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Australians want government to address their basic needs

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Australians emphasise living standards, long-term well-being, and direct government services.

The Centre for Policy Development has unveiled its highly-anticipated multi-year survey, the “Purpose of Government Pulse,” offering fresh insights into the Australian public’s perspectives on government objectives, priorities, and performance.

The survey, spanning the years 2015 to 2023, has been publicly released for the first time, revealing intriguing trends in Australian attitudes toward governance, with new data from December 2023.

Notable shift

The findings of the report suggest a notable shift in Australians’ expectations from their government.

The majority now prioritise a government that ensures a decent standard of living and makes decisions centered on the long-term wellbeing of the population.

33% of respondents now view the government’s primary role as guaranteeing a decent standard of living, a sharp rise from the previous 17%.

This shift reflects the growing demand for government intervention to address issues affecting the wellbeing of citizens, such as cost of living pressures and soaring interest rates.

Effective government

As economic challenges continue to impact families and communities, the report indicates that Australians increasingly seek proactive and effective government involvement in resolving these challenges.

The emphasis on wellbeing is further highlighted by the fact that 80% of Australians surveyed believe that the government should prioritise the wellbeing of the population above other considerations in decision-making, marking a 10-percentage-point increase since October 2021.

With healthcare, education, and employment services at the forefront of public concern, Australians also express a preference for the government to take a more active role in delivering these essential services, rather than outsourcing them to the private sector.

When asked about the importance of the government maintaining the capability to directly deliver public services, instead of relying on outsourcing, a resounding 87% of Australians stated that it was either somewhat or very important.

This trend aligns with previous survey results and highlights a sustained shift in public sentiment, which has become more pronounced since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Active role

CEO of the Centre for Policy Development, Andrew Hudson, commented on the findings, stating that they reflect a growing sentiment among Australians for the government to play a more active role in addressing their needs.

“Australians want their government to be involved in ensuring they are afforded a reasonable standard of living – that they have a job, can afford a home, can support a family. CPD’s survey reveals Australians are not content with government being a hands-off supervisor or regulator,” Hudson remarked.

Hudson further emphasized the shift towards prioritizing long-term wellbeing and environmental considerations over solely focusing on GDP growth.

“We have seen public capability decline over decades, with service delivery being increasingly outsourced. This has created a hands-off, market-driven system in critical service areas, particularly social security, welfare, employment, and migration services,” Hudson noted.

“Recent inquiries into employment services, robodebt, and our migration system have revealed the shocking shortcomings of this hands-off approach,” he added.

Ahron Young is an award winning journalist who has covered major news events around the world. Ahron is the Managing Editor and Founder of TICKER NEWS.

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Brad Banducci quits as Woolworths Australia CEO after TV blow-up

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Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci has revealed his decision to step down from his position, with Amanda Bardwell, head of loyalty and e-commerce, slated to succeed him as chief executive in September.

Bardwell’s appointment marks a historic moment as she becomes the first woman to lead the company in its nearly 100-year history.

Banducci’s departure comes at a critical juncture for Woolworths and its competitor, Coles, as they brace for an upcoming Senate inquiry led by the Greens.

The inquiry, scheduled for next month, is expected to scrutinise higher grocery costs, which Canberra has blamed for inflating supermarket profit margins at the expense of consumers.

Supermarket investigation

In addition to the Senate inquiry, Labor has urged the competition regulator to investigate the supermarkets, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese suggesting potential abuse of market power by the retailers.

Woolworths chairman Scott Perkins clarified that Banducci’s succession timeline was not accelerated in response to the scrutiny faced by the supermarket industry.

Perkins stated that interviews with potential candidates for the CEO position had been ongoing since the latter half of the previous year.

“There has been an ongoing dialogue with Brad,” Perkins told media. “There was no change to the timetable, no expedition at all.”

Importance of authenticity

Banducci acknowledged that he had considered delaying his departure but ultimately decided against it, citing the importance of authenticity. Despite the challenges facing the industry, he expressed confidence in Bardwell’s ability to lead Woolworths into the future.

Analysts reacted to the news with a mix of surprise and caution.

In financial terms, Woolworths’ food retail division reported a 5.2 percent increase in sales, or 6.6 percent excluding tobacco.

However, the company noted a moderation in prices, with average increases of 1.3 percent in the last three months of 2023.

Despite this, margins continued to improve, and earnings for the division rose by 8.2 percent.

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Money

Walmart reports holiday sales as shoppers seek better value

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Walmart disclosed its fourth-quarter earnings showcasing a surge in sales during the holiday season, offering early insights into consumer spending trends amid a crucial period.

Despite a challenging economic climate, Walmart reported a 4 percent increase in comparable store sales for the three months ending in late January compared to the previous year.

The number of transactions also saw a notable uptick, rising by 4.3 percent. However, there was a slight decline of 0.3 percent in the average ticket price, indicating a tendency among shoppers to spend marginally less during their shopping trips.

The retail behemoth witnessed a significant boost in its online sales, with a 17 percent increase in the U.S. market and a remarkable 23 percent surge globally, surpassing the $100 billion mark. Walmart’s Chief Financial Officer, John David Rainey, attributed this growth partly to cost-saving measures in their e-commerce operations and the rising adoption of Walmart’s delivery services.

Discretionary purchases

While the e-commerce sector saw substantial gains, there was a noted decrease in discretionary purchases such as electronics, as consumers prioritized essential items amidst economic uncertainties.

Walmart’s emphasis on value and affordability played a pivotal role in driving sales, particularly in its grocery segment.

The company’s CEO, Doug McMillon, highlighted Walmart’s commitment to offering competitive prices, leveraging its substantial grocery business.

In a strategic move to enhance its offerings, Walmart announced the acquisition of television manufacturer Vizio in a deal worth $2.3 billion, further expanding its Walmart Connect advertising and media business.

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Money

Millions of Australians are struggling with credit card repayments

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Recent research has revealed a concerning trend: a significant number of Australians are falling behind on their credit card repayments, highlighting the financial strain faced by many households.

According to Finder’s Credit Card Report 2024, approximately 13% of Australian credit card holders, equivalent to nearly 1.8 million individuals, have missed at least one repayment in the past three months.

Of this group, 8% have fallen behind by 30 days, while 4% have missed payments by 60 days.

Read more – Is Paypal bringing back old school credit cards?

Alarmingly, 2% of cardholders have delayed repayments by more than 60 days.

Prevalent misuse

Amy Bradney-George, a credit card expert at Finder, expressed concern over the prevalent misuse of credit cards, attributing it partly to the escalating cost of living.

Bradney-George warned that missing a credit card payment often incurs late fees and interest charges, exacerbating financial burdens for individuals.

Bradney-George emphasised the detrimental impact of late payments on credit scores.

She highlighted that a missed payment can be recorded on a credit file within just 14 days, potentially affecting an individual’s ability to secure loans or new credit cards in the future.

With details of late payments lingering on credit reports for up to two years, the consequences could be long-lasting.

Currently, there are over 13 million credit cards in circulation across Australia, accumulating a national debt of $18.1 billion subject to interest charges.

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