The latest Lowy Institute Poll has mixed results on how we shape up on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. But on climate change the jury is in and it has resoundingly voted for action.

For the third year in a row the poll has recorded a rise in Australians’ concerns on global warming.

Half the adult population indicated “global warming is a serious and pressing problem”, up 5 points on the poll results last year and 14 points since 2012.

“A solid majority, 63 per cent, say that in the lead-up to the 2015 UN climate change conference in Paris, the Australian Government should commit to significant reductions so that other countries will be encouraged to do the same”.

Even more impressive is that only 35 per cent of respondents seemed to buy the climate denialists’ line that the government “should not make significant commitments on emissions reductions ahead of other countries”.

This, despite a massive investment from the fossil fuel lobby to turn back the tide of renewable energy and climate action.

In more encouraging news for the renewable energy sector respondents ranked solar energy at the expected primary source of electricity in 10 years time, with 43 per cent saying it would top energy production.

Only 17 indicated coal would be in this role and 13 per cent said nuclear.

On other issues, there’s lukewarm support for the Abbott government’s handling of the threat of terrorism – a 5.9/10 mark 7.1/10 for “maintaining a strong alliance with the United States”.

But it gets just 4.9/10 for how it handles the economy and asylum seekers by boat and a very poor 4.0/10 for managing the issue of climate change.

Economic optimism

On economic optimism there was a massive 13 per cent fall on levels in 2013, and 23 points lower than the peaks of 86 per cent in 2009 and 2010 “at the height of the global economic crisis” no less.

“It is the single largest fall in optimism recorded by our poll since 2005”, the institute said.

On foreign investment in property, 70 per cent of respondents said government allowed too much investment from China.

Mixed views on China

In a show that there’s balanced and not melodramatic thinking at play 77 per cent of respondents said they saw China as “more of an economic partner to Australia” than a “military threat” with just 15 per cent seeing it as “more of a military threat”.


“Australians’ feelings towards Indonesia have fallen to a cool 46° on the thermometer, the equal lowest point in our past decade of polling and 8 points lower than the peaks of 54° in 2010 and 2012,” the institute said.

“This places Indonesia on a par with Russia (45°) and Egypt (48°).

Only 34 per cent of Australians regard Indonesia as a democracy.

Download the full poll here

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