Australians are divided on the continued closure of international borders for those vaccinated against COVID-19, research shows.
The Lowy Institute polled more than 2200 people in March on their attitudes towards the pandemic, with 41 per cent of respondents saying only those with special exemptions should be allowed to leave Australia.
Some 40 per cent said those vaccinated against COVID-19 should be free to depart, while 18 per cent said all people should be free to jet off.
Outbound travel without a special exemption from the Department of Home Affairs has been banned for more than 12 months.
Meanwhile, about 95 per cent of respondents said Australia has handled the pandemic either “fairly well” or “very well”. This is in stark contrast with the US, for which only 7 per cent of respondents expressed praise.
For Australia, this outcome was two percentage points higher than in 2020.
Australia’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 910, while more than 575,000 people have died in the US – the highest national toll in the world.
More than half of Australians also said the federal government had “done the right amount” in helping Aussies overseas return home, with just a third declaring the government had not done enough.
The poll was taken before the federal government grounded flights from India, and then – in a decision revealed just after midnight on Saturday morning – threatened to fine or jail any citizens who do try to return from the COVID-hit nation.
“As thousands of Australians continue to seek repatriation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of Australians appear to support the federal government’s current approach,” the Lowy report says.
Elsewhere, the poll also found a large majority of Australians believe the country should provide vaccine aid to the Pacific and South-East Asia.
Some 83 per cent of respondents said Australia should help Pacific Islands countries pay for COVID-19 vaccines, while 60 per cent said Australia should tip in for COVID-19 vaccinations in South-East Asia.
This is in contrast with Lowy polling in 2019 that found almost half of Australians supported a reduction in the country’s foreign aid activity.
“Over the course of the past six months, the Australian government has pledged over $800 million in funding for vaccines in Pacific Island and Southeast Asian countries,” the report says.
Lowy Institute’s COVIDpoll 2021 key findings:
- 59 per cent of Australians say the federal government has done the right amount in helping Australians overseas return home;
- 41 per cent say special exemptions should still be required to leave Australia, while 40 per cent say those with COVID-19 jabs should be free to leave;
- 95 per cent say Australia has handled the pandemic “fairly” or “very” well;
- 83 per cent say Australia should help Pacific Islands countries pay for COVID-19 vaccines and 60 per cent say it should also help in South-East Asia.