Thu, Oct 04, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Poll shows depth of opposition to Iraq war by Australians

DRAGGING ON The Australian prime minister said the involvement in Iraq was unpopular because the conflict had gone on for so long

AP , SYDNEY

About two-thirds of Australians oppose their country's involvement in the Iraq War, and overwhelmingly believe joining Washington's war on terrorism has made them more at risk of attacks, a survey published yesterday showed.

The telephone survey of 1,213 Australians by the government-funded US Studies Center at the University of Sydney on defense, foreign and economic issues revealed a string of negative statistics about views on the US.

But the survey also showed that respondents strongly believe the US is an important security partner for Australia, and that the relationship will continue.

It also found that a majority of people believe global warming is a more serious threat than Islamic fundamentalism, reflecting rising concern about climate change.

The survey, conducted in July, was published in a heightened political climate as Australian Prime Minister John Howard prepares to call general elections anytime, with global warming and Iraq key campaign issues.

Australia's involvement in Iraq is a key policy difference between Howard and opposition leader Kevin Rudd, who opinion polls show is heading for a landslide victory.

The survey found 64 percent of respondents oppose Australia's involvement in Iraq, compared to 33 percent who support it, and 3 percent undecided.

Australia's involvement in Afghanistan, where about 1,000 troops are deployed, was more popular but still opposed by 51 percent, with 44 percent supportive and 4 percent undecided.

Responding to the survey, Howard said it was inevitable that Australia's commitment in Iraq was unpopular because the conflict had gone on so long.

"People after a time grow weary of it and think because it's not quickly concluded it must be wrong," Howard told Southern Cross Broadcasting.

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