Australian voters divided over Morrison government’s COVID performance

Half of Australians disapprove of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s handling of the COVID crisis.

A Roy Morgan survey has revealed that 51 per cent of us are unhappy with his performance because of issues with the “bungled” vaccine rollout and the perception that Mr Morrison passes blame to the states when things go wrong and takes credit due to the states when they do the real heavy lifting.

This half of the populace feel the PM doesn’t take responsibility; is not accountable for mistakes; is not honest about the source of problems and resorts to spin.

The 49 per cent who approve of his pandemic efforts do so because Australia is in a better position than much of the rest of the world; Mr Morrison acts on medical advice; and he is seen to take a “considered and proportionate response” to the threat off COVID-19.

The Morgan survey says: “A majority of younger Australians under 35 years of age, women, people in capital cities and Victoria as well as supporters of the ALP and the Greens disapprove of Morrison’s handling of the pandemic.

“However, there is majority support for Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s handling of all COVID-19 related issues among Australians aged 65 plus, people in country areas, the states of NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, as well as Liberal-National Party supporters.”

Those who supported the PM made comments such as: “Australia is the envy of the world right now – we are so incredibly lucky how we handled COVID.

“He didn’t lie about the risks and downplay it like Trump did.

“The government is doing the best they can in these completely unpredictable times. We are still better off than almost anywhere else.”

Those unhappy with the PM made comments such as: “He shirked responsibility for quarantine and bungled the vaccination program.”

“The poorly organised vaccine rollout that seems to always be changing and being pushed back.

“Vaccination rollout has been slow, confusing and disorganised.”

Read more: States’ fury over federal government vaccine misinformation

A separate Nine survey concluded that voters strongly preferred Mr Morrison as prime minister compared to Labor leader Anthony Albanese, 47 per cent to 25 per cent. The government’s primary vote has reduced from 41 per cent to 38 per cent since the last election. And Labor is stagnant at 33 per cent despite a horror two months for the coalition on sexism and sexual harassment.

Voters rank the Coalition ahead of Labor on the handling of big issues such as the economy and the pandemic.

Resolve survey designer Jim Reed says the electorate is reserving judgement on the federal government.

“If people were so angry, they wanted the Prime Minister and government booted out, they would not prefer Mr Morrison as prime minister and would be voting Labor.

“Instead, they are registering their dissatisfaction, waiting and watching. This is what makes May’s Budget and the vaccine rollout so important to both the government and the Opposition’s prospects.”

Read more: Model predicts surge in COVID cases by July

Whether you approve of the PM’s handling of the pandemic seems to reflect voting preferences at the last election, with Australians aged under 35 (61 per cent) and Victorians (62 per cent) disapproving of Mr Morrison’s handling of COVID-19 and Australians aged 65 plus (62 per cent) approving of the PM’s handling of the pandemic, said Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine.

“[Mr] Morrison also enjoys a clear advantage with a majority of people in Queensland (55 per cent) and NSW (54 per cent) approving of his handling of COVID-19.”

Those numbers reflect groups and regions that backed Mr Morrison’s win in the “climate change election” of May 2019.

Ms Levine believes that the success of the vaccine rollout and potential opening of international borders will play a “key role” in determining whether the LNP government is re-elected for a fourth term.

Discussing when Mr Morrison will call the next election, ABC News political editor Andrew Probyn says Australians have “clung” to governments who’ve kept them safe.

“They’ve seen what’s happened in Britain and the United States and are relieved, even grateful it didn’t happen here.”

Queensland, the Northern Territory, the ACT and Western Australia have all returned incumbent governments during the pandemic.

He says COVID “has reduced the Opposition to a dimly lit alley sideshow”.

Nine’s James Massola says Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s strategy is best summed up by Napoleon Bonaparte’s aphorism: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

His “under-the-radar” tactics are targeted at winning the eight seats he needs to form government.

Read more: Vaccinations for over-50s fast-tracked

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Written by Will Brodie

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