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. citizen @ #338 Thursday, August 8th, 2019 – 7:04 am

    Queensland University is the second (after Wollongong) to be seduced by funding from the Ramsay centre for western civilisation.

    It looks like many/most students will be funded by Ramsay – ” at least 150 scholarships of about $30,000 a year”. Doubtless job opportunities for graduates will abound in the offices of the more RW LNP pollies.

    Looks like a recruitment campaign for the IPA.

  2. No mention of the original “developer”, who made his profit. Be interesting to know.

    The saga is widely considered to be Victoria’s longest-running planning dispute.

    It began in the 1950s, with the sale of 11,800 blocks of seaside land to mostly newly arrived migrants who were targeted with promises of a new Gold Coast, complete with state-of-the-art infrastructure.

    The infrastructure was never built, and some time later the land along the coast south of the town of Sale was deemed inappropriate for development.

  3. Bushfire Bill says:
    Thursday, August 8, 2019 at 1:45 am

    Just because you disagree with what Folau did on social media doesn’t mean it isn’t protected by the FWA prohibition on religious discrimination. People have won the right to wear colanders on their heads in Driver’s Licence pictures because they claim to be Pastafarians. If you want to start saying which religious dogma is allowed and which isn’t then we are moving into the realm of a theocracy.

    The test for commitment to free speech is whether you defend the right of those you disagree with to state their views. I’m an Atheist and voted Yes for SSM but I also support free speech, religious freedom (although I am opposed to the Niqab and Burqa being allowed to be worn in public because they are very specifically anti-female garments) and protections against discrimination.

    I look forward to the Federal and High Courts clarifying the Folau Case for all of us.

  4. AR

    “That verbiage veers most verbose. All it really says is that an implied freedom is no freedom at all.”

    Sorry, that’s wrong.

    Just because ill-informed shock jocks and others have been proclaiming for months that the Constitution implies freedom of speech for individuals does not make it so. It is an urban myth.

    What the Constitution implies is clearly set out in yesterday’s judgement at 19. It is that no government can wholistically or systematically shut down political discourse. This is in line with a historic view from the HC that widespread, free political discourse is fundamental to the system of democratic government which the Constitution sets up. That’s why it is “implied” by the Constitution, because the nature of the system of democratic government specifically described and set up by the Constitution could not function without this underpinning.

    But from that implication it does not flow that Fred Smith as an individual has this right.

  5. Lizzie

    Service dog fraud in Australia is a problem that is expected to get worse, according to Richard Lord, the CEO of Assistance Dogs Australia.

    As long as there have been assistance dogs, there have been people falsely claiming their pets are assistance dogs — and it’s a problem advocates only expect to get worse.

    People with disabilities have long been supported by assistance dogs, which are often trained to help them out with everyday tasks by charities like ADA or Guide Dogs Australia.

    Being of a suspicious mind I expect that this type of happening (scams) would be used to deny many applicants. Interesting that the above was considered “entertainment” by

    My wife had guide dogs for many years. One had a serious illness and she used to get rice and mashed potato with her meals. Our house dog Fonzie AKA The Worlds Best Medium Sized Black Dog would sneak up and try to get his share. Zena wasn’t having any of that. Poor Fonzie.

  6. BK @ #319 Thursday, August 8th, 2019 – 6:52 am

    Uhlmann is back on the bandwagon as he writes that three years on from the South Australia blackout, the dangers of our rush to renewables are even clearer.

    If there was any doubt that Uhlmann is a self-serving grub, this article should resolve it. “We should listen to the science”. Except, apparently, when the science disagrees with him 🙁

  7. KayJay

    Thanks for that excellent link. Shame that for every social advance there is always someone to take advantage. 🙁
    This sounds fantastic, though:

    The pilot program Dogs 4 Dementia will trial eight dogs over three years — for example, giving a dog to a couple where one has early-onset dementia and looking at how the animal can help.

    “The dementia sufferer might sit at a cafe with the dog while their partner goes next door to do the shopping,” Lord told Pickle. “It’s a physical anchor as well as an emotional anchor, where the person feels safe if they’ve got their dog around.”

  8. Lots of references today from BK and the Dawn Patrol.

    From the BK Files.

