Essential Research: coronavirus restrictions and conspiracy theories

A poll suggests a significant proportion of the population believes coronavirus was engineered in a Chinese laboratory, but other conspiracy theories remain consigned to the fringe.

Courtesy of The Guardian, some headline results of another weekly Essential Research poll on coronavirus, the full report of which should be published later today. This includes regular questions on federal and state governments’ handling with the crisis, of which we are only told that respondents remain highly positive, and on easing restrictions, for which we are told only 25% now consider it too soon, which is down two on last time and has been consistently declining over five surveys.

Beyond that, the survey gauged response to a number of what might be described as conspiracy theories concerning the virus. By far the most popular was the notion that the virus “was engineered and released from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan”, which has received a certain amount of encouragement from the Daily Telegraph but is starkly at odds with the scientific consensus. Agreement and disagreement with this proposition was tied on 39%.

Thirteen per cent subscribed to a theory that Bill Gates was involved in the creation and spread of the virus, with 71% disagreeing; 13% agreed the virus was not dangerous and was being used to force people to get vaccines, with 79% disagreeing; 12% thought the 5G network was being used to spread the virus, with 75% disagreeing; and 20% agreed the number of deaths was being exaggerated, with “more than 70%” disagreeing. The poll also found 77% agreed that the outbreak in China was worse than the official statistics showed.

The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1073.

UPDATE: Full report 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.

3,318 comments on “Essential Research: coronavirus restrictions and conspiracy theories”

  1. Ryan Struyk‏Verified account @ryanstruyk

    Reported US coronavirus cases on date:

    Feb. 22: 35 cases
    Mar. 22: 34,276 cases
    Apr. 22: 846,982 cases
    May 22: 1,645,094 cases

    Reported US coronavirus deaths on date:

    Feb. 22: 0 deaths
    Mar. 22: 413 deaths
    Apr. 22: 46,609 deaths
    May 22: 97, 647 deaths

  2. “This 50 minute interview with Stephen Colbert yesterday puts those perceptions in the bin – not bad for a 77 year old who has struggled with a chronic stutter all his life.“

    Don’t underestimate the advantage of Biden being at home all day. He can stay a lot fresher at his age than being on the road.

    And he does seem to be able to pull it all together on big occasions. But just for short periods. He is going to absolutely struggle as President.

  3. Scott Morrison’s $130b bet to save the economy

    AFR

    Government shows courage with $130b JobKeeper package

    SMH

    Federal Government offers $130b in coronavirus wage subsidies for businesses to pay workers

    ABC

    Coronavirus: PM unveils $130bn jobs package

    HERALD SUN

    $130 billion JobKeeper payment to keep Australians in a job

    The title of the PMs media release.

    Well, Australia lost 600,000 jobs and counting. The PM lied to get a pat on the back and is now pulling $60B from his promise when we need it most. $60 billion. The greatest heist of all time. Morrison the thief.

  4. > Anna’s border closure is costing QLD $50mill a day in lost tourism revenue. Hopefully Anna’s health call on this is the right way to go.

    And if their is an outbreak from opening the borders and then the lockdown has to be reinstated it will cost a lot more then 50 million/day in lost tourism revenue as the intrastate tourism will die as well.

  5. Cat here is a current comparison of NSW and QLD.
    Today nos of new cases : NSW – 2 , QLD – 2
    Nos in ICU today – NSW – 1 , QLD – 1
    Hospital cases – NSW – 20, QLD – 4
    Total Tests : NSW – 411,618, QLD – 172,212
    Active Cases : NSW – 385, QLD – 13

    I not saying open the borders tomorrow, but 28 days of no community transmission is going to be difficult to achieve in NSW and Vic in the near future.
    The premiers seem now to be going for an elimination strategy no matter the economic cost.
    I reckon suppression down to a manageable level reduces the damage to the economy may be a better option.
    What happens if a drug smuggler slips in by boat with the virus from say Mexico before the 28 days end. We start again judging by Anna’s rules.

