Monday, 17 February 2014

There is an election coming up

in South Australia. The campaign has officially started - although it has so far been so quiet that many people don't seem to have noticed. I suppose they will eventually find out and remember to vote.
The state newspaper has of course had something to say about it and they were offering readers an opportunity to "say" something by way of a "questionnaire" on Saturday. I am sure you will know the sort of thing I mean. There is the opportunity to give "yes/no" and other answers to questions on a range of issues.
The first question on the list was "Do you believe South Australia is heading in the right direction?" You could answer "strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree" to that. Hmmm.
The next question was "Do you think that South Australia should change its name?" Answer "No Yes(list your suggested name below.)" Where did that one spring from? (And no, why go to the huge expense of changing the name of the state - no doubt to an "indigenous" name that will cause friction in both the indigenous and non-indigenous communities?)
The list went on and on. There are some highly contentious issues on the list ranging from whether voting should be compulsory to whether there should be a nuclear dump in the state, from whether parts of the parklands should be sold off to whether a permanent grandstand should be built in them for a car race.
Many of those issues are not the sort that have simple "yes" or "no" answers.
I am not sure I like these sort of exercises. They encourage people to think about complex issues in simplistic ways.
For example, I oppose the idea of selling off the parklands which surround the city for the purpose of building on them. They are open spaces which are supposed to be there "in perpetuity". People need those open spaces. I don't want to see a grandstand built on them either. The car race the temporary grandstand is built for may not last many more years anyway, particularly after car manufacturing goes in Australia. But I also believe that the parklands are not being utilised to anything like the extent they could be. They never have been. You can't say that in a "yes/no" answer.
I wonder how many people will answer those questions - and what spin the paper will put on them? Will they, as they often do, suggest that "most people..." want this or that or something else? Will they do it even if the sample is so small (as it almost certainly will be) and so biased (as it also almost certainly will be) that it cannot possibly be a reflection of the majority view?
I will have to trust that the usual "letterati" of the state get to work and make at least those who read the letters page think.

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