SEC Newgate Mood of the Nation - June 2023

“Australia now heading in the wrong direction”, as national mood grows darker over worsening cost of living pressures.

For the first time in SEC Newgate’s Mood of the Nation series, there is a clear majority of Australians – 61% – who believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, a 10% rise since April, reflecting an overall deterioration in the national mood.

Results from our national survey of 2,207 Australians conducted from Jun 23-28, reveals the biggest shifts in national sentiment were in Victoria, where 58% believe the State is heading in the wrong direction, a rise of 14%, and in NSW, a 12% rise also to 58%. Qld suffered the worst result where 63% are negative about the State’s direction while optimism continues to shine in WA, where 63% believe the State is moving in the right direction, and 52% in SA feel the same.

Almost half of Australians now say they are experiencing financial difficulties

46% (up 7% since last survey) of Australians now say they are having some difficulty making ends meet or are having a lot of difficulty paying bills and covering basic expenses. Those most likely to be experiencing financial difficulty include women (49%), 35 to 49yos (50%), renters (60%), casual workers (58%), unemployed people (76%) and students (63%).

Groceries, electricity and petrol prices the top 3 rising cost-of-living concerns

Groceries (up 8% to 90% who are concerned), electricity bills (up 11% to 84%), and petrol prices (up 8% to 75%) continue to be at the top of people’s cost of living concerns. However, insurance premiums (up 9% to 70%) and gas bills (up 11% to 60%) are also of concern while, on housing, 88% of mortgage holders and 87% of renters are concerned about these costs (up 7% and 6%).

Governments taking the blame for cost-of-living pressures

Perceived performance of governments across the nation has fallen sharply since April, only 39% (a fall of 7%) think the Federal Government’s performance is good or better, with the biggest fall in Victoria (down 11% to 43%). Qld again had the poorest rating (38%) and while the WA Government continued to enjoy high ratings (62%), it too has slipped from previous highs running into the 70s. These ratings appear to indicate that while Federal and State Governments have sought to deflect blame for the cost-of-living crisis onto the RBA’s management of interest rates or energy shocks from the Ukraine War, ultimately the Australian public hold government to account on these issues, and they expect direct action.

Under pressure, public priorities are changing

Now that the pandemic has passed, unprompted concern about healthcare has fallen to 14% (from a high of 20%) and people’s unprompted mentions of climate change has also halved, down from a high of 20% to 9%, likely reflecting growing household financial pressure, a degree of issue fatigue and possibly that governments are now taking action. Concern with cost of living (69%), housing affordability (32%) and interest rates (23%) are the highest concerns, and we are also seeing a slight uptick in concern with crime (12%).

Support for The Voice continues to fall sharply

Only 43% of Australians support of the voice, with 34% against and 23% undecided. Support is strongest with women (49%) with only 38% support amongst men. Support for The Voice is a generational issue, 51% of 18 to 34yos support it (only 18% opposed), as do 35 to 49yos (48% support/27% oppose), however in the  50 plus age group opposition grows (47% oppose/36% support). Support is weakest in WA (34%) and Qld (38%) and highest in Victoria (50%), Support for The Voice also divides along party lines (60% Labor/22% Coalition).

Australians still support the energy transition

61% of Australians continue to support the energy transition to renewables, although that has slipped from a high of 70% recorded last August. There is support across all age and voting groups, with Coalition voters least supportive (48% support /30% oppose). Around half of Australians (51%) think the energy transition is moving too slowly and less than 1 in 5 Australians (16%) think it is moving too fast. Support is still firm for the Federal Government’s targets of a 43% cut in emissions by 2030 (62% support) and net zero by 2050 (58%).

Most support rental controls and new housing supply but are wary of State Governments bypassing local government planning controls

Around two-thirds (64%) support calls by the Greens and others to cap annual rental increases to 2% or to freeze all rental increases over the next 2 years (60% support). There is high support for releasing additional land in outer suburbs (68%), building new townhouses and medium density projects in mid and outer suburbs (65%), and building new apartments near train stations and other transport hubs (65%). However only 37% support allowing State Governments to bypass local government planning controls and be the decision makers on significant new housing developments.


Contact us for more information about the full Mood of the Nation research report.

David Stolper, Partner, SEC Newgate Research – [email protected]

Sue Vercoe, Managing Director, SEC Newgate Research – [email protected]



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