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Lowy Institute Poll.

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Robert McClelland MP Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Federal Member for Barton 30 August 2007


Foreign policy, like all public policy, must always be about merit not popularity.

But it is reassuring to know that in Australia meritorious arguments often attract wide popular support.

The 2007 Lowy Institute Poll is testament to the modern reality that the Australian people have sophisticated and carefully thought though views on Australia’s role in the world.

Unlike their Government, Australians are not climate change sceptics and are genuinely worried about the consequences of global warming for our security.

Australian families know that climate change is not just an economic and environmental issue - it is very much a national security challenge.

When climate change is up there with education and healthcare as an issue of concern its clear Australians want their government to achieve real results. But you certainly won’t get these results from a Government who still have climate change sceptics in their ranks.

More and more Australians know the Iraq war is a national security disaster and that we absolutely must change course. Less than one fifth of those asked believe Australian forces are in Iraq “to support the democratic government”.

Australians instinctively know that giving an open ended and unconditional military commitment to the present Iraqi Government is counterproductive. Because it places no pressure for them to make the necessary political compromises required to end the violence plaguing that country.

The Australian people also have a sensible appreciation of what the economic emergence of China means for Australia and our alliance with the United States.

Australians don’t accept the premise of the Foreign Minister’s false choice about having to downgrade our strategic relationship with the US in order to accommodate our economic relationship with China. Ninety percent of Australians regard the US alliance as being important and the majority of Australians see an emerging China as an opportunity rather than a threat.

It is pleasing to see that 61 percent of Australians regard helping to prevent nuclear proliferation as “very important”. Some two thirds of our people also support free trade as a means of “putting people from different countries in contact with each other” and “increasing prosperity, both in Australia and in other parts of the world”.

This is firm evidence that Australians want to regain their reputation as good international citizens and help make the world a safer and more prosperous place.

Contact: Tom Cameron 0417 147 932