Essential Research: Newstart, robodebt, social media

More evidence that voters favour social democratic policy options, right up until polling day.

The fortnightly Essential Research poll, which is still yet to resume results for voting intention, focuses largely on questions around social security. Among its findings are that the Newstart rate is deemed too low by 58%, about right by 30% and too high by 5%. Forty-four per cent expressed strong support for an increase from $280 per week to $355, a further 31% said they somewhat supported it, and only 18% said they were opposed, 7% strongly.

I don’t normally make anything out of breakdowns published in average sample polls, but it’s interesting to note that the “too low” response increases progressively across the three age cohorts to peak at 66% among the 55-and-over. There was also a relationship between age and correct answers to a question in which respondents were asked to identify the weekly Newstart payment, the overall result for which was 40%, up from 27% when it was previously asked last June. Only 29% of Coalition voters expressed strong support for an increase compared with 55% for Labor supporters, but the difference was narrower when combined with the “somewhat” response, at 84% to 68%.

On the Centrelink “robodebt” debt recovery program, 58% supported calls for it to be shut down compared with 32% opposed. Twenty-two per cent said they had heard a lot about the program and 30% a little, while 18% said they had not heard any details and 30% that they were not aware of it at all.

The one question not relating to social security covers social media companies’ collection of personal information, with 80% expressing concern about the matter and the same number wanting tighter regulation. The affirmative response for both questions progressively increased across the three age cohorts.

Also noteworthy from the poll is that Essential Research has taken to publishing “base” figures for each cohort in the breakdown, which evidently reflect their proportion of the total after weightings are applied. This is at least a step in the direction of the transparency that is the norm in British and American polling, in that it tell us how Essential is modelling the overall population, even if it doesn’t divulge how much each cohort’s responses are being weighted to produce those totals.

The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from an online sample of 1102 respondents.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

533 comments on “Essential Research: Newstart, robodebt, social media”

  1. For example, the spokesperson component of Spokeswinger Folau’s contract has some value. So it could be:
    – restriction on Spokeswinger Folau’s public statements is deleted
    – obligation for Spokeswinger Folau to act as spokesperson for RA is deleted
    – consideration for Spokeswinger Folau to act as spokesperson for RA is deleted

    So we end could with:
    – Mr Folau (no longer a Spokeswinger) only plays Rugby and doesn’t represent RA off field
    – consideration for Mr Folau is reduced commensurate with reduction in role, $1m instead of $4m…

  2. Please refer to the ratio decidendi of the judgment before making uninformed comment.

    I’m not saying that the High Court’s decision was wrong. I’m saying that the public service rules are flawed. In theory they are supposed to protect the the public, but in practice they are used to mollify thin-skinned senior officials.

  3. One would think that if you can be sacked for anonymously tweeting about your personal political beliefs (because of some small, notional potential for your real identity to be discovered), then you can be sacked for going sgainst one of the principle tenets of your employer’s Mission Statement, to wit Israel Folau.

    If you can contract away your right to express a political opinion, then surely you can contract away your right to express a religious opinion.

    What’s needed is not a reform of religious freedom, but of all workplace laws that seek to restrict their employees’ activities in their private time.

  4. Looks like the RW religious lobby is doing a bit of indoctrination of its own:

    Anti-PC packs to be sent to 500 NSW schools to stop ‘indoctrination’

    An information pack launched by Mark Latham will be sent to 500 P&C groups in NSW to stop “radical transgender indoctrination”.

    2 hours ago by Alexandra Smith

    (SMH headline – whole article at

  5. if you didn’t want the Bombs dropped, then you wanted the War to be ended conventionally.

    I haven’t expressed a view on the question of whether the atomic bombs saved millions of lives overall. What I’ve said is that it is ghoulish to aver, as Boerwar did, that he celebrates the use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Arguing that using atomic bombs was a regrettable necessity in order to save millions of lives in net terms is very different from celebrating the use of the atomic bombs.