    As CPAC is about to kick off the SMH editorial says that US right-wing ideas do not all translate to Australia.

    Senator Kristina Keneally writing in the Herald has questioned the wisdom of sharing a platform with some of these speakers or even allowing them into the country. She argues that they could pollute Australia with ideas that contributed to the mass shootings on Sunday in the US cities of El Paso and Dayton which killed a total of 31 people.

    It was Australia’s most revered conservative John Howard, who dramatically tightened our gun laws after the Port Arthur massacre. If US conservatives try to foist their madness on us, they should politely be told in public at this forum that they are wrong.

    Hands up all those that agree with “most revered.”

    Question – Do Wombats attack Rodents ❓ If not why not ❓

  9. beguiledagin

    “To add insult to injury, the Court awarded costs to the government against an ailing 74-year-old woman, who presumably is now without a public service pension.”

    That to me is like the news bulletin saying “police shoot grandfather dead”. He may have been a crim, but he was a grandfather and that’s what matters is the message.

    The Banerji matter is 8 years old. She wrote her 9,000 tweets in the years leading up to 2012. I is misleading to characterise her as an “ailing 74 year old” as if that is a crucial aspect. There are many ailing 74 year olds currently housed by the Department of Corrective Services.

    And she is still talking about taking the matter further. Where to I don’t know.

  10. psyclaw @ #354 Thursday, August 8th, 2019 – 9:51 am

    But from that implication it does not flow that Fred Smith as an individual has this right.

    How is that different from what I said? Freedoms are things that individuals possess. Or in our case, possess not.

    It’s all well and good to allude to some broad underlying social construct that enjoys wholistic protection under the Constitution, but in reality any such construct is just the sum of its individual parts. Telling individuals that they don’t have rights will change the broader construct.

  11. Bucephalus

    “(although I am opposed to the Niqab and Burqa being allowed to be worn in public because they are very specifically anti-female garments)”

    Have you actually asked a woman who wears the niqab or burqa? Or is this just ‘received wisdom’ on your part?

  12. All of that plus AEMO didn’t gear up for a major storm. They just didn’t want to suspend the market.

    Interesting, Uhlmann didnt mention the word ‘tornado’ in his article. Not once. Even tho there were multiple tornados that ripped through that region. I wonder why. Not consistent with the narrative he is pushing? Not very journalistic of him. He does mention ‘winds’ toppling powerlines. ‘Winds’, like, you know, it gets windy everywhere, right?
    He also doesnt mention Abbott. How Abbott tore apart the nations policies in reducing energy emissions and replaced them with chaos, denial and do nothing. Chaos does get a mention. But not in the same way as the scary ‘rush to renewables’. But hey, Uhlmann states he does not deny the reality of climate change. So we really should be patting him the back. Good on you Chris. Well done. The answer is clearly that we should all just play the fiddle while we wait for the federal government to get its act together.

    FFS. SA has broken through the 50% renewable energy mix and fast approaching 70%. Since 2016 it has one of, if not the most reliable grid in the country. SA’s high electricity prices are not because of renewables (in a state of little coal reserves); and renewables are now driving prices down. The last 3 months saw SA prices about the same as NSW – despite all their cheap coal.

    This is the sort of forward looking, ambitious, brave and moral government policy that journos say they want to see. Yet instead they nitpick it to death leaving the facts in their rubbish bin.

  13. What took so long….

    Sky News Australia
    The decision to lease the Darwin Port to Chinese company Landbridge for 99 years has prompted a national security debate.

    Darwin Port prompts national security debate | Sky News Australia

  14. Any ban on the public wearing of the Niqab and Burqa will be likely struck down by the High Court as unconstitutional, in that it infringes on freedom of religious expression.

    Also the government is not too keen on doing introducing it either. The government has toned down quite a lot it’s anti-muslim rethoric since the Christchurch terrorist attack and heavily Muslim neighbourhoods in Sydney ( I am not sure about other cities) swung quite a bit to the government at the election.

  15. Kakuru says:
    Thursday, August 8, 2019 at 10:13 am


    “(although I am opposed to the Niqab and Burqa being allowed to be worn in public because they are very specifically anti-female garments)”

    Have you actually asked a woman who wears the niqab or burqa? Or is this just ‘received wisdom’ on your part?

