ANU: Confidence in Government plunges to new low during COVID-19

Satisfaction with the direction of the country and confidence in the Federal Government has plummeted, new analysis from The Australian National University (ANU) has found.

The study, examining the views of more than 3,400 adults, found that in January 2022 a little more than three-in-10 Australians (34.5 per cent) had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the Federal Government.

“This is down from a peak of 60.6 per cent in May 2020 and lower than in October of last year,” study co-author Professor Nicholas Biddle said.

“In fact, this is only slightly above the level of confidence prior to the pandemic and during the Black Summer bushfires, when only 27.3 per cent of Australians had confidence in the Federal Government.

“What’s also interesting is that between October 2021 and January 2022 there was a large decline in confidence in hospitals and the health system, the largest we have seen during the pandemic.

“Although people are still quite confident in the health system, clearly the handling of the pandemic and the ongoing wave of Omicron infections is starting to take a real toll on how all major institutions are viewed by Australians.”

The study also showed that between October 2021 and January 2022 there was a large decline of satisfaction with the direction of the country with 63.6 per cent of Australians satisfied or very satisfied.

“These levels are just above the levels of satisfaction during the third wave of infections in Australia in August 2021 and during the bushfires of 2019/2020,” Professor Biddle said.

“One of the potential reasons for this drop in satisfaction with the direction of the country is that respondents don’t feel that key institutions are handling the pandemic as well as they have in the past, or as well as they should be doing given the current circumstances.”

The survey, which forms part of the longest and largest study on the impact of the pandemic in Australia, also examined how many Australians expected to be infected with COVID-19. It found 80 per cent of people thought they’d be infected in the next six months.

“This is a doubling compared to October 2021, when two-in-five, or 40 per cent, of Australians thought they would be infected,” study co-author Professor Matthew Gray said.

“Our study also shows 56 per cent of adult Australians had taken a RAT or PCR in the last three months, but 22.4 per cent of adult Australians could not get tested when they wanted to.

“And in the three months to January, the national rate of those who had received a positive COVID-19 test result was 7.7 per cent.”

According to the study, the age group with the highest rate of COVID-19 during the Omicron period was those aged 18 to 24 years, with almost double the rate (14.4 per cent) of the national population.

COVID-19 positive rates were also higher for those aged 25 to 34 and to a lesser extent 35 to 44 years, with all other age groups having a lower rate than the national average.

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