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Some facts about Lowy's Fiji poll

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This post is part of the The Lowy Institute's Fiji Poll debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

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14 November 2011 15:35


This post is part of the The Lowy Institute's Fiji Poll debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

Rowan Barnsley, in his Reader Riposte, claims the Lowy Institute's Fiji poll was 'undertaken by a known sympathiser of the military junta. Even more alarming in my view was how the survey was funded.'

The Lowy Institute first considered commissioning a public opinion poll in Fiji two years ago. We were disappointed that one consequence of the Fiji Government's imposition of media censorship was that the Fiji Times would no longer publish the results of opinion polls the newspaper had conducted in conjunction with Tebbutt Research for almost 20 years. We thought a valuable source of information about the Fiji people's thinking would be lost, and in an environment where debate was not only censored in Fiji but becoming highly polarised and led by elites, we were concerned at the decline in Fiji data available to researchers. 

The Institute has a proud record of publishing opinion polls on international policy issues. We thought we were well placed to commission and publish an opinion poll in Fiji, as we had this tradition of polling on international affairs, had conducted polls in other countries and would be regarded as an independent organisation. 

Tebbutt Research has an almost 20-year history of scientific, face-to-face polling in Fiji. It was a well-respected Australian company with a record on polling that no other company in the region could match, so it made sense for us to commission Tebbutt Research to conduct the poll. After many rounds of discussions and consultation on the questionnaire, the poll was conducted between 19 and 21 August 2011.

The Lowy Institute's Myer Foundation Melanesia Program seeks funds from a variety of sources — private and government — to assist it to convene events and fund research. The Program obtained a grant in 2009 from a foundation established by Mr Mark Johnson AO. This grant was given to the Program for research on Melanesia. The Institute advised Mr Johnson that we would use the grant for future research on Fiji.

Mr Johnson did not at any point seek to influence the Institute's expenditure of the grant and was not involved in any way in discussions on the poll, its questions or its methodology. The cost of the poll was funded in part by the Myer Foundation Melanesia Program and in part by the grant from Mr Johnson's foundation. We recognised this grant, just as we recognise the grants of other private and government sources in the work the Institute does.

The author of the Fiji Poll (me) has no financial, business or other personal interests in Fiji and is on public record as a critic, not a sympathiser of the regime in Fiji.

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