This report explores what sort of post-Covid future Australians expect, based on YouGov polling conducted for the Centre for Independent Studies.
There are both reasons for optimism and reasons for pessimism in this paper. The poll suggests that Australians are unlikely to meekly accept ongoing lockdowns once vaccination reaches critical levels. Only a small minority believe we should continue to chase Covid Zero exclusively. Moreover, few people are keen to stay in lockdown until everyone is vaccinated.
In part this reflects the belief, driven by experiences in Sydney and Melbourne in particular, that Covid is unlikely to be eradicated in Australia. Ultimately, the public accepts that we will need to live with Covid one way or another.
However, the responses are far less favourable when it turns to the issue of enforcement of penalties for breaching the health orders. Almost 40% of respondents felt that the penalties were too low, and nearly 50% thought enforcement had been too lax. Only 14% felt the penalties were too high or too strict. This authoritarian streak of dobbing in our neighbours has been exploited by politicians to bolster support for their, at times draconian, policies.
Australians may have this idealised view of ourselves as larrikins who don’t follow the rules, but in reality we are a nation of ‘Karens’ tut-tutting over people not following ‘the rules’.
Attitudes to post-covid Australia: Introduction
Australia’s experience of the coronavirus pandemic shifted markedly in June in response to the emergence of the delta variant. After Melbourne exited lockdown following its second wave in October last year, Australia successfully managed a series of small scale outbreaks.
Following a strategy of elimination some have dubbed ‘Covid Zero’, for the past 12 months most of the country enjoyed a lifestyle largely free of restrictions. One consequence of this relative success has been a lackadaisical vaccine roll-out that saw Australian vaccination numbers far below our peers like Canada.
However, from May this year, Melbourne has locked down several times — though the more severe restrictions introduced in mid-August were not in place at the time this survey was undertaken. Greater Sydney entered lockdown in late June and is unlikely to emerge for months. This lockdown expanded to five regional centres and then the rest of the state.
Queensland had multiple partial lockdowns, and Western Australia, South Australia and even the Northern Territory have all also had lockdowns in this time. The ACT has also entered lockdown, but this occurred after fieldwork for this report was complete.
This report explores the extent to which attitudes to Covid, lockdowns and vaccination have changed, and what sort of post-Covid future Australians expect. The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) commissioned YouGov to poll 1,029 Australians over the age of 18 to research those attitudes. The polling was conducted online from 2 August to 5 August 2021. The results were weighted and are representative of the Australian public.
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Frank Chung, Brad Hazzard says ‘entitled’ people breaking rules will keep NSW in lockdown, https://www.news.com.au/world/coronavirus/australia/brad-hazzard-says-entitled-people-breaking-rules-will-keep-nsw-in-lockdown/news-story/9117269a631d1b933da946df45ecb2ff 5 July 2021
Angie Raphael, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian lashes out at people intentionally breaking Covid-19 rules, https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/nsw-premier-gladys-berejiklian-lashes-out-at-people-intentionally-breaking-covid19-rules/news-story/920e5884b0069316c264c0636c18e33d 13 August 2021
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Freya Noble, Sydney man with COVID-19 charged over allegedly ‘leaving lockdown for Byron Bay’, https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-nsw-update-rose-bay-sydney-man-charged-travelling-byron-bay/8e38432d-d657-491f-a802-5ba25a9728a0 11 August 2021
ABC News, Limousine driver at the centre of Bondi cluster wont be charged, Police Commissioner says, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-06-26/no-charges-for-covid-19-limousine-driver/100246830 26 June 2021