The local anti fossil fuel and anti Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Activists have been spreading misinformation again, and trying to sell the results of a flawed ‘poll’ as fact.

The location is Narrabri this time, and the activists are Lock the Gate, The North West Alliance and People for the Plains (‘Activists’).

The Activists claimed to have undertaken a ‘poll’ by knocking on 2300 doors, getting 840 responses of which the Activists claimed 97% of the respondents support renewable energy as a way to provide long-term jobs for Narrabri”.

The Activists went on (in their Press Release) to criticise CSG (Santos is progressing a CSG project at Narrabri, which could supply up to 50% of NSW demand for natural gas), and deriding support for the Narrabri CSG project, citing results from their flawed ‘poll’.

The Norwood Resource, has come across these spurious ‘push poll’ results previously in other jurisdictions, such as the SE of SA, where the activists claimed 97% of residents demanded to be ‘Gasfield Free’ (which is peculiar since they already live in a Gasfield), again from a push poll exercise.

These Activists so called ‘polls’ all seemingly have the same motivation, which is a PR motivation, that is, use the ‘results’ of the ‘poll’ to try and convince the Audience (who didn’t participate in the ‘poll’) that ‘everybody wants’ renewables or wants to be Gassfield free or wants whatever the Activists demand they want!

Push Polling is a manipulation trick!

We hope you enjoy reading the following from The Narrabri Courier published: October 11, 2018.

Renewables ‘the energy of choice’, survey reveals

Below, a press release from The North West Alliance and Lock the Gate:

The North West Alliance and Lock the Gate have released the results of door-to-door surveys in Narrabri showing an overwhelming majority of people in favour of renewable energy compared to less than a third that want CSG.

The door-knocking took place from July to September, knocking on 2,300 doors and collecting survey responses from 840 people.

The results of the survey show overwhelming positivity in Narrabri towards renewable energy and considerable concern about coal seam gas:

  • Asked if they support renewable energy as a way to provide long-term jobs for Narrabri 97% of people answered “yes!”
  • Asked if they were in favour of the proposed 850 well coal seam gasfield in the Pilliga, only 28% of people said they were in favour
  • More than half, 52%, of people surveyed were opposed to the gasfield and 20% were unsure
  • 55% of the people surveyed said they were very or somewhat concerned about the gasfield and only 24% said they were not concerned.

“It was so worthwhile to speak to the people of Narrabri about their attitudes to renewable energy and coal seam gas and discover the town is far more excited by renewables than CSG” Sally Hunter, Narrabri farmer and member of People for the Plains said:

“We’re excited too: we want the jobs and prosperity that renewable energy can bring Narrabri without the pollution and water depletion that CSG will bring.”

Jane Judd, Lock the Gate North West regional coordinator said:

“A report commissioned by Lock the Gate earlier this year revealed that the huge renewable energy potential of Narrabri Shire can create more numerous and more lasting jobs than CSG offers, without sucking up huge volumes of water and risking serious environmental harm.

“Though this is just a snapshot, we think our survey results indicate that Narrabri people want jobs, but not at the expense of the water that is the lifeblood of our region. Luckily for all of us, we don’t have to choose between one or the other: we can stop the Narrabri gasfield and embrace the jobs that renewable energy can bring.”

This is a copy of my letter to The Narrabri Courier published: 6 November, 2018.

‘Unreliable’ results from push polling

I am writing in relation to the publication (16 Oct) of a press release from The North West Alliance and Lock The Gate.

It appears these two groups have trouble with facts.

This is indeed evident from their claim that 97% of people in Narrabri “…support renewable energy as a way to provide long-term jobs for Narrabri”.  Apart from keeping the claimed result under 100%, perhaps these groups ought to know, but conveniently forgot to mention that ‘push polling’ is in no way representative of how people feel or would cast a vote.

Particularly given that they claim to have knocked on 2300 doors, but only had 840 people talk to them, this is a miserly 36% engagement rate. So, if the number of responses are divided by the actual number of doors knocked on their claimed 97% support becomes only 35%!

As a consequence, their headline claim becomes false and misleading.

One can do all sorts of analysing of the numbers, but the most obvious fact is the stated results from the push poll can be very deceiving, since questions can be loaded, and a negative response can be incorrectly recorded as a positive response and so on.

Push Polling is arguably illegal in Australia – particularly during election periods, as people feel compelled to respond just as the questioner wants since the questions are ‘loaded’ or framed in such a way as to eliminate alternatives that might more broadly address pertinent views. Generally, a person will respond accordingly to what the questioner wants just to get the questioner to go away.

For The North West Alliance, Lock The Gate and People of the Plains to herald a press release claiming 97% support shows how shallow these groups are in claiming support for its ‘loaded’ poll. Why even bother with a ‘door knocking exercise’ when the results are tainted by the very process of a push poll, unless there is perhaps a ‘PR motive’ to try and convince people they want renewables and not CSG.

Gee, why not have both, and become an Energy Hub?

The Press Release resembles an Opinion Piece and should be treated accordingly, it is certainly not representative of how people feel when they cast a vote without being pressured to respond just how the person asking the question wants them to respond. This is the problem with Push Polling, it is unreliable, it can be manipulated and falsified to mislead an audience.

The misinformation and scare stories emanating from these groups should be rejected and ignored, and Yes! it is past time to Unlock the Gate, and welcome those who are trying to develop Narrabri into an Energy Hub, be it renewables and/or CSG, preferably both!

Bruce Holland
Secretary, The Norwood Resource