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Vast majority of Australians affected by bushfires: Poll

Canberra, Feb 18 (IANS) More than three quarters of Australian adults were affected by the nation’s bushfire crisis, according to the Australian National University (ANU) poll.

The poll asked a nationally representative sample of more than 3,000 Australians about their experiences and exposure to the recent extensive bushfires across the nation.

The fires, which burned for months, killed at least 33 people, destroyed over 3,000 homes and had a devastating impact on regional economies across Australia, Xinhua news agency reported.

Nicholas Biddle, the lead researcher, said that even he was “surprised at just how far-reaching” the impacts were.

He said they found that about 3 million people, more than 14 per cent of adult Australians, said they were directly exposed to the fires including having their property damaged or threatened or being advised to evacuate.

Analysis of the data also showed that more than three quarters of Australian adults, more than 15 million Australians, reported some form of indirect exposure.

“Nearly every Australian has been touched by these fires and many of us will be living with the effects for years and years to come,” he said in a media release.

“These fires have been unprecedented in scale and global in impact. And now our poll shows just how far and wide and how many Australians have felt the negative and long-lasting effects of this disaster, regardless of their economic, social or cultural background.”

Respondents to the poll were also asked about their attitude towards their own lives, Australia’s political leaders and the environment.

Only 27 per cent of respondents said that they were confident or very confident in the federal government.

The poll found that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s current average approval rating was 3.92 out of 10, down from 5.25 compared with the result in June 2019.

“We estimate that about 60 per cent of adult Australians were either satisfied or very satisfied with the way the country is heading in January 2020, a significant and substantial decline from 65 per cent in the October 2019 ANUpoll,” Biddle said.

On a range of 0 to 10, life satisfaction in January 2020 declined to 6.90 from a score of 7.05 in October 2019.

–IANS

sdr/

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