Strong support for virus vaccination as concern continues to ease

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As Spring breaks across Australia after a long and gloomy virus winter, some 70% of Australians say they would definitely or probably choose to be vaccinated with the free Oxford University vaccine if it is safe and effective. Even more striking, support is nearly as strong to make vaccination mandatory for anyone wanting to undertake ‘high risk’ activities in close proximity to others such as air travel or some workplaces: two in three Australians (64%) supported this idea and virus-weary Victorians were even more no-nonsense (71% support). Only 10% nationally would not use a vaccine with men more likely than women to support vaccination, voluntary or mandatory.

Overall our 26th weekly tracker of more than 1,200 people, taken Monday 31 August – Wednesday 2 September, indicates the national mood is continuing to lighten. Concern and pessimism about the virus are easing and support is growing for border openings. However, there are also indications that support for Government strategy is trending slowly downwards, with a small but discernible minority of dissenters growing.

Leading indicators this week

  • Concerns about coronavirus are easing – around half (51%) of survey participants mentioned coronavirus as the most concerning issue facing Australia without prompting, down from 65% four weeks ago.
  • Predictions about the spread of the virus are improving – 46% now say the spread of the virus will get better in three months, up significantly from 26% six weeks ago.
  • Economic concerns remain high (when prompted 82% are “extremely” or “quite” concerned about the economy). There is also an uptick in the proportion who have experienced a reduction in their income in the last 7 days (21% up from 17% last week) or are spending less than usual (37% up from 30% two months ago).


More relaxed about restrictions

Around four in 10 (41%) are being more careful than required by the restrictions and guidelines but this is down from 46% three weeks ago. While most also continue to feel that restrictions are being lifted at the right pace (55%) there is an increasing minority who believe they are being lifted too slowly (18% up from 13% three weeks ago). Slightly less people are also staying at home more than usual (50% down from 53% last week) or are avoided shaking hands with others (59% down from 62% last week). Unsurprisingly, mask wearing is most supported in Victoria (92% would wear one when needed) and NSW (76%), compared with 56% elsewhere in Australia.

More want local borders opened

More than a third (34%) now believe it is appropriate to open up our state borders within a month (up from 21% two weeks ago) and a slight majority (56%) believe they should be opened within three months – in line with the PM’s call for open borders by Christmas. Nearly three in 10 (28%) believe the border with New Zealand should be opened within a month (up from 19% two weeks ago) however, some 73% think other international borders should stay closed another three months.

Government performance continues to slide

Support for government has been on a long slow downward trend from the extraordinary highs seen earlier in the pandemic. Over the past three weeks there have been steady declines in agreement that the restrictions are fair and reasonable (73% down from 81%) and that the Government is taking appropriate measures to support people who lose their job or face financial difficulties (64% down from 72%).

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