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2022 election survey results: disillusion and disappointment

Reader comment: "At no point in the last 9 years have I seen a politician from either major party provide a meaningful - or indeed even coherent - discussion of an actual policy. The decade before that occasionally showed bursts of actual policy-making, but most were quickly abandoned as soon as they proved controversial. Without a willingness to endure appropriate risk for a good governance outcome, there cannot be high quality government. Without high quality government, there cannot be a high quality political debate, because all sides are arguing over trivia, rather than substance."

We received thousands of comments in our Election 2022 Reader Survey, and with a few exceptions, they are reproduced here. If there is a common theme, it is frustration with the quality of debate and policies from all sides of politics. It seems a forlorn hope that Australian politicians will deliver substance to engaged voters who can then make an informed decision.

With almost 1,000 responses, it's a great sample of our readers, thanks for participating. While the overall results are illuminating, it is in the comments where the intensity of emotions and frustrations come out.

Dire quality of political debate

We'll return to question 1 at the end. Let's start with how you feel about our democratic process at work. Yes, we should all be grateful to live in a society where we pick our leaders, but when parts of the media can influence the outcome, and much of the debate is shallow and misleading, you are clearly disappointed and disillusioned.

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is terrible, two-thirds of our readers rate the quality of political debate at 3 or less, and few believe it is better than the mid point of 5. 

Q2. How do you feel about the quality of political debate? (on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is terrible and 10 is excellent)

It's a sign of a disillusioned electorate. Why do people bother to enter politics if it is not to make some meaningful change, rather than descending into the spin and trivia that most people dislike?

Q3. Which aspect of campaigning and elections do you most dislike? (Choose up to two)

The highest score at 46% was 'Lies and deceit' followed by 'Scare tactics about policies of other parties' at 39%. 'Media bias' and 'Too much focus on gaffes' also polled strongly at one-third of responses each. Only 1% accepted nothing is wrong and "It’s all the ‘cut and thrust’ of a democracy".

With such a focus on lies and deceit, it's no surprise that there was strong support for a Federal Integrity Commission with 70% saying 'yes'.

Q4. Do we need a Federal Integrity Commission?

Now we come to the all-important voting intentions. We know from previous surveys that our readership is generally older (75% over the age of 55) and wealthier than the general population, which would suggest conservative and Coalition tendencies. And indeed, 37% intend to vote for the current Government and only 17% for Labor.

We have no data on our readers from previous elections but it's likely that the vote for independents at 16% is far higher than usual. It's a guess but our readers are probably over-represented in the so-called 'teal' seats of high-profile independents taking on Trent Zimmerman, Josh Frydenberg and Dave Sharma, plus support for sitting member Zali Steggal. On the Greens at 7%, Adam Bandt's 'Google it, mate' reply to an attempted 'gotcha' question no doubt won him plenty of friends.

Q5. How do you intend to vote in the Lower House?

The public polls strongly favour Labor, but our survey with 12% undecided suggests preferences will determine the outcome. Even with our more conservative readers, the combination of Labor+Independents+Greens is higher than for the Coalition.

So who do you think will win? This diverges strongly from voting intentions.

Q6. Who do you think will form Government?

Matching the support in Q5 for minor parties, there is stronger expectation for Labor in a minority (46%) than majority (18%) but that's a combined 64% expecting Labor versus 36% for the Coalition.

And returning to Q1, these are the issues you would like to address. A clear winner at 42% is 'Climate change and the environment', followed by 'Defence', 'Government spending and budgets' and 'Establish a Federal Integrity Commission'.

Q1. What should be the most important issues in the election? (Choose up to three) 

A complete set of comments is attached here, with these few examples.

"Most of the issues above are important to our future. However I don't see any party capable of dealing with them effectively other than sound bites and royal commission that then goes nowhere. We are no longer a united nation but groups of special interests, be they political, states, gender, green or conservative and religious to mention a few."

