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.