Western Australian premier Mark McGowan has maintained his enormous approval rating despite locking down two million of the state’s people over one coronavirus case.
A survey of Sandgropers on Saturday found the premier enjoyed an astonishing approval rating of 88 per cent around the time the lockdown ended on Friday.
Mr McGowan’s popularity was down only three points from his September peak and 68 per cent said they were ‘very satisfied’ with his performance – with only 7 per cent dissatisfied.
Despite locking down two million people for five days over one covid case, WA Premier Mark McGowan (pictured) enjoys an approval rate of around 88 per cent, five weeks from election
His support was highest among young people, with 91 per cent of 18-34-year-olds positive, but 83 per cent of those over 60 were still happy.
This is despite revelations hotel quarantine guards, one of whom caught the virus to spark the lockdown, were not required to wear masks, along with other failures in contact tracing and quarantine protocol.
Mr McGowan has been encouraged in his draconian border restrictions by the significant popular approval as he heads toward an election.
He famously kept borders shut for eight months, even to states with no cases in almost as many months, and closed them within hours of a single infection thereafter.
Weaponising the antipathy many in the west feel towards the eastern states, he has created legions of fans to whom he can do no wrong.
The premier’s supporters have made their presence felt on social media, even trolling journalists who asked him tough questions about the hotel quarantine failure.
People exercising in Perth on Saturday. WA ended its tough five-day lockdown of the Perth, Peel and South West regions at 6pm on Friday, but lingering restrictions remain
One post mocked West Australian journalists with an altered Far Side cartoon depicting a journalist stupidly pushing on a door marked ‘pull’.
It was captioned ‘Sums up tonight’s journalism intelligence!!’, a jab at reporters for asking the premier hard questions about the hotel quarantine breach.
More than 120 devotees piled on to troll the scribes and support the WA premier with votive offerings of praise.
‘I am totally disgusted with the moronic journalists. Last night I had to turn the TV off, I don’t know how Mark hasn’t lost it by now,’ wrote one woman.
‘My God…I nearly threw something at the TV when that journo asked if McGowan had been tested after his little cough. They do go to journalism school…don’t they?’ wrote another.
Veteran Channel 7 reporter Geof Parry read out some of the abusive tweets he got from McGowan supporters on The West Live.
‘Is Geof Parry confusing being a hard-hitting journalist with being a belligerent d**k? Let him speak, dammit,’ was one.
‘Is anyone else hoping the police commissioner jumps over the lectern and belts Geof Parry? stfu,’ another read.
Journalists asked hard questions about the premier’s decision to impose stay-at-home orders for 80 per cent of the state’s population on Sunday after a single hotel quarantine security guard tested positive for Covid.
WA ended its tough five-day lockdown of the Perth, Peel and South West regions at 6pm on Friday, but lingering restrictions remain with face masks compulsory in public and at work in Perth and Peel until Valentines Day.
Theatre queues at the Fringe Festival in Perth on Friday. Face masks remain compulsory until Valentines Day
A bushfire that began in the Perth Hills on the northeastern outskirts of the capital on Monday burnt almost 11,000 hectares and destroyed 86 homes, complicating the lockdown – but not affecting Mr McGowan’s popularity.
On Thursday, Mr McGowan said the lockdown had ‘done the job’ and apologised for any distress, loss or inconvenience.
However as the week unfolded, stories about the quarantine breach highlighted shortcomings in government policy and practice.
Still, Mr McGowan’s popularity was seemingly unaffected by the delay in the start of daily testing of hotel quarantine staff, or by his admission that security guards had not been forced to wear masks outside hotel rooms with infectious inmates.
The People’s Voice Poll was conducted by Painted Dog Research and the 88 per cent approval rating was a number that can only be dreamt of by other state leaders.
By comparison, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s approval rating was considered ‘sky-high’ at 64 per cent last year.
Premier McGowan apologised to all those who suffered a loss due to the lockdown on Thursday. Pictured: Perth cafes resumed trading on Saturday after the lockdown was lifted
Constitutional lawyer and Emeritus Professor Greg Craven put Mr McGowan’s enormous popularity at home down to Western Australia’s long-running love affair with the idea of secession from the eastern states.
‘Undoubtedly, Premier Mark McGowan is milking Covid separatism for political advantage before the March 13 election,’ he wrote in The Australian.
‘The sandgropers love excluding their fellow citizens, and love McGowan as doorman.’
Professor Craven said Western Australia had never wanted to enter federation, and in the 1930s it voted to secede.
Both times it was dragged back into the nation by the British.
WA Premier Mark McGowan’s authoritarian border closures are loved for providing a wall against the eastern states, he wrote.
‘WA is more independent now in practical terms than at any time since federation.
‘It has a Premier who revels in exerting his separatist authority and a population who loves him for it.’