Monday 20 Aug 2018 | 09:29 | SYDNEY
Monday 20 Aug 2018 | 09:29 | SYDNEY

2008 Lowy Institute Poll: Results


Fergus Hanson


29 September 2008 11:25

A majority of Australians now want out of Afghanistan while most would prefer Barack Obama to be the next US President. We say we want action on climate change, but aren’t prepared to pay much to do something about it. And when it comes to whales, well, we love them, a lot. Those are a few of the findings from the fourth annual Lowy Institute Poll, launched this morning (the full report can be downloaded here).

The poll also repeats questions from previous years, allowing us to track some interesting changes in public opinion. Just one example: after three years of decline, we have seen support this year for the US alliance reach its highest overall level since our polling began in 2005.

There’s a lot of interesting detail in the poll, but here are some of the headline results:

  • Support for the US alliance is up to the highest overall level since we started polling in 2005 — 76% of Australians say the alliance is either very or fairly important for Australia’s security (up from 63% last year). 
  • Australians are Obama-maniacs — 73% prefer him to his rival John McCain. 
  • A majority (56%) of Australians now oppose our military involvement in Afghanistan (last year we were evenly divided). 
  • Only 50% of Australians were confident we had clear aims in Afghanistan; 49% weren’t confident. 
  • 58% of Australians want the government to do more to stop all Japanese whaling, even if we risk losing valuable trade deals. Just 33% say the government’s response is about right. 
  • 90% of Australians agree the government has a responsibility to ensure major Australian companies are kept in majority Australian control. 
  • 62% of Australians see China’s growth as being good for Australia, but are more or less divided when it comes to containing China, with a slim majority (52%) agreeing we should join with other countries to limit China’s influence. 
  • Economic considerations overtook tackling climate change as the most important foreign policy goal, but climate-related issues topped the list of threats to Australia. 
  • 83% said the increasing scarcity of water was a critical threat to Australia, well ahead of the second most critical threats: global warming and international terrorism (both with 66% saying they were critical threats).
  • 51% of Australians said they weren’t confident in the government’s ability to deal with global warming. 
  • When it comes to paying to help address climate change, 53% of Australians are only prepared to pay $10 or less extra on their electricity bill each month to help solve the problem. 21% aren’t prepared to pay anything.