Second Wave of Pessimism Hits Australia

Share this


The impact of Melbourne’s coronavirus breakout has well and truly hit the nation now, with a second wave of pessimism sweeping public opinion.
Overall, this survey of more than 1,200 people taken Monday 29 June to Wednesday 1 July is the worst week for many leading indicators of concern and pessimism for some time, taking anxiety levels backwards to those of mid-May.
Our 17th weekly tracking survey shows: 

  • A 7-point increase in Australians saying unprompted that coronavirus is the key issue facing Australia (45%) in the past fortnight, and an 11-point spike in prompted concern, with 74% now ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ concerned about coronavirus compared to two weeks ago.
  • Predictions for the virus spread are gloomier: 55% expect it to be worse in a month (against just 32% two weeks ago), while the number who think it will get worse in three months has increased to 33% (compared with 23% two weeks ago).
  • Two thirds (64%) are now ‘extremely’ or ‘quite’ concerned about infections and deaths across the community compared to 59% last week and three in five (57%) are concerned about someone in their immediate family catching it compared to 52% last week.
  • Fewer (73%) think Australia is responding appropriately compared to 82% four weeks ago while two in 10 (19%) say we’re not taking the issue seriously enough (compared to 11% four weeks ago).
  • Some 37% feel that the restrictions are being lifted too quickly (up from 29% two weeks ago), with Victorians holding this view much more strongly (50% vs. 32% for the rest). Overall though, most Australians still feel that they are being lifted at the right pace (51%).
  • Significantly more people agree that others in the community are not taking social distancing seriously enough (71% up from 65% last week).

This reaction will worry government, now weeks into efforts to bring the nation back to a level of normalcy. They will be hoping for a quick correction to what had been a positive national trend as Victorian authorities seek to get on top of the issue.


Following recent prominent job layoffs, there were spikes in the proportion who had experienced a reduction in their income (22% up from 17%) or in their working hours (16% up from 13%). While most measures of government performance were steady, there was also a drop this week in agreement that it is taking appropriate measures to protect Australian businesses (69% down from 73% two weeks ago).


In response to a new question, nearly half (46%) of Australians wanted to see JobKeeper extended beyond September while 28% said it should end as planned and 25% had no opinion.


In another new question, ongoing government financial support was seen as most important for the tourism and hospitality (both 67% ‘very’ and ‘quite’ important) and retail (61%) industries. This was followed by aviation and construction (both 57%). In contrast most didn’t think it was important to provide financial support to professional sporting codes.


For the second week running, concerns about shortages of food, toilet paper and other essentials are rising. From a low point in our survey of 28% ‘extremely’ or ‘quite’ concerned two weeks ago, this week concerns have risen to 40%. 


The new outbreaks in Victoria have had an impact on confidence in opening state borders. This week 46% say they should be open by the end of July, but only 15% would support the opening of all state borders immediately. NSW’s relatively bullish support for opening state borders by the end of July dropped to 49% (from 58% last week and 78% the week before), leaving Queensland as the most supportive of lifting border restrictions among the larger, eastern states (51%, up from 46%).

Share this