    Of course not.

    He’s making a general statement and like all general statements about people, it is bullshit.

  16. psyclaw says:
    Thursday, August 8, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Still on the Banerji matter, it is reported that she posted 9,000 tweets about her hobby horse, some of which were posted from work.

    The extremity of her tweeting (9,000) might explain the severity of her punishment (sacking).


    From reading the Tribunal decision and the High Court judgement, plus some of the testimony, my understanding is that all but one of the anonymous tweets were from outside her workplace. That one was merely a retweet of someone else’s tweet, not one of her own.

    The Government and the Court in its judgement both made a big thing about the fact that sooner or later the identity of the anonymous poster would become known. They used the extreme example of a departmental Secretary tweeting anonymously against his or her political Minister, instead of a low level public servant like Ms. Banerji.

    What happened in this case is that the government itself identified her after an investigation which included going through her desk in her workspace which I assume would have involved a warrant.

  17. Not that the West newspaper can sink much lower in quality – once a paper with a few ads. – now a paper of ads. with bits of news and opinions dotted here and there- but the front page is a real shocker.
    Today, we in Perth now have to be on the look-out for Green mad people about to upset our isolated tranquillity by rioting in the streets or somesuch.
    I guess when Stokes brought in the man from the Daily Telegraph as the new editor, sacked a lot of journos (including those who could at least spell somewhere near accurately) we locals should not have been surprised. Meanwhile, the paper trumpets the fact that its “readership” has gone up………..though not too much talk about paid-for circulation numbers.

  18. rhwombat says: Thursday, August 8, 2019 at 9:40 am

    He’s a flat track bully. He has the Repugs well and truly cowed. Though, as you say, as soon as he stops #winning for them they will discard him quicker than a wet tissue.

    Like Abbott, Trump is a used condom.


  19. Banerji won her case in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, suggesting that her complaint was not vexatious. The AAT thought that her claim had merit. Then the government appealed to the High Court and won there. Why should Banerji have to pay the government’s costs for the High Court part of the case (which only happened because the government chose to make it happen)? The government won – good for them – but they are the ones who chose to appeal to the High Court, so why shouldn’t they pay their own legal fees?

  20. beguiledagain says:
    Thursday, August 8, 2019 at 9:41 am

    Two questions?

    Why do you think that she will have lost her superannuation?

    Why shouldn’t costs be awarded against her? Surely her lawyers will have briefed her on the risks?

  21. Buc

    ‘The test for commitment to free speech is whether you defend the right of those you disagree with to state their views..’

    The Folau case is a perfect example of free speech in action, and the consequences of exercising free speech.

    Free speech seems to be currently interpreted as “I can say anything about anyone I want to and no one can do anything about that.”

    Other free speechers argue that ‘the remedy for free speech is more free speech.”

    So: You are an organisation which relies on sponsorship to exist. This sponsorship allows you to employ hundreds of people. Without this sponsorship, most of those people would be without a job.

    An employee makes comments which upset the sponsors’ customers, who threaten the sponsor that they will withdraw their custom unless the sponsor acts.

    The sponsor exercises their rights to tell the organisation that the employee’s behaviour is unexceptable.

    The organisation has the choice of everyone losing their job or one person losing their job.

    The employee had their free speech. The customers and the sponsors exercised their rights. The organisation acted in the best interests of all its employees.

    Free speech has consequences. Up until very recent times, this was recognised. So called conservatives are acting in contradiction to their assumed monikers by attempting to rewrite what free speech actually involves. It is not a license to say whatever you want to without pushback.

    *I haven’t directly used Folau, because his case is more complicated than that – his contract anticipated the way sponsors would react to certain behaviours and covered the situation.

  22. There were 4 significant tornados across a large area in SA on the day of the SA blackout. 3 of them at F2 strength (one of those a suspected F2/F3). The Blyth tornado lasted 15minutes tracking across 20km with an estimated wind speed when it hit the powerlines of 190-270km/h.

    When a natural disaster hits, mostly people talk about the natural disaster. Uhlmann however chose a hobby horse. And he wonders why he got kickback.

