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The Lowy Institute Poll 2012: Public opinion and foreign policy

5 June 2012   |   Polling   |   By Fergus Hanson

The eighth annual Lowy Institute Poll reports the results of a nationally representative opinion survey of 1,005 Australian adults conducted in Australia between 26 March and 10 April 2012 using mobile and landline telephones. It also reports the results of a parallel survey conducted in New Zealand.

Key issues covered in the 2012 poll include: foreign investment in Australian farms, uranium sales to India, relations with Fiji, the Bali bombings, climate change, the war in Afghanistan, migration, the US Presidential elections, US military bases, and attitudes towards democracy and human rights. The survey also repeated questions asked in 2007 in both Australia and New Zealand. 

 

Australian farmer
Reuters
Australian farmer
Key Findings
Presented with six hypothetical criteria for determining which migrants should be allowed to come to Australia, those ranked as the most important are: having similar values to Australians (34%), work skills (23%), English-language skills (20%), education (11%), religion (8%) and race (4%).
74% of Australians say that they are in favour of up to 2,500 US soldiers being based in Darwin. Forty-six per cent are also in favour of allowing more than 2,500 soldiers to be based in Australia.
Just 60% of Australians say democracy is preferable to any other kind of government, and only 39% of 18 to 29 year olds.

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    FOREIGN POLICY

    Feelings towards other countries

    The thermometer question tracks overall feelings towards other countries on a 0 to 100 scale. Of 19 countries included in the survey, Australians feel warmest towards New Zealand (85°). The United States (71°) and Japan (70°) come in second and third. Feelings towards Japan are at an all-time high, perhaps in the wake of the devastating tsunami.

    The biggest improvement this year was in feelings towards China (59°, up six points from 2011) and newly liberated Libya (41°, also up six points since last year). Feelings towards Arab Spring neighbour Egypt also improved (56°, up four points from 2011). South Korea also saw a modest improvement (61°, up four points since 2011) to its highest ranking since this question was first asked in 2006. Attitudes towards tentatively democratising Burma also improved to a lukewarm 50° (up four points since it was last included in 2009).

    Countries included for the first time were Greece, which received a warm 65° rating, and Syria, which received a cool 39°. Australians continue to reserve their coldest feelings for North Korea (33°). 

    Foreign companies buying Australian farmland

    Since the last Lowy Institute Poll, a number of controversial foreign policy debates have taken place in Australia, including on foreign ownership of Australian farmland, uranium sales to India and relations with Fiji. To test Australian views on these subjects the 2012 Lowy Poll included a number of new questions.

    The issue of foreign ownership of agricultural land has been a hot topic of debate in many countries around the world, including here in Australia. It is also one on which the Australian public has strong views, with a large majority (81%) saying they are against ‘the Australian government allowing foreign companies to buy Australian farmland to grow crops or farm livestock’. Showing the strength of this opinion, 63% say they are ‘strongly against’.

    Uranium sales to India

    In December 2011, the Australian Labor Party overturned its ban on the sale of uranium to India in a heated national conference debate that the Prime Minister said represented a ‘vibrant political party’.1 It is a move that most Australians seem to oppose. Sixty-one per cent of Australians say they are against ‘Australia selling uranium to India’, with 39% saying they are ‘strongly against’. Women are more against it than men (71% compared with 51%) and among those saying they ‘always vote Labor’ two-thirds (65%) are against it (54% of those who ‘always vote Coalition’ are also against).

    Relations with Fiji

    Australia has struggled with its policy towards Fiji after the military dictator Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama seized power in 2006. Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, was particularly affronted by a 2011 Lowy Institute Poll conducted in Fiji that revealed Fijian public opinion was in some cases at odds with Australian government assumptions.2 The 2012 Lowy Institute Poll reveals Australians also believe government policy settings are wrong. A large majority (79%) of Australians are in favour of ‘the Australian government restarting ministerial-level contacts’ with the government in Fiji – contacts that had been cut off as part of the response to the coup.3

    Bali bombings

    The year 2012 will mark the tenth anniversary of the Bali Bombings in which 202 people died, including 88 Australians. Bringing the perpetrators to justice has naturally attracted considerable attention. Asked about the extent to which ‘the bombers have been brought to justice’, only 11% of Australians say they have been ‘fully’ brought to justice, with most (61%) saying they have ‘partly’ been brought to justice. Twenty-two per cent say they have ‘not been brought to justice at all’.    