"The bias in reporting across mainstream media, and even the ABC, favouring the LNP, is beyond incredible and frankly disturbing. Murdoch media is making no attempt to even appear balanced, much less actually report facts."

"I am sick of the negativity and criticism of other political parties/individuals. Tell us your policies and how you will pay for them."

"The quality is not helped by journalists constantly asking politicians to "guarantee" they will never do "x" or "y", which takes nuance out of debate and boils everything down to talking points with no boldness in policy development."

"Politicians are able to throw taxpayer funds around for political purposes with no restraint and wealthy individuals & corporations are far too easily able to manipulate government decisions in exchange for party donations." 

"I suspect that the rorts, misappropriations and unacceptable practices and conduct that make the headlines are the tip of the iceberg.  The absence of integrity in government encourages the same lack of integrity in business and the community."

"As a Project Manager in the construction industry & 90% of our work is for Government, I see way too much waste of tax payers money. This is by very poor scope of works, budgets and blow outs."

"Both parties really disappoint me. The Liberal Party had plenty of time to do good things but often dropped the ball or bungled the management.  Both have been asleep at the wheel on China. The Liberals over did Job Keeper with so much money and no oversight for businesses that did not need it.  Both parties fail to prosecute a pragmatic climate change plan that moves the country forward without destroying the country doing it." 

Footnote. We have done some minor editing but overwhelmingly, we have allowed our readers to offer their frank opinions, even the unkind comments about some politicians. Overall, readers have contributed constructively but there is clear frustration and we did not want to sanitise these views. Thanks again for participating.

 

50 Comments
Aro
May 09, 2022

I am very happy that the average reader is opposed to doing something about climate change. I would like climate change to occur faster so I can find out which predictions are correct.

Greg W
May 09, 2022

I'm encouraged by the comments of Brian (May 08) and some others here, if not by the survey results, so maybe there's hope for the place yet!

Fwiw don't have a great tipping record (in this or other) but struggle to see how Labor can pick up enough seats to govern in its own right, especially as it could easily lose a few in NSW, and of course in the event of a Labor minority govt the parliament and other institutions would be subject to another unholy trashing by conservative forces inside and out of parliament, as would those Independents from otherwise conservative electorates (remember what happened to Windsor and Oakshott). So am inclined to think we will end up with the Coalition back in a minority arrangement, which could be very interesting indeed given a Federal ICAC is highly likely to be the price! Would be even more delicious if a coalition of Independents insisted say, that because the LNP are such sneaky bastards, the role of PM (not mentioned in the constitution) should be occupied by an Independent on a yearly rotating basis… (I'm assuming that the rump of LNP ministerial aspirants, coveting the trappings of office and having just survived an almighty scare in their own seats, would not be in a hurry to seek another poll).

JUNE
May 09, 2022

HOW ABOUT BANNING PLASTICS?

Andrew Smith
May 08, 2022

Interesting from the responses one sees complaints about Australia's narrow and shallow media landscape, which also impacts politics significantly, are we being informed well, or not?

We have a hollowed out media oligopoly dominated by 9F, 7WM and NewsCorp with ABC, C10 & SBS following; when not disappearing policies and/or Labor it's promoting divisive dog whistling of nativist agitprop and promoting imported US libertarian policy themes.

Fact is that we have an increasingly ageing electorate which is platformed, groomed and used by the same media, to apply pressure for libertarian socioeconomic policies, or 'freedom & liberty'.

The issue as a society is that the outlook, profile and interests of above median age voters is very different from their own children and grandchildren who have to 'carry the can' later.

Ramani
May 08, 2022

A much-needed context: Asymmetry rules in the public's perception of politicians as elsewhere. Many qualified and deserving citizens avoid the public life for the very reasons they criticise politicians, forgetting they are also human like us. Ambitious, self-interested, hoping we won't be caught, peddling influence, often living multiple lives, we somehow expect pollies to be perfect. No way. In work those who chuck sickies, purloin work property, while away the paid time in personal pursuits and think they are par for the course demand exemplary conduct (and thinking) at the top. Dreaming as Darryl Kerrigan would say in 'the Castle'. How the cabal of past polluters, colonisers and ruthless slave-masters has now converted themselves into the church espousing environmental purity, sovereignity of people in their lands and equitable treatment, after having enjoyed the fruits of their past excesses and still retaining them, logically explains why asking the poor and oppressed for better behaviour is heinously hypocritical. If Noah Yuval Harari can sapiently bring forward his expose of asymmetric human expectations of the powerful we can understand this better, while still being degraded by it.

