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Around Q town with Graham Franklin-Brown- Survey Wars – in a council chamber far, far away…

 “Aiming to please? 44% of respondents to Queanbeyan satisfaction survey stated they had used a non-existent road, the EDE”

EDE route at Karabar Fairlane

September’s Queanbeyan Council meeting had enough contentious business to crank up the heat in our normally crowded council chamber, however proceedings this time seemed rather flat and quiet.

Was it because councillors had their microphones turned down? or was it just the fact that dirty laundry surrounding some major city projects has already been flapping around town for too long.

There was a little tetchiness between councilors Overall, Winchester and Brown regarding the CBD riverside project, but generally business was fast, efficient, and muted. Even the election of a new Deputy Mayor (congratulations Jamie Cregan), passed by with little discussion.

There was a lot of talk about traffic surveys, and it got me thinking again about council’s attitude and response to pressure from community groups. In regard to the proposed Ellerton Drive Extension (EDE), council’s approach has been persistently cynical – retrofitting processes to a path they have no intention of deviating from.

Having worked for a statistical agency for over 25 years I am acutely aware of the power of numbers in the world of local politics and developer ambitions, and I recall the gloomy advice of one of my statistical mentors: “An interesting statistic is invariably wrong”.

In other words check the data, method, and motivation behind the information.

A recent ‘satisfaction’ survey asked a number of questions about a range of council services, but the question about the EDE in a survey of this type revealed either an intention to create bias, or simply bad survey design.

The absurd result was that 44% of respondents appeared to report that they had already used the yet-to-be built EDE, and 24% of that group cheerfully ticked that they were very satisfied with it. Really???

A NSW Roads and Maritime Services survey suggests that a majority of Queanbeyan residents support the Ellerton Drive Extension and believe that it will relieve congestion, despite council publicly declaring that the EDE will not take a significant number of cars out of the CBD.

The Mayor loves this survey, but he remains quiet about the fact that a significant number of respondents also believe the EDE will create severe noise pollution for residents along the route, and negatively impact the environment.

Residents of Googong, and other communities further south, including Royalla and Burra, recently took part in a survey regarding their preferred commuting routes. The results revealed a strong preference for Dunn’s Creek Road, which, if built, would take commuters directly to the ACT.

At September’s meeting council quickly adopted these survey findings. It was difficult to tell with the microphones turned down, but the Mayor seemed to mutter that the RMS survey was the only true gospel for the rest of Queanbeyan. He also reminded those present that Dunn’s Creek Road would not be needed until 2031.

So it is a fair bet that the Dunn’s Creek Rd will not be built on this council’s watch.


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