Aussie voters shun major parties as distrust grows

By Leith van Onselen

A new study by The ABC shows that satisfaction with Australia’s political system has plunged to all-time lows, with distrust growing and voters flocking to minor parties:

Most Australians no longer trust any tier of government: federal, state or local council.

Government ministers and members of parliament — trusted by less than one in four — now rank as the least trusted compared to others such as GPs, judges, business people, journalists or trade unionists.

And the federal government is trusted by just 31 per cent of the population, while state and local government perform little better, at just over 35 per cent.

Notably, the survey was done before the most recent federal leadership bloodbath and in the midst of a record run of nearly three decades of economic growth…

The research reveals two shifts: most voters care more about effective and competent government than promises of more dollars in their pockets; and many are voting tactically for independents…

“This is a huge wake-up call for Australia’s major political parties. They must adapt or die because the new reality is that up to 60 per cent of voters have become swinging, non-aligned voters”…

Social trust between people has fallen below 50 per cent — to 47 per cent — for the first time since 2001, when researchers first asked about it. Most believe that people are out for themselves…

The research identifies a growing public appetite for reform, including involving ordinary citizens in more decisions.

But how likely is it that politicians and political parties would adopt reforms that undermine their powerbrokers?…

“Most Australians simply don’t think that they [politicians] care about them.”

These results should hardly be a surprise. Voters are continually told how well they have it, yet our own lived experience of falling real wages, housing unaffordability, and declining amenity tells us otherwise.

We see public policy increasingly being implemented for the benefit of industry and multinationals, not the ordinary Aussie. Rent-seeking is rampant, and our policy makers are only too willing to oblige.

We are having turbo-charged immigration shoved down our throats by all major parties, despite overwhelming opposition, whereas our own gas is being funnelled and sold offshore, forcing up our power bills. We were promised concrete action on climate change, but have seen nothing.

Meanwhile, tacit corruption is systemic, from the visa system, to infrastructure, trade agreements, political donations, you name it.

It’s time for a revolution.

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Leith van Onselen
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  1. Stewie GriffinMEMBER

    The end game of diversity is to divide… in that respect Australia’s immigration program has been an outrageous success.

  2. There is absolutely no surprise in this.

    For sure there will be distrust in the major parties because the major parties are still despicably, overtly, unalterably lying to the potential voters of Australia on so many issues.

    Lets start with Free Trade Agreements shall we? Does either major party really want to look us in the eye and tell us that the FTAs we have been signed up to over the course of a generation have been to the benefit of jobs in Australia?

    Then, in no particular order is there enough room for a feeler gauge to distinguish the major parties approach to   embedding private sector funds extractions contracts into the Public Service   (with as little scrutiny and as little ongoing competition, and as little audited analysis of the longer term effects as possible)

    Of course we couldn’t define our distrust of the major parties without considering for a moment their positions on   foisting a ‘Big Australia’ on us all via the mechanism of a ramp up in immigration which occurred in 2006 and has continued unabated or even acknowledged by either the ALP or the LNP ever since

    And that of course is well before we get anywhere near the shared responsibility both major parties share in the trashing of Australian education so as to make it a conduit for visa applicants from offshore to craft the most expensive and least academically meaningful courses in the developed world  , all against the backdrop of the employment prospects of graduates going out the back door in favour of part time hours in retail or some dribble wiping time in aged care…

    And while we are at it although there may now be differences in branding strategy there really ought to be far greater public examination of the ‘real’ difference between the LNP and ALP over the ongoing decision to   burn off the export facing sectors of the Australian economy and the embedding of high house prices as the economic banquet du generation    , leading to an Australia where younger Australians may well be asking if they will ever be able to afford their own houses and if they will ever realistically be able to access jobs which may make taking on the debt required to own their own houses a viable life option.

    And while cogitating over the shared position of the major parties on reaming us through our wallets it would be good to examine just how close the ALP and LNP actually have been on the decision to price Australian gas (and the marginal price of Australian electricity) somewhere on Alpha Centauri B through approving the pipeline between Moomba and Sydney and the export terminals in Gladstone without ensuring that the gas exporters had enough production to sustain the white elephants they have built without impinging on gas (and electricity) prices in such a way as to trash an entire economy, render much manufacturing unviable, and deliver monthly, and quarterly kicks to the head of a majority of our fellow Australians. 

