Lowy Institute Poll 2024 reveals Australians' attitudes towards the world

Despite political re-engagement between Australia and China over the past two years, the Lowy Institute Poll 2024 shows public sentiment towards China remains very low.

The 20th edition of the Lowy Institute Poll reveals just 17% of Australians trust China to act responsibly in the world, while most Australians are concerned that China will become a military threat in the next 20 years.

Australians’ level of trust in the United States dropped five points to 56%, and confidence in President Joe Biden slid 13 points to 46%. But two-thirds of Australians would prefer to see Joe Biden re-elected in this year’s presidential election, while one in three would prefer Donald Trump to return to the White House.

“Over the past two decades, the world has changed, and Australians’ attitudes along with it,” said Dr Michael Fullilove, Executive Director of the Lowy Institute. “In 2005, most Australians felt safe. They felt optimistic about China’s rise. Today, Australians are far less trusting of China and they are worried about the risk of war in our region. One constant is that they continue to see the alliance with the United States as important to Australia’s security.”

While 62% of Australians say they feel safe, more than 70% are concerned about cyberattacks from other countries. Potential conflicts over Taiwan and the South China Sea also loom large as threats, more so than distant conflicts in Ukraine or the Middle East.

“Australians’ views on security, defence and alliances remain complex,” said Ryan Neelam, Director of the Lowy Institute’s Public Opinion and Foreign Policy Program.  “Many Australians remain wary towards China, despite re-engagement at the political level. Overall, trust in China remains low, and threat perceptions remain high. The public is roughly divided on whether Australia should prioritise maintaining stability or deterring China.”

Other key findings from the Lowy Institute Poll 2024 include:

  • Cyberattacks from other countries remain the top-ranked threat to Australia’s vital interests, according to Australians. Potential conflicts over Taiwan and the South China Sea also loom large in the public psyche, more so than distant conflicts in Ukraine or the Middle East.
  • Nine in ten Australians see cultural diversity as a positive for the country. But nearly half (48%) say the number of migrants coming to Australia is too high, while 40% say immigration levels are about right.
  • A majority of Australians (57%) say global warming is a serious and pressing problem about which we should begin taking steps now, even if this involves significant costs. But as cost-of-living pressures bite, there has been a strong swing towards a focus on reducing household energy bills and away from reducing emissions.
  • Six in ten Australians (61%) now support nuclear power, while 37% oppose it. This is a significant shift from more negative attitudes towards nuclear power more than a decade ago.
  • Two-thirds of Australians think the government’s renewable energy target is ‘about right’ (41%) or ‘not ambitious enough’ (25%). One-third say the target is 'too ambitious'.


​​​​​​​Now in its 20th edition, the Lowy Institute’s flagship annual poll is the longest-running and broadest survey of Australian public opinion on the world. For two decades, it has revealed changing attitudes and played an influential role in the public debate on foreign policy. The 2024 results, along with historical data and comparative analysis, are available at the interactive site poll.lowyinstitute.org.


Andrew Griffits
Head of Media and Communications