  6. I reckon suppression down to a manageable level reduces the damage to the economy may be a better option.

    Perhaps. But if ‘elimination’ is just around the corner it must be tempting. Just a couple more weeks?

    Peeps in SA are holidaying domestically. Lots of people who otherwise would travel to QLD are travelling locally. It seems a good midway point to get tourism rolling again – without the need for peeps to get on planes.

  7. michael @ #3006 Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 – 11:34 am

    Cat here is a current comparison of NSW and QLD.
    Today nos of new cases : NSW – 2 , QLD – 2
    Nos in ICU today – NSW – 1 , QLD – 1
    Hospital cases – NSW – 20, QLD – 4
    Total Tests : NSW – 411,618, QLD – 172,212
    Active Cases : NSW – 385, QLD – 13

    I not saying open the borders tomorrow, but 28 days of no community transmission is going to be difficult to achieve in NSW and Vic in the near future.
    The premiers seem now to be going for an elimination strategy no matter the economic cost.
    I reckon suppression down to a manageable level reduces the damage to the economy may be a better option.
    What happens if a drug smuggler slips in by boat with the virus from say Mexico before the 28 days end. We start again judging by Anna’s rules.

    The problem for the Premiers is that they have put their populations through the hard yards and if relaxing things like borders causes an new outbreak and some restrictions need to be reestablished, then I don’t think the people will be as forgiving.

  8. michael @ #3007 Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 – 1:34 pm

    Cat here is a current comparison of NSW and QLD.
    Today nos of new cases : NSW – 2 , QLD – 2
    Nos in ICU today – NSW – 1 , QLD – 1
    Hospital cases – NSW – 20, QLD – 4
    Total Tests : NSW – 411,618, QLD – 172,212
    Active Cases : NSW – 385, QLD – 13

    I not saying open the borders tomorrow, but 28 days of no community transmission is going to be difficult to achieve in NSW and Vic in the near future.
    The premiers seem now to be going for an elimination strategy no matter the economic cost.
    I reckon suppression down to a manageable level reduces the damage to the economy may be a better option.
    What happens if a drug smuggler slips in by boat with the virus from say Mexico before the 28 days end. We start again judging by Anna’s rules.

    I reckon doesn’t realy cut it comrade.

    Anna said today that they are relying on the advice of their Health Officials and they are looking at what is happening around the world in other jurisdictions.

    I’ll trust political judgement based on facts over “I reckon” every day of the week.

  9. @CartwheelPrint
    ·
    1h
    The Australian reporting that we’ve now got a COVID19 recovery windfall on its front page today, is very revealing. The coverup begins. #jobkeepergate #auspol

  10. https://www.pollbludger.net/2020/05/19/essential-research-coronavirus-restrictions-conspiracy-theories/comment-page-61/#comment-3411953

    North of the border will decide what their risk appetite is i/c Wuflu, never mind the whole 30 years back in time, give or take an hour.

    Besides, there is a state election not that far off …

    In the meantime, let’s see if Trump lite downunder, Shouty Mchappyclap on a foundation of Bronte slogan bogan, will follow his mate TDJT on pushing for opening up off with the fairies!

    As in denials, delays, distractions!


  11. michael @ #3006 Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 – 11:34 am
    ….
    The premiers seem now to be going for an elimination strategy no matter the economic cost.


    You can’t do social distancing in the CBD. Death is not popular.
    The economy will not restart until the virus is eliminated.

    It is very unfortunate we have had the ruby princess, the level of incompetence displayed by the state and federal Liberal governments is unbelievable. That it what we have to live with. The lockdowns are longer the death greater because of the incompetence displayed.

    The Liberal governments incompetence continues; can’t get a stimulus right. Want a policy that is unworkable or if people believed would send us back into lockdown. The incompetence of this Liberal government is incomprehensible.