Brian
May 08, 2022

As you point out the majority of people who responded to the poll and it just realises that we are all once again likely to vote through our hip pockets.
We should recognise that a lot of the policies being promoted by the LNP are targeted at this group even though we are generally doing OK, but I have adult kids who are being stretched economically and grandkids who will ultimately have to deal with the consequenses of this short sighted and selfish approach.
It is clear that most Australians have little or no respect for the current PM but still many in our group suggest they will support him?, surely this is an indictment on us, have we stooped so low that integrity holds no value to us?

Marcus wigan
May 08, 2022

A very interesting survey of a well defined segment. I share the distress at the total ethical absence if the Coalition over a decade. The top of my list is Loss of trust in our system of government. It underpins all successful policies in future. As a result I have done a deep dive into the current and shadow cabinets. I found many more individuals clearly capable of informed and constructive action in the shadows, and far greater depth. So I tend to support a minority alp government as an outcome(Gillards was remarkably effective on both policy and legislative outputs with enduring outcomes )…but my final(?) conclusion is that to address our structural policy issues I’d pick one key analysis: the role of expertise and experts in public service and policy. If we don’t understand and leverage this we will be crippled in correcting the serial structural failures of this century

Steve
May 07, 2022

Great article. My opinion the truth has been lost over the years...as we allow pollies to not tell the truth when advertising etc. All parties in the media should be subject to telling the truth, otherwise gaol...we need bi-partisan legislation for this. Then pollies may have real discussions/debates about what matters, and have some public faith in them restored. A federal ICAC is mandatory to keep all federal pollies straight as possible.

Bob
May 06, 2022

For a country that supposedly has little influence on the world it seems to me the both the PM and Energy Minister are doing a great job of leading those trying to wreck efforts to try to drive down climate changing emissions. What impact could Australia have if we turned our efforts to promoting the plans to curb climate change and embracing the advantages we have to transition rapidly and assist others transition. Pat is correct and surely many of the comments reflect the age distribution of the respondents and the fact that most will be permanently at rest before the full catastrophe unfolds. This sad observation is also tinged with a suspicion that many of those commenting disbelieve the science or even more disturbingly don't want to know or don't care.

Steve T
May 05, 2022

Well done on running the survey. Thanks.
I find the strong outcome for Lab minority surprising, given the higher preference for LNP votes. Ie the Lib voters sense a loss. I sense the Coalition can out-campaign the opposition.
I am in a Teal electorate (with over 900 volunteers) where incumbency probably outweighs the anger of the motivated volunteers.
I'm not one for miracles striking twice in the same place.

Peter
May 06, 2022

What is a Teal electorate?

Jill
May 06, 2022

I'd imagine a Teal electorate is an electorate where one of the Teal "group independents" (yes, an oxymoron) sponsored by Climate 200 is running. If there's no-one from that group running, I guess by the same token you could say it's a non-Teal electorate.

Mark
May 05, 2022

I also feel that Keith makes very good points. Climate change concerns are in the mix but our response should not and cannot be at the expense of our national prosperity. Those climate warriors will be just as upset as the rest of us if premature abandonment of traditional power generation causes blackouts and massive cost increases for energy intensive industries.
And Chris, you are also right in principle, but you have, I believe, a very inflated opinion of Australia's influence on the rest of the world. As someone who has travelled extensively, I can tell you that in a number of places in the Northern Hemisphere, people don't know even a few of the basic facts about this country. We are off the radar in many many ways. So we can well afford to follow the world rather than try to lead it in this area. Oh, I hope you don't travel by air since each long haul flight produces a massive amount of CO2.

