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From the Editors

Climate change, the environment and the cost of living top the #SetTheAgenda poll


When the 2022 federal election was called three weeks ago, we at The Conversation made a decision to let our readers, not politicians, decide the most important issues facing our nation.

We reached out on social media, in our newsletter and on The Conversation website, asking you to tell us what would influence your vote in the lead-up to the election. And now we have the results.

A staggering 10,000 people took part in our #SetTheAgenda poll. If you were one of those readers, thank you for sharing your views with us.

Number one on the agenda

Climate change was overwhelmingly the number-one issue on our readers’ agenda. In fact, more than 60% of you picked it as one of the issues with the greatest impact on your life right now.

Climate change, renewable energy and emissions reduction also featured highly in responses to the question “What do you want the candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes?”.


Respondents could choose up to three topics close to their hearts. The next most common answers after climate change (62.3%) were: the environment (28.4%), cost of living (19.9%), misinformation (19.3%) and housing (14%).

Top 10 answers to Question 1 of the Set The Agenda poll: What issue is having the greatest impact on your life right now?

Rounding out the top ten concerns were aged care, health, mental health, education and COVID-19. The topics of gender equity (7.6%) and First Nations representation (7.3%) also featured highly, just outside the top ten.

It was also interesting that more than 10% of responses to the question about what candidates should be talking about mentioned ICAC, integrity or corruption. Nearly 10% of respondents didn’t know who they were going to vote for. The majority of respondents (59.6%) were women.

Thank you for having your say

We were overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and passion demonstrated in the responses when we asked “What do you want the candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes?‘.

Here are just some of the things you had to say:

Restoring integrity to federal government – designing and implementing a federal ICAC with teeth. Reducing political donations hence restoring democracy. Moving towards a renewable economy – with clear policy and commitment to ensure long term investment and behavioural change from every Australian. The importance of equality in a healthy and kind society.

A discussion of how they will approach the issues above, but with a focus on First Nations voices and representation in these policies.

Meaningful climate action, with adjustment policies for workers most affected by the necessary transition. Uluru Statement from the Heart, First Nations Voice in the constitution. Working for peace, not spending for war.

How are they going to help voters, not big business?

How to lower housing prices and increase housing quality, how to ensure wage growth and prosperity so millennials and Gen Z aren’t left behind.

POLICY! POLICY! POLICY!! Stop with the personality red herrings – address the dearth of funds in higher education; address poverty issues, social housing, inequities in education funding, climate change – with definite positive policies… shall I go on?

Policies for aged care and help for small business.

Now what?

We will be looking to the 10,000 responses we had to the #SetTheAgenda poll to continue to shape and inform our election coverage over the coming weeks.

For example, one reader said they would like candidates to talk about "what they are going to do to commit to climate change, how they are going to do it and within what time frame”.

In response to this reader, and the many others who wrote about their interest in our major parties’ climate policies, we published this piece.

Another way will provide readers with the opportunity for questions, discussion, and analysis in the lead-up to the 2022 election is through in-person events with The Conversation’s Chief Political Correspondent, Michelle Grattan. Our Melbourne event will also feature journalist and author, Sean Kelly, and will be hosted by The Conversation’s Politics and Society Editor, Amanda Dunn. I will be joining Michelle on stage at our Sydney event.

So far, the 2022 election campaign has been notable for the paucity of policy ideas and genuine debate. But irrespective of whether the candidates turn their minds to these important questions, we will.

And we will continue to bring you evidence-based coverage and expert analysis this election in a way that is connected to your agenda.

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