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Jacinda Ardern during her national address. Photo: supplied
Jacinda Ardern during her national address. Photo: supplied

PoliticsApril 8, 2020

Almost 90% of New Zealanders back Ardern government on Covid-19 – poll

Jacinda Ardern during her national address. Photo: supplied
Jacinda Ardern during her national address. Photo: supplied

New Zealand leads world in public perception of Covid-19 response,’ says pollster Colmar Brunton.

Public support for the official New Zealand response to the Covid-19 outbreak remains high, and well ahead of the world’s richest coutries, new polling suggests.

The numbers show New Zealanders’ backing for measures “far outstrips the response in any of the G7 nations”, according to Colmar Brunton. The polling company compared the response to equivalent surveys by its sister operations in Britain, the US, Italy, Canada, France, Germany and Japan, the nations that make up the G7.

See also: How is the govt handling Covid-19? The first opinion poll since NZ locked down

The poll found that 83% of respondents have “trust in the government to deal successfully with national problems”, while 88% “trust the government to make the right decisions on Covid-19”.

The average on the latter figure among G7 countries surveyed by Colmar Brunton is 59%.

The poll found that 84% of New Zealanders approve of the government handling of the outbreak, compared with 54% across the G7.

The survey echoes polling for The Spinoff by Stickybeak which showed 80% of people responding positively to the government’s response to the crisis.

Colmar Brunton polling for TVNZ in mid-February found that at that time 62% of New Zealanders felt the government had “responded appropriately to the coronavirus outbreak”.

However, 42% of New Zealanders say Covid-19 has impacted their personal income, compared with 29% across the G7 nations.

Meanwhile, 31% describe the government as “the most trusted source of reliable information about the outbreak”, compared with an average of 13% across the G7.

Almost two in three New Zealanders (64%) believe it will take more than six months to get back to normal – almost double the G7 average of 37%.

More than 90% say they are “doing what the government has asked of them to slow down the spread of Covid-19”. However, 27% said they believed the behaviour of New Zealand citizens in response to the outbreak was “poor”.

Head of Colmar Brunton Sarah Bolger said in a statement, “Around the world, the COVID-19 crisis has seen a marked rise in the public’s perception of governments, and this is very much the case in New Zealand.

“As the world struggles to come to terms with a new normal, it is heartening to see the government of New Zealand building such a high level of trust with its citizens during these most challenging of times.”

Earlier today, The Washington Post reported in glowing terms on New Zealand’s response under the headline, “New Zealand isn’t just flattening the curve. It’s squashing it”.

Anna Fifield, the Beijing and Hawkes Bay bureau chief for the paper, wrote: “It took only 10 days for signs that the approach here — ‘elimination’ rather than the ‘containment’ goal of the United States and other western countries — is working.”

It should be noted that the Colmar Brunton survey ran from April 3-5, before the first major political embarrassment for Jacinda Ardern’s government in its response to Covid-19.

The revelation that the health minister, David Clark, had breached lockdown measures by driving his family 20km to a beach, prompted Ardern to demote him to the lowest ranking in cabinet and withdraw his associate finance role. She would have sacked him from cabinet entirely had he not been integral to the Covid-19 response, she said.

There were 601 online interviews of people over 18 weighted by age within gender, ethnicity, education level and region.

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