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Preface

COVID reveals. It sees through what nations say about themselves and reveals what they really are.

COVID has humbled great nations and raised up small nations. Like an X-ray, COVID shows up the healthy and unhealthy parts of the body politic.

It has shown the frailties of the United States — but also its resilience. It has shown both the capacities and weaknesses of China’s authoritarian system.

Compared to most countries, Australia has fared very well over the past year. Our initial handling of the pandemic was among the best in the world. The Australian economy is humming along. However, in mid-2021, Australia — an open-minded nation of immigrants and travellers, with a long-held belief in globalisation — remains closed to the world.

The 2021 Lowy Institute Poll captures the mood of the Australian public at this remarkable moment. Australians have a renewed sense of optimism about the world and their place in it. The country is rightly proud of its efforts to manage the pandemic.

While Australians’ trust in many countries has increased in 2021, sentiment towards China is now quite bleak. For the first time, more Australians see China’s economic growth as a negative rather than a positive. The majority of Australians blame China for the current tensions in the bilateral relationship. More Australians see China as a security threat than an economic partner. Confidence in China’s President Xi Jinping, already declining, has fallen to a new record low.

However, Australians do not want regional competition to slide into confrontation. Most still believe we can maintain good relations with both superpowers. A majority of Australians would prefer to stay neutral in the event of a military conflict between China and the United States.

Last November, Americans changed course and elected a new president, Joe Biden. Australians are much more confident in President Biden than they were in his predecessor. Trust in the United States has returned to an upward trajectory. Fewer Australians now believe that President Donald Trump weakened Australia’s alliance with the United States, although this is still a majority view. Support for the Australia-US alliance remains strong.

Australia is also looking with renewed purpose to partners and friends in our region. In the year that Quad leaders first met as a foursome, Australians’ trust in both Japan and India has increased. The majority of Australians, traditionally sceptical of foreign aid, want to help Pacific and Southeast Asian countries to access COVID vaccines.

As well as the annual Lowy Institute Poll, this report incorporates Climate Poll 2021, a survey that asked Australians about their views on climate change policy. Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November, the vast majority of Australians want to see further action taken on climate change. They are also moving decisively away from coal. Most say Australia is doing too little to address climate change, but they are even more critical of perceived climate inaction by China, India and the United States.

In this its seventeenth year, the Lowy Institute Poll continues to chart how Australians feel about the world and its challenges, including COVID, China and climate change.

Dr Michael Fullilove
Executive Director
June 2021

Executive summary

Trust in global powers

Trust in China has fallen to a new record low, with only 16% of Australians saying that they trust China ‘a great deal’ or ‘somewhat’ to act responsibly in the world. This represents a 7-point decline from 2020 and is now a third of the level in 2018 when a majority of Australians (52%) said they trusted China. Almost all Australians (92%) trust Australia to act responsibly in the world. An overwhelming majority of Australians (87%) say they trust Japan and the United Kingdom to act responsibly in the world. Six in ten Australians (61%) say they trust the United States, an increase of 10 points from last year. The same number (61%) say they trust India a great deal or somewhat, an increase of 16 points since 2020. Almost half (48%) say they trust Indonesia, an increase of 12 points in the past year. Only 26% of Australians say they trust Russia, steady from 2020.

Confidence in world leaders

One in ten Australians (10%) say they have ‘some’ or ‘a lot’ of confidence in China’s President Xi Jinping to ‘do the right thing regarding world affairs’, which has halved since 2020 (22%) and fallen 33 points since 2018. US President Joe Biden inspires confidence in far more Australians than his predecessor. Seven in ten (69%) have confidence in President Biden, a striking 39 points higher than Australians’ confidence in former President Donald Trump in 2020 (30%).

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tops the list of global leaders again, with 91% expressing confidence in her (up 4 points from 2020). Australians also hold high levels of confidence in German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with 67% saying they have confidence in her. Two-thirds (67%) express confidence in Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a 7-point increase from 2020. The number who are confident in Australia’s Opposition leader Anthony Albanese remains steady at 56%. More than half (59%) have confidence in UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 4 points higher than in 2020.

Six in ten Australians (61%) have confidence in Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Fewer Australians have confidence in other leaders in our region, with 38% expressing confidence in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 26% saying they have confidence in Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Only 16% of Australians say they have confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin. Almost no Australians (5%) say they have confidence in North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.

Australia’s alliance with the United States

A clear majority of Australians (78%, steady since 2020) continue to say that the alliance is either ‘very important’ or ‘fairly important’ to Australia’s security. Three-quarters of Australians (76%) agree that ‘Australians and Americans share many common values and ideals. A strong alliance is a natural extension of this’. The same number (75%) say ‘the United States would come to Australia’s defence if Australia was under threat’. Fewer Australians this year (58%) agree that ‘Donald Trump has weakened Australia’s alliance with the United States’ (down 8 points since 2019). Only one-third (36%) say ‘the United States is in decline relative to China and so the alliance is of decreasing importance’, a view held by almost half the population (46%) in 2019.

When asked about a military conflict between China and the United States, more than half the population (57%) say ‘Australia should remain neutral’. Four in ten Australians (41%) say ‘Australia should support the United States’ and 1% say ‘Australia should support China’.

Seven in ten Australians (72%) say it is possible for Australia to have good relations with the United States and China at the same time, a 15-point drop since 2013.

China

The majority of Australians (63%) now see China as ‘more of a security threat to Australia’, a substantial 22-point increase from 2020. Only 34% say China is ‘more of an economic partner to Australia’, 21 points lower than in 2020. More than half (56%) say ‘China is more to blame’ than Australia for the tensions in the Australia-China relationship. Four in ten (38%) say that Australia and China are equally to blame. Almost none (4%) say ‘Australia is more to blame’. Australians are split over participation in the Winter Olympics in China: 51% favour attending, while 45% say Australia should not attend because of China’s human rights record.

Three-quarters of Australians (76%) say ‘Chinese people [they] have met’ have positively influenced their view of China (down 9 points since 2016). Seven in ten Australians (68%) say China’s culture and history have a positive influence on their view of China, an 11-point decline from 2016. Less than half the population (47%) say China’s economic growth has a positive influence on their view of China, a steep 28-point fall since 2016.

