Cost of living and aged care reform top list of election priorities

Around two-thirds of Australians say relieving cost-of-living pressures should be the priority of whoever wins government in the upcoming federal election, with fixing the aged care system a close second.

In an Australian National University (ANU) survey, 3500 voters were asked for their thoughts on politics and what the next government’s priorities should be across more than 20 policy areas.

Read: Older Aussies the winners of pre-election promises?

“Our survey shows 64.7 per cent of Australians think the high cost of living needs to be urgently addressed,” says Professor Nicholas Professor Biddle, co-author of the study.

“This outranks all other major policy considerations.

“For Coaliton voters, 60.8 per cent said this was the highest priority. Among Labor voters it was even higher, with 68.8 per cent saying the same.”

Besides cost-of-living issues, survey respondents identified fixing the aged care system as the next highest priority (60.1 per cent) for the election winner.

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The royal commission into aged care had already identified a sector in crisis, with chronic staff shortages and lack of funding.

Then the pandemic hit, and conditions in aged care facilities worsened, at one point requiring the use of military personnel to ensure care homes could keep running.

Voters are recognising the importance of a properly funded and staffed aged care network and want politicians to ensure older Australians live in dignity.

Outside cost of living and aged care, other priorities identified were strengthening the economy (54.4 per cent), reducing the cost of healthcare (53.5 per cent) and dealing with the effects of climate change (52.8 per cent).

The survey also recorded the voting intentions of respondents, finding that Labor (34.3 per cent) had a slight lead over the Coalition (31.2 per cent) in two-party preferred terms.

Read: Older Aussies in contested seats hold key to election

Prof. Biddle says he thinks the results indicate there will be a change of government in a few weeks’ time.

“At the midway point of the campaign, Labor is in an election-winning position,” he says.

“Voting intention data is reinforced by ongoing low confidence in the federal government – still at its lowest level since the Black Summer bushfire crisis – and voters prioritising policy areas that the government is struggling to create a positive narrative about, like cost of living, aged care and climate change.”

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Written by Brad Lockyer

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