There is agreement across all voting groups that housing where they live is unaffordable and growing increasingly so, today’s Essential Report finds. But the intensity of the view varies across age groups and regions.

Of all voters, 60% believe housing in their area is unaffordable for someone on an average income, while 33% believe it is affordable. Labor and Greens voters feel the same — 68% say unaffordable and 26%/27% affordable. Liberal voters are more divided, 52%-43%. That’s because older voters, who make up much of the Liberal Party base, don’t see any problem with housing affordability, given most of them already own their own homes and benefit from rising house prices. More voters over 55 believe housing in their area is affordable (48%) than unaffordable, whereas those most likely to be trying enter the housing market, under-35s, split 69%-24%, and 35- to 54-year-olds nearly the same, 64%-30%.

Unsurprisingly, affordability was significantly worse in urban areas, where voters split 69%-26%, than regional areas (48%-45%). And it was worst in New South Wales (67%-28%).

There’s an even stronger consensus the problem is getting worse. Three-quarters of voters say housing has become less affordable in their area in the last few years; just 11% say it has become more affordable (“more affordable” voters are twice as likely to be regional, and Queensland, voters), while 42% say it has become “a lot less affordable”. And there’s less of a partisan division — 67% of Coalition voters say housing is becoming less affordable, 79% of Labor voters and 82% of Greens voters. The sentiment is stronger in NSW, where 53% say housing has become a lot less affordable and 83% either a lot or a little less affordable.

Essential also asked its regular question about trust in institutions. The High Court, the ABC and the Reserve Bank remain our most trusted institutions, with all recording increases in trust since January. But all three are less trusted than two newcomers, the Australian Federal Police (despite the AFP’s role in sending  Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to their deaths) and state police forces, on 68% and 66% respectively.

Indeed, this iteration of the question finds voters in a more trusting mood compared to January, with all institutions gaining at least a little more trust, even relatively poorly regarded institutions like business groups, unions and political parties. Labor voters were more likely to trust the ABC (67%), while Coalition voters were more likely to trust state and federal police forces (74% each).

For the first time, Essential also asked about most trusted professions. Doctors scored highest, with 81% of voters having a lot or some trust in doctors; engineers were next, on 68%. Accountants, on 49%, rounded out the trusted professions. Lawyers scored 34%, with 21% saying they had “no trust” in them and 37% saying they had only “a little trust” in them. Bankers scored 29% trust, 25% “no trust” and 41% “little trust”. Journalists scored 27% a lot or some trust, 26% no trust at all and 41% little trust. Real estate agents managed 12% trust and 44% no trust. And at the very bottom, scoring 1% a lot of trust, 10% some trust, 33% little trust and 49% no trust at all, politicians.

On voting intention, a small shift in favour of the Coalition — it’s up a point to 42%, and Labor is down a point to 39%, but the Greens are also up a point to 10%, for an unchanged 52%-48% two-party preferred outcome in favour of Labor.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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