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New South Wales voters to have a beer with Hobson

By Graham Young - posted Friday, 23 March 2007


We live in times that Edward Gibbon, of Decline and Fall fame, would probably have seen as being consistent with the broad general themes of the growth and decay of societies. Everyone recognises that the government (in this case the New South Wales Government, but to varying degrees it holds true in every Australian state) is incompetent in whole and corrupt in parts, but they aren’t prepared to do anything to change it even though they despise the bread and circuses they are being offered.

They are convinced of the proposition that the Opposition would be even worse, absurd as this might seem! How could any government be worse than the one they have now?

Perhaps it is not actually a perception that they would be worse, but rather much the same. On this basis electors may be voting for governments on how relatively comfortable they are with them socially. In other words they are answering the question: “Which of these two parties would you rather have a beer with?” rather than “Which of them would be best to govern you?”

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I base these comments on the light that the focus group research that we have conducted on the New South Wales election shines on our larger poll. We only conducted one focus group - but as the results were consistent with the polling this would appear to be enough. You can download the polling from here and the focus group transcript from here (PDF 64KB).

All of our participants were people who indicated they would vote against their traditional habits in this election, or had yet to make up their mind, so they are classic swinging voters. There was a mixture of Labor, Liberal and Independents in the group.

Voters are pretty disgusted with the choice they are being offered (all responses are verbatim, including typos):

"Hobson's choice ...", Tony9

"i think the whole election can be described as bland versus colourless", according to Susan10.

"I was looking forward to the election, hoping to see the end of labor pretending to run the state, however, yet again, the libs have failed to produce a viable alternative.. the greens were an option however knowing their preferences are going to labor... ahhh... nsw is a pit", Julie13

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So, the thought of socialising with the Labor Government is not very inviting. So what about the Opposition? Well, it appears in this case there’s someone they might have liked to drink with, but he’s moved out of town - John Brogden. But they’re not enthusiastic about the rest.

"to me it seems the same old spin and rhetoric we get every election. Debnam has failed to gel with the public and the ghost of John Brogdan hangsover him." Robingail

"agree with Ian about right wing of libs. I would have voted for Brogden", Ann11

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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