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. Cud Chewer

    You just need to persuade them to finally sign up to the Commonwealth. They left a space on the original documents for NZ. Good luck 🙂

  2. Assantdj @ #3093 Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 – 4:29 pm

    Is this a facetious comment or don’t you understand that business needs money to continue operating.

    I don’t consider keeping any particular business (or type/class of businesses) operating to be a valid political decision-making concern.

    The government’s there to provide defense, essential infrastructure and services, and direct public money to where it provides the most public good. They’re there for the good of the people, not the good of the people’s profit-making entities.

    If keeping travel local makes sense from a public health standpoint, fair enough. Whether or not doing so benefits small/local domestic businesses shouldn’t factor, imo. At least not insofar as the government’s role in that decision is concerned.

    In small towns and rural regions lack of customers are killing small towns.

    Not the politicians’ (or the public health officials’) concern.

  3. Cud Chewer

    We could always voluntarily surrender to NZ and Jaz could rule all of it?
    ———-
    Actually if NZ joined, Canberra would be roughly equidistant between Perth and Wellington wouldn’t it? But they would not be that stupid.

  4. steve and PhoenixRed: The driver who smashed into Hijab House is named Sabry Moustafa Nassar: all three of those names are typically given to Muslims. It can be the case that Arab Christians might be called Nassar, but probably not Moustafa, which is one of the many names of Mohammed.

  5. No I’m not Adam Creighton and yes I have an 83 year old mother who has stayed at home (normally goes out for medical appointments only).

    The thing is if we have a second wave, we won’t being doing another lockdown, the economy won’t be able to take/absorb it.

    We have thrown a whole stack of people on the scrap heap who won’t get a job once we come out of this. What about their mental health issues?

    It is time to get things going again.

    I wonder – how many of you have downloaded the app?

  6. kirky: “I wonder – how many of you have downloaded the app?”

    Not many on PB, because it has nasty Liberal germs all over it. If Jacinda was offering the app, they’d all snap it up.

    Because the only way most posters on here can think about coronavirus, just like any other subject, is in terms of tedious partisan party politics.

    Talking about the political aspect of coronavirus: gee the Victorians are doing well, aren’t they? Thank goodness for Daniel Andrews!

  7. Re Meher Baba @4:40. I saw that in the later article linked by Phoenix. Yes, the driver has a Muslim name. The charges being brought are for driving offences. We’ll hear more about it in due course.

  8. Kirky

    “The thing is if we have a second wave, we won’t being doing another lockdown, the economy won’t be able to take/absorb it.”

    This flies in the face of reality. Two weeks before our state governments took action, people were already voting with their feet. They were staying home. Food courts emptied. Public transport figures collapsed. If we head toward a second wave, there will be a lockdown again, regardless of how slow our politicians act.

    “We have thrown a whole stack of people on the scrap heap who won’t get a job once we come out of this. What about their mental health issues?”

    You don’t want that to happen? Then pray as hard as you can we don’t have a second wave. Even better still, pray that we eliminate the virus. Because if we don’t then the measures needed to prevent a second wave will also keep us in recession.

    I was also hoping at this stage that you would kindly concede that our international borders are going to involve quarantine until such time as there is an effective vaccine. And therefore it makes no difference whether we eliminate the virus or merely suppress it.

  9. Well I not surprised – not wanting to download the app, keep the lockdown going so they can see their grandchildren’s futures destroyed.

    Whilst I generally centre left in my political views, on this one I’m starting to come round to the view of natural selection.

    One of the reasons we don’t have the no of cases as overseas is due to our population density – a massive factor.

  10. Barney in Tanjung Bunga @ #3012 Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 – 1:13 pm

    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.

    C@tmomma @ #3018 Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 – 1:26 pm

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

    I am a little suspicious that Dutton is stirring up RE-OPEN THE BORDERS NOW! to sabotage QLD’s lock down efforts and pin the blame on the Palaszczuk Labor government during the state election later this year.

    –––––––––

    Kirky @ #3020 Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 – 1:28 pm

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

    Haven’t heard anybody arguing for that, only for elimination.

    The real loons in this debate are the ones who think they can bargain with a microbe.

    The thing is if we have a second wave, we won’t being doing another lockdown, the economy won’t be able to take/absorb it.

    Which is why we have to get it right with the first lock down.

    –––––––––

    Cud Chewer @ #3033 Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 – 2:16 pm

    Plus, it would be nice to be able to safely walk the streets, yes?

