Opinion split over joint venture

A national survey has revealed divided opinion over the proposed BHP Billiton-Rio Tinto iron ore joint venture.

Australian opinion is largely divided over the proposed iron ore joint venture between mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, according to a recent survey.

A national survey conducted by Roy Morgan Research has revealed that 44% of Australians approve of the merger, while 39.5% are opposed.

The remaining 16.5% answered that they could not say whether the joint venture was a good idea.

The largest numbers of support came from the resource-rich states of Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia, while Tasmania and Victoria were far cooler on the proposed merger.

According to the survey, Western Australia showed a clear majority of 57% in favour, followed by South Australia at 48.5% and Queensland at 46%.

Victorian respondents showed 38% support and 41% opposed, while Tasmania recorded 39% support and 49% opposed.

News South Wales split the middle with 43% in favour, which was just under the national average.

The survey also revealed a clear political division in support of the joint venture, with 49% of coalition supporters backing the deal compared to 42% of Labor supporters.

Just 25.5% of Green voters were in favour of the deal, with 59% opposed.

“These results suggest there is clearly a political dimension to any decision to allow the merger…something that has not been widely considered in the Australian community before now,” Roy Morgan chief executive Gary Morgan said.

“The political ‘sleeper’ for those wanting this merger to go ahead are ‘foreign ownership’ and the sheer size of the combined entities and associated reduction in competition.”

The survey also asked respondents why the answered the way they did.

Those in favour of the merger gave answers including: “I want to keep it Australian,” “As long as the Chinese don’t buy it,” and “They would be creating jobs for everyone.”

When asked the same question, respondents opposed to the joint venture said: “It will be too big a cartel, too much power,” “I don’t like things being in just a few hands,” and “It goes against competition.”

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