Thursday, December 20, 2007

From yesterday's Crikey

When is a vote not a vote? When it's provisional

Peter Brent from Mumble Politics writes:

A funny thing happened to provisional votes at the November 24 election. It probably cost the ALP several seats. Or it prevented them from taking several seats they shouldn’t have. Or perhaps 70,000 – 100,000 people who couldn’t be bothered keeping their enrolment details up to date simply got what they deserved.

It’s in the eye of the beholder.

What is a provisional vote? Broadly speaking, this is when an elector rocks up to a polling station on election-day, gives their name to the official but finds they aren’t on the roll.

So they get a ballot paper, fill it in, and also write their name and address and electorate on an envelope, into which the ballot paper goes. In the next week or so the AEC checks the voter’s bona fides and if the AEC agrees they should indeed have been on the roll, their ballot paper is counted.

At the 2004 election, about twelve and a half million people voted across the country. Some 180,878 people went through the provisional vote process described above, and of those, 90,366 were rejected, and 90,512 accepted.

So almost exactly 50% made it into the count in 2004.

At last month's election, nearly 13 million people voted in total, and there were (none of the 2007 figures is final) 168,767 provisional votes received by the AEC.

But only 24,212 were counted; the rest were rejected. That is, the acceptance rate of provisional votes fell from 50 percent in 2004 to 14 percent in 2007. Why?

The Howard government made several changes to the electoral law in the last few years, but one of them largely accounts for this huge drop.

Under the old rules, if a person moved from one house to another in the same electorate, and the AEC found out they had left Dwelling A, and so took them off the roll there, but didn’t put them on at Dwelling B because the voter hadn’t filled out a change of address form, they were still entitled to have their vote counted. (If they had moved to another electorate and had dropped off the roll they couldn’t vote.)

But that rule is no more, and such people were discarded in the preliminary scrutiny after last month’s election.

The remaining 14 percent – those who were accepted – were accidentally taken off by the AEC, could show they hadn’t moved address, or were mistakenly thought to have died, perhaps.

Does all of this matter? From the point of view of the disenfranchised elector it does, although some argue that if you can’t be bothered keeping your AEC details up to date you have no-one to blame but yourself.

There is also the fact that provisional voters are disproportionately left of centre. For example, the total national vote at the 2004 election split, after preferences, about 53 to 47 in the Coalition’s favour. But provisional votes split about 53 to 47 to the ALP.

Last month, the nation voted about 53 to 47 in Labor’s favour. Can we assume the “missing” provisional votes would have swung by the same amount, and so gone 59 to 41 in Labor’s favour? If we do assume that, then they would have added about .1 percent to Labor’s national vote, and given them a few more seats.

Or maybe they wouldn’t have swung by that much, and probably at least some of the “missing” provisionals should not have been counted anyway. But even a conservative treatment of them delivers Labor the ultra-marginal McEwen and Bowman.

Electoral law is not black and white. The tension is between integrity of the roll and people’s right to vote. Throw in partisan considerations - from both sides – and it’s a heady mix.

The Coalition government has rammed through some long-held hobby horses since taking control of the Senate in 2005. The new Labor government will have its own, although passage through the Senate may be tricky.

Any electoral system must guard against fraud. But the fact is – and all political parties know it – that the legitimate electors who are likely to lose their vote under tighter restrictions – renters, young folks, people who move around a lot, those without a drivers license – tend to vote left of centre in greater numbers than the rest of us.

This informs the parties’ approach to electoral law.

The Australian Electoral Commission runs a first class operation on election-day. Beneath the calm, efficient exterior at the polling booth is a massive logistical exercise that remains the envy of much of the planet.

But on enrolment we have fallen behind world’s best practice. In many countries address changes are automatic – you don’t have to tell the officials, they change your details for you – and in others enrolment and detail changes are possible up until polling day.

It’s time for Australian enrolment procedures to move into the 21st century. Then issues such as provisional voting would hardly arise.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Australian Shame: Aboriginal Artists Centre Closes

One of the inspiring things about Broome has been Djugun Tribal Creations.

Djugun Tribal Creations is a not for profit organisation providing support and training to Broome’s emerging Artists. Tucked away in the light Industrial area of Clementson Street, we feature work from 21 artists including award winning artists Sue Poelina and Miguel Castillion.

