Back to the future

Roy Ramage writes: Several of your July 1st articles show we have arrived back at the beginning. John Howard, whom I blame for Kevin Rudd, is trotted out by a party bereft of ideas to traduce him. Deja vu on steroids! Have we not just come from there? Labor, via automated polling, pushes what it wants to hear — that we will all accept Kev and together will get through the next election. All the while the “mates” are handed the spoils and the preselections locked in for the “most deserving”, not new blood. Something must be done to end this constant cycle of “yesterday people”. Even a hung parliament will be better than this endless charade. OK, so small business is the heart of the nation and both parties love ‘em — then try policies that address the following business principles, which basically never change.

1. Financial and legal systems. Red tape, we have gallons of it. Cut it and say how.

2. Cost: Decrease the cost of doing business and say how.

3. Access to markets. Help business expand in local markets and into new markets and say how.

4. Access to labour — skilled and unskilled — how are you enabling small businesses to do this?

5. Access to infrastructure. Communications, roads, rail, -self evident. How will you do it?

Small business must hold all parties to these simple  rules and add one more question. When? Failure to nail this will ensure we spin in this endless, mindless vacuum.

Wrong GDP figures?

Tony Ward writes: Re. “Notes from the Brazilian spring: it’s about more than bus fares” (Friday). In this article, you got the stats wrong: “In comparison, Australia’s tax revenue makes up 20.9% of GDP while government spending comprises 35.2%.”

From memory, I don’t think the gap is anywhere near as large as 20.9% to 25.2%, let alone 35.2%!

Polled over

Casey Briggs writes: Re.”Push polling?” (yesterday). Further to your comment in Tips and rumours today “… and this respondant was thrown by a rogue vitamin question (does this amount to commercial companies piggy-backing off legitimate opinion polls to get a higher response rate?)”:

I was polled a few years ago by Newspoll. From memory they asked for the youngest male in the household over 18. The poll was quite long, and started with questions on federal politics (the standard questions). Once that was done it moved on to questions about the price of milk (this was at the height of the $1 milk in supermarkets issue a few years back) and my feelings about mangoes and how often I purchased them.

I had always just figured it was a way for them to reduce costs of conducting polls rather than aiming for higher response rates, because I had assumed that polling companies set a a target margin of error, calculate the sample necessary to achieve this and then don’t stop calling people until they reach this target. Would be an interesting question to put directly to Newspoll/Roy Morgan/etc.

It also wouldn’t surprise me if they change the questions asked depending on the respondent’s demographics, to make up required quotas that ensure the sample is representative. For example, they may have a system that assigns me the questions in surveys that still require someone of my demographic as a respondent.

On a different note, I was also polled as a member of the NTEU a few weeks ago regarding my voting intentions at the federal elections. Presumably this was information that went into the NTEU’s decision to support Greens candidates?

Graeme Thornton writes: Crikey wrote: “So we have to ask … when did you stop beating your wife?”

Your question assumes male readership. Dangerous.

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