Voters rank economy biggest issue in new ANU poll

The Canberra Times

Less than a month before the federal election, the economy and job security have been revealed as the leading public concern among voters.

Of respondents in the latest ANUpoll, to be released on Tuesday, 30.3 per cent nominated concern about the economy as the most important problem facing Australia.

The result has doubled since 2010.

While 28 per cent of respondents nominated the issues of immigration and asylum seekers, just 5.6 per cent nominated concerns about global warming as their number one issue, down by half since last year.

Only 0.1 per cent of people mentioned the carbon tax.

Professor Ian McAllister from the ANU School of Research School of Politics and International Relations said the results showed management of the economy was likely to remain at the centre of the federal election campaign.

“By contrast, the environment and climate change are seen by voters as a much lesser concern than previously, and there has been a dramatic decline in those mentioning the carbon tax as an important issue,” Professor McAllister said.

“The declining importance of these issues has implications for the Australian Greens party support.”

The poll also found 87.6 per cent of respondents thought men and women do an equal job of representing the interests of their constituents as MPs and about 50 per cent thought there should be more Indigenous and female MPs.

“Voters are broadly satisfied with their electoral arrangements, with the exception of the private funding of political parties, which remains unpopular,” Professor McAllister said.

“It’s clear that while gender has been an issue for some of our parliamentarians over the past three years, it is much less of an issue for voters,” Professor McAllister said.

More than 80 per cent of respondents said they would still vote if it was not compulsory in elections in Australia, but just over one in three supported an increase in fines to $100 for people who do not vote.

Asked if the frequency of Australian elections should be changed from every three years, 62.2 per cent said the current cycle was about right and 20.7 per cent said elections should be every four years.

After the end of the hung Parliament elected in 2010, 44.1 per cent of respondents said a government formed by one party was best at providing stability.

Respondents also said governments formed by one party were better at making tough decisions at 39.2 per cent.

Asked about the number of independent MPs, 30.8 per cent said the number was about right, while 25.4 per cent said there should be more independents in the parliament.

Donations from individuals, business and trade unions to political campaigns continue to be viewed unfavourably, but more than 72 per cent of respondents said they were satisfied with how democracy works in Australia.

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