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Lowy Institute Poll 2013

24 Jun 2013 09:20

Today, the Lowy Institute for International Policy releases the results of its annual poll on Australian attitudes to the world.

The Lowy Institute Poll 2013 finds that more Australians of voting age (by a margin of over two to one) think the Coalition would do a better job than Labor on five of eight key issues: managing the economy, foreign investment, asylum seekers, the US alliance and national security. Labor leads on two issues: managing the relationship with China and the response to climate change. There was no clear difference between the Government and Opposition on the issue of managing relations with Asia.

Despite most Australians seeing China as the most important economy to Australia, more Australians place a higher value on our relationship with the US than with China. Australians still overwhelmingly support the US alliance, and support for basing US forces in Australia has increased to 61% (up 6 points since 2011).

Meanwhile, sentiments towards China have cooled, its 'thermometer' rating falling 5 points, and 57% of Australians think Australia is allowing too much investment from China.

COMMENTS

24 Jun 2013 15:22

This year's Lowy Institute poll reveals Australians' lack knowledge of Indonesia and a pronounced mistrust of our northern neighbour. Only 33% of Australians agree that Indonesia is a democracy, fifteen years and three rounds of democratic elections after the fall of Suharto's authoritarian regime. 54% think Australia is right to worry about Indonesia as a military threat. Meanwhile, only North Korea and Iran rank significantly below Indonesia on the annual thermometer scale of warmth of feelings towards selected countries.

Why? Two reasons that readily come to mind is that this is part of an overall aversion to engagement with Asia, or that hostility to Indonesia is part of a broader hostility to non-democracies. But at first glance, the poll results do not emphatically bear out either explanation.

Australians appear to see value in engaging with Asia. This year's poll was fielded roughly six months after the release of the Asian Century White Paper, and shows 75% of Australians feel either that the Government has its emphasis on Asia about right or that it should be doing more.

On democracy, no clear pattern is evident. Several non-democratic states — Singapore, Fiji and Vietnam — in fact rank well above Indonesia in terms of favourable feelings.

COMMENTS

25 Jun 2013 11:20

Our thanks to ABC chief online political writer Annabel Crabb for helping us launch the annual Lowy Institute Poll yesterday, and for sitting down for this short interview. Look out for Annabel's analysis of why there is such a strong split in this year's poll in favour of the Liberal-Nationals Coalition on foreign policy. A little later we'll post an interview with Daniel Flitton from The Age, who comes to quite a different conclusion on the reasons for this split.

PS. The first reader to identify Annabel's Simpsons reference gets a shiny new donkey. Email me at blogeditor@lowyinstitute.org.

COMMENTS

25 Jun 2013 18:26

When I posted the Annabel Crabb interview earlier today I alluded to an interesting divergence in explanations for the strong preference Australians show for the Coalition on most aspects of Australia's foreign relations (one of the headline findings in our latest poll of Australian attitudes to the world).

Whereas Annabel focused on the different ways the two major parties are perceived today, senior correspondent for The Age Daniel Flitton, another of our panellists at yesterday's poll launch, favours a historical analysis. In fact, Dan's explanation of why the Coalition is so far in front brings to mind the 'mummy' and 'daddy' construct for explaining the differences between our two major parties. Here's a description:

COMMENTS

26 Jun 2013 08:52

Most of us Indonesia groupies have long been nonplussed at how Australians are so luke-warm (and so ill-informed) about Indonesia, as confirmed by the latest Lowy poll.

I agree with Dave McRae that we need more person-to-person links. But there are already quite a few. What about all those Indonesians who have studied in Australia? There are, for example, four Australian alumnae in the current Indonesian cabinet. Even if we acknowledge that some of the 600,000 Australians who go to Bali annually aren't really aware that Bali is part of Indonesia, they can't go there without brushing up against the real Indonesia, with its pluses and minuses.

When the poll first started, I suggested an additional question, more closely linked to this person-to-person idea: ask about the people, not the country. My guess is that most Australians have met enough Indonesians to have a view on this basis, and I'm pretty confident that an overwhelming majority would have a positive view. Person-to-person, we usually like each other.

COMMENTS

26 Jun 2013 14:45

For the second year in a row, the annual Lowy Institute Poll has found that less than half of 18-29-year old Australians (loosely termed Gen Y, roughly in line with Pew and other definitions) choose the statement 'Democracy is preferable to any other kind of government' when presented with three options about forms of government and asked to say which one comes 'closest to (their) own personal views about democracy'. The three options:

  • Democracy is preferable to any other kind of government.
  • In some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable.
  • For someone like me, it doesn't matter what kind of government we have.

Sam Roggeveen, I know, is going to write about the wording of the question and its provenance.

COMMENTS

27 Jun 2013 14:56

In Kevin Rudd's victory speech last night, he went out of his way to address young Australians:

Mr Rudd said many young people had not liked or respected much of what they had seen. "As I rock around the place talking to kids, they see it as huge national turn-off," he said. "I understand why you switched off. It's hardly a surprise. But I want to ask you to come back and listen afresh. It's really important that we get you engaged in anyway we can."

Let's quickly pass over the cringe-inducing attempt to connect with the kids ('As I rock around the place') and focus on substance. We can't be sure if Kevin Rudd saw the Lowy Institute's poll results or the media coverage, but as Alex Oliver noted yesterday, the 'democracy question' was again heavily reported this year, and as Rudd suggested, what we're hearing is that Gen Y seems worryingly unattached to the concept of democracy.

COMMENTS

3 Jul 2013 10:15

John Connor is CEO of the Climate Institute.

The past year has been historic in Australia, with around 300 businesses beginning to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions for the first time under carbon laws that had a troublesome gestation and a difficult birth.

The last year and the couple before it were chock full of scare campaigns, rent seeking and tough political battles in what Professor Ross Garnaut described as perhaps one of the worst examples of public policy debate in Australian history. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that polls conducted by the Climate Institute and the Lowy Institute have tracked a decreasing desire for climate action as well as confusion and opposition to the complex policy solutions of carbon pricing and emissions trading.

The decline has come since the somewhat heady days of 2006 and 2007, which John Howard described as a perfect storm of support for climate action.

COMMENTS

12 Jul 2013 09:36

Fergus Green is a researcher specialising in climate change policy.

Here we go again. The Labor Government is contemplating weakening the carbon scheme for what must be about the seventh time since Rudd Mk 1 was elected in 2007. Rudd cabinet Mk 2 is rumoured to be considering curtailing the current fixed price phase of the scheme (the so-called 'carbon tax') and bringing forward the commencement of the floating price phase ('emissions trading scheme' or 'ETS') from its currently mandated start date of 1 July 2015.

The politics might be irresistible, but this would be a bad policy.

COMMENTS