The vast majority of Australians support the ongoing closure of international borders until the coronavirus pandemic has been properly contained, a new poll has found.
More than four in five Australians (83 per cent) agree that the nation’s international borders should be closed – nobody allowed in or out – until COVID-19 is under control, the Ipsos poll published Friday showed.
Just 21 per cent of Australians believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained and will soon be over, a skepticism that broadly applies around the world, according to the poll of more than 21,000 people in 28 countries.
Australia was second only to Malaysia in the strength of its support for international border closures, with 92 per cent of Malaysians backing the tough measure.
Two in three (67 per cent) of Americans supported the closure of their borders, but some countries, mostly in Europe, were less enthusiastic: only 42 per cent of those in the Netherlands and 47 per cent of those in Sweden supporting border shutdowns.
Given the economic issues caused by the pandemic, nearly eight in ten (78 per cent) of global citizens agreed that their countries should focus less on the world and more at home, a measure up five points since last year.
Australians shared the sentiment, with eight in ten of those polled agreeing the nation should turn inwards and concentrate on its own issues.
New Zealand scores top marks for pandemic response
New Zealand came out on top as the country that best responded to the threats of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Poll respondents rated Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s handling of the coronavirus highly, with nine in ten Australians agreeing that New Zealand had shown good leadership.
By contrast, just 14 per cent of Australians said they thought the United States had shown good leadership, putting Donald Trump behind China at 22 per cent and the United Kingdom at 43.8 per cent.
When it comes to the World Health Organisation’s role in leading the world through the pandemic, 56.9 per cent of Australians said they believed the international body had done a good job.
Australians’ faith in China takes a hit
As trade tensions simmer, the poll showed that the majority of Australians are concerned about China’s influence on the world.
Just 24 per cent of those surveyed said they believed the Xi Jinping-led nation would have an overall positive influence on the world.
“Given the seemingly daily escalation in the ‘trade war’ with China, this negative global perception of China no doubt resonates with many Australians at the moment,” Ipsos Australia Director, David Elliott said.
Globally, just 42 per cent of citizens said they believed China’s influence would be positive, down 11 points on last year.
The US also declined in global estimations.
Back in 2016, under an Obama administration, 64 per cent believed that the United States would have a positive influence in world affairs, which dropped to 55 per cent in 2017 after the election of Donald Trump and has deteriorated further, to 50 per cent, in 2020.
Health crisis considered top global threat
The Ipsos research also looked at threat scenarios facing the world in 2021.
The poll found the vast majority of global citizens now view a health epidemic as the top threat, followed by the threat of being hacked for fraudulent or espionage purposes which has been at the top of list for a number of years.
“It wasn’t surprising to see the threat of a health epidemic increase so dramatically and hit top spot this year, or to see further decline in perceptions of the United States as a positive influence in world affairs, given what we have seen and heard from President Trump over the last 12 months,” Mr Elliott said.
The third-most concerning threat globally is a nuclear, biological and chemical attack taking place somewhere in the world, which two-thirds of people believe is a real threat in the next 12 months.
This is followed by the threat of a major natural disaster, and a tie between violent conflict breaking out between ethnic or minority groups in their countries and personal safety and security for themselves and their family.