Confidence in democracy hits record low as Australians ‘disaffected with political class’
Public trust, confidence and satisfaction with Australian democracy have dropped to record lows as voters become disenfranchised by major political parties, a national report has found.
- ANU study is billed as wake-up call for politicians and Government
- Trust in politicians drops to the lowest level since 1969
- Report reveals strong support for Indigenous recognition, same-sex marriage
The Australian National University’s (ANU) election study, released today by Professor Ian McAllister, has been billed as a wake-up call for politicians and the Government.
“What we are seeing in Australia are the beginnings of a popular disaffection with the political class that has emerged so dramatically in Britain, United States and Italy,” Professor McAllister said.
The ANU study interviewed more than 2,800 people in the three months after the July election and found only 30 per cent of voters took a detailed interest in the federal election campaign.
Trust in politicians has dropped to the lowest level since it was first measured in 1969, with only 26 per cent of respondents expressing confidence in the Government.
Close to half of the respondents were not satisfied with the state of democracy in Australia, which is the lowest level recorded since the 1970s.
A record high 19 per cent of respondents did not feel any allegiance to a political party or identify as a Labor, Liberal or Greens voter, amid a record number of crossbench Senators being voted in.
ANU researcher Sarah Cameron said partisanship had declined gradually over time to record lows for Labor and the Liberals — at 30 and 33 per cent respectively.
“The 2016 election continued the trend of elections being won despite low levels of leader popularity,” she said.
“Kevin Rudd’s 2007 election was the last time a newly-elected prime minister enjoyed a high level of popularity amongst Australians.”
The study found Opposition Leader Bill Shorten had the highest negative evaluation during the campaign — higher than any other major party leader since 1993.
Strong support for same-sex marriage, Indigenous recognition
The ANU report also revealed strong support for Indigenous recognition in the constitution and same-sex marriage.
Almost three-quarters of voters voiced strong support for medically-assisted euthanasia and 69 per cent of respondents supported a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.
“Australians’ support for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians and for marriage equality suggests that any public votes on these issues will succeed,” ANU researcher Dr Jill Sheppard said.
“This should provide some relief to the Government amid the torrent of bad news in these results.”
The report found strong support for Australia’s border protection policies, with 56 per cent of respondents supporting offshore processing, although 40 per cent supported resettlement in Australia.
Support for decriminalising marijuana has increased to 43 per cent compared to 29 per cent during the 2007 election campaign.
Slightly more than 60 per cent on voters believe climate change now poses a serious threat compared to 55 per cent in 2010.
Support for a war on terrorism increased from 44 per cent in 2013 to 52 per cent during this year’s election campaign.
The number of Australians who believe China poses a security threat to Australia has doubled since the 2004 election campaign.