Consisting of 3 onsite studios and a well presented Gallery, Djugun offers the experience of free daily tours. Visitors have the opportunity to meet artists and enjoy a cultural exchange while viewing the artists in action producing not only canvas painting, ceramics, sculptures and carved feature tiles as well.

In 2006 Djugun Tribal Artists in residence received high acclaim, NAIDOC Kimberley Artist of the Year, NAIDOC Kimberley Artist (most commended), and finalists in the MEMENTO Awards (National). These high profile emerging Artists are now finding their work in high demand. Unique one off designs depicting traditional and contemporary Aboriginal Art and local non-indigenous artworks are finding homes all over the state and worldwide.

Never take anything for granted. The business was closing its doors today and emptying out all its equipment and stock. While we were busy defeating the Howard government, Djugun was defeated by the CDEP changes and other government bureaucracy. It has been a model for other aboriginal enterprises and its group of more than 20 artists have won numerous awards.

Photo: Broome potters get fired up (ABC Kimberley 16 april 2005)

We were shocked and stunned by the news. Sue Poelina, an award winning artist shown in the photo, predicted today that they would rise again, hopefully without the need or help of governments that have let them down.

Best of luck! The rest of us should hang our heads in shame.

Original post at: Labor View from Broome

Monday, December 10, 2007

Getup! Confab

Bill McHarg : Planet First

The last kind of person I expected to meet at the Getup! Refresh Conference last weekend in Sydney was a corporate high flier. With the frenetic activity of the last week of campaigning I missed the work of Bill McHarg and his Kookaburra family. His full page ads were in the Sydney press and he slipped under the Broome radar. So it was a great pleasure to meet him and hear his story. Won’t bore you with it all here but his surprise attack on John Howard and Bennelong was clearly sensational. Watch the video and read Green businessman bids to oust Howard (The Age 15 November 2007)

His video Bill McHarg : Planet First was posted on YouTube on 15 November. The Kookaburra van toured the CBD and Bennelong for rest of the campaign. The assault on Howard cost about $200,000. Bill resigned from his business and positions on a number of organisations to focus on his Climate Change passion. His family were his campaign team.

His next target is the US policy makers. They don’t know what they’re in for.

Political Satire:

1. John Howard's Ladies Auxillary Fan Club

Two of the ladies auxillary presented a live sketch of their campaign best at the Getties awards. There was also a workshop presentation by Zelda explaining their tactics and lessons for this kind of satire. Go to their Youtube Channel: joholafaclub for a run around the tan with the PM and a day at the Melbourne Cup, plus other brilliant videos.

2. Cyrius01

Winner of the best satirical video was Cyrius01 aka Stefan Sojka. He was my favourite on Youtube in recent months. If you missed his stuff, visit his Channel.

3. Dan Ilic

Dan made a presentation of some of his videos. He made some for the Getup campaign, others through Fairfax Media and many solos. He describes himself as a writer/performer/director/broadcaster. He's at Channel DanIlic.

Original post at: Labor View from Broome

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tensions rise over Hale St Bridge

Like a rabbit in the headlights

Traffic will be banked back for "kilometres" on the Riverside Expressway when works starts on the new Hale Street Bridge, the State Government says.

The proposed bridge, from Milton to South Brisbane, is becoming the "hot potato" road project in the spotlight for next year's Brisbane City Council elections.

Brisbane City Council is accusing the State Government of demanding changes to its traffic plans while construction of the bridge is underway.

Main Roads Minister Warren Pitt and Brisbane's Lord Mayor exchanged accusations on ABC Radio this morning, with Cr Newman accusing Mr Pitt's department of requesting major changes on Coronation Drive to prevent traffic building up on the Riverside Expressway.

Mr Pitt told ABC Radio that the traffic details were "very thin" on detail and predicted traffic would "bank up for kilometres" on the Riverside Expressway during the construction.

"The traffic management plan that the Lord Mayor says the council has put in place is very thin on detail," Mr Pitt said.


