Essential Research: coronavirus and attitudes to China

A major souring in Australians’ attitudes to China but little change on coronavirus (at least since last week), according to the latest Essential poll.

Another week, another Essential Research coronavirus poll — this one focusing on attitudes to China, which have notably soured. As related by The Guardian, respondents were asked if they had a favourable or unfavourable view of China’s influences on Australian life, which produced a net rating of minus 30% on trade, compared with plus 1% last August, and a net rating of minus 40% for Chinese business operating in Australia, down from minus 21%. There were also scores of minus 26% for defence, minus 36% for politics and minus 9% for culture. Conversely, the United States scored net positive scores, albeit that these were quite a lot bigger for defence (plus 29%), business (plus 15%) and trade (plus 14%) than politics (plus 2%) and culture (plus 7%).

Asked which relationship would be more beneficial to strengthen, 42% favoured the US and 18% China, compared with 38% and 28% last August. Respondents had two bob each way on trade in that 53% thought Australia “needs to do all it can to avoid a trade war with China”, with 17% opposed, but 48% felt Australia should impose retaliatory tariffs, with 22% opposed. The poll found “more than half” believe China’s trade sanctions against Australia were motivated by the government’s call for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

The poll continued its weekly suite of questions on coronavirus, recording no change on the government’s handling of the crisis, which was rated positively by 73% and negatively by 11%. Levels of concern little changed on last week (79% either very or quite concerned, down one, and 21% either not at all or not that concerned, up one). A divide appears to be opening on restrictions, with higher responses for both lifting them as soon as possible (up five to 14%) and holding off (up two to 27%). The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1087; a full report should be published later today.

Note that below this post is a dedicated thread for the Eden-Monaro by-election, which you are encouraged to use if you have something specific to say on that subject.

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.

2,091 comments on “Essential Research: coronavirus and attitudes to China”

  1. Douglas and Milko @ #1899 Thursday, May 28th, 2020 – 4:12 pm


    shellbell @ #1858 Thursday, May 28th, 2020 – 2:54 pm

    Whoever wrote the COVID evacuation plan for my son’s school is being paid by the word.

    A lawyer?

    Some poor teacher who was not quick enough to say no?

    Their slowness to speak obviously hasn’t affected their verbosity when writing.

  2. I do not know whether the accusation by Prue Goward that Peter Ables (of TNT) paid Bob Hawke’s mortgage and kid’s school fees are correct, but it is interesting that she airs them again now, when Scott Morrison would love to be bringing in Accord 2.0.

    *Random tweeting – unless she is particularly bored, probably not. and she does have a day job at the moment.
    * Wanting to support Morrison by saying his Accord will be better because he is morally superior to Hawke?
    * Wanting to say that anyone aligned with unions is venal and corrupt?

    But she is one of the first generation of DIY feminism, so her motivations do tend to be complex.

  3. Douglas and Milko says:
    Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    I do not know whether the accusation by Prue Goward that Peter Ables (of TNT) paid Bob Hawke’s mortgage and kid’s school fees are correct, but it is interesting that she airs them again now, when Scott Morrison would love to be bringing in Accord 2.0.
    I am more interested in if the allegations are true than in deciphering Gowards motivations for revealing the information now rather than earlier. Surely an irrelevance really. From reading the article she wrote it indicated that her understanding was that Abeles made the payments while Hawke was head of the ACTU not when he was PM.

    If it is true it also makes a review of any involvement that Hawke had in the union negotiation with Abeles’ companies worthy of some interest.

  4. Of course one reason why Goward reveals the information after Hawkes’ death is that perhaps she was worried that Abeles lied to her and that she would then be open to being sued.

  5. Douglas and Milko
    The Accord MkI was between Labor and the Unions. Whatever Frankenstein Scrott comes up with it will be version 1.0.

  6. Continuo
    I would assume if a CES type service was available that when placing a worker they would provide a letter of offer which outlined the employees wages and conditions. If after starting employment the offer was not upheld, off to the tribunal.
    Common sense says they would have a responsibility to not allow businesses to undercut awards

  7. C@tMomma

    E.G. Theodore,
    You should be able to access this page, even if you don’t have a subscription:

    It has graphs of the sort of thing you have just annotated about seperate American states.