    After the NT was declared officially virus-free a couple of days ago, I went on my first serious outing in weeks to a shopping centre yesterday arvo. There was a moderate level of customers, neither sparse nor crowded, and while social distancing and hand sanitisers and general caution are still very much in play, the relieved and relaxed vibe was clearly there too.

    I commend it to rest of Oz. Don’t settle for less from your pollies. 🙂

    –––––––––––

    Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack this morning attacked Labor for politicising the China relationship, saying it was a “Team Australia” moment.

    MickMack pisses in his own boot again.

  11. Apologies for my bad-tempered post a few minutes ago. Well, I’ve gotten that out of my system for now.

    But I do have a point: I think what’s happened in Victoria indicates how ill-advised it is for people to try to make political capital from any development with the virus.

    The same applies to Gladys and the other Liberals currently having a go at Annastacia.

    It’s stupid politics because – outside of obvious things like compulsory quarantine for international arrivals – nobody knows for sure which control measures are the most effective and what the risks are of easing back on them.

    I don’t think governments have any choice but to gradually lift the controls. But I sympathise with those who want to do this slowly and carefully.

  12. Kirky, where are these mental health issues you mention? And how would they compare to the mental health issues of people would would lose a loved one if we opened up? Or the mental health issues of people have long lasting effects of contracting COVID? Or the mental health issues of people worried they might catch it if we opened up?

  13. “One of the reasons we don’t have the no of cases as overseas is due to our population density – a massive factor.”

    This is your way of pretending a second wave can’t happen here? Australia is one of the most heavily urbanised countries in the world – more so than the US even.

    I can guarantee you that a second wave in Australia will start on public transport. Unless of course we make public transport “covid safe”. Which then means we live with permanently hobbled CBDs. You make a lot of noise about the terrilbe effects of an economic downturn yet you can’t see that the price of suppression is recession.

  14. “Kirky, where are these mental health issues you mention? And how would they compare to the mental health issues of people would would lose a loved one if we opened up? Or the mental health issues of people have long lasting effects of contracting COVID? Or the mental health issues of people worried they might catch it if we opened up?”

    PeeBee Not to mention the mental distress of remaining permanently isolated because the virus hasn’t been eliminated – which I can tell you is very real.

  15. The much lauded – by Morrison and his cheer squad – National Cabinet has apparently either not discussed State border closures, nor any timetable to lift them in a coordinated manner.

    I’m sure the CPG will grill Morrison about this at his Headland Speech at the Press Club on Tuesday.

  16. All those countries in Europe, apart from Sweden, i think, are trying to suppress the virus.

    They have massive death rates. Their problem is they locked down too late. Eliminating the virus, if possible, is not throwing young people on the scrap heap. If successful, it will give them greater economic security.

  17. Well-informed Australians will be noting that about 76% of the 500-odd active Covid cases are in NSW, with about 19% in Victoria and the other 5% (just 27 cases) scattered across three of the remaining states. By world standards even NSW is doing well. However, I can see why Qld and other States are in no hurry to open their borders, especially to NSW.

    https://www.covid19data.com.au/

  18. We have eliminated in SA and still have lockdown. Just ridiculous situation.

    You know what you do for pubs, gym etc? If you don’t have the app, no entry. End of story.

  19. Meanwhile in plague free SA:

    With eased coronavirus restriction allowing for more diners in South Australian restaurants, cafes and pubs, larger businesses will soon have more clarity around the number of customers they can accommodate.

    With the state’s second stage beginning on June 5, Premier Steven Marshall said the “more flexible” guidelines will be released on Monday.

  20. JM

    “After the NT was declared officially virus-free a couple of days ago, I went on my first serious outing in weeks to a shopping centre yesterday arvo. There was a moderate level of customers, neither sparse nor crowded, and while social distancing and hand sanitisers and general caution are still very much in play, the relieved and relaxed vibe was clearly there too.”

    I envy you. And its not like my NZ friends aren’t rubbing it in either.

    I went to Nobby’s Beach the other day for a walk. I cannot drive so my mum had to drive me there and wait in the car. First time in 2 months I’ve actually enjoyed a bit of freedom.

    And when I was walking along Bathers Way I thought to myself “is that person from Sydney?”. I know its a very small risk but its a risk my mum won’t allow me to take – for her sake. So unless Sydney continues to progress toward elimination I’m going to be isolated for many months to come.

    I wonder if the likes of Kirky realise how much distress this causes?

  21. Has Labor chucked it in yet?
    Or are they hanging around still pretending to be the opposition?
    Mundo is curious that’s all….been busy all afternoon.

  22. Kirky

    Something else you need to get straight.
    Everyone having the app does not mean the virus can be contained. That’s false security.

