In February 2024, cost of living remains the dominant issue Australians want the Federal Government to focus on.

Unprompted, a majority (58%) of adults continue to name cost of living in their top three most important issues or concerns, and eight in ten (80%) select cost of living in their top five from a prompted list.

Despite interest rates remaining on hold over the summer, even those who consider themselves ‘on a reasonable wage’ express concern about meeting increased costs for essentials like food, fuel, utilities and housing.

In contrast, more adults are concerned about immigration and border security than four months ago (13% unprompted and 21% prompted mentions, up from 8% and 16%, respectively). Some Australians raise concerns about immigration putting further pressure on housing stock and infrastructure. Others mention concerns about illegal immigration and about crime. This may reflect recent media coverage around crimes committed by former indefinite immigration detainees.

Rated performance of the Australian Government remains below ‘average’ (i.e. below 50), falling three points since October (index score of 45, down from 48). This is the level recorded by the Morrison Government during the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires.

Government performance ratings have also declined across most individual issues, including for some of its stronger areas – defence and security of our nation and terrorism, radicalisation and violent extremism (index scores of 53 and 52, respectively, down two points each), and the COVID-19 pandemic and foreign affairs and trade (index scores of 53 and 51, respectively, down one point each).

The Government also continues to rate well below ‘average’ on the top issues Australians want them to address – cost of living and housing and interest rates (index scores of 25 and 28, respectively, down two points each), and hospitals, healthcare and ageing (index score of 39, down one point).

Notably, performance on cost of living and population growth has declined every quarter over the past year.

There has been a small new year’s boost to how Australians see their own personal situation, after a sharp decline from last June to October – 35% of adults now feel they are heading in the right direction (up from 31%), however 23% still see themselves heading in the wrong direction (unchanged from October and higher than 19% in June).

True Issues is a research tool to assist Australian businesses to understand where their issues truly sit within the contemporary issues landscape. This poll was conducted as an online survey between 8 – 11 February among a representative national sample of 1,000 Australians aged 18+ years. This is an excerpt from our latest True Issues report, to read the full report, click the link below.

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