After the tax revolt: why Medicare matters more to middle Australia than lower taxes

Shaun Wilson*, Trevor Breusch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2003 gives new insights into the public's increasing preference for more social spending and their willingness to pay more taxes to fund services. This paper profiles the new electorate and discusses factors driving this trend in public opinion. Multivariate analysis allows us to identify the key demographic, political and policy variables that predict support for spending. All the usual factors matter: being older and more educated, and identifying as Labor, Green or Democrat all predict support for higher spending. But we find that policy perceptions matter as well: believing that health and Medicare and/or public education have declined in the past two years brings major support for increased spending. We also find that the Australian public supports modest tax increases to fund spending on health and education and that the Australian electorate is more open minded about tax rises than conventional wisdom holds. Our main conclusions are that support for social spending over reduced taxes has increased over the past two decades, and especially after the election of the Howard Government, and that dissatisfaction with health and Medicare, and public education, are reshaping the fiscal preferences of the Australian electorate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-116
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes


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