Australian’s views about COVID-19 policies: May 2020

By Nicholas Biddle and Matthew Gray (ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods)

There is vigorous debate about a range of COVID-19 specific policies as well as a discussion about what economic policies will be required as the immediate concerns about infection and mortality due to COVID-19 recede. In order to support this debate, this paper provides data on Australian’s views in May 2020 about a range of COVID-19 specific policies. It also provides data on Australian’s views about range of broader economic policies collected in May 2020 and how this has changed since January 2020.

There has been very little change between January and May 2020 in Australian’s views about cutting taxes, putting more money into the hands of poor people, increasing spending on domestic programs like health, care, education or housing or increasing spending on infrastructure. This is despite the very different economic circumstances in May compared to January 2020.

Of the four COVID-10 related policy changes asked about in the May ANUpoll, the policy which the highest support was to increased spending on the search for a COVID-19 vaccine and treatment, followed by easing restrictions on pubs, clubs and cafes; and extending the JobKeeper and Jobseeker payments beyond the current six-months. The lowest level of support was for opening up Australia’s borders to tourists and international students. There were significant age differences in support for these policies with support for extending JobKeeper/JobSeeker also varying along party lines. The strongest predictor of support for these policies, however, was anxiety and worry regarding COVID-19. Those who were anxious and worried were far less likely to support liberalisation measures (on borders and hospitality) but far more likely to support spending measures (on vaccines and the labour market).

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