What worries Australians most ahead of the federal election?

Failure to respond to Australians’ concerns may have put the government on the firing line in this election.

Australians told a new study that a lack of government leadership and vision for the future worried them more than financial and environmental issues.

What worries Australians most ahead of the federal election?

The survey commissioned by Real Insurance is the second in a series called the Real Concern Index, which aims to find out what Australians are most concerned about as they head to federal elections.

Compared to 2019, when finances and the rising cost of living were the number one concern on the minds of Aussies, the study found that the government itself had now been caught in the crosshairs for not acting or presenting a clear vision.

More than 5,000 participants were asked to rate their concern out of 100 issues, with questions posed in early March before the election was called.

Government issues ranked highest, with an average score of 64.5 out of 100, followed by climate change, which scored 64, and finances, 62.7 on the scale.

Only one in ten Australians felt that state and federal governments had a clear vision of Australia’s future and realistic plans to make it happen.

Camera IconAussies said the government lacked a clear vision and failed to act on the issues that mattered to them. NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

Concerns about the government were closely related to inaction on the cost of living.

One respondent, Tom from Geelong, said the government seemed more concerned with providing talking points than functional changes to ease the pressure on families.

“Our concerns were about childcare and the total cost of that to people and the lack of government leadership in that situation,” Tom said.

He said he was lucky enough to pay for four days of childcare a week — with help from government grants — but knew people who had to choose between sending their children to daycare or staying home.

“It’s such a high cost to the total household budget,” Tom said.

Labor has said it would increase the childcare subsidy rate to 90 percent for families earning less than $530,000. In contrast, most families qualify for a subsidy between 50 and 85 percent under the current system.

“Even if you look at Labor policies, they’re still leaving two days in two weeks with their 100 subsidized hours, and the coalition isn’t even talking about it,” Tom said.

“If they took it seriously, they would see free childcare as a way to take the pressure off working families.”

Camera Icon’s cost of living and the portion of income that goes toward major expenses, such as childcare and housing, were also highly rated. NCA NewsWire/ Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

A lack of effective leadership within political parties was one of the things Australians were most concerned about, while Victorians and Queenslanders reported the greatest concern.

Most Aussies were also concerned about the ‘caliber’ of Australian political leaders and the lack of clear government policies – although fewer policies had been released by March when the survey was held.

Inconsistent state and federal government policies during the pandemic ranked highly, as did lingering government integrity issues and scandals, insecure and flip-flops of government policies, and changes in Covid-19 laws that varied between states.

Another survey respondent, Tim from Perth, said the rising cost of living made it more difficult for him and his family to rent.

“, It’s been a little crazy for a lot of people over the past few years, but especially lately with the fuel price hikes, inflation, and even rents seem to be coming under pressure,” he said.

“It just seems hard to save money or make any progress.”

Like many Australians, Tim admits he isn’t well informed about every policy being offered this election but says he hasn’t heard anything to help him buy a house.

“I’ve looked at the policies available to first-time homebuyers several times in the past,” Tim said.

“Every time I looked at it, I always thought, okay, but it just doesn’t go far enough. This is not going to convince me to buy a house here.”

Camera IconHouse prices leave some with a sense of hopelessness. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire/ Gaye Gerard

The survey found that, in general, younger people expressed more concern, which was no surprise to a financial advisor and co-founder of Fox and Hare, Glen Hare.

“Younger Aussies don’t follow a linear life path like their parents and grandparents. They crave freedom and flexibility but have not yet found the balance between living today and preparing for tomorrow,” he said.

“A situation that reinforces hopelessness as house prices continue to skyrocket for many young Aussies in particular.”

He said that while the situation was “exacerbated by the lack of wage growth”, it was also important for Australians to think about how they spend and save their money.

Mr. Hare primarily works with younger clients ages 25 to 45, many of whom have not seen significant inflationary pressures for most of their working lives.

Much express concern about the proportion of their income spent on housing through rent or mortgages and the rising cost of fuel and food.

One of the problems he said was that most people had a very limited understanding of the economic levers available to the government that influenced them because financial literacy in Australia was relatively low.

Mr. Hare said one of the things the government could do to help everyday Australians is to improve financial literacy through schools.

“I’d like to see some of this stuff in schools. Really simple things like what is a stock, what is pension and how does it work, how does the tax rate work, what is inflation, what is interest,” he said.

“Because the reality is that these different macroeconomic factors affect absolutely everyone.”

Camera Icon Financial advisor Glen Hare said the government could help Australians by providing school financial literacy classes. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA Newswire/ Gaye Gerard

Improving financial literacy would also allow more Australians to take control of their finances in a way that could offset outside forces.

Mr. Hare’s message to those who want to save was that they should do more than just put their money in a bank account, especially now that interest rates are low and the cost of living is rising.

“The rise in the cost of living makes the process of saving and investing infinitely more difficult, as it limits the amount Australians can set aside for their future and, of course, heightens their concerns about their long-term financial well-being,” he said.

To ensure returns on savings keep pace with the cost of living, Mr. Hare said Aussies should look to stocks, indexes, or other types of funds or real estate to better save for the future.

“Many Australians struggle with day-to-day financial literacy and don’t put their money in a bank account for fear of making the wrong decision – choosing the wrong stock or fund. The default is to do nothing,” Mr. Hare said.

“Getting your financial world back on track is easy to put on the back burner, but the reality is that doing nothing is costing them more than they realize.”

Lori J. Kile
I love to write and create. I love photography, design, travel and art. I am a full time freelance writer and photographer.I am very excited to be creating new content and opportunities for my readers.