In a remarkable shift since 2020, Australians’ trust in India is on par with trust in the United States. Six in ten Australians (61%) say they trust India a great deal or somewhat, an increase of 16 points since 2020.
The Lowy Institute’s 2021 poll of Australian attitudes to the world surveyed more than 2,200 Australians in March.
According to this latest poll, Australians’ trust in India has increased while trust in China has plunged to new lows.
Australians reserve their highest levels of trust for other liberal democracies across the world. An overwhelming majority of Australians say they trust Japan (87%, up 5 points) and the United Kingdom (also 87%) to act responsibly in the world.
The Lowy Institute’s Natasha Kassam told ABC:
“The endless list of bilateral irritants and concerning stories — from the crackdown in Hong Kong to the detention of the Uyghurs, sanctions on Australian industries and the plight of Australian citizens in China — has driven the relationship, and driven public perception, to rock bottom.”
More than 60 per cent of people recently surveyed say that they view China as a security threat rather than an economic partner.
Only 16 per cent saying they trust China to act responsibly in the world.
The executive director of the Lowy Institute, Michael Fullilove, told the Guardian that:
“Australians do not want regional competition to slide into confrontation.”
While Canada leads the poll’s “feelings thermometer,” it also shows that trust has increased in India. It now stands at 56 per cent, which is up since the 2020 poll.
The respondents were also presented with a list of 12 leaders and they expressed the most confidence (91 per cent) in New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern.
34 per cent had some confidence and 4 per cent lot of confidence respectively in India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do the right thing regarding the world affairs.
The poll shows that 37 per cent had some confidence and 30 per cent lot of confidence respectively in Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Australians continue to be extremely confident in Australia’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, ranking Australia well ahead of five other countries included in this year’s survey, including China, the United States, United Kingdom, Taiwan and India. Almost all Australian adults (95%) say that Australia has handled COVID-19 ‘very well’ or ‘fairly well’ so far.
The majority of Australians say that India has not handled COVID-19 well so far, even though fieldwork for this polling was conducted prior to the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in India in April 2021. Only a quarter of Australians (27%) say India has handled COVID-19 very or fairly well.
Australia is in the process of negotiating several free trade agreements, including with the United Kingdom, European Union and India. In 2020, a majority of Australians say that proposed free trade agreements with the European Union (58%) and the United Kingdom (56%) would be good for Australia.
However, Australians are more divided about a free trade agreement with India. Four in ten Australians (44%) say that a free trade agreement with India would be good for Australia, while 28% say it would make no difference and 24% say it would be bad for Australia.