Thursday, June 25th, 2015

As anyone who’s watched or listened to a news program, read a newspaper or used social media recently would be aware, terrorism is a topic that’s impossible to avoid in the Australian media. With events such as the proposed citizenship changes for dual nationals involved in terrorism and Zaky Mallah’s Q&A appearance igniting widespread debate this week, we take a look at Australian attitudes to the rights of terrorists… and find that very little has changed in the last 10 years.

Ten years ago, 31.3% of Australians 14+ agreed with the attitude statement: “Terrorists deserve the same rights as other criminals”. As of March 2015, that figure sits at 30.3% of the population.

What change there has been is due to a slight decline (from 31.7% to 29.4%) in the proportion of Australian men who agree with the statement. The proportion of Australian women who agree terrorists deserve the same rights as other criminals has remained stable over the last decade.

How Australians feel about the rights of terrorists


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2005–March 2006 (n=22,270 and April 2014–March 2015 (n=15,913).

Of course, a person’s gender is just one of many factors that influence their attitude towards the treatment of terrorists.

Young Australians are much more likely than older generations to believe that terrorists deserve the same rights as other criminals. The difference between the under-25 and 50+ age brackets is a case in point: while 41.8% of Aussies under 25 agree with the statement, this drops to 22.8% of those aged 50 and older.

It almost goes without saying that education and political persuasion can also affect how someone feels about the subject. For example, 36.8% of Australians with a diploma or degree believe terrorists should be treated the same as other criminals (compared with 19.5% of people educated to year 10 level). Meanwhile, 56% of voters whose first Federal preference is the Greens agree with the statement, well ahead of those who prefer the Coalition (17.4%) or the ALP (30.9%).

In light of his comments about the ABC following this week’s episode of Q & A, the Prime Minister might be surprised to learn that the proportion of ABC viewers who agree that terrorists deserve the same treatment as other criminals is almost bang on average (31.3%).

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“This week has been even more eventful than usual in terms of national debate over terrorism and how people involved in terrorist activity should be treated. But while media coverage of the topic has been in overdrive lately, the proportion of the Australian population in favour of terrorists receiving the same treatment as other criminals has hovered around the 31% mark for the last 10 years.


“Of course, the corollary of this is that some two-thirds of the population disagree that terrorists deserve the same rights as other criminals: a resounding majority. And naturally, some people are more likely than others to feel this way. For example, our data shows that nearly 75% of people who believe the fundamental values of our society are under serious threat disagree with the statement.


“Adding another dimension to this already complex issue, a phone survey conducted by Roy Morgan Research in April this year revealed that only 3% of the population saw Terrorism/Wars/Security as the most important set of problems facing Australia (well behind Economic and Financial problems).”

View this release in full on our website.

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Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is Australia's best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
Samantha Wilson
P: (03) 9224 5268


terrorism, social attitudes, politics, Q&A, ABC, terrorists




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