Essential Report

Support for nuclear energy in Australia

Sep 28, 2021

Q. To what extent do you support or oppose Australia developing nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity?

Total Gender Age Group Federal Voting Intention
Male Female 18-34 35-54 55+ Labor TOTAL: Coalition Greens TOTAL: Other
Strongly support 20% 29% 10% 14% 19% 25% 16% 30% 12% 20%
Somewhat support 30% 30% 30% 33% 27% 31% 26% 35% 26% 27%
Somewhat oppose 15% 14% 16% 19% 14% 13% 19% 12% 13% 13%
Strongly oppose 17% 16% 17% 14% 21% 16% 20% 8% 37% 24%
Unsure 18% 10% 27% 21% 18% 16% 19% 15% 11% 15%
TOTAL: Support 50% 59% 41% 47% 47% 55% 42% 65% 38% 47%
TOTAL: Oppose 32% 31% 33% 32% 35% 28% 39% 20% 50% 37%
Base (n) 1,094 539 555 341 368 385 366 397 101 130
  • Half of Australians say they would support Australia developing nuclear power-plants, but a third would oppose. The issue is divisive, with similar proportion of people strongly supporting (20%) and strongly opposing (17%) nuclear power in Australia.
  • Support for nuclear power is highest among men (59%), those aged over 55 (55%) and Coalition voters (65%).

Preferred energy sources for government support

Sep 28, 2021

Q. As you may be aware, many of Australia’s coal-fired power stations are reaching the end of their operational lives and will soon need to be replaced.

Which of the following would you prefer that the government supported?

  Total Gender Age Group Federal Voting Intention
  Male Female 18-34 35-54 55+ Labor Liberal + National Greens TOTAL: Other
Renewable energy solutions (e.g. wind and solar) 65% 52% 77% 61% 72% 60% 76% 51% 79% 54%
New nuclear power stations 19% 28% 10% 17% 15% 25% 12% 28% 11% 19%
New coal-fired power stations 8% 8% 9% 11% 8% 7% 5% 11% 3% 14%
New gas-fired power stations 8% 12% 4% 11% 5% 8% 7% 9% 7% 12%
Base (n) 1,094 539 555 341 368 385 366 397 101 130
  • Renewable energy is the preferred power for the future for the majority of Australians (65%).
  • One in five (20%) say they want the government to prioritise support for nuclear power.
  • Fossil fuels receive little support – with just 8% wanting government support for coal or gas.
  • The majority of all demographics want the government to prioritise support for renewables.

Support for uses of nuclear technology

Sep 28, 2021

Q. To what extent would you support or oppose using nuclear energy sources for the following?

  TOTAL: Support TOTAL: Oppose Strongly support Somewhat support Neither support nor oppose Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose
To power a submarine fleet for the Royal Australian Navy 47% 21% 22% 24% 32% 11% 10%
To establish Australia’s nuclear weapon capabilities 29% 38% 11% 19% 33% 16% 22%
To supply power to Australian households and businesses 48% 24% 22% 26% 29% 10% 13%

 

TOTAL: Support Total Gender Age Group Federal Voting Intention
Male Female 18-34 35-54 55+ Labor TOTAL: Coalition Greens TOTAL: Other
To power a submarine fleet for the Royal Australian Navy 47% 56% 38% 38% 43% 58% 39% 66% 29% 45%
To establish Australia’s nuclear weapon capabilities 29% 37% 22% 32% 30% 26% 26% 38% 25% 32%
To supply power to Australian households and businesses 48% 57% 38% 44% 47% 51% 41% 63% 34% 47%
Base (n) 1,094 539 555 341 368 385 366 397 101 130
  • Following the AUKUS submarine partnership announcement last week, 47% say they support the use of nuclear power to fuel vessels for the Royal Australian Navy. A similar proportion support the introduction of nuclear power generation (47%).
  • There is less enthusiasm for nuclear weapons, with less than a third (29%) supporting this, and higher opposition to the idea of Australia developing nuclear weapons (37%).
  • Those most likely to be supportive of all forms of nuclear technology are men and Coalition voters. Older people are more supportive than younger people of nuclear submarines and power generation.