  12. The problem for the Premiers is that they have put their populations through the hard yards and if relaxing things like borders causes an new outbreak and some restrictions need to be reestablished, then I don’t think the people will be as forgiving.

    This is exactly the point. One foot wrong and Anastacia Palascjuk cops it at the ballot box because no one wants to go through lockdown all over again.

  13. McGowan on WA’s borders. (via Facebook)

    Mark McGowan
    30 mins ·
    There has been quite a bit of talk in the last few days about WA’s hard border with the eastern states, which I would like to take a moment to address.

    Firstly, to be clear, the WA roadmap to ease restrictions is based on the best health advice for our State. It’s Western Australian health advice formulated by the best health advisors in Western Australia, for Western Australia.

    Thank you for playing your part in helping to contain the spread of COVID-19 in WA. I know that this has come at a heavy toll, but thanks to your sacrifice and commitment, we are on the next step in our COVID journey.

    Easing restrictions to get Western Australians back to work is part of a staged and carefully planned roadmap for WA.

    It’s our plan to get people back to work safely and begin the process of restarting the State’s economy.

    Because of the hard work of Western Australians and our hard border with the eastern states, we led the nation on easing restrictions and other States are now playing catch up.

    In the next phase, this will mean larger gatherings, less restrictions on businesses and community sport, playgrounds opening and further reductions in regional travel boundaries within WA.

    We know the regional boundaries have been difficult for many regional communities – and if health advice supports it, we will move to reopen those regions within Western Australia as soon as possible.

    On Monday we reduced the number of regional boundaries from 13 down to four. The health advice was to reduce the boundaries in a gradual process, so any potential outbreaks of COVID-19 could be controlled.

    I hope we can reduce that number even further in coming days.

    However, it’s important to know, that at this stage no consideration is currently being given to lifting WA’s hard border with the rest of Australia.

    The WA health advice from our Chief Health Officer is clear on this: the hard border has been an effective measure as part of our success in the fight against COVID-19.

    Our hard border will likely be one of the last measures to be lifted, to ensure we protect the health of Western Australians.

    This is not something that we will compromise on just because we’re asked to by people from over east.

    The health and safety of Western Australians is and will continue to be our top priority.

    We are still seeing instances of community spread and clusters of cases in those states – and that is not something we should expose Western Australia to.

    Allowing cases of COVID-19 into WA while we are easing restrictions could potentially be disastrous – and a significant outbreak could mean we need to return to the strict conditions once again.

    The hard border won’t last forever, but for now it is important that it remains in place.

    Thank you for your patience, cooperation and understanding.

    We’re all in this together.

  14. The virus can’t be eliminated if you need the economy opened up to the world unless we have a vaccine.

    Economies will have to be opened to the world at some stage. Otherwise the economic cost will become too great.

    Older people wanting the lockdown to continue until vaccine is found are living with fairies at the bottom of the garden.

  15. Kirky @ #3019 Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 – 11:58 am

    The virus can’t be eliminated if you need the economy opened up to the world unless we have a vaccine.

    Economies will have to be opened to the world at some stage. Otherwise the economic cost will become too great.

    Older people wanting the lockdown to continue until vaccine is found are living with fairies at the bottom of the garden.

    The border shutdowns relate to people, not goods and products, so much of the economy can open up with the border still shut.

  16. International tourism into Australia is worth $44.6b then add Education and the $$$ keep mounting.

    I certainly won’t be taking any domestic holidays (have seen most of Australia) just to satisfy the government. Get me to NZ asap then the world.

  17. Here’s someone with a functioning brain, unlike the LNP fans who are now complaining that Albo wants to spend the money the gov has “cleverly” saved.

