The Australian

By Leo Shanahan

AUSTRALIANS and Americans agree that the state of the economy is the most important issue facing their nations, with terrorism and the war in Afghanistan hardly rating a mention when asked about their chief concerns.

According to a new analysis released today by the US Study Centre at the University of Sydney, Australians and Americans view the economy and the budget deficit as much more important problems than terrorism, and a large majority of Australians think the "war on terror" will never end.

After US forces killed Osama bin Laden last month, the centre commissioned a poll of 2210 Australians and 900 Americans asking about terrorism and its consequences for their societies.

Despite terrorism ranking behind natural disasters and the environment as a concern, Australians rated September 11, 2001, as the most important event in more than 70 years, rating it more important than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, atomic bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the fall of the Berlin War and communism.

Australians are more likely than Americans to blame US foreign policy for September 11, with 31 per cent of Australians saying US policy entirely or largely provoked the attacks.

A greater proportion of Greens voters gave these answers, 43 per cent, than ALP or Coalition voters at 24 and 22 per cent respectively. But just 22 per cent of Americans blamed their own country for the attacks, with 40 per cent of Tea Party supporters believing 9/11 was "not at all" caused by the US.

Most Australians -- 54 per cent -- attribute escaping a domestic terror attack to luck, while Americans credit the work of their government, at 39 per cent, more than luck, 38 per cent, in preventing another attack on US soil.

Both peoples are almost evenly split on whether to intervene in other countries to prevent terrorism at home, with 47 per cent of Australians and 51 per cent of Americans feeling they will be safer from terrorism if their nation "confronts the countries and groups that promote terrorism".

In Australia, Coalition voters were more likely to hold this position, 52 per cent, while 69 per cent of US Republican Party voters agreed with the statement.

A slightly greater proportion of ALP voters preferred non-interference over intervention, with 53 per cent agreeing that Australia would be "safer from terrorism if it stays out of other countries' affairs", with the largest support for this proposition being Greens voters at 64 per cent.

A large majority of Australians and Americans feel we are neither winning nor losing the war on terror, with only 11 per cent of Australians and 8 per cent of Americans of the opinion we are losing.

But most Australians, 63 per cent, believe the "war on terror" will never end.