Two out of three East Gippsland residents want an end to old growth logging.
This was the sentiment expressed when an opinion poll was carried out in April after the Goolengook camp was raided and the forests logged.
East Gippsland has traditionally been a very conservative region. Politicians have cultivated and pandered to this image for decades. But now this poll destroys the myth that they are merely reflecting community attitudes. The clear majority want an end to old growth logging, and a phasing in of plantations for timber needs.
The significance of this poll for all conflict-ridden forested areas in Victoria (and even Australia) is quite staggering. If the conservative National Party stronghold of East Gippsland reckons logging should stop there must be no region in the state which wants their forests destroyed.
The poll was commissioned by CROEG to show once and for all what the local population really thinks about logging. Does the Government and industry propaganda really influence community thought? Do the politicians and media reflect the community, or is there a silent majority cowering behind the "Timber Towns" signs?
Now consider that before this poll the industry and government had blitzed the local media with their anti-conservationist propaganda and anonymous letters. Large ads showed caring foresters out in the trees with their clip boards. In keeping with that pro-logging trend, this poll only rated the slimmest mention in the local media after it was released.
Also one in four interviewees were over 65 - so if anything this was a very conservative result. The questions were designed to be totally neutral. It cost us $7,000 so wasn't a cheap two bob job. The method of questioning was as credible and squeaky clean as they come. The result? Registered voters in East Gippslanders want change!
Poll commissioned by CROEG on 21st April 2002 .
Conducted by NCS Pearson, Market Research company.
Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) conducted evenings 24th and 26th April. Results returned 6th May.
Total number polled 400.
Error margin 5%, or 95% confidence level.
Sampling method random from East Gippsland post code areas.
Interviewees reflected population distribution, age and gender as close as possible (to within 3%) from the East Gippsland Shire statistical local area.
24% of interviewees were over 65 (in Orbost it was 29%)
7% of respondents worked in the logging industry
Questions (in summary)
Do you think the RFA for East Gippsland has worked?
Yes -15% No - 50%
Which do you think has greater potential for providing secure, long term jobs in East Gippsland?
Logging 29% Tourism 59%
Do you think old growth native forests should be clearfell logged?
Yes 23% No 67%
If there was an alternative for providing sawn timber such as plantations, would you agree with phasing logging out of native forests?
Yes 70% No 24%
Is there too much woodchipping, too little, just enough?
Too much 46% Too little 6% Just right 23%
Among other questions asked:
Are forests well managed and should Goolengook have been logged?
These had roughly a 50-50 answer with slightly more leaning towards the green side. There was a small number of respondents who didnt feel they knew enough to answer the questions.
On NCS Pearson
They are an international multi-billion dollar media company. Among its customers are the Department of Defence, Department Employment, Education and Training, KPMG, McDonalds, Nestle, Red Cross etc.
This poll should have been conducted by the government, media and industry to determine if they are truly representing East Gippslanders. As much as they would prefer to deny it, these results show they have been misrepresenting and misreading the region for years. Whether deliberately or just from sheer lack of observation and astuteness, they can no longer claim the public support the logging industry.
And thanks to all those who generously donated to help with the costs of this very valuable poll.