Public Survey still flawed. $7000 sought to undertake survey.

As reported in the ODT today, the two University Marketing lecturers who are planning to conduct a public survey of the proposed stadium have completed their draft of the survey.

I have commented on this previously and made submissions to them with concerns about the neutrality of the survey. They have sought input from all parties involved in the survey, and have responded to my comments in the past, much appreciated. As reported in the ODT “The pair hoped this would produce a survey that would not be subject to endless criticism after it was finished.”

The question is as follows:

The Costs of the Stadium: The DCC has committed $A million and the ORC has committed = $B million to fund the construction of the stadium. This means that someone who pays both DCC and ORC rates will pay an extra $C per year in rates for the next D years if the stadium
goes ahead.

In other words the total cost for each ratepayer is expected to be at least $E. Non-ratepayers are likely to pay indirectly in various ways, for example by way of reduction in household disposable income.

The Benefits of the Stadium: The Carisbrook Stadium Trust has commissioned research that estimates the economic benefits to Dunedin of the stadium will be $F

This goes against the claims made by the two in a previous disclaimer on their site;

“It is not the job of the questionnaire to present information that can be interpreted as being either for or against the construction of the stadium. Only the factual information that all parties can agree to be correct and relevant will be presented to respondents.”

I have a very serious problem with the following statement within the question.

“Non-ratepayers are likely to pay indirectly in various ways, for example by way of reduction in household disposable income.”

This is pure conjecture and can not be included in any serious neutral survey of the stadium. It may very well be the case, but this hasn’t been proven my any economic modelling of the effects of the stadium development. It’s loaded and leading. For someone not a ratepayer (ie the possibly rent), to have suggested to them that because the stadium goes ahead they will be out of pocket, is fully loaded against the stadium. The first and last part of the statement are qualified by statements of fact. The part I have a problem with isn’t.

If that person was to be employed by the stadium, the would indeed actually better off economically, but these are all conjecture. And for someone to include this in what is a very serious undertaking is a little disturbing.

These guys are doing it out of their own time, and we thank them for that, but as they say on their site, they will be able to use this material in their teaching and possible published research at a later date, so it’s not a totally thankless task for them.

“In particular we wish to use this as an example for teaching students about ethical issues in Marketing Research, as well as the technical problems associated with avoiding bias. We also reserve the right to publish academic articles based on this project.”

I just don’t get why they don’t see that the statement in question isn’t biased? Are they being deliberate for further research, are they testing a hypothesis and this will be published, or are they just human and bring their own biases into the equation?

Their planning for the survey can be found here.
And the current draft can be found here.



Filed under Economics, Hot air, Media, Stadiums

23 responses to “Public Survey still flawed. $7000 sought to undertake survey.

  1. Elizabeth we may not agree on the stadium as such, but I have a lot of respect for much of what you have to say.

    Cheers for stopping by and see you at Sample exhibition next friday?

  2. Elizabeth

    Today I commented at ODT online about the survey news item.

    Survey format
    Submitted by ej kerr on Thu, 09/10/2008 – 12:42pm.
    The survey form can’t be too complicated, lengthy or off putting to recipients. I wonder about this from the comments published today. I haven’t seen the latest draft, only the one posted some months ago on the university’s website which was to be treated as a starter for discussion. The survey will best avoid questions about what each ratepayer can afford. Rates payable by individuals and property interests across greater Dunedin vary considerably according to the nature of their holdings. Anything to avoid the atrocity of Cr Michael Guest’s political pronouncements that the stadium will only cost “a dollar a week”. I believe the survey is better addressed to citizens not ratepayers. I hope the present draft sticks to basics and revolves on a simple question like: “Do you want a stadium funded by $188 million of public money?”

  3. Elizabeth

    Paul, I’m all for new architecture and building. Would gladly see Dunedin with a new stadium if we could see marked progress on private sector funding of construction [and yes, a higher percentage of private sector funding for the project than currently aimed for]; and positive forecasting of operating profits. Hopefully the new peer review will help these matters along – not sure when it will be ready for public view.

    I don’t have great faith in the survey format at this point – agree your points. John Williams and Ben Wooliscroft have been trying to bring all the parties together to nail the survey format and how its funded, without much luck to date. Maybe some progress this month.

    Looking forward to Sample, see you then.

  4. Elizabeth I couldn’t agree more, I’d love to see some of the very old and deep money that is at the heart of Otago see the light of day, rather than those old dark Scottish pockets.

    It should have been at least half funded by private money if not more, and yes there needs to be better projections of operating forecasts. But then I’m a stadium zealot so am comfortable with the level of council input (only just mind).

  5. Peter Entwisle

    Dear Paul,

    It is obscure what your objection to the survey is.

    It would be usfeul to know what people think.

    In any case the situation has changed.