    Thank you for pointing that out.

    Actually I’d looked at it a while ago, concluded that it had problems and then consequently (or at least subsequently) forgotten about it.

    The main problem is that it doesn’t account for rate of change (i.e. first and second derivatives*). I think that this is important since the underlying COVID19 process is unstable (as far as I can see) and it would seem to follow that it is always doing something (i.e. accelerating or slowing).

    THere can be stability in the data – e.g. constant growth – for example if one is hard up against test capacity.

    * I’d add the third derivative too, but that would make me a jerk!

  8. John Lyons
    This is a very sad day for rural and regional Australia. Many local councils will now be able to get away with things they would not previously have been able to do. All politicians need to be held to account. The public matters. So does journalism. #auspol

  9. Martin Ferguson – one of the key figure in the “accord” between government and unions during the Hawke-Keating era….

    Martin Ferguson appointed to Fair Work panel:
    12 March 2020 –

    Former ACTU president and business lobbyist Martin Ferguson has been appointed by the Coalition to the Fair Work Commission’s annual minimum wage review expert panel for five years.

    Attorney-General Christian Porter said Mr Ferguson, a former federal ALP Cabinet Minister who works for the resources and tourism sector, would be joined by labour market academic Mark Wooden and Deloiite partner Adele Labine-Romain as new part-time members of the panel.

    Mr Ferguson has come into conflict with the labour movement in recent years, backing penalty rate cuts by the commission; attacking the CFMEU; claiming union influence over Labor is “out of control”; calling on the Coalition to impose new limits on industrial action, and backing employers in their fight with unions over the rights of casuals.

    One can see why Ferguson is a good fit with the FWC and has been selected by the Coalition to be a member of one of its panels.

    Is Ferguson still a member of the ALP – the party of, and for the workers?

  10. Continuo
    I would hope that if we ever had another government smart enough to introduce a CES type agency to assist in not only placing willing participants into appropriate jobs, that they would also ensure the letter of offer included basic information such as pay and conditions. If the employer didn’t live up to the offer the employee would have something to back up any industrial dispute.
    I would also love to see the government do something proactive in the areas of job and skill training based on detailed data around true unemployment and participation rates.

  11. lizzie says:
    Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 6:39 pm
    John Lyons
    This is a very sad day for rural and regional Australia. Many local councils will now be able to get away with things they would not previously have been able to do. All politicians need to be held to account. The public matters. So does journalism. #auspol

    The really sad days occurred earlier when Murdoch media acquired all these local newspapers. Many of them would have been published for a long time before the Murdoch takeovers.

  12. Bill Kelty, another key figure…..

    Bill Kelty says Bill Shorten, Labor threw away federal election:

    Former ACTU secretary Bill Kelty has revealed he urged Bill Shorten to modify Labor’s franking credits ­policy, declaring that Labor “threw away” the May ­election.

    Mr Kelty, a mentor and ­confidant of the former ALP ­leader, told The Australian’s business magazine, The Deal, that he raised his concerns with Mr Shorten ­before the election because he felt Labor was penalising people on low incomes and “insulting” them by calling them the “top end of town”.

    Mr Kelty likened the voter backlash against the franking credits policy to the depth of ­community opposition to John Howard’s WorkChoices policy, which cost the Coalition government the 2007 election, but he said he had been “incapable of convincing” Mr Shorten to alter the policy. Mr Kelty said genuine tax reform should be about fundamental changes to the taxation system, not Mr Shorten’s agenda of hiking up some taxes to fund spending increases.
    Mr Kelty said Labor should have built in a provision that protected people who were not well off. “You have to have a provision that protects those people because you are taking money off them,’’ he said. “You don’t design your tax system for low-paid people; you design your tax system for ­middle-class Australia.

    “That’s (Bob) Hawke and (Paul) Keating lesson No 1.”

  13. Pegasus @ #1919 Thursday, May 28th, 2020 – 6:51 pm

    Bill Kelty, another key figure…..