    Everyone being tested, yes. And I would happily have right of entry upon proof of testing. Its not like getting tested is a big deal.

  23. Regarding our population density, let’s do a back of the envelope calculation.

    The Sydney and Melbourne Metro areas are about 10,000 km each (which includes some National Parks). The combined area of all of Australia’s capital metro areas might be double this, say 40,000 sq km. Let’s say 70,000 sq km to include the larger non-capital metro areas like the Gold Coast and Newcastle.

    Australia’s land area is about 7,000,000 sq km. Of our 25.7 million people, 85% (those classified as living in urban areas) live on 1% of the land area. Admittedly the 1% is in smaller chunks scattered over the whole, but even so our wide open spaces can’t save us

  24. sprocket_ @ #3120 Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 – 5:08 pm

    One for you ShellBell if you’re around…

    ” rel=”nofollow”>

    If Mundo was down at Labor HQ in NSW he’d be seeing to it that a parody DT was published on social media every time one of these came out.
    I’d have one of Joshy pulling numbers from a hat like a magician for this one.
    Anticipate. Go hard. Go early. The Amazing Josho and his Vanishing Billions…

  25. We haven’t had a case since 22nd April, we have eliminated.

    The app is sufficient and everyone is not going to get tested. Get real.

  26. Kirky:’We have eliminated in SA and still have lockdown.’

    You don’t know that.

    The longer you don’t get detect cases the more chance you have elimination. But you are not sure until testing is fairly comprehensive.

  27. Suffer the little children (even if they’re 20 and 6’2″):

    My 20-year-old son is a strapping 6-foot-2-inch, 190-pound man, with a permanent five o’clock shadow, palms callused from fitness training and hair on his chest. Not surprisingly, he did not fit on the small bed in the pediatric emergency room.

    But that was the least of our worries as his blood pressure dropped and his blood levels of troponin and B.N.P., biomarkers associated with heart attacks, rose. When his doctor explained he might need a drug to help his heart contract, I thought I might faint.

    It was a Friday night, two weeks ago, and he was suffering from what doctors are calling multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare but growing condition linked to Covid-19. But he is no child, and the illness was so new it did not yet have an official name.

    …As we contemplate such decisions as reopening schools, we must factor in the new risk of MIS-C. Our children — whether in kindergarten or college — are in far more danger than we realized. On May 7, the same day my son was hospitalized, a 5-year-old boy died in a nearby hospital, becoming the United States’ first known victim of the syndrome. How many others will there be?

    MIS-C is thought to be a delayed overreaction of the immune system to Covid-19 that can cause a deadly heart inflammation and a kind of toxic shock.

    Doctors have identified a range of symptoms. The most common is a fever. Others can include rashes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, swollen glands, swollen hands or feet, bloodshot eyes, a strawberry-colored tongue and red, cracked lips. My son’s case began with swollen glands and soon progressed to a high fever.

    …But how did my son end up with a deadly syndrome as yet unmapped and unnamed?

    He had an extremely mild case of Covid-19 in March, while in quarantine with college friends, and in April he tested positive for antibodies. We thought that was the end of it. We considered him the lucky one, the one with presumed immunity.

    Instead, his immune system went into overdrive.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/21/opinion/mis-c-coronavirus-children.html

  28. mundo

    This is how the media is reporting Chalmers.

    Sky News Australia@SkyNewsAust
    ·
    5h
    Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers says the JobKeeper program has been “badly implemented, badly communicated and badly budgeted” which shows you cannot trust “a bad government with a good idea”.

    NewsCorp provided this pic of Chalmers.

    Paul Bongiorno@PaulBongiorno
    8m
    Could you not find a less flattering picture?

  29. Apparently Dominic Cummings, he’s the one behind the crazy Bozo – pulling the strings – is in a touch of strife by flaunting the lockdown rules.

  30. That case was someone who returned 20th March from overseas. It isn’t effectively counted – he was shedding and not infectious.

    The last known case was 22nd April.

  31. “So what is the timeline/length for when it is eliminated. Give me a number?”

    According to the WHO its 28 days. Now if you’re asking me when I’d personally feel safe wandering Sydney and getting friendly with the locals there. About 6 or 7 weeks of zero community transmissions.

  32. “That case was someone who returned 20th March from overseas. It isn’t effectively counted”

    That person wasn’t quarantined and had had contacts.

    As I said, SA is very close. But technically, no.

    And I take it that you’re in favour of maintaining quarantine between SA and NSW.

  33. The person in question did originally go into quarantine and had only 5 contacts as he was a new immigrant.

    SA hasn’t had a community transmission since late March.

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