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Economy, climate ‘more important than Covid’

By Graham Young - posted Thursday, 1 October 2020

Annastacia Palaszczuk’s tough border policies are winning support from up to three quarters of Queenslanders but that might not be enough in itself to clinch the October 31 election with the economy and climate change rated more than twice as important as vote changers.

A poll of online virtual focus groups by the Australian Institute for Progress shows voters are expecting the COVID-19 crisis to produce lasting change to Queenslander’s lives, including an exodus to the surburbs and regions with the working from home trend continuing, an increase in online shopping and an embrace of telehealth.    

In anticipation of COVID-19 playing a potentially decisive part in the Queensland state election, we polled an online virtual focus group of 251 voters, balanced for voting intention, on their attitudes to it.


Their responses were surprisingly upbeat, with a sense that it could actually be the pause that refreshes.

When prompted, three-quarters of our respondents (including 55 per cent of LNP voters) rated COVID-19 as electorally important. However, unprompted, only 18 per cent mentioned COVID as the most important issue, with the economy (38 per cent) and climate change (38 per cent) more than twice as likely to be mentioned.

It is an issue where the premier has an edge over the opposition; 65 per cent agree with Premier Palasczuk’s border closure, well ahead of the 51 per cent approving of opposition leader Frecklington’s position which was a flip-flop.

While respondents supported Palaszczuk’s border ban many also had improvements. The “border bubble” idea was supported on the basis that you can’t divide communities, but a number wanted to know why it couldn’t extend furtqher south, deeper into NSW, or why it couldn’t be porous to a much wider range of locations, so long as they weren’t hotspots.

When it comes to wider COVID policy, there is more of a divergence between the public and the state government. We asked respondents to describe the government’s policy, and then to describe their ideal policy. The difference in emphasis was enlightening.

Their analysis of the government’s policy was that it had borders as first priority and people as second. Respondents would reverse the order.


They accept the government is properly following medical advice, nevertheless they have their own tweaks.

They put more emphasis on people who are vulnerable isolating themselves, and people who have infections quarantining themselves. They also emphasise distancing, testing and masks.

There’s a saying that you should “never let a good crisis go to waste”. Our respondents see plenty of opportunities in the COVID crisis. The left push climate change agendas. This is part of the move away from materialism, as well as a perceived need to boost the economy through capital expenditure.

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This article was first published in The Australian.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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