OPINION

The polls were wrong, and it's a good thing

Picture: AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi
Picture: AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi

While voting on Saturday, my inner paranoia, and hypocrite, came out to play. As I found my way to a polling booth, I began to muse.

"Thank heavens they got rid of those old voting booths with curtains! Felt like I was going into the booth to have a shower, not a vote ... Hey, I think this lady next to me is trying to sneak a look at my ballot paper!

"How rude! That's like, really rude actually. I won't say anything though.

"Still, it's an invasion of privacy to look at someone else's ballot paper at a polling booth and she should know that at her age.

"How rude ... how would she like it if I was looking at who she's voting for?

"She had her pencil hovering over the Labor candidate a few minutes ago for ages I noticed, but then she didn't tick anything.

"She's a swinging voter, I reckon. Look how she almost went in for the kill, but then pulled back. If we get a Bill Shorten will that mean we get a job shorten too?

"She's up the left side of the ballot paper, so let's see who's up there ... well I'm pretty sure she's not looking at the Help End Marijuana Prohibition Party, but you never know.

"Now she's hovering over the Clive Palmer Party. Hmm ... she doesn't look like a Clive Palmer voter to me. But then again, what does a Clive Palmer Party voter look like? Gee, that Clive Palmer had a lot of ads on TV! Focus, Father!

"She was looking up the other end of the ballot paper before, near the Greens Party. Peter Garrett is probably the greatest greenie this country has ever seen, and he didn't join them.

"I'm a bigger greenie than the Greens! I don't wear the conventional clothing, I lived in the Blue Mountains for years, I never throw things away and I only shower every six or seven weeks ... and only then if I really need one.

"Aren't those militant vegans all Greens? But I thought vegans ate Greens!?

"Where's the Zero Population Party this election? Bred themselves out of existence is my guess. Will you look at the name of this group: The Pirate Party! They'd be a bit one-eyed wouldn't they? And what do they intend to run the economy on? Buried treasure?

"Where's her pencil now? Oh finally she's ticking a box! Alleluia!

"Now, which box is that she's ticking there? What? Is this lady looking at me again? Why is she looking at me? This is a polling booth mate, not a peep show!

"This is getting awkward ... I don't believe it. She's actually turning her back on me and covering her hand over her ballot paper so I can't see it. Pfftt. What an insult! As if I care who she votes for!"

Well, yet again, the federal opinion polls were wrong. I'm not sure opinion polls have ever been an accurate gauge of public opinion, in my opinion.

Almost all the comments - easily 95 per cent - on an ABC webpage I browsed recently were in favour of Labor and the Greens. And yet, the Coalition is back in power.

All this proves a population's inner thoughts and opinions cannot be known for sure - even if asked in an opinion poll. I think this is good. Life would be intolerable and violent if everyone knew everybody's thoughts and opinions.

Freedom of speech is also the freedom not to speak. Many people's lives are very hard because they have felt forced to give their opinion when they wanted to stay silent, and they should have stayed silent.

When Jesus rose from the dead, there were a lot of things he could have chosen to say first.

He could have said "Not bad, hey?" or "Say it. You're impressed!" or "Where's that Judas?" But the first thing he said was "Peace be with you."

Without freedom of speech, you cannot have freedom. And without freedom you cannot have peace of mind, and peace of mind is the highest good, and therefore the first good.

Sometimes, saying nothing is the wisest thing you can say.

All this proves a population's inner thoughts and opinions cannot be known for sure - even if asked in an opinion poll. I think this is good. Life would be intolerable and violent if everyone knew everybody's thoughts and opinions. Freedom of speech is also the freedom not to speak.

Twitter: @fatherbrendanelee