September 01, 2022

Australians prefer to partner with the EU economically but favour the US for a security partnership

Topic: Morgan Poll Review, Press Release, Public Opinion, Special Poll
Finding No: 9046
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A special Roy Morgan SMS survey taken in late August shows a clear majority of 61% of Australians say they prefer partnering with the USA for security issues but for partnering economically the European Union comes out on top, favoured by 43% of Australians.

In terms of security issues, the USA is favoured by 61% of Australians and is far ahead of any other contenders including the European Union (22%) and United Kingdom (14%). Considered together, over a third of Australians, 36%, select one of the two European based partners. In contrast, only 2.5% of people say they prefer Australia to partner with China regarding security issues and only 0.5% nominate Russia.

When it comes to partnering economically the views of Australians are more varied with a plurality of 43% favouring the European Union, a quarter preferring the USA (25%) and over a fifth, 22%, preferring the United Kingdom.

Nearly one-in-ten respondents say Australia should partner with China (9%) economically but only 1% nominate Russia as a preferred economic partner.

This special Roy Morgan SMS survey was conducted in late August with a representative cross-section of 1,240 Australians aged 18+.

Respondents were asked: "Which of the following would you prefer Australia to partner with economically? The USA, China, Russia, the EU or the UK?" and "Which of the following would you prefer Australia to partner with regarding security issues? The USA, China, Russia, the EU or the UK?"

Which of the following would you prefer Australia to partner with: Economically or for Security Issues

Source: Roy Morgan SMS survey in Australia conducted on August 19-22, 2022, n=1,240. Base: Australians aged 18+.

Women prefer the EU & UK for an economic partnership whereas men prefer EU & USA

Analysis by gender shows that women clearly prefer the European Union (47%) as an economic partner for Australia ahead of the United Kingdom (27%) while only a fifth mention the USA (20%). One-in-twenty women would prefer Australia partner with China (5%) and only 1% prefer Russia.

A smaller plurality of men prefer Australia to partner economically with the European Union (39%) ahead of the USA (29.5%) in a clear second place and under a fifth mention the United Kingdom (18%). Around one-in-eight men say Australia should partner with China economically (13%) but fewer than 1% prefer Russia.

Analysing by age group shows over 40% of all age groups prefer that Australia partner with the European Union economically but there is a divergence between younger and older Australians regarding the second preference. Australians aged 18-34 and 35-49 prefer the United Kingdom ahead of the USA whereas for Australians aged 50+ there is a clear preference for the USA ahead of the United Kingdom.

Analysis by Gender:
‘Which of the following would you prefer Australia to partner with Economically’

Source: Roy Morgan SMS survey in Australia conducted on August 19-22, 2022, n=1,240. Base: Australians aged 18+.

Analysis by Gender & Age:
‘Which of the following would you prefer Australia to partner with Economically’

Total

Australia

Gender Age
Men Women 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+
  % % % % % % %
European Union 43 39 47 45 45 40.5 41.5
USA 25 29.5 20 22 19.5 30.5 30.5
United Kingdom 22 18 27 25.5 23 19 19
China 9 13 5 7.5 12 8 9
Russia 1 0.5 1 0.5 2
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

A majority of men and women prefer that Australia partner with the USA for security

Analysis by gender shows a clear majority of both men (66.5%) and women (54.5%) say Australia should partner with the USA in regards to security issues.

In second place for both genders is the European Union mentioned by 23.5% of women and almost as many men (20.5%). Nearly one-in-five women (19%) say Australia should partner with the United Kingdom for security issues, twice as likely as men (9.5%). Under 5% of either men (3.5%) or women (3%) mention either China or Russia.

Majorities of all age groups prefer the USA as a security partner over any other contender and this preference increases with age from 51% of 18-34yr olds up to 69.5% of people aged 65+.

The European Union is also the second preference of all age groups although that preference decreases with age from a high of 32% of 18-34 yr olds down to only 17.5% of people aged 65+.

Analysis by Gender:
‘Which of the following would you prefer Australia to partner with regarding security issues’

Source: Roy Morgan SMS survey in Australia conducted on August 19-22, 2022, n=1,240. Base: Australians aged 18+.

Analysis by Gender:
‘Which of the following would you prefer Australia to partner with regarding Security Issues’

Total

Australia

Gender Age
Men Women 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+
  % % % % % % %
USA 61 66.5 54.5 51 60.5 63.5 69.5
European Union 22 20.5 23.5 32 20 18 17.5
United Kingdom 14 9.5 19 14.5 16 13 11.5
China 2.5 3 2.5 2.5 3.5 3 1.5
Russia 0.5 0.5 0.5 2.5
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

Michele Levine, Chief Executive Officer Roy Morgan, says Australians take a nuanced approach to our economic and security arrangements with the European Union preferred for an economic partnership and the United States clearly preferred for a security alliance:

Block Quote

“Australians are split on who the country should partner with economically and in regards to security issues. When it comes to an economic partnership the European Union is selected by 43% of respondents as the preferred partner, well ahead of the USA (25%) and United Kingdom (22%).

“Interestingly, only 9% of Australians select China as the preferred economic partner despite the East Asian powerhouse being easily Australia’s largest two-way trading partner. In 2021 Australia had AUD $293.6 Billion two-way trade with China, over three-times as much as second-placed Japan on $87.2 Billion and the European Union in third place on $83.4 Billion.

“The United States was Australia’s fourth largest two-way trading partner in 2021 with total trade of $68.2 Billion but the United Kingdom didn’t even make the top ten, coming in as the 12th largest trading partner with total trade of $21.7 Billion.

“The preference for the European Union as an economic partner is unanimous across both genders and all age groups but the second choice is split between the United Kingdom (women and people aged 18-49) and the United States (men and people aged 50+).

“When it comes to a security partnership the United States is preferred by over three-fifths of Australians (61%) – and majorities of both men (66.5%) and women (54.5%) and all age groups nominate the United States as the preferred security partner.

“This is not surprising given Australia’s history and reliance on the United States security guarantee since World War II. Australia is closely aligned with the USA in security alliances including ANZUS, signed in 1951 between Australia, New Zealand and the USA, and more recently AUKUS, signed in 2021 between Australia, the United Kingdom and the USA.

“These security agreements rely on the military power of the United States as their under-pinning and securely lock Australia into the military alliance structure centered on the United States.

“The European Union is preferred as a security partner by 22% of Australians and a further 14% nominate the United Kingdom. However, even combining these figures is only around half as many as those who mentioned the United States.”

Finding No. 9046– This special Roy Morgan web survey was conducted with a representative cross-section of 1,240 Australians on August 19-22, 2022. They were asked “Which of the following countries would you prefer Australia to partner with economically?” and “Which of the following countries would you prefer Australia to partner with regarding security issues?”

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Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2
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