  23. @samanthamaiden
    Wow. Clip and save this one for the next time the government bundles up the vegan terrorists or the Brisbane pedestrian walk hand gluers or whatever dreadlocked hippies we are getting our knickers in a twist about tmw

    Financial Review @FinancialReview
    · 14h
    Foreign Minister Marise Payne slams use of force by Hong Kong police, saying the right to protest peacefully should be unassailable. #auspol #HongKongProtests @andrewtillett

  24. Tristo
    “Any ban on the public wearing of the Niqab and Burqa will be likely struck down by the High Court as unconstitutional, in that it infringes on freedom of religious expression.”

    Yeah. Because guess what. Religious freedom actually applies to *all* religions, not just those strands that adhere to “Judaeo-Christian values” (whatever the hell they are).

  25. lizzie

    Rising sea levels may kill the dream anyway.

    Goodness me no. Those in the ‘White Shoe Brigade & Real Estate Spiv community’ will then predict even higher prices for a future canal development so BUY NOW ! 🙂

  26. More on Banerji, the AAT tribunal decision which accepted the ‘implied free speech’ argument was made by commissioners which included AAT Deputy Chair Gary Humphries.

    Keen followers of political ‘jobs for the boys’ will recall that ex-ACT Opposition Leader, and subsequent Senator Gary Humphries was rewarded for his indolence over many years with a hefty sinecure to move his bum from the red leather onto the AAT bench.

    The HC beaks are scathing in pilloring his ‘erroenous’ decision. And the taxpayer will end up funding the costs, as Banerji is skinter than Barnyard.

  27. Paul Keating’s claim that it was Bill Shorten’s failure to understand the middle class that lost Labor the ‘unloseable’ election has been rubbished by party stalwarts.

    Mr Keating’s intervention has raised eyebrows given his public and private urging of Mr Shorten to embrace franking credit reforms, which became known as the ‘retiree tax’.

    Labor frontbenchers past and present say Mr Keating’s remarks are wrong because it was the failure to secure a greater number of working-class voters in Queensland and Western Australia that was the problem, not the middle class.

    Labor Senator Kim Carr told The New Daily the idea that Labor’s policies were rejected by the middle class is not supported by the data.

    “I really admire Paul Keating, enormously. But I think statistically the evidence is against him,” Senator Carr said.

  28. Bob Hawke wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth but on August 27, his widow, Blanche D’Alpuget, will auction off a sterling silver soup ladle he enjoyed as an adult – along with the entire contents of their Northbridge lovenest.

    The sale, to be handled by auctioneers Shapiro, is titled “Bob Hawke & Blanche d’Alpuget Mementos, Curiosities, Art and Design” and is expected to raise about $250,000.

    The couple’s Northbridge home, recently sold for an estimated $15 million, will be open to the public on August 24 and 25 to allow buyers to view the merchandise on offer. Mr Hawke died on May 16.

    I find the use of “lovenest” distasteful, but does anyone else remember the Bearded Iris named “Bob and Blanche’s Wedding”? The whole event was the height of kitsch.

  29. Timjbo @pleaseuseaussie

    Climate Change Hysteria ‘threatens air travel’

    Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has spoken out against climate change hysteria, saying more taxes could take the world back to the 1920s when only the rich could afford to fly.

  30. taxpayer will end up funding the costs

    The Reserve Bank will pay the costs by crediting the relevant reserve accounts.

    I doubt that this spending will cause supply shortages that lead to accelerating inflation. So there is no fiscal problem.

  31. lizzie says:
    Thursday, August 8, 2019 at 11:04 am


    I admit I don’t like the faces completely covered, but bodies completely bare or completely hidden seem OK to me.

    Here in Makassar, I have not seen a burqa, niqabs are not very common, while hijabs are the norm.

    In my immediate neighborhood there are only 2 women I’ve seen who wear niqabs and none of the above is quite common due to a couple of churches being located nearby.

    I actually see more uncovered faces here than I did in Vietnam, where the majority of women, and men, would wear face masks due to the pollution. 🙂

  32. lizzie @ 10:59 am
    Rising sea levels may kill the dream anyway.

