Australians want politicians to look further ahead than next election, survey finds

Australians want their politicians to make decisions that go beyond the closest election cycle and instead consider future generations.

May 21, 2024, updated May 21, 2024
Voters may be forced to show ID when they vote in the next Federal election. (Photo: ABC)

Voters may be forced to show ID when they vote in the next Federal election. (Photo: ABC)

A report has found three in every four Australians surveyed in February 2024 believed visions for the next 10 to 20 years were not given enough emphasis in the political debate.

Meanwhile, 97 per cent of respondents wanted present-day policies to take the interests of future generations into account.

The report was co-authored by Australian National University researcher Elise Stephenson, Griffith University professor Susan Harris Rimmer and Foundations for Tomorrow managing director Taylor Hawkins.

“This should give political parties of all stripes the confidence that long-term, intergenerational policymaking is a no-brainer and a ‘win-win’ for governments and the public alike,” Dr Stephenson said.

However, Australians did not always believe policymakers had the skills or knowledge to make long-term policy on issues like the trilateral AUKUS security agreement, artificial intelligence and climate change.

The report recommends legislating a Commissioner for Future Generations or similar role, whose position would be to protect Australians in decades to come.

The position could be modelled on one in Wales, whose commissioner was the first of its kind in the world and has helped lead high-profile interventions in transport planning, education reform and climate change.

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It also suggested introducing a body that would independently evaluate legislation against intergenerational justice.

“Futures are created by choices made today,” Professor Rimmer said.

“We need to make sure we are thinking carefully about those choices in Australia.”

Healthcare, improved wellbeing for children and youth, and increased jobs were among the highest priorities for those surveyed.

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