NEWS26 October 2020

Pollsters form Australian Polling Council

Asia Pacific News Public Sector

AUSTRALIA – Several Australian public opinion research companies have joined forces to launch the Australian Polling Council (APC) with the aim of advancing the quality and understanding of polling.

Australia election_crop

The launch of the council follows an inquiry into the performance of opinion polls at last year’s Australian federal election after a number of polls incorrectly forecast the outcome.

The founding members of the APC are: YouGov Galaxy, The Essential Research and Communications Group, uCommunication, Ipsos, Lonergan Research, Telereach, and JWS Research.

One of the council’s objectives is to ensure standards of disclosure for judging the results of surveys published in the public arena – one of the recommendations of the inquiry led by the Association of Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO).

The council also aims to establish guidelines and a code of conduct for polling, improve public understanding and inform the media about best practice.  

The APC's charter has been based on the UK’s British Polling Council and the National Council for Published Polls in the US. 

Campbell White, head of public affairs and polling for Asia-Pacific at YouGov, will serve as chairman of the council. He said: “The last federal election and the discrepancy in many polls regarding the outcome has allowed us to step back and thoroughly investigate how polls are conducted and review best practice around the world.

“The APC believes that although published polling needs to have appropriate standards of transparency, existing standards of disclosure are not fit for purpose. The guidelines should be determined by active participants in the industry with the cooperation of Australian media who publish poll results. One of the key functions of the APC will be to design these guidelines in consultation with media and interested stakeholders.”

Mark Davis, secretary, APC, added: “The launch of the APC will allow us to better educate and inform Australians on public opinion polling and help rebuild confidence in polls, particularly political polls. Polling has long been a part of our modern democracy and provides important information on public opinion and the APC will seek to ensure that Australia has a professional, transparent and accurate polling industry.”

Organisations that conduct publicly released opinion polling on political issues, or expectations of public policy or governments, are able to become members of the APC. This is not limited to surveys of voting intention or leader and party performance, but includes: studies evaluating government performance; political leaning; election, plebiscite or referendum outcomes; and those which focus on public policy and societal issues with political implications.

George Zdanowicz, president of AMSRO, said: “AMSRO welcomes the formation of the Australian Polling Council as we believe that collective industry representation is vital to being able to establish and police appropriate quality and disclosure standards in the conduct of public opinion polling.”

Elissa Molloy, chief executive of The Research Society, said: “We welcome the formation of the Australian Polling Council, with its focus on best practice in opinion polling and greater awareness of standards.”