Do politicians listen? Our 3MT winner has the answer
PhD candidate Eamon McGinn, from the Economics Discipline Group, has won the UTS Business School’s 3 Minute Thesis competition with an engaging presentation based on his thesis, ‘Polaristation: evidence from political speeches about same sex marriage’.
This year, eight PhD candidates from the Business School came together to pitch bite-sized summaries of their research to a packed auditorium in the Chau Chak Wing building.
With topics ranging from inequality in the Australian healthcare system to an economic analysis of consumer preference, contestants battled it out for a $500 cash prize and the chance to progress to the UTS-wide final.
Utilising just one power-point slide and with only three minutes to explain years’ worth of complex research, the competition – originally from the University of Queensland – is designed to cultivate contestants’ abilities to clearly and concisely explain their research to a non-expert audience.
McGinn, a Director at Deloitte Access Economics, impressed judges with an abridged version of his research, titled ‘Do politicians listen to their voters?’
“The fundamental question I’m addressing with this research is do politicians actually listen to their voters?” said McGinn. “It’s an important question for economists … but it’s even more important for society, as we live in a modern democracy.”
Using the Same Sex Marriage survey as an example, McGinn’s research utilised machine learning to look at 1000 political speeches given about SSM issues in parliament. He then ranked the speeches from 0-1 – with zero indicating someone is perfectly opposed to same sex marriage and one indicating someone who is perfectly in support.
“After the election, I looked at what happened to the scores,” explained McGinn. “The main result I found was that politicians actually moved closer to their electorate.”
“That’s essentially how economists think politicians should behave – that when they get new information, they should move closer to their electorate,” he said.
Runner up Jonathan Karlsen also impressed judges with a presentation based on his innovative thesis, ‘Combatting crime with forensic finance’.
Researching primarily in the area of cryptocurrencies, Karlsen’s thesis explores how Blockchain and bitcoin are used to facilitate illegal activity.
“Cryptocurrencies have amazing benefits for society, especially Blockchain,” said Karlsen. “They’re great technologies, and they can really help us out. But they have one downside, and that is this criminal aspect that affects millions of people in their everyday lives.”
Rounding out the top three was People’s Choice winner, Mohammad Pulok, from the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE).
His presentation, based on his thesis ‘Horizontal equity in the Australian healthcare system: exploring the unknowns and updating the knowns’, examines “the fairness of Medicare healthcare services in the era of greater private healthcare financing in Australia”.
Having won the Business round, McGinn will progress to the UTS-wide 3 Minute Thesis competition, where he will compete against PhD students from faculties across the university.
If successful, he will then go on to represent both UTS and the Business School at the 2018 Asia-Pacific 3MT competition, held at the University of Queensland on the 27th September.
Read more about the UTS 3MT final here.