Galaxy research is the new kid on the polling block but who are they?
The latest polling company to emerge from the swamp is Galaxy, which is now being used by the News Ltd metro dailies other than The Australian.
Why the new kid on the block? Are the tabloids sick of Sol and Newspoll
hogging the TV graphics every fortnight? Do the News Ltd supremos want
more flexibility in targeting issues with a pollster because Sol’s
formula has been set in cement for decades?

Last weekend – August 20-22, 996 people were polled by Galaxy. The poll
doesn’t state where the samples were taken, just that the “poll has
been weighted to reflect the Australian population” – and the poll
found 47% believed Howard lied over Children Overboard, but only 32% of
those polled say it will influence their vote.

Sixteen per cent of Coalition voters replies yes to the question: “do
you think the way John Howard handled the issue will or will not
influence your vote at the next election”. That’s actually a high

If “the issue” means the Kirribilli cover-up, then that’s a lot of
angry coalition voters who may stray. If “the issue” was interpreted as
dealing harshly with asylum seekers on the high seas, then it’s a
surprising drop in numbers from 2001.

It didn’t stop Galaxy Research managing director David Briggs from
channeling Piers Akerman when he gave this comment to the Adelaide

“Overall, John Howard’s handling of the issue will influence the way
around one in three Australians will vote at the next election. Most of
this will be in the strengthening of support among Labor stalwarts,
providing the left-wing intellectual elite with another opportunity to
be dismissive of Mr Howard.”

Universally the media reported that the lying would not influence two
thirds of voters. The Telegraph ran: “If PM lied, few care”. It didn’t
say whether health, tax, education or national security was a higher
level issue for the two thirds. A third of the polled who will be
influenced is not “few”, particularly if a percentage normally votes

The August 8 poll had a question along the lines of “will you stick
with the devil you know” which is quite a loaded cliché, rather than a
clinical question, as was “its time for a change”, so the question
methodology appears to want to create tabloid headlines as well as

But who is Galaxy? Galaxy emerged a few weeks ago on July 27 under the
moniker Omnitalk. The News Ltd papers announced that Omnitalk would be
their fortnightly pollster, shadowing Newspoll. Omnitalk is a $2 shelf
company with Galaxy DP Pty Ltd holding one share in the company and was
registered in March. Galaxy DP is owned by David and Helen Briggs and
has the same address as Galaxy Marcoms and Galaxy Research and

Though Briggs isn’t a director of those companies he appears to be in
partnership with them. David is down as principle quantitative worker
at Galaxy Research and worked at Newspoll for 18 years, 14 of those
years as general manager. Its unclear why he decided to leave Newspoll
and set up in competition, but Rupert Murdoch will pay a substantial
chunk of his business, as he does for Newspoll.

The second share in Omnitalk is held by Surveytalk Pty Ltd. Surveytalk
is known for its survey methodology where the client drafts the
questions, then the client approaches Surveytalk to do the fieldwork.
Surveytalk is also known to offer incentives and prizes
to participants in some of its surveys. (see

Omnitalk was registered on the day the first Omnitalk poll was
published in the News Ltd papers (27 July 2004). Within a fortnight
Omnitalk changed its logo to Galaxy research but it appears, through
the intricate company set up, to be the same mob.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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