    Bill Kelty says Bill Shorten, Labor threw away federal election:

    Labor “threw away” the election partly because they believed the polls, which were telling them what they expected to hear.

    There is an interesting parallel there with the current government and their astonishing $60 billion dollar blunder … Why bother checking when you are being told what you were expecting to hear?

    Hopefully, Labor will never, ever make the same mistake again. But, one suspects they will 🙁

  14. This is another example of the cover-up being more politically damaging than the original sins.

    The ACT Government has called on Opposition police and emergency services spokesperson Guilia Jones to quit the portfolio after it was revealed that she lost her driver’s licence earlier this year for multiple speeding offences.

    Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury said Mrs Jones could no longer credibly hold the position and should accept responsibility for her actions and resign.

    ”Given the impact road trauma has on police and emergency services, it is not credible for Mrs Jones to retain the portfolio given her track record,” Mr Rattenbury said

    In posts to social media, Mrs Jones had told how she had taken to riding a bike to work and how much she had enjoyed it.

    But it was revealed this week that she had had her licence suspended for three months after she was caught committing multiple low-range speeding offences.

    She now has her licence back, has issued an apology and the Canberra Liberals say she will be continuing in the role.

  15. Is New Zealand the Ireland of the South Pacific?
    Dire poverty is prevented through the emigration of a large proportion of the population

  16. John Howard was not the only ‘significant other’ in her life. She married his Press Secretary, perhaps a gunshot wedding?

    The National Coalition for Gun Control says lessons should be learned from criminal charges laid against the husband of New South Wales Community Services Minister Pru Goward.

    “David Barnett was charged with not keeping a firearm safely after a police inspection at the couple’s farm at Yass, north of Canberra.

    Ms Goward advised the NSW Parliament of the situation late yesterday.

    “Local police carried out an inspection of our family farm at Yass with my husband David Barnett,” Ms Goward told the Lower House.

    “My husband has a firearm’s licence with registered firearms. Although locked, his gun safe contained a loaded rifle and also housed live ammunition.

    Guns are required to be stored unloaded in a gun safe, with ammunition locked away in a separate location.

  17. March 2015: Union call to expel minister-turned-lobbyist Martin Ferguson from Labor

    Victoria’s union chiefs have unanimously called on Labor to expel Rudd-Gillard frontbencher Martin Ferguson from the party as anger rises over recent comments savaging the ALP and the trade union movement.

    Mr Ferguson, a former ACTU president and federal resources minister, describes himself as “Labor to the bootstraps” despite now working as a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry and representing companies including Shell, Exxon Mobil, Woodside and BHP.
    Tensions spilled over this week, with Mr Ferguson publicly supporting the reinstatement of the hardline Australian Building and Construction Commission, claiming the militant construction union must be “brought to heel”.

    Martin Ferguson – a Labor man through and through lol

  18. Barney in Tanjung Bungasays:
    Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 6:32 pm
    “I still can’t see how gun is an appropriate first response to someone with a knife.

    They have other means they could have tried first.”

    They tried non-lethal methods – a bean-bag round and he didn’t drop the knife.

    Pretty sure that the Police do not want to shoot people like that but when they are threatening to stab someone else something has to be done that stops them.

  19. Would be a bit hard for Daniel Andrews to implement a wage freeze when he and his ministers are getting a 4.8 % increase in July. This is on top of the 7% awarded in Sept last year.

  20. BKsays:
    Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    The interesting country in that graph is Sweden given their policy approach.

    And before you all tee off I am not proselytising for their approach.

  21. One thing I don’t like about the Greens, is that they use Facebook for their operations and press releases.

    Facebook is one rung above Murdoch organs in my view, and I refuse to subscribe to either.

  22. more sh!t from china, eh? -a.v.

    A B.C. Supreme Court judge has delivered a major blow to Meng Wanzhou, ruling that extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive should proceed.

    In a widely anticipated decision on so-called double criminality, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said the offence Meng is accused of by American prosecutors would be considered a crime if it occurred in Canada.

    Our dismal relationship with China just got a whole lot worse – Meng Wanzhou lost the first round in her bid to avoid extradition to the United States on Wednesday. But it’s clear the B.C. court ruling doesn’t help the Trudeau government much either.

