In February 2014, at the end of the community consultation process for the Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek PDA development schemes, the Redland City Council released a very strange document. Its title was “Community Research Report” and the Council claimed that this document provided evidence of community support for the proposed developments.
The Community Research Report was prepared by Market Facts (Qld) Pty Ltd, of Birkdale. They based their report on a telephone survey of 300 residents in Redland City.
There were no questions in the survey that yielded any useful data about public attitudes to the proposed PDA schemes. Rather, the survey questions were devised and structured to obtain positive responses to vague notions. For example the survey asked questions like:
What would encourage you to visit Toondah Harbour? and
What would you like to see at Toondah Harbour?
Respondents were guided with preliminary statements like:
“Higher buildings in key transit and commercial areas allow for greater population densities in those areas freeing more space for parks, reserves and other recreational purposes” before being asked to choose from a limited range of options.
A major deficiency in the survey approach is that it did not inform respondents as to the environmental consequences of particular choices. For example, no mention was made of the fact that major waterfront developments would result in destruction of areas with important environmental values such as internationally significant Ramsar wetlands.
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this was blatent push polling commissioned by the Council to create an illusion that the community supported the proposed schemes.
By engaging in such deceptive behavior the Council treated the Redlands community with contempt.