Envy vs Equity

4 May 2016

Go8 Equity scales

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As we draw nearer the election, the findings of a recent ANU opinion poll ought to resonate with the politicians, as ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt observes – particularly those given to characterising the “politics of equity” as the “politics of envy” (that being our observation, not Schmidt’s). It is unlikey to though: with the political class, only two polls count – Newspoll and the actual poll on 2 July.

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 The ANU School of Politics & International Relations regularly conducts national telephone opinion polls on issues of political and social significance. The latest, the 21st in the series, was on the issue of tax and equity. Should we be worried about governments holding debt? Which areas of spending should have priority, and which can be cut? Should we pay more tax, or less? Is our tax system generally fair?
More Australians favour greater spending on social services than favour reducing taxes. If reducing government debt is the aim, cutting welfare payments is among the least popular options, according to this poll. Australians want more spending directed to health, domestic violence prevention, education, and disability and aged care. They want international companies operating in Australia to pay more tax here, but overall believe our tax system is moderately fair.
On education, around 80% thought the government should spend more money on education, just 2.2% of Australians polled nominated education as “the most important problem” facing Australia today. It ranked thirteen, way behind the economy and jobs (27.2%), just ahead of law and order (1.8) and somewhat ahead of taxation (1.2%) and the budget (1%), although at the levels of granularity involved, these rankings may not be entirely reliable.
ANUPoll
2610
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