Australia Not 'Best Mates' with UK; US and New Zealand Rank Higher in Attitude Poll

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The Queen Mary 2 sets sail past the Sydney Opera House, February 19, 2014.
The Queen Mary 2 sets sail past the Sydney Opera House, February 19, 2014. REUTERS REUTERS/Jason Reed

A new survey suggests that Australia and the United Kingdom are no longer the "best mates." For more than two centuries, both countries have an "unbreakable" bond despite their geographical distance.

The poll conducted by the Lowy Institute found that more than eight in 10 Australians still think the relationship with UK is "important," while 28 per cent value the connection. When Australians were asked to choose their country's "best friend" from a list of six nations, the United States was the topmost choice, followed by New Zealand. The UK emerged as the third option.

According to Sky News, about 35 per cent of Australians said their best friends with the U.S., while 32 per cent voted for New Zealand.

According to two-thirds of 1,200 Australians, they felt a "great deal of warmth" towards the UK because of shared history and cultural connections with Australia. The survey revealed only 26 per cent of respondents believed the UK remains a major economic and strategic power.

Lowy Institute Executive Director Dr Michael Fullilove said only 5 per cent of Australians think the sporting rivalry between Australia and the UK makes the relationship between two countries important.

In May 2104, the institute had commissioned Newspoll to conduct a survey on attitudes of Australians towards the UK.

Fullilove said the survey provides an opportunity for the UK and Australia to focus on the relationship and shared interests in Asia as well as other regions.

He said the UK is an important international ally and a member of the G20, including the UN Security Council.

The Lowy Institute survey comes ahead of an Oxfordshire conference in June where UK and Australian officials will meet to discuss challenges and opportunities in Asia.

Differences in climate change policy

How Australians see the relationship between their country and the UK may be a reflection of the two nations' differences on certain policies. After Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott expressed his intentions of seeking an alliance with "like-minded" nations to counter U.S. President Barack Obama's climate change agenda, the conservative climate and energy minister of the UK has rejected the idea.

Greg Barker said the UK government is unlikely to side with Australia in opposing carbon price and challenge a push by President Obama to create stronger international regulations to address climate change.

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