Some people are very emotionally disturbed about the Federal Government's $43 billion national broadband plan. The Coalition Opposition has an alternative, cheaper plan which they put up against the government's plan during this year's (2010) election campaign. Independent MP, Tony Windsor was said to have been swayed to supporting the formation of a minority Labour government by , at least partially, advice from an telecommunications expert about the respective broadband plans.
Rabid opponents of the Government and all things Labour, have tried to discredit the expert who advised Tony Windsor by saying he wasn't qualified to give an expert opinion. Chris Smith, on his 2GB radio program, produced his own independent telecommunications expert, and invited the so called expert who advised Tony Windsor, to take part in a debate about broadband technology. Fearing an ambush from Chris Smith, the pro Government plan expert brought some reinforcements: you guessed it, another independent telecommunications expert. The two experts presented their credentials and in my view were equals. Two men with access to the same information, analysed the broadband options within the framework of equivalent education and comparable professional experience, and came to different conclusions.
Leaving aside the fact that the debate was a farcical attempt by Chris Smith and his independent expert to grind personal axes against the Labour party, and smear the credibility of the other expert by attacking his integrity, what other conclusions could I, as a listener, draw? I am not an expert. Who do I believe?
When two experts interpret information differently and therefore have divergent views on what practical application of those facts should follow, how does a layman like me decide who is right and who is wrong? Who has the authority? Who should I believe?
We have experts declaring that the war against illegal drugs has been lost, but nobody in government is listening. We have other experts wailing about the end of the world being hastened along by climate change and nearly everyone is government is listening. We have telecommunications experts saying fiber optic is the only way to go because it is future proof while other experts assert the technology will date, and the Government's plan will be a $43 billion white elephant. There are many voices claiming to speak the truth and demanding that we believe them. Who should we believe? Who can we trust? As Pontius Pilate said to Jesus, 'What is truth?'
There is no answer in this final sentence.