Sunday 03 Jul 2022 | 09:51 | SYDNEY
Sunday 03 Jul 2022 | 09:51 | SYDNEY

The 2012 Lowy Institute Poll is out


Fergus Hanson


5 June 2012 08:54

The 8th annual Lowy Institute Poll was released this morning. As usual, it covers a large number of foreign policy issues, but one fascinating set of findings dealt with the perennially controversial issue of migration.

There's been a stink over the granting of some 1700 skilled migrant visas for Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill iron ore project, but the Lowy Poll found that most Australians (62%) are in favour of the Government allowing in extra workers from foreign countries when there are shortages of workers in Australia and companies in Australia cannot find enough skilled workers.

The White Australia Policy is all but a distant memory. Presented with six hypothetical criteria for determining which migrants should be allowed to come to Australia to live, practical preferences prevailed. Work skills is the criterion most (65%) say is very important, followed by English language skills (60%), having similar values to Australians (57%) and education (47%). Just 15% say religion is very important and only 10% nominate race.

There are some intriguing generational differences. Australians 60 years or older are three times more likely than Australians 18 to 29 years old to say race is a very important criterion (15% compared with 5%). They are also twice as likely to say having similar values is a very important criterion (72% compared with 36%).

There are too many results to cover here, but here are a few of the most interesting:

  • Results relating to the US: we prefer Barack Obama to Mitt Romney to become the next US president, by 80% to 9%. Meanwhile, 74% are in favour of up to 2500 US soldiers being based in Darwin. Across a range of questions, younger Australians were slightly less supportive towards the US.
  • Australians believe it is important to be liked by our neighbours. Two-thirds (68%) say it is very important for Australia to be seen in a positive light by people from countries in our region, with another 26% saying it is somewhat important. 
  • 82% of Australians say they are in favour of the Australian Government funding broadcast services or other programs to communicate with people from countries in our region, with the aim of improving relations with those countries. 
  • Some Australians appear blasé about democracy. Just 60% of Australians say democracy is preferable to any other kind of government, and only 39% of 18 to 29 year olds.
  • One of our longest-running questions, on global warming, this year revealed a remarkable long-term shift in Australian opinion. Presented with three options for dealing with the issue, those favouring an intermediate response to global warming for the first time outnumber those favouring the most aggressive form of action. Put another way, since 2006 we've gone from a situation where two-thirds (68%) of Australians wanted the most aggressive form of action to a point today where just over a third (36%) of us do.

There's a lot more. You can read on here.