Climate change: top political issue


The top political issue searched for by Australians online is climate change, which is three and a half times more popular than the issues that the major political parties are championing.

Experian Hitwise

Climate change (marked in blue) is the most popular election topic searched for online by Australians between May and August.

Credit: Experian Hitwise

Experian Hitwise_Julia

Julia Gillard (marked in red) is the political leader most searched for between May and August, with a spike just after she became Prime Minister in June.

Credit: Experian Hitwise

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Net-surfers have been searching for information on climate change more than any other issue in the lead-up to the federal election this Saturday.

"The Australian public's priorities are climate change and education when it comes to share of online searches," said Alan Long, research director at Experian Hitwise for the Asia Pacific region.

This research is contrasted to the policy announcements from the major political parties during their election campaigns, with immigration the main issue that Labor and the Coalition have been fighting over.

"Climate change accounts for three and a half times the share of searches than immigration. This highlights a level of disparity between what the major political parties believe will win votes and the issues that are of greatest interest to the Australian public," says Long.

With a sample size of three million Australian Internet users, Experian Hitwise looked at key election issues and political leaders between May 8 and August 14.

In the ranking of political leaders, searches on Julia Gillard spiked just after she took over as Prime Minister, and searches for her name have remained the most prominent of all the political leaders in Australia. When the election was called on July 17, searches for Tony Abbott almost doubled, and have remained fairly constant.

Another major topic being weighted in campaign debates is economics, however there was a drop in online searches around June 23 when Kevin Rudd was ousted, and it has not re-emerged. Likewise, online searches for health and Work Choices have decreased over the last few months.

All of the Election Scorecards released by Australian environment and climate change groups - such as the
Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), the World Wildlife Fund, Australia, and the Australian Youth Climate Change Coalition - have rated the Greens as the most committed to tackling climate change.

"The Prime Minister said she would lead on climate policy, but there is no reason to further delay action," said ACF Executive Director Don Henry.

Regarding an earlier survey that said that 78 per cent of 2,200 people surveyed would be swayed by policies on 'pollution and climate change', Henry said that: "Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott aren't taking climate change seriously but Australian voters think they should be".

"Australians are looking for leadership to help us make the transition from a pollution-dependent economy to a cleaner economy," said Henry.