One in five Australians (20%) say that Chinese investment has a positive influence on their view of China, a 17-point decline from 2016. Only 17% of Australians say China’s environmental policies have a positive influence on their views of China, unchanged from 2016. A mere 6% say China’s system of government has a positive influence on their views of China, a 9-point decline from 2016. Almost no Australians (5%) see China’s military activities in our region as having a positive influence on their views of China.

Safety and threats to Australia’s interests

Australians’ feelings of safety appear to have rebounded from the record lows in 2020. Seven in ten Australians (70%) say they feel ‘very safe’ or ‘safe’, an increase of 20 points. Six in ten Australians say that cyberattacks from other countries and climate change (62% and 61% respectively) pose critical threats to Australia’s vital interests in the next ten years.

Fewer Australians (59%) see COVID-19 as a critical threat in 2021, down 17 points from last year. More than half the population (56%) see North Korea’s nuclear program and AustraliaChina relations as critical threats. For the first time, the majority of Australians (52%) say a military conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan poses a critical threat to Australia’s vital interests, an increase of 17 points from 2020. Half (51%) say international terrorism is a critical threat, up 5 points since 2020, but 17 points below the level of concern in 2017.

Five in ten Australians (50%) say a severe downturn in the global economy is a critical threat, a 21-point drop since 2020. Half (49%) say foreign interference in Australian politics poses a critical threat, a 7-point increase from 2020. A substantial minority say right-wing extremism (42%) and the influence of social media companies (39%) pose a critical threat to Australia’s vital interests. A mere 9% say a lower rate of immigration into Australia poses a critical threat.

Economic optimism and foreign investment

In the largest rebound in economic optimism in the 17 years of the Lowy Institute Poll, 79% of Australians say they are ‘optimistic’ or ‘very optimistic’ about Australia’s economic performance in the world. This represents a 27-point lift since 2020.

Most Australians would oppose a foreign government-controlled entity purchasing a controlling stake in a major Australian company. The highest level of opposition is to a Chinese-government controlled entity (92%) and a Hong Kong-government controlled entity (86%). The majority of Australians would also oppose such a purchase from an entity controlled by the Japanese government (68%), the government of a European Union member (67%), the United States government (66%) and the United Kingdom government (58%).

Australia’s place in the world

Almost all Australians (97%) say Australia’s response to COVID19 will have a ‘very positive’ or ‘positive’ influence on Australia’s reputation in the world. The majority of Australians also agree that Australia’s diplomatic service (84%), foreign aid program (83%) and defence force (82%) have a positive influence on our reputation overseas. However, a majority of Australians (54%) say Australia’s climate change policy has a negative influence on Australia’s reputation overseas.

Coalition government report card

The Australian public awards high marks to the Coalition government for its response to COVID-19 (7.6 out of 10) and for maintaining ‘Australia’s national security’ and ‘a strong alliance with the United States’ (both 6.8 out of 10). The government receives 6.6 out of 10 for managing the economy, and 6.5 out of 10 for presenting a good image of Australia internationally. Australians are more divided on China, awarding 5.1 marks out of 10 for the government’s management of the bilateral relationship. The only area where the government receives a below-average mark is for Australia’s approach to climate change (4.6 out of 10).

Feelings thermometer

China has fallen to the bottom of the Lowy Institute ‘feelings thermometer’ at a very cool 32°, a 7-degree drop this year, and a striking 26-degree cooling since 2018. Australian feelings towards Myanmar have cooled to 41°. Both India (56°) and Indonesia (55°) have improved by 4 degrees since 2020. Feelings towards Hong Kong have remained stable in 2020 at 57°. Views of Papua New Guinea have warmed in 2021 to 60°, a 4-degree lift since 2020. Australians rated the Pacific Islands Forum a warm 66°. Warmth towards Taiwan has increased by 5 degrees to 62° since 2020. Feelings towards the United States sit at a steady 62°, unchanged from 2020. Feelings towards Japan have warmed in 2021, increasing 4 degrees to 73° in line with a warming trend (up 10 degrees since 2007). New Zealand again leads the Lowy Institute ‘feelings thermometer’ in 2021, receiving a very warm 87°.

The COVID-19 pandemic

Almost all Australians (95%) say Australia has handled the pandemic ‘very well’ or ‘fairly well’. Two-thirds (66%) say Taiwan has handled COVID-19 well. Less than half (45%) say China has handled COVID-19 well, a 14-point increase from 2020. Few Australians say that India (27%), the United Kingdom (19%) and the United States (7%) have handled COVID-19 well. Six in ten Australians (59%) say the government has done ‘about the right amount to bring Australians home from overseas’. Most support Australia helping to pay for COVID-19 vaccines for Pacific Island countries (83%) and Southeast Asian countries (60%).

Climate change and energy

Six in ten (60%) say ‘global warming is a serious and pressing problem. We should begin taking steps now, even if this involves significant costs’, a 4-point increase from 2020. Three-quarters (74%) say ‘the benefits of taking further action on climate change will outweigh the costs’. The majority of Australians support subsidising renewable energy technology (91%), setting a net-zero emissions target for 2050 (78%) and introducing an emissions trading scheme or carbon tax (64%). Ahead of COP26, seven in ten (70%) agree Australia should ‘join other countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, to increase its commitments to address climate change’.


The Lowy Institute Poll reports the results of a nationally representative online and telephone survey conducted by the Social Research Centre (SRC) between 15 and 29 March 2021, with a sample size of 2222 Australian adults. Climate Poll 2021 reports the results of a representative survey conducted by SRC between 12 and 26 April 2021, with a sample size of 3286 Australian adults. See Methodology.

Global powers and world leaders

Trust in global powers

As various countries around the world have coped with the pandemic in different ways, Australians appear confident in their own country as one of the safest, most prosperous and trustworthy. For the first time, the Lowy Institute asked Australians in 2021 about their level of trust in Australia to act responsibly in the world. Australians give their country top marks, with almost all (92%) Australians saying they trust Australia ‘a great deal’ or ‘somewhat’ to act responsibly in the world.

Despite large disparities in response to the pandemic abroad, the majority of Australian adults trust Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and India. Conversely, Australians’ trust in China has continued its steep decline in 2021.

Trust in global powers

How much do you trust the following countries to act responsibly in the world?
  1. 100%
  2. 50%
  3. 0%
  4. 50%
  5. 100%
Australia
7
46
46
Japan
11
58
29
United Kingdom
12
59
28
India
7
32
54
7
United States
8
31
48
13
Indonesia
9
42
46
Russia
27
47
24
China
47
37
14

Australians reserve their highest levels of trust for other liberal democracies across the world. An overwhelming majority of Australians say they trust Japan (87%, up 5 points) and the United Kingdom (also 87%) to act responsibly in the world.

