Environmental impact is seen as critical to infrastructure planning - Ipsos Study

Majority of Australians agree that not enough is being done to meet our infrastructure needs

Australia’s optimistic infrastructure investment will create new jobs and boost the economy, but most think that not enough is being done to meet the country’s infrastructure needs, according to a new Ipsos study.

The study, carried out in 28 countries by Ipsos, is in collaboration with the Global Infrastructure Investor Association. It found that when making decisions about how to improve infrastructure, Australians, in line with the global public, considers their impact on the environment should be more of a priority than their impact on the economy.

In the lead-up to COP26, the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, an average of 51% of Australians feel that it is right to prioritise the impact on the environment, nearly double the 28% who put greater weight on economic impacts. This finding was consistent with the global average with 51% again prioritising impact on the environment and 26% prioritising economic impacts.

The importance of the environment was also noted in planning for future infrastructure. The environment is ranked as the most important of seven factors when planning for the future among Australians; an average of 30% of Australians rank it first (26% global average), slightly ahead of the quality of infrastructure, chosen by 26% (23% globally).

The amount of disruption during construction and upgrades, legacy (the infrastructure that we pass on to future generations), and investment (paying for the costs of improving and building new infrastructure now, to avoid having to pay more later) are least likely to be chosen as the most important factors in Australia, selected by just 4%, 7% and 8% respectively.

The Ipsos survey, which has been running for five years, shows that:

  • More Australians are satisfied (51%) than dissatisfied (18%) with the country’s infrastructure, but more than a quarter (27%) are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.
  • This level of satisfaction with infrastructure in Australia is higher than average. Globally, 39% are satisfied, but there is a wide range of satisfaction levels with infrastructure across the 28 countries surveyed; 77% are satisfied in China while only 18% are positive in Italy.

Despite Australians being more likely to be satisfied than dissatisfied with infrastructure, the majority (59%) agree that not enough is being done to meet the nation’s infrastructure needs. This has been a consistent belief amongst Australians in recent years (58% agreed in 2020; 60% agreed in 2019; 61% in 2018). 

Ipsos Director, Jennifer Brook, said: “With Infrastructure Australia anticipating $218 billion to be invested in public infrastructure over the next five years,[1] there is great opportunity for Australians’ hopes for infrastructure improvement to be delivered. Furthermore, four in five, or 80%, of Australians believe that investment in infrastructure will create new jobs and boost the economy. The infrastructure projects across Australia currently being planned or in delivery are seen as critical investments. Solar energy infrastructure continues to stand out as an area where Australians believe more should be done.”

In terms of specific types of infrastructure investment priorities, Australians place solar energy (48% identified as a priority); local road network (39%); rail infrastructure and major road network (both 38%); and wind energy (36%) as the most critical. Solar energy investment has topped this list in Australia for the last three years.

Globally, water supply and sewerage rank as the top priority for investment with 42% selecting it from a list of 13 possibilities, followed by solar energy infrastructure (39%) and flood defences (36%).

Globally, there continues to be a preference for maintaining and repairing existing infrastructure (chosen by 55%) rather than spending on new infrastructure projects (20%), an identical pattern to that found in 2019. This sentiment is not as strong in Australia, yet, Australians were also more likely to prefer renewal and repair (49%) over new (24%).

About the Study

These are the results of a 28-market survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 19,585 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and people 16-74 in 24 other markets between April 23 and May 7, 2021.

The sample consists of approximately 1,000 individuals in each of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland), France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the U.S., and 500 individuals in each of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and Turkey.

The samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. can be taken as representative of these countries’ general adult population under the age of 75.

The samples in Brazil, Chile, China (mainland), Colombia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey are more urban, more educated, and/or more affluent than the general population. The survey results for these countries should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of their population.

The data is weighted so that each market’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the most recent census data.

Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses.

The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 4.8 percentage points.

As a foundation member of the Australian Polling Council, Ipsos complies with the Council’s Code of Conduct. The purpose of the Code is to provide journalists and the public with greater confidence and trust in publicly released polling and survey data. We strongly encourage the inclusion of methodological details in any reference to published Ipsos results.

This study is compliant with the Australian Polling Council Code of Conduct. The Long Methodology Disclosure Statement for the study will be available at https://www.ipsos.com/en-au/disclosure_statements within two business days.


[1] https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-10/Infrastructure Market Capacity Report 211013_0.pdf