IPA Research: Young Australians – Principled, Entrepreneurial and Want Leadership

Written by:
1 December 2023
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“The stereotyping of young Australians as left-wing does them a great disservice and fails to recognise that many are entrepreneurial, sceptical of big government, abhor censorship, and are far more concerned about cost-of-living than cutting emissions,” said Brianna McKee, National Manager of Generation Liberty at the Institute of Public Affairs.

Today, the IPA released The Future of Australia: A Survey of the Values and Beliefs of Young Australians, a significant nationwide survey, undertaken by Insightfully, of the values and attitudes of Australians aged between 16 and 25. This follows research undertaken in 2016.

Respondents were asked about their views on the future of the nation, the role of government, freedom of speech, and social issues. The results showed:

  • Young Australians have deep reservations about censorship. 64 per cent disagree that speech which is claimed to hurt someone’s feelings should be censored, and a strong majority oppose extreme political activism.
  • Young Australians are entrepreneurial and prefer small government. 56 per cent would prefer small government, lower taxes, and fewer services, and two-thirds would like to start their own business.
  • Cutting emissions is not a priority. Young Australians have largely seen through climate alarmism, with only 9 per cent nominating cutting emissions as the top priority of government, compared with 43 per cent who nominated cost of living.
  • Young Australians are pessimistic about the future. 64 per cent believe they will be worse off than their parents’ generation, with cost-of-living pressures, home ownership and government debt seen as major concerns.

“When asked their views, it becomes clear that type-casting young Australians as overwhelmingly woke or leftwing does not stack up. There are so many ready to have a go, start a business, and believe in mainstream vales such as free speech,” said Ms McKee.

Concerningly, 64 per cent of young Australians are pessimistic about the future, believing they will be worse off than their parents’ generation, this is up from 49 per cent in 2016. This presents both challenges and opportunities for Australia’s political leaders.

“It is clear young Australians view big government as an impediment to economic opportunity and prosperity. The level of pessimism in this cohort is deeply concerning and a sign they believe the system is working against them,” said Ms McKee.

In addition, 82 per cent of those surveyed believe the federal budget deficit and national debt are ‘a major problem’, with over half saying ‘it’s a major problem to address now’.

“Our political leaders must do more to ensure that policy settings are in place which will allow young Australians to buy a home, find secure well-paid work, tackle the cost-of-living crisis, as well as providing them with confidence that our way of life and values are preserved,” said Ms McKee.

“Too many of our political and thought leaders have failed to ask young Australians what is important to them. In moving further to the left, political parties, including those on the centre-right, risk alienating young Australians and leaving them unrepresented.”

To download The Future of Australia: A Survey of the Values and Beliefs of Young Australians click here.

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