Top three election issues

Baby boomers and retirees have spoken, telling politicians what they deem the most important issues for older Australians in the upcoming election battle.

Our Friday Flash Poll: Which election issues matter most to you? attracted 1458 respondents, 58 per cent of whom were male and 42 per cent female, mostly aged between 65 and 74 years old. Three in 10 were typically Labor voters (30 per cent) and a little fewer were Liberal voters (29 per cent). The next largest voting cohorts were Greens, Independent and One Nation, in that order.

However, 21 per cent call themselves swinging voters, which could be a telling factor come the next federal election – especially if the demands of Australians aged over 55 aren’t satisfied.

When asked which issues mattered most, unsurprisingly, increasing the Age Pension came out on top with 12 per cent. Addressing Health/Medicare followed very close behind – also on 12 per cent but with 16 fewer votes.

Many political pundits are calling this next election ‘the climate change election’, and if the results of our poll are anything to go by, the environment and energy policies could play a big part in swinging voters to other parties. Ten per cent of our respondents say that energy and climate change is a big issue for them and for Australia, again, putting paid to the notion that older people don’t care about the environment.

“If we don’t look after the environment nothing else will matter,” wrote YourLifeChoices member Poppsy.

“I have a strong belief that as ‘elders’ we have a responsibility to future generations – to children and those yet to be born, to live in a society, on our incredible planet in a way that enables them to contribute their unique talents in service to the flourishing of the whole system … the living systems that support life on earth. We are not separate from these systems. We must live in harmony with them if life is to flourish on earth. We cannot retreat into narrow self-interest or simply furthering our family’s interests particularly if they are violating the earth’s natural systems,” wrote Zen.

However, some would disagree, preferring ‘intelligent’ mining over environmental policies.

“What matters differs from person to person and generally revolves around how those matters affect the individual. It’s all okay to make feel good statements about climate change but the reality is that it doesn’t really infringe on daily living. How much we have to spend can mean the difference between living and existing, so those dependent on welfare and pensions will have a different opinion than those who are comfortably off,” wrote Old Man.

“The Green left want to close mining in all of its forms and use the excuse that it will save the planet but omit the result of their ideology. Warren Mundine wrote an excellent article about what mining does for the average person from coal-fired power stations from mined coal to the building industry using mined sand.

“My opinion, and I make this statement because it is what affects me and my family, is that I want mining to continue, more coal fired power stations which I feel are needed until renewable energy systems are made more reliable and affordable, safer borders and for Australia to get out of the Paris agreement which takes our funds and does nothing,” Old Man continued.

But most believe the environment is our number one concern.

“The environment should be first and foremost. We owe it to future generations to protect the planet and as already stated not much matters if that is ignored. Therefore, renewables not coal! Water protection is of course a big yes as it a part of the environment. It seems if we can get the environment right, we have made massive inroads into making a right order of priorities. Border protection is a scare campaign to persuade people that what really matters (above) is ignored!” wrote Paddington.

It seems the Coalition’s newly announced $2 billion climate policy could not have come at a better time.

Indeed, border security also rated highly, as too did migration policy, with many members more worried about letting people in to our country than issues we already have at home. However, more older Australians are worried about those who arrive in planes – not boats.

“We have border security and always have. Having no borders contiguous with any other nation, we are girt by sea and thus our borders are safer than most. As for immigrants – they are perfectly legit – as for refugees, they are either vetted and arrive same as immigrants. As for detention, all asylum claimants are held in detention and there is no fundamental difference between offshore or onshore detention, with the single exception that this government has decreed that any held offshore will never settle here no matter how valid their claim. Most who arrive by boat and are then held offshore under that caveat, are found to be legitimate refugees,” wrote Trebor. “On the other hand, the very vast majority of illegal immigrants arrive here by plane and not boat, and the very vast majority of those who claim asylum are rejected.”

“Border Security is a myth. More illegals arrive by plane along with contrabands than boat,” wrote Jackie, who also added some interesting views.

“No social security for new arrivals whether they be refugees or migrants. They can support themselves through work instead of languishing in some detention centre. Cut down the number of migrants so that our infrastructure is not overloaded. Legalise all illicit drugs just like how gambling, prostitution and alcohol was. The money could go where it is needed instead of criminals,” she wrote.

The issues that matter most are:

  • Increasing Age Pension payments – 12 per cent
  • Health/Medicare – 12 per cent
  • Energy and climate change – 10 per cent
  • Border security – eight per cent
  • Aged care – eight per cent
  • Federal ICAC (cleaning up political corruption) – eight per cent
  • Energy prices – seven per cent
  • Economy remaining in surplus –five per cent
  • Migration policy – five per cent
  • Addressing poverty – four per cent
  • Investment in infrastructure – three per cent
  • Treatment of asylum seekers/refugees – three per cent
  • Education – two per cent
  • Stability – two per cent
  • Housing affordability – two per cent
  • Defence/security – two per cent
  • Wage growth – one per cent
  • Inequality/women’s rights – one per cent
  • Tax cuts – one per cent
  • Foreign policy – one per cent

Other issues that were mentioned as very important were:

  • Franking credits
  • Foreign ownership of Australian assets
  • Banning live exports
  • Revising the home/assets test
  • Methods of assessment (specifically disability pensions)
  • Recognising unpaid carers.

YourLifeChoices agrees with the majority of our members in that fixing pension poverty should be at the top of any new government’s to-do list. We will be doing our bit to address this issue, as we have done for 13 years and will continue to do in the future.

Are you surprised by these results? Which do you think should have made the top three?

Related articles:
Election 2019: Increase the pension
Shock reveal on climate change
Age Pension changes won’t help

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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