Australia’s biggest concern

An issue that has deserved far more consideration and attention than many have been willing to give it is finally the No.1 concern for Australians.

The latest Ipsos Issues Monitor has, for the first time, listed the environment as the nation’s biggest concern, surpassing healthcare, the cost of living and the economy.

The monthly poll takes a representative sample of Australians’ attitudes towards a range of issues, including the economy; crime, laws and anti-social behaviour; healthcare and hospitals; taxation; petrol prices; racism, race relations and immigration; education; unemployment, population issues; inflation and the cost of living; environmental concerns; housing; defence; terrorism and foreign affairs; transport; poverty and inequality, and issues facing indigenous Australians.

Over the past decade, healthcare has been Australia’s biggest worry, topping 52 of 109 monthly surveys, followed by the economy (28) and the cost of living (27).

This time, 32.1 per cent of Australians – the highest share in the survey’s 10-year history – rated the state of the environment as their biggest worry.

The result may have been spurred by the spring bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland which ravaged many regional areas, as well as drought conditions throughout many parts of Australia – all events widely attributed to global warming.

fireman watches as a grassfire rages on

Concern about the environment has been growing since the middle of the decade, when its rating was still in single digits. However, since November 2017, concern about the environment has risen sharply from 14 per cent to more than 32 per cent today.

Widespread publicity and climate change agitation and protests may have also contributed to the environment’s No.1 ranking, says Ipsos social researcher Daniel Evans.

“There’s been both activism … and there’s actual events attributed to climate change,” he said.

The cost of living was the second biggest concern, in front of healthcare and the economy. Australia’s economic worries are an unusual trend for the survey, says Mr Evans.

“Typically when economic concerns have increased, environmental concerns have decreased, but what we’ve noticed this year is that as environmental concerns have gone up, concerns about the economy has gone up as well,” he said.

“Those two are no longer on different paths.”

In the past, anxiety about the environment was largely the domain of younger Australians, but this more recent push has been attributed to older Australians.

“The environment has always ranked among the five top concerns for younger Australians,” said Mr Evans.

“But over the past year, the momentum of concern about the environment has been driven by older Australians.”

Of the issues listed above, what would be your biggest concern?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.


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