Australians’ message to government: focus on sick, elderly and borders

Australians’ believe the role of government is to provide healthcare, aged care and strong borders and should be less involved in providing jobs, housing and a decent standard of living, according to the latest ANUPoll.

The 26th ANUPoll completed by The Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods shows almost all Australians think government should provide health care for the sick, should control who enters Australia’s borders and provide a decent standard of living for the elderly. In contrast, only about 70 per cent of Australians think governments should provide a job for everyone who wants one and provide a decent standard of living for the unemployed.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Nick Biddle said the extent to which governments should innovate and intervene or play only a minimal role in citizens’ lives is at the heart of our national politics.

“Sometimes, as a nation we agree on the aim of the public policy – educating children or providing public health. Other times, Australian disagree fundamentally about whether government should or should not be involved in a policy area at all,” Associate Professor Biddle said.

“This ANUPoll shows the lowest level of support for public policy areas for the government to play a role in are issues commonly considered social policy. Even still, more than three quarters of the population think government has a role in these areas.”

When it comes to who should pay for public policies, there is a bit more consensus. More than 90 per cent of Australians think government should provide and pay for:

  • Health care for the sick
  • Primary education
  • Secondary education
  • Prison and juvenile justice facilities
  • Roads
  • Train, light rail or bus services

Nearly 90 per cent of people think the government should also pay for dental services.

Less than half of all Australians believe governments should provide and pay for media services such as TV, radio and newspapers.

The 26th ANUPoll involved more than 2,000 people interviewed in August 2018. The full poll results are available on the ANU website.


Associate Professor Nick Biddle
ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods
T: 0466 841 595

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