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. Cud Chewer

    I would like to thank you for your statistical work on the virus. I am not a mathematician at all, but i have found your postings very informative and have adopted them as my “position”.

  2. Confessions

    Yes. This isn’t The Omega Man. The virus unchecked kills maybe 3-4%; even among the elderly max. 15%. But it won’t be all over in three months. I am much more concerned than I was yesterday. Sorry for the long post. Night all.

  3. Socrates

    I think it is technically possible to eradicate the virus at least within Australia – and do so within 2 or 3 months. The key is blanket testing and sophisticated tracking.

    It bothers me that the government doesn’t understand this. As a consequence we’ll stumble on, perhaps with multiple waves of cases. And the sad thing is we’ll eventually come to understand that a shutdown/restart was the least (economic cost) path.

    I hope that our rivalry with New Zealand leads us to adopt its approach – which is close to a strategy of early eradication.

    This article has a good comparison of our measures, versus New Zealand.

  4. Nath
    Incredible movie and probably the source of my anti-submarine sentiment. I am committed to rewatching Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and the Wire. I am a little bronchial so I have moved some chess pieces and gone into full lockdown from here on out.
    Finished rewatching the Wire a few weeks back. No series comes close to it I reckon. – maybe Deadwood. Breaking Bad? No doubt it’s excellent, but not as layered and clever as the Wire.

  5. Yes, thank you Soc for your post from the front lines, once removed. I’m thinking that, similar to the Spanish Flu Pandemic a century ago, we humans are going to have to slowly build immunity to COVID-19, it may take decades, and work to get a vaccine which, like the Pneumonia and Flu vaccines, we get a shot of every year. It won’t work for everyone because, as Donald Trump fiendishly likes to point out, Influenza still kills thousands every year, but not as many or as quickly as COVID-19 is now.

    That’s the best case scenario from me.

  6. a r

    Well not necessarily an indefinite travel ban.

    But, you would need isolation for foreign arrivals, probably for up to 7 days and they would need to clear at least 2 tests and they would need to be physically tracked once out of isolation – probably to an agreed itinerary. In practice this would rule out ordinary tourists.

  7. Cud,
    Yeah nah. This virus won’t be eliminated from Australia. It’s here to stay.

    We haven’t eliminated Influenza or Viral Pneumonia.

    It’s not Smallpox.

    And you’ll always have the Anti Vaxxers who will be little wells of stubborn resistance to doing the right thing. Plus, even now, there are people in Australia refusing to do the right thing, while COVID-19 is knocking people over like 9 Pins! House parties, dinner parties and weddings and funerals hidden from view with too many people getting friendly.

    There’s a lot of people out there who are too self-centred to ever do the right thing.

    And this virus is very sticky. Just today scientists discovered that it stays alive on the soles of your shoes for 5 days!

    Nope, it’s here to stay, despite your best hopes.

  8. Without naming names, one of the major problems with Australia is that there has been no strong voice to the neo-liberal depravity.

    There is no left. There is a limp off-shoot of yankee liberalism, obsessed, as it is , with the latest correctness. But that’s not left.

  9. C@t

    I’m simply pointing out that it is possible. You don’t even need a vaccine to do so.
    I under no illusions about what is likely under this government.

  10. What’s the correct way to calculate the growth factor?

    I’ve been using [new cases] / [confirmed cases].

    But since recovered cases are presumably no longer active carriers, shouldn’t it be [new cases] / ([confirmed cases] – [recovered cases])? Or since the deceased are also no longer carriers, [new cases] / ([confirmed cases] – [recovered cases] – [deaths])?

  11. Maude

    The thing is, the behavioural changes that started early last week ought to be showing up about now. Problem is the data is too confounded – there’s lots of cases from overseas origin and there’s an uptick of Australian’s returning and they’re not being open enough with the data.

  12. C@t, polio was eliminated from Australia as many people had seen the effects of catching it. People couldn’t wait to get the vaccine. No-one wanted to live in an iron lung for the rest of their lives. No antivaxxers in those days.

    A paediatric nurse once told me every parent had the right not to vaccinate their children. However, before exercising that right they had to spend a day in her ward. She was confident they would see the benefit of vaccination.

  13. PeeBee,
    And COVID-19 is fiendishly devious, if I may anthropomorphise. It doesn’t affect everyone equally badly. Already people, like Peter Dutton, are saying that they have it but it’s not that bad. So the message going out is that it’s just knocking off the weakest in the herd but everyone else can ride it out. Not that that is the complete reality but it’s how it’s being seen.

    Unlike Polio.

  14. The mortality rate of C19 would be the total deaths divided by the total number who have ever been infected. The latter would be active cases + recovered + fatalities.

    The numerator is known fairly accurately, but not the denominator.

    We know that the total number of cases out there is more, likely much more, than the official number. Some people are infected but asymptomatic. Maybe some people caught it and recovered, just thinking that they had a minor cold and have never been counted. On the other hand, deaths and severe cases trail known infections by about 10-20 days.

    As an aside, 2020 is turning out to be a pretty crap year.

  15. Cud chewer, I was just speaking to someone who has been crook all week. Has the same symptoms that covid19 would produce. He suspects covid19 but hasn’t any idea how he could have contracted it.

    I have met two other people who had a similar experience. They suspect they caught it from a person who had just come back from China with a runny nose back in February.

    Would your analysis be able to infer if there is a spread of virus into the community that the offical stats don’t count?

  16. Cud

    I strongly suspect that our testing regime is not catching a lot of cases.
    If it were testing everyone self-reporting symptoms (as happens in some better organised asian countries) we would see a lot more cases.

