Who knew Whanganui District Council's simple household waste survey would capture the imagination of so many?

The council is pondering introducing a rate-funded waste collection – like many councils have – but is first gauging opinion through a city-wide survey.

Urban residents can choose whether they prefer rubbish and recycling collection, rubbish-only collection, or no council intervention and the status quo.

The survey appears to be a standard, simple way to take the city's pulse.


But some believe they've found something devious between the lines.

There's suggestion the council has already made up its mind, planting subliminal messages through colour coding on the form.

Others say there is lack of information about how a council-run service would likely be cheaper than a private service.

There's question over how the various advantages and disadvantages are framed.

Those theories are more likely come from the peddler's own bias and fear the results may not come out on their side rather than any deliberate slant in the survey. This isn't House of Cards.

The waste survey needs to be put in context, too.

It is not a binding referendum and is just one of many factors which will be considered when councillors make their decision.

There will be even more public consultation through the council's annual plan, councillors will seek their own information, and yes, discuss their own opinions, then they'll make a decision as we elect them to do. Words and colours shouldn't factor.


About 3000 responses have already been returned and that number is expected to almost double.

Some districts struggle to get that response rate for an election, so we should get a fairly accurate guide as to what the public of Whanganui are thinking.

There are not many issues this council term which will have been so well canvassed.

If anything, the response rate and the angst over the survey's framing and delivery shows a city healthily engaged in the humdrum of local politics.

That's a good thing. And while not everyone will be happy with the outcome, that's democracy, not conspiracy.

*People now have until November 9 to return their survey. Those who haven't received one can call 349 0001.