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Lowy Poll : Some Surprises

June 27, 2011

That 55 percent of Australians support US bases on Australian soil is probably the most arresting feature of this year’s Lowy Poll titled Australia and the World : Public Opinion and Foreign Policy. This finding, in my view, suggests underlying anxiety about, one, the rise of China, two, the prospect of Islamist activity in Asia.

Speaking today on the panel at the Lowy Institute in Sydney I said polls should not be taken literally. “They are a snapshot of opinion at a particular moment. But they can be valuable when they do what the Lowy Institute is doing here – tracking changes in public opinion over some years and second, testing arguments on citizens, for example arguments about the case for Australia being in Afghanistan.”

Here’s another interesting one. The public doesn’t want us there. The Institute found:

      As the war in Afghanistan approaches its 10th anniversary, opposition among Australians to the war has been gradually increasing. This year a majority (59%) of Australians say Australia should not ‘continue to be involved militarily in Afghanistan’…

    The public seem pretty astute. As the dust settles it seems the Western response to September 11 was fundamentally wrong: that is, the launch of two wars, costing a trillion dollars and thousands of lives and causing refugee flows, in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a dumb response to a single terrorist strike. Interesting that the public gets it.

  1. Alex Banzic permalink
    June 28, 2011 2:33 pm

    The statistic about US bases is very significant, and indeed, presents an opportunity. The growing importance of the Indian Ocean rim, with its inclusion of the Middle East and Africa, is strategically material to the US and Australia.

    We need to ensure this region is engaged with, and protected.

    There has been some speculation about a US Naval base in WA, which would service ships primarily deployed in the middle east and provide a focal point of operations.

    This should be encouraged.

  2. June 28, 2011 7:20 pm

    ” It was a dumb response to a single terrorist strike. Interesting that the public gets it.”

    When the people are given the TRUTH not just spin and other bulls…, the public always gets it.

    The people are not “dumb”, contrary to popular political belief.

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