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Coalition hits new low and Greens trail One Nation in poll showing Centrelink anger

16 January 2017
Paul Karp

The Turnbull government has hit a new low in its two-party preferred vote and the Greens trail One Nation in a fresh poll that also shows widespread anger at the Centrelink debt debacle.

The ReachTel poll of 2,126 Australians for the progressive political campaign group GetUp shows the Coalition trailing Labor 46% to 54% in two-party preferred terms.


Respondents were asked if they supported stopping Centrelink using automated systems to issue tens of thousands of letters about alleged debts. Most (46.2%) were in favour of ending the system, compared with 31.8% who wanted to keep it and 21.9% who were undecided.

However, respondents were told that “the government admits that at least 20% of [Centrelink] letters are incorrect, but the burden is on Centrelink clients to correct the information or pay the debt”.

In fact, the government disputes accusations the Centrelink debt recovery system has an error rate of 20%.


Asked in the ReachTel poll how “errors with the Centrelink automated debt recovery system” affected their vote, 49.8% said it made them less likely to vote for the Coalition compared with 14.4% who said they were more likely to and 35.8% who said it would not impact their vote.

Asked which should be the Turnbull government’s priority, a large majority (82.2%) nominated cracking down on international tax avoidance, compared with recovering debts from Centrelink overpayments (17.8%).

Respondents were asked given the “significant errors” in the system whether individuals should have to “defend themselves which may include accessing pay slips and employment records from up to five years ago”.

Most said the burden of proof should be on Centrelink (78.6%) not the individual (21.4%).