Ukraine invasion, China’s military threat worry Australians: 2022 Lowy Institute Poll

Australians are worried about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and Russia’s foreign policy, China’s foreign policy and conflict over Taiwan are seen as the top threats for Australians, according to data revealed in the 2022 Lowy Institute Poll.

A vast majority of Australians now see China as a military threat to Australia, and trust in China and confidence in China’s President Xi Jinping continue to sit at record lows. Lowy Institute polling director Natasha Kassam says anxiety about Russia, China and a war over Taiwan have overtaken Australians’ concerns about Covid-19 and climate change, and that a majority of Australians would support the Australian Defence Force being involved if China invaded Taiwan.

“This year’s poll reveals that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shaken Australians’ view of their own security and region,” she said. “Australia’s new government will find support for more defence spending, tough policies towards China and Russia, and stronger engagement in our region and on the world stage.”

The Poll also shows Australians want a more open and inclusive approach to issues such as immigration and free trade, and are less concerned about the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“There’s a growing awareness of the countries in our region that are democracies, and concern about authoritarian states,” she said. “Australians remain positive about globalisation and free trade, and far fewer see Covid-19 as a threat in 2022.”

Other key findings include:

  • Most Australians favour the plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, and want to increase defence spending. Around half say AUKUS and the Quad will make Australia safer.
  • Fewer Australians express confidence in US President Joe Biden than in 2021, but support for the US–Australia alliance has returned to record highs, while Australians also worry that the alliance will pull them into conflict in Asia.
  • Most Australians are concerned about a Chinese military base in the Pacific, and support foreign aid to the Pacific.
  • Australian support for democracy has reached a record high, and there is growing awareness of democracies in our region and concern about the rise of authoritarianism.
  • The majority of Australians continue to see climate change as a critical threat, and support more ambitious targets, Australia hosting a COP and introducing an emissions trade scheme or a carbon tax.
  • Far fewer Australians see Covid-19 as a threat in 2022, and more Australians support immigration and openness.
  • Australians remain positive about globalisation and free trade, though optimism about the economy has fallen.


The 2022 Lowy Institute Poll is the eighteenth edition of the annual opinion survey published by the Lowy Institute. It is a leading measure of Australians’ attitudes on international affairs. The 2022 Poll results, along with historical data and comparative analysis, are available at the interactive site

The 2022 Lowy Institute Poll reports the results of a nationally representative online and telephone survey conducted by the Social Research Centre between 15 and 28 March 2022 with a sample size of 2006 Australian adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.2%, and the ‘design effect’ for the complex sample is estimated at 1.77.


Shane McLeod
Director, Media and Communications
+61 409 461 795

Areas of expertise: China’s domestic politics; public opinion polling; human rights; Australian foreign policy; Taiwan; Indo-Pacific strategy