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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The issue with double-barrelled questions

“Do you’re keen on me and can you marry me?” Sounds harmless sufficient, proper? However it’s truly two questions posing as one and there are a number of methods it may be answered. But the individual asking the query solely desires one reply—sure or no. The true solutions are sure to the primary a part of the query and no to the second, or no and sure, or sure and sure, or no and no. The final two would give a straight sure or no response, however actually not the primary two.

This straightforward instance is a double-barrelled query—one which disguises a single query, which truly asks two issues however solely desires one reply. Wikipedia has a straightforward to know article on all these questions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-barreled_question. It’s a kind of questioning that I realized NOT to make use of when setting assessments for varsity college students again in my instructing days—in order for you a single reply, then ask a single query. If the query is definitely asking two issues, then ask two questions.

So, why am I writing about these kinds of questions as we speak? As a result of yesterday (14 October 2023) Australia went to the polls for a referendum, simply as we’ve completed 45 instances since Federation (1901). Referendums are held to alter the Australian Structure, and solely 8 have attained a majority Sure vote (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Referendums_in_Australia).

The latest that I’ve voted in have been to permit Australia to turn into a republic (1999), and the one yesterday to recognise the First Nations peoples of Australia as the unique inhabitants of this land. Besides NEITHER query on the poll paper truly requested these questions. As a substitute, each referenda questions have been double-barrelled as a result of they included different info on both how that ought to occur or what it might appear like.

It distressed me again in 1999 that the query we have been requested wasn’t nearly turning into a republic, but in addition what that might appear like. And it distressed me earlier this yr after we came upon the query we’d be requested on the 2023 referendum. When you ask a double-barrelled query and the response is a sure/no or no/sure and never a easy sure/sure or no/no, then those that like one half of the query however not the opposite will are likely to vote No. And so it was yesterday.

The 1999 query about turning into a republic was:  To change the Structure to ascertain the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-Common being changed by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament.

Truly, breaking it down, this query has 3 elements to it—turn into a republic (sure/no), exchange Queen and Governor-general with a President (sure/no), appoint a President by a 2/3 majority of MPs (i.e. not direct voting by the individuals) (sure/no). Various sides weren’t joyful about one, two, or all elements of this query. At a private stage, I needed a republic and to interchange the Queen and G-G (I nonetheless do), however wasn’t positive a couple of President and positively wasn’t positive about trusting MPs to make that call for me. I voted No.

Yesterday’s query: To change the Structure to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. (see the Australian Electoral Fee’s web site for extra info and proposed wording within the structure: https://www.aec.gov.au/referendums/study/the-question.html)

Once more, there are two elements to this query—recognition within the structure of First Nations individuals as the unique custodians of this land (sure/no), and institution, within the structure, of a voice to parliament (sure/no).

It’s a travesty that such a easy factor as a double-barrelled query may end up in a No vote—it might by no means be another means as the final human response whenever you aren’t swayed to a transparent sure/sure or no/no place is to err on the aspect of No. For all the price of working a referendum, to have had 2 questions on the poll paper would’ve been no costlier—one query about recognition, and the opposite about implement it.

See additionally: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/commentisfree/2023/oct/14/rejecting-the-voice-shows-australia-is-still-in-denial-its-history-of-forgetting-a-festering-wrong, the place this sentence voiced numerous what I’ve felt about this challenge: ‘My grownup youngster, standing in a protracted line to vote on Saturday, was overwhelmed with disappointment. “Why are all these individuals deciding whether or not we belong or not?” they requested.’

[Links last checked October 2023]

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