Essential Research and Morgan: coronavirus, superannuation and trust in business leaders

Generally favourable reaction to the government’s handling of coronavirus, a big thumbs up to access to superannuation, and yah boo sucks to Murdoch, Palmer, Rinehart and Harvey.

The fortnightly Essential Research poll focuses, naturally enough, on coronavirus, with 45% rating the federal government’s response good or very good, and 29% poor or very poor. According to The Guardian’s report, it would seem the latter tend to be those most worried about the virus, as measured by a question on whether respondents felt the situation was being overblown, with which “one third” agreed while 28% thought the opposite.

Over the course of three fortnightly polls, the proportion rating themselves very concerned has escalated from 25% to 27% to 39%, while the results for quite concerned have gone from 43% to 36% and back again. The Guardian’s report does not relate the latest results for “not that concerned” and “not at all concerned”, which were actually up in the last poll, from 26% to 28% and 6% to 9% respectively. Further questions relate to trust in various sources of information, notably the government and the media, but we will have to wait for the publication of the full report later today to get a clear handle on them. Suffice to say that Essential still has nothing to tell us on voting intention.

In other findings, 49% said they wanted the opposition to fall in behind the government’s decisions while 33% preferred that it review and challenge them, and 42% now consider themselves likely to catch the virus, up from 31% on a fortnight ago. Seventy-two per cent reported washing their hands more often, 60% said they were avoiding social gatherings, and 33% reported stocking up on groceries.

We also have a Roy Morgan SMS survey of 723 respondents, which was both conducted and published yesterday, showing 79% support for the government’s decision to allow those in financial difficulty to access $20,000 of their superannuation. As noted in the previous post, an earlier such poll of 974 respondents from Wednesday and Thursday recorded levels of trust in various Australian politicians (plus Jacinda Ardern, who fared best of all); a further set of results from the same poll finds Dick Smith, Mike Cannon-Brookes, Andrew Forrest and Alan Joyce rating best out of designated list of business leaders, with Rupert Murdoch, Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart and Gerry Harvey performed worst. We are yet to receive hard numbers from either set of questions, but they are apparently forthcoming.

UPDATE: Full report from Essential Research here.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

5,145 comments on “Essential Research and Morgan: coronavirus, superannuation and trust in business leaders”

  1. According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, 100,472 people confirmed to have contracted Covid-19 have now recovered from the illness, more than half of them in China.

    That figure represents almost a third of the people known to have been infected around the world. However, these figures are partly based on official releases and could, therefore, underestimate the number of confirmed cases. The institution has counted 354,677 confirmed cases and 15,436 confirmed deaths.

    The World Heath Organization said it had taken 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases, and only four for the third 100,000 cases.

  2. Very strong support in the UK for a complete London lock down (57% in support amongst Londoners)

    Yougov poll.

    At this time, would you support or oppose London being placed under a “lockdown” where people are not allowed to leave their homes except to go to work or get essential supplies?

    Support: 64%
    Oppose: 17%

  3. You would expect Morrison to win the war on the virus but will it win the peace ?

    This should produce a collectivist moment or mood amongst the Australian public. Will Labor have the big agenda to win the peace ?


    One point of contention between Swan and Professor Kelly was why an app had not been implemented to help track the spread of the virus and promote better public awareness.

    I vaguely remember reading in these august pages a “cri de coeur” concerning an “App”. Perhaps someone who watched Q&A might be able to throw some light on the “point of contention.”

  5. Gardening, home decorating and DIY are suddenly very popular.


    Professor Bowtell said the coronavirus could survive outside the body on moist surfaces and materials like paper and plastic.

    “Everything in a retail store is picked up and put down, whether it be at Bunnings, a bottle shop or a supermarket,” he said.

    “You’d have to think the risk of picking up an infected surface, then touching your hands to your nose, face and eyes unconsciously, seems to be a pretty certain way of transmitting the virus.