Trust in the United States has rebounded in 2021, but there remains a gulf between Australian views of the United Kingdom and Japan, and trust in the United States. Six in ten Australians (61%) say they trust the United States, an increase of 10 points from last year. However, this level of trust remains 22 points lower than the high point for trust in the United States that was recorded during President Barack Obama’s administration.

There remains a significant generational divide between Australians on the issue of trust in the United States. Only 40% of Australians aged 18–29 trust the United States, compared with 66% of Australians aged over 30.

Most Australians trust the liberal democracies of Japan and the United Kingdom

In a remarkable shift since 2020, Australians’ trust in India is on par with trust in the United States. Six in ten Australians (61%) say they trust India a great deal or somewhat, an increase of 16 points since 2020. The fieldwork for the Lowy Institute Poll (15–29 March 2021) took place prior to the resurgence of COVID-19 in India in April 2021.

Past polling has shown that Australians tend to be divided when it comes to our largest neighbour, Indonesia. In 2021, there has been a notable lift in trust, with almost half (48%) say they trust Indonesia, an increase of 12 points in the past year. Only 26% of Australians say they trust Russia, steady from 2020.

For the second year in a row, China is the least-trusted country on the list for Australians. Only 16% of Australians say that they trust China a great deal or somewhat to act responsibly in the world, a 7-point decline from 2020. The number of Australians holding positive views of China’s trustworthiness has plummeted in three years, halving since 2019 and now at a third of the level in 2018 when a majority of Australians (52%) said they trusted China.

Confidence in world leaders

The continuing decline in Australians’ trust of China corresponds with record low levels of confidence in China’s President Xi Jinping. Only 10% of Australians say they have ‘some’ or ‘a lot’ of confidence in President Xi to ‘do the right thing regarding world affairs’. This is less than half the confidence that Australians expressed in President Xi in 2020 (22%) and has fallen 33 points since 2018.

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump inspired confidence in only slightly more Australians than President Xi (30% confident in Trump vs 22% in Xi). However, US President Joe Biden receives far higher marks from the Australian public. Seven in ten Australians (69%) express confidence in him to do the right thing regarding world affairs. This is a striking 39 points higher than Australians’ confidence in former President Trump in 2020.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tops the list of global leaders again, with 91% expressing confidence in her (up 4 points from 2020). This aligns with New Zealand’s retention of its traditional place at the top of the annual ‘feelings thermometer’, ranking again as the country about which Australians feel most warmly. Australians also hold high levels of confidence in German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with 67% saying they have some or a lot of confidence in her.

The majority of Australians are confident that both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition leader Anthony Albanese will do the right thing regarding world affairs, although Albanese falls 11 points behind Morrison on this measure. Seven in ten Australians (67%) express confidence in Morrison, a 7-point increase from 2020. The number who are confident in Albanese is steady this year at 56%.

Confidence in political leaders

For each, tell me how much confidence you have in each leader to do the right thing regarding world affairs.
  1. 100%
  2. 50%
  3. 0%
  4. 50%
  5. 100%
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
28
63
US President Joe Biden
9
18
51
18
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison
12
20
37
30
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
10
42
25
7
12
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga
12
47
14
10
15
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
11
26
46
13
Australian Opposition leader Anthony Albanese
11
22
43
13
6
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
8
24
34
11
19
Indonesian President Joko Widodo
11
34
24
11
18
Russian President Vladimir Putin
45
33
13
Chinese President Xi Jinping
53
25
8
7
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
75
15

Unsurprisingly, there are significant partisan divides on this question, although a majority of both Coalition-leaning and Labor-leaning Australians of voting age are confident in Morrison (95% Coalition and 56% Labor). In contrast, 74% of Labor-leaning Australians have confidence in Albanese, compared to 44% of Coalition-leaning Australians.

Australians’ lack of familiarity with regional leaders has been a persistent feature in Lowy Institute polling over the years. A significant proportion of Australians have responded in 2021 that they ‘do not know who the person is’ for several key leaders in our region. Close to one in five Australians say they do not know of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Six in ten Australians (61%) have confidence in Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, 12 points lower than for his predecessor Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2020, possibly reflecting the recency of Suga’s tenure and Australians’ unfamiliarity with him as Japan’s leader. (Prime Minister Suga was elected in September 2020, and 15% of Australians say they do not know of him.) More than half (59%) say they have confidence in UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 4 points higher than in 2020.

Although trust in India increased significantly in 2021, only four in ten Australians (38%) express confidence in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do the right thing regarding world affairs. Similarly, although Australians’ trust in Indonesia has improved in the past year, only a quarter of Australians (26%) say they have confidence in Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un continue to elicit very negative opinion among Australians. Only 16% of Australians say they have a lot or some confidence in President Putin. Almost no Australians (5%) say they have confidence in North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-un is the only world leader on the list in 2021 who receives fewer votes of confidence than China’s President Xi Jinping.

Relations with superpowers – the United States and China

Australia’s alliance with the United States

Australians have reported strong support for Australia’s alliance with the United States over the 17 years of the Lowy Institute Poll, despite fluctuating levels of confidence in US leaders. Overall support for the alliance has remained steady between the final year of President Donald Trump’s administration and the first year of President Joe Biden’s administration. A clear majority (78%, steady since 2020) continue to say that the alliance is either ‘very important’ or ‘fairly important’ to Australia’s security. The number who say the alliance is very important to Australia’s security has increased 4 points this year to 47% of the population.

By comparison, the low point of Australian support for the alliance was during of the George W Bush presidency in 2007, when 63% of Australians said the alliance was very or fairly important for Australia’s security. The 2021 result remains 9 points below the highest levels of support expressed in 2012, during former President Barack Obama’s administration.

This slight boost in support for the alliance in 2021 may in part reflect the far higher confidence Australians express in President Joe Biden than former President Donald Trump. More than three-quarters of Australians (76%, a slight increase of 3 points since 2019) say ‘Australians and Americans share many common values and ideals. A strong alliance is a natural extension of this’. The same number (75%) say ‘The United States would come to Australia’s defence if Australia was under threat’, unchanged since 2019.