    Willmore and Randell were responsible for flogging a number of similar “developments” in Victoria and Queensland in the 1950s and 1960s.

    Here’s a classic photo of the low-rent style of publicity employed.

    … and some more interesting history here.

  33. Perhaps half the civilian population of Okinawa died during the conquest of Okinawa. Ironically, about the same number as died in Okinawa.
    The US navy had around 400 ships sunk or damaged during the battle.
    It had physical casualties of around 70,000.
    Most of the rest went mad from the stress with discipline and morale crashing.
    There is evidence of numerous war crimes including murder of civilians, rape, murder of unarmed prisoners by US forces.
    The IJA committed mass murders, numerous rapes, used Okinawans as human shields and played a major role in mass suicides of Okinawan civilians.
    Japanese governments continue to suppress the truth about Japan’s wartime bestiality.
    This includes most recently attempts to censor out the role of the IJA in mass Okinawan suicides.
    The Japanese governments continue to send ministers to the Yasukuni Shrine.
    Japanese governments continue to invest heavily in commemorating Hiroshima.
    The Japanese were the victims, right?
    We should celebrate Hiroshima because of what it stopped, because of what it prevented and because it will force the Japanese to stop lying to us and to themselves about WW2.

  34. lizzie
    “I admit I don’t like the faces completely covered, but bodies completely bare or completely hidden seem OK to me.”

    In the bad old days, women bathers on the beach used to be condemned for showing too much flesh. Now some of us (particularly men) are condemning women for showing too little. I wish we’d just stop with the finger-wagging and let women wear whatever they want.

    There has been a fairly recent decline in topless bathing at Australian beaches. It has nothing to do with social norms – female friends have told me it’s due to the invention of camera phones, which makes it far too easy for them to be photographed.

  35. I finally got my Indonesian drivers licence yesterday, a process simplified by an extra 300 rupiah, an unfortunate part of dealing with public officials in much of SE Asia.

    Anyway I now have documented proof from the Indonesian Government that I am a Guru. 🙂

    n.b. In Indonesian Guru just means teacher.

  36. Poor Josh, one of the legs of his surplus ‘table’ just fell off. Brazil is back in town and so bye bye ‘crazy high’ iron ore prices.
    The spectacular six month rally in iron ore – Australia’s biggest export – is unravelling amid signs of recovery in Brazilian supply, declining profitability at steel producers and concerns about the escalating US-China trade war.
    From the recent five-year high of $US125.77 a tonne struck on July 7, the benchmark price has now shed 22.4 per cent, leaving it in a technical ‘bear market’ defined as a drop or 20 per cent or more

  37. Barney

    The driving license won’t alleviate you from the ‘on the spot fines’ which Indonesian police can often levy.

    Also whilst you are brushing up your Bahasa, look up pungli – short for pungutan liar.

  38. We should celebrate Hiroshima because of what it stopped, because of what it prevented and because it will force the Japanese to stop lying to us and to themselves about WW2.

    Look, I have studied the arguments in a past life and do not wholly disagree with position that Hiroshima was necessary. But I take issue with the word ‘celebrate’. I know you are defending the point in general but celebration of an event that killed so many innocent civilians is just macabre.

    Firebombing (equally as horrendous when you read what those bombs were doing) and carpet bombing raids and the two nuclear weapons were used as a last resort against a terrible enemy determined to fight on in utter disregard for their people. The ‘success’ of the bombings is a relief, not a celebration.

    Where i completely agree with you is the focus on Hiroshima takes away from other lessons to be learnt from that war. How otherwise reasonable, civilised and educated peoples fell under the sway of despots, psychopaths and sadists.

  39. sprocket_ says:
    Thursday, August 8, 2019 at 11:46 am


    The driving license won’t alleviate you from the ‘on the spot fines’ which Indonesian police can often levy.

    Also whilst you are brushing up your Bahasa, look up pungli – short for pungutan liar.

    No different from Vietnam, although I was fortunate to only be stopped 3 times in nearly 10 years. One teacher I knew seemed to get stopped at least once a month, but was an American. 🙂

    I hope my Vietnam form can continue here.

    Now I just need a motorbike. 🙂

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