  6. Peter,

    it’s very simple, the following statement is pure conjecture and thus is a value statement. Value statements are biased and thus the statement is biased.

    “In other words the total cost for each ratepayer is expected to be at least $E. Non-ratepayers are likely to pay indirectly in various ways, for example by way of reduction in household disposable income.”

    Because how, where and what are the Non-ratepayers having their household income reduced.

    Not sure what you mean situation has changed?

  7. Richard

    The results of the survey can be found at:

    NB: posted without comment!

  8. Elizabeth

    I will comment.

    On the face of it a careful executive summary and series of adjustments for the Dunedin demographic which I hope will receive further funding in the way hoped as well as a fully independent peer review to confirm the report and or pick up any issues raised in the data gathering, handling and analysis.

    There has been quite a lot of work involved and the two lecturers and their team, and their sponsors, properly deserve some thanks.

  9. Only just skimmed it, still have issues with the wording of the question and the respondents.

    In my opinion the question was still loaded and not anything approaching neutral. Yes it would have been possible to have achieved a neutral question. Although it was a hell of a lot less loaded than early drafts (which were used right up until the survey went out).

    This is a ratepayers thing, why wasn’t it exclusively aimed at ratepayers? This still confuses me.

    Some findings from the data.

    Males slightly more in favour of the development.
    Support increases with wealth.
    Support decreases with age

    Although stating to have no view on the development early on, it is very clear from this sentence that they do in fact have a view on these results.

    “As indicated by the bold figure above, we believe that the last item in the list above is the
    most relevant for decision makers involved in this project.” vis-a-vis the people have spoken, don’t build the stadium. Hardly neutral, they did not need to include that sentence, the data was there for any half intelligent person to read.

    However I will state this time and time again, if the people had been given fair, unbiased and balanced information on the development the results would have been radically different. People are political by nature. They will form opinions based on the information they are fed. The information they have been fed by opposition groups by the ODT over the last 18months has been nothing but total and utter doom and gloom, often regardless of the facts or truthfulness of the information.

    I mean if one person came to their ticking “no” on the survey because they believed that global warming was going to flood the area, that is a false response.

    If one person ticked against the stadium because they believed that it would be a terrorist target, that is a false response.

    If one person voted against the development because they thought that University Creep was taking business land away, or that poor broadband was driving business away, or that the roof wouldn’t work, or that dust from Quarry would damage the skin materials, or that if could cost $500m, or that it will only house 10-12 rugby games a year (people actually believe this crap), then they are false returns.

    What this survey proves is that enough people feeding enough false (it is not a terrorist target), untruthful (global warming will not flood that area) or downright ludicrous (business fleeing town because of broadband) information to the people can influence people, and quite harmfully.

    I mean where in the ODT was the piece that actually presented the facts with regard to global warming. I mean I emailed NIWA, got a response within 24hrs, and that showed that NO global warming resulting in MSL rise over time will not see the area flooding. But no, the ODT reported that an esteemed Professor from the University presented the global warming doom and gloom comments. Likewise, with one of the countries foremost commentators on foreign policy and terrorism right here at Otago, why wasn’t he asked if he thought that the Stadium would be a valid and or significant terrorist target. This was not done, and my “man in the pub” is left with the impression, it’s in the paper, and Prof … said so, this must be the case.

    The people have had the wool pulled over their eyes with this development, they have been dupped and this is all that survey shows. I mean if for one minute I believed whole heartily like some I talked to in the pub the other day, that $188m is for 10-12 games of rugby a year, then I would have joined the StS and protested too.

    But when the guy I was arguing with actually conceded that the data I showed him on my iPhone from NIWA proved that by 2090 there was less than a 5% chance of MSL rise anywhere near threatening level, and he too had to agree that it probably isn’t a terrorism threat, he in the end more or less became neutral on the issue. That didn’t stop the bar man telling me, “all we need is the temptation of big games in the student area for another bloody riot”, at that stage, I wasn’t backing down. The last student riot here had nothing to do with rugby, in fact the most violence in the city with big rugby matches comes from the general public. It was uninformed and it was only rabbeting the comments of the Polytec president’s submission.

    You know what this leaves open, is for someone’s dissertation, actually meeting people who filled out the survey and question why they voted the way they did.

  10. I mean, over at SkyScraper page, the defiant Rosie, can’t believe that the University staff are getting rich off the ratepayers, and will only get richer with this.

    I mean, what can you do with that. Where did she get the idea that the Rate Payers of Dunedin pay for the salaries of the University Staff. The remuneration of the Vice Chancellor has nothing to do with the stadium. But that is what we are dealing with, and now more or less the sole reason I am running this blog. In the end I will be disappointed but won’t cry if the decision goes against development. I will however be forever disappointed in the misinformation campaign which has been relentless, doing the people of Dunedin a great disservice. God only knows what some people are conjuring up, considering business failure, terrorism, global warming, world recessions etc have been fed to them and Rosie still managed to pull a doozie out of the hat.

