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February, 2024

Half of Aussies believe society is ‘broken’, Ipsos global survey reveals

A new global survey conducted by Ipsos has revealed half of Australians believe their society is ‘broken’ and the country is in decline.

The study also found 65% of Australians think the economy is rigged towards the nation’s elite, while 48 per cent believe the country is in decline.

The Ipsos survey, which polled respondents across 28 countries, calculated a ‘System Is Broken’ Index based on agreement to five key statements, including whether a country is rigged to advantage the rich, whether people agree or disagree politicians care about “people like me”, if the country needs a strong leader to take it back from the rich and powerful, and if experts in their chosen country understand their lives.

In Australia, 50% of respondents believe political issues should be decided by referendum voting, falling below the global average of 58%. However, Ipsos also found Australians are less likely than the global average to agree that their elected representatives do not have their interests at heart.

One third of Aussies believe the nation would be ‘stronger’ if immigration was halted, which is notably 10 percentage points lower than the global average. Citizens in this country are also less likely than their global partners (59%) to believe that “when jobs are scarce, employers should prioritise hiring people of this country over immigrants” (51%).

More than half (57%) of Australians agree “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me” though it’s worth noting that figure is more positive than the global average (64%), with only Sweden (51%), the Netherlands (44%) and Singapore (43%) less likely to agree with this statement.

And when it comes to public spending, Australia is more likely to support increased taxes to pay for additional public spending (21%, compared to 19% globally).

“The findings from the study provide a fascinating insight into the current state of our thinking about Australian society and the Government. We are not as consumed by the idea of Australia being as ‘broken’ as many other countries, and we’re less likely to agree that our elected representatives do not have our interests at heart,” said Ipsos Australia Director, Jessica Elgood.

“We’re also less concerned than other parts of the world that immigrants are threatening our well-being. Both of these results are reassuring and speak to the health of our political system and economy. But, despite not perceiving our society to be as troubled as other countries, we are equally, or more, enthralled by the need for a strong leader, willing to break the rules, to fix our country.”

Overall, the average agreement with Ipsos’s five questions across surveyed countries stood at 61%. Among countries with major elections in 2024, South Africa showed high levels of agreement to the questions used by Ipsos at 73%, a 15-percentage point increase compared to 2016.

The Ipsos survey also revealed a disparity in opinion when it comes to immigration. While anti-elite sentiment is widespread in the 28 countries surveyed, there is a wider disparity in opinion when it comes to immigration. A majority among the 28 countries polled feel their country needs a strong leader to ‘take the country back from the rich and powerful’.

The survey was conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform in November and December 2023. Ipsos interviewed a total of 20,630 adults aged 18 years and older in various countries including 1000 in Australia.