Better income support a vote changer in swinging seats

Electorate-level polling in five marginal federal seats reveals a solid majority of voters agree income support payments should be above the poverty line, with more than half of those surveyed willing to change their vote over the issue.

The Australian Council of Social Service commissioned Ipsos to survey 2588 people across the electorates of Boothby (SA Liberal), Swan (WA Liberal), Blair (QLD ALP), Longman (Qld LNP), Dobell (NSW ALP)

Across all seats, a solid majority agreed that income support payments should be above the poverty line (69%).

The highest response was in Boothby where 74% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that payments should be above the poverty line, while 65% of respondents in the Queensland seats of Blair and Longman agreed or strongly agreed.

A clear (and in some seats overwhelming) majority also thought the $45 a day Jobseeker payment is too low, averaging out at 64% across all seats. Only 5% thought the payment was too high.

In Boothby, 70% of respondents thought the current rate of Jobseeker is too low.

Just over half (52%) said they would change their vote to support a party that committed to lifting JobSeeker to above $67 a day. Only 10% said this would turn them off a party, and 33% said it would make no difference to how they voted.

Boothby respondents were more likely to say that they would change their vote to support a party that committed to lifting JobSeeker to above $67 a day, with a response rate of 60%.

ACOSS CEO, Cassandra Goldie said the research shows that people want a fairer Australia, and our political leaders need to recognise the broad support for a decent safety net, especially among women and young people.

“As the Government crafts its mid-year economic update, a boost to Jobseeker should be among its very top priorities. We are witnessing an extremely patchy recovery from the pandemic and a permanent increase to JobSeeker is the best way to create economic and social opportunity for the communities that have shouldered the greater burden.

“The pandemic showed we care deeply about both the health and economic livelihoods of others. This research also proves it’s a vote changer.

“Almost all of us had either a direct brush with unemployment or witnessed someone else experience a tough time. This is fresh in the minds of voters and they want politicians to build a post-pandemic society that guarantees if you fall on tough times, you will be supported to cover the basics.

“People in Australia know that it is counterproductive and cruel to expect people to live on $45 a day, the current JobSeeker amount. It forces them to skip meals and medicines. As a society, we are so much better than that. Supporting people on lower incomes is also good for jobs because the extra help is spent in local businesses, helping create local jobs.

“This research shows there is important support for political leaders and candidates to adopt policies that reflect the empathy and co-operative spirit of people in Australia. They also know what works for local business”

The research was conducted between 25 October and 11 November 2021. An online, self-completion survey was presented to Australian’s aged 18 years and over. Most (74%) people who completed the survey were drawn from a panel of willing research participants, the rest were contacted using social  media advertising. The results were adjusted to reflect the Australian population on characteristics like age, gender, and location.