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Strong community support for overseas aid



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M EDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

ALEXANDER DOWNER

AA62 20 July 1998

STRONG COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR OVERSEAS AID

I am pleased to release details of a major national poll which shows a high level of support among Australians for the Government's overseas aid program.

The poll, conducted in June, show ed that 84 per cent o f respondents approved of Australia giving foreign aid.

A total 78 per cent either approved of the amount the Government spends on foreign v aid or believed the Government should spend more.

The results support the Government’s belief that the aid program, by addressing the needs o f the world’s most disadvantaged, is a clear statement of Australian values.

The survey shows that a clear majority of Australians support the notion that we should help others around us and not live in splendid isolation, pretending we are not part o f a global community where millions o f people have no choice but to live in extreme poverty.

It adds weight to the Government's faith in the generosity of Australians-and our commitment to giving others w orse off than ourselv es a fair go.

The survey was conducted by Newspoll on behalf o f the Government m association with the Australian Council for Overseas Aid and other non-government organisations delivering overseas aid. It followed my acceptance last year of a recommendation by the Simons Committee review of the aid program that the Government’s aid agency.

AusAlD, cooperate with non-government agencies to conduct public attitudes research.

The poll showed that 84 per cent of those surveyed approved of Australia giving aid, 52 per cent approving a “lot” and 32 per cent approving a “little”. A total o f 13 per cent disapproved.

Just over 42 per cent of respondents believed the Government should maintain its current expenditure on overseas aid. while around 36 per cent believed the Government should spend more. A total of 15 per cent believed the Government should spend less.

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Asked to choose between "moral responsibility” and Australia’s "long-term interests” as the more important reason for overseas aid, 54 per cent nominated moral responsibility and 33 per cent Australia’s long-term interests. Respondents believed the main reasons for giving aid were: to help people in need (30 per cent); because there was a humanitarian imperative (20 per cent); and because Australia could afford

to do so (14 per cent).

Newspoll conducted the survey by telephone over the period 19-21 June. A total 1200 respondents aged 18 years and over were polled by means o f a random sample process which included a quota for each capital city and non-capital city area.

Details of the poll are being further examined as part o f a process of maintaining a sound basis for providing public information on the aid program.

A summary o f the major findings o f Newspoll is attached.

Media Contacts: Innes Willox (Minister's office) 02 62777500 or 0419 206890 Matt Francis (AusA/D) 02 62064967 or 04 P 6AM26

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MAJOR FINDINGS OF NEWSPOLL ON COMMUNITY ATTITUDES TO OVERSEAS AID* Approval of Australia giving overseas aid City Country NSW VIC QLD SA WA TAS Total

Approve 87 79 86 85 82 81 80 85 84

Disapprove 11 16 11 12 15 16 16 15- 13

Undecided 3 5 4 3 3 3 5 - 3

Should the Government spend more/less on overseas aid? City Country NSW VIC QLD SA WA TAS Total

Same as now 40 46 42 42 42 45 45 30 42

More 40 29 36 38 35 35 28 38 36

Less 13 17 16 12 13 9 21 26 15

Don’t know 7 8 6 7 10 11 6 7 7

Type of aid preferred City Country NSW VIC QLD SA WA TAS Total

Emergency 32 48 37 38 43 34 33 41 38

Long term 60 44 54 55 46 55 58 60 54

Don’t know 9 8 8 6 12 11 10 - 9

Main reason for aid program City Country NSW | VIC QLD SA WA TAS Total

Help people in need 30 30 32 28 28 36 25 31 30

Moral imperative 21 18 21 19 23 17 15 9 20

We can afford it 16 12 13 13 23 12 9 10

14

Trade 6 7 4 6 10 3 12 4 7

Improved relations with other

countries 6 4 4 6 5 8 7 7 5

Government responsibility 5 2 3 5 5 6 0 4

Promote peace 4 2 3 2 4 3 4 2 3

Maintain Australia’s world reputation 4 1 Ί 4 I 1 4 2 3

Don’t know 12 18 14 14 14 17 14 13 14

Most important reason for overseas aid City Country NSW VIC QLD SA WA TAS Total

Moral responsibility 57 51 56 55 54 49 48 62 54

Long term interests 32 36 33 33 31 35 38 33 33

Neither/don’t know 12 14 11 12 15 16 14 5 13

Made personal contributions to organisation that provides overseas aid in past 12 months City Country NSW VIC OLD SA WA TAS Total

Yes 51 41 44 50 42 56 48 59 47

No 47 57 53 48 56 43 52 41 51

Don’t know 2 2 3 2 3 2 2

Column totals will be greater than 100 where there have been multiple responses from individuals. Figures have been rounded up (where the decimal is .5 or above) or down to whole numbers. 'City' refers to the Statistical Divisions of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. ‘Country" refers to the rest of Australia but excluding the Northern Territory. *

*This Newspoll was conducted nationally by telephone among 1200 respondents between 19-21 JuriS 1998.