  6. “Banking royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne has launched a rare attack on the political establishment, accusing it of being captured by vested interests, destroying public faith in institutions and reducing policy to three word slogan”

    Near the end of the article Justice Haynes says “Policy ideas seem often to be framed only for partisan or sectional advantage with little articulation of how or why their implementation would contribute to the greater good,” said Justice Hayne.”

    If I might insert my own comment, I no longer believe that the Federal Government has any interest in the “greater good” unless it aligns with the good of its donors and constituency, or contributes to the “greater bad” for its opponents.

  7. Nicholas
    The HC did “set up an expectation” . They were stating a belief that online anonymity is never definite or permanent. That belief in Banerji’s case became a fact. The coworker DID identify her (and twice reported her).

  8. Its interesting in HK – silent marches by the lawyers to protest Beijing and full scale rehearsals (including people in yellow and black – the protest colours) for the PLA in Shenzen. Suggests diametrically opposed POV.

    Will the Chinese President send in the PLA? It seems not out of the realms of possibility.

    The impacts of something like this will be profound.

    Lets hope reason prevails. I personally would be willing to lead the crowdfunding effort to send Bushfire Bill over to talk old feller common sense to both sides!

  9. Saying that our politicians are elected to be public servants – servants of public purposes – is aspirational. It isn’t descriptive. We actually elect “capital servants”. Politicians serve the interests of capital. Consequently we have an economy that is far too speculation-based instead of production-based; there is vast waste of labour; and inequality of wealth and income is high. Firing politicians en masse and replacing them with true public servants would make a real difference. Firing the tweet-happy APS Level 6 officer in this case does not serve any public purpose at all.

  10. Chris Uhlmann on the SA Statewide blackout 3 years on, in view of the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) findings:

    What he wrote three years ago was stupid ( blaming a blackout that occurred because transmission lines got blown over on windmill). What he wrote now was empty drivel.

  11. Oakshott

    Yes, I was there.

    A most complex case as it turned out and in the circumstances I think the judge made the right call.

    Gotta be a bit careful here because no-publication order is permanent.

    But the complainant had a number of significant assertions in his evidence which others refuted and in the end, this inevitably meant that a reasonable doubt was present. (Incidentally, the problematic details were about times and places from 25 years ago, and were matters of inconsistency, not honesty i.e. they were about peripheral matters, but enough to create doubt)

    However IMHO, having listened to it all, I’m confident the complainant would win a civil case (balance of probabilities) quite easily, and he was said to have such a case in train.

    Interestingly there was compelling tendency evidence about 6 other separate matters which involved O’H and which have never been to court, involving around 10 boys from all over the valley during an 8 year period through the 80s and early 90s. The judge actually said that he believed those events occurred, but that they could not legally overwhelm the significant problems in this claimant’s evidence.

    The several tendency events paint this guy as a very calculating, serious and driven offender. He seriously needs to be kept away from teenagers for all time.

    He had a large support group from his last parish (Pt Stephens) there every day as in all his trials. They are holy joes convinced of his innocence. Pathetic.

  12. And Chris Uhlmann. trying to resurrect his shattered credibility on renewables with..”the dangers of our rush to renewable…” blah. As I mentioned this morning wrt an ABC radio presenter jumping on only the negative aspects of major change… these journos are directly responsible for part of the malaise in politics. Politicians are too scared to do real policy work because any negative effect – even tho it is far outweighed by the positives – is click bait to the likes of Ulhmann.