Importance of the US alliance

How important is our alliance relationship with the United States for Australia’s security?
  1. 0%
  2. 30%
  3. 60%
  4. 90%
2005
45
27
72
2006
42
28
70
2007
35
27
62
2008
42
34
76
2009
55
30
85
2010
56
30
86
2011
59
23
82
2012
59
28
87
2013
54
28
82
2014
53
26
79
2015
53
27
80
2016
42
29
71
2017
53
24
77
2018
48
28
76
2019
38
34
72
2020
43
35
78
2021
47
31
78

Fewer Australians this year (58%) agree that ‘Donald Trump has weakened Australia’s alliance with the United States’ (down 8 points since 2019). Fewer Australians also perceive the United States as a declining power compared with China than in the past. In 2021, only one-third (36%) say ‘the United States is in decline relative to China and so the alliance is of decreasing importance’, a view held by almost half the population (46%) in 2019.

However, there are stark generational differences on all of these questions about Australia’s alliance with the United States. Seven in ten Australians aged 18–29 (70%) say Donald Trump weakened the alliance. Half this group (50%) say the United States is in decline relative to China and the alliance is less important, 19 points higher than among Australians over 60 years of age.

By contrast, the oldest generation of Australians surveyed (60 years and over) overwhelmingly agree that Australia and the United States share common values and ideals (89%) and that the United States would defend Australia if under threat (84%). The youngest generation of Australians (18–29 year olds) are less likely to concur on both statements, with 61% and 62% agreeing respectively.

Attitudes to the United States

I am now going to read you some different arguments about the alliance relationship with the United States. Please indicate whether you agree or disagree.
  1. 0%
  2. 25%
  3. 50%
  4. 75%
  5. 100%
Australians and Americans share many common values and ideals. A strong alliance is a natural extension of this
2011
78
21
2015
77
20
3
2019
73
26
2021
76
22
The United States would come to Australia's defence if Australia was under threat
2019
73
25
2021
75
23
Donald Trump has weakened Australia's alliance with the United States
2019
66
33
2021
58
40
The United States is in decline relative to China and so the alliance is of decreasing importance
2011
41
54
5
2015
37
54
9
2019
46
52
2021
36
62

Views of China

The sharp decline in the Australia–China relationship in recent years has been clearly mirrored in Australian public opinion, as seen in successive Lowy Institute Polls. Trust, warmth and confidence in China and China’s leaders started to decline in 2017, and this year’s results present another record low for Australians’ views of China. In 2021, even views of China’s economic growth — historically a positive for Australians — have now shifted into negative territory.

For the first time, Australians see China’s economic growth as having a negative influence

The year of economic and political disputes between Australia and China has left its mark. In a conspicuous shift, the majority of Australians (63%) now see China as ‘more of a security threat to Australia’. This is a substantial 22-point increase from 2020. Only 34% say China is ‘more of an economic partner to Australia’, 21 points lower than in 2020. In 2018, 82% of Australians saw China as more of an economic partner, responding to a question worded slightly differently.1

Almost all Australians (93%) see China’s military activities in our region as having a negative influence on their views of China, a 14-point increase from 2016. Only 5% say China’s military activities have a positive influence. This concern about military activities may have contributed to the large increase in the number of Australians who view ‘a military conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan’ as a critical threat to Australia’s vital interests over the next ten years (52%, up 17 points).

China: economic partner or security threat

In your own view, is China more of an economic partner or more of a security threat to Australia?
  1. 0%
  2. 30%
  3. 60%
  4. 90%
77798255341513124163431
  1. 2015
  2. 2016
  3. 2017
  4. 2018
  5. 2019
  6. 2020
  7. 2021

When asked to assign responsibility for the tensions in the Australia–China relationship, the majority of Australians (56%) say ‘China is more to blame’ than Australia. One-third (38%) say that Australia and China are equally to blame. Almost none (4%) say ‘Australia is more to blame’, despite holding reservations about the government’s handling of the relationship. The majority of Australians (56%) see ‘Australia–China relations’ as a critical threat to Australia’s vital interests. And in further evidence of souring attitudes, eight in ten Australians (82%) responding to a separate Lowy Institute survey in November 2020 said that they were concerned about China’s influence on Australia’s political processes, a 19-point increase from 2018.

Views of China’s system of government have also deteriorated further: in 2021, 92% say ‘China’s system of government’ has a negative influence on their views of China, a 19-point increase from 2016. China’s early handling of the COVID-19 outbreak may have been a factor, with 68% of Australians saying in April 2020 that China’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak had made them feel ‘less favourable’ towards China’s system of government.2

Tensions in the Australia-China relationship

Which country is more to blame for the tensions in the Australia-China relationship?
Australia is moreto blame 4China is more to blame 56They are equally toblame 38Don’t know

Even in relation to China’s strong economic growth story, Australian attitudes have shifted significantly in recent years. In 2021, less than half the population (47%) say China’s economic growth has a positive influence on their view of China, a steep 28-point fall since 2016.

These striking shifts in public sentiment on China are sometimes ascribed to negative reporting by the Australian media. According to a November 2020 survey, many Australians (61%) say Australian media reporting about China is ‘fair and balanced’. A quarter (26%) say that reporting is ‘too negative’, while 10% say it is ‘too positive’.

While Australian views of China have cooled overall in recent years, most Australians remain positive about Chinese people and China’s culture and history. Three-quarters of Australians (76%) say ‘Chinese people [they] have met’ have positively influenced their view of China (down 9 points since 2016: see Methodology on p. 45 for details of changes in mode).

Seven in ten Australians (68%) say China’s culture and history have a positive influence on their view of China, an 11-point decline from 2016.

Chinese investment in Australia has been unpopular for some time, but attitudes have hardened further in the past five years. In 2021, only one in five Australians (20%) say that Chinese investment has a positive influence on their view of China, a 17-point decline from 2016. While the majority of Australians oppose any entity controlled by a foreign government having a controlling stake in an Australian company, this is particularly clear in relation to the Chinese government (92% opposed) and the Hong Kong government (86% opposed).

