Education and health are most important issues in Australia, new poll finds

by Ray Clancy on June 22, 2016

in Education in Australia, General Information

Australians are more positive about the benefits of immigration but education and health and the most important issues facing the country today, according to a new poll.

Some 885 named education as being a very important issue while 83% names health, 79% domestic violence and 77% the economy.

With a general election coming up in a couple of week, the annual Lowy Institute poll, which seeks to ascertain the views of voting age adults in Australia on the most important national issues, found that people are dispirited about domestic politics.

Immigration one of main concerns ahead of next month’s Australian election

They are also disappointed in regard to Australia’s foreign policy and not keen on Donald Trump being the next President of the United States, indeed the poll found that 45% believe that “Australia should distance itself from the United States if it elects a president like Donald Trump”. While 51% say Australia should remain close to the United States regardless of who is elected US President.

Other issues that make headlines, such as refugees and asylum-seekers, immigration, climate change and China’s importance in the world are of significantly lower priority for today’s Australians.

The poll found more evidence that views of the US and China are shifting. When asked two years ago which relationship was more important, 48% said the US and 37% said China. This year each country gets 43% of the vote.

The institute’s executive director Michael Fullilove pointed out that the US was the only country towards which feelings cooled significantly this year, with warmth dropping five points to 68%. However, Australians remain confused about China. “It appears most Australians see much to admire about China but are genuinely alarmed at its increasing military assertiveness,” said Fullilove.

When it comes to immigration the Government’s tough stance on turning back boats full of asylum seekers continues to attract strong support. Nearly two out of three voters believed stopping the boats meant Australia could take more refugees through the United Nations.

The poll also found that support this policy did not mean that Australian’s are against immigration and indeed the majority see it as good for the economy. Some 73% agreed that overall, immigration has a positive impact on the economy of Australia and 72% that accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger.

When asked about the potential negative impacts of immigration, only a minority, 40%, agreed that overall, there is too much immigration to Australia and the same number felt that immigrants are a burden on the social welfare system. Just 35% agreed that immigrants take away jobs from other Australians.

Optimism about the Australian economy has lifted this year after the sharp decline recorded in last year’s poll, when public optimism about the performance of the Australian economy in the world dropped to its lowest level since the first poll in 2005.

In 2016, some 70% of Australians are either “very optimistic” or “optimistic” about Australia’s economic performance in the world over the next five years, a seven point increase on last year’s result, which represented the single largest fall in optimism in the firm’s polling history.

However, the overall level of optimism this year is still 16 points lower than its peak at the height of the financial crisis during 2009/2010 when 86% of Australians were optimistic about the future of Australia’s economy.

Despite this year’s lift in optimism overall, the proportion of Australians who are very optimistic about the economy remains at 9%, unchanged since last year.

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