    Dee Madigan
    @deemadigan
    ·
    11m
    Because of the Govt’s $60B mistake, many people who missed out on Jobkeeper emptied out their superannuation order to survive. The cost of this, of the lost compound interest, will be almost incalculable and will cost the future budget billions and billions in terms of pensions

  18. A Nobel Laureate chips in!

    Prof. Peter Doherty
    @ProfPCDoherty
    ·
    1h
    Let’s wait a month or so before we get too het-up about the cautious approach. Anyone who thinks this is over may be in for a very nasty surprise. Daniel Andrews: Victoria’s dictator, or just a wildly popular, unstoppable political force? | Gay Alcorn

  19. Kirky @ #3021 Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 – 12:18 pm

    International tourism into Australia is worth $44.6b then add Education and the $$$ keep mounting.

    I certainly won’t be taking any domestic holidays just to satisfy the government. Get me to NZ asap then the world.

    If you think international tourism is going to bounce back to those levels, I think you’ll be in for a surprise.

    I certainly don’t expect to be able to travel easily until at least next year.

  20. GG

    When you have facts at your back in a political debate Nobel Laureates tend to back you.

    Another example is Wayne Swan with stimulus spending.

    He looks very much like an expert economic manager now.

  21. Mundo: Last year after the election I used to refer to another day in Morristan, half joking, expecting he wouldn’t last 6 month, but, here we are. And here we’ll stay.
    Welcome to Morristan.
    Have a nice day.
    ———————————————-
    Mundo’s account has been hacked! The real Mundo would never use the first person pronoun to refer to Mundo.

  22. Older people wanting the lockdown to continue until vaccine is found are living with fairies at the bottom of the garden.

    I’m going to go with ‘living’ as the key word there, and callous indifference to people living being a strong marker of an absolutely terrible human being the world would be better without.

  23. Suppression?
    .
    To risk the death rate rising from 4 to some higher figure to achieve economic comfort sooner seems premature to me. We should go all out for elimination with a realistic target date for review, if it proves too difficult.

    Elimination would allow full bore economic activity as well as minimising suffering and death.

    The death rate per million of the population. It’s one table it’s best to be last in.

    2 Belgium 795
    4 Spain 612
    5 Italy 539
    6 UK 536
    7 France 433
    8 Sweden. 389
    ……..
    10 Netherlands 338
    11 Ireland 323
    12 USA 295
    ………
    115. Australia. 4
    118. New Zealand. 4

  24. Kirky @7:04am

    “We are you so obsessed with elimination of the virus.”

    Its because if we don’t eliminate the virus we don’t get to enjoy having a fully functional economy. Instead we continue to do things such as restrict public transport capacity to a fraction of normal. As a consequence we live in a depressed economy. Plus, it would be nice to be able to safely walk the streets, yes?

    “At some point we are going to open our international bo rders. That is a given as we need the overseas tourist $$$. In the year 2018/2019 it amounted to $44.6b.”

    We are not going to be able to open our borders without requiring qurantine until such time as there is an effective vaccine and the virus has been controlled overseas. This is true whether we eliminate the virus in Australia or merely suppress it.

    “Nowhere else in the world will they have eliminated the virus.”

    They’ve already eliminated the virus in Vietnam and will do so in New Zealand. In any case when there is an effective vaccine and adequate treatment, then we can consider going from having borders with quarantine to something more “normal”. Again, eliminating the virus within Australia makes no difference to the timing. Again, if we merely suppress the virus in Australia, there is no way we can safely reopen borders without quarantine – until vaccine/treament that is.

  25. Trump openly supports Sessions’ opponent.

    Jeff Sessions@jeffsessions
    ·
    1h
    .
    @realdonaldtrump
    Look, I know your anger, but recusal was required by law. I did my duty & you’re damn fortunate I did. It protected the rule of law & resulted in your exoneration. Your personal feelings don’t dictate who Alabama picks as their senator, the people of Alabama do.

    Jeff Sessions@jeffsessions
    ·
    1h
    Tuberville’s a coward who is rightly too afraid to debate me. He says you’re wrong on China & trade. He wants to bring in even more foreign workers to take American jobs. That’s not your agenda and it’s not mine or Alabama’s. I know Alabama. Tuberville doesn’t.

