Two comments on this site regarding the government’s Queensland council amalgamations gambit deserve wider exposure. Electoral law authority Associate Professor Graeme Orr anticipates legal hurdles for the proposal that the AEC conduct plebiscites over the head of the state government (UPDATE: Graeme clarifies this point in comments):
The Feds can appropriate money for broad purposes, so I assume they will try to package any legislation to enable this as purely a matter of bespoke expenditure (like the Hospital â€˜interventionâ€™). But legislate they must: the AEC currently has several functions under the Electoral Act, but none of them involves holding plebiscites, let alone on state issues. How the Feds will be able to override the clear State legislative prerogative to determine Council activities is unclear. Councils are created by State law, and can only act within that law. It may be Howard is just goading Beattie to go further and appear undemocratic, by restricting Councils abilities to co-operate with the AEC. Or it may be Howard will just pay the AEC to run some half-baked plebiscite across Qld on election day, that says â€˜do you approve of council amalgamationsâ€™.
Anthony Llewellyn detects the influence of recent practice in the United States, where ballot initiatives have been used as a ploy to mobilise voters on polling day (also noted earlier by Optimist). The most famous example was a 2004 initiative providing for a constitutional ban on gay marriage, which was seen to have given the President a boost in the crucial swing state of Ohio.
PortlandBet is running a blog noting developments in its comprehensive federal electorate betting market. Of particular interest is a shortening of odds on Labor’s Sid Sidebottom in Braddon after the government announced its Mersey Hospital intervention, famously described by indiscreet Tasmanian Liberal Senator Stephen Parry as a disaster”. Taken in aggregate, the agency’s electorate-level odds point to a result of 75 Coalition, 73 Labor and two independents.
Sydney residents of a particular political persuasion might like to note a free presentation from 6pm on Monday from US poll maven Vic Fingerhut, who boasts four decades’ experience in polling for progressive political parties and unions. Fingerhut will discuss the anti-WorkChoices campaign in the context of other international campaigns, including the campaign against Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America (not a successful campaign so far as the 1994 congressional elections were concerned, but you can’t win ’em all). Presented by the Walkley Foundation and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (whose card-carrying members include me), those wishing to attend must RSVP by Friday. More info here.