    “I’d hate to think how many times a bottle of wine is picked up and put back before you go on and buy it.”

    Online gardening supplies can hardly keep up with the demand, apparently.

  6. I know I said it before, but shutting down Parliament for 6 months is Morrison’s idea of heaven. This is the wrong person to be in charge now.

    Osman Faruqi
    The Youth Allowance situation is a perfect example of why we can’t leave it up to the government for the next 6 months. They originally had no plans to boost payments for students. Political pressure in parliament and thousands of students calling MPs forced them to backflip.

  7. with 45% rating the federal government’s response good or very good


    If that is called good response for morrison and his cronies , i hate to see what is bad

    under 50% is not a good result in anyone’s language for morrison and his cronies in the response to the corona virus

  8. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    One-third of people in the latest Guardian Essential survey believe there has been an overreaction to the threat of the coronavirus, and only 35% of the sample trust the media to give them honest and reliable information about the pandemic. These are the “quiet Australians” I presume.
    Peter Hartcher describes Australia as the Commonwealth of confusion.
    The Canberra Times editorial says that the national cabinet has failed to deliver unity through the pandemic.
    Paul Bongiorno describes Morrison as a “besieged PM caught in the coronavirus swamp, up to his neck in alligators”.
    Trump, unquestionably, is an idiot. A dangerous one.
    And the progress of the massive coronavirus stimulus bill was blocked by Senate Democrats late on Sunday night, local time, as partisan disputes raged over the legislation that’s aimed at arresting the economy’s precipitous decline. The stoush is over what the Democrats say is the big bias in favour of business.
    It is much-derided big businesses that will do the heavy lifting of keeping Australia moving — and help bring it to the other side says the AFR editorial.
    As the country runs short of critical medicines and life-saving protective gear, Michael West reports on those profiting from the tragedy.
    Our politicians scramble for hope as Australia, one of the most gregarious nations on earth, folds in on itself writes Katharine Murphy.
    Behind the facade of high-level consultations among state and federal leaders, there are growing disagreements on everything from schools to travel bans. No wonder the public is confused writes Jennifer Hewett.
    Michelle Grattan believes that a contest of credible views should be seen as useful in a national crisis.
    Berejiklian’s decision to keep children at home while schools remain open has created confusion and anxiety among parents craving certainty.
    At the risk of infuriating every aged person in Australia, asking them to self-isolate at home for a few months could go a long way to reducing the strain on hospitals urges economist David Bassanese.
    Dana McCauley reports that doctors are arguing hospitals are putting lives at risk by continuing with “non-essential” operations while stocks of protective masks run low.
    Anatomy of a coronavirus disaster: how 2,700 people were let off the Ruby Princess cruise ship by mistake.
    As the country moves into lockdown mode in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are increasingly faced with serious ethical questions about what ordinary people should be obliged to do for others writes ethicist Professor Hugh Breakey.
    Sam Maiden reports that teachers are threatening to walk off the job in New South Wales and Queensland unless greater protections are put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
    Stepping up to the plate is going to cost banks’ balance sheets, revenues and profits writes Elizabeth Knight.
    Australia’s COVID-19 testing regime is among the world’s best, health experts have said, despite test kits for the coronavirus running low.\ reports Isabelle Lane.
    Some countries are better equipped than others to handle a pandemic. Alan Austin assesses readiness in Australia and the USA for the coming storm.,13718
    When it comes to unemployment in Australia, definitions have been broken writes Greg Jericho.
    AFL players have offered to take a 50 per cent pay cut until football resumes, and are struggling to come to terms with life without football.
    Josh Taylor explains how the government services minister, Stuart Robert, has had to walk back a claim that the MyGov website suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack yesterday just as people were logging on to register for welfare services.
    Why housing evictions must be suspended to defend us against coronavirus.
    With the economy coming to a stall, the Federal Government should remap Australia’s energy landscape, writes Tim Buckley.,13720
    New Zealand is moving to a near-complete societal lockdown within 48 hours as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern aims to seize on a “window of opportunity” to contain COVID-19. Military personnel will join with police in enforcing nationwide self-isolation under the unprecedented restrictions.
    Coronavirus cases surge in Italy, Iran, US while Pope calls for prayer. That will be a great help!
    Adam Triggs writes that a wave of financial crises is looming and it’s clear what needs to be done.
    We can’t let the coronavirus lead to a 9/11-style erosion of civil liberties writes Samuel Miller McDonald.
    More than 2 million Australians could be without a job as companies sack workers due to restrictions to stop infection.
    Rachel Siewert writes that the government should suspend mutual obligations for JobSeeker payment.
    Private schools are expected to get a $3.4 billion boost over the next decade under measures passed by federal parliament. Why now?
    Regional media owners are asking the Morrison government to release funds from the small and regional publishers innovation package as they scramble to adapt to market conditions caused by COVID-19.
    Infections have soared across New York state, which now accounts for roughly 5 per cent of the world’s confirmed cases.
    Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters tell us that the AFP has interviewed former SAS soldier Ben Roberts-Smith over allegations he kicked an Afghan prisoner off a cliff in a serious development in the long-running saga involving Australia’s most decorated Afghan veteran.
    And for nomination for “Arseholes of the Week” we have this charming couple.
    And this mongrel!

    Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe

    David Pope

    Dionne Gain

    Andrew Dyson

    John Shakespeare

    Peter Broelman

    Johannes Leak

    From the US

  9. It’s good to see about 3/10 people questioning the government’s performance with a critical eye and supporting the Opposition scrutiny.

  10. The acronym “LNP” and the words “discretionary funds” make me cringe at the endless possibilities of rorting.

    “Legislation to authorise the extra spending was set to pass both houses of Parliament on Monday, with an annual discretionary fund of $1.2 billion controlled by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann boosted to $40 billion.”

  11. AFL players have offered to take a 50 per cent pay cut until football resumes, and are struggling to come to terms with life without football.

    Thanks BK.

    I was thinking about this yesterday, but at a local level. With people losing their entertainment (the pub, arts and entertainment venues), sport (playing or watching), and social activities, I wonder if we’ll see an increase in suicide attempts particularly among young men.

    Just another downstream, unintended consequence of coronavirus.

  12. Fess

    I was seeing a lot of angst from people addicted to exercise, seriously feeling withdrawal. In some cases, it enables them to work off their excess energy/anger. This may not end well.

  13. A comment in the Grauniad used this phrase when referring to the Minister for Rolex Mr Robert -“sack the useless bastard” . Would make another handy acronym ” Stub” to go with “MIAMB” .

  14. Alan Austin set out his stall on writing something anti-American so looked for any stat he could find to achieve the desired outcome while having a sideswipe at Australia which kind of fizzed early.

    Good to know the average life expectancy in Turkey has gone up 1.3 years in the last four years.

  15. I didn’t realise that Gumtree is not your local friendly shopping arcade (although I’ve never used it).

    Multinational tax dodger eBay pays almost no tax in this country, nor does its associate Gumtree. Gumtree is based in Holland for tax purposes. It is only called Gumtree to deceive.

    Yet, if eBay and Gumtree directors and executives are infected with the Coronavirus they will receive the same treatment as any other patient in Australian hospitals, care from doctors and nurses working around the clock, care financed by ordinary taxpayers.

  16. Thanks BK for the Dawn Patrol. Enough there to cause depression in just about anybody.

    Has anybody heard of politicians clamouring to take a pay cut in solidarity with the newly Centrelink queued citizens ❓

  17. BK:

    And community and social groups too.

    Our local Over 50s association has cancelled all its activities and social programs. Apart from the viability of the associaiton when this is all over, I’d imagine there are lots of older people who relied on the Over 50s for their social get togethers who now have nothing to keep them connected with others. How will they fare being socially isolated for months?