  11. Elizabeth

    I imagine (and it could be false…) that people do not want to be hit in the pocket badly by the stadium project, that could be a primary concern for a number of Dunedin residents whether or not they are ratepayers, this build and the stadium’s use will affect or distort the local economy, if not viable.

    I don’t think anyone other than the particular StS submitters at hearing have any thoughts about terrorism and the stadium location, or the proposed building’s sound qualities inciting student riots (the submitters were just 3 people who clearly hadn’t conferred properly amongst themselves or their membership; and who were not expert witnesses or even witnesses). As to sea rise if you’d attended the hearing you would know the context of comments on that and the question raised about how data is produced and vetted over what long periods internationally and how data released for NZ is not the freshest – to paraphrase (this information came from more than one person at hearing and it was picked up on by the commissioners as needing expert evidence to back it up – a mistake by the submitters that they didn’t get the overseas commentary sent to the panel for deliberations).
    Probably there’s need to relax a bit on the status of this survey, it’s still a snapshot and it wasn’t based on misinformation on the part of the surveyors – any interpretation you bring of that sort is your own Paul. Although it’s good to have the debate.

  12. karetai

    The results of the survey pretty much sum up what I have been saying all along.
    The rich pricks who are male and rugby fanatics are the ones who are the supporters.
    Really Paul,one or two people suggest terrorist threats which is absolutely crazy,and you never let go of that.You try to make out that everyone who is against the stadium is mad and that you are one of the few sane people left in Dunedin because you support this monstrosity that would cripple a city financially.

  13. karetai

    You’re an extremely clever person Paul.
    You have a knack of adding words to something that someone has said.
    But don’t ever forget that it’s a small world and as the old saying goes ‘You’re a stranger from the truth’

  14. It’s not going to cripple this city financially.

    My whole beef is with the sum total of the campaign against the stadium (not individual tit bits per say), of which about 10% has been built on the truth or factual information. The other 90% of it has been emotive rubbish, supported in the media and never questioned. I mean I finally got it out of the guy at SkyScraper City blog, that despite his mirror games with demographic statistics (which were incorrect), he was ideologically opposed to local government spending due to his free market libertarian thinking. But this was all hidden behind NZRFU claims and false statistical analysis of demographics – of which he couldn’t even tell the difference between age and income, no middle aged is not middle class.

    Simple case in point the person in the pub believed the global warming scenario, when confronted by that, he then used the “what about terrorism”, another butted in “it’s a bloody NZRFU cop out”. None of these are anywhere near the truth.

    As for the global warming Elizabeth, this is actually where I have some expertise, I have a degree in geography in Meteorology and Coastal Geomorphology, taught by one of the best in the business Prof Bob Kirk. From this I had started but didn’t complete a post grad in Geophysics, and know and play football with Andrew Tait, one of the lead climate change scientists. We were, with Prof McGreggor (fantastic Scots man) of Vic were going to produce a meteorology teaching resource I had made for my 7th form classes, but alas we moved to Dunedin. Long story short, the science re climate change with regard to NZ is very current, very accurate and no where near the scenario which was reported in the papers (miss-reporting or not).

  15. “The rich pricks who are male and rugby fanatics are the ones who are the supporters.”

    Again with the gross generalisation and stereotypes. How the hell is that meant to add anything to the debate. I mean I went to the first StS meeting, there was plenty of stereotypical material I could have used in the months since that meeting, but it wouldn’t have added anything to the debate and only belittled my arguments, just as you have with said assumption.

  16. Elizabeth

    You weren’t at the stadium plan change hearings, Paul, I don’t think, where climate change and sea level rise were discussed. Personally, I’m not interested in sea level rise one iota. And I don’t consider it in any way an adverse item to prevent building on the subject site in the medium term.

    My talking to one or two people ‘at the pub’ couldn’t really form the basis of my thinking on where Dunedin people sit generally with the information swirling about the stadium project – it would be too tempting to assume that those people were in some way ‘typical’. I would always benefit from a wider canvass.

    I think of all the lazy thinkers, politicians especially (and today it’s Mayor Chin in ODT on the stadium survey), that resort to “At the end of the day…” as if they have the last word and best understanding of everything that’s happening right in front of them. Users of the phrase might think they have access to all the ‘facts’ and that the subjective might never taint council (early, staged or final) decisions…

    The Dunedin Centre redevelopment debate healthily showed (an evolution of several years) that when more investigation was demanded (finally) through public and council processes, and more ‘facts’ were thus accumulated – to offset the personal subjunctive of the project movers and shakers – then decisions could be made more safely, being more rational and better informed. It was ultimately satisfying to watch and participate in – with more wrangle still to go, it’s with a good deal more faith in the players as a consequence.

