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While Bill Clinton might have reminded people ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ in his 1992 presidential campaign, Australians believe that the environment is the most important issue facing Australia now and in five years time, according to the results of the inaugural ANU Poll.
The poll also found that one in three adults believe that the environment is the most important issue that should be discussed at the Australia 2020 Summit this weekend.
“When asked in an open-ended question what are the most important problems facing Australia, 19 percent of the survey respondents mentioned the environment, including global warming and sustainability. The environment also tops the list when people are asked the most important issue facing Australia in 5 years’ time” said Associate Professor Andrew Leigh, an author of ANU Poll.
“Other issues that are rated as important are the economy, health care, and water management.
“It is clear from these results that the environment has very quickly become a hot issue. As recently as 2004, only 6 percent rated the environment as the most important issue facing the country.
“What is really interesting is that Australians seem to have much greater concern for the environment than the US public, who in a recent poll identified the economy and jobs and the war in Iraq as the biggest problems facing their country. For Americans, the environment did not make the top 5 issues.
Associate Professor Leigh said that despite identifying the environment as the biggest problem facing Australia, the public favoured increased spending on health and education ahead of the environment, with defence, culture and the arts and unemployment benefits as the most unpopular areas of government spending.
“By international standards, Australians are much more positively disposed to high levels of government expenditure, particularly on health, education, the environment and police.
“This may indicate a greater level of trust in government amongst Australians relative to other nations. The public views the government as most effective in handling security and unemployment, and least effective in health care and housing affordability.”
ANU Poll also tested Australian attitudes to institutions and the political mood of the country. A full analysis of the results is attached. Further information on ANU poll is available at www.anu.edu.au/anupoll