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The Diplomacy and Public Opinion Program

The Lowy Institute conducts significant research on Australia's diplomacy, and its long-standing public opinion polling program, the Lowy Institute Poll, has become an important input into Australian foreign policy since 2005. The Institute also runs the Australia-Papua New Guinea Network, an innovative public diplomacy project to foster people-to-people links between the two countries.

Australia is one of the most highly globalised nations on the planet and extremely dependent on an effective and active diplomacy. In a region undergoing rapid and transformational change, where shifting power balances are creating uncertainty about the existing regional order, Australia’s security and prosperity rely heavily on its international networks and relationships with both near neighbours and geographically-distant allies.

Research on Australia's diplomatic network

The Lowy Institute has conducted ground-breaking comparative research on Australia’s diplomacy and that of like-minded nations. It focuses on Australia's diplomatic network and the resourcing of its international policy infrastructure. It has also produced influential studies on public diplomacy, digital diplomacy, and consular affairs. The Institute’s work has been instrumental in shaping a parliamentary enquiry into Australia’s diplomatic network,  providing independent, non-partisan policy options to steer Australia’s diplomatic future. In 2016, the Lowy Institute released the Global Diplomacy Index, an interactive web tool which maps and ranks the diplomatic networks of all G20 and OECD nations. The interactive allows readers to visualise some of the most significant diplomatic networks in the world, see where nations are represented – by city, country, and type of diplomatic mission – and rank countries according to the size of their diplomatic network.

Australia-Papua New Guinea Network

In an important public diplomacy initiative, the Institute runs the Australia-Papua New Guinea Network, a program funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to foster people-to-people links between Australia and Papua New Guinea. For more about the Australia-Papua New Guinea network and its activities, access the site here.

The Lowy Institute Poll

To inform the public debate on Australia's foreign policy, the Institute has conducted annual polling of Australian public opinion on foreign policy since 2005. The annual Lowy Institute Poll has become one of the Lowy Institute’s flagship publications. It is the leading tracking survey on Australian foreign policy, providing a reliable vehicle for understanding Australian attitudes towards a wide range of foreign policy issues, while being independent and methodologically rigorous. Over the course of the past decade the Poll has uncovered significant shifts in public sentiment, including towards our most important neighbours and partners. It has tracked attitudes on contentious international issues ranging from climate change to war in the Middle East.

The annual Poll is entirely funded by the Lowy Institute to ensure its ongoing independence, and its questionnaire and results are thoroughly reviewed by one of Australia’s most experienced polling experts, Sol Lebovic, the founder and former managing director of Newspoll. Data sets are deposited with the Australian Social Science Data Archive where they are available free of charge for public scrutiny.

One of the best ways to explore the data from our twelve years of polling is through our interactive site. Access the interactive here.

Alternatively, to download the poll reports for each year, click on these links:

In addition to its Australian polling program, the Lowy Institute has conducted influential polls in several of our most important neighbours in Indo-Pacific Asia, including India (2012), Indonesia (2006 and 2011), New Zealand (2007 and 2012), China (2009) and Fiji (2011).

 

Experts

  • Director, Diplomacy and Public Opinion Program
  • Research Fellow, Diplomacy and Public Opinion Program
  • Research Associate, Polling and Diplomacy Program and Digital Program

Latest Publications

2017 Lowy Institute Poll

After a turbulent year in global politics, the 2017 Lowy Institute Poll contains thought-provoking findings about how Australians have reacted to world events, and how they feel about the direction of our own nation

The Lowy Institute Poll 2016

The 2016 Lowy Institute Poll looks at Australians' reactions to a year of elections − the Australian election, the US presidential election and the selection of a new UN Secretary-General.  The Poll, the twelfth annual Poll by the Lowy Institute, also examines attitudes to other

The 2015 Lowy Institute Poll: What does it all mean?

The 2015 Lowy Institute Poll was released this morning. It's the eleventh annual Lowy Institute Poll. It goes without saying that every year there are some fascinating results which shine a light on how Australians feel about critical foreign policy issues. With our established tracking questions

Lowy Institute Poll 2015

After a year marked by an unusual intensity in Australia’s interactions with the world, the 2015 Lowy Institute Poll includes findings from a mix of new questions together with established tracking questions on some of the critical issues of our time. In this year’s Poll, we asked Australians

Data retention scheme has majority support from Australians

New Lowy Institute polling released today shows that the Australian Government's data retention ('metadata') laws, which passed the parliament last night, have the support of a clear majority of Australians. When asked whether 'legislation which will require Australian telecommunications companies

Australians shifting on climate change

A month ago my colleague John Connor wrote an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald welcoming the fact that for the first time in years, climate change was a major story coming out of the Lowy Institute's poll of public attitudes to international affairs. Expectation for leadership on the issue was up

Young Australians talk about the value of democracy

Since Fergus Hanson first polled Australians on the value of democracy in the 2012 Lowy Institute Poll, our findings about how Australians, particularly young Australians, view democracy have variously provoked astonishment, bewilderment, disbelief, worry and frustration. Our 2014 Poll, released

Can women lead? Australians think so

Comments by Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard this week have invigorated the debate on women and leadership. Clinton's recently released book Hard Choices made news in Australia for the condemnation of the 'outrageous sexism' experienced by Gillard. In response, the former Australian prime

How the Lowy Institute Poll works

In conjunction with the release of the 2014 Lowy Institute Poll, Lowy Institute Poll Director Alex Oliver has recorded a podcast which explains the methodology used in the survey. Alex speaks  with Sol Lebovic, who has provided independent advice and technical support to the Lowy Institute over

Foreign-investment anxiety revealed in Lowy Poll

I've just written on the widespread antipathy in Indonesia to foreign investment, and how it is colouring the presidential election campaign. I attributed this hostility to the historical experience of colonialism. Now the Lowy Institute's annual poll reminds us that a similar (if less pronounced

Lowy Institute Poll 2014

2014 marks the tenth year of Lowy Institute polling on Australia and the world. The 2014 Lowy Institute Poll includes a mix of fascinating new questions on issues such as who is Australia’s best friend in Asia and Canberra’s espionage practices, along with many of our established questions

First look at the Budget: DFAT, aid and defence

So here I am at the budget lockup, deep in the bowels of Treasury, with the idea of getting a much-anticipated preview of the Foreign Affairs and Trade budget for this, the Coalition Government's first federal budget. Only, there is no Portfolio Budget Statement for the Foreign Affairs and Trade

If government listened it would cut carbon tax

In an opinion piece in The Australian, Fergus Hanson, program director for opinion polling at the Lowy Institute, writes that the 2012 Lowy Institute Poll results reveal that only one third of Australians support costly action against climate change

What makes us tick?

In this challenging essay, Program Director for Polling Fergus Hanson looks at the quirky history of scientific opinion polling and the role polls play in foreign policy. He suggests two key functions: to subtly serve the stability of the international system and to function as a mirror to our

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