Apr 8, 2015

Essential: going off the grog, and what will support you in retirement?

Australians are drinking less, or not at all, but oppose more taxes on alcohol. And they're increasingly uncertain about their retirement income, Essential Report shows.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Australians are cutting down on their drinking and support a number of measures to curb alcohol consumption, new polling from Essential Report shows, but they oppose efforts to tax alcohol out of reach. Despite efforts by public health lobbyists and academics to claim alcohol consumption has reached "epidemic" proportions and is "out of control", 34% of voters say they are actually drinking less now than three years ago, while 37% of voters say they are drinking the same amounts; just 11% of voters are drinking more. Some 16% of voters say they are drinking substantially less or have stopped drinking altogether, while another 16% say they have never consumed alcohol. Voters also strongly support "more public education about responsible consumption of alcohol" (87%), banning alcohol sponsorship of sport (59% support, 27% opposition), increasing the legal age for consumption of alcohol (57%/31%) and banning alcohol advertising (54%/31%), but there is less support for restricting alcohol retail sites (50%/35%) and opposition to the Holy Grail of public health lobbyists, imposing punitive taxes on alcohol to price it out of reach. Some 47% of voters support higher taxes on alcohol, but 49% oppose them. Opposition to the government's proposal to raise the retirement age over the long term to 70 remains strong, with 69% opposing it compared to 71% a year ago; disapproval is much stronger among women (73%) than men (63%). There's greater uncertainty over retirement incomes, however. Compared to December 2013, more people answer "don't know" about what they expect their main retirement income to be, while those who expect to rely on both the aged pension and super have fallen, possibly due to the government's pension changes -- still being considered -- and ongoing revelations about crooked financial planners. Both are areas where Labor, it seems, could profitably exploit growing community concerns given it owns the issue of superannuation. And opposition to extending the GST to online offshore purchases has fallen: 53% of voters opposed lowering the $1000 threshold in late 2013, but now 45% oppose it, while the level of support has remained unchanged at 35%; Coalition voters are the ones most supportive of lowering it. On voting intention, Labor has fallen a point to 39% while the Coalition remains on 40% and the Greens on 10% for an unchanged two-party preferred outcome of 53%-47% in Labor's favour. There was also good news for Clive Palmer, with support doubling to 2%.

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