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Labour’s perceived ability returns to pre-shooting levels

Auckland, 1 August 2019 – Labour’s perceived ability to manage key issues faced by New Zealanders has returned to pre-Christchurch terror attack levels, despite a significant rise directly after the attacks March, according to the latest Ipsos New Zealand Issues Monitor.

The Ipsos New Zealand Issues Monitor asks more than 600 New Zealanders to select from a list of 20 the three most important issues facing the country and the ability of the country’s political parties to best manage the issues. The Issues Monitor has been running since February 2018.

The top three issues facing New Zealanders are housing and cost of housing, followed by healthcare and hospitals and poverty and inequality.

Highlights from the key findings include:

Political parties seen as most capable of managing NZ’s top issues:
• Directly after the terror attacks in Christchurch, perceptions of the Labour-led coalition government’s performance increased from 5.5 to 6.6 out of 10. They have now returned to levels seen in early March 2019 (5.7).
• In April, soon after the attacks, Labour’s capability to manage key issues increased significantly across each of the 20 issues measured. The latest Issues Monitor shows that results have returned to pre-terror attack levels over the majority of issues.
• The most significant exception is Labour’s perceived capability to manage race relations and racism, at 36% compared to 28% in March. It is lower, however, than the early April result of 46% directly after the March 15th attacks.

Key issues facing New Zealanders:

Of the 20 issues measured, housing / cost of housing remains the top issue by a great margin. Two in five (42%) New Zealanders consider this to be a top issue.

Healthcare / hospitals (29%) is the second highest ranking issues, followed closely by poverty / inequality at 28%. Directly after the terror attacks in Christchurch, poverty and inequality increased significantly and remains in the top three at 28% up from 5th place in October 2018.

The fourth biggest issue is inflation / cost of living, which has been in the top 5 since the Issues Monitor began in February 2018.

In March this year, climate change increased significantly from 14% to 20% and has remained at 20%, putting it in the top-5 issues for the first time and ranking equally with crime / law.

When comparing the top-5 New Zealand results with those of Australia, common issues include healthcare (29% NZ – #2 issue vs 33% AUS – #2 issue), cost of living (24% NZ – #4 issue vs 34% AUS – #1 issue), and crime (20% NZ – #5 issue vs AUS 26% – #4 issue). There were, however, notable differences with the other top issues for the two countries including:

Housing is twice as concerning in NZ (42% – #1 issue) than in Australia (19% – #6 issue).
Poverty is more concerning in NZ (28% – #3 issue) versus Australia (16 – #9 issue).
The economy is more of a concern in Australia (27% - #3 issue) than in New Zealand (14% – #9 issue).

Although perceptions of the current Coalition government’s performance peaked in the previous Issues Monitor (6.6 out of 10), they have returned to levels consistent with previous months (5.7 out of 10).

Labour is viewed as the political party that is most capable of managing all the top-5 issues facing New Zealanders today, however, in terms of crime, an almost equal proportion of New Zealanders consider National to be most capable (31% Labour Party versus 30% National Party).

Quality of Life Index

As part of the survey, New Zealanders were also asked to rate their current quality of life and how they expect their quality of life to be in five years from now.

While 59% of New Zealanders reported a positive quality of life, a quarter rated their current quality of life at just 1, 2 or 3 out of a possible 7.

Quality of life ratings increased with income, as did perceived quality of life for the next 5 years. Those in the older age group (65–74) were more likely to report a positive quality of life than other age groups; however, they were also more pessimistic about their future quality of life.

Commenting on the Issues Monitor, Carin Hercock, Managing Director, Ipsos New Zealand, said: “The Ipsos New Zealand Issues Monitor is a survey we undertake regularly to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s important to New Zealanders. The previous wave of the monitor ran in early April, post the tragic terror attack in Christchurch. At this time, there was a significant positive shift in perceptions around both the performance of the government and the Labour Party’s capabilities to manage the issues most important to New Zealanders. Across most of those issues, perceptions have settled down to previous levels, with the exception of Labour’s capability to deal with racism and crime. This means Labour is seen as the most capable political party across the top-5 most important issues for New Zealanders, and the Green Party is in the lead for climate change. At Ipsos we believe understanding New Zealanders’ perceptions around these issues provides an important social context, so we will continue to monitor changes over time.”

Amanda Dudding, Research Director, Public Affairs, Ipsos New Zealand, added: “It’s interesting to see climate change coming into the top-5 issues facing New Zealanders for the first time. It showed a significant increase in early March and has maintained that level for the past three Issues Monitors. When we measure what worries the world globally, climate change is further down the list compared to being in New Zealanders’ top 5. We are often hard on ourselves about our attitudes towards climate change but having it in our top-5 issues means that we might actually be more concerned about it than other countries.”

“The Quality of Life index shows that while there’s a good proportion of New Zealanders who agree they have a very good quality of life at 59%, there is also a sizable proportion at the other end of the scale. A quarter of all New Zealanders said their quality of life was not very good. There is a relationship between quality of life and income – the higher the respondents’ income, the more likely they are to have a greater quality of life. Older respondents also reported a higher-than-average quality of life but are more pessimistic about their quality of life over the next five years.”

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