COTA Australia 2016 Federal Election Statement

An ageing, longer-lived population provides challenges and opportunities, costs and benefits to Australia.

The country’s changing age profile demands clear-sighted leadership and skillful policy navigation by the Australian government to ensure the needs of increasing numbers of older people are met, and our economic and social systems adjust. The willingness and ability to step up to meet these challenges must be a crucial test for political parties in the 2016 Federal Election.

In this COTA Election Statement, we seek commitments from all political parties across a range of policy areas impacting upon the lives of older people. At the overall level however, we are seeking a commitment to place the rights and well being of current and future older Australians at the heart of the response to population ageing.

The COTA Election Platform has been formulated both by drawing directly on the views of older Australians expressed to us through election consultations; and by drawing on the many forms of engagement we have had with COTA members and the broader public over the past three years.

Around 1400 people joined the 2016 COTA Election Panel, and 1145 of those completed an online survey to identify the issues that are most important to them in this Federal election and beyond. Their responses off ered great insight into the opinions and attitudes of a range of older Australians.

We also conducted a small number of focus groups through the State and Territory COTAs and received unsolicited input directly from individual COTA members and the general public on election issues. Over the last three years we have also interacted regularly with many thousands of older Australians in regard to aged care reform and retirement incomes policy as we worked on in our advocacy with government, including through the Hands Off The Pension campaign and the National Aged Care Alliance’s Agewell campaign.

The Top Three most important issues in general for our Election Panel were:

  1. Access to quality health services
  2. Having adequate pensions
  3. Access to good quality aged care.

This list was consistent across gender and age groupings, with one exception. Survey respondents over 80 years of age rated their Top Three as:

  1. Access to quality health services
  2. Access to good quality aged care
  3. Access to good quality palliative and end of life care.

The issues of standout importance to our Election Panel when deciding who to vote for were:

  1. Ensuring the quality of Australia’s health system
  2. Management of the economy.

The following three issues – of equal most importance – were:

  • climate change;
  • Australian jobs and protection of local industries;
  • and a fair taxation system.

The older our survey respondents (70-80 and +80) the higher they rated the importance of climate change as a vote decider.