Aussies want more forward-thinking politics

Australian Parliament
Australian Parliament

A new report shows 81 per cent of Australians agree our politicians generally think too short-term when making decisions.

The EveryGen report, co-authored by Dr Elise Stephenson from The Australian National University (ANU), found three-quarters of those surveyed think visions for the next 10 to 20 years are given too little emphasis in the political debate.

The survey also found 97 per cent of respondents believe that policies in the present day need to take into account the interests of future generations, and 78 per cent want to see the establishment of a Commissioner for Future Generations.

"One of the most striking results is the high levels of support across all’Australians for political parties that demonstrate a vision for more long-term policymaking," Dr Stephenson said.

"This should give political parties of all stripes the confidence that long-term, intergenerational policymaking is a no-brainer and a ’win-win’ for governments and the public alike."

The survey was conducted in February 2024 and draws on responses from 1,000 voting-age Australians across the country.

The results show healthcare, improved wellbeing for children and youth and more jobs are among Australians top priorities in the coming decades.

Top policy priorities like the AUKUS security agreement with the UK and USA, artificial intelligence and climate action are the areas Australians are least optimistic policymakers have the skills and knowledge to make long-term policy on.

"Young people have a more positive view of policymakers’ skills and knowledge than older generations," Dr Stephenson said.

"Older generations tend to rank health a higher policy concern than young people. Women are much more likely to care about healthcare and wellbeing for children and youth than men are."

According to the researchers, the results show a clear appetite for a "future-ready" approach to leadership and policymaking.

"There is an undeniable demand for leaders to take bold and courageous action to redefine our political approach," co-author Taylor Hawkins, Managing Director of Foundations for Tomorrow said.

"Long-term thinking in leadership and policymaking is not a ’nice-to-have’ or a box to tick. It is a powerful tool that can unlock dividends across society, leading to a healthier, more secure, sustainable, cohesive and prosperous future for all’Australians."

The researchers are calling for policymakers to take clear action towards intergenerational policymaking.

Recommendations from the report include improvements to intergenerational reporting, establishing a body to independently evaluate legislation against intergenerational justice and introducing a budget statement for future generations.

Co-author Professor Susan Harris Rimmer added: "Futures are created by choices made today. We need to make sure we are thinking carefully about those choices in Australia."

The full report is available online.