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Australia Day 2018

If a referendum on changing the date of Australia Day had been held over the Australia Day weekend 2018, the national result would have been 27% yes and 73% no.

The issue of changing the date would also translate to voting intentions at the ballot box in a general election.

  • Only 16% of people said they would be more likely to vote for a party that wanted to change the date, 39% would be less likely to vote for such a party and 45% felt it would have no effect on their decision.

  • While 39% of Greens voters would be more likely to vote for party that planned to change the date, 53% of Coalition supporters would be less likely to vote for a party that proposed a new date.

This year’s study found that attitudes have changed only marginally since 2017

  • In 2017, 16% said yes change the date, 59% said no don’t change it, and 24%, or one in four, didn’t really care.

  • In 2018, 19% said yes, 62% said no and 19%, or one in five, didn’t care suggesting that attitudes are polarising with fewer people sitting on the fence.

However, this year we also asked the undecideds how they would vote in a referendum.A majority opted for the status quo, leaving the national outcome at 27% in favour and 73% opposed to change.

The study also found substantial support for recognising and respecting the contribution of Indigenous people, history and culture to Australia.

  • It asked participants how they would feel if the Australian Government decided to establish a national ceremony at sunrise on Australia Day to recognise the importance of Indigenous people, their history and culture to Australia.

  • A total of 61% said it would be a good or very good decision, only 16% thought it was bad or very bad and the remaining 23% didn’t really care.

  • A further three out of four people (73%) agreed that we should not change the date because … we should use the day to recognise all Australians including the special place of Indigenous Australians in the history and culture of Australia.

The survey questioned some of the more controversial aspects of the current debate.

  • For example the decision by 2JJJ to change the date of the hottest 100 generated only limited support, with 17% considering it a good decision, 32% calling it a bad decision and 51% saying they didn’t really care’ he said.

Research participants were presented with five TV ads that ran in the lead up to Australia Day. One of these featured Alice Springs Indigenous Councillor Jacinta Price suggesting there should be more focus of overcoming Indigenous disadvantage than changing the date.

  • It generated the most positive response of all ads shown, with 57% saying they loved or liked the ad and 63% believed it presented a good or very good message.

  • It was closely followed by Rosie Batty’s message of an Australia which respects everyone, with 54% loved or liked and 62% believed the message was good or very good.

  • Mark Latham’s ad of a dystopian future of people scared to celebrate Australia Day for fear of the thought police engaged 47% of people who loved or liked it and 49% who thought it had a good or very good message.

To view the full report click here.


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