Dec 20, 2017

Should Australia solve all its issues with postal surveys now?

Damaging and expensive or just common sense: we look at all the ways postal surveys should and shouldn't be used in the future.

Lisa Divissi

Freelance journalist

In a post-Australian marriage law postal survey world, here is what we know: 61.6% of voters are in favour of legalising same sex marriage, the outcome is nonbinding and it cost taxpayers $122 million.

So when will we start to see see more results like these? Crikey talked to five experts about whether Parliament should start making decisions based on the results of non-binding postal campaigns.

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7 thoughts on “Should Australia solve all its issues with postal surveys now?

  1. old greybearded one

    Be very very wary. These things are incredibly divisive. The worst example is probably Billy Hughes non referendum on conscription. It was not necessary, it was not a referendum, but a device to pressure the senate into passing the conscription bill. Expensive at the time and very expensive in the social cost of the divisions it created.

  2. Roger Clifton

    Unlike our elected leaders, we do not have the benefit of expert advice. Most of us can’t even remember the wording of the last postal survey, but we read it as “Shall we get on with the job we were appointed to do?”. And the answer we gave, emphatically, was “Yes! Just do it.”

  3. Graeski

    A basic flaw in our democratic system is that no-one enters politics to represent the will of the people. Instead, they seek to further their own personal political agenda. I think this criticism applies across the political spectrum.

    Take our current government as an example. Aside from gun control, I struggle to think of a single issue in which the government’s view aligns with the opinion of the majority of Australians. Everything from the Republic to penalty rates to same-sex marriage is consistently shown by polls to be favoured by most Australians, but is fought tooth and nail by the government. Repeatedly, its actions and policies are designed to represent the best interests of only its very narrow donor and support groups.

    Postal surveys may or may not help solve the problem. The point is that they shouldn’t be needed in the first place.

  4. AR

    Just hope that capital punishment is never put to poll.
    However, given yesterday’s ‘news’ that prescription drugs kill more people than all the illicit ones put together – and cannabis being the most used illicit drug, perhaps I could be convinced… just one more plebiscite.

  5. George

    Just remember Peter Cook and what his character managed to do in The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer. On second thoughts Trump’s doing it now without even resorting to a ‘poll’. And if we are relying on our leaders to understand let alone use ‘expert’ advice’ I’d be thinking that Hanrahan may be correct and ‘we’ll all be rooned’.

    1. Peter Hopkins

      Well done George!! I have been expecting a reference to this hilarious political satire throughout the plebiscite process and was about to make a comment referring to it in the context of this article. Would love to see this movie again and feel it really should be re-run in the current political environment.

  6. Hoojakafoopy

    Polls are no solution to policy but citizens assemblies would be superior to ‘representative’ parliamentary politics. No more parties, no more back door lobbying, no more career politicians, no more representation, just real policy solutions.

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