    Relations between Canada and China are arguably at their lowest point since the prime minister’s father was prime minister and established diplomatic ties back in the early 1970s. The ruling already has led to warnings about blowback from Beijing — especially for detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

    Both are accused of violating China’s national security. Unlike Meng, they aren’t free to move about — as she did this week while posing with a bevy of friends and colleagues on the courthouse steps in Vancouver for a photographer.

  23. I see that Dictator Xi’s persistent attempts to turn Hong Kong from being a democracy to being a police state are heating up.

  24. P1
    Piggy Muldoon said that the 15% of New Zealanders who lived in Australia raised the IQ in both countries by 10%
    (A joke I first heard when Bertie James left the Wallsend Police and joined the Federal Caucus in 1960)
    Perhaps it is only the more miserable New Zealanders who come here

  25. av

    Main message: If you are a Canadian citizen in China then you have the potential to be used as a hostage by China regardless of your personal behaviour.

    Enter China at your own risk.

  26. boerwarsays:
    Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 7:08 pm

    Unfortunately for the Hong Kong and Macau and can’t see China being stopped from doing whatever they want to. China is economically too important to global trade for any action on the economic sanctions front and certainly there’s not going to be any military action by another nation.

    Protesting is just going to make the CCP even more angry.

    My advice to anyone would be to leave early.

  27. Earlier discussion about the CES, the one and only time I entered a CES was a positive experience.

    I’d hitchhiked to Darwin as a youth, and was low on money – so I went to the CES there. On entering, I didn’t make it to the counter before a guy pulled me up and said ‘Do you want a job?’ Yes, that’s what I’m here for. ‘Come with me’ he said, and sure enough, a job storeman/packing in a plumbers store was offered with immediate start.

    The fellow who tapped me, always have loved that term since it happened to me, said quite a few employers would send staff to hang out at the CES on the off chance someone would wander in.

  28. OMG

    7:30 is going to run a “soft” story on how wonderful it is to go on a cruise ship and why worry about it..


  29. Buce
    Who would take 7.5 million Hong Kong residents?
    The 64 billionaires could, presumably, shift shop.
    Not the ordinary people.

  30. sprocket_ @ #1932 Thursday, May 28th, 2020 – 7:04 pm

    One thing I don’t like about the Greens, is that they use Facebook for their operations and press releases.

    Facebook is one rung above Murdoch organs in my view, and I refuse to subscribe to either.

    I don’t call it fakebook, for nothing. I, too, have as little to do with it as possible. It’s sooo shallow. People feel the need to comment on any old thing other people put up.

  31. Global sport is a massive industry, and like tourism, it has been shutdown by the pandemic.

    German soccer, Korean baseball and UFC are the only sports being broadcast to the world – now to be joined by our very own Rugby League.

  32. After all the govt found 60 billion dollars. Surely they can extend jobseeker and jobkeeper beyond that timeframe.

    Stephen Jones MP

    $250B loan deferrals expire in October
    $60B in small businesses loans

    This all comes to a head at the same time as JobKeepr is axed and JobSeeker is slashed.

    Slogans won’t stop this fiscal cliff.

  33. C@t

    I have never had a Facebook account.

    And share the following sentiments………….

    Ben Rhodes
    · 5h
    History will record Mark Zuckerberg as a singularly destructive force.…

    Quote Tweet

    Tommy Vietor
    · 6h
    Facebook’s own research shows the platform is polarizing the country and driving people into extremists groups, but Zuckerberg is more worried about being called mean names by Trump.
    1:31 PM · May 28, 2020·Twitter for iPhone

  34. BK

    “You’d have to say Australia’s doing fairly well. It would be a shame to waste the effort.”

    Try this

    The ones that are succeeding are the ones that are “dropping off”.

    Sadly though BK, we are really on a knife edge. We might luck our way into elimination. But if we don’t then a second (and possibly larger) wave is a very real possibility. By the time we realise that we’ve gotten too slack and we’ve got too many people in crowded places, it’ll be March all over again, only this time we won’t shut things down until we’re well into the disaster zone.

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