Australians to move west may be moving the needle, with 12% saying they would seriously consider moving to the golden west or are already planning to do so. Back to NSW, 41% support the NSW Government’s recent Budget measure to give new home buyers the option to avoid stamp duty and pay land tax instead.
Contact us for more information about the full research report. We’ll be reporting on tracker results every month in 2022.
Sue Vercoe, Managing Director, SEC Newgate Research – [email protected]
David Stolper, Special Counsel, SEC Newgate Research – [email protected]