    How close are the positions of the LNP and ALP on addressing these issues? How meaningful are the differences?

    Viva the great distrust!

    Anyone trusting a major party is having a lend of themselves

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      The labor leadership has been a major disappointment, esp at the federal end,….meaningfull differentiation between Party policies is almost non existant at the economic end of policy making (this includes Immigration) the question should by Why?
      IMHO the system itself has become almost hopelessly courpted by money,…How are “New Parties” going to resist becoming equally corrupted by this influence?

      • So cynical. In the last couple of days all I have seen are photos of Bill Shorten surrounded by women with and without their babies.
        I know this is an external manifestation of deep and exhaustive policy debate, analysis and formulation rather than cheap, opportunistic grandstanding.

      • EP, you (and everyone else) should adopt a new radical progressive approach……

        You can be the first water resources and beer quality minister in a Macrobusiness government. You could also become a Sydney Factional powerbroker

        I propose the MacroBusiness Party…….

        I propose that the MacroBusiness cognoscenti run a full campaign in the upcoming election to get ourselves elected as the swing players, running on a platform revolving around (with negotiations) the below…….( with extra good policies which i havent yet added since the last time i cut and paste the below)

        – which would at least offer some sort of genuine left presence in parliament

        Policy Positions


        ·         Enshrine Medicare into Constitution

        ·         Enshrine ABC funding into Constitution

        ·         Enshrine Australian Bureau of Statistics funding into Constitution

        ·         Enshrine political party funding transparency into Constitution

        ·         Enshrine freedom from foreign influence legislation into constitution

        ·         Enshrine requirement for all candidates for every election in Australia to be approved by AEC prior to standing for parliament

        ·         Enshrine a National Crime & Corruption Commission into Constitution and give it investigatory powers.


        ·         End negative gearing

        ·         End capital gains tax dispensation

        ·         End health insurance rebate

        ·         Implement Federal Land tax

        ·         Remove PAYE taxation for those earning under 55K (but retain/create Medicare (4%), Defence (2%), ABS (1%) and ABC (1%) levy

        ·         Inclusion of family home in determination of access to the aged pension where the home is worth more than 500k.

        ·         Development and maintenance of publicly available database on Australian taxpayers [companies & individuals]

        Economic and Monetary Policy

        ·         Reinclusion of employee and community representatives on RBA Board.

        ·         Requirement for RBA to report quarterly to Parliament on monetary policy in relation to wages and housing costs

        ·         Requirement for RBA to report quarterly to Parliament on the effective use of taxpayers funds in relation to support for Australian banks and financial system entities.

        ·         Requirement for RBA, Treasury, and other government agencies (including ABS) to develop standards and monitor quality of life issues being faced by Australians (both on average and by decile) and report on how policies being adopted by them influence a range of demographics

        ·         Mandate the creation of new entity to be called the Australian personal public and corporate debt commission to produce analysis on the debt, indebtitude and debt servicing of Australians and Australian entities This organisation is to have representatives of the RBA, Treasury, State governments, local governments, retail banks and community organisations at a board level.

        ·         Requirement for RBA to report quarterly to Parliament on money creation and the beneficiaries of money creation over the preceding quarter and year, and forecast such into the future.


        ·         Commence federal government building housing

        ·         Implement competitive GST Bonus payable to states which do best on housing affordability and housing creation

        ·         Enshrine right to housing into Constitution

        ·         Enshrine a National Probity and Veracity test for all funds used for housing purchases.


        ·         Mandate real time visibility of politicians allowances and outlays

        ·         Mandate Housing affordability requirement for all politicians to reaffirm whenever they propose legislation

        ·         Audit all payments to or on behalf of politicians

        ·         Mandate funding transparency for all levels of Australian government (Federal State and Local), and a donations and gifts declaration requirement for all persons above a particular level (about SOG C in APS) in all public services of budget funded organisations (including Universities)

        ·         Mandate rate of politicians salary at 2, 3 , or 4 times average full time earnings.

        ·         Mandate access to politicians super is only accessible by vote of the seat which politician represented each 5 years at rate of 25% 50% 75% or 100% of standard politician rate.

        Industrial Relations

        ·         Reintroduction of the Australian Industrial relations Commission with powers to intervene in cases of Award and Agreement transgression – whether brought before it by parties or now.

        ·         Additional role for revived AIRC will be to oversee employee superannuation payments, their payment by employers, and the effective deployment of these funds as regards to the interests of employees (and with a view to minimising longer term budget and pension impacts on government outlays).

        ·         Additional role for revived AIRC to oversee use of contractors, contracting arrangements, and corporate entities to ensure employees are appropriately addressed for entitlements.


        ·         Mandate gas reservation policy to ensure globally cheap electricity and gas.

        ·         Mandate solar panels and hot water on all new dwelling construction

        ·         Mandate tax deductability of residential and corporate solar battery investment


        ·         Enshrine right to lifetime medical care for all Australians who have served in the military more than 7 years

        ·         Mandate immigration rights (for individuals and families) for those foreign nationals agreeing to serve 10 years in ADF

        ·         Mandate that no deployment of more than 200 ADF personnel to any particular offshore location or theatre of operations can occur without debate and vote in joint sitting of parliament.


        ·         Remove student visas from right to residence and housing purchase

        ·         Remove student fees from first degree in science, mathematics, finance, medicine

        ·         Increase training of medical practitioners and access to medical degrees

        ·         Remove all public funding for non government schools


        ·         Mandate economic diversity criteria

        ·         Enshrine 70k NOM per annum as Immigration base, with priority to refugees and families

        ·         Allow NOM above 70k per year only where economic diversity, debt, education, housing affordability, intergenerational quality of life and employment conditions are being met.

        ·         Allow temporary visas in circumstances (eg academic world, some science) where globalised workforce would expect it.

        ·         End temporary work visas unless companies can demonstrate they have made attempt to develop their own skills in their own workplaces, or made genuine attempt to source skills within Australia.

        ·         End Special Investor Visas (except where entity is contributing to export or import competing business in Australia employing more than 10 Australian employees)

        Free Trade Agreements

        ·         Mandate audit of all Free Trade Agreements entered into prior to signature and ratification by Australian parliament

        ·         Have productivity commission audit all extant FTAs Australia is signatory to

        Public Service

        ·         Commence regionalisation policy for major APS agencies

        ·         National audit of all APS outsourcing since 2000

        ·         Mandate that no company identified to shift profits offshore can receive government contract (onus is on company to prove and gain certification from ATO)

        ·         Mandate that all contracted services in Australian public sector are audited and re[ported on to parliament for effective use of public monies, and with all transition costs (including relocations and redundancies) included in that consideration.

        Social Welfare

        ·         Make unemployment the same as study assistance

        ·         Mandate requirement for all calls to all social welfare services be monitored, and answered within 10 minutes

        It is time for an Alt Left. The Alt Left is MacroBusiness. It is time for MacroBusiness

        I will run in Victoria for a Senate seat if we can get enough like minded nutters from this site (and the people who run it) to run enough people in enough seats to get so far up the nose of the political mainstream (including the ALP – who will be sure to do everything within their power to hose us down, and the Greens) to have candidates in the Senate from each state.

        Given we seem to have a mainly male nuttocracy, and an observable background of veering off into what can come across as racist and sexist it may well be worth encouraging women and non middle aged caucasians to tee off with us

      • By being honest. Don’t do the denial thing and say it’s not us – it is the parties, they are irredeemably corrupt. Until/unless they face this they are are history.

      • You keep posting this gunna, but no one is going to actually do it, so why bother?

        Edit: From AEC website
        To be eligible for registration a party must be:
        Established on the basis of a written Constitution that sets out the aims of the party and;
        a parliamentary party, which is a political party with at least one member in the Parliament of the Commonwealth;
        a political party that has at least 500 members who are on the electoral roll and are not relied on by any other party.

