Critical services

CEDA national poll: Australians don’t feel they have benefited from record economic growth

A major national poll has shown that the majority of Australians do not feel they have personally gained or don’t know if they have gained from Australia’s record run of economic growth.

Instead, Australians were more likely to report that large companies, senior executives and foreign shareholders have gained the most.

Releasing CEDA’s latest report Community pulse 2018: the economic disconnect, CEDA Chief Executive, Melinda Cilento said the report, based on a nation-wide poll of almost 3000, showed that government delivery of critical services and support in health, aged care and law and order are top priorities for Australians. 

“The expectation that government should provide the services fundamental to the quality of life in Australia remains strong,” she said.

“Over recent decades there has been a narrative that growth equals prosperity but the results suggest that many Australians do not feel like they are getting ahead.

“Only five per cent of Australians reported having personally gained a lot from our record run of growth, while 74 per cent felt larger corporations and senior executives have gained a lot.

“A decade of stagnant incomes and cost of living pressures in areas like health and electricity are contributing to this feeling but waning trust in business and politics are also likely factors.

“Economic development and reform are important for improving Australians’ quality of life, but if the community feel removed from the benefits or have lost trust that the benefits from growth will be broadly shared, then gaining traction on economic reform becomes more difficult.

“The poll results support this. Key issues around supporting business competitiveness, from reducing the company tax rate and red tape to supporting new industry ranked as least important for poll respondents. 

“Australia’s competitiveness is fundamental to future economic opportunities. There is more work to do if Australians are to feel that their aspirations and expectations are genuinely connected to the actions and activities of business. 

“Supporting a stronger, more productive economy through economic reforms and improving the way that government deliver services must go hand in hand. This will be the surest way to meet community expectations in the future.”

The poll also showed that people over 50 and those outside of capital cities were more likely to feel they had not gained at all from economic growth; the majority of Australians do not think the gap between the richest and poorest in Australia is acceptable; and more than 30 per cent are finding it difficult or very difficult to live on their current incomes.

Ms Cilento said in addition to exploring who Australians feel has benefited most from our record run of economic growth, the poll also examines their attitudes to work and national and personal policy priorities.

“The poll shows that Australians generally have reasonable levels of job satisfaction, although it is lower for those Australians in the most insecure forms of work,” she said.

“Almost one-third of respondents would like to work more hours to earn more.

“This poll also shows that Australians are optimistic about new technology in the workplace, with 71 per cent welcoming it and only 12 per cent concerned that it would replace them.

“The top five most important issues to people were reliable, low cost basic health services; reliable, low cost essential services; access to stable and affordable housing; affordable, high quality chronic disease services; and reduced violence in homes and communities.

“The most important issues nationally were high quality and accessible public hospitals; strong regulation to limit foreign ownership of Australian land/assets; increased pension payments; high quality and choice of aged care services; and high quality and accessible public schools.

“The least important national issues were a strong private school system; lower company tax; increased humanitarian intake of refugees; less business regulation; and less restrictions on using our natural resources.
“The issues of least importance personally were access to exercise and recreation facilities; ability to move between jobs/sectors with ease; increased competition from new entrants in key consumer sectors; strong regulation of new technologies to protect people and reduced commuting times.”

Who has gained from 26 years of economic growth? Key results from CEDA’s poll include:

  • Five per cent of people believe they have personally gain a lot
  • 44 per cent of people did not feel like they had gained at all
  • 11 per cent didn’t know if they had gained
  • Those outside capital cities were less likely to feel they had gained 
  • People over 50 were more likely to feel they had not gained at all
  • 31 per cent of people are finding it difficult to live on their current income
  • 74 per cent of people believe large corporations have gained a lot
  • 79 per cent of people believe the gap between the richest and poorest Australians is unacceptable. 
The report can be downloaded here.

Report launch

CEDA’s report is being officially launched today at CEDA’s two-day State of the Nation conference in Canberra. The conference includes more than 30 speakers and is being live streamed. Speakers include: Treasurer, the Hon. Scott Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Michael McCormack, COTA Chair and ANZ Banking Group Non-Executive Director, Jane Halton AO PSM; CSIRO Chair David Thodey AO and Infrastructure Australia CEO Philip Davies. 

The launch will be followed by a series of events in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Sydney in July and August where additional state-specific data will be released. 

About CEDA

CEDA – the Committee for Economic Development of Australia – is an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation.

We identify policy issues that matter for Australia’s future. We work to drive policies that deliver better economic, social and environmental outcomes for Australia. We deliver on our purpose by: Leveraging insights from our members to identify and understand the most important issues Australia faces. Facilitating collaboration and idea sharing to invoke imaginative, innovative and progressive policy solutions. Providing a platform to stimulate thinking, raise new ideas and debate critical and challenging issues. Influencing decision makers in government, business and the community by delivering objective information and expert analysis and advocating in support of our positions. CEDA's membership spans every state and territory and includes Australia's leading businesses, community organisations, government departments and academic institutions. The organisation was founded in 1960 by leading economist Sir Douglas Copland, and his legacy of applying economic analysis to practical problems to aid the development of Australia continues as we celebrate 60 years of influence, reform and impact across the nation.;