  17. In any given case the virus has a finite life. It will either kill the case or itself be killed by the case. In either example, the virus will not survive. The only way the virus can survive is by spreading. If the rate of spread is less than 1.o, it will inexorably fade to nothing. So the challenge is to reduce the rate of spread. Since the vector is always human, in principle humans have it within their capacity to achieve such a low rate of spread that the virus will disappear.

    We can do this. But we can only do it by first recognising that the way to protect oneself is to first think of others, to take steps to protect the wellbeing of others generally; and then to successfully ensure that every other person is also thinking beyond their own immediate gratification. This can be accomplished socially and legally, but is obviously not foolproof.

    It’s also well worth reiterating that this is about a virus. It’s not about any particular subset of humanity. It’s about trying to make sure the virus does not piggy back on human vectors. This is something we can control. We are not remotely powerless here. What will defeat us is if we start to blame one human subset or another for the pandemic. This is not a struggle between humans. It is a struggle between humans and a virus. We most assuredly can win this struggle as long as we use our reason and look in the right places to find the virus and regulate our responses to it.

  18. It was a foregone conclusion that the Crown’s pet magistrate would refuse to release Assange on bail.

    The Australian made the application in the Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday, with less than 20 people in attendance due to the coronavirus lockdown.
    Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser cited Assange’s history of absconsion and that Belmarsh prison had the responsibility to keep detainees safe during the pandemic.

    She accepted that advice may change but the government was working to protect all prisoners and Assange was not the only vulnerable inmate at Belmarsh prison.
    “This global pandemic… does not provide grounds for Mr Assange’s release,” she ruled.

  19. max
    Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 10:37 pm
    Incredible movie and probably the source of my anti-submarine sentiment. I am committed to rewatching Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and the Wire. I am a little bronchial so I have moved some chess pieces and gone into full lockdown from here on out.
    Finished rewatching the Wire a few weeks back. No series comes close to it I reckon. – maybe Deadwood. Breaking Bad? No doubt it’s excellent, but not as layered and clever as the Wire.
    Oh yes The Wire is the ultimate. I would argue that The Wire and the Sopranos are pretty equal. What one lacks the other provides. Sopranos is an in depth look at a criminal and his family while the Wire is an in depth look at criminals and society. Very complimentary.

  20. PeeBee the best source I have is this..

    This is one of the most important charts.
    It shows in orange bars the daily official number of cases in the Hubei province: How many people were diagnosed that day.
    The grey bars show the true daily coronavirus cases. The Chinese CDC found these by asking patients during the diagnostic when their symptoms started.
    Crucially, these true cases weren’t known at the time. We can only figure them out looking backwards: The authorities don’t know that somebody just started having symptoms. They know when somebody goes to the doctor and gets diagnosed.
    What this means is that the orange bars show you what authorities knew, and the grey ones what was really happening.
    On January 21st, the number of new diagnosed cases (orange) is exploding: there are around 100 new cases. In reality, there were 1,500 new cases that day, growing exponentially. But the authorities didn’t know that. What they knew was that suddenly there were 100 new cases of this new illness.
    Two days later, authorities shut down Wuhan. At that point, the number of diagnosed daily new cases was ~400. Note that number: they made a decision to close the city with just 400 new cases in a day. In reality, there were 2,500 new cases that day, but they didn’t know that.
    The day after, another 15 cities in Hubei shut down.
    Up until Jan 23rd, when Wuhan closes, you can look at the grey graph: it’s growing exponentially. True cases were exploding. As soon as Wuhan shuts down, cases slow down. On Jan 24th, when another 15 cities shut down, the number of true cases (again, grey) grinds to a halt. Two days later, the maximum number of true cases was reached, and it has gone down ever since.
    Note that the orange (official) cases were still growing exponentially: For 12 more days, it looked like this thing was still exploding. But it wasn’t. It’s just that the cases were getting stronger symptoms and going to the doctor more, and the system to identify them was stronger.

    The same mechanism will apply here. Actual diagnoses will lag the true number of infections and if the rate of growth of true infections is steep, then the cumulative number of true infections could be a large multiple of the official tally of diagnosed cases – at least until we put the brakes on.

    The real question is, has the behavioural changes that started kicking in early last week already put the brakes on community transmission? As I said, our official stats are far too opaque. We see a total that includes chains of transmission from overseas and an every growing number of cases of unknown source – which you can bet are community transmission.

    Further problem is because our testing regime excludes people who have symptoms but have no direct connection with overseas, its missing a LOT of real infections and its missing a lot of people with mild or asymptomatic infections.

    So to be honest, I’d add a factor of 5 or 10 to the official case count. We just don’t know

    And the sad thing is, we could be testing people at random just like any other official government survey. 50,000 tests dedicated at sampling the community would put an upper bound on the hidden pool of infections and inform what we do next.

    As for your friends, well, I’d tell them to isolate themselves. Its still very likely its an ordinary cold or flu. And perhaps they could phone the doctor and do some special pleading and see if they can’t get tested.

  21. C@t we have the means to do so. We just haven’t made it enough of a priority.

    And its a damn shame because the lockdown for covid19 would be a good excuse to mass test and eradicate certain other bugs.

  22. “Cud Chewersays:
    Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 10:39 pm
    Maude.. I want to believe, but I am not sure if that is statistically significant.”

    Not yet, but the trend at least is starting to go in the right direction. If that keeps going for a week, it’ll indicate that the actions so far are having some effect.

    My suspicion is that we’re seeing a drop in the number of imported cases.

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