Brisbanites elected Newman maybe because he swam in a drain. Since then he's had this obsession with turning Brisbane into New York, like a little boy who thinks gluing a few decals to his bed makes it a V8 super car. So far all he's accomplished is NY sized spending with no plan for the future besides randomly plonking down billions of dollars of road infrastructure, despite the pressing need to upgrade and maintain Brisbane's pathetic public transport system.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Rudd's Cabinet & Ministry

Cabinet and Ministry

Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister.

Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister, Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Social Inclusion. [this is a good indication of things that are going to be important in a Rudd govt.]

Wayne Swan, Treasurer. [meh, just do what the RBA tells you]

Chris Evans, Leader of the Government in the Senate, Immigration and citizenship. [can't be worse than Andrews]

John Faulkner, Special minister of State, Cabinet Secretary, Vice president of the executive council. [excellent choice here. Faulkner is a real stalwart in parliament, streets ahead of the filthy Eric "aids and" Abetz.

Simon Crean, Trade. [I suppose we'll see what he can really do, can't be worse than Vaile, as long as he doesn't bribe Saddam again]

Stephen Smith, Foreign Affairs. [great tactic, Smith could kill a party in a whorehouse that backed onto a liquor store. Our foreign partners will sign anything to get away]

Joel Fitzgibbon, Defence. [let's see what happens when super hornet gate comes out...]

Nicola Roxon, Health and Ageing. [another good choice, much better than the former minister for asbestos].

Jenny Macklin, Family, Housing, Community services and Indigenous Affairs. [another good performer].

Lindsay Tanner, Finance and Deregulation. [well he is an articled clerk...]

Anthony Albanese, Infrastructure, Transport and Regional development, Local Government, Leader of the House.

Stephen Conroy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. [a potential banana skin?]

Kim Carr, Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. [Another lefty, yay!]

Penny Wong, Climate Change and Water. [another stellar performer and organiser, she'll do well here I think]

Peter Garrett, Environment, Heritage and the Arts. [placed where he can't do too much damage]

Robert McClelland, Attorney-General. [should show slightly more signs of life than the previous occupant. Whatever you do Robert, DO NOT open that sarcophagus in the corner of your new office.]

Joe Ludwig, Human Services, Manager of Government Business in the Senate. [I worry that this guy could be Rudd's Downer... I hope not.]

Tony Burke, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. [Has he ever even seen a cow?]

Martin Ferguson, Resources and Energy, Tourism. [Pro nuclear power energy minister... hmmm...]

Outer Ministry

Bob Debus, Home Affairs.

Chris Brown, Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs.

Alan Griffin, Veterans Affairs.

Tanya Plibersek, Housing, Status of Women.

Brendan O'Connor, Employment Participation. [oddly renamed "Brenda O'Conner" by the SMH]

Warren Snowdon, Defence Science and Personnel.

Craig Emerson, Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy, Minister Assisting the Finance Minister on Deregulation. [should do well]

Nick Sherry, Superannuation and Corporate Governance.

Justine Elliot, Ageing. [she isn't Christopher Pyne]

Kate Ellis, Youth, Sport.

Parliamentary Secretaries

Maxine McKew, Prime Minister and Cabinet. [Max the axe, is Rudd keeping his potential enemies close? That woman is a serious potential leadership threat]

Greg Combet, Defence. [he's probably as confused as we are]

Mike Kelly, Defence.

Gary Gray, Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.

Bill Shorten, Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. [once single handedly rescued two Tasmanian miners using nothing more than a teaspoon and a video camera]

Bob McMullan, Foreign Affairs. [see, I told you boring people to death was our new foreign affairs policy position]

Duncan Kerr, Foreign Affairs.

Anthony Byrne, Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Ursula Stephens, Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector.

John Murphy, Trade.

Jan McLucas, Health and Ageing.

Laurie Ferguson, Immigration and Citizenship. [hmm...]

Can Spend Campbell

As quickly as the Kevin Rudd election posters are coming down around Brisbane, the Liberal Party are replacing them with billboards of their own local hero.

A number of posters featuring Lord Mayor Campbell Newman and his Liberal council hopefuls have sprung up around the city in recent days.

Motorists along Wynnum Road at Cannon Hill this morning will have noticed a large billboard advertisement for Melina Morgan, the Liberal candidate for the Morningside ward.

Ms Morgan is pictured alongside Brisbane's high-profile Cr Newman, who is seeking to break the majority Labor stranglehold in Brisbane City Council.

It is virtually a mirror-image of the successful ALP campaign to identify the local candidates aligned with the popular Kevin Rudd.


This blog will be covering the upcoming Brisbane council elections as well. With any luck the wild spending, tunnel obsessed, brainless mayor will no longer be the ranking elected Liberal in Australia. If anyone has anything interesting (or not) to say about our spender in chief, click the contribute link!

Bill Heffernan's Payback

The Poll That Counts: Bill Heffernan's Payback

Inside the Tallyroom, Senator Bill Heffernan sparred with The Chaser. As a close friend of John Howard and a Liberal Party assassin, he watched the Prime Minister's concession speech with despair.

It was payback time for his attacks on High Court Justice Michael Kirby and Labor Deputy Julia Gillard.

Politics doesn't have to be fought Heffernan's venomous way. I hope he will leave us in peace now.

"The Poll That Counts" series of Election Day 2007 and the National Tallyroom is now complete. If you are blocked from Youtube try TeacherTube

Original post at: Labor View from Broome

My list of demands

Hello. I'm one of the many people who voted to put you in office. Guess what? That makes me one of your many employers.

Normally when you are put in a new job in the PS, you'll get a copy of your JD, and 3-6 months probation. Given your circumstances, you already know what your JD is, and 6 months probation? Try 3 years, at which point we (the Australian people) will reassess.

Now I know you'll have many people pulling you this way and that, wanting things because of your position, but really, we all know that the PM only has as much power as parliament is willing to give him. But having said that, that doesn't mean you can't try - your influence is one bargaining chip you do have. And let's face it, the ALP is hardly going to oust you from your position in a leadership scuffle now that you've helped win back government from the racist, misogynist, power hungry Liberal Party.

But I do have a list of demands. Really, I know that they won't all be met in your first term in office, but damn, you can always try - lay the groundwork at the very least. In no particular order (because as far as I'm concerned, they're all very important), here are some of the ones that come to mind at this moment.

Get our troops out of Iraq. I noticed on Friday that you have stated this will happen by mid-2008. Good job. Now actually follow through please.

Reinstate accountability in the Senate. You know what I mean - committees keep the Senate in line, and the Howard government made damn sure three years ago that they would not be held accountable for their behaviour.

People are going to hate me for this but - no tax cuts. Not during your first term. Don't introduce them in the 2008 budget. The only time you could do so would be in the 2009 budget, but that will be dependent on many factors. If you do it in 2010 and you've not done it in previous years, it will be seen as an election grab, no matter how you justify it.

Reduce spending. For the love of god, reduce spending. The Howard government loved to throw money around as though it grows on trees and they have paid the price - interest rate rises, even when they were warned to slow down. Don't make the same mistake. Yes, interest rates are virtually guaranteed to go up in the next 12 months, and a recession appears to be looming, but that doesn't mean you should just sit around and wait for it to hit.

Now this next one may seem contrary to my previous demand, but increase funding for public schools and hospitals. I know education is one of your big priorities, and that's great, but you may just have to increase state funding. Mental health. Address it. ASAP. Don't just concentrate on the elderly or young people - there are millions of people who don't fall into that category and a portion of them have mental health issues that are inadequately addressed. This definitely needs to be addressed in conjunction (but not solely) with the criminal justice system.

Workchoices. Duh. Now, don't completely abolish AWAs - in some circumstances they are good. But for the rank and file - not good. People want their penalty rates, their overtime, their weekends. They want to be guaranteed a minimum level of rights. Do I need to say that reintroducing unfair dismissal laws would be a good idea? Oh, speaking of - release the statistics that the Howard government refused to release that would back up their claims that removing the laws was great for workers. I don't expect the laws to be reintroduced in their old form, but get the unions together with business, see if something can't be worked out that is good for all. Remember that the ALP was first and foremost for the worker - people like my dad left the party years ago because of the gradual shift to the right. Don't allow yourselves to move any further in that direction. After all, I think we can safely say it is because of an intense dislike for workchoices that you got elected.

