An independent national poll has found Australian politicians have failed to engage or build a sense of trust with voters just months out from the federal election.

The survey — commissioned by the Citizens’ Agenda project at the University of Melbourne — found a clear majority of voters (58%) thought the quality of political leadership was now 'noticeably worse' than usual.

Nearly as many (57%) were disappointed by the tone of political debate, while a large majority (70%) say they have little or no confidence in the Federal Government.

The leader of the Citizens’ Agenda project and Director of the University's Centre for Advancing Journalism, Dr Margaret Simons, said the findings were alarming.

“These findings show how badly we need to re-engage voters and improve media coverage of politics," Dr Simons said.

From today, the Citizens’ Agenda project will seek to address this sense of apathy by engaging Australians in a conversation between now and polling day.

Voters of 10 key electorates will use the Citizen's Agenda-OurSay website to directly shape political discussion in their local areas, with political candidates invited to respond to the citizenry.

"The Citizens’ Agenda project is designed to find new ways of making the voices of ordinary people heard," Dr Simons said.

The random telephone survey of 1000 voters, conducted between mid-March and mid-April 2013, also found:

  • Interest in the 2013 federal election campaign is also lower than people’s usual level of interest in politics. While 43% of voters say they usually take a 'good deal of interest' in politics, only 36 per cent say they are taking a 'good deal of interest' in the 2013 election.
  • Conversely, the proportion of voters who take little or no interest in politics — 23% usually — has risen substantially to 36 per cent.
  • Trust in the media was also abysmal; 73% of respondents say they have little or no confidence in the press, and 71% say the same of television.

Survey fieldwork was carried out by Australian Fieldwork Solutions using a questionnaire devised by the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism and School of Social and Political Sciences.

          >>> READ THE FULL RESULTS <<<

FOR INTERVIEW

About the poll:
Dr Denis Muller,
Centre for Advancing Journalism,
dmuller@unimelb.edu.au
0419 414 121.

About the poll and Citizens’ Agenda:
Dr Margaret Simons
Centre for Advancing Journalism
Margaret.simons@unimelb.edu.au
0411 254 478

Amelia Kemister
(OurSay Media Office)
0402 707 986
amelia.kemister@oursay.org