Election 2016: Over 65ers more critical of Australian politics

Older Australians are generally less trusting of politicians and less satisfied with current politics compared to younger people, new research finds. Source: AAP

Older Australians are more likely to distrust politicians, according to new research from the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis.

Older people are dissatisfied with Australian politics, even more than younger generations, research from the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA) suggests. 

A national poll of more than 1200 Australians reveals many respondents perceive generally low standards of honesty in Australian politics. The results include 163 people, 65 or older, who were generally much more sceptical of politics in this country.

The research was conducted in conjunction with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.

Older Australians thought standards of honesty and integrity were not only low, but were decreasing, more so than younger respondents.

The Ipsos poll was taken between February and March 2016, with a sample that reflects the geographic and age distribution of Australia's population.

The lack of trust among older Australians came down to how they perceive the decision making process, Professor of Governance and IGPA director Mark Evans told SBS.

"The evidence suggests that they simply don't like the norms and values of contemporary politics," Prof Evans said.

"The politics are too adversarial, self-serving and disconnected from the needs and aspirations of everyday Australians."

The results of one question in particular reflects this sentiment:

Despite these negative feelings, people aged 65 or older were more likely to be politically engaged and more likely to say they were satisfied with how democracy works in Australia.

IGPA research fellow Max Halupka had a simple explanation: older Australians are confident in democracy as a system of governance, but not the politicians who manage Australia's affairs.

"You can feel really quite confident in a democratic process but disenfranchised with the way in which it's utilised," Dr Halupka said.

He said younger people might also equate policies important to them, like climate change and the NBN rollout, with democracy itself rather than with the integrity of politics and politicians.

Among the reasons for the dissatisfaction among older Australians was a perception that politics today was just more of the same, Paul Versteege from the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association told SBS News.

"It is the feeling when you talk to older people generally, they've seen it all before," Mr Versteege said.

"They've seen governments come and go, especially the last two governments have been changing leaders."

The Museum of Australian Democracy and the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis commissioned the Ipsos poll, and research on this joint project is ongoing.

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