    So dont do any major policy, dont fix things – no matter the benefits – because the teething issues are all the low hanging apple pickers in the media want to write about. And too many of their readers ‘would sooner die than think about the broader picture; in fact, they do so’.
    (thank you B Russell)

    The blackout is not a failure of government efforts to rapidly increase renewable energy as Ulhmann, again, is blathering on about. It was a combination of many things that started with a phenomenal wind storm that took out large power lines in an area that regularly gets windstorms. These winds were off the dial – an indication climate change. Does Uhlmann write about that? No. Or the failings of regulators in an overly privatised sector. Nope. Or, after a decade of ‘gold plating’ grid infrastructure which caused electricity prices to rise well beyond that of the Gillards Carbon price did Uhlmann write about the absurdity of an over resourced grid that still resulted in a blackout? Nope. Uhlmann instead targets something designed to reduce our emissions in an effort being shared by most of the world (not the rest of Australia) to protect future generations from the worst effects of climate change.

    Chris. You are a dud.

  13. if you didn’t want the Bombs dropped, then you wanted the War to be ended conventionally

    It’s entirely possible to want neither of those things specifically.

    A person could just want the war ended, with minimal loss of life on both sides. That doesn’t agitate for or against any particular tactics or weapons.

  14. BB

    You can’t, by definition, be sacked for a private anonymous tweet because of the small probability you will be outed.

    You can only be sacked if and when you’re outed. At this stage, sacking unknown people for unknown breaches of the APS Code is not a likelihood.

  15. So when you give to the needy, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be praised by men. Truly I tell you, they already have their full reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    Unless you have a twitter page. If so, go for it.

  16. Not much sympathy for Ms Banerjee -9000 tweets and all that, on topics you are working on. I’d like to see a better test case where somebody is disciplined because their boss sees them handing out how to vote cards, or where someone is a union delegate where that union is running an anti government campaign.

    BTW isn’t Ms Banerjee’s boss/complainant an enigma. If you examine their twitter feed they have now reinvented themselves as a vociferous leftie, the Banerjee case excepted of course.

  17. Chris U shows his understanding of electricity with this statement:

    The interconnector to Victoria tried to pick up the slack before its protective systems sensed it was being overloaded and the link slammed shut.

    My emphasis.

  18. nath is right.

    Littlefinger will Challenge Albo for the foreman’s job before this term is out.

    Chaos is a ladder.


  19. While not celebrating the 200,000 deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yes, I do celebrate the other up to 19,800,000 who didn’t die.

    Any human being who wasn’t besotted with a twisted ideoligical trope that there are honourable deaths and dishonourable deaths (especially when someone else is doing the dying) would concur.

    20,000,000 deaths… official Japanese estimate by Vice Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff, Vice Admiral Takijirō Ōnishi:
    Giangreco, D.M. (2009). Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan 1945–1947. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press., pp. 121-124

  20. There has been much discussion about the implied right to free speech in the Constitution, since the religious freedom crap emerged after the SSM plebiscite.

    The HC today cleared this myth up, and even noted that the AAT erred in believing this myth.

    What s7, s24, s64, and s128 of the Constitution jointly imply is that there is a freedom of political communication. The HC explained this today (at 19) and further, stated that this was not a right implied for individuals, but for society as a whole. Further, the HC stated that it is possible for individual’s freedom of political communication to be curtailed without this breaching the Constitutionally implied right.

  21. Dandy Murray
    And I bet he doesn’t know the system records trips in detail and they were studied with care. There where improvements made; to both the setting and the requirements for connection to the grid, but basically a transmission line got blown over. There was not enough local spinning reserve and the parties contracted to provide restart services didn’t.

  22. Boerwar, further to your earlier comments about rorts for regions. There is a far greater problem than the erection of edifices in dying country towns. Not a penny was provided for ongoing maintenance and operating costs. Small shire councils with an aging and declining rate payer base now have to either find the funds to keep these monuments to NP waste operating, or close them down

  23. Historyintime

    Are you suggesting Sandi Logan was the ‘colleague’ who outed Banerji (note correct spelling)?

    I know Logan has been crowing about the HC throwing Banerji’s case out – I never knew that they had close or any working relations, Sandi being head of PR and all that back in the day, before he himself was ‘boned’

  24. BB
    An additional 2 million deaths aside, The other point, by 1945 everyone was pretty sick of it and just wanted it to end.