  18. I am bringing forward my prediction – 3 days for more provisioning and centrelimk to be calmer and the shut-down on 27 March

  19. lizzie @ #19 Tuesday, March 24th, 2020 – 4:58 am


    I was seeing a lot of angst from people addicted to exercise, seriously feeling withdrawal. In some cases, it enables them to work off their excess energy/anger. This may not end well.

    Several people at work are seriously annoyed they can no longer go to the gym or even to the local swimming pool. It’s as though this pandemic is taking place in a through the looking glass country, some other place where they don’t live which isn’t experiencing coronavirus outbreaks all over the world. It’s extraordinary, and I guess why the Essential results shouldn’t be all that surprising.

  20. Is the Independent an open-access journal?
    Alan Austin has no knowledge or apparent interest in health services. He put together a jumble of statistics that had no meaning but it still got published

  21. Is the Sth Korean model transferable to other countries?

    For all the attention to South Korea’s successes, its methods and containment tools are not prohibitively complex or expensive.

    Some of the technology the country has used is as simple as specialized rubber gloves and cotton swabs. Of the seven countries with worse outbreaks than South Korea’s, five are richer.

    Experts cite three major hurdles to following South Korea’s lead, none related to cost or technology.

    One is political will. Many governments have hesitated to impose onerous measures in the absence of a crisis-level outbreak.

    Another is public will. Social trust is higher in South Korea than in many other countries, particularly Western democracies beset by polarization and populist backlash.

    But time poses the greatest challenge. It may be “too late,” Dr. Ki said, for countries deep into epidemics to control outbreaks as quickly or efficiently as South Korea has.

    Four measures Sth Korea implemented to deal with coronavirus, having gone through SARS and MERS before and having learned those lessons:

    1. Early intervention and developing testing kits before it became a crisis.
    2. Test, test, test. And test again.
    3. Vigorous contact tracing and surveillance and isolation of infected people.
    4. Fully informed and cooperative public.

    I’d argue we can’t do the first because we don’t make the kits and now they’re in global demand. Ditto number 2. Number 3 is linked to number 2, but we can still make gains there. Number 4 is where we are being badly let down, both by government and health authorities, but also our fellow Australians. So, the Sth Korea model might be transferable, but not necessarily to Australia.

  22. Richard Denniss
    Why isn’t the government as creative about #COVID19 updates as they were about election ads…where are the text messages, robo calls & online ads…and the clear simple messaging…COVID19 messages should be clearer than scare campaigns about tax #auspol

    I’m getting a text message every day from the cfa telling me that there is infection danger in Victoria. I’m not sure how much good that is doing, but I suppose at least they’re trying.

  23. South Korea’s testing criteria (at least on 13 March) was similar to Australia’s;
    One Seoul test center consists of four trailerlike offices with white canopies in front. Doctors in full protective suits and goggles take the driver’s temperature with an infrared thermometer and hand out a questionnaire to fill out. If you’re running a fever and, in the doctor’s opinion, may be at risk based on where you’ve been or whom you’ve contacted, you’re eligible for a test. Only the driver is tested — passengers are not.

    The article makes the point of accessibility, through drive in centres, and cost (free).
    It staggers belief but the US continues to charge for most testing

  24. Oakeshott Country says:
    Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 8:14 am
    I am bringing forward my prediction – 3 days for more provisioning and centrelimk to be calmer and the shut-down on 27 March
    Must be soon – New Zealand tomorrow, UK last night….

    At least we will all have pollbludger…. It might be a great time for me to premiere Die LuftSchlosse

  25. OC

    It staggers belief but the US continues to charge for most testing

    Impeccably timed. I had just finished reading this shocker from the US.
    US woman gets $34,927.43 bill for coronavirus treatment

    When Danni Askini started feeling chest pain, shortness of breath and a migraine all at once on a Saturday in late February, she called the oncologist who had been treating her lymphoma. Her doctor thought she might be reacting poorly to a new medication, so she sent Askini to a Boston-area emergency room. There, doctors told her it was likely pneumonia and sent her home.

