A new Lowy Institute poll released today has thrown fresh light on Australians' attitudes towards the UK.

The Lowy Institute Australia-UK Poll has found more than 8 in 10 Australians see the relationship as important (with 28% saying it is 'very important'). However, when asked to choose Australia's 'best friend' from a list of six countries around the world, the UK ranks third in popularity behind the US and New Zealand, with around a third (35%) of Australians saying the US is 'Australia's best friend', and almost a third (32%) nominating New Zealand as Australia's best friend.

It seems Australians feel closer to these other English-speaking nations than to their neighbours in Asia. When Australians are asked to choose our country's 'best friend' from a list of six countries around the world, the US, New Zealand and the UK rank well above China, Indonesia and Japan, with only 11% choosing any of these last three nations as Australia's 'best friend'.

 Australians' warmth towards the UK has been a consistent feature of Lowy Institute polling, with the UK scoring a warm 77 degrees on our 'thermometer' of feelings towards other countries of the world in 2013.  (See image below from the Lowy Institute Polling Interactive)

By way of background, in May 2014, the Lowy Institute commissioned market research company Newspoll to conduct a short poll on Australian attitudes towards the UK, to tie in with the new Lowy Institute-Ditchley Foundation Australia-UK Asia Dialogue, which the UK and Australian foreign ministers announced in March at AUKMIN. The dialogue begins today in the UK.