Costly SSM debate pointless, TND poll finds

The millions of dollars spent on television advertising by the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ sides during the same-sex marriage campaign had little impact on voting intentions, the latest New Daily Pulse reader poll suggests.

With polls already showing majority support for the reform well before the campaign began, the TND survey finds opponents of change were always facing an uphill battle.

Nearly 93 per cent of the 1164 readers surveyed said the campaign had no impact on their vote, with 79 per cent intending to vote ‘Yes’ – similar to the highest levels of support found in some national surveys.

The finding casts doubt on the ‘No’ side’s claim to have “awaked millions of Australians who are now alive to the political agenda of the rainbow political movement”, as prominent ‘No’ campaigner Lyle Shelton told The New Daily earlier this month. According to TND‘s poll, only 3 per cent were persuaded by the campaign to vote ‘No’, offset by 3 per cent changing their vote to ‘Yes’.

Overall, only 17 per cent of TND readers said they wanted no change to marriage laws, while 3 per cent said they would not vote. A further 4 per cent declined to reveal their voting intention.

Fears the campaign would get ugly are supported by the poll findings – 23 per cent of those surveyed said they had seen or experienced abuse because of views expressed in the course of the debate. Of those respondents, 16 per cent said they or someone they knew was abused for supporting a ‘Yes’ vote, while 7 per cent said it was for supporting a ‘No’ vote.

Despite the government proclaiming the process a success, 81 per cent of respondents to the TND poll said they did not support the decision to hold a public vote on the issue.

When asked their preferred national survey topic, hundreds of TND readers called for public votes on a variety of issues, including: energy policy, immigration, the NBN rollout, Indigenous recognition in the constitution, a Republic, declarations of war, euthanasia, housing affordability, tax reform, the date of Australia Day, wages paid to politicians, fixed parliamentary terms, and the abolition of a layer of government.

But the overwhelming majority opposed the notion of national surveys as an expensive waste of public money, with hundreds leaving comments to this effect:
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The poll asked 2514 of The New Daily‘s most engaged subscribers to complete a seven-question survey between Tuesday, October 24 and Sunday, October 29. A total of 1164 readers responded within the allotted time.

When TND asked its readers what should happen after the vote, the overwhelming majority called for the marriage law to be amended without delay, while some also called for protections for the rights of religious groups to decline to marry same-sex couples.

With two sitting weeks of Parliament left before the end of the year, the government believes it can legislate same-sex marriage before Christmas in the case of a ‘Yes’ vote.

Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop said on Monday she was “assuming that the ‘Yes’ case will get up”, and that the government follow the “will of the people”.

Labor opposed the public vote, citing concerns within the LGBTI community that it would incite hate speech.

As the November 7 postal survey deadline approaches, 77 per cent of eligible voters have returned their forms, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday, a participation rate surpassing the recent US election (55.5 per cent), the Irish same-sex marriage referendum (60 per cent), and the Brexit vote (72.2 per cent).

The final result of the government’s same-sex marriage survey will be published on November 15 at 11.30am.

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