        Reckon you can get 500 members?

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        “You can be the first water resources and beer quality minister in a Macrobusiness government.”

        I have no desire to hold political positions,….I just wish more people would participate, stand up and bear witness at the coal face of our Democracy …calling out self serving behavior with in all the parties the moment it arises.
        As Ive become older ive come to believe that far greater direct democracy, both within the Parties and the Parliaments across the Country is the only way our courpted democracy can be saved from complete plutocratic takeover.

        I Respect the effort and work you put in Gunna, and agree with your policy proscriptions,…Id vote for you Brother.

    • What jobs in aged care? My wife graduated as a nurse and 6 months after her course finished, she was the only person in her class to have a job as a nurse (and she is only employed as a casual). Everyone else in her class had to go on to do further study. I also know lots of people who did a Diploma in Aged Care and did not get a job.

  3. I thought I was getting bitter about how I saw government self serving and seemingly endless corruption, but this survey matches my views. I didn’t have the pub test, but it’s all you hear about at the coffee shop. People are genuinely sick of the pollies and local councils.

    • There is an observable shift on social media too. Previously comments on new articles would be dominated by the party faithfuls and anyone having a crack would be flamed. Now, the dominant comments openly attack the powers that be and rarely are they shot down unless they’re obviously wrong.

      The exception to this is anyone having a crack at baby boomers and housing affordability. Then there is an endless tide of “You’ve never had it so good!” and “We had 18% mortgage rates when we bought our place!” and the rest endless of the endless sea of privileged-tinted criticisms of anyone under 50 who happens to point out there are serious inequality issues in Australia.

      I hope Sustainable Australia, Reason and the other switched on minor parties can work hand in hand at the next election (and ScumMo call it as late as possible) to hand the cross-bench to them along with more independents like Tim Storer. That would be a win for the country.

  4. Agree 100%, yet as somone toiling to bring about political change, the first refrain I often get is ‘but party x will never get in so it’s wasted vote’. Furthermore the very nature of our ‘winner takes all system’ further entrenches encumbent power of both ALP and LNP. My concern is there is no valve to release the building pressure, let alone the rapidly increasing need to act on climate change before it gets taken out of our hands. We are running out of time and it will end in tears.

    • ‘but party x will never get in so it’s wasted vote’.
      Then get right up ’em
      “You stupid ass you are the problem supporting a status quo. Don’t blame parties because you’re dumb”

  5. Put the Sustainable Australia Party 1st or 2nd or 3rd on your Senate ballot paper. We need some intelligent voices in there who are not beholden to the big end of town who only want to rape and pillage the country or sell-outs like the main parties,

  6. MMP. Look at the kiwis people, MMP.

    Or, if you’re feeling brave, do proper proportional voting. Two party systems are not democracy. Too hard for new contestants to enter the arena.

    • “Two party systems are not democracy.”
      Exactly right. We need some sort of proportional system combined with Swiss style direct democracy.

      • The Swiss system is undoubtedly the best of a bad bunch but it necessarily involves the transfer of power from the corporatocracy to ‘the people’ and the oligarchs won’t stand for that.

        Big money would fight it tooth and nail — can’t have the plebs deciding for themselves what’s best!

    • I am not a fan of direct democracy. It is way too vulnerable for short-term thinking and misinformation/influencing.

      However, in a system based on proportional voting anyone can start a party who endeavours to introduce such tools. It’s the beauty of the system.

      Here is an English booklet ‘The Dutch Political System in a Nutshell’ from The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

      See page 25 for an explanation on how new political parties can register for National Elections. You can participate as an individual too, btw.

      The 2017 elections were very interesting as a case for proportional voting, see key stats and some context here:,_2017

      It was a feast of democracy and probably the best Dutch elections I ever witnessed in regards to on topic discussions and voter turnout.

      Side note, as part of their work to support democracies around the world NIMD ( offers some very interesting brochures.