    CLIMATE CHANGE

    Emissions Trading Scheme

    In November 2011, the Australian government succeeded in passing climate change legislation through the federal parliament.  However, there is considerable public opposition to the government’s climate pricing system. The majority (63%) of Australians say they are against the legislation ‘introducing a fixed price on carbon that will then lead to an Emissions Trading Scheme’, with a high proportion (45%) ‘strongly against’. Just a third (35%) are ‘in favour’. 

    A majority (53%) of Australian men are ‘strongly against’ the legislation compared with 36% of women. By contrast, a majority (58%) of those educated with a bachelor degree or higher are either strongly or somewhat in favour.

    The 63% of Australians who say they are against the legislation were presented with three statements and asked ‘whether you agree or disagree it is a reason why you personally are against the legislation’. Half the population (52%) oppose the legislation and agree it ‘it will result in job losses’. Thirty-eight per cent say ‘it is not necessary to act before other countries’. However, a third of the population oppose the legislation and say it does not go far enough, with 33% agreeing ‘the measures are not strict enough to result in substantial emissions reductions’.  

    Most Australians (57%) are also in favour of a future ‘Coalition government removing the Emissions Trading Scheme’ if it is elected at the next Federal election, with 38% ‘strongly in favour’. However, 39% are against this, with a quarter (26%) ‘strongly against’. In bad news for the government, the majority in favour of removing the legislation held across all states, age groups, both genders and across income levels. The exception is those with a bachelor degree or higher, with only 39% of these Australians in favour of removing the legislation. Even 38% of Australians who say they always or sometimes vote for the Green Party are in favour of removing the legislation. 

    Dealing with global warming

    A tracking question that presents Australians with three options for dealing with global warming reveals for the first time that those favouring an intermediate approach to the problem now outnumber Australians favouring the most aggressive form of action.

    Only a third (36%) of Australians now support the most aggressive form of action, down from two-thirds (68%) back in 2006 who said ‘global warming is a serious and pressing problem. We should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs.’

    The largest proportion (45%) of Australians now support the intermediate proposition that ‘the problem of global warming should be addressed, but its effects will be gradual, so we can deal with the problem gradually by taking steps that are low in cost’. Support for this option is up five points since last year. Interestingly, it is 18 to 29 year olds who are most likely to favour this option (56% compared with 42% of those 30 years and older).

    Support for the most sceptical position that ‘until we are sure that global warming is really a problem, we should not take any steps that would have economic costs’ is steady compared with last year, with 18% of Australians saying this, but still up from 7% in 2006.

    Intriguingly, despite the long-term moderation of Australian views, only a small proportion (7%) of Australians say they have become ‘less concerned about climate change’ ‘since the climate change debate began in Australia’. Most (55%) say they have not changed their mind, while 38% say they have become ‘more concerned’.

    WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST

    Afghanistan

    In April 2012, Prime Minister Gillard announced plans to bring forward the Australian withdrawal from Afghanistan from 2014 to 2013, while simultaneously being prepared to consider an ongoing, yet more limited, role for Special Forces.

    This is likely to be a popular move, given public support for the war has continued to erode. Just a third (33%) of Australians say Australia should ‘continue to be involved militarily in Afghanistan’, down seven points since last year and from 46% in 2007.

    Two-thirds (65%) of Australians now oppose Australian military involvement, with opposition increasing with age from 58% opposition among 18 to 29 year olds rising to 74% among those 60 years and older. Women are also more likely to oppose Australian military involvement than men (69% compared with 60%).

    However, the issue may be more about perceptions. Asked if they are ‘in favour or against Australian Special Forces staying on in Afghanistan to work alongside US Special Forces in more limited counter-terrorism operations’ after major combat operations are scheduled to end, most (55%) Australians are in favour. The results suggest a quite striking distinction the public seems to make between the more traditional deployment of Australian ‘soldiers’ and Special Forces.

     

    Iraq

    In the wake of the US decision to pull out militarily from Iraq, the 2012 Lowy Institute Poll asked Australians if ‘in overall terms…the war in Iraq was worth the costs for Australia’. A majority (59%) disagree it was worth the costs, with 39% saying they ‘strongly disagree’.

    Iran

    Looking ahead to a potential future conflict zone, Iran, asked if they are ‘in favour or against the use of military air strikes on Iran to stop its attempts to develop nuclear weapons’, 54% of Australians are against, a third (34%) strongly. A substantial 42%, however, are in favour.

     

    MIGRATION

    Migration is a perennially controversial topic in countries around the world. In Australia it has featured during debates on population growth, worker shortages and in rare outbursts like the Cronulla Riots.  This year’s Lowy Institute Poll included several new questions on migration, revealing strikingly pragmatic views on the topic.

    Presented with six hypothetical criteria ‘for determining which migrants should be allowed to come to Australia to live’, Australians are extremely practical in their preferences. ‘Work skills’ is the criterion most (65%) say is ‘very important’, followed by ‘English language skills’ (60%), ‘having similar values to Australians’ (57%) and ‘education’ (47%). Just 15% say ‘religion’ is ‘very important’ and only 10% ‘race’.

    There are some generational differences in opinion on selection criteria. Australians 60 years or older are three times more likely than Australians 18 to 29 years old to say ‘race’ is a ‘very important’ criterion (15% compared with 5%). They are also twice as likely to say ‘having similar values’ is a ‘very important’ criterion (72% compared with 36%). Similarly with ‘religion’, 20% of those 60 years old and older say it is ‘very important’ compared with 8% of 18 to 29 year olds.

    Asked to choose just one criterion as the ‘most important’, the ranking was: ‘having similar values’ (34%), ‘work skills’ (23%), ‘English language skills’ (20%), ‘education’ (11%), ‘religion’ (8%) and ‘race’ (4%).

    Australians also recognised the need for short-term migration to address worker shortages. Sixty-two per cent of Australians say they are in favour of ‘the government allowing in extra workers from foreign countries’ when ‘there are shortages of workers in Australia and companies in Australia cannot find enough skilled workers’.   

    AUSTRALIA’S IMAGE IN ASIA

    In the context of the Australia Network tender and the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, the 2012 poll included several new questions about Australia’s image and engagement with our neighbourhood.

    Australians believe it is important to be liked by our neighbours. Two-thirds (68%) say it is ‘very important’ for ‘Australia to be seen in a positive light by people from countries in our region’, with another 26% saying it is ‘somewhat important’. Just 6% say it is ‘not important’.

    They also support government efforts to communicate with countries in our region. Eighty-two per cent say they are in favour of ‘the Australian government funding broadcast services or other programs to communicate with people from countries in our region, with the aim of improving relations with those countries’, with 38% saying they are ‘strongly in favour’.

    In the context of the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, the poll presented Australians with six possible responses from the Australian government ‘as the Asian region grows and becomes more significant’.

    There is strongest support for doing more to get ‘Australia included in Asian political forums’ (37% saying it is ‘very important’), increasing ‘defence spending’ (32%) and encouraging ‘Australians to learn more Asian languages’ (31%). A quarter (24%) say the government should ‘increase the number of Australian diplomats we send to Asia’, but there is less support for doing ‘more to attract Asian investment into Australia’ (16%) or increasing ‘the number of migrants Australia accepts from Asia’ (13%). 

    There are some generational differences. Australians 60 years or older are twice as likely as Australians 18 to 29 years old to say increasing ‘defence spending’ is ‘very important’ (40% compared with 20%). They are also more likely to say encouraging ‘Australians to learn more Asian languages’ is ‘very important’ (32% compared with 23%). Australians 18 to 29 years old are the most likely age group to say it is ‘very important’ the government ‘increase the number of Australian diplomats we send to Asia’ (32%).

    UNITED STATES

    The ANZUS alliance

    As mentioned, Australians hold warm feelings towards the United States giving it a high 71° rating on the thermometer scale, steady with last year’s 70°. Consistent with this, support for the US alliance is at its highest levels since the Lowy Institute Poll began in 2005, with 87% of Australians saying ‘Australia’s alliance relationship with the United States’ is either ‘very important’ (59%) or ‘fairly important’ (28%) for Australia’s security.

    Australians 18 to 29 years old are the least likely age group to say the alliance relationship is ‘very important’ (43%), while those 60 and older are the most likely (71%). Men are also more likely than women to say this (63% compared with 54%).

    Most important security partner

    In an open-ended question, asked to say which country ‘will be Australia’s most important security partner over the next 10 years’, 74% of Australians choose the United States. Interestingly, 10% say it will be China. Just 4% say New Zealand and 3% Great Britain. Australians 18 to 29 years old are the least likely (62%) to say the United States will be the ‘most important security partner’, while those 60 and older are the most likely (83%). Conversely, Australians 18 to 29 years old are the most likely to say China will be Australia’s ‘most important security partner’, with 19% saying this compared with 2% of those 60 and older.

    When those nominating Australia’s ‘second-most important’ security partner are combined with the country chosen as the ‘most important’, the top five ranking is: the United States (87%), Great Britain (35%), China (24%), New Zealand (19%) and Indonesia (8%).

    US Presidential elections

    In the 2008 Lowy Institute Poll, Australians expressed a strong preference for then-US presidential candidate Barack Obama (73%) over his then-rival John McCain (16%). Since then Obamamania has only increased. Asked ‘which candidate would you prefer to see become President of the United States’, Australians choose President Obama over his Republican rival Mitt Romney by an 8 to 1 ratio (80% compared with 9%). Women are slightly more favourable towards Obama than men (85% compared with 74%).

    US bases in Australia

    The 2011 Lowy Institute Poll surprised policy-makers with the result that 55% of Australians were in favour of allowing the United States to base US military forces in Australia, an idea previously ruled out as unlikely by then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates because the US had no wish to create ‘political difficulties’ in Australia.4 In November 2011, during President Obama’s visit to Australia, it was announced US Marines would in fact be deployed to northern Australia on a rotating but permanent basis, with a cap on the number of troops set at 2,500.5

    In the wake of this announcement, the 2012 Lowy Institute Poll asked Australians if they are ‘in favour or against up to 2,500 US soldiers being based in Darwin’ and found 74% of Australians in favour. Younger Australians (18 to 29 years old) are least supportive (66%).

    The 74% in favour were then asked about ‘allowing more US soldiers to be based in Australia above the 2,500 limit set at the moment’. These results showed that 46% of Australians are in favour of allowing more than 2,500 soldiers to be based in Australia. A majority (55%) of men are in favour of this greater number of troops, compared with only 38% of women. A majority (51%) of those 60 and older are also in favour compared with 37% of 18 to 29 year olds.

    Showing how diplomatic protests can sometimes backfire, when those in favour of allowing more than 2,500 soldiers to be based in Australia were asked if their opinion would change if either China or Indonesia objected, support for increasing the number of soldiers actually increased, with 51% of Australians in favour of allowing more than 2,500 soldiers to be deployed to Australia if China objected and 54% if Indonesia objected.

    CHINA

    China’s role in Australia avoiding recession

    The Australian government has claimed a major role in preventing Australia from falling into recession during the recent global economic crisis. However, it has been hard-pressed selling its message and more Australians credit demand for resources rather than astute policymaking. Seventy per cent of Australians say ‘a major reason’ Australia managed to avoid falling into recession is ‘because of demand for Australian resources from countries like China’, compared with just 41% of Australians who say ‘a major reason’ is ‘because of good Australian government policies’.

    Chinese investment

    The Lowy Institute Poll has for several years picked up public opposition to Chinese investment. This year a majority (56%) of Australians again say ‘the Australian government is allowing too much investment from China’, with support for this view increasing with age (40% of 18 to 29 year olds hold this view compared with 66% of those 45 years and older). However, this year the poll tried to get at the reasons underlying this sentiment.

    Those saying the government is allowing too much investment were presented with six statements and asked to say if they ‘agree or disagree it is a reason why you personally think the Australian government is allowing too much investment from China’. The two reasons gaining the most support and majority agreement across the Australian population are ‘China is seeking to buy Australian mining and agricultural companies and these need to be kept in Australian hands’ (54%) and ‘China has so much money to invest it could end up buying and controlling a lot of Australian companies’ (51%).

    However, perceptions about too much Chinese investment may be part of a more general aversion to foreign investment, with 46% of Australians agreeing ‘the Australian government is allowing too much foreign investment from all countries, not just China’.

    Of the six possible reasons, the one gaining least agreement is ‘it is hard to trust China’ (37%).

    The leading power in Asia

    Australians have firm impressions about Chinese power. Repeating a tracking question asking Australians if they ‘agree or disagree that China will become the leading power in Asia or, do you think it already is the leading power in Asia?’, 95% say either it ‘already is the leading power’ (79%) or ‘will become the leading power’ (16%), the exact same overall proportion who said this when the question was last asked in 2009.

    Of the 95% who say China ‘is the leading power’ or ‘will become the leading power’, 52% say they are either ‘very uncomfortable’ (15%) or ‘somewhat uncomfortable’ (37%) about this. Discomfort with China’s rise has not changed since the question was last asked in 2009.

    China as a military threat

    After a brief period of assertiveness, China has recently returned to a more steady approach to its international relations. As noted, Australians warmed in their views towards China from 53° in 2011 to 59°. This year they are also slightly less likely to say ‘China will become a military threat to Australia in the next 20 years’, dropping from 44% in 2011 to 40% in 2012. A majority (58%) continues to say it is ‘unlikely’.

     

    AUSTRALIANS ON DEMOCRACY

    In 2011, the Lowy Institute conducted opinion polls in Indonesia and Fiji, which included questions on democracy and human rights. To see how views in these countries compare with those in Australia we repeated some of the questions in the 2012 Lowy Institute Poll.

    Results suggest some Australians are quite blasé about democracy. Presented with three statements about democracy and asked to say ‘which one of the three statements comes closest to your own personal views about democracy’, just 60% of Australians say ‘democracy is preferable to any other kind of government’, similar to the proportion of Indonesians (62%) and Fijians (53%) who say this. Interestingly, only 39% of Australians 18 to 29 years old hold this view, with support increasing with age to 74% for those 60 years and older.

    A quarter (23%) of Australians say ‘in some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable’, more than Indonesians (16%) but a similar proportion as in Fiji (25%), which is currently under military dictatorship.

    Fifteen per cent of Australians say ‘for someone like me, it doesn’t matter what kind of government we have’, with a quarter (23%) of 18 to 29 year olds holding this view. Seventeen per cent of Indonesians say this and 21% of people in Fiji.

    Human rights

    Australians have stronger views about human rights, particularly those directly affecting themselves. An overwhelming majority (95%) ‘strongly agree’ ‘the right to a fair trial’ is important for them here in Australia. Ninety per cent ‘strongly agree’ ‘the right to vote in national elections’ is important and 84% ‘the right to freely express yourself’. Support is weakest for ‘the right to a media free from censorship’, with 64% saying they ‘strongly agree’ it is important.

    Comparing Australian views to those in Fiji and Indonesia, there were a few differences. Indonesians (83%) and Fijians (85%) are slightly less likely than Australians (95%) to ‘strongly agree’ ‘the right to a fair trial’ is important. Australians (90%) and Fijians (87%) are quite a bit more likely than Indonesians (67%) to ‘strongly agree’ ‘the right to vote in national elections’ is important. Australians (84%) and Fijians (85%) are also more likely than Indonesians (71%) to ‘strongly agree’ ‘the right to freely express yourself’ is important. Fijians (70%) are more likely than both Australians (64%) and Indonesians (24%) to ‘strongly agree’ ‘the right to a media free from censorship’ is important.

     

    AUSTRALIA-NEW ZEALAND SURVEY

    In 2007, the Lowy Institute along with the New Zealand Institute conducted a parallel opinion survey in Australia and New Zealand. This year we repeated some of the questions from that first survey in conjunction with the Asia New Zealand Foundation, which ran a parallel poll in New Zealand (see methodology for details).

    Joint ANZAC dollar

    Since 2007, Australians have increased in their opposition to a joint currency with New Zealand, with a majority (54%) now opposing ‘the New Zealand and Australian dollars being replaced by a joint ANZAC dollar’, up from 42% in 2007. Support for an ANZAC dollar is strongest among 18 to 29 year olds (47%) and weakest among those 60 years and older (29%).

    In New Zealand, opposition has also increased slightly, rising from 42% in 2007 to 46% in 2012. Forty-three per cent of New Zealanders support a joint currency and a majority of men (52%).

    Joining to become one country

    Presented with a hypothetical ‘if Australia and New Zealand joined to become a single country’ and asked who the beneficiaries would be, 35% of Australians say it would be ‘good for both countries’, similar to the 2007 result (33%). There is an increase in the proportion saying it would be ‘good for New Zealand, but bad for Australia’ (17%, and up eight points from 2007). Seven per cent say it would be ‘good for Australia, but bad for New Zealand’ (10% said this in 2007). Thirty-seven per cent say it would be ‘bad for both countries’ compared with 40% in 2007. 

    Fewer New Zealanders than Australians say joining to become a single country would be ‘good for both’ (24%) similar to the result in 2007 (23%). There was a slight increase in those saying it would be ‘good for New Zealand, but bad for Australia’ (12%, up from 8%). Just 15% say it would be ‘good for Australia, but bad for New Zealand’, down from 22% in 2007 and 43% say it would be ‘bad for both’ up slightly from 2007 (39%).

    Economic integration with New Zealand

    On the issue of economic integration with New Zealand, Australians’ views have not changed much since 2007. Most (68%) Australians say ‘economic integration between Australia and New Zealand’ is ‘about right’, up 10 points since 2007. Just 6% say it has ‘gone too far’, similar to the 5% saying this in 2007 and 17% say it has gone ‘not far enough’ also consistent with 2007 results (16%).

    Younger Australians are more likely to say economic integration has gone ‘not far enough’ (20% of 18 to 44 year olds compared with 12% of those 60 years and older). Men are also twice as likely as women to hold this view (23% compared with 12%). 

    On this issue, New Zealanders have somewhat different views from Australians. There has been an 11-point increase in those saying economic integration has gone ‘not far enough’ (42% up from 31% in 2007) and significantly higher than the 17% of Australians who currently hold this view. And whereas 68% of Australians say economic integration is ‘about right’, just 39% of New Zealanders say this.

    Australia-New Zealand: similarities and partnership

    Two extra questions were fielded in New Zealand but not in Australia. The first asked whether over the last 10 years ‘Australia and New Zealand have become more like each other, less like each other or have the differences stayed about the same’. A fifth (20%) of New Zealanders say ‘more’ (down slightly from 26% in 2007), 49% ‘about the same’ (the exact same result as 2007) and a quarter (25%) ‘less’, similar to the 22% in 2007.

    The other question asked ‘over the past 10 years do you personally think Australia has been a good partner or a poor partner of New Zealand’s’. A large majority (80%) say Australia has been either a ‘very good’ (26%) or ‘somewhat good’ (54%) partner of New Zealand’s.

