The nutty professor

Professor David Flint, national convenor of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy and former chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority, offered an eyebrow-raising assessment of the state of Australian democracy in yesterday’s subscriber-only Crikey email. Things started innocuously enough, with Flint making the perfectly sound argument that too much is read into opinion polls in this country (see below). He then made a strange insinuation that Galaxy had slanted its recent Bennelong poll in favour of Labor, but I was willing to let that one go. Then came this line of inquiry:

And how do the pollsters measure the impact of fraudulent voting? Redesigned late last century allegedly to “make voting easier”, the system is still wide open to fraud, even if closing the polls early will reduce fraudulent registrations.

Got that everybody? In John Howard’s Australia, electoral fraud is so out of hand it has a measurable impact on the parties’ shares of the aggregate national vote. This problem is on a scale sufficient to raise questions about opinion poll methodology, so we’re not just talking preselection shenanigans of the kind unearthed by the Shepherdson inquiry. On even the most conservative of interpretations, Flint must mean that well over 100,000 votes are being rorted at each election in favour of one party over the other. None of this has raised a peep from the Australian Electoral Commission, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters or the Court of Disputed Returns – not to mention the parties themselves, one of which has a right to feel greatly aggrieved. Which is the culprit, one wonders, and which the victim? Well, the whole point of Flint’s article is that there is reason to think Labor will not do as well at the election as the polls suggest. So obviously this renowned crusader for the conservative cause has his finger pointed firmly at the Coalition.

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.

53 comments on “The nutty professor”

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  1. I think he’s succumbed to the charms of Dr Amy McGrath and her Sydney based Chapman Society:

    Yelps if he is channelling Erica Betz or others in the Liberals who the Chapmans spent years working on to restrict registration.

    The bizarrest thing about this is that opinion polls GUARD against vote-rigging: you can’t rig an independent opinion poll. Unless you fraudulently clone yourself, obtain multiple telephone numbers and the clones sit by the phone waiting to be polled all day.

  2. “At times the Coalition’s primary vote has got within seven points, tantalisingly close to making a contest of it.”

    Start a thread with a worst polling quote from Shanahan about polling. This is my entry from today.

  3. Well said, William (and Bloody bravo, Barney!). I had multiple WTF moments reading Dolly Flint’s load of tripe in Crikey. The poor darling has climbed so far up Howard’s Khyber that he’s landed in a dark netherworld, one devoid of facts, reason or common sense. And it must be smelling pretty rotten up there by now…

  4. Guess this is what Flintie means when he gushes about staying ” brave and true”.

    I think Alan Jones should rush Flinters with the offer of a pre-election “special guest appearance” on Alan’s influential radio show. Howard’s base is clearly in need of rallying, and dear David is just the sort of fwightfully good chap to turn things around. Do or die time ‘n’ all.

    “……Into the valley of death rode the six hundred”

  5. Possum hit the nail – breathtaking!
    Does anyone understand the psychology of this deluded oddball? What next, he’ll start crowing that the Australian people are just being hoodwinked by those darn “elites” again? Flint is another one of those embarrasing crusaders for the right who have no idea what they’re actually doing – just like Janet Albrechtsen and Andrew Bolt – pick up an idea from U.S conservatives, try some kind of ham-fisted interpretation for an Australian audience, cross your fingers and hope for the best. This theory is just plain cooky – how does someone write something so nakedly crazy and nonsensical without feeling just a little embarrassed?
    I guess I’ll find out if ever Dennis Shanahan comes clean.

  6. This is straight from the US right who are obsessed about vote fraud. The dismissal of the govt attorneys that led to the recent resignation of the US AG was because they were not pursuing this obsession.

  7. David Flint, head of the Broadcasting Authority, monarchist and confident of the Prime Minister – this idiot is typical of those who support the Liberal Party. It makes you feel very comfortable on the other side of the fence.

  8. Geoff Robinson, totally agree with that – I’d add to your comments, though, by saying: This is straight from the US right who are obsessed about voter fraud as a means of disenfranchising voters whose demographic is generally antagonistic towards conservatives. If anyone wants some good insight on how they go about this, I would strongly recommend the work of investigative journalist Grag Palast – he’s done outstanding research on Republican efforts to deny voting rights in primarily african-American and hispanic districts through both Congressional and Presidential campaigns since 2000.

  9. Graeme,
    Is Amy McGrath still alive? The last update on that link is 2000. She is/was the daughter of Dr JHL Cumpston, the first federal director-general of health and if alive would be in her nineties. I remember her getting a bee in her bonnet about the unloseable election of 1993 but I haven’t heard of her for years.

  10. There was some discussion yesterday about Rudd having to shout in an
    interview to be heard. Now we know why.
    “KEVIN Rudd has committed $300 million if elected to unravel one of Brisbane’s most tangled traffic snarls, saying John Howard should have fixed the black spot years ago.

    The Labor leader yesterday added road funding to his campaign, portraying the Prime Minister as asleep at the wheel of government.