      • “It is way too vulnerable for short-term thinking and misinformation/influencing.”
        How is any other popular voting system any less susceptible to this? Along with most of them being a vote for a person rather than an actual policy anyway.
        Unless you believe you are better qualified to make the decisions than the populace at large.

    • Two party systems are not democracy.
      Not sure about the other 2-party systems, but this one surely is the Murdochracy!

  7. Maybe in another 20 years the “Australian” people will get off their backsides and start getting involved in politics.

  8. A Revolution-
    Yes it is inevitable that a major dislocation will occur, The only question is if the reset will be peaceful or will the imbalance and inequity inherent in the current regime result in violence.
    I don’t know the answer but I do recall the discontent which compelled the patriarch of my family who as a Colonel in The English Civil War was forced to take up arms against an Autocracy that refused to represent his interests and denied his aspirations.

    The polity does not represent me- Therefore when the time is right ,I perhaps too, will be compelled with much hesitation to follow in the footsteps of my family.

  9. The two party system will collapse in the next cycle or two. Primary votes are too low now. What will replace it? I don’t know but expect lots of political instability like in Italy.

    • F*ck it – bring it on! Out of strife and need come (good) ideas.

      Comfortable living only gets you dead quicker.

    • You are spot on. But neither party will mention it, so I will now. The ALP primary vote was its lowest on record when Abbott won the 2013 election, it since went up a bit, but nothing to be gloating about. The LNP primary vote has also been steadily decreasing as well and is likely to be its lowest on record at the next election. 25% of people at the last election did not vote for either ALP or LNP. Given that the Senate is more representative of the primary vote compared to the House of Representatives, my money would be on hostile senates being the norm and the government of the day having to work with crossbenches.

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        If Latham does inherit PHON, he should make damn sure he doesn’t make the mistake of working with either party.

        Whoever ends up holding the balance of power NEEDS to withhold it from both the major parties and force them to work together to expose them for what they are – a corrupt duopoly with little actual difference between either.

  10. Amen to your last sentence. Hippies were brave in those days. Now everyone’s too busy to advance their own career by selling off the person next to him/her. Everyone’s obsessed with their social media status and everyone ensure they conform to the elites agenda.
    Hence why it will take many more years before there is enough pressure in the system for a revolution – unless there is WW3. If millions start dying, elites will find themselves in real struggle to hold the turning tide – people will have enough of the crap.

    • My money is on economic collapse.
      The effect on the generations that have not known a simple recession will be profound.

  11. Hahaha I did the ABC survey “You are also more cynical than other women, Gen Xs, people born in Australia, people from households on $100K – $200K a year and independent/minor party voters.” LOL… Damn straight I am..

    • Near Jinx my riot grrrl friend!

      You are more cynical than the typical Australian.

      You are also more cynical than other men, Gen Xs, people born in Australia, people from households on $200K a year or more and Labor voters.

      • I knew for certain I was not a lone cohort 🙂 Cheers. It’s up to our Generation to set the example in this and “Kick out the Jams”

  12. Wait until unemployment starts to increase. That’s when the rubber hits the road and people will hit the streets en mass.

  13. Globally, the major parties have gamed the system so badly that they are possibly an irrecoverable brand. More Brexits, more Trumps as people show they are not interested in the transfer of the nation state to the private state.

  14. It’s almost like looking after your own interests and the interests of donors whilst simultaneously f***ing the voting public hasn’t gone completely unnoticed.

    Cue politicians bleating about “the need to restore public trust” (whilst a bunch of nodding heads are in the background).

    • Yep. In that data set is a graph that shows nearly all voters want donations ended – always ignored by corrupt parties.

  15. I did the survey, wow am I cynical, I didn’t realise how much compared to others, them trusting fools

  16. We are living in a Post-Truth World.
    Due to Political Correctness, speaking the truth will get you either censored or in trouble.
    Meanwhile, manipulators of “truth” continue to control, influence and manipulate the masses.

  17. Why is it that still, so many Australians still vote for the 2 major (corrupt) parties in the ALP and LNP?
    Answer: because they are lazy, stupid, and could not give a shit about the welfare of their children.
    People – stand up and make your vote count ffs.
    We are being sold off by both major parties.