The following article was authored by Sandy Bolton MP and published in the Noosa Today on the 16th of March 2024:

Consultations, or getting your views on government proposals, projects or provisions, take many forms. On multiple occasions I have called state government out on their inappropriate timeframes and processes for consultations, hence totally understand the frustrations from communities when ‘having your say’ falls short of expectations!

It was interesting at a recent ‘Meet the Candidates’ session to hear the cry for more consultation, when in history there has never been so much, and so often. So, is it a case of quantity versus quality needed?

Let’s look at this. A decrease in participation in our annual MP Community Survey had me thinking that there is either a level of complacency, or that ‘feedback fatigue’ has set in!

When you look at the volumes of state, federal and local government submissions/surveys and polls open on just about every aspect of our lives, this is understandable.  In addition, there are plenty of organisations, advocates and businesses also running surveys and polls, which can increase the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Or is it that residents feel that no matter what they say, their views will be disregarded?

This is definitely not the case in our office! Given this is one of our avenues to determine the priorities of our community, thoughts on potential solutions to issues and importantly on legislation, I wonder what it will take to get the ‘disengaged’ engaged, the ‘fatigued’ revitalized, or the disillusioned ‘reinvigorated’?

For myself as an Independent Member of Parliament, our annual survey, as well topic specific polls are vital as I am Noosa ‘centric’. This is unlike political party MPs who are restricted to broad party policy or state-wide election commitments. This can lead to a vast majority of our residents being deeply in opposition to a party’s stance reflected by their elected representative, which yes, can lead to a feeling that your voice does not matter. This is not the case in Noosa.

In amongst our standard annual questions, we list specific matters that may have started to emerge in state chamber (such as nuclear power), from resident/organisation advocacies (such as North Shore day permit numbers) or used as part of ‘wedge’ politics (such as making public the sex offenders register). This last one is a good example, as it has been brought up again this month on Facebook after nearly 4 years as part of getting ready for the next state election! That political parties who have utilised this type of ‘wedging’ in an ‘A-Z’ motion (which is one that includes many unrelated items) have never put a Private Members Bill or Private Members Motion dedicated to it in all that time, demonstrates the games played. Sadly ‘politicking’ is short of facts, and big on manipulative grabs.

Additionally, we host ‘as needed’ surveys on Noosa matters that may be contentious (such as clothing optional beaches), or that could see our community split down the middle, such as one just released on trialing non-lethal shark control methods during whale migration season to end entanglements at Noosa Main Beach.

Our polls are designed to be quick, not leading or misleading, and provide credible information links for those who would like to know more. Our aim is to get genuine, uninfluenced feedback, and to increase participation!

Why is this important? Because the results of our survey’s form what aspect of advocacy we take forward, or how I will vote on behalf of Noosa. And for the naysayers who believe governments do not listen to our communities, they actually do, though not as speedily as I would like!

One example is since 2021 I have taken a position on behalf of Noosa from survey results regarding an expanded ‘On Country’ program as a form of relocation sentencing for repeat youth offenders, leading to me being 1 of 5 MP’s from 93 to support a similar concept via a Katter Private Members Bill. Relocation sentencing removes the offender from the environment that enabled the offending, providing the schooling or training needed to create a new pathway, which detention has not been able to provide as has been reiterated during our Youth Justice Reform Committee’s Inquiry.  As a result of this advocacy, this alternative option for the courts is now being made available, demonstrating how your voice has been listened to, and used! Other examples include Voluntary Assisted Dying and the Cooloola Great Walk Eco Tourism Project, which I have written on.

In addition, the issue of political parties and MP’s sending postal votes applications to residents without notifying that responses go to the parties ‘headquarters’ first before ending up at the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ). This is ‘hoodwinking’ and I cannot comprehend why this has not been remedied, however given the Federal Government has now said it is not ‘okay’, we have the extra support needed to see this practice that both sides of the house have been complicit in, end. Add in using newsletter subscribers and electoral roll details to send political marketing via text, email and mail, or even the infamous robocalls? This is an outright impingement on your rights to privacy and even though currently ‘legal’, Queenslanders deserve transparency on how their personal details are used.

Now, what was interesting from this year’s annual survey that will form Noosa’s position?  For clarity, I look at 80% and beyond as a rationale to take a stance as 60%, even though a majority, can be ‘tainted’ due to the unknowns in the process including advocates hand mailing our survey to memberships which can ‘skew’ results.

Here we go! In the 80% realm was increasing funding for hospice and in home palliative care. Having achieved so much in this space since I first secured the $100k to get Katie Rose Hospice accredited and subsequent government contracts, more must be done as the financial modelling for contracts is insufficient. With the various hospices now working with Palliative Care QLD in a collaborative advocacy, I have no doubt we will see a proper funding model versus the current ad hoc nature.

As well, amending legislation to ensure nature conservation is the priority above all else in National Parks. Having already taken this forward in response to the views from our polling regarding the Cooloola Great Walk Eco Project, I look forward to this being resolved.

That all athlete accommodation is transferred to community housing providers on completion of the Games and capping expenditure to current levels is a ‘no brainer’ as every Olympic Games ever held has contributed to rental increases and further displacement of residents.  This is not okay given our ongoing crisis, and alongside the cross bench we will continue to take that forward.

Others include the banning of cage hen eggs before the current target of 2036, reviewing biodiversity overlays and koala mapping, and reducing the number of day permits to Cooloola during peak times which is due out any day.

There were two clear ‘no’ messages in the survey, though not in the 80% majority as there were many that were undecided. One was regarding government agencies using glyphosate for weed control and raising the age of criminal responsibility.

The most divisive at 50/50, were daylight savings (yes, every year!) and using nuclear power as part of reducing emissions (thought that would have been a high majority against?)  with the hydrogen option faring better with 60% in support, over 30% undecided, and 5% against.

Now let’s get to how surveys can be ‘interfered’ with, and responses utilized for specific aims?
Leading questions are designed to achieve a specific result. Here are two examples from the opposite end of the spectrum! “With nuclear power one of the most dangerous forms of providing electricity, do you support?” Alternatively, “With nuclear power being one of the cleanest, economical and environmentally friendly forms of electricity, do you support?” You can see how the ‘skewing’ can occur!

Additionally, too much information can leave one ‘bamboozled’ and ‘overloaded’ and have us all reaching for Google to better understand, resulting in a ‘forget this survey, too hard!” Alternatively, no information can lead to basing opinions on social media or media misinformation, which leads to a response that lacks the knowledge needed to make an informed decision.

Whichever way you present a survey, there will be critics, mostly from the ‘vested interest’ realm who want their own slant pushed forward, which ultimately defeats the purpose of real consultation.

Now that you have the low down on surveys, I hope you can see their relevance! So please, add your voice to the ‘for’ or ‘against’, and inspire your family, friends and neighbours to do so as well!

For all of the results from this year’s annual survey, including those that were a ‘majority’ however did not make the magic 80% line, head to

And for those who wrote commentary, be assured I have read them all. Anyone who voted in a minority is always included in investigations, and referred to should these come into Chamber. Items that are not under the jurisdiction of state government or a State MP, are compiled and send to Noosa Council, or the relevant Federal MP.

Next month I hope to be able to give you my ‘take’ of my committee’s inquiry into youth justice, including the facts that might not be so popular? 😊 And the following month, yes, the Noosa River, which has been such a contentious issue in the current local government elections!

Don’t forget our survey currently open on shark control methods! Please provide your feedback at before 12pm on Monday 1 April.

Happy March everyone, and how blessed we are to live in such a vibrant, thought-provoking community!