    I guess, just this one ‘small’ exercise on a major capital spend, showed me a thing or two…Pollyanna-like I was eternally hopeful something of a similar order would be possible for the stadium project. More information, more research, more communication, more budgetary wisdom, more business vetting…but then, how much can you ask if ‘commercial sensitivity’ comes to rule or ring fence a proposed (now publicly funded) venture of this magnitude when the debate is underpinned by deep suspicion and an impulsive 2011 RWC alarm clock, rightly or wrongly for all concerned.

  17. Richard

    ” …. More information, more research, more communication, more budgetary wisdom, more business vetting…but then, how much can you ask if ‘commercial sensitivity’ comes to rule ….”

    Elizabeth, I do not wish to enter the debate but there is very little information held by council and/or councillors on the proposed stadium project that is not available publicly.

    On this and any other activity with which council might be dealing, “commercial sensitivity” only “rules” when other parties are involved and/or such things as “estimated pricing” come into it. In regard to the latter – and putting the stadium to one side – you would surely agree that one would be foolish indeed to disclose the budgetted estimate for any part of (say) the Dunedin Centre instead of waiting for tenders to come in. To do otherwise would merely invite a tender at maximum price! The figures are, of course, always make known when tenders are accepted.

    The Dunedin City Council does very little of its business in non-public, less than 2%. And virtually all that is transacted in non-public is subsequently publicly released.

    To suggest anything else is simply “mythmaking”.



  18. karetai

    You did enter the debate.
    You expressed so well what most of us are trying to say

  19. karetai

    I blame Peter Chin for dividing a city and I think Malcolm Farry was ‘used’ by him.
    Peter may be the comical mayor who sings to the elderly and amuses them by dressing in his wife’s wedding dress.
    But underneath that facade is one shrewd man.

  20. Richard

    No, ‘Karetai’ …

    I regularly read this and at least one other blog to inform myself as fully as possible as to what is “going down’ in the stadium debate.

    I have found it all both interesting and informative where it focuses on the subject.

    I do not see it appropriate to enter “the debate” and take sides.

    My position on the stadium as a councillor is a matter of public record and unchanged from the commitments I gave in statements delivered to every household in Hills prior to the 2004 and 2007 elections.

    Accordingly, my comments posted here on this topic are simply intended to clarify points raised and/or refute mis-interpretation/s of any statement I have made as Chair of Finance & Strategy in regard to the capital works programme etc.

    In doing so, I have hoped to keep the focus on the core question/s in the on-going debate which many have lost sight of …. on both sides!

    As Elizabeth is aware, this is the same approach I took to the Dunedin Centre Redevelopment, I believe with some success.


  21. Elizabeth

    I certainly can acknowledge that Richard took this approach to the Dunedin Centre Redevelopment, and with success. I won’t even qualify that with the word ‘some’.

    The process brought about a shared perspective on what sort of development in what sort of existing buildings could hold the most affordable potential to benefit and reinforce Dunedin’s economic, social and cultural wellbeing – notwithstanding the degree of ‘subsidisation’ necessary that allows increased opportunity for the ‘amenity’ to attract and create more paying business, when all is made compliant.

    This remains an essential project and I sincerely hope it has a relatively smooth passage to completion.

  22. Hey Elizabeth, alas, I’m one of those modern blokes who is the primary care giver for my boys while my wife follows her career, and being a night owl, my business operates adequately in the evenings and wee small hrs. I would have loved to have been at the hearings, but couldn’t. Mind you, being somewhat less than tactful in my later years, I doubt very much if I would have been able to contain myself and the stupidity of much which (reportedly) was presented. So probably a good thing.

    All I know for a fact is that according to current literature, and unless the Professor of English has more current data than the lead climate change scientist at NIWA, I’ll have to go with what NIWA are forecasting, and that was not anywhere near what was presented by the Prof. But for anything resembling what the Professor was (reportedly) presenting to be true, some pretty fantastical changes in the factors would need to have shifted from the official line in such a short time.

    Is there a transcript of the proceedings (hmmm light reading when nothing else to do).

    But to Richard, Elizabeth, from time to time Peter I am extremely indebted to for giving this blog some level of intelligence in debate and discourse. I’ll readily admit this isn’t my area of expertise. Of my strangely varied background in Geography and Sociology, it has been the field of Design and my current career in New and Social Media which has bought me closer to this field. So I am always indebted to anyone with knowledge to fill in the gaps, paint an informed different perspective or to give an official line.

    So thanks guys, much appreciated. I think you’ll all agree that this is a better place for allowing views from every angle to be expressed.

  23. Richard

    “I think you’ll all agree that this is a better place for allowing views from every angle to be expressed. – Paul”.

    Absolutely, And thank you for the opportunity and the time you have devoted to both stimulating and moderating the … continuing … debate.

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