Australian news, and some related international items

Australians fear nuclear attacks

More Australians fear nuclear attacks and health epidemics than average: Ipsos, Matt Wade , SMH, [good graphs] 24 Nov 17 

A new 24-nation survey shows Australians are more fearful about security threats including terrorism, nuclear attacks, computer hacks and health epidemics than most other countries.

The Ipsos poll found 82 per cent of Australians feel the “real threat” of a terrorist attack in the next 12 months – 10 percentage points above the international average. That proportion was the same as Turkey, which has recently suffered a series of major terrorism attacks, and was only eight percentage points lower than France and the United States which have experienced multiple terrorist incidents during the past two years.

The proportion of Australians who feel a real threat of “nuclear biological or chemical attack somewhere in the world” during the next year rose eight percentage points to 79 per cent – that was the fifth highest share among the 24 nations, and well above the international average.

By comparison, the proportion of South Koreans fearing a nuclear attack was 15 percentage points lower than Australia, despite heightened tensions with its nuclear-armed neighbour, North Korea.

Australians also had an above average share of respondents who fear being hacked for fraudulent or espionage purposes.

Social researcher, Hugh Mackay, blamed deliberate political tactics for stoking public fears in Australia.

“We’ve had a series of governments who have deliberately played on our fears and exaggerated threats,” he said.

“Why do governments do that? Well, because in Australia, and elsewhere, we’ve seen governments benefiting from fear in the populous.”

Mackay suspects a more general “epidemic of anxiety” in the community also contributed to pessimism revealed by the poll…….

The Ipsos poll, taken almost a year after the election of Donald Trump as US President, found 83 per cent of Australians believe the world has become more dangerous over the past year, up by two percentage points compared with a year earlier and three percentage points above the international average.

A separate poll on Australian attitudes to the world published by the Lowy Institute earlier this year found “feelings of safety” were at the lowest point in the 13-year history of the survey.

The Ipsos polling comes days after the federal government’s foreign policy white paper drew attention to a number of entrenched security threats, including North Korea’s long-range missile and nuclear programs, Islamist terrorism and the effects of climate change.

Ipsos researcher, David Elliott, said blanket media coverage of worrying events – such as terrorist attacks – had a significant influence on public perceptions.

“We know from previous studies that we over-estimate issues we worry about,” he said……….

Australians are also more worried than average about the threat of war. The poll found nearly two thirds of respondents fear an armed conflict with another nation within 12 months – 11 percentage points above the international mean.

Professor Wesley said that high share may be linked to our close military ties to America.

“Most Australians probably realise that if the United States gets involved in a barney somewhere there’s a high likelihood that we’ll be involved as well,” he said.

Most Australians also expect another world war – 76 per cent anticipate another conflict involving super powers “similar to World Wars 1 and 2” in the next 25 years. That was the fourth biggest proportion out of the 24 nations surveyed – behind the US, Canada and India.

But there is a silver lining to the glum risk assessment – Australians were more optimistic than the international average about our government’s level of preparedness to deal with security threats.

The poll found 72 per cent of Australians are confident authorities can provide “appropriate levels of security and protection” in the event of a natural disaster during the next 12 months – the second highest share among nations surveyed.

“Regardless of our concerns, we seem relatively confident in our government’s ability to deal with those threats in comparison to most other countries in our study,” Mr Elliott said. …..

November 25, 2017 - Posted by | General News

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