Thursday 02 Jul 2020 | 22:48 | SYDNEY
Thursday 02 Jul 2020 | 22:48 | SYDNEY

Public opinion and the NSS


Fergus Hanson


10 December 2008 08:18

In a few recent posts on the National Security Statement Sam has discussed the relative weightings the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader have given to different security threats. Specifically he's asked is the Prime Minister ahead of the curve on downplaying terrorism and noted Turnbull's unexpected inclusion of food and water security at the end of his reply. The 2008 Lowy Poll seems to give a few further insights from a public opinion perspective.

Asked to rank a list of threats to Australia's vital interests in the next 10 years as critical, important but not critical or not important at all, terrorism came in at equal second place with 66% of respondents saying it was a critical threat (see chart below). From this perspective the Prime Minister might appear ahead of the curve but compared with 2006, when we last asked this question, the percentage of people ranking it as critical was down from 73%. The threat of Islamic fundamentalism was down considerably from 60% in 2006 saying it was a critical threat to 48% in 2008.

And Turnbull's inclusion of food and water as security threats at the end of his reply seems to be tapping popular sentiment. The increasing scarcity of water was ranked as the most critical threat to Australia in our 2008 poll with food shortages coming in fourth place.