Australians increasingly feel that the government is prioritising health at the expense of the economy as they look to venture away from home, new data reveals.
“In light of this view that infection and mortality rates are really starting to taper off, there’s definitely a trade-off people are starting to make in their heads in terms of health and then the economic and social aspects of lockdown,” said Catherine Douglas, C|T Group managing director of research and campaigns.
Australians have also begun to engage less in the kinds of activities associated with countries at the peak of lockdown.
There was a marked decrease in stockpiling, with 33 per cent of respondents in the latest survey saying they had stocked up on food and home essentials, compared with 43 per cent in the week before and 38 per cent in late March.
Australians are also spending less time online. Sixty-two per cent of respondents in the latest survey round said they were online more often than usual amid the pandemic, compared with 69 per cent the week before.
Survey respondents in Hong Kong showed similar changes in behaviour. Both countries are further along in containing the pandemic than most developed countries.
The C|T Group results also reveal that big business is experiencing “significant drops in the expectations people have of it”, Ms Douglas said, after originally viewing the virus as an opportunity to rebuild its battered reputation.
While at the start of the pandemic people were likely to view businesses as good corporate citizens, by the April 16-17 survey people had lowered their expectations.
Sentiment that big business was doing enough to support society at this time was at 47 per cent in the latest survey, down about 10 percentage points from data collected in early April.
“When the pandemic first hit, there was a lot of rallying around the flag as businesses went out early and boldly with big action, such as pay cuts for CEOs, but we’re seeing less of that now,” Ms Douglas said.
“There’s this growing scepticism now about what some of those early commitments really mean.”
Though the big banks’ announcement in March that they would offer loan holidays to mortgage holders was originally welcomed as positive for consumers, for example, concerns have since grown that the measure only postpones the pain of repayments rather than alleviating the pressure.
The government still enjoyed strong support for its handling of the pandemic, with 68 per cent of respondents thinking it was adequately supporting society.