While many Australians have been wary of foreign aid in the past, in 2022, Australians are overwhelmingly in favour of Australia providing foreign aid to Pacific Island states. Almost all Australians (93%) are in favour of providing aid for disaster relief. The provision of aid for Covid-19 vaccines also receives high levels of support, with 86% of Australians saying they are in favour. This aligns with attitudes in 2021, where 83% of Australians said Australia should help Pacific countries to pay for Covid-19 vaccines.
There is also strong support for Australia to play a role in building strong economies in the Pacific. Eight in ten Australians (84%) favour providing aid to the Pacific for long-term economic development, and 82% favour providing aid ‘to help prevent China from increasing its influence in the Pacific’. In a different question in 2019, 73% said Australia should try to prevent China from increasing its influence in the Pacific. Three-quarters of Australians (75%) are in favour of providing aid to Pacific Island states for climate change action. The same number (75%) support Australia hosting a UN Climate Conference, which has been floated as a proposal that could involve Australia co-hosting with Pacific Island nations.
Australians feel warmly towards their Pacific neighbours, receiving very warm readings on the Lowy Institute’s feelings thermometer in 2022. Papua New Guinea received a reading of 61 °, while Tonga received a reading of 67 °. In an election year for Papua New Guinea, Australians are also more likely to agree that Papua New Guinea is a democracy. In 2022, six in ten Australians (63%) say Papua New Guinea is a democracy, a ten-point increase from 2020.
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