Should snap polls be used to make critical decisions?

Snap polls are taken at a moments’ notice and can capture the thoughts of only a very small sample of the population. We see them on news programs, websites and even on radio, but should they really be used to make crucial decisions or be taken as evidence for a majority’s views?

This is what has happened today, with it being revealed that the Indonesian government has used results from a Triple J poll in their reasoning for denying Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s second judicial review.

The only problem is that the poll was conducted on a 30-minute youth radio program, and had 2123 respondents – about 0.0001 per cent of our population.

Is Triple J’s demographic, 16-35 year olds, really a good enough representation of our thoughts and views on capital punishment? Bear in mind that Australians aged 20-29 are more likely to use illicit drugs than any other age group, with 27 per cent having used drugs in the last 12 months. And also, it could be fair to say that the younger generation are less informed about drug penalties, capital punishment and moral issues, thus less likely to be able to give an educated answer on the topic.

Clearly not taking any of this into consideration, the Indonesian courts have used the poll to justify the execution of two of our citizens. SMH reports that the two men have lost their last chance of being taken off death row, and their lawyer Julian McMahon said that the result of the Triple J Roy Morgan Research survey “is now a tool being used to get [his] clients killed”.

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2123 young Australians were asked, “In your opinion, if an Australian is convicted of drug trafficking in another country & sentenced to death, should the penalty be carried out?”, and voted yes or no via text message. According to the results, 52 per cent of the sample respondents said agreed that yes, there should be executions of drug traffickers. But is that how you, an over 60, feel? Does this reflect your stance?

Mr McMahon also told SMH, “The AG and the ambassador have publicly relied on the SMS poll as a factor justifying execution. They say that it pushes them to do it, that they have Australian public support”.

Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop are still making representations at the highest level, although it seems like this is not enough and isn’t working, and time is running out to save them. In two weeks from now, we could be sitting here contemplating their deaths. It could hurt our connection with Indonesia, or it may not.

Currently, it is not known when Andrew and Myuran will be executed, but it is thought to go ahead within two weeks.

It is clear that polls such as these, whether political or general, should be taken with a grain of salt, for they could have dire consequences…

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We hope to see you celebrating the over 60 life with other over 60s on February 17 2015.


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