Australians concerned over asylum seekers and climate, survey reveals

May 31, 2010 1:38 pm 

CANBERRA, May 31 — The Lowy Institute survey of 1,000 people on Monday showed Australians have been increasingly worried about asylum seekers and the act on climate change.

The increasing number of asylum seekers to reach Australia's shores has been weighing on the minds of the public, Australian Associated Press reported on Monday.

As the opposition has toughened its stance on border protection, vowing to return to the Pacific Solution if elected, the poll showed almost 80 percent of people were concerned about boat arrivals.

Those who were "very concerned" jumped to more than half of the total.

Australians were more cautious about acting on climate change. The number of those who want immediate, strong action has fallen from 68 percent four years ago to 46 percent today.

Almost three-quarters wanted Australia's greenhouse gas emissions to come down, even without a global climate deal. Australia does not currently have a scheme in place to reduce emissions.

But more people do not want to pay anything extra on their electricity bill to reduce emissions.

The public gave the federal government a bare pass on foreign policy, 5.5 out of 10.

Federal governing party, Labor has scored well on managing the U.S. alliance, but people were not happy with action on asylum seekers and whaling. (The survey was taken in March, before the government announced legal action against Japanese whaling.)

The poll has showed the government has been out of step with public opinion on three issues.

Labor wanted to secure a seat on the United Nations Security Council for Australia, but only a third of respondents thought it was important.

Labor has pledged to boost foreign aid, but less than one in five people agreed. More people wanted aid cut than wanted it boosted.

And most people thought Australia should not be involved militarily in Afghanistan.

The annual snapshot of Australians' views on the world also showed that Australians got the warmest feelings towards New Zealand.

The Courier-Mail reported that 55 percent of the people named China as the world's top economic power, compared with 32 percent for the United States.

China is Australia's biggest trading partner. As high as 73 percent of people regard China's growth as good for Australia, but 57 percent said the Government had allowed too much investment from China. (PNA/Xinhua)

DCT/ebp

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