    Mr Rudd promises to build an underpass at the intersection of Kessels and Main roads, Macgregor.

    The Opposition Leader announced the plan yesterday for the busy intersection, which takes about 72,000 cars a day.

    “This is a federal road. Here’s some federal funding for a federal solution,” Mr Rudd said. “

  11. oops – I read Flint’s piece yesterday, but I failed to notice who wrote it. I figured it was just a humorous aside. Sometimes it pays to be blonde!

  12. As Graeme says, it’s real Chapman Society stuff, and my guess is that the good doctor is a member. They are a bunch of flat-earthers, boasting members like John Stone. They apparently have a bee in bonnet about the South African elections too – strange, that one.

    I think poor Graeme has spoken to them.

    Chapman was actually a good chap – he invented the govt printed ballot paper, no less. ‘Twas a balmy January in Melbourne in 1856 ….

    But that’s another story.

  13. Dear oh dear.

    If this is a preview of the sort of analysis of their loss that the Libs are going to engage in after the election, then Gawd help the Liberal Party.

    They’ll slide downhill into one of those ranting wingnut conspiracist groups that one sees lurking in dark corners of the web. I waiting for someone to start talking about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    Menzies would weep.

  14. No you are being harsh on the good professor, it is just like he heard the old battle cry “Vote early vote often” and took it too seriously, like the Klingon “It is a good day to die” battle cry.

  15. “They are a bunch of flat-earthers, boasting members like John Stone…”

    Peter, it’s interesting you mention Stone. I’ve seen Flint’s pieces in Crikey lately and every time his rants remind me of the stuff John Stone used to come out with. It’s as if every decade has to throw up an angry ageing bureaucrat to rant from the loony right.

    I’ve been wondering who’ll take the baton from Prof Flint in a few years. Maybe Max Moore-Wilton could apply?

  16. i guess he could always egg Howard on to challenge the election result– gawd i hope those rocket launchers dont get into terrorist hands while Bush is here, assasinating the US president here is NOT a good look and it would certainly upset things by maybe sending the punters back to Howard in droves.

  17. Simon, it depends on what Howard means by “well before” Xmas. On past form from Howard, that could mean anything, but I took it to mean soon, like just after APEC. He’s like an eel in a bag. But he did seem to stress the “well before …” Maybe he’s realised his time is up.

    Someone said earlier that Howard has been floundering since Sindonis (spelling?) left. I think that’s very true: Howard is running the show and he is stuffing it. If that’s true, it won’t get any better during the official campaign, probably worse.

  18. Just heard news from a reliable source that Labor has made a deal with Family First in Queensland.

    So Rudd is flirting with the fundamentalists….

  19. [Simon, it depends on what Howard means by “well before” Xmas. On past form from Howard, that could mean anything, but I took it to mean soon, like just after APEC. He’s like an eel in a bag. But he did seem to stress the “well before …” Maybe he’s realised his time is up.]

    To me that statement makes any day in December much less likely, so I think even December 1st is out the window.

    November 24th could still be a possibility, in that case “well before” means a month. It would be 2.5 weeks after a rate rise, assuming there will be a rise announced on November 7th. The economic growth figures announced today must make a rate rise on October 3rd more likely.

  20. I agree, December is out.

    As for the odious Flint, I hope and pray to Her above that we never see his like again in any position of influence.

  21. 19 nath Says:
    Has anyone read Flint’s great work ‘Malice in Media Land’?
    Probably the strangest thing I have ever read

    It’s an even stranger thing to admit to having read it. I don’t think anyone else ever did – including the publisher, Freedom Publishing, which is one of looney mobs that publish fundie religious materials in this case RC.

    I dare say the Emeritus Prof “underwrote” the publication of the tome.

  22. Stone (and Flint also) are examples of what the Americans call paleoconservatives, there is the Council for the National Interest which publishes National Observer and often carries Stone articles, they are madly anti-Muslim but also not keen on Israel and vaguely protectionist. Just Reading Nugget Coombs autobiography where he describes working with Stone on the Whitlam government’s review of public expenditure.

  23. 7
    Call the election please Says:
    September 4th, 2007 at 8:53 am
    What is this guy a professor of and where?

    A. Law

    B. He _was_ at UTS (Dean of Law) but is now an Emeritus Professor (in other words, retired, but with official permission to continue using the title).

  24. Oakeshott Country, the Chapmans did have a later website than the URL I gave. I was still on their mailing list until a year or so ago. I actually spoke at one of their gatherings in 2003/4 (Bronwyn Bishop was the highlight…).

    I’d be saddened if she’d passed on, if only because she showed what an energetic – if obessed – citizens group can do. Our electoral laws might be stronger if there were more dedicated civic associations on the progressive side of politics taking an interest in the topic, eg Get Up!

    Amy was married to Frank McGrath, a former labor judge, who more recently wrote a very conservative book about interpreting the Constitution using 1901 ideas/intent. From what I understood from Amy, they were became mixed up in Labor (anti-communist) politics in their younger years. Her interest in vote-rigging (and belief that it was a specialityof the left) arose from those days.