  26. Kirky @1:58

    “International tourism into Australia is worth $44.6b then add Education and the $$$ keep mounting.

    I certainly won’t be taking any domestic holidays (have seen most of Australia) just to satisfy the government. Get me to NZ asap then the world.”

    None of this is worth the cost of a depressed economy. One thing you don’t factor in is that suppression means a depressed economy. Whereas elimination means being able to do things like have fully operational public transport.

    Also, suppression of the virus does not mean we can then allow people from overseas to transit our borders without going through quarantine – so it makes no difference to elimination. We will have to quarantine our borders until such time as there is an effective vaccine/treament.

    Also, having borders that require quarantine will allow students and it will allow some tourism.

    Oh and one other little kicker for you. You aren’t going to New Zealand unless Australia eliminates the virus. At least not without going through quarantine.


  27. Kirky says:
    Saturday, May 23, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    International tourism into Australia is worth $44.6b then add Education and the $$$ keep mounting.

    I certainly won’t be taking any domestic holidays (have seen most of Australia) just to satisfy the government. Get me to NZ asap then the world.

    On that reckoning the USA has taken the best option. If you live in WA you can risk your life and come to NSW. If your from Australian I am sure there will come a time when you can risk your life and go to the USA. Fourteen days isolation to come back is not a high price.

    I think asking for a couple hundred thousand to die because you want free travel is a bit much myself.

  28. “The border shutdowns relate to people, not goods and products, so much of the economy can open up with the border still shut.”

    Exactly.

    Plus its also a fact that whether we eliminate the virus or suppress it, we will have to maintain quarantine at the border until such time as there is vaccine/treatment. This is something that people like Kirky don’t get. Supression of the virus does not mean being able to safely open international borders without quarantine. That’s just not possible.

  29. frednk

    I tell you what. If I were living somewhere else in Australia – in one of the six smaller states/territories I’d be feeling a lot safer right now. And I’d be very glad there are closed borders. And I’d feel comfortable walking the street and meeting people.

    Where I live now, I don’t. We may still luck our way into elimination though.

  30. Cud Chewer
    Elimination starting to pay dividends already…..
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….
    Production Set to Restart on ‘Avatar’ Sequels

    Producer Jon Landau on Thursday posted a message on Instagram that said the sets were ready and the team behind the film was heading back to the country “next week.”

    Production on James Cameron’s long-in-the-making Avatar sequels is set to restart in New Zealand as soon as “next week,” according to producer Jon Landau.
    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/production-set-restart-avatar-2-new-zealand-1295609

  31. Cud

    Eliminate the virus and we can make some exceptions to quarantine.

    Vietnam Taiwan South Korea New Zealand The Pacific are some that would be considered. Sweden Brazil The USA not so much.

  32. “Producer Jon Landau on Thursday posted a message on Instagram that said the sets were ready and the team behind the film was heading back to the country “next week.””

    Which just goes to show that quarantine at the border doesn’t stop all movement of people.

  33. guytaur

    What I can’t invite my friend from Sweden? Oh no!

    (actually that’s a bit of an in joke. he won’t travel anywhere that it doesn’t snow)

  34. Rakalisays: Saturday, May 23, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    The US police are like untrained brats born with guns in their hands. Why can’t they just post the fine?

    .***************************************************

    In the video, a white female driver explained to the cop she was scared to move her hands in order to get her cellphone

    A police lieutenant in Georgia was caught on video telling a nervous motorist during a traffic stop saying “we only kill black people”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvBVA3wZLDE

  35. Simon

    “When can I fly to NZ?”

    Depends on whether you want to go through quarantine or not. If you don’t then you’ll have to cross your fingers and hope we luck our way into elimination.

  36. phoenixRED

    we only kill black people
    ———
    Yes, i was thinking of that when i saw the video.

    Why do they need a gun in their hand at all with a disobedient but harmless and probably self-entitled woman?

    Surely it implies you are going to shoot unless she “obeys”. It’s very bad “policing”.

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