Guardian Essential poll: 70% of people want price caps on essential services such as energy

Most want more government intervention in ‘broken’ Australian economy with support also strong for windfall profits tax

Most people think Australia’s economic system is “broken” and want the government to take a more active role, including by imposing price caps on essential services, the latest Guardian Essential poll suggests.

The findings come as the government prepares to bring industry and unions together at next week’s jobs and skills summit, which the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, wants to use as a springboard for his economic reform agenda.

The survey of 1,065 people also found strong support for the union movement’s push for industry-level bargaining and a super profits tax.

Almost 70% of those surveyed want to see the government set limits for prices of essential services such as energy, with just 7% opposing the idea, amid a high inflation environment that has seen electricity generation costs soar.

There is also strong support (61%) for placing taxes on companies that make additional profits due to rising inflation, despite the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, ruling out a super profits tax.

The call from employer groups for an urgent boost to skilled migration has also found strong support, with the Essential poll suggesting 47% of people back the move, while just 18% oppose it.

As Albanese flags the need to find consensus between government, business and unions, the poll found a majority of people (56%) agreed that the view of small businesses aligned with their best interests.

In the survey, half (51%) agreed that community groups represented their interests, 36% nominated unions and 29% agreed the view of big business – when it came to the economy – aligned with their own best interests.

Overall, there is strong support for government intervention in the economic system, with 80% of those polled agreeing that governments should take an active role in shaping the economy, compared with just 20% who say governments should “stay out of the economy and leave it up to the market”.

The majority (58%) believe that Australia’s economic system is broken and “the government needs to make fundamental changes to sort it out”, with this sentiment stronger among female voters.

Fewer than half (42%) of those surveyed think the country’s economic system is “basically sound” and the government “should only make minor adjustments to make it better”. Men were more likely to see the system working than women – 46% compared to 38%.

Almost half of those surveyed (48%) also back a shake-up of the Reserve Bank’s mandate, wanting it to focus “primarily on full and secure employment” – another key demand of the ACTU, which has been critical of the RBA’s focus on the inflation band of between 2% and 3%.

The survey suggests Albanese heads into the summit with the backing of voters, with the prime minister recording a “positive” rating from 43% of voters, compared to the 23% who gave him a “negative” rating.

People feel less positive about Peter Dutton, with just 26% ranking him positively, compared with the 34% who rank him negatively. Dutton’s positive rating is even lower among women, with just 22% feeling positive about the opposition leader compared with 30% of men.

About a third of those expressed a “neutral” view when asked how they felt about the leaders, ranking them between four and six on a 10-point scale.

Dutton’s deputy, Sussan Ley, will warn industry leaders on Tuesday against “sidling up” to the new Labor government, saying it will always back unions over business and imploring them to stick with the Liberal party.

“Beware sidling up too closely to a government who will drop you like a sack of potatoes should the political winds turn – beware the indulgences you accommodate,” Ley will tell an Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry event on Tuesday.

“This new Labor government is not a friend of yours, is not a friend of your members, is not a friend of your businesses. Tread carefully. Whenever Labor come knocking on your door for your support on their initiatives, make sure you extract something in return.”

Ley, in a draft of her speech, urges the business community not to abandon the Liberal party despite acknowledging it had lost the backing of some small business owners at the last election.

Ley says she understands why businesses want to attend the summit – which she and Dutton have derided as a “talk fest” – but argues the government is not interested in “genuine engagement”.

“They don’t have the policies to create more jobs or provide tax relief for workers and small businesses – and despite your best will and engagement, they won’t have those policies after the summit either.”


Sarah Martin Chief political correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Guardian Essential poll: Albanese approval rating dips in sign of gruelling political year ahead
Prime minister’s lowest result since last August doesn’t necessarily mean the end of government’s post-election honeymoon

Katharine Murphy Political editor

23, Jan, 2023 @2:00 PM

Article image
McKim calls for Lowe to stand down – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Josh Taylor and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

06, Sep, 2022 @8:46 AM

Article image
Majority of voters back emissions trading scheme, Guardian Essential poll finds
51% in favour of ETS, including 46% of Coalition voters, in survey that also finds 74% support a ban on political donations from foreign companies

Katharine Murphy Political editor

03, Apr, 2017 @8:11 PM

Article image
Essential poll: Labor's two-party-preferred lead jumps to 10 points
The leadership change fails to give the usual bounce, while Julie Bishop is ahead of Scott Morrison as best leader

Katharine Murphy Political editor

27, Aug, 2018 @6:00 PM

Article image
Voters sceptical energy plan will bring down bills, Guardian Essential poll finds
Only 15% of those surveyed think the national energy guarantee will help reduce prices

Katharine Murphy Political editor

02, Jul, 2018 @6:00 PM

Article image
Guardian Essential poll: most think RBA rate hikes an overreaction as shine comes off Albanese
Majority believe government at least partially to blame for rises but don’t assume Coalition would manage them better

Katharine Murphy Political editor

20, Feb, 2023 @2:00 PM

Article image
China to take military action against Taiwan within two decades, Kevin Rudd says – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Nino Bucci, Caitlin Cassidy and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

21, Nov, 2022 @7:47 AM

Article image
As Barnaby Joyce unleashes a new strain of climate denial, can Labor plug the credibility gap? | Peter Lewis
While Morrison focuses on his noisy right flank, the ALP can establish its credentials as part of the global consensus

Peter Lewis

22, Jun, 2021 @1:55 AM

Article image
Guardian Essential poll: voters back minimum wage rise but divided on Labor’s climate target
A third of respondents think Albanese should adopt a more ambitious emissions target, while nearly half blame the Coalition’s climate wars for the energy crisis

Katharine Murphy Political editor

27, Jun, 2022 @5:30 PM

Article image
Essential poll: Labor seizes on banking brawl as lead over Coalition narrows
Opposition aims to exploit government discomfort over suggested changes to mortgage broking sector ahead of election

Katharine Murphy Political editor

04, Feb, 2019 @5:02 PM