Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

Aid policy and Australian public opinion

By Terence Wood

Since 2013, Australian aid has been reduced and increasingly focused on delivering benefits to Australia. Motivated by these changes, this paper fills three gaps in the existing literature on public opinion about aid. It provides the only recent detailed study of Australians’ opinions about aid. It studies specific policy questions in addition to the broader questions typical of international research. And it studies views on the purpose of aid, an area not previously researched. Although Australians are generally supportive of aid, most backed major aid cuts in 2015. However, most Australians think the purpose of Australian aid should be helping people in poor countries, not bringing benefits to Australia. There is a clear left–right divide in responses to all questions; however, some variables correlated with support for aid fail to explain variation in views about aid’s purpose. The paper concludes by discussing ramifications for those who seek to change aid policy.

Image: Neil Willsey on flickr

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