Probing the polls: returning Canberrans and gay conversion robocalls

Genevieve Jacobs 20 August 2020 2

Did you receive a robocall about gay conversion therapy? Photo: Region Media.

Readers saw the merits of both sides of the argument when we asked you whether anyone other than the next-door neighbours should be allowed to return to the ACT as the pandemic continues to rage.

Canberra residents who were stranded on the Victorian border after the NSW Government abruptly changed the rules have been allowed to return home for a limited time.

READ ALSO: They’re coming home! Border standoff for Canberrans comes to an end

But there was vigorous debate about whether anyone outside the ACT and NSW borders, especially those from Victoria, should expect to return here. The travellers were required to sign declarations that they would self isolate and are subject to all quarantine requirements, but many asked whether they would follow through and at what risk to the Canberra population.

The fact that Victorian MPs had been allowed through despite the rule changes also complicated the issue.

Scottybt50 said: “I am sure this would be resolved rather quickly if the government directed that all NSW MPs travelling to the ACT need to go and quarantine in Queanbeyan for 10 days.”

Chris Sant didn’t hold back:Gladys is an absolute disgrace. Completely ridiculous to suggest that people who have been doing essential work in country Victoria should have to fly to Sydney (which would probably require driving to Melbourne), spend 14 days there, then somehow get themselves back to Canberra, having had to leave their car in Victoria.”

But Margaret Welsh disagreed, saying: My question is, unless there’s been an emergency, why in hell would you go there in the first place under the current circumstances? I have little sympathy.”

Our question was Should anyone be allowed across the border in a time of pandemic?

Your options were to vote No, rules are rules and they apply to everyone equally. This received 63 per cent or 722 votes. Alternatively, you could vote Yes, every situation requires a little common sense. This option received 37 per cent of the total, or 432 votes. A total of 1,154 votes were cast.

READ ALSO: Robocalls spark outrage over conversion therapy laws

This week, we’re wondering about the recent rise in robocalls as many voters were startled to receive a call about the ACT Government’s plans to ban gay conversion therapy.

The calls, linked to a Melbourne organisation called Binary Australia, asked Canberrans to complete a survey about the legislation. The calls claimed the laws could change access to medical and hormone treatments as well as remove the ability of parents to be involved in their child’s decision to change their gender identity from as young as five.

But Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury, who co-sponsored the bill with Chief Minister Andrew Barr, said, at best, the calls grossly misunderstood and misrepresented the legislation.

The calls come after ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja’s staff robocalled several thousand Canberrans in early May asking whether Canberra schools should remain closed, return for several days per week or immediately re-open due to COVID-19.

In 2018, Liberal MLA Elizabeth Lee was the target of thousands of phone calls, organised by the ACT teachers union after tensions spiked when the Canberra Liberals launched a website called Fix Our Schools, characterised as alarmist by the union.

Our question this week is:

Should we ban politically motivated robocalls?

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2 Responses to Probing the polls: returning Canberrans and gay conversion robocalls
ssek ssek 12:23 pm 20 Aug 20

Why is the question of politically motivated robocalls being banned never asked on this place when I get them from Labor members?

    Maya123 Maya123 12:46 pm 20 Aug 20

    I don’t remember ever receiving a Labor one, but that’s a side issue. I think the issue here being investigated is whether these robocalls violated the electoral act.

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