A third of voters support increased military involvement in Syria, but most prefer either no change or an end to our involvement there, today’s Essential Report shows.

With the likes of Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews calling from the backbench for Australia to send troops to Syria to fight Islamic State, an increase in our military involvement there is supported by 32% of voters, while 19% of voters support a withdrawal and 28% support no change from our current campaign of bombing Islamic State inside Syria as well as Iraq. Men (37%) and over-55s (39%) were far more likely to support further military intervention.

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Voters also understand that increased involvement in Syria will make them less safe from terrorism. Forty-five per cent of voters believe increasing our military involvement against IS will make us less safe from terrorism while just 17% believe it will make us safer. Coalition voters are most likely to believe it will make us safer, but even among them, only 21% believe it will make us safer, while 38% believe it will make us less safe.

Voters also appear reluctant to accept the argument of major party politicians that terrorism has nothing to do with Western actions in the Middle East: 29% say terrorism is motivated by “hatred of Western culture and freedoms” while 11% say “reaction to role of Western countries in the Middle East”, but 46% say “both”. Coalition voters and older voters were more likely to attribute terrorism entirely to blind hatred of the West.

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Voters also rank Australia below both the US and Europe when it comes to climate action. Just 14% of voters think Australia is doing more than Europe on climate action, while 39% believe we’re doing less and 25% think we’re doing about the same as European countries. Twenty per cent think we’re doing more than the United States, while 29% think we’re doing less and 30% about the same. Only against China do voters favourably compare our actions, with 41% saying we’re doing more and only 21% saying we’re doing less.

On voting intention, the Coalition still leads Labor on a two-party preferred basis, 52%-48%, despite losing a point on its primary vote to fall to 44%. But Labor, too, lost a point, and is down to 35%, while the Greens remain on 10%. The government’s lead has now been steady at 52%-48% for four weeks.

Peter Fray

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