Roy Morgan has just released an interesting poll that looks at the public perceptions of which countries are considered to be Australia’s biggest security threat. It was a phone poll run from a relatively small sample size of 687 people aged 14+, and as a result has a maximum MoE of around the 3.7% mark. However, because the proportions we’re looking at here are generally in the range of between 5% and 30% for any given answer (at least the one’s we’re going to look at today), that gives us an MoE range on each particular response of between around 1.6% and 3.4%, making it a little more solid than it ordinarily might appear.

Roy Morgan Research asked the question:

In your opinion are there any countries which are a threat to Australia’s security? If Yes, Which countries?

Respondents were allowed to give more than one answer – this was the result:

nations1Indonesia was perceived to be highest with 20% naming that country as a security threat to Australia, followed by Iraq and Afghanistan. A total of 39% of the respondents thought that no country was a security threat to Australia.

More interesting though, is when we take some of the more nominated countries and look at their breakdown by State.(click to expand)


The mainland states all had Indonesia as the most popular security threat except Tasmania, where it wasn’t perceived to be a security threat at all. Maybe that’s just a function of the distance between Tasmania and Indonesia, maybe it’s a result of the inevitable small sample size of Tasmania in the poll (with a total sample of 687 aged 14+, we’d expect the Tasmanian sub-sample to be around the 16 or 17 respondent mark)

[I’ve since been told the Tassie sub-sample is a little higher than that for this poll]

If it’s the former, it’s interesting – if it’s the latter, just forget about it! 😀

Similarly, the Tasmanians named Arab/Middle Eastern countries at over twice the rate of mainland states.

Looking now at how the perception on a number of countries has changed over time (Morgan has been running this poll for 27 years) is also worth a quick squiz


(There were polls in both May and June of 1989, probably over Tiananmen Square)

The perception of Indonesia as a security threat has slowly been growing over the period, while Russia started to decline at the end of the Cold War. Japan had a bit of a security threat resurgence in the late eighties before slumping, while China has been growing since the mid to late eighties.

The most interesting thing about the poll however, was the age breakdown of the that believed that no country was a security threat.


The naivety of yoof perhaps, maybe the paranoia of age – but it’s interesting that the older a person is, the more likely they are to believe that other countries pose a security threat to Australia.

The poll has breakdowns by voting intention (no real difference between ALP and Coalition voters) and all sorts of other stuff as well.It’s worth a squiz.