The headline in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH, June 4) read: ‘Majority has no sympathy for Thomson’. The story reported the results of a Fairfax/Nielsen poll of 1400 people related to what they thought about the treatment of Craig Thomson by the media and in the Federal Parliament of Australia. While not knowing the type of questions that were asked – eg. ‘Were they loaded’? And, not knowing just how good the Neilsen polling is – they are reputed to be quality, I began to wonder just what those percentages really meant. And, what does it say about my fellow Australians – those easy-going laid-back people who profess that they live in a land of mateship, egalitarianism and the fair go.
I found the percentages, and the views expressed, disturbing so I paid a visit to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website and extracted a few numbers to fit to the Herald/Nielsen poll percentages.
First off some background numbers from the AEC. In the election in 2010 some 12,402,363 people delivered formal votes, a turnout of 94.45%. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how 94.45% indicates ‘a lot’, pretty close to 100% you’d say. But 12,402,363 really says ‘hey! a lot of people voted!’ Then again, some 728,778 people didn’t! That’s also a lot of people. However, I digress.
If we deal with just voter’s first preference’s only we end up with 4,711,363 Labor, 1,458,998 Green, and 5,370,295 Coalition votes. I’ve left out 861,707 who voted their first preference elsewhere. Sorry leftouts but I’m not a sayer of sooths so I couldn’t really assign your votes to the three main parties. Though I could probably make a good guess where the 27,184 One Nation votes went on second preferences. How about you?
In the poll, 3,577,603 (31%) thought the Opposition had gone too far, 4,270,043 (37%) of people believe that the pursuit of the Member of Parliament (MP) was ‘reasonable’ while 1,846,505 million (16%) considered that it ‘had not gone far enough’. From the poll data some 1,846,505 people had a ‘no comment’ or ‘undecided’ (16%). That brings the Herald/Nielsen percentages up to 100%. Funny how numbers can lead to confusion isn’t it, especially when you aren’t told that 16% were non responses to the three questions. That’s 224 people of the 1400 polled. It’s a bit numerically confusing so how about we see this as a table?
So it would seem that while 3.6 million Australians thought that the Opposition had gone too far, some 6.1 million felt that the treatment of Craig Thomson had been reasonable or had not gone far enough. You’ll note that some 1.8 million either ‘didn’t know’ or ‘didn’t comment’ based on the poll percentages. That’s a lot of non-responders. I wonder why?
And now a table of the Herald/Nielsen poll preferences converted to voter numbers by party political affiliation.
And what do these numbers say about we egalitarian, ‘fair go’ Australians? Disturbingly, those who had thought that the Opposition had ‘gone too far’ are the minority of the voter populace. There’s a substantial majority who considered the Opposition pursuit of Craig Thomson ‘reasonable’, and a pretty substantial number who considered that, to put it into an Aussie vernacular, the Opposition should have ‘put the boot in’ further! So it’s OK to unconscionably harass a person without due regard to ‘rule of law’, without due regard to a person’s right to be ‘considered innocent until proven guilty’, and to manage the pursuit of justice by ‘rule of rabble’, is it?
What is really shameful, is that there are a large number of people who would appear to have the view that the nastiness, the vitriol, the accusations should continue unabated, until what? The accused , ends up a tearful, trembling mess huddled in a dark corner or commits suicide? Or would they be prepared to form a ‘lynch mob’ and save the accused the trouble of self harm? There certainly is enough numbers to form a very imposing lynch mob! Maybe it could be called the ‘Lynch Mob Convoy’! – join in, bring a rope! To those of you in this ‘charming’ cohort of voters, I have a couple of questions for you: ‘How would you like it if you were treated in a similar manner?’ ‘How would it feel if you were denied impartial judgment and condemned based on vitriol, innuendo, nastiness and media histrionics?’
It’s also pretty disturbing (and somewhat disappointing) that there are substantial numbers of Labor and Green voters in the ‘pursuit reasonable’ and the ‘not gone far enough’ camps (particularly). Shame on you! You come from the parties with the most socialist philosophies and you think that people should be treated in this manner?
The most telling numbers however are those associated with Coalition political affiliation. Very much in the minority in the ‘gone too far’ cohort and very much in the majority in the ‘pursuit reasonable’ and ‘not gone far enough’ cohorts. It really doesn’t look very pretty does it?.
Put in this context, by assigning actual political affiliation numbers to poll percentages, a harsher spotlight is focussed on the Herald/Nielsen poll and makes you wonder. Where is the Australian profession of mateship, egality and the fair go in such behaviour? Do such views and the corresponding behaviours underpin Liberal/National Coalition philosophy? Do we actually have a majority of people in Australia that really believe that people should be subject to such treatment and that those in positions of respect and authority should be permitted to behave so disgracefully in the pursuit of an individual or for political opportunity? Have we lost our respect for ‘rule of law’ and opted for ‘rule of rabble’? And that’s food for thought . . . . . .!
Footnote: It’s my view that this whole business has been politically driven, that Craig Thomson nevertheless has a case to answer, as does Kathy Jackson and other Health Service Union officials. I also consider that the Fair Work Australia investigation was flawed and needs revisiting by an independent body. But these are just my views. In fairness they should be tested, impartially, through the justice system and not by the use of half-truths, innuendo, and media histrionics. What is also disappointing is the obvious sloth and inability to act in the very systems that we rely upon to dispense justice in this country.
- Ah So Desu Ka* #2: The Thomson Debacle – Credulity Suspended! (deknarf.wordpress.com)
- Suspended Thomson votes with Coalition (abc.net.au)
- A Craig Thomson Reader (clubtroppo.com.au)
- Tony Abbott Unleashed the Lynch Mob, and Fairfax is leading with the flaming pitchforks (turnleft2013.wordpress.com)