Australians are overwhelmingly supportive of how the Morrison Government has handled the coronavirus pandemic – but have mixed feelings about one strict rule, according to a new poll.
An early release from the Lowy Institute’s annual poll of about 2000 people found overwhelming support for the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with 95 per cent saying Australia had handled it “very well” or “fairly well”.
Australians’ perception of the Government’s response has also shifted significantly since the beginning of the pandemic when the last poll was done.
Back in March 2020, about 43 per cent said they thought Australia had handled the pandemic “very well”, this has now grown to 65 per cent – a 22 point jump.
They were also supportive of action the Morrison Government has taken to bring citizens home from overseas, with 59 per cent saying they thought it had done the right amount in helping Aussies return.
Australia closed its border in March last year with citizens urged to come home as soon as possible. One year later, there are still thousands of people stranded overseas, unable to get a flight back to Australia.
About a third of those surveyed (33 per cent) felt the Government had not done enough and 7 per cent thought it had done too much.
There was also mixed support for Australia’s policy that stops citizens from leaving the country without a special exemption.
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Many Australians have not been able to see their families overseas due to travel bans. Picture: Jenny Evans/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Initially the ban was put in place because people were still going on overseas holidays and putting the community at risk when they returned. While hotel quarantine was then introduced, the Government did not want to add more pressure on the health system from returning travellers, or increase the likelihood of Australians being caught overseas for longer than planned and increasing their exposure to the disease.
About 41 per cent surveyed agreed with the policy but 40 per cent believed those who have been vaccinated should be free to leave.
One in five people (18 per cent) believed all Aussies should be free to leave the country, whether they were vaccinated or not. Support for freedom of movement was higher among those aged 60 and older, with 50 per cent agreeing with this. Only 36 per cent of those younger than 60 supported this.
Much support for overseas vaccine assistance
Interestingly, Australians are broadly supportive of helping other countries access COVID-19 vaccines.
Australia has already pledged more than $800 million in funding for vaccines in Pacific Island and Southeast Asian countries.
About 83 per cent said Australia should help Pacific Island countries, such as Fiji, Vanuatu, Nauru and Tonga, to pay for vaccines.
Support was less strong for helping Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, East Timor and Cambodia, with only 60 per cent supportive of this.
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Cities in Fiji recently went into lockdown. Picture: Leon Lord/AFPSource:AFP
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Younger Australians were more likely to support vaccine assistance for Southeast Asian countries than older Australians, with 70 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds saying Australia should fund vaccines, compared to 56 per cent of Australians over 30.
Unimpressed with other countries’ handling of pandemic
Australians were a lot less impressed with how other countries have handled the pandemic, with Taiwan the only country that comes close to Australia’s rating.
About 66 per cent say Taiwan has handled COVID-19 well, even though the Lowy Institute has ranked it third in the world on its COVID Performance Index. Bhutan and New Zealand were ranked first and second, while Australia was ranked ninth.
Views about China’s efforts have improved, although are still not that positive. About 45 per cent of Australians believe it has handled the pandemic well, an increase of 14 points from 2020.
Only 27 per cent thought India had handled COVID-19 well, although this may be lower now because the survey was completed prior to the dramatic increase in cases that happened in April.
However, this is still better than the 19 per cent of Australians who thought the UK had handled the pandemic well. This dropped 11 points from last year despite strong progress on its vaccine rollout.
It was a similar story in the US, which was ranked last among the six countries.
No Australians thought the US had handled COVID-19 “very well” and only 7 per cent thought it had done “fairly well”.
About 92 per cent thought the US had handled the pandemic very or fairly badly.
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