Australians cautious about the national outlook
Australians continue to feel cautious about the economy with ongoing concern about the cost of living, according to this month’s Mood of the Nation research. This continues the trend of the last couple of months according to our national poll of 1,500 Australians. Meanwhile, Australians are reporting their most positive feelings about the state of their lives since we started tracking in March.
- 56% mentioned cost of living as an issue that’s most important to them, almost unchanged since August and lower than the peak in June (60%).
- Looking at perceived government performance, the Federal Government was steady with 43% thinking it is doing a “good to excellent” job, with WA Government leading at 70% and NSW trailing at 35%.
- In Victoria, 49% thought Labor was the best party to manage cost of living compared to 22% for the Coalition.
We also asked some snapshot questions ahead of the Victorian State Election in November. What we found is that – no surprises – the big issue is the cost of living with all voters regardless of party preference focused heavily on this issue. Cost of living is overwhelmingly the issue for some 91% of undecided Victorian voters at this point, some three months ahead of polling day.
- Around half (56%) mentioned cost of living as an issue that is most important to them right now, much more so than housing affordability, health care and climate change. However, mentions of it are similar to last month (55%) and slightly lower than the June peak of 60%.
- The biggest hip pocket issues concerning Australians continue to be grocery prices (83%) and petrol prices (79%) followed by electricity bills (77%).
- This month has seen a continued fall in pessimism about the economy over the next 3 and 12 months. Although 45% still think it will get worse over the next 3 months this is down from 52% in August and 57% in June.
- From a peak of 59% negative feelings being reported in May, Australians now report 53% negative feelings. Positive feelings have tracked up from a low of 41% in May to 47% now. The most common positives people expressed were feeling “happy”, “loved and grateful”, while negatives were feeling “stressed”, “anxious” and “exhausted”.
- Interestingly, some three quarters of Australians rate the quality of life in their local are as good or better, with WA, Victoria and QLD residents most positive at 78%, SA on 77% and NSW 71%.
- Looking at perceived government performance, the Federal Government was steady with 43% thinking it is doing a “good to excellent” job. Among the states, the WA Government continues to lead the pack (70%), followed by SA (53%), Victoria (52%), QLD (44%) and NSW (35%).
With three months to go to the Victorian state election, we asked some snapshot questions about what voters were thinking. As November approaches, the main focus is on the cost of living making this a critical battleground in the poll, with health and rental affordability also weighing on voters’ minds.
- Victorians’ top 5 issues for the state election were cost of living (74%), health care (57%), housing/rental affordability (47%), climate change (36%) and public health management of COVID-19 (32%). Three quarters (74%) picked cost-of-living as a top five election issue and this rises to 91% of undecided voters.
- Victorian voters are focused on cost of living irrespective of their party preference. It’s the biggest issue for Labor (72%) and Coalition (71%) voters. It is even level pegging with the climate/environment as Greens voters’ top issue (71%).
- Health care is the second biggest issue for major party voters followed by housing and rental affordability. Health care, housing and rental affordability were also high up on the list of priorities for Greens supporters.
- The overwhelming concern of undecided voters about cost of living is reinforced by the fact that housing and rental affordability is their second biggest voting issue, ahead of health care.
- While cost of living pain points largely mirrored national sentiments about groceries and petrol, gas bills appear to be of greater concern to Victorians (68% were quite or extremely concerned by gas bills compared with 51% in other areas of the country). Nearly half (49%) said they thought State Labor was the best party to manage cost of living compared to 22% for the State Coalition. The Andrews Government’s 52% ‘good to excellent’ job rating was up from 45% in June and 46% in August.
- Issues profiling shows that Victorians are relatively more likely to mention unemployment as an unprompted concern.
- Regional Victorians were more focussed on aged care sector, pensions, affordable rental housing and local manufacturing capacity than their counterparts in Melbourne.
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]