12 August 2010

Organisers slammed over dodgy forum

Political polling firm Galaxy has been forced to investigate why the son of a former Liberal MP was part of the audience at the much derided Rooty Hill RSL forum.

David Briggs, from Galaxy Research, refused to comment on whether there was a Liberal Party bias in the audience. "We are looking into that”, he conceded.

Joel Scalzi, the son of former South Australian Liberal MP Joe Scalzi, was one of the so called ‘undecided voters’ selected by Galaxy to question Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in a town hall-style meeting.

Galaxy is a polling organisation currently used by the right wing media organisation News Limited. The pollster company has not only come under criticism over the audience selection process but also the unusual format of questioning.

Several observers noted that harsher questions were reserved for the Prime Minister, whereas, the Opposition Leader had been given questions not unlike the traditional “Dorothy Dixer”.

Social media site - Twitter - was filled immediately with claims of deliberate bias.

One Tweeter claimed: "Sky News and Galaxy just leave the TV Audience debates to the professionals like [the ABC's] QandA. They know how to sample."

Another Tweeter suggested: "Rooty Hill audience reminds me of Paul Keating's comments on the Senate: Unrepresentative swill."

Mr Briggs said the 200 voters were selected from "market research-type databases" that Galaxy had, and from the White Pages. Some statisticians, however, have denounced the methodology, stating that the small 200 sample would have had a significant margin of error. The organisers of the event declared Mr Abbott as the 'peoples choice'.

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