Australians' faith in government hits record low

The 2019 Australian Election Study showed Aussie voters have become significantly more concerned about the environment.
The 2019 Australian Election Study showed Aussie voters have become significantly more concerned about the environment.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australians have less trust in government than at any point on record and are more worried about climate change, according to a wide-ranging study of voter attitudes released on Monday (Dec 9).

The 2019 Australian Election Study showed Aussie voters - facing drought, floods and increasingly intense bush fires - have become significantly more concerned about the environment.

Managing Australia's slow-growing economy was the biggest issue for voters at the parliamentary poll in May, which was won by the conservative Liberal Party led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

But around one in five voters saw the environment or climate change as the biggest issue facing the country, double the number seen after the 2016 election.

Voters' belief in politicians and government also fell, echoing the malaise seen in many advanced democracies.

"Trust in government has reached its lowest level on record, with just 25 percent believing people in government can be trusted," said the study, led by academics at the University of Sydney and the Australian National University.

In all, some 56 per cent of Australians believe that the government is run for "a few big interests", while just 12 per cent believe the government is run for "'all the people".

The study polled 2,179 voters after the general election. It has been conducted after every election since 1987.

Since the election, there have been several large-scale protests urging the government to do more to tackle climate change, while Australia is also experiencing a horrific start to its fire season.

Scientists say the bush fires began earlier and are more extreme this year due to a prolonged drought and the effects of climate change.