Support for authoritarian leaders in Australia on the rise

17 October 2018

Australians are increasingly attracted to the idea of having a strong leader who does not have to bother with parliament and elections, as trust in political parties and national institutions continues to drop, according to the new Australian Values Study.

The study, conducted by The Australian National University (ANU) Centre for Social Research and Methods, showed 33 per cent of Australians rated having an authoritarian style of leader as being 'very good' or 'fairly good'.

Lead researcher Dr Jill Sheppard said this view was particularly strong in Australians under the age of 35.

"Australians aged 50 and older overwhelmingly think such a system is a bad idea, but young people are more supportive," Dr Sheppard said.

The results also show that confidence in political parties has hit a new low, with 27 per cent of respondents saying they had 'no confidence at all', and 63 per cent 'not very much'.

Australia's media have taken a hit as well, with 25 per cent of people reporting they have no confidence at all in the press, compared to 22 per cent in 2012.

"Confidence in the media is falling," Dr Sheppard said.

"This trend is strongest amongst young people in Australia and I suspect that's a reflection of established media outlets failing to cater to young and emerging audiences."

Religion is also on the decline with a survey record of 20 per cent of Australians describing themselves as atheist, compared to just five per cent in 1995.

Dr Sheppard said while more than half of Australians still believe in God and life after death, there was an interesting contrast in what people believe happens after you pass away.

"Interestingly, half of Australians believe in Heaven, yet less than a third believe in Hell. I'm not sure why that is," she said.

See more from the Australian Values Survey: