Our Say: Reminder of what people are worried about

The latest Choice Quarterly Consumer Pulse Survey should be compulsory reading for all politicians, whether they be of the Federal or State variety.

At a time when our leaders are tying themselves up in knots over who is entitled to sit in the Parliament and how the same-sex marriage debate should be resolved, millions are worried sick about how to pay for health care, electricity and next week's groceries.

Concerns over the cost of housing, fuel, gas, insurance and basic services such as water are not far behind.

The regular survey, which noted wages and salary growth had been "very flat" for a long time now, indicated cost of living pressures and mortgage stress were the biggest concerns facing most Australians.

This is not surprising given only as recently as June members of the Reserve Bank Board expressed a similar view with the governor, Phil Lowe, talking about "a crisis of low pay".

He blamed this on economic uncertainty and the threat of competition from robots and foreign workers.

"When any of us feel like there is more competition out there you're less inclined to put the price up," he said. "People value security and one way you can get a bit more security is not to demand a wage rise."

One unintended consequence has been that as household incomes stagnate while the costs of living, particularly those linked to energy and housing, keep shooting for the moon it becomes harder to balance the family budget.

More and more people are starting to ask "why does it have to be this hard?"

And Cassandra Goldie, the chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Service, says: "There is an increasing number of people who just can't make ends meet."

Our politicians would be well advised to take note of the growing wave of voter disenchantment overseas that led to Brexit​ and the 2016 US Presidential election result.

While MPs’ citizenship and the looming marriage postal survey are obviously of significant national import, our politicians can obsessively pursue some issues and let attention slip on equally important affairs affecting everyday life. 

Those politicians struggling to gain traction in the opinion polls might do well to compare their current focus to the issues raised in the survey as the ones really important to communities across the country.