Optimism rebounds as Australians see positive results from the pain of lockdown
Positive sentiment is on the rise about both Australia’s strategy to constrain coronavirus and the outlook for the economy, as Australians this week started to see glimmers of hope amid lockdown and restrictions. Public anxiety about the virus appears to be plateauing and Australians’ optimism about the future appears to be returning to the level of six long weeks ago before the crisis in Victoria unfolded.
Our 23rd weekly tracker of 1,208 people, conducted Monday 10 August – Wednesday 12 August, shows:
- People’s predictions about the virus spread were significantly less gloomy – 55% expect the virus spread to be worse in a month, down a hefty 18 points over last week. Only 33% now expect it to be worse in a month (down 12 points).
- Meanwhile economic pessimism has eased and while 69% still expect the economy to be worse in 1 month this is down nine points from last week (78%). 48% expect things to improve in a year and this is also up three points from last week.
- Australians’ confidence in the virus strategy strengthened significantly this week, with 74% agreeing Australia is taking the right approach, up from 68% the previous week, while the proportion saying we are not taking the issue seriously enough has decreased from 25% to 20%.
- However, the pain of the level 4 lockdowns is having its effect on Victorians where 51% say the restrictions are making their day-to-day life more difficult which is significantly higher than those from other states at 28%. Some 12% of Victorians said they had been laid off from work in the past seven days compared with 7% elsewhere.
Concern about coronavirus plateaus
Consistent with last week, around two in three people (65%) mentioned coronavirus as a key issue facing Australia without being prompted. When prompted, 83% were “extremely” or “quite” concerned about coronavirus but for the first time in eight weeks, this measure has declined (86% last week). Concern about a “second wave” has also eased with 78% now “extremely” or “quite” concerned about it compared to 82% last week.
Healthcare worrying many Australians
However, 62% are now “extremely” or “quite” concerned about the quality of healthcare services – significantly higher than 52% five weeks ago. Concern about the quality of aged care meanwhile stabilised at 72% (it was 73% last week) although it also remains higher than it was four weeks ago (60%).
Community sticks with tough medicine
Across many measures there is evidence that the community wants Government to stay the course with its precautionary approach. A large majority continue to agree that the restrictions are fair and reasonable (81% agree) and that Government is taking appropriate measures to protect people’s health (78%). Some 47% of participants reported wearing a mask in the past 7 days, up from 43% last week and just 18% four weeks ago. That includes 83% of Victorians and 59% of NSW residents compared to 35% of those in other states. For the first time this week, the number one piece of advice respondents had for government was to “encourage safety precautions” and there continues to be minimal support for border openings or mass events.
Government’s perceived support for businesses has bounced back
This week has also seen an increase in agreement that the Government is taking appropriate measures to protect Australian businesses (72% up from 68%), reversing declines in agreement over the previous two weeks in the wake of highly anticipated changes to JobKeeper.