Essential Report

Awareness of the proportion of the Federal Budget spent on foreign aid

Dec 1, 2020

Q. As far as you know, about how much of the Federal Budget is spent on foreign aid?

  Nov’20 Jun’17 Jun’15 Jul’11
 
Less than 1% 6% 10% 13% 7%
About 1% 8% 9% 11% 8%
About 2% 13% 15% 14% 17%
About 5% 16% 10% 10% 11%
More than 5% 17% 12% 9% 16%
Don’t know 39% 44% 43% 41%

 

  Total Gender Age Group Federal Voting Intention
  Male Female 18-34 35-54 55+ Labor TOTAL: Coalition Greens TOTAL: Other
Less than 1% 6% 9% 4% 5% 6% 7% 7% 5% 11% 7%
About 1% 8% 11% 4% 11% 7% 6% 7% 8% 17% 6%
About 2% 13% 17% 10% 17% 11% 13% 15% 16% 13% 11%
About 5% 16% 19% 13% 23% 15% 12% 15% 18% 14% 21%
More than 5% 17% 15% 19% 13% 23% 15% 15% 18% 9% 29%
Don’t know 39% 29% 49% 31% 38% 47% 41% 35% 36% 25%
Base (n) 1,034 528 506 329 320 385 322 430 88 107
  • Only 6% of Australians correctly know that less than 1% of the Federal Budget is spent on foreign aid. Fewer people know the correct proportion than in previous years (10% in 2017 and 13% in 2015)
  • 17% think over 5% is spent. This is higher than previous years when this question was asked (12% in 2017 and 9% in 2015).

Attitudes towards the amount Australia spends on foreign aid

Dec 1, 2020

Q. Do you think Australia spends too much or too little on foreign aid?

  Nov’20 Jun’17 Jun’15 Jul’11
 
Spends too much 37% 41% 44% 42%
Spends too little 16% 16% 16% 16%
Spends about the right amount 23% 19% 21% 21%
Don’t know 24% 24% 19% 21%
  • Over a third (37%) of people think Australia spends too much on foreign aid. This is lower than previous years (41% in 2017 and 44% in 2015). 16% think too little is spent and 23% think about the right amount is spent. 24% aren’t sure.
  Total Gender Age Group Federal Voting Intention
  Male Female 18-34 35-54 55+ Labor TOTAL: Coalition Greens TOTAL: Other
Spends too much 37% 37% 37% 27% 42% 39% 30% 43% 17% 52%
Spends too little 16% 20% 13% 24% 14% 13% 22% 11% 29% 15%
Spends about the right amount 23% 27% 18% 23% 19% 26% 23% 27% 27% 15%
Don’t know 24% 16% 32% 26% 25% 22% 25% 19% 26% 18%
Base (n) 1,034 528 506 329 320 385 322 430 88 107
  • Those voting for minor parties are the most likely to think too much is being spent on foreign aid (52%), followed by Coalition voters (43%).
  • Conversely, Greens voters are the most likely to think too little is being spent (29%).
  Total        
  Less than 1% 1% to 5% Over 5% Don’t know
Spends too much 37% 23% 31% 68% 31%
Spends too little 16% 48% 28% 5% 5%
Spends about the right amount 23% 25% 33% 21% 14%
Don’t know 24% 4% 9% 6% 50%
Base (n) 1,034 70 408 169 387
  • Of those who incorrectly think over 5% of government expenditure is spent on foreign aid, 68% think too much is spent.
  • Of those who correctly know that less than 1% is being spent on foreign aid, about half (48%) think too little is spent. A quarter (25%) think the right amount is spent and 4% don’t know. 23% still think too much is spent on foreign aid.

Foreign aid spending

Jun 2, 2015

Q. And do you think Australia spends too much or too little on foreign aid?

Total

Vote Labor

Vote Lib/Nat

Vote Greens

Vote Other

Spend 1% or less

Spend about 2%

Spend 5% or more

Don’t know spend

Jul 2011

Spends too much

44%

45%

50%

12%

59%

26%

45%

66%

43%

42%

Spends too little

16%

22%

7%

46%

16%

39%

16%

9%

7%

16%

Spends about the right amount

21%

17%

30%

13%

12%

26%

31%

20%

14%

21%

Don’t know

19%

16%

13%

29%

12%

9%

9%

4%

36%

21%

44% (up 2% since 2011) think Australia spends too much on foreign aid, 21% (no change) about the right amount and 16% (no change) too little.

Opinions are strongly related to perceptions of how much is spent. Those who think Australia spends a higher percentage of the budget are much more likely to think the spend is too much. Those that most accurately estimate the actual spend (around 1% or less) were more likely to think the spend was too little (39%).

Importance of foreign aid

Jun 2, 2015

Q. In your opinion, how important is it that Australia gives foreign aid to the following countries and regions?

Total

very/ somewhat important

Very important

Somewhat important

Not very important

Not at all important

Don’t know

Pacific island countries

66%

24%

42%

14%

10%

10%

Papua New Guinea

65%

24%

41%

14%

11%

10%

South East Asia countries

50%

13%

37%

23%

16%

12%

African countries

50%

13%

37%

20%

19%

11%

Indonesia

39%

10%

29%

24%

27%

11%

Middle east countries

26%

6%

20%

27%

35%

12%

About two thirds of respondents think foreign aid to the Pacific islands and Papua New Guinea is very or somewhat important.

