Governing By Stats

One of the things that is killing the Labour Party right now both federally and at the state level in NSW is their reliance on statistics to “prove” how well they are doing.  Most people know the old axiom made famous by Mark Twain, “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics”.  I’ve just had a very personal experience with that weakness.

I’ve been following Premier Keneally on Twitter for some time now to get a feel for what she’s up to.  I’ve come to the conclusion that she more or less uses it as an electronic press release technology and was getting ready to stop following her the next time I cleaned up my Twitter lists.  I’ve also used Twitter to try and get her attention on a very important personal issue.  My son’s local public school is stupidly overcrowded.  This is largely due to the fact that in the past two years Kindergarten enrollment has gone through the roof – Costello’s “breeding” programme from a few years ago seems to have worked.  We also live in a fairly affluent area in Cammeray along the lower north shore of Sydney which is a desirable place to live and more people are coming here.

Unfortunately the state government has not kept up with the growth in the area in terms of public services, particular schools.  Neutral Bay public school is full, Cammeray is bursting at the seams and the old Naremburn school can’t be fixed up to accommodate children anymore.  To our stunned amazement, a huge block of flats adjacent to the school came up for auction – all fifteen flats.  A number of the parents tried contacting the state education minister, Verity Firth, but that went unanswered.  Joe Hockey the Federal Member for the area personally responded to a number of parents in writing making suggestions.  

I took a different route and tweeted the Premier directly.  Needless to say the Premier didn’t respond at all, despite a few attempts.  Today the Premier announced on Twitter that we the people of NSW were being gifted by the state government with a boost in “CSI type technology” and more spending on police.  I couldn’t help myself and responded with:

“@KKeneally Way to go – TV Show determining our budget spend, but you’re government couldn’t afford land for Cammeray Public School  #fail“

I figured that would go to the keep like everything else, but how wrong was I!  I got the following response from the Premier within minutes:

“@skaye since 2001 23,000 cold links in NSW, leading to 7000 charges, 4600 convictions, offences from stealing to murder.”

No mention of the Cammeray Public school issue, but some meaningless statistics about Cold Cases and conviction rates.  I’m sure somewhere in Hollywood a television producer has gotten his wings.  Again, I responded to the Premier, thinking that I’ve now engaged her:

“@KKeneally Awesome! And Cammeray Public School has nearly 800 kids in a school built for 300, but you couldn’t afford to fix that!”

“@KKeneally Premier, Law and Order is easy to run on, lots of stats.  Doing what’s IMPORTANT for communities is hard and not so high profile.”

This is the kind of thing that makes me dislike politicians so much.  You’ve got a local public school which over the past year have asked for a turning light to be installed at an intersection and an extension to a bus route to pick-up kids in their catchment that really should have their own local public school and both requests were denied for stupid reasons.  The RTA said that the turning light wasn’t necessary because there wasn’t a great enough risk of incidence or some such rabble.  What has to happen, a kid has to be hit by a car to get a turning light?  What does that cost Premier – maybe I can pay for it and make it a bit safer for the kids WALKING to school.  They have to walk because the minor extension to the bus route they requested would have somehow required a whole extra bus driver.  Heaven forbid we spend money on public transport in a blue ribbon Liberal riding.  Hey, but the NSW Police department are going to have some kind of new fangled micron spectrometer for doing DNA tests on people who stole something ten years ago.

Social media tools are a wonderful thing.  They give you the power to act locally, engage one on one with people on issues that matter to them.  For politicians, this stuff should be a god send.  While no doubt the Premier gets a boatload of tweets directed at her, she can use that to see what the active electorate are saying.  They spend countless dollars stuffing envelopes that we all throw in the rubbish bin whereas if they spent the same resources monitoring the tweet stream they’d get so much more value.  

I’ve now decided that I’m not going to drop the Premier from my list of people I follow.  I’m going to continue to send her tweets because many of the people who follow me, also follow her and they can see what I’m writing her.  Those people can see her lack of responsiveness.  And I will keep flogging her on it.


Previous post:

Next post: