In May 2014, the Lowy Institute commissioned market research company Newspoll to conduct a short poll on Australian attitudes towards the United Kingdom, in the lead-up to the inaugural Australia-UK Asia Dialogue to be held on 16-18 June 2014 at Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire. This new annual dialogue was announced by the Australian Foreign Minister and UK Foreign Secretary at the Australia-UK Ministerial (AUKMIN) meeting in March 2014.
The Poll has thrown fresh light on Australians' attitutudes towards the UK.
In 2014, more than 8 in 10 Australians see the Australia-UK relationship as important (with 28% saying it is ‘very important’).
Yet when Australians are asked to choose Australia’s ‘best friend’ from a list of six countries around the world, the UK ranks third in popularity behind the United States and New Zealand, with around a third (35%) of Australians saying the United States is ‘Australia’s best friend’, and almost a third (32%) nominating New Zealand as Australia’s best friend. Seventeen percent nominate the UK as Australia’s best friend.
However, the United States, New Zealand and the UK rank well above Australia’s Asian neighbours China, Indonesia and Japan, with only 11% choosing any of these nations in Asia as Australia’s ‘best friend’.
Australians’ warmth towards the United Kingdom has been a consistent feature of Lowy Institute polling, with the UK (Great Britain) scoring a warm 77 degrees on our ‘thermometer’ of feelings towards other countries of the world in the 2013 Lowy Institute Poll (see below). However, it is not the UK’s economic and strategic power which underpins the value Australians place on the relationship. When those who see the relationship as important are asked why, two-thirds say it is because of the ‘strong historical and cultural ties between the two countries’. Only 26% say it is because the UK is still a major economic and strategic power. The ‘great sporting rivalry between the two countries’ is seen by only 5% of Australians as the reason they think the relationship between the UK and Australia is important.
Each response option has been rounded individually and grouped responses (e.g. those who ‘somewhat agree’ plus ‘strongly agree’) have not been rounded at the group level. In every case, responses of ‘don’t know’, ‘no view’, ‘none’ and similar were recorded if given by respondents, but not offered.
Now about Australia’s relations with other countries around the world. In your personal opinion, which one of the following countries is Australia’s best friend?
|United Kingdom or the UK||17%|
Now just about Australia’s relations with the UK. Do you personally think Australia’s relationship with the UK is now very important, somewhat important or not important?
[Asked only of those who answered ‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’ in Table 2 above]. Which one of the following statements best sums up why you personally think Australia’s relationship with the UK is important? Is it because …?
|There are strong historical and cultural ties between the two countries||67%|
|The UK is still a major economic and strategic power||26%|
|There is a great sporting rivalry between the two countries||5%|
The Lowy Institute Australia-UK Poll reports the results of a nationally-representative telephone survey of 1,207 respondents aged 18 years and over. Fieldwork was conducted by Newspoll between 2-4 May 2014 as part of Newspoll’s national telephone omnibus. Quotas were set for each capital city and non-capital city area. Telephone numbers were randomly selected within each area, with a system of call backs and appointments to ensure a representative sample. 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 the tables in this report.
On a truly random sample of 1,207 the margin of error is 2.8%, which means there is a 95% chance that responses from the sample fall within a range of 2.8% either side of the notional collective response of the whole population. Since this sample was stratified (by capital city/non-capital city area), the error figure is a guide only. Where the results for a sub-sample are reported, the margin of error is greater.
Australians feel very warmly towards the UK. On our 2013 thermometer, Great Britain/UK rated a very high 77° in warmth, a result consistent with its scores in previous years (see below). This puts the UK in the same league as other English-speaking nations, attracting warmer feelings than the US (71° in 2014) and Ireland (73° in 2013), and almost as warm feelings as Australians have towards their close friend and neighbour New Zealand (84° in 2014) and fellow Commonwealth member Canada (81° in 2014).
Screenshot above from Lowy Institute Polling Interactive. Visit to see more polling results.