    I think it can also be argued that the demonstration of just how bad it was is a reason why none have been dropped since.

  25. Psyclaw says:
    Wednesday, August 7, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    We have told our kids this from when they were old enough to understand – everything that is captured on a digital device can end up in public with their name on it- everything.

  26. Psyclaw

    Further to the HC’s now crystal clear statements on ‘implied freedom of speech’ – it constrains legislation which limits free speech.

    If Parliament passed a law saying PollBludgers were unable to comment on politics, that would breach the ‘implied freedom’. If an individual PollBludger was banned from posting, and took it to the HC, the case would be thrown out – as there is no legislation and no ‘implied freedom of speech’ (probably not a good analogy, but you get the picture).

    Which also means that Israel Folau – if he gets to the HC – will get his arse handed to him.

  27. And the legislation limiting free speech can still be found valid – as the Australian Public Service Act 1999 has just been so held – if the provisions are reasonable etc

  28. Re Nath @9:35PM – Malcolm Turnbull did someting similar. He wasn’t wearing a hi-viz vest but an $800 shirt when he gave a homeless person $5.

    You do seem to be strangely obsessed with Bill Shorten. I don’t particularly like Malcolm Turnbull, Clive Palmer or Josh Frydenberg, for example, but I don’t feel driven to denigrate them day in day out.

    In view of your quote of Matthew 6:2, it doesn’t look too good for all the tax-evading moguls and billionaires who are praised for their “charity work” and conspicuous “philanthropy”.

  29. Psyclaw says:
    Wednesday, August 7, 2019 at 9:28 pm


    You can’t, by definition, be sacked for a private anonymous tweet because of the small probability you will be outed.

    You can only be sacked if and when you’re outed. At this stage, sacking unknown people for unknown breaches of the APS Code is not a likelihood.

    You beat me to it! 🙂

  30. Further, the HC stated that it is possible for individual’s freedom of political communication to be curtailed without this breaching the Constitutionally implied right.

    Sounds like Folau might have to kiss goodbye to his compensation.

    He’ll still have Jesus, though.

    If I was religious, I know who I’d rather have alongside me when the going got tough.

    From Matthew 19: 21-24…

    21 [And Jesus said unto the rich young man], “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

    22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

    23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.

    24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter vthe kingdom of God.

    At least, being poor, Israel wouldn’t be expected to work as hard as the rich man he once was, if ScoMo is to believed.

    Kinda puts Prosperity Theology in the shitcan, doesn’t it?

  31. I will note that advocates of the Prosperity Gospel believe that the ‘Eye of the Needle’ refers to a small gate into Jerusalem. Thereby indicating that it is a tight fit for a wealthy person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven but far from impossible.

  32. When nath posted a Biblical quote, my mind did turn to St Paul’s comment in Timothy 1… and BB’s reference to Folau is germane also…

    ‘If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain (6:3-5 ESV).

  33. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus
    When it comes to trumpeting your charitable work I’m in agreement with Our Lord.

  34. You can’t, by definition, be sacked for a private anonymous tweet because of the small probability you will be outed.

    Excuse my unclear phrasing. What I meant was a tweet that its author intended to be anonymous, but which was outed as his or hers through the independent efforts of a 3rd party (e.g. the Grog scenario, which is why I asked whether Grog jumped or was pushed from the APS) or, say by the author himself bragging about it, but providing no details as to where, or the form of words.

  35. BB

    My recollection is that Grog jumped – straight onto staff at The Guardian. James Massolla outing him was the catalyst, with the smear machine being cranked up.

    His crime? Criticising Tony Abbott.

  36. sprocket_ says:
    Wednesday, August 7, 2019 at 10:26 pm


    My recollection is that Grog jumped – straight onto staff at The Guardian. James Massolla outing him was the catalyst, with the smear machine being cranked up.

    His crime? Criticising Tony Abbott.

    You’re right that he jumped, but this was before the Guardian, so he didn’t go straight there.

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