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Not even a federal leadership coup could shake the overall performance of the Australian government but voters want it to focus on the cost of living, a survey reveals.

The cost of living has become the most important issue for the federal government to tackle, according to the latest JWS Research survey published on Thursday night.

It’s the first time the issue of cost of living pressures has topped the chart since the True Issues polling began, ranking just one per cent higher than hospitals, health care and ageing.

More than 70 per cent of families and 68 per cent of Generation X, aged 35 to 54, are more likely to state the cost of living as a priority for the government to focus on.

This could be adding to growing dissatisfaction over the past quarter among the 1000 Aussie adults surveyed, between November 9 to 14, with 23 per cent saying their personal situation had gone in the wrong direction.

Added to the financial woes, survey participants queried the direction of the national, state and territory economies on the last survey.

Employment and wages, immigration and border security, the economy, environment, energy, housing and defence were also among the top 10 issues for the government.

Three in 10 rate terrorism and security issues as important, the poll found.

The government scored a performance index of 43 in November – just shy of 44 in August – with 22 per cent of those surveyed giving it a ‘very good’ or ‘good’ rating.

Millenials, aged 18 to 34, rated the performance of all levels of government the highest, except when it came to housing where they rated it in line with the general population.

The government shone in the category of defence, security and terrorism but it was the only issue where performance ‘significantly declined’ since the previous survey.

But the government’s worst performing areas were cost of living with an index of 33, behind vision, leadership and quality of government (34) and energy (36).