Lowy Institute annual survey 2021: optimistic Australians after horror 2020
That is, in short, the picture painted by the Lowy Institute’s annual survey for 2021, which assesses Australians’ feelings on everything from the local economy to global affairs.
The telephone survey, conducted in March this year, found that 70% of Australians felt ‘safe’ or ‘very safe’, an increase of 20 points from last year.
Of course, in March 2020 the world was reeling from what was then a terrifying and almost unknown threat.
“This is a testament to the fact that in March 2020 Australia had just been stranded and there was truly an unprecedented panic,” Lowy opinion program manager told nine.com.au public and foreign policy, Natasha Kassam.
“The vast majority of Australians think we have handled the pandemic well. “
But the sight was not all rosy.
Only 16% of Australians said they trust China to act responsibly in the world “a lot” or “a little”, up from 52% in 2018.
Most Australians now view China as a greater security threat than an economic partner, although there is a reluctance to join the United States in a hypothetical conflict with Beijing, with 57% of respondents opting for neutrality.
However, Australia’s distrust of China appears to focus on government actions and policies, with most Australians claiming that Chinese history and culture, and the Chinese they meet, positively influences their view. of the rising superpower.
“Australia-China history has changed dramatically,” Ms. Kassam said.
“In the 2019 election, foreign policy was not mentioned once – it just wouldn’t happen today.”
She said that while Australians have traditionally had a grim view of Chinese authoritarianism, what has changed recently is that the country’s economic growth is increasingly seen as a threat (50% agree, in 31% increase compared to 2016).
“China’s targeted sanctions have had an effect on how Australians perceive its economic strength,” Ms. Kassam said.
However, she stressed that most Australians still recognize China as our biggest trading partner, with 72 percent of them now that it is possible to have good relations with Beijing and Washington.
Besides the conflict with Beijing, Australians have called cyber attacks from other countries (62%) and climate change (61%) as critical threats to the national interest over the next decade.
And 59% rated COVID-19 as a critical threat for 2021 – but that was down 17% from 2020.
“Support for action on climate change has increased since 2013,” Ms. Kassam said.
“There was a slight drop in 2020, when people were obviously more focused on the coronavirus.
“But the vast majority of Australians think we should do more to deal with the problem, even to the extent of supporting emissions trading or a carbon tax.”
Australians are extremely optimistic about the economy, with 79% adopting a positive outlook – a record 27% from last year.
And 97% of people believe the national response to COVID-19 will have a positive effect on Australia’s international reputation.
The federal government received a score of 7.6 out of 10 for its response to the pandemic, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison (67%) and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese (56%) also appeared to be successful.
Confidence rose in India (61%, up 16% since 2020) and Indonesia (48%, up 12%), but New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern again won the crown as Australians’ favorite national leader, with 91 percent giving him a tick of approval.
Australians also appeared to welcome the election of US President Joe Biden, with confidence in Mr Biden rebounding to 69%, more than double last year’s result of 30% for his predecessor Donald Trump.
And 58% of Australians still agreed that Mr. Trump had harmed the US-Australia alliance.
“Trump was not popular in Australia,” Ms. Kassam said.
“But what we’re finding is that levels of trust in the United States under Biden are not as high as under (former US President Barack) Obama.
“Trump’s legacy has left Australians questioning the old alliance with the United States.”