Repeal the Marriage Amendment Bill of 2004. (pdf) You know the one. The one that says you can only get married if you and your partner are of different genders. You supported it, remember? Marriage is about love and commitment, not about who has a penis and who has a vagina. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it - not everyone in a committed relationship wants to get married, whether they are straight or gay. The fact that people want to be legally recognised as a couple shouldn't be contingent on whether or not the person they love is of the same sex as them. Gay marriage will not destroy life as we know it. As a first step, you can make sure that homosexual de facto couples get exactly the same rights as heterosexual de facto couples. This also includes access to IVF and adoption.

Kyoto. I know you've already said you'll ratify. Good. Just a reminder.

Detention centers and "queue jumpers". Introduce a maximum time that people will be left in detention centers when seeking asylum (I suggest 6 months - no more). Do not put children in there full stop. While I'd like the detention centers to be completely abolished, I know you aren't going to do that, so this is my compromise. Also - repeal the "Pacific Solution". It is bullshit.

Be honest with Australia about the terrorism threat. There is no doubt in my mind that Howard & Co exaggerated the level of threat for political gain. Their encouragement of xenophobia and racism is ruining Australia's international reputation. You need to make sure that people know that this kind of bigotry will not be tolerated (or encouraged) like it has been in the past 11 years. Multiculturalism is not just a pretty idea, it is essential for harmony.

Fixed terms. You yourself know what it feels like to be held hostage to the whims of the government in announcing when the election will be held. People like to be able to plan. People like to be able to know that the government of the day isn't going to try to shove some more legislation through before they announce an election. People like to know when they are planning to get rid of the government, that there is a clearly defined end in sight. Three or four years - up to you. I'd prefer three, but that is a personal preference. You actually said during the campaign that you would introduce them - please don't let that be a non-core promise.

This is all I can think of at the moment. I know there are plenty more. You do have your work cut out for you - 11 years of the Howard government has resulted in a lot of rubbish to wade through. So you'll probably hear from me again.

In the tradition of employers everywhere, I also reserve the right to add to or amend any of these issues. It's part of the fun.

Good luck, we will be watching.



Howard's Last Innings: A Golden Pair

Howard's Last Innings: Tallyroom Spectators

John Howard made his concession speech on Saturday night at 10.40 pm, Canberra time. Like his cricketing idol, Don Bradman, Howard made a duck in his last innings. In fact by losing his seat, it's probably a golden pair.

Bennelong 0, Coalition 0.

In the national Tallyroom, he was watched by both friend and foe with a sense of disbelief. Bill Heffernan, his loyal assassin who spent the night sparring with the Chaser. Joe Hockey hoping it was all just another stunt. ACTU President Sharon Burrow, vindicated at last. Penny Wong who was a formidable opponent during the campaign.

The media looked on, in silence for once. Members of the Press Gallery. Shock-jocks like Steve Price, confidante of rock stars. But also the alternative media. Koori and Tamil media broadcasters who were seated beside me. The National Indigenous Times who worked in front of us. Getup and Nick Parkin and Matt Clayfield from Election Tracker who blogged live through the evening.

And of course the public gallery who had clapped and cheered spontaneously from the beginning. Most listened quietly for the most part to the PM. But in an indication of what went wrong for him this year, many of the crowd stopped listening before he finished.

The closing credits of the video show a 1982 Canberra Times front page dating from the Fraser government. The caption reads: "John Howard - set to replace Lynch?" It hangs in the foyer of Rydges Lakeside Hotel in Canberra. Howard entered parliament in 1974 and became Treasurer in 1977. He was the last remaining member of the Liberal Party Room of 1975, which blocked supply forcing the Whitlam government's dismissal. All gone, but not forgotten!

A cliché called closure.

If you are blocked from Youtube try TeacherTube.

Original post at: Labor View from Broome

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Election Night: Tallyroom Tension

The Poll That Counts No.3: Tallyroom Tension

Inside the National Tallyroom in Canberra on Saturday night, the tension rose as the Australian Labor Party took the lead. People had travelled long distances and waited for hours to get into the public area. They knew why they had come. As one woman quipped, "I want my country back!". It was not just a partisan crowd. But they had come to celebrate.

Original post at: Labor View From Broome