Australians are now far less likely to see Covid-19 as a threat to Australia’s interests than in previous years. Public attitudes towards various countries’ approaches to the pandemic have also shifted. Australians are overwhelmingly positive about New Zealand’s handling of the pandemic, with 92% saying they have handled it ‘very well’ or ‘fairly well’. Most Australians (84%) say Singapore has also handled the pandemic well. Eight in ten Australians (80%) continue to say that Australia has handled the pandemic well, though this is a 15-point decline from 2021. The strength of that sentiment has also shifted substantially, with only 24% of Australians saying that Australia has handled the pandemic ‘very well’ in 2022, compared to 65% in 2021.
Australians have mixed views of China’s handling of the pandemic, with 45% saying China has handled Covid-19 well and 54% saying it has been handled badly. The number of Australians who say China has handled Covid-19 well is unchanged since 2021, but is 14 points higher than Australians’ initial response to China’s handling of Covid-19 in 2020. The 2022 survey was fielded prior to the recent lockdowns in Shanghai and other cities in China.
In previous polling, Australians have had a very poor view of how the United States and the United Kingdom have handled the pandemic. This has improved in 2022, from a low base. Four in ten (39%) s ay the United Kingdom has handled the pandemic well, an increase of 20 points from 2021.
The United States continues to sit at the bottom of this list of countries, with 25% saying the United States has done well, an 18-point improvement since last year.
Following two years of closed borders during the pandemic, Australians appear to be shifting towards more openness and immigration. Seven in ten Australians (68%) say ‘Australia’s openness to people from all over the world is essential to who we are as a nation’, a 15-point increase from 2018. Fewer Australians (31%) now say ‘if Australia is too open to people from all over the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation’, a ten-point decline over the past four years.
There is a significant difference across generations on this question. Eight in ten Australians aged 18–44 (79%) see openness as essential to Australia’s identity, while this is a view held by 58% of Australians aged over 45.
The number of Australians calling for reduced immigration also appears to have declined over the course of the pandemic. When asked about restarting Australia’s immigration program now that borders have reopened, 46% say that the number of immigrants allowed into Australia should be ‘around the same as pre-Covid levels’. A third of Australians (33%) say immigration should be ‘lower than pre-Covid levels’, and 21% say ‘higher than pre-Covid levels’. In 2019, prior to the pandemic, in response to a different question, 47% of Australians said immigration levels were ‘too high’, while 40% said the rate of immigration was about right.
18 questions match this theme
The world is currently going through a severe health and economic crisis. When the world recovers from this crisis do you think each of the following will be more powerful, less powerful or will they be just as powerful as they were before the crisis?