Agreement with AUKUS implications

Sep 28, 2021

Q. Australia recently announced a trilateral partnership with the US and UK (known as AUKUS) which will deliver a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia.

The new security pact sees Australia cancel its previous deal with France’s Naval Group to build conventionally powered submarines.

How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements about the new AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine partnership?

  TOTAL: Agree TOTAL: Disagree Strongly agree Somewhat agree Neither agree nor disagree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree
Australia is right to build strong relations with the US and UK for its national defence 62% 8% 33% 29% 30% 5% 3%
The AUKUS partnership strains Australia’s trade relations with China who see it as a threat 55% 8% 20% 35% 37% 5% 3%
The AUKUS partnership may endanger future trade deals with France and the EU 48% 13% 16% 32% 39% 9% 4%
The AUKUS partnership is in Australia’s best security and economic interests 54% 12% 26% 28% 34% 7% 5%

 

Total Gender Age Group Federal Voting Intention
Male Female 18-34 35-54 55+ Labor TOTAL: Coalition Greens TOTAL: Other
Australia is right to build strong relations with the US and UK for its national defence 62% 68% 56% 49% 58% 77% 59% 78% 44% 58%
The AUKUS partnership strains Australia’s trade relations with China who see it as a threat 55% 61% 49% 49% 54% 61% 57% 57% 65% 55%
The AUKUS partnership may endanger future trade deals with France and the EU 48% 49% 47% 47% 47% 49% 53% 47% 64% 48%
The AUKUS partnership is in Australia’s best security and economic interests 54% 62% 46% 45% 50% 66% 49% 72% 36% 47%
Base (n) 1,094 539 555 341 368 385 366 397 101 130
  • While 62% think it is good for Australia to strengthen relations with the US and UK through the AUKUS partnership, 55% acknowledge it will strain the trading relationship with China and 48% see the risk to relationships with France and other EU countries.
  • Just over half think the AUKUS partnership is in Australia’s best economic and security interests (54%).
  • The partnership appeals to Coalition voters, who are most likely to think it is right to build strong relations with the UK and US (78%) and agree that the deal is in Australia’s best interests (72%).

National security and AUKUS partnership

Sep 28, 2021

Q. Thinking about the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine partnership, which is closer to your view?

Total Gender Age Group Federal Voting Intention
Male Female 18-34 35-54 55+ Labor TOTAL: Coalition Greens TOTAL: Other
The AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine partnership will make Australia more secure 45% 47% 44% 34% 40% 60% 39% 62% 30% 38%
The AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine partnership will not affect Australia’s security 36% 34% 37% 48% 36% 24% 39% 27% 40% 33%
The AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine partnership will make Australia less secure 19% 19% 19% 18% 24% 15% 22% 12% 30% 29%
Base (n) 1,094 539 555 341 368 385 366 397 101 130
  • Less than half think the AUKUS partnership will make Australia more secure (45%). 36% think it will not affect our security and 19% think we are now at more risk.
  • Those aged over 55 and Coalition voters are most likely to believe Australia is now more secure due to the AUKUS partnership.

Managing Australia’s relationship with China

Sep 28, 2021

Q. Overall, which is closest to your view about Australia’s relationship with China?

Total Gender Age Group Federal Voting Intention
Male Female 18-34 35-54 55+ Labor TOTAL: Coalition Greens TOTAL: Other
Australia’s relationship with China is a positive opportunity to be realised 10% 13% 7% 14% 11% 6% 11% 10% 12% 8%
Australia’s relationship with China is a complex relationship to be managed 66% 63% 69% 65% 64% 70% 66% 66% 66% 61%
Australia’s relationship with China is a threat to be confronted 24% 24% 23% 21% 25% 24% 23% 24% 21% 31%
Base (n) 1,094 539 555 341 368 385 366 397 101 130
  • Over twice as many people think Australia’s relationship with China is a threat to be confronted than a positive opportunity to be realised (24% to 10%). However most believe it is a complex relationship to be managed.
  • Younger people aged 18-34 are more likely to see the opportunity for a positive relationship with China than those aged over 55 (14% to 6%).

