Three-quarters impacted by fires and new coal mines support drops

Three-quarters impacted by bushfires and new coal mines support drops: ANU

Politics
NEW POLL: 75 per cent of people have been affected by the bushfires and support for new coal mines has dropped

NEW POLL: 75 per cent of people have been affected by the bushfires and support for new coal mines has dropped

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Nearly every Australian has been touched by these fires.

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THREE-quarters of Aussies were either directly or indirectly impacted by the summer bushfire, while support for new coal mines has dropped off sharply, a new survey reveals.

In the wake of the country's unprecedented bushfires, the Australian National University asked a nationally representative sample of more than 3000 people about their views on a range of environmental issues.

Lead researcher Professor Nicholas Biddle said he suspected the impact would be widespread, but even he was still "surprised at just how far-reaching they are".

"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.

"We found that about three million people - more than 14 per cent of adult Australians - reported that they were directly exposed to this year's bushfires.

"This widespread, direct exposure includes property damage, property being threatened and being advised to evacuate."

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Indirect exposure was even more widespread, with the data suggesting more than 75 per cent of adults - more than 15 million Australians - reported some form of indirect exposure.

"This includes having a friend or family member that had property damage; having a friend or family that had property threatened; having their travel or holiday plans affected; being exposed to the physical effects of smoke; or feeling anxious or worried," Professor Biddle said.

The poll also found the greatest drop in support for new coal mines was among adults who voted for the Coalition at last year's federal election, dropping from 72 per cent support six months ago to 57 per cent.

At the same time, the environment rocketed up to either number one or two on the list of worries for about half of voters.

"Around half of respondents said the environment was the most important or second most important issue - compared to almost 42 per cent in October 2019," he said.

"There was a large increase in the amount of people who said global warming or the greenhouse effect would have an effect on them - 72 per cent in January 2020 compared to 56 per cent in 2008.

"There was also a general increase in the predicted impact and seriousness of a range of environmental issues, over both the short and the long term."

Professor Biddle said the majority of non-capital city residents shared the same view as the majority of respondents living in capital cities in relation to the three main environmental questions.

"More than half of those who live in non-capital cities think that global warming or the greenhouse effect is very serious, almost two-thirds think global warming will be a threat to them and only two-fifths think that there should be new coal mines," he said.

"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.

"We already see a shift in views regarding coal mines and the environment, but the big question will be whether these shifts are temporary or permanent."

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