Election mythbusters

I try to stay away from politics on Green Path but now, two weeks out from a federal election, I am so … pause to choose polite word … annoyed by the lies and misinformation coming from pretty well everyone in the public arena that I want to share sources for some closer-to-honest data.

Lies and misinformation

It’s not just my opinion. Here, for instance, is Clementine Ford on the ABC’c opinion pages:

“Whatever the reason, the News Ltd press has been relying heavily on the idea that ‘everybody’ in Australia is sick of the Labor Government and their apparent mishandling of the economy, and ‘nobody’ will be voting for them this September.

The result is that, in a supposedly democratic country, we have an election campaign being conducted not by a political party but by the tabloid news company invested in their instalment. Worse, that tabloid news arrogantly disregards the proportion of the population who hold contrary views, deciding that such citizens are invisible and therefore undeserving of representation in a supposedly unbiased news force. Regardless of your political leanings, this is a monstrous abuse of journalistic power that should be recognised as such.”

Here, for instance, is an anonymous Brisbane cafe owner’s protest.

And both Labor and Liberals have stuffed deceptive material through my letterbox. Labor letterboxed us with a leaflet demonising Abbott by saying he’ll do what Campbell Newman has been doing (which I suspect may be true) but didn’t put their name to it. In very small type on the back of the card is an “authorised by” name which gooogle easily tracked back to ALP Qld HQ. The local Liberal candidate sent us “Important Postal vote information” in an envelope with a similarly anonymous return address and, inside, a form letter asking us to vote for him. Clive Palmer, meanwhile, has sent everyone in Townsville a DVD – in his own name but (in very very small print), “printed by Queensland Nickel in Dong Cheng, Beijing, China,” which is a lovely example of his jobs-for-Aussies rhetoric in practice.


Mythbusters for the election countdown

(1) Factcheck from the ABC

(2) Facts Fight Back from The Australia Institute

These two sites are very similar in intention: pollies make claims, and the sites check them. The Australia Institute, for those who don’t know it, is a leftish think-tank with a focus on economics.

(3) Vote Compass is a new ABC initiative this election. It is modelled on a Canadian original and is both an information tool for voters wanting to see which party matches their own views most closely, and a massive (half a million respondents) opinion poll.

If you do their survey you will end up with a little chart showing you where you are located on the political spectrum and where the parties are located in relation to you and to each other. This example represents the results for a typical member of the leftie-arty-greenie demographic I identified here a year ago:

vote compass result

I wonder why the centre point of the graph is placed where it is? Is the graph centred on the position of the average voter, or is there some other logic? And what about the minor minor parties – Katter’s backblocks mob and Palmer’s Titanic enterprise? Family First and One Nation?? I believe most of them would be in the lower right hand quadrant but it would be nice to see just how much lower and further to the right. Those minor quibbles aside, it’s a useful tool.

(4) GetUp! current campaigns give a pretty good idea of where the organisation stands (somewhere left of both Liberal and Labor) and its blog presents the facts that drive them, e.g. on asylum seekers policies

(5) The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) runs the the election and has a list of candidates at http://www.aec.gov.au/election/who-are-the-candidates.htm which includes contact information. If you want to tell your local candidates something, ring them or send them an email – before the election, since they will be less inclined to listen afterwards.


3 thoughts on “Election mythbusters”

  1. On 27.8.13 Jarrod Glover wrote:

    “Obviously you haven’t heard of freedom of speech, freedom of the press or consumer choice re News Limited.”

    I have heard of all of the above, actually, but let’s look at what they mean in this context:
    “Freedom of speech” means everyone is allowed to say what they like, within reason. It doesn’t mean they are free to mislead and lie. The official definition is brief and to the point, and you can read it here.
    “Freedom of the press” extends those freedoms to (obviously) the press, but it doesn’t extend them. The Press Council defines it here.
    Another issue lurks behind my dislike of the Murdoch press; Jarrod doesn’t mention it, so I will. In our (fundamentally English) political and journalistic tradition, the press has generally accepted that its primary duty is to accurately and fairly inform its readers of the facts (Article 3 on the Press Council charter makes this explicit). When, as now, a section of the press abandons that responsibility without saying so, it is effectively pretending to be as unbiased as ever while actually spruiking its own agenda, so it is doubly misleading.
    “Consumer choice” is a red herring (or maybe a dodo, since it’s as dead as one) in our present newspaper scene. News Ltd (Murdoch) owns 11 of the top 25 newspapers by circulation, including the top one in almost all of our largest cities and all of our states – Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Gold Coast and Darwin – plus our only national newspaper. Perth is the only capital to have a non-Murdoch newspaper in top spot.
    Our only real choice these days is whether to read the newspapers or not. If you want the facts, I think “not” is the way to go.
    Respectfully yours,

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