Woodsy
May 05, 2022

The results aren’t surprising…..they’d be very different if the average age of those surveyed was under 55yrs

DanM
May 05, 2022

So, climate change is something SOMEONE ELSE should deal with?
Best we let them know!
Surely, if someone else is doing irreversible harm to our children's future WE should put ourselves in harm's way.
Apologies for the interruption to normal broadcasting.

Hunch
May 07, 2022

Yes Dan it is !!!!!
The hoax of the millenium.....

Georgina Cane
May 12, 2022

Dan, ‘we’ (ie Australia) is doing something about climate change with our country accounting for 1.1% of global emissions at this election and 1.3% at the last election. And, this is a better record than just about anywhere else in the world. For goodness sake ‘follow the science’, as they say, it wouldn’t matter what Australia did it would not affect world temperatures one jot! Until China, India and the big emitters reduce their huge contributions. I am so sick of people thinking our actions will actually stop bush fires or floods or ‘save’ the Barrier Reef. Logic not emotion people!

Graeme B
May 05, 2022

Thank goodness that Twiggy Forrest, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Simon Holmes a Court have more intelligence and sense of responsibility in their little fingers than the majority of your affluent readers have in their aggregate bloated Bodies Corporate. Very disappointed but not surprised.

Rossini
May 05, 2022

Why should all these old white blokes with all the dough have more say in what direction Australia takes than the average punter!!!

Ron Bone
May 05, 2022

This poll has little reflection of reality.

Geoff
May 06, 2022

It's probably a very accurate reflection on the reality of people who read First Links and who answered the questions and commented. And I'm sure all at First Links HQ and all the general readership of First Links understand it's not going to be an accurate reflection of the general Australian voting public - that sort of goes without saying really, but just to cover your objection, they did: "With almost 1,000 responses, it's a great sample of our readers, thanks for participating."

At least First Links don't pretend otherwise, unlike the ABC and their Vote Compass, where survey results are regularly passed off (admittedly only on the ABC) as being representative of "Australians" - instead of being representative of the very small subset of people who know Vote Compass exists AND take the time to fill it out.

rick
May 05, 2022

Too much misinformation, acts of lying and Government corruption. Too much top down financial support at the expense of health, aged care, immigration : human dignity. Defense is spoiled top down not bottom up: Integrity lost. The world dies and Aust Govt laughs producing coal : Weak leadership…. we desperately need cathartic change, cleaning out of old, stale, fixed and corrupted establishment. Clean clear dedicated vocational leadership. Maybe invite Ukraines President or NZs PM to advise us.

Rod in Oz
May 05, 2022

Well said Rick; agree wholeheartedly!

Rossini
May 05, 2022

Who or what is going to pay for all these expenses you are wanting support for? Mining and that includes coal.

Trevor
May 06, 2022

Rick, Where do you get your information from that you can make strong pronouncements? Frankly , I think you are wrong on almost everything! For example: "The world dies .."...No... it has never been better, safer, more productive and more conducive to human existence than it is right now. Also, Australia is one of the least corrupt countries in the world, and there aren't very many of them either! All the problems you raise [ "health, aged care, immigration : human dignity. Defense." Education , Infrastructure etc] are under consideration when the money is available. To get balance you need to listen to the views of those you disagree with. Mark "on the mark" when he says "I can tell you that in a number of places in the Northern Hemisphere, people don't know even a few of the basic facts about this country. We are off the radar in many many ways." We are doing OK.

John
May 05, 2022

Very sad and concerning but informative all the same, to confirm what most of us thought. : )

Roy
May 05, 2022

Really disappointed that such a small % are concerned about wages going backwards 11%, and believe none of the following are of such low important
Domestic Violence
First Nation Rights
Disability Services
Perhaps reflects the demographic of Firstlinks readers?

