Almost 80 per cent of Australians report being affected by the summer's bushfire crisis, with confidence in the government and satisfaction with the country's direction dropping, a survey has found.
Disapproval of Prime Minister Scott Morrison in particular was high, with 64.5 per cent of those surveyed saying Mr Morrison had done a "very bad" or "bad" job of handling the bushfires over the summer.
Mr Morrison was judged more harshly than the government as a whole, with 59.4 per cent of people saying the government had done a "very bad" or "bad" job in reacting to the fires.
The survey of 3000 people from across Australia comes from the Australian National University's Centre for Social Research and Methods also found that people are more likely to think that the environment and climate change are a potential threat to themselves.
Mr Morrison said on Monday that his comments about firefighters wanting to protect their towns were "misrepresented" over the summer.
"There was a bit of a pile on, but I've got thick skin and I've got work to do," he said.
While previous national disasters have led to increases in support for the government in power, the survey found fewer people indicated they would vote for the Coalition than in a corresponding survey in October last year.
The government's response to the bushfire crisis has also led to a sharp drop in trust in the institution of government, on top of a long-term downward trend, the survey found.
"Crises like the 2019/20 spring and summer bushfires have the potential to restore some of this trust, if dealt with effectively and transparently," the study's author Professor Nicholas Biddle wrote.
"However, the effect appears to have been in the opposite direction."
Confidence in "the federal government in Canberra" dropped by 10.9 percentage points from October to January, a difference researchers say is "almost unprecedented in scale given the very short time difference between the two surveys".
"The very large decline in confidence in the Commonwealth government, to me is a bigger issue than who you're going to vote for, or your views on a particular leader," Professor Biddle said.
"It takes longer to rebuild confidence [in an institution] than it might to to change views on a particular policy issue."
Just 27.3 per cent of people said they were confident in the federal government, while 40.4 per cent said they were confident in their state or territory government.
No institution could rival the trust held in rural and regional firefighting organisations, with 92.5 per cent of those surveyed saying they were confident in those on the frontline of the bushfire crisis.
In the October 2019 survey, 40.4 per cent of respondents said they would vote for the Coalition if an election was held today, but in January that dropped to 34.8 per cent.
And while more people said they would vote for Labor and the Greens than in October, votes for other parties and people who said they didn't know also increased.
In a possible further headache for the Coalition as it navigates climate change policy and the debate over whether the government should under-write a new coal-fired power station, half (49.7 per cent) of people listed the environment as the most important issue facing Australia.
That's up from 41.5 per cent in October.
The researchers are quick to say that doesn't mean all respondents think issues related to the environment are concerned for the same reasons.
One respondent said the most important issue was "the bushfire crisis and not taking enough action on climate change," while another said: "The Greenies. Not letting the cattle and the horses eat the grass to stop these fires".
More than 80 per cent of people said the bushfires were a serious issue.
There was a 13 percentage point jump in the number of people worried about the loss of vegetation or animal species or biodiversity.
While coal-fired power stations are not directly related to the bushfires, the role of coal in Australia's greenhouse emissions has been a central part of the climate change debate.
Only 37 per cent of respondents said the Australian government should allow the opening of new coal mines, down from 45.3 per cent in June 2019.
People in capital cities were less likely to support opening new coal mines than those outside the capitals.