    Over the next several days, Askini saw her temperature spike and drop dangerously, and she developed a cough that gurgled because of all the liquid in her lungs. After two more trips to the ER that week, Askini was given a final test on the seventh day of her illness, and once doctors helped manage her flu and pneumonia symptoms, they again sent her home to recover. She waited another three days for a lab to process her test, and at last she had a diagnosis: COVID-19.

    A few days later, Askini got the bills for her testing and treatment: $34,927.43. “I was pretty sticker-shocked,” she says. “I personally don’t know anybody who has that kind of money.”

  26. Morning all. Apart from my amazement at the naivety of 30% of Australians who think we have overreacted to Covid 19, this AFR article BK highlighted is pure nonsense. Big businesses are the first to shed staff (e.g Qantas) and government, not the private sector, invariably pushes the economy back into action after a crisis. The AFR has really gone downhill as a credible source of information.

    “ It is much-derided big businesses that will do the heavy lifting of keeping Australia moving — and help bring it to the other side says the AFR editorial.”

  27. The Weekly Times
    · 31m
    One of the state’s biggest cotton-growing families is expected to fight fines of up to $500,000 after being found guilty of illegally pumping the equivalent of around 720 Olympic swimming pools from the Barwon River.

  28. Socrates

    I was particularly struck by the attitude of a group of rich kids with strange toffy accents who appeared on 7.30 last night. Thick as bricks. Are these intending to be our future rulers?

  29. Hmmm,

    Seems the Governor of Mississippi is a bit like Margerate Court.

    I believe in the power of prayer, so I’m inviting you to pray with me on this Sunday morning. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

    Posted by Tate Reeves on Sunday, March 22, 2020

    Of course this statement would be true if we’re talking about the Corona virus rather than Jesus.

  30. Confessions @ #33 Tuesday, March 24th, 2020 – 8:17 am


    I know nothing about gaming. I suppose you need special equipment/technology and an internet connection to do it?

    Yep. A Nintendo Switch, a Playstation 4 or an XBox One will do the trick. The games aren’t all for Millennials who want to frag each other stupid. For example, Nintendo has Brain Training games, and, right now I am playing a game where you get to live a life on a holiday island, called ‘Animal Crossing’. It reduces the boredom levels from watching crap daytime TV shows and other things that you do when self-isolated and unable to do the things you would normally do outside the home.

    I also play games via my internet connection with people from all over the world. I bet it’s keeping a lot of them sane at this time. 🙂

  31. Malcolm Farr
    Spare a thought for commentators whose modus operanmdi has been the invention of a crisis-a-day. They are being outplayed by reality, by a genuine crisis. Yet some valiantly persist, flailing in their own flatulence to be perpetually indignant about the usual pre-pandemic targets

  32. C@t

    There is anger at the continuing determination of the gov to subsidise private schools in massive amounts. If this is their product, I can’t see how it’s doing the country any good at all.

  33. Oakeshott Country @ #30 Tuesday, March 24th, 2020 – 5:14 am

    I am bringing forward my prediction – 3 days for more provisioning and centrelimk to be calmer and the shut-down on 27 March

    The BAS activity statements for the March quarter are going to need to be submitted which is likely to cause a further meltdown of the system.

    I know it’s irrational given all evidence to the contrary, but I’m beginning to question whether we actually will have a forced lockdown of everything.

  34. lizzie @ #47 Tuesday, March 24th, 2020 – 5:51 am

    Malcolm Farr
    Spare a thought for commentators whose modus operanmdi has been the invention of a crisis-a-day. They are being outplayed by reality, by a genuine crisis. Yet some valiantly persist, flailing in their own flatulence to be perpetually indignant about the usual pre-pandemic targets

    Another scolding from a retired journalist who conveniently forgets that he too followed this very same script.

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