Denise
May 05, 2022

I also voted for wages growth, Roy. Even someone without an economics degree can work out that if people can barely afford the necessities, then the rest of the economy will not get their dollars. We all need to be prosperous for the economy to flourish

Keith Brodie
May 05, 2022

I'm staggered that climate change is at the top of the list. If Australia was wiped from the planet, climate would not be effected in any way. This country's total annual carbon emission is a fraction of China's annual increase. The countries responsible for climate change are all in the northern hemisphere and we all know who they are. I think any government's focus should be on building a healthy economy and a healthy population and look after those less well off than most of us.

Dudley
May 05, 2022

If all the world were like Australia there would be no discernible man made carbon dioxide caused climate effects for hundreds of years.

https://i.redd.it/wmqc7wqjyov11.jpg

Australia is a climate taker - not maker.

'Climate makers':
1. China.
2. India.
3. Europe.
4. USA.

Ann
May 05, 2022

Wholeheartedly agree..

Jill
May 05, 2022

"I'm staggered that climate change is at the top of the list." Keith, I'm always staggered that so few people seem to have any real understanding of climate change beyond the mantra. I guess when no serious debate is allowed, it's easier to go with the "in" crowd.

Bob
May 08, 2022

I'm staggered that so few people have any real understanding at all.
Ever plotted a Pareto Chart Jill ? One where the emitting countries are ranked highest output to lowest output ?
Do you know about the 80/20 rule where 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, and where there are a critical few and an insignificant many ?
Climate Change 101.

Barbie
May 05, 2022

Keith, I totally agree with your comments. We are unable to make any difference no matter how much pain we inflict on our economy. We should be focusing on learning to cope with our changing world and especially looking towards a nuclear power future.

Chris
May 05, 2022

Keith, I am staggered that you don't see it. *Nothing* matters more than climate change; if the world does not deal with it in the next 30 years, the consequences for all nations are staggering beyond belief. Our flooding, bushfires and sea level rise are just the tip of the (rapidly melting) iceberg. I'll be dead by then, and you too perhaps. But not my children and grandchildren.

Every nation has a responsibility to contribute. How can you expect China, or the US, to play its part if we do not?

David
May 05, 2022

Isn't it suspicious that China and Russia, led by autocratic dictators, have postponed their commitments to climate change for a decade or more AFTER the Western democracies? Once we have crippled our economies with higher prices and increased reliance on unstable energy supplies, we will be sitting ducks unable to resist their expansion.

Malcolm
May 09, 2022

What matters most in climate change is the increase in world population. Spend the money Australia spends on renewables providing education and health care to women and children in Africa. That would do more for the environment as well as climate change than anything being done in Australia.

Bakker
May 05, 2022

Well said Keith...We seemed to move Climate Change aside during the Covid response ( where did that virus come from again?) However we now face a even greater "emergency" in China and Russia and seems it took an invasion of Ukraine and a Security Pact by China with S.I. to refocus our eyes off Woke issues and on to the clear and present danger virtually upon us.
By all means lets work hard on Climate Change but just make sure first that we have a democratic world left to save.

Stephen
May 05, 2022

Chris,
I share your concern about the potential impacts for life that a warming planet brings. Climate change is no doubt a threat for the Earth and all of its inhabitants, but so to is nuclear war. The use of the expression "what will our grandchildren inherit" has become trite - that is to be expected because this is an emotive argument and humans are instinctively emotional. What about the potential that a nuclear weapon brings? Same emotive arguments could be put up. Not to mention the immediate impact on the Earth - instant climate change. Either way, the threat is real. In the case of both threats, I as a person and we as a country are not in control of the outcome. I/we are at the mercy of bigger fish in the sea.

