Strong support for JobKeeper as Australians stick with the Government’s strategy, despite some pessimism surfacing

Strong support for JobKeeper as Australians stick with the Government’s strategy, despite some pessimism surfacing

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This week’s survey finds 65% of Australians back the JobKeeper initiative, as the national shift of focus to the economy continued. The economy remains Australia’s top concern (80% extremely or very concerned), with job opportunities and unemployment not far behind (72%). Concern about coronavirus is holding steady at 73%, the lowest point since the survey started 11 weeks ago.

It seems Australians are sticking with the Government’s strategy for now and broadly support the pace of change. However, it looks to be a fine balance for Government to strike. This national survey of more than 1,200 people, taken Monday 18 – Wednesday 20 May, also shows creeping signs of pessimism and uncertainty about the future in a Covid world, with confidence in Government and key institutions looking like it may have peaked.

Leading indicators this week 

  • In the last two weeks Australians increasingly believe the virus spread will get worse over the next three months (up 6% in the last 2 weeks). Now 46% of us think the virus will be better in three months compared with a high of 61% a month ago. Those in NSW (49%) and Victoria (49%) are significantly more likely to say the spread of coronavirus will get worse in one month compared to those in other states (30%). Women were also more worried than men (47% vs. 34%).
  • This week also saw a 5% increase in the proportion who believe the economy will get worse in the next 3 months, the first decline in confidence after a long run of increasing optimism since March.
  • Australians continue to have strong faith in the performance and actions of government with two thirds (67%) believing they are doing a “good” or “excellent” job. Whilst high, this is down slightly from a peak of 70% two weeks ago. We have also seen slight falls in the performance of the business community and most other Australian industries.

Widespread support for JobKeeper

In a new question asked this week, we found positive support for JobKeeper across all ages and for men and women with 26% feeling very positive and 40% somewhat positive while 22% were noncommittal and only 12% felt negative about it:

  • Those most likely to have a positive opinion: those who receive the payment (80% vs 64% of those who don’t), people aged 55+ (71% versus 62% for those who are younger), office workers (71% vs. 64% not working in an office), those in NSW and Victoria (69% vs. 61% elsewhere) and people who do not find meeting the cost of living as difficult (67% vs. 58% who find it difficult).
  • Main reasons to support JobKeeper: it helps people who have lost their jobs (29%), it keeps people employed (19%) and that it is a good program (12%).
  • Those likely to have a negative opinion: people who often find it hard to meet the costs of daily living (18% vs. those who don’t).
  • Main reasons for feeling negative: people abusing the system (20%), employers taking advantage of employees (13%) and that it is only a temporary solution (11%).

Mostly on board with the pace of relaxing restrictions

Opinion around the appropriateness of Australia’s reaction to coronavirus remains high and mostly stable, with 79% believing Australia is responding at an appropriate level. Most participants say they think restrictions are being relaxed at an appropriate rate (53%), 31% believe the pace is too fast (7% far too quickly, 24% a little too quickly) with only 15% feeling it is too slow. Women were especially concerned about the pace being too fast (37% vs. 25% of men).

In their personal behaviour, people seem to be shifting gears very slowly with only minor shifts in people reporting they are relaxing social distancing. This week 51% say their behavior is consistent with what is required, 40% are being more careful and 9% are being more relaxed than required.

Support for a phased approach to border relaxation

Likewise, Australians do not seem to be in a rush about relaxing travel restrictions. Most (58%) think that interstate travel will be appropriate within the next three months and that the border with New Zealand should also be opened within 6 months (76% agree). However, only 25% want international travellers from other countries to be able to visit Australia within 6 months.

Still working from home

We asked a bit more this week about how quickly people are heading back to workplaces:

  • Only 10% of those surveyed are already back in their usual workplace in some capacity, another 5% think they will be back in the next week and a further 11% in 2-3 weeks.
  • A further 16% expect to be back in 1 month, 16% in 2 months and 12% in 3 months.
  • Only 11% expect to the process to take up to 6 months and 7% thought more than 6 months.

Adoption of COVIDSafe has stalled

Almost all (94%) are aware of the app and 35% of them claim to have downloaded it. However, this figure is no longer rising and there is also a slightly increasing proportion who say they are unlikely to download it (31% up from 29%).

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