Please answer my actual question first


p2546 Hiroshima Chris Hawke 230At the Masters Games I was delighted to see both our NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner and my local member Minister Dale Wakefield at their Todd Mall Market stall (mobile office) in Alice Springs.
I couldn’t resist asking them: “What do we have to do for you to stop fracking the NT?”
Minister Wakefield enthusiastically described their recent Katherine 25MW Solar Farm announcement. Chief Minister Gunner described the challenges of getting system changes with the Federal government and local electricity infrastructure.
I found myself agreeing with them, but still felt confused by their answers. Then I realised they were both answering a question I was not asking. Both had responded to me with information that they hoped would leave them in a more positive (or less negative) light. I was getting their best spin on this complex topic.
This really frustrates me … and many others. There is rarely any real public dialogue or discussion. Most public media coverage is simply all parties ‘staying on message’. Why can’t they answer my actual question first, then go on to give me their answers (message) that they want me to hear.
Let’s create more spaces and time for real dialogue. Let’s expect better than our current 24/7 ‘thirty second grab’ media culture. Let’s educate ourselves to improve our ‘spot-the-spin’ skills of diverting (manipulating) our questions into answers to their own questions. Let’s develop an app that detects and rates how well any question is answered.
Fortunately, I was lucky to have several uninterrupted minutes with them in which some serious dialogue did actually occur. While we did not agree, I better understood their view and they heard my desire to stop NT fracking contributing to climate change, while polluting our land, air and water.
Chris Hawke (pictured)
Alice Springs


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