    Notes

    1 Paul Osborne, ‘Labor backs uranium sale to India’, Sydney Morning Herald, 4 December 2011, http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/labor-backs-uranium-sale-t....

    2 Fergus Hanson, ‘Marles blind to Fiji poll benefits’, Lowy Interpreter, 6 October 2011, http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2011/10/06/Marles-blind-to-fiji-poll....

    3 DFAT, Republic of Fiji country brief, Political situation, http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/fiji/fiji_brief.html. 

    4 Paul Kelly, ‘Deeper US alliance in response to strident China’, The Australian, 10 November 2010, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/deeper-us-alliance-inrespon...

    5 Prime Minister of Australia, Media release, Australia-United States force posture initiatives, 16 November 2011, http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/australia-united-states-force-posture-....

     

     

    About the Australian Lowy Institute Poll

    The Lowy Institute Poll was conducted in Australia between 26 March and 10 April. A number of the questions in the poll were first asked in previous Lowy Institute polls, or have been adapted from questions asked in those years. Repeating questions in successive years allows us to compare public opinion on a single issue over time, building trend data on important international policy issues.

    Some of our questions this year are identical to questions asked previously by other survey organisations, which has allowed for the comparison of public opinion internationally.

    Please note the order of questions in the questionnaire was different to the order of questions presented in this report.

     

    Methodology – Australian Survey

    For this opinion poll, Field Works Market Research conducted a total of 1,005 interviews.  All but one of these interviews were conducted between 26 March and 5 April 2012, before the Easter break, with one final interview conducted on 10 April, after the Easter break. Survey interviews were conducted by fixed and mobile telephone. The sample was designed to be nationally representative of all Australians 18 years and older. Quotas were set for each state and territory, with broad age-group and gender quotas. Interviewers continued making calls until each quota was filled. Within each geographic area, telephone numbers were randomly selected from a regularly updated active residential and mobile phone number database. The results were then weighted to reflect the demographic profile of the Australian population aged 18 years and over, using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

    These weights were used in the production of all the tables for this report. On a truly random sample of 1,005 the margin of error is 3.1%, which means there is a 95% chance that responses from the sample fall within a range of 3.1% either side of the notional collective response of the whole population. Since this sample was stratified (by state/territory, age-group and sex), the error figure is a guide only. Where the results for a sub-sample are reported, the margin of error is greater.

     

    Methodology – New Zealand Survey

    The New Zealand survey was conducted by Colmar Brunton on behalf of the Asia New Zealand Foundation. It employed Random Digit Dialing (RDD) to survey 1,000 New Zealanders aged 18 years and over from 2 April to 19 April 2012. An RDD sample frame includes all New Zealand households with a landline telephone, including those with unlisted numbers. Upon calling each household interviewers asked to speak with the person aged 18 years or over with the next birthday. A stratified random probability sample design was employed to ensure the correct proportions of New Zealanders aged 18 years and over within each of New Zealand’s main urban and rural areas.

    A sampling scheme which selects only one person per household is subject to a household size bias, where people from large households have a different chance of being included than people from small households.  To correct for this, data were weighted by household size (defined as the number of eligible respondents who live in the household). The data were also weighted to reflect the age and gender profile of New Zealanders aged 18 years and over, using data from Statistics New Zealand. On a truly random sample of 1,000, the maximum margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

     

    Acknowledgements

    Several of the questions in this survey were modelled on those developed over the last thirty years by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a world leader in foreign policy opinion polling. Other questions in this year’s survey were derived from Pew and WorldPublicOpinion.org. The fieldwork for the Lowy Institute Poll was managed by Tamara de Silva of Field Works Market Research. Sol Lebovic, Research Consultant, provided technical support, reviewed the questionnaire and helped interpret the data.

    The Australian survey was funded entirely by the Lowy Institute for International Policy. The New Zealand survey was funded entirely by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

    The 2007 New Zealand opinion survey was undertaken on behalf of the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum.