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Australians turning against offshore processing – poll finds

29 June 20160 comments

Australians are softening on the issue of offshore processing of asylum seekers, according to the results of a new polling by the Lowy Institute.

The surveys, conducted in June 2016, also found Australians also oppose a Trump presidency in the US and have increasing concerns about global warming.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

The Lowy Institute found that for 77 per cent of Australian adults, Hillary Clinton is the preferred US President, with only 11 per cent saying they would prefer Donald Trump.

Most Australians (84 per cent) say Hillary Clinton would do a better job of handling US foreign policy. Only 10 per cent prefer Donald Trump for handling US foreign policy.

Also, nearly six in ten Australians (59 per cent) say they would be less likely to support Australia ‘taking future military action in coalition with the US under Donald Trump’ if he wins the presidency.

The poll also identified a softening in support for the offshore processing of asylum seekers.

Just over half of Australians (54 per cent) say ‘asylum seekers should be processed offshore in places such as Nauru, before deciding whether they should be settled in Australia’, five points down on the 2014 result in which 59 per cent supported offshore processing.

Reinforcing this result, there is now more support for processing asylum seekers’ claims in Australia, with 55 per cent (up eight points since 2014) agreeing that ‘all asylum seekers should be processed in Australia whether or not they come by boat’.

Successive Lowy Institute surveys have indicated that concern about global warming is trending upwards, with 53 per cent of Australians in 2016 (up 17 points since 2012) now saying ‘global warming is a serious and pressing problem.’

A similar proportion believes we should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs.

Although this concern is rising, it remains 15 points lower than the peak of concern recorded in 2006, when 68 per cent of Australians expressed this view, the survey report said.

The June poll has confirmed findings from November 2015 that Australians remain divided on the best economic policy to deal with the problem of carbon emissions.

When forced to choose between the current Direct Action scheme and a price on carbon or emissions trading scheme, a slight majority of Australians (53 per cent) say we should ‘continue the government’s Direct Action plan which pays businesses for emissions reduction projects’.
Despite the abolition of the carbon tax in 2014, however, there are still 40 per cent of Australians who would prefer that the government ‘introduce an emissions trading scheme or price on carbon, where people pay for their carbon emissions’, the survey report said.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist