Top election issues

The cost of living, unemployment rate and wages are the top three issues that the Government needs to address. Picture: FT FILE

AS we gear up for the 2018 general elections, there will no doubt be attention focused on issues the masses are interested in. The latest Tebbutt-Times Poll has identified cost of living, the unemployment rate and wages as the top three issues those surveyed believe the Government needs to address. Cost of living in the country was an issue for half of the 1053 polled in the national survey. As our report on the front page today points out, a resounding 50 per cent of those polled picked cost of living as a “pressing issue” for government followed by the unemployment rate (31 per cent) and wages (28 per cent). Those polled were asked: Overall, what do you think are the three most pressing issues for Government; and, what about for you personally and people like you — what are the biggest issues that you are facing in the coming years? Respondents also mentioned education, land issues, infrastructure, health, and poverty as urgent issues the State needed to address. Education was mentioned twice as often by those in the 18-29-year age group (21 per cent) than older respondents (11 per cent). Farming and rural development was a bigger issue in rural areas and in the Western Division, and crime was mentioned by 7 per cent of those polled. Topics named by 5 per cent or less were disaster assistance, unity, the economy, the environment, corruption, good governance, political stability, welfare, and human rights. When asked about issues facing people personally, the top five issues were the same. They were cost of living, wages, unemployment, education and land issues. Mentions of education (including scholarships and dropouts) were significantly higher for iTaukei than those identifying as Fijians of Indian descent. Other topics mentioned by more than 5 per cent were crime, infrastructure, health, and poverty. Issues mentioned by 5 per cent or fewer were the environment, political stability, unity, disaster assistance, the economy, farming and rural development, corruption, human rights, welfare and pensions, and good governance. Seventeen per cent claimed they were not facing any issues personally, while less than 1 per cent gave no answer. Opinions will obviously differ on priorities right now. However, it is quite clear that cost of living is a major concern. The big question then for those who insist this is so, will no doubt be focused on how the powers that be address this moving forward. Such surveys are important for they offer us a glimpse of how people are thinking. As we prepare for the national elections, it seems quite a few people reckon we have challenges to contend with, and cost of living rates quite highly.

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