Local pollsters launch Australian Polling Council

Australia’s leading public opinion research companies have come together and announced on Monday the launch of the Australian Polling Council (APC) with the aim of advancing the quality and understanding of public opinion polling in the country.

The founding members of the Australian Polling Council Limited are: YouGov Galaxy Pty Ltd, The Essential Research and Communications Group Pty Ltd, uCommunication Pty Ltd, Ipsos Pty Ltd, Lonergan Research Pty Ltd, Telereach Pty Ltd, and JWS Research Pty Ltd.

The objectives of the APC are:

· to ensure standards of disclosure that provide an adequate basis for judging the reliability and validity of results of surveys that are published in the public arena;

· to encourage the highest professional standards in public opinion polling and advance the understanding of and the confidence in how polls are conducted and how to interpret poll results;

· to establish practical Guidelines and a code of conduct for public opinion polling in Australia;

· to advance the Australian public’s understanding of how polls are conducted and how to interpret poll results; and

· to inform media and the public about best practice in the conduct and reporting of polls.

These guidelines aim to provide an appropriate balance between responsible disclosure to the public, the needs of media outlets, and the intellectual property rights of the polling companies.

The Australian Polling Council’s charter has been based on similar polling organisations in the UK and US, namely the British Polling Council and the National Council for Published Polls respectively.

“We believe that polling provides a crucial window into how Australians are perceiving the government of the day and crucial insights into what the public expects from our nation’s leaders. 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,” APC Chairman Dr Campbell White said.

“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.”

APC Secretary Mark Davis said: “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.”

The APC welcomes further members who conduct publicly released opinion polling related to political issues, or expectations and performance of public policy or governments. This is not limited to surveys which measure voting intention or political leader and party performance. It also encompasses studies evaluating government performance; political leaning; election, plebiscite or referendum outcomes; and those which focus on public policy and societal issues with political implications.

The APC is pleased to have the support of existing market research industry bodies and intends to work closely with these in the future.

“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,” George Zdanowicz, President of the Association of Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO), said.

“The Research Society seeks to uphold and enhance professional standards throughout the research sector in Australia. We welcome the formation of the Australian Polling Council, with its focus on best practice in opinion polling and greater awareness of standards,” Elissa Molloy, CEO of The Research Society, said.

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