Jumping at shadows: let’s stop The Scare Tactics

People in the Noosa electorate are still reeling from a Noosa Council election marred by the proliferation of unsubstantiated and untrue claims spread through social media and letterbox drops. Whether these claims targeted specific issues or candidates, their underlying purpose was to instil fear in voters.

While I can appreciate people’s passion for their beliefs and causes, resorting to falsehoods (one claim at a polling station was that “it is my democratic right to lie” will become legend), only serves to erode credibility in the long run.

So here we are just over four months out from the State election and the scare tactics have already begun. The Queensland branch of the LNP has outlined a clear platform for this election, and its Noosa candidate is adhering to it rigorously, to the extent that if no real issue fits with that platform, the tendency seems to be to manufacture one.

Example 1: Let’s Save Noosa Hospital

This was the heading of a ‘petition’ created by the LNP and its endorsed candidate for Noosa. 

Both the Health Minister and our independent MP Sandy Bolton, have debunked the notion that Noosa Hospital is in dire need of rescue, with Sandy saying that there has never been an issue that an extension or new lease would not occur and “to indicate otherwise is misinforming our community”.

This ‘petition’ was created by the LNP, and was ostensibly aimed at saving the hospital. However, there was no indication as to whom exactly this ‘petition’ was to be delivered. Instead it appeared to be little more than a thinly veiled attempt to collect voters’ contact details. Notably, there was no privacy statement attached to the ‘petition’, nor any indication that the data collected would not be used for other purposes.  Looking at the Privacy Policy on the party’s website, listed are those with whom they may share information provided to them including “telecommunications companies, event organisers, IT contractors (such as website developers and hosts), lawyers, accountants, financiers and promotions companies”. Not so private then.

To me, the ‘petition’ served two purposes. The first to collect respondents’ details, and the second to fit within one party’s need to use fear as tactic in their campaign strategy. If you added your details to that petition, be prepared for further communications from the party.

Not happy to accept that the future of Noosa Hospital is a non-issue, the Federal LNP member conducted a telephone poll, asking if respondents were concerned about the future of the hospital. Concerning/confusing/interesting that a Federal Member was canvassing opinions on what is clearly a state issue. 

Example 2: Making Our Community Safer

The LNP candidate’s first letterbox drop of the season (seven months out from the election and just days before the campaign funding declaration period started), championed the cause of “Making Our Community Safer”.  Now, I know Noosa is not without crime, and that in many parts of Queensland it is a big issue, but one must question its prominence on the agenda of a Noosa candidate, ahead of pressing issues such as cost of living, housing affordability, and protecting our environment (land, river and sea).  But then these don’t fit within the current LNP manifesto. In fact, the environment doesn’t even rate a mention.

If we take a minute to look at Noosa’s crime stats for the last 12 months, 2774 offences were recorded. The highest percentage of these were for Theft (excluding unlawful entry), followed by Traffic & Related Offences.  For those worried about people breaking into their businesses and homes, the number of Unlawful Entry offences was 153 for the whole of the Noosa area (up to 2 May 2024). Of course, 153 is too many, but for a population of around 58,000, it is far from what you might call ‘crisis’ levels.

Example 3: Youth Crime

There is no doubt that Youth Crime is an issue in many parts of Queensland, so it is not surprising that both major parties, with candidates in all electorates, would seek to amplify the issue. It should not be made a Noosa issue to suit a political party’s narrative. 

Police have told us that looking at the total number of youth crime offences for Queensland gives an imperfect view of the situation, e.g. if a statistic shows 20 instances of a certain crime, it doesn’t mean that there were 20 offenders. A relatively small number of offenders are responsible for a large percentage of youth crimes (i.e. they are the ‘repeat offenders’ we hear about).

With this in mind, QPS offender statistics for the 12 months to 2 May 2024, show that in Noosa there was a total of 1251 offences committed by juveniles.  Offences were recorded in 53 categories ranging from Stealing From Dwellings (1 instance) to Shop Stealing (42). It is important to note too that these were offences committed in the Noosa LGA, and not necessarily by Noosa residents.

In her recent role of Chair of the (now defunct – but that’s a whole other story) Youth Justice Reform Committee, our independent member Sandy Bolton has an unparalleled appreciation of this multifaceted issue, and the obstacles that need to be overcome to create meaningful progress. If the politicking can be put aside, the Committee’s Draft Recommendations might actually have a chance of being implemented.

Looking Ahead To The State Election

Before engaging with the fear-mongering strategies employed so far, or signing anything that purports to be a ‘petition’, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of the inherent goodness of Noosa – the reasons why we choose to live here: the natural beauty, the community organisations, fresh air, space, and wide range of activity options.  In doing so, it would seem natural to celebrate Noosa rather than to transmit self-serving messages of gloom and doom. 

Instead, in the months ahead we can expect the major parties to highlight the negatives.

I know there are issues that need to be addressed in the greater Noosa area: a process now underway to remove neglected houseboats from the river, the Kin Kin Quarry, increasing the amount of affordable housing, providing emergency and long term accommodation to the victims of family violence, traffic, parking, the Bruce Highway, Beckmans Road, over-development and over-tourism, the impact of STA on our residential amenity and importantly, ensuring that our natural environment is protected from those who can’t see the trees for the dollars. 

Some of these fall at the feet of Noosa Council, but those that are the preserve of the State Government should be part of the debate in the lead up to the October State election.

Regardless of whether you live on the coast or in our beautiful hinterland, and whether you have lived here for 4 or 40 years, each of your voices matter. Instead of complaining, start doing; instead of sitting on the sidelines, get involved. Don’t settle for a “thumbs up” on a Facebook post – respond to surveys, sign legitimate petitions, write to your local members/councillors, create or join an action group. 

We should celebrate the positives and tackle our challenges, rather than being dragged down into a whirlpool of exaggerated negatives – and we should base our opinions on facts rather than innuendo and rhetoric. With the State election campaign well and truly underway (at least by one candidate) let’s fight back against the scare campaigns and the creation of non-issues, and look to representatives who are truly invested in Noosa and the welfare of its residents.

Let’s campaign openly in the light, not jump at shadows.

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    Thank you for calling out both these issues for the scaremongering falsehoods that they appear to be! Your article resonated with me on a curious, related matter – namely the Noosa Today Crime Survey. I read through the questionnaire and was surprised by 3 aspects of the questioning:
    1. Rating of youth crime as an election issue.
    2. Suggestions of investment redirection from areas such as
    Hospital upgrades ( proven to be unnecessary in your article) social housing investment, renewable energy projects and the 2023 Olympics!
    3. Gathering full name, phone and email information (not traditional, accepted research procedure!)
    This survey seems to smack of political fact-finding under the guise of a survey. Notwithstanding their tick-box request for permission to make contact for further information, I am wondering if the survey respondents will “spontaneously” receive communications from organisations other than Noosa Today? I won’t bother discussing the survey’s representativeness or rather its skewedness!

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