  25. I’m sure Amy McGrath is still alive, and rather ancient.

    They got an extra special bee about Macquarie in 1993. someone who crashed one of their meetings told me that Michael Baume got booed when he said that Labor fraud hadn’t swung the result.

  26. i was watching Gillard versus Hockey on 7.30 report tonight, she’s doing ok, concise and straight to the point, i wonder if Hockey realises that every time he utters “union bosses” it sends one diving for the mute button.

  27. [i was watching Gillard versus Hockey on 7.30 report tonight, she’s doing ok, concise and straight to the point, i wonder if Hockey realises that every time he utters “union bosses” it sends one diving for the mute button.]

    Yeah, Gillard was better, but she is at a big advantage – she has a much better policy to promote.

  28. Watching Gillard & Hockey was excruciating. They are both typical white bread politicians.

    No passion, no humour, no originalty. Bland and boring. Almost defeats the purpose of spruiking the message.

    I yearn for the engagement of people like Jim Killen, Paul Keating, Mick Young and John Gorton. Are they an extinct breed?

  29. Not extinct Neil – but they were always in the minority.

    Hockey was parachuted into a complex area and has never mastered it. Coincidentally my introductory labour law class was talking today about how severance pay is not a ‘protected award’ matter: so it can truly be said that Minister Hockey knows less about his ‘fairness’ test than the average law student.

  30. so it can truly be said that Minister Hockey knows less about his ‘fairness’ test than the average law student.

    Assuming that the average law student is listening to the lecturer 🙂

  31. Amy McGrath reflects on the the 2007 NSW election here
    There’s also a plug for her book “Dictators of the Labor Party of Australia” which was launched by Peter Westmore, National President National Civic Council & Editor Newsweekly on 20 December 2005.
    Nuff said.

  32. David Flint’s pejorative use of the word ‘elite’ (and ‘elitism’) against his critics, is the most brilliant, though unintentional, political farce I have ever witnessed. No playwright could hope to match that.

  33. Just heard news from a reliable source that Labor has made a deal with Family First in Queensland.

    So Rudd is flirting with the fundamentalists….

    It’s only the beginning of September, there’s still time to f*ck over the Fundies…

  34. Have any of you heard of the Rudd campaign team? Or run through some of the names on the Rudd Front Bench? Paul Keating sure has.

    They are capable of almost snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, even with these numbers and Kevvie knows it.

    Julia really nailed Hockey on the 7-30 report on redundancy – no more a ‘protected’ condition than a whale is protected from a Jap fishing boat.
    The Greatest Lie ever told: “Protected by Law”. All Labor has to do is put that up on the screen and say – Lies Lies Lies and then roll out AWB, Tampa et. al..
    They then compare this with the “Fairness Test” -you can pay people in bananas or give them a bicycle to ride to work as a trade off for the loss of penalty rates etc. and Labor is home.
    For the Punters – 4 lengths in front now and coming over the rise at Randwick, with the Government struggling in a bog on the rails – and sorry for the horse racers, the Government’s destroyed you with the equine flu too. That’ll get a few of the “Howard battlers” in the racing industry to shift votes, especially if the Government doesn’t massively increase assistance to everyone in the industry pretty fast. Ought to be talking $400 million, not a lousy 4 million. There’s a 13 billion dollar surplus, isn’t there? Employs hundreds of thousands of people nationwide, directly and indirectly.
    Don’t trust the polls, look at the ‘markets’ – PortlandBet in particular – if it shifts seat by seat then you know the Government is in trouble.

    I won’t really believe these numbers until we see the State-by-State breakdown – can’t be anything like 59-41 in WA or Tassie. Maybe in QLD and NSW, but not Victoria. Margins for seats there are 5% +, so Libs could hang on to them, or lose maybe 2. Still reckon no better than Kevvie by 5. Even Whitlam did little better, if memory serves me correctly and he was Opposition Leader for a lot longer against an even uglier man than JWH, which is hard to imagine, but remember Billy Big Ears?
    Surely those responsible for that attempted media stunt on Anzac day earlier this year can’t repeat that stupidity more than once in the election campaign, can they? You bet your sweet life they can and Rudd knows it! Ask JP Keating. They did it to Kim, but he was weak.
    The Ruddster is a big enough arsehole and ex-bureaucrat to make a pretty good PM, as he won’t wear “Yes Prime Minister” bullshit and because he isn’t a lawyer, but a former bureaucrat, he might actually know something about how to run a Government.

    Still very smart to ‘play the underdog’, though it’ll wear thin if the polls actually hit 60-40. More displays of extreme humility Kevvie and you’re definitely home! A hint of hubris and you really will deal the Rodent back into the game and you know it.
    Some of these marginal Liberal seat holders, especially the women, are going to be damned hard to beat on the ground where it really counts – that’s why Labor has effectively had a full-time union co-ordinator in every one of the 21 most marginal