About half think aid to South East Asia and Africa is very/somewhat important.

Aid to Indonesia and the Middle East is considered less important.

Opposition vote on specific budget issues

Jun 3, 2014

Q. Do you think the Labor Opposition should vote for or against the following budget decisions?

Vote for

Vote against

Don’t know

A 2% deficit levy on earnings over $180,000

73%

13%

14%

Foreign aid frozen at current levels for two years, helping save $7.6 billion over five years

65%

22%

12%

University graduates to repay HELP debt once they earn $50,638 (reduced from $53,345)

64%

25%

11%

A six-month waiting period for those under-30 before they can access the dole (Newstart)

47%

41%

12%

Cut 16,500 full-time jobs from the public service in the next 3 years

36%

49%

15%

A $120M cut to the ABC’s budget

32%

47%

21%

$7 Medicare co-payment for all visits to the GP, with this money to be used to fund a Medical Research Future Fund.

32%

61%

8%

Cut public funding for university courses by 20%

28%

57%

16%

Eligibility for the age pension to rise to 70 by 2035

27%

62%

10%

Deregulation of university fees (meaning universities can set their own tuition fees)

23%

63%

15%

A majority think that Labor should vote for the 2% deficit levy (73%), freezing foreign aid (65%) and reducing the income level at which students repay debt (64%).

A majority think that Labor should vote against deregulation of university fees (63%), raising the pension age (62%), the $7 Medicare copayment (61%) and cutting university funding (57%).

They were more divided over the other issues, but tended to support the six-month waiting period for under 30’s to access the dole (47% for/41% against) and tended to oppose cutting the public service (36%/49%) and cutting funds to the ABC (32%/47%).

Where Government should reduce spending

Mar 5, 2014

If “Reduce spending” or “both” –

Q. In which of the following areas should the Government reduce spending?

 

Total

 

Vote Labor

Vote Lib/Nat

Vote Greens

Vote other

 

13 Aug 13

Foreign aid

79%

72%

83%

56%

92%

76%

The arts

70%

64%

75%

44%

61%

70%

Private schools

65%

76%

57%

68%

70%

59%

Subsidies for business

61%

59%

62%

70%

57%

59%

Welfare support

44%

31%

54%

46%

37%

43%

Support for manufacturing industries

43%

34%

46%

46%

34%

32%

Defence

38%

47%

31%

68%

36%

34%

The environment

36%

32%

41%

6%

45%

36%

Border security

23%

33%

12%

60%

27%

18%

Universities

23%

24%

26%

16%

17%

18%

Public transport

15%

18%

13%

20%

16%

14%

Roads

12%

15%

9%

12%

16%

12%

Pensions

12%

13%

12%

6%

13%

9%

Public schools

9%

8%

10%

8%

13%

9%

Health and hospitals

8%

10%

9%

7%

6%

5%

Of those who think spending should be reduced, 79% think spending on foreign aid should be reduced, 70% the arts, 65% private schools and 61% subsidies for business.

The areas least likely to be nominated for spending cuts were health and hospitals, public schools, pensions and roads.

Since this question was asked in August, the percentage thinking that spending on support for manufacturing industries should be reduced has increased from 32% to 43%.

Where Government should reduce spending

Aug 13, 2013

If “Reduce spending” or “both” –

Q. In which of the following areas should the Government reduce spending?

 

Total

 

Vote Labor

Vote Lib/Nat

Vote Greens

Foreign aid

76%

72%

82%

43%

The arts

70%

65%

76%

29%

Subsidies for business

59%

65%

57%

58%

Private schools

59%

63%

56%

38%

Welfare support

43%

33%

53%

17%

The environment

36%

22%

49%

12%

Defence

34%

36%

30%

68%

Support for manufacturing industries

32%

31%

34%

37%

Border security

18%

18%

17%

43%

Universities

18%

12%

25%

9%

Public transport

14%

11%

18%

14%

Roads

12%

10%

11%

33%

Public schools

9%

7%

12%

12%

Pensions

9%

6%

11%

15%

Health and hospitals

5%

6%

5%

9%

Of those who think spending should be reduced, 76% think spending on foreign aid should be reduced, 70% the arts, 59% subsidies for business and 59% private schools.

The areas least likely to be nominated for spending cuts were health and hospitals, pensions and public schools.

Why should Australia increase foreign aid?

May 8, 2012


With Treasurer Wayne Swan reaching deep to produce his promised Budget surplus, foreign aid has become one of the victims.

The Government’s long standing promise to increase aid will happen but it will be delayed for another year. Currently Australia allocates just 0.35 per cent of National Gross Income — or 35c for every $100. The change means that by 2015-16, it will increase to 50c in every dollar. It’s still a long way from the top global donor, Norway, which gives $1.10 out of every $100 of its national income to the world’s poor.

Tim O’Connor from UNICEF tells 3Q Australia rates poorly compared with the rest of the world, ranking 13th out of 23 OECD nations. The delay in increasing funding has been criticised by aid groups and according to UNICEF it will cost lives.

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