Views of China

For each of the following factors, please say whether, for you personally, they have a positive or negative influence on your overall view of China.
  1. 100%
  2. 50%
  3. 0%
  4. 50%
  5. 100%
Chinese people you have met
2016
11
85
2021
21
76
China's culture and history
2016
15
79
2021
30
68
China's economic growth
2016
19
75
7
2021
50
47
Chinese investment in Australia
2016
59
37
2021
79
20
China's environmental policies
2016
67
17
15
2021
79
17
China's system of government
2016
73
15
11
2021
92
6
China's military activities in our region
2016
79
9
12
2021
93

Australians remain unimpressed by China’s environmental policies, despite its recent commitment to net-zero emissions by 2060.3 Only 17% of Australians say China’s environmental policies have a positive influence on their views of China, unchanged from 2016. Eight in ten Australians (82%) say China is doing ‘too little’ in its efforts to combat climate change.

Australians are divided as to whether to boycott the Beijing Olympics

The vast majority of Australians have also expressed concerns about China’s human rights record over the history of the Lowy Institute Poll. As debate about China’s hosting of the Winter Olympics in 2022 escalates, a bare majority (51%) say Australia should attend the Beijing Olympics. Less than half (45%) say Australia ‘should not attend because of China’s human rights record’.

Attending the Winter Olympics in China

The Winter Olympics are scheduled to be held in China in 2022. Do you think Australia should attend the Winter Olympics, or not attend because of China’s human rights record?
Yes, should attend 51No, should not attendbecause of China’shuman rights record 45Don’t know 5

Australian media reporting about China

Overall, would you say Australian media reporting about China is:
Too positive 10Fair and balanced 61Too negative 26Don’t know 3

Australia’s relationship with the superpowers

Past Lowy Institute polling shows Australians have become increasingly wary of military engagement in some parts of the world, and support for deploying military forces has been consistently low for hypothetical scenarios involving China.4 When asked about a military conflict between China and the United States, more than half the population (57%) say ‘Australia should remain neutral’. Four in ten Australians (41%) say ‘Australia should support the United States’ and 1% say ‘Australia should support China’. There is a stark divide between the youngest and oldest Australians on this question: only one in five (21%) Australians aged 18–29 say Australia should support the United States in the case of conflict, a view held by the majority (58%) of Australians aged over 60.

Military conflict between China and United States

In the event of a military conflict between China and United States, please say which one of the following statements comes closest to your own personal view.
Australia should supportthe United States 41Australia should remainneutral 57Australia should supportChina Don’t know

As well as a preference to remain neutral in the case of a conflict in the region, seven in ten Australians (72%) say it is possible for Australia to have good relations with the United States and China at the same time. This is a smaller number than in 2013 however, when 87% of the population thought Australia could maintain good relations with both powers at the same time.

Good relations with the US and China

Do you think it is possible or not possible for Australia to have a good relationship with China and a good relationship with the United States at the same time?
  1. 30%
  2. 0%
  3. 30%
  4. 60%
  5. 90%
2013
12
87
2018
13
81
7
2021
27
72

Safety, security and threats to Australia’s vital interests

Feelings of safety

After a year in which the bushfire crisis and the COVID-19 outbreak took a heavy toll on Australians’ sense of security, their feelings of safety appear to have rebounded this year from the record lows of 2020. In 2021, seven in ten Australians (70%) say they feel ‘very safe’ or ‘safe’. This represents an increase of 20 points since last year, but is still short of pre-pandemic levels. This year’s result is 22 points below the high point of feelings of safety in 2008 and 2010.

Feeling of safety

Thinking about world events, how safe do you feel?
  1. 0%
  2. 25%
  3. 50%
  4. 75%
  5. 100%
2005
30
61
91
2006
30
56
86
2007
40
50
90
2008
34
57
91
2009
44
46
90
2010
42
50
92
2015
24
56
80
2017
20
59
79
2018
18
60
78
2020
4
46
50
2021
6
64
70

Threats to Australia’s vital interests

Concerns about non-traditional security threats continue to dominate Australians’ views of potential threats in 2021. Cyberattacks and climate change top the list of threats, with COVID-19 close behind. Six in ten Australians say that cyberattacks from other countries and climate change (62% and 61% respectively) pose critical threats to Australia’s vital interests in the next ten years.

Fewer Australians (59%) see COVID-19 as a critical threat in 2021, down 17 points from last year. This lower threat ranking may reflect Australia’s management of the pandemic, which almost all Australians (95%) say has been handled very or fairly well.

Traditional security threats, such as the risk of armed conflict in the region, remain of concern to many Australians. Perhaps responding to recent media reporting of increased military activities in the Taiwan Strait, a majority of Australians (52%) say a military conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan poses a critical threat to Australia’s vital interests, an increase of 17 points from 2020. Just over half the population (56%) also say that Australia–China relations pose a critical threat to Australia’s vital interests in the next ten years.

Australians’ concerns about nuclear threats and terrorism have eased in recent years, though still remain a critical threat for the majority. More than half the population (56%) see North Korea’s nuclear program as a critical threat, but this has fallen 9 points since 2017. Similarly, 51% of Australians say international terrorism is a critical threat, up 5 points since 2020, but 22 points below the high point of concern in 2006.

Threats to Australia's vital interests

Below is a list of possible threats to the vital interest of Australia in the next ten years. Do you see this as a critical threat, an important but not critical threat, or not an important threat at all?
  1. 0%
  2. 25%
  3. 50%
  4. 75%
  5. 100%
Cyberattacks from other countries
62
36
Climate change
61
29
9
COVID-19 and other potential epidemics
59
36
4
Australia-China relations
56
40
3
North Korea's nuclear program
56
35
9
A military conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan
52
42
5
International terrorism
51
44
5
A severe downturn in the global economy
50
47
Foreign interference in Australian politics
49
45
6
Right-wing extremism
42
45
11
The influence of social media companies
39
51
10
A lower rate of immigration to Australia
9
49
41

As Australia begins its recovery from the pandemic-​induced recession, optimism about the economy has rebounded, and concern about a severe downturn in the global economy has fallen back to 2019 levels. Five in ten Australians (50%) say a severe downturn in the global economy is a critical threat, a 21-point drop since 2020.

Other non-traditional threats elicit lower levels of concern. Views on foreign interference in Australian politics have seesawed since the issue came to prominence in 2017. Concern is on the rise again in 2021, with 49% saying foreign interference in Australian politics poses a critical threat, a 7-point increase from 2020.

ASIO has reported an increase in right-wing extremism activities in Australia in recent years. A minority of Australians (42%) say right-wing extremism is a critical threat to Australia’s vital interests.

The debate over the role of social media companies has been widespread in the past year, including when Facebook shut down its newsfeed in Australia. Four in ten Australians (39%) say the influence of social media companies poses a critical threat to Australia’s vital interests.

In 2020, Australia’s population shrank for the first time in 100 years, driven by a decline in overseas arrivals due to COVID-19 border closures. But only a fraction of Australians (9%) say a lower rate of immigration into Australia is a critical threat to the country’s vital interests. This finding adds to the complexity of views Australians have expressed about immigration in past Lowy Institute polls. In 2019, for example, 67% said that immigration has a positive impact on Australia’s economy. At the same time, half the population (47%) said that the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year was ‘too high’.5

Foreign influence

Eight in ten are concerned about China’s influence on Australia’s political processes

Underlining the finding that more Australians perceive foreign interference as a critical threat to the nation’s vital interests, there has been a significant jump in the number of Australians concerned about influence from China. In a November 2020 survey, eight in ten Australians (82%) said they were concerned about China’s influence on Australia’s political processes, a 19-point increase from 2018. The majority of Australians (61%) also expressed concern about the United States’ influence on Australia’s political processes, steady from 2018.

Foreign influence in Australian politics

Are you personally concerned or not concerned about the influence of each of the following countries on Australia’s political processes?
  1. 40%
  2. 20%
  3. 0%
  4. 20%
  5. 40%
  6. 60%
  7. 80%
  8. 100%
China
2018
34
63
2021
18
82
United States
2018
40
58
2021
38
61

Economic outlook and foreign investment

Optimism about Australia’s economic performance

Australians appear to have largely recovered from their concerns in 2020 about the global economic downturn. In the largest rebound in economic optimism in the 17 years of the Lowy Institute Poll, 79% of Australians say they are ‘optimistic’ or ‘very optimistic’ about Australia’s economic performance in the world. This represents a 27-point lift since 2020, and optimism about the economy is now higher than before the pandemic, although slightly lower than the levels after the global financial crisis, when 86% of the population expressed similar levels of optimism. This positive response to the pandemic-induced economic crisis is similar to that following the 2008–9 financial crisis, and is accompanied by a sharp drop in concern about a severe downturn in the global economy.

Foreign investment by government-controlled entity

Are you in favour or opposed to a company, bank or investment fund controlled by the following foreign governments buying a controlling stake in a major Australian company?
  1. 0%
  2. 25%
  3. 50%
  4. 75%
  5. 100%
United Kingdom
2008
43
53
5
2021
40
58
United States
2008
34
63
4
2021
32
66
A member of the European Union
2021
31
67
Japan
2008
22
72
6
2021
30
68
Hong Kong
2021
12
86
China
2008
17
78
6
2021
6
92

Investment from foreign countries

Australians’ longstanding scepticism about foreign investment persists in 2021. Revisiting a question asked in the 2008 Poll about whether companies with links to foreign governments should be permitted to invest in Australian companies, the vast majority of Australians oppose foreign government-controlled entities purchasing controlling stakes in Australian companies. However, some countries elicit stronger opposition than others.

Nine in ten Australians (92%) would oppose a Chinese-government controlled entity purchasing a controlling stake in an Australian company. Hong Kong is the fifth-largest source of foreign investment in Australia. However, 86% say they would oppose a Hong Kong-government controlled entity purchasing a controlling stake in an Australian company.

Optimism about Australia's economic performance

Overall, how optimistic are you about Australia’s economic performance in the world over the next 5 years (very optimistic, optimistic, neutral, pessimistic, very pessimistic)?
  1. 0%
  2. 30%
  3. 60%
  4. 90%
2005
14
53
67
2007
19
52
71
2008
11
65
76
2009
16
70
86
2010
19
67
86
2012
13
61
74
2013
14
62
76
2015
9
54
63
2016
9
61
70
2017
9
65
74
2019
5
60
65
2020
3
49
52
2021
10
69
79

The majority of Australians would also oppose entities controlled by liberal democratic governments from purchasing a controlling stake in an Australian company. Two-thirds of Australians say they would oppose such a purchase from an entity controlled by the Japanese government (68%), the government of a European Union member (67%), and the United States government (66%). The lowest level of opposition is expressed towards an entity controlled by the government of the United Kingdom (58%). The United States, United Kingdom, Belgium and Japan are the top four sources of foreign investment in Australia.

Australia at home

Democracy

The past year appears to have boosted Australians’ preference for democracy. In a November 2020 survey, seven in ten (71%) said ‘democracy is preferable to any other kind of government’, a record high in the 17 years of Lowy Institute polling. The number of Australians who said ‘in some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable’ had fallen 6 points to 16%.

Support for democracy reached a record high during the pandemic

The gap between younger and older Australians on this issue — which has provoked considerable debate since this question was first asked in 2012 — had narrowed: 61% of 18–29 year olds expressed a preference for democracy, compared to 73% of Australians over 30. In 2012, only 39% of 18–29 year olds expressed a preference for democracy, and the gap between younger and older Australians was much larger at 21 points.

Democracy

Now a question about democracy. Below are some statements about democracy. Please indicate which one of the three statements comes closest to your own personal views about democracy.
  1. 0%
  2. 40%
  3. 80%
605960656160626571232624182420202216151313151216151211
  1. 2012
  2. 2013
  3. 2014
  4. 2015
  5. 2016
  6. 2017
  7. 2018
  8. 2019
  9. 2020

Australia’s reputation overseas

Australians are overwhelmingly positive about the effect on their country’s reputation overseas from Australia’s handling of COVID-19. Almost all Australians (97%) say Australia’s response to COVID-19 has had a ‘very positive’ or ‘positive’ influence on Australia’s reputation in the world. This is almost the same number as those who say Australia has handled COVID-19 very or fairly well (95%). The majority of Australians (57%) say the influence of Australia’s COVID-19 response on Australia’s reputation is ‘very positive’.

The vast majority of Australians also agree that Australia’s diplomatic service (84%), foreign aid program (83%) and defence force (82%) have a positive influence on our reputation overseas.

Australia's reputation overseas

Now a question about Australia’s reputation overseas. Do you think each of the following factors have had a positive or negative influence on Australia’s reputation overseas?
  1. 0%
  2. 25%
  3. 50%
  4. 75%
  5. 100%
Australia's response to COVID-19
57
40
Australia's foreign aid
14
69
13
Australia's defence force
13
69
14
Australia's diplomatic service
9
75
13
3
Australia's climate change policy
4
40
36
18

One area of foreign policy has had a less positive effect on Australia’s reputation abroad, according to most Australians. A majority (54%) say that Australia’s climate change policy has a negative influence on Australia’s reputation overseas. This issue is divisive, however: 44% of Australians think national climate change policy has a ‘very positive’ or ‘positive’ influence on Australia’s reputation overseas. This is higher than the number in 2020 (33%) who said in response to a slightly differently-worded question that Australia’s ‘approach to climate change’ had a positive effect on its reputation on the world.

Australia’s place in the world

The ‘Indo-Pacific’ — the region comprising the Indian and Pacific Oceans and connecting seas, has become a strong theme of Australian foreign policy in recent years, and a new question this year sought to probe Australians’ understanding of this concept. When asked to choose three options where Australia belonged out of the ‘Indo-Pacific’, ‘Asia’, ‘the West’, ‘Oceania’, and ‘not part of anywhere’, the majority (62%) select Oceania. A sizeable minority (38%) select the Indo-Pacific. One in three (32%) say Australia belongs to the West, while just 21% say Australia belongs to Asia. One in ten Australians (11%) say Australia is ‘not part of anywhere’.

Australia's place in the world

Which of the following regions do you think Australia belongs to?
  1. 0%
  2. 25%
  3. 50%
  4. 75%
Oceania
62
Indo-Pacific
38
The West
32
Asia
21
Not part of anywhere
11
Don’t know

Coalition government report card

The Australian public give high marks to the current Coalition government for its handling of key Australian foreign policy issues, with two exceptions — China and climate change.

The highest marks are awarded for the government’s response to COVID-19, for which the government scored 7.6 out of 10. Australians also score the government highly on ‘maintaining Australia’s national security’ and ‘maintaining a strong alliance with the United States’ (6.8 out of 10 for both).

Australians are positive about the government’s management of Australia’s economy (6.6 out of 10) and also for presenting a good image of Australia internationally (6.5 out of 10).

Coalition government report card

What mark out of ten would you personally give the Coalition Government in Canberra for its performance in handling each of the following issues — with 10 meaning it has done an excellent job, 5 an average job and 0 a very poor job?
  1. NaN
Managing Australia's response to COVID-19
7.6
Maintaining a strong alliance with the United States
6.8
Maintaining Australia's national security
7.1
6.8
Managing Australia's economy
4.9
6.6
Presenting a good image of Australia internationally
5.4
6.5
Managing Australia's relationship with China
5.1
Managing Australia's approach to climate change
4.0
4.6

In 2015, the question was: ‘In 2015, the Coalition government completed its first year in office. What mark out of ten would you personally give the Coalition Government in Canberra for its performance in handling each of the following issues – with 10 meaning it has done an excellent job and 1 a very poor job.’ Respondents were not able to select 0. Note change in mode: see Methodology.

On the question of China, Australians are more divided, awarding 5.1 marks out of 10 for the government’s management of the relationship with China. As other results in the 2021 Poll show, however, more Australians lay the blame for the relationship tensions on China.

Australians mark the government hardest on the issue of climate change, awarding it a below-average 4.6 marks out of 10 for ‘managing Australia’s approach to climate change’. This is reinforced in other Poll findings, in which 60% say Australia is doing ‘too little’ to combat climate change.

Feelings towards other countries

For the first time, China has slipped to the bottom of the Lowy Institute ‘feelings thermometer’, a measurement of Australians’ perceptions about countries, territories and institutions on a scale of 0° (coldest feelings) to 100° (warmest feelings). China registers a very cool 32°, a 7-degree drop this year, and a striking 26-degree cooling since 2018. In 2020, this place on the thermometer was held by Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Feelings towards Iran in 2021 remain very cold at 34°. Feelings towards Russia and Myanmar continue their cooling trend, with both rating 41° among Australians this year. Australians also feel coolly towards Qatar, at 44°.

Both India (56°) and Indonesia (55°) mark a 4-degree improvement since 2020. Feelings towards Hong Kong have remained stable in 2021 at 57°. Views of Papua New Guinea have warmed in 2021 to 60°, a 4-degree lift since 2020. Australians rate the Pacific Islands Forum a warm 66°.

Feelings towards Taiwan have increased by 5 degrees to 62° since 2020. Feelings towards South Korea have rebounded to 61° this year after a dip in 2020. Warmth towards both Germany and the European Union has remained steady in 2021, at 69°and 62° respectively. Australians also feel warmly towards Thailand (62°) and the Philippines (57°, a cooling of 4 degrees since 2018).

Feelings towards the United States sit at a steady 62° in the first year of Biden’s administration, unchanged from 2020, and similar to the first year of the Obama presidency (64°). However, this reading is six degrees lower than the 68° recorded in the first year of the Trump administration.

Feelings towards Japan have warmed since 2020, increasing 4 degrees to 73°. Sentiment towards the United Kingdom has warmed 2 degrees to 76° since 2020, though this remains 6 degrees lower than in 2018. New Zealand again leads the Lowy Institute ‘feelings thermometer’ in 2021, receiving a very warm 87°, steady from 2019.

Feelings towards other nations

Please rate your feelings towards some countries and territories, with one hundred meaning a very warm, favourable feeling, zero meaning a very cold, unfavourable feeling, and fifty meaning not particularly warm or cold. You can use any number from zero to one hundred: the higher the number the more favourable your feelings are toward that country or territory. If you have no opinion or have never heard of that country or territory, please say so.
  1. 90°
  2. 80°
  3. 70°
  4. 60°
  5. 50°
  6. 40°
  7. 30°
  1. 87° New Zealand
  2. 76° United Kingdom
  3. 73° Japan
  4. 69° Germany
  5. 66° Pacific Islands Forum
  6. 62° European Union, Taiwan, Thailand, United States
  7. 61° South Korea
  8. 60° Papua New Guinea
  9. 57° Hong Kong, Philippines
  10. 56° India
  11. 55° Indonesia
  12. 44° Qatar
  13. 41° Myanmar (Burma), Russia
  14. 34° Iran
  15. 32° China

The COVID-19 pandemic

Border and consular policies

As thousands of Australians continue to seek repatriation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of Australians appear to support the federal government’s current approach.6 Six in ten Australians (59%) say that the federal government has done about the right amount to bring Australians home from overseas. A third of Australians (33%) say that the federal government has not done enough, while 7% say the government has done too much.7

Bringing Australians home

During the COVID-19 pandemic, do you think the Australian federal government has done too much, not enough or about the right amount to bring Australians home from overseas?
Too much 7About the right amount 59Not enough 33

Australians hold mixed views over the question of Australia’s closed borders. Four in ten Australians (41%) agree with the current policy that ‘only Australians granted special exemptions should be allowed to leave’. The same number (40%) say ‘Australians who have been vaccinated should be free to leave’. One in five Australians (18%) say that ‘all Australians should be free to leave’. Older Australians aged 60 and above are more likely to say that once vaccinated they should be able to leave the country, with 50% agreeing with this approach. By contrast, only 36% of Australians aged 18–59 say that vaccinated Australians should be free to leave now.

Border closures for Australians

Currently, Australians are not permitted to leave the country without applying for a special exemption. Which one of the following best describes your view?
Only Australians grantedspecial exemptionsshould be allowedto leave 41Australians who havebeen vaccinated shouldbe free to leave 40All Australians shouldbe free to leave 18Don’t know

Global responses to COVID-19

Australians continue to be extremely confident in Australia’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, ranking Australia well ahead of five other countries included in this year’s survey.

Almost all Australian adults (95%) say that Australia has handled COVID-19 ‘very well’ or ‘fairly well’ so far. The proportion that say Australia has handled COVID-19 very well has jumped from 43% in 2020 to 65% in 2021.

Despite tensions in the Australia-China relationship, Australian views of China’s handling of COVID-19 have improved over the past year. However, fewer than half (45%) say China has handled COVID-19 fairly or very well, an increase of 14 points from 2020.

Asked about Taiwan’s handling of the virus, two-thirds (66%) say that Taiwan has handled COVID-19 well. Fieldwork for the Lowy Institute Poll was carried out prior to the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan.

Global responses to COVID-19

Overall, how well or badly do you think each of the following countries have handled the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak so far?
  1. 0%
  2. 25%
  3. 50%
  4. 75%
  5. 100%
Australia
2020
43
50
6
2021
65
30
4
Taiwan
2021
23
43
20
5
9
China
2020
6
24
25
44
2021
12
33
22
30
India
2021
25
47
21
5
United Kingdom
2020
27
49
21
2021
18
49
31
United States
2020
8
27
63
2021
7
24
68

The majority of Australians say that India has not handled COVID-19 well so far, even though fieldwork for this polling was conducted prior to the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in India in April 2021. Only a quarter of Australians (27%) say India has handled COVID-19 very or fairly well.

Despite strong progress in UK and American vaccine rollouts, Australian views of the United Kingdom and the United States’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened from a low base. One in five Australians (19%) say the United Kingdom has handled COVID-19 very or fairly well, an 11-point drop from 2020.

As in 2020, the United States sits at the bottom of this list of six countries. No Australians (0%) say that the United States has handled COVID-19 very well. Only 7% of Australians say the United States has handled the pandemic fairly well. Nine in ten Australians (92%) say that the United States has handled COVID-19 very or fairly badly.

Foreign aid and COVID-19

While many have been wary of Australia investing in foreign aid in the past,8 the vast majority in 2021 (83%) say that Australia should help Pacific Islands countries to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. Over the course of the past six months, the Australian government has pledged over $800 million in funding for vaccines in Pacific Island and Southeast Asian countries.9

Foreign aid for COVID-19 vaccines

Now thinking about Australia helping other countries to access COVID-19 vaccines. Are you in favour or against Australia helping the following countries to pay for COVID-19 vaccines?
  1. 0%
  2. 25%
  3. 50%
  4. 75%
  5. 100%
Pacific island countries
83
16
Southeast Asian countries
60
38

A majority (60%) also say that Australia should help Southeast Asian countries to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. Younger Australians are more likely to support vaccine assistance for Southeast Asian countries than older Australians, with seven in ten 18–29 year olds (70%) saying that Australia should fund vaccines for Southeast Asia, compared to 56% of Australians over 30. More than 80% across all age groups polled say that Australia should fund vaccines for Pacific Island countries.


Methodology

The methodology for the Lowy Institute Poll 2021 is available here.


Acknowledgements

Several questions in this report were modelled on those developed by other polling organisations, including the Pew Research Center, Australian Election Study, Scanlon Foundation Research Institute, Ipsos MORI, Essential, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Fieldwork was managed by Matilda Page and Karly Day of the Social Research Centre. Benjamin Phillips, Jack Barton, Dina Baz and Sebastian Misson of the Social Research Centre provided design and weighting advice. John Davis of OmniPoll provided independent consulting and reviewed the questionnaires and report. Hannah Leser, Research Associate in the Lowy Institute’s Public Opinion and Foreign Policy program, co-​authored the Climate Poll 2021 and provided additional background research. Brody Smith and Stephen Hutchings at the Lowy Institute designed the interactive website. Alex Oliver and Clare Caldwell provided editorial and other assistance across all aspects of the report.


Notes

  1. From 2015–18, the question was phrased: ‘is China more of an economic partner or more of a military threat?’
  2. This question was asked in the Lowy Institute’s COVIDpoll, based on a nationally representative survey of Australians in April 2020.
  3. CGTN, Full text: Xi Jinping’s speech at the General Debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-09-23/Full-text-Xi-Jinping-s-speech-at-General-Debate-of-UNGA-U07X2dn8Ag/index.html, 23 September 2020.
  4. See for example Natasha Kassam, 2019 Lowy Institute Poll, https://www.lowyinstitute.org/publications/lowy-institute-poll-2019, 26 June 2019.
  5. Natasha Kassam, 2019 Lowy Institute Poll, 20 June 2019, https://www.lowyinstitute.org/publications/2019-lowy-institute-poll.
  6. Lynette Wood, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Additional Budget Estimates, 25 March 2021, 8, https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22committees%2Festimate%2F0cc7fe55-035d-4bfd-aa07-044df889d14f%2F0000%22.
  7. The Lowy Institute Poll is a nationally representative survey of Australian adults living in Australia. Overseas Australians would not have been included in the sample.
  8. Natasha Kassam, 2019 Lowy Institute Poll, https://poll.lowyinstitute.org/charts/budget-priorities.
  9. Stephen Dziedzic, “Federal Government to Ramp up Coronavirus Vaccine Diplomacy in the Pacific, South-East Asia”, 31 October 2020, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-31/federal-government-to-ramp-up-pacific-vaccine-diplomacy/12834020.