Federal government response to Covid-19

Sep 14, 2021

Q. Overall, how would you rate the federal government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak?

  13/09 30/08 16/08 02/08 19/07 05/07 07/06 24/05 12/04 15/03 01/03 15/02 01/02
Very poor 16% 16% 13% 16% 13% 12% 10% 6% 7% 5% 6% 5% 4%
Quite poor 20% 20% 22% 19% 19% 17% 14% 12% 10% 7% 8% 7% 11%
Neither good nor poor 21% 24% 24% 28% 23% 26% 22% 25% 21% 18% 24% 19% 19%
Quite good 28% 29% 32% 28% 32% 33% 38% 40% 40% 39% 39% 42% 42%
Very good 15% 10% 9% 10% 14% 11% 15% 18% 22% 31% 23% 27% 25%
TOTAL: Poor 35% 36% 35% 35% 31% 30% 24% 18% 17% 12% 14% 12% 14%
TOTAL: Good 43% 39% 41% 38% 46% 44% 53% 58% 62% 70% 62% 69% 67%
Base (n) 1,100 1,100 1,100 1,098 1,100 1,099 1,104 1,100 1,368 1,124 1,074 1,109 1,092

 

TOTAL: Good 13/09 30/08 16/08 02/08 19/07 05/07 07/06 24/05 12/04 15/03 01/03
NSW 41% 34% 34% 39% 49% 44% 62% 56% 66% 69% 64%
VIC 39% 35% 37% 33% 39% 40% 42% 57% 55% 65% 51%
QLD 43% 45% 44% 40% 46% 48% 54% 56% 63% 69% 66%
SA 54% 48% 45% 48% 51% 48% 58% 66% 62% 78% 68%
WA 51% 51% 53% 37% 51% 42% 49% 56% 65% 75% 66%
  • 43% of people rate the federal government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak as quite good or very good (39% two weeks ago), with 35% rating it as quite poor or very poor.
  • Positive rating of the federal government’s handling of Covid-19 has increased in NSW from 34% a fortnight ago to 41%, in VIC from 35% to 39%, and in SA from 48% to 54%.

State government response to Covid-19

Sep 14, 2021

Q. How would you rate your state government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak?

TOTAL: Good 13/09 30/08 16/08 02/08 19/07 05/07 07/06 24/05 12/04 15/03 01/03 15/02 01/02
NSW 46% 40% 42% 47% 54% 57% 69% 68% 73% 75% 72% 72% 71%
VIC 50% 44% 56% 54% 49% 50% 48% 63% 58% 62% 49% 59% 61%
QLD 65% 67% 66% 60% 62% 61% 65% 68% 72% 75% 73% 76% 78%
SA 67% 76% 68% 73% 68% 67% 67% 71% 75% 85% 78% 79% 80%
WA 87% 78% 87% 82% 77% 86% 75% 77% 84% 91% 85% 88% 80%
  • Positive rating of the state government’s response to Covid-19 has increased in both NSW and VIC by 6 percentage points respectively (now 46% and 50% respectively).
  • After weeks of falling ratings, this is the first improvement seen in both states since the first half of August. However, we are yet to see these ratings recover to their high levels in the first quarter of the year.
  • While still a relatively high rating, positive rating of the SA government’s response to Covid-19 has dropped by 9 percentage points to 67% in the last fortnight.
  • Contrastingly, positive rating of the WA government’s handling of Covid-19 has increased 9 percentage points to 87%. Both SA and WA ratings reflect those seen a month ago.
  • Positive rating of the QLD government is at 65%, consistent with last month (66%).

COVID-19 RESEARCH

Read Essential's ongoing research on the public response to Covid-19.

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