The Poll Bludger has been taking it a bit easy lately, so the following developments had passed unremarked:
As predicted, the Australian Electoral Commission’s calculation of the states’ representation entitlements will see New South Wales lose a House of Representatives seat and Queensland gain one (its second gain at successive redistributions). Antony Green suggests that the most likely outcome in New South Wales is that Riverina will be abolished, with all electorates up the Hume Highway through to south-western Sydney sucked south-westwards to fill the vacuum. Other rearrangements will be required by stagnation in Labor’s south Sydney heartland, which could pull the Prime Minister’s already precarious electorate of Bennelong into Labor’s orbit. A respondent to Antony in Crikey argues that the shortfall in south Sydney is greater than that in the outer west, and that the AEC will be compelled to wield the knife here instead.
Special Minister of State Eric Abetz has issued a press release announcing a package of electoral law amendments to be introduced to Federal Parliament. They include the contentious proposal to close the electoral rolls on the evening the writs are issued; a requirement for authorisation of electoral advertising on the internet that will expressly "not extend to ‘blogs’"; proof of identity requirements for enrolment and lodgement of declaration votes; and various measures regarding donations to political parties and their disclosure.
South Australian Premier Mike Rann has come out for the abolition of the State’s upper house, announcing that it will be one of three options put to voters at a referendum in conjunction with the 2010 election. The other two will be maintenance of the status quo, and reform to shorten MLCs’ generous eight-year terms. In one of the dopier editorials of recent memory, The Advertiser endorsed abolition by arguing that advocates of "checks and balances" suffer a "fundamental misunderstanding of the strength of our democratic system", namely that there are – wait for it – elections held every four years. The editorial acknowledged "the infamous excesses of Queensland’s system over the years" (which occurred under three year terms), then said nothing further about them.
Speaking of South Australia, their election is fixed for March 18 and the Poll Bludger’s seat-by-seat guide should be up and running in a few weeks. Life could get complicated if there is substance to mounting speculation of an early election in Tasmania, widely tipped to be called for one of the three Saturdays between February 25 and March 11.
Author: William Bowe
William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.
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3 comments on “Miscellany”
As I hate to see the term ‘No Comment(s)’ let me break the silence, with a quick comment on Sen/the Hon/Erica Betz’s press release.
The first thing to note is how refreshing it is to see a press release with a footnote. A first? Forget the fact that the footnoted paragraph is not just irrelevant (indeed referring back 22 years) but a case of ‘methinks he doth protest too much’. Press Releases need pseudo-academic touches the way government ads need flippant and passing citation of bogus research (yes, I’m referring to the Business Council of Australia ads).
The second thing to note is that the ambit claim on tax deductibility of donations has been stripped somewhat. It is now $1500 pa (funny figure, since it is considered obsolete as the threshold for disclosure).
Even so, $1500 is 15 times the present level of $100. AND it’s extended to company donations (mind you some coys already claim, as a business expense, their overpriced tickets to party dinners, conferences, millenia fora etc…) The problem with any form of tax deductibility is that it is a taxpayer subsidy of private political largesse. And by definition an unequal one since poorer/retired voters can’t afford more than token donations, and higher income earners benefit more since their deduction is at the highest marginal rate.
Note that the current deductibilty of just $100 – currently only allowed to natural persons – just covers a party membership. The new $1500 will, I presume, apply to the first $1500 of up to 9 donations to a party, since the larger parties register by state/territory branch + as a national entity. That’s up to $3600 tax saved – or rather ploughed into their favoured party – by every corporate donor, every year.
This will look sad, but I’m not replying to my own comment.
I just wanted to draw attention to Rann’s referendum proposal. He’s given no details of the mechanism, but it could only be a multi-option vote – a ‘preferenda’.
1. Would it be by preferential vote, or plurality wins? I imagine only a preferential vote could guarantee the legitimacy of any outcome.
2. Does anyone know of preferenda being used in Australia before? I’ve only come up with some local option polls (eg offering communities different hours for pub closing times).
3. My interest in this is a belief that we should resolve the Republican question in one fell swoop with a preferendum – pitching, head-to-head Con Monarchy; Parl Apptment and Direct Election models.
How about the National Anthem vote in 1977. Advance Australia Fair won 43.4% of the primary vote, and after the distribution of preferences, won 65.2% of the two-song preferred vote.
You’ve got to love the concept of a two-song preferred vote.
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