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Australian Current Affairs

Australians more concerned over jobs than asylum seekers


The survey found blue collar workers were more concerned about cost of living and taxes, while public sector workers were more worried about job security. Photo: Peter Braig

The survey found blue collar workers were more concerned about cost of living and taxes, while public sector workers were more worried about job security. Photo: Peter Braig

Australian workers are more worried about job security and the ability to pay their bills than they are about refugee policies, according to a large poll of union members.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions surveyed 120,000 members over the past 14 weeks about election issues. Of those, 102,000 were asked specific questions about policy issues they rated as important.

A diverse range of workers were polled, including nurses, construction workers, public servants, teachers, factory workers and tradespeople across all states.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said the poll showed that the asylum seeker issue currently dominating the election campaign is not a burning one for ordinary Australians.

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“Our survey shows asylum seeker policy is not an issue that will change working people’s votes,” she said.

“We’ve spoken to over 100,000 union members and only 2 per cent nominated border security as the most important issue heading into the federal election.

“Rather, the top concerns were consistently cost of living, job security and rights at work. Issues like protecting overtime and penalty rate payments, protection against unfair dismissal and the threat of job cuts go right to the heart of these concerns.

“Policies involving harsh treatment of asylum seekers may grab headlines but it is not the way to win working people’s votes.”

The survey found blue collar workers were more concerned about cost of living and taxes, while public sector workers were more worried about job security. Union members were particularly focused on issues affecting their industries, with teachers concerned about the impact on education of funding promises by the parties and manufacturing workers worried about how government policy would support manufacturing jobs.

There was some variation by state, with job security nominated as the No. 1 issue in Tasmania and Queensland, and protecting manufacturing jobs rated more highly in South Australia.

Only 2.1 per cent of respondents nationally nominated border security as the most important issue.

With data showing 48 per cent of union members saying they didn’t vote Labor at the last election, the ACTU considers this current poll to be a good indicator of the concerns of most Australians.

Source: The Age – Workers rate jobs more important than refugees
 
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