Lowy Institute poll 2014: Australia and the world

4 Jun 2014

This poll reveals Australian public opinion on a range of international issues, including climate change, espionage practices, security threats, attitudes to asylum seeker policy, and views on key countries such as the United States, China and Indonesia.


2014 marks the tenth year of Lowy Institute polling on Australia and the world. The 2014 Lowy Institute Poll includes a mix of fascinating new questions on issues such as who is Australia’s best friend in Asia and Canberra’s espionage practices, along with many of our established questions tracking trends over time including Australians’ views on democracy. The 2014 Poll also investigates concern about climate change, the role Government should play in reducing carbon emissions, attitudes to asylum seeker policy, and seeks Australians’ views on key countries such as the United States, China and Indonesia.

As the leading tracking survey on Australian foreign policy, the Lowy Institute Poll provides an independent, rigorous, reliable basis for understanding Australians’ attitudes to the world. Fieldwork for the Poll was conducted between 12 and 27 February 2014.

Key findings

  • Australians believe both China and Japan have equal claims to the title of ‘Australia’s best friend in Asia’.
  • Australians appear comfortable with the government spying on other countries – even allied countries. The majority of Australians believe it is acceptable to spy on China (65%), Indonesia (62%) and East Timor (60%), but also on the United States (54%) and even New Zealand (51%).
  • In a striking shift in public opinion, 45% of Australians now see global warming as a ‘serious and pressing problem’, up 5 points since 2013 and 9 points since 2012. 63% of Australians say the government ‘should take a leadership role on reducing emissions’, while only 28% say ‘it should wait for an international consensus before acting’.
  • In a strong endorsement of the Government’s “Sovereign Borders” policy, 71% of Australians agree that the government should turn back boats when safe to do so.
  • For the third year in a row, the Poll reveals a high number of Australians, particularly young Australians who are ambivalent about democracy. Only 60% of Australians, and just 42% of 18 - 29 year olds, believe that democracy is preferable to any other kind of government.
Publication Details
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Geographic Coverage