John Clayton
May 07, 2022

Agree with you Keith, whilst we must make an effort, not at the expense of destroying our economy. If we shut down everything, it would make little or no difference to the global result, we must continue to push the major polluters to rein in their levels, but also here at home we should dump our archaic objections to nuclear power if we want a realistic alternative to coal and gas

Stephen Creak
May 07, 2022

It’s not about what Australia’s carbon emission levels in absolute terms (about 1%) being regarded as insignificant . There are 14 other small nations who also emit the same 1% each of total worlds carbon emissions, which add up collectively to 15% (ballpark numbers). If we took the same attitude about the other 14 countries i.e who cares we only emit 1% each, we’d be turning our backs on the challenge to reduce the total 15% of world emissions to 0%. My point is it’s the collective effort of nations needed to effect a reduction in carbon emissions , irrespective of whether we produce 1% or China and the USA each produce 20% !

Bob
May 08, 2022

With a bit over 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Australia ranks about 18th on the world scale.
The top 3 emitters account for approx. 45% and the top 10 account for approx. 65%
The bottom 100 account for a total of around 3%
Nothing much will happen until the top 10 ( all in the cold northern hemisphere ) get their A into G.
And if by some miracle, Australia reduced its emissions to zero overnight, it wouldn't make one iota of difference.

Justine
May 08, 2022

Quoting from an ABC article:
At home, Australia emits less than 1.24 per cent of global emissions, but so do most countries. More than 170 countries emit less than Australia each year, and combined, this group of countries emits more than any of the largest emitters — 40 per cent of all emissions come from countries that each emit less than 2 per cent of global emissions. So, even if the major emitters decarbonise, it won’t be enough.

For the full article please refer to the following link.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-06/how-climate-change-has-impacted-your-life/11766018?nw=0&r=HtmlFragment

Bob
May 09, 2022

So, if there are say 200 countries, each of which will have to decarbonise down to 0.5% of global output,
The top 10 big hitters currently account for over 2/3 of global emissions, and if they ( China 30%, US 15%, Europe 10% ........... ) decarbonise, that won't be enough ?
Good luck with that.

James
May 09, 2022

And if all the small emitting countries further reduce their emissions, at great cost to their economies, and the likes of China and Russia don't (they're seriously NOT taking climate change seriously!) it won't be long until they are empowered to rule the world, at our expense and because of our stupidity!

Socialist, totalitarian nirvana here we come! Talk about a bleak, dystopian future!

Bryan Milner
May 09, 2022

Amazes me how Australians are being conned on this climate change issue. Doesn’t anyone think that the cost of these policies should be spelled out before we plunge like lemmings over the green/teal cliff?

Anton
May 05, 2022

Great survey and thank you for the work.
This should be sent to very MP and senator of every Party. To late to do much now but maybe they could bear these comments in mind for those who get into the new parliament. But sadly I am not sure the new lot will be any different to the last lot.
We are not a democracy but a 'politocracy' - Government of the people by politicians for politicians.

Pat Connelan
May 05, 2022

Your survey respondents are clearly confused. The biggest proportion plan to vote for the Coalition, yet the survey also shows climate change is seen as the biggest issue. Have they been asleep for the past decade? The LNP is owned lock stock and barrel by the coal and gas industries!

Josh Drake
May 05, 2022

Pat, my experience is that Coalition voters do, in the main, absolutely believe we have an obligation to make sure our environment is cared for. I see a genuine care for animals and country across our wide brown land. Where they differ is in the scale, timing and nature of the response.

John Chambers
May 10, 2022

In the latest budget the climate/environmental issue is not even mentioned in the Coalition’s five priorities. This tells the community all it needs to know about the current Government’s true commitment to this most important matter.

The notion promoted by other commentators that Australia as a small emitter should refrain from reducing its emissions is misguided. Australia cannot make decisions for others but we can, should, and must do our part regarding very real environmental challenges. In a different context Australia has provided assistance to the Ukraine in its current crisis but that assistance is miniscule compared to that provided by the US, UK and Nato and while such assistance probably makes little difference in the physical scheme of things nevertheless this was not proffered as a reason to withhold assistance.
Perhaps a radical approach to decisions on climate/environmental issues might be to confine decision making on these issues to people under 45 given those over that age ( like me) will be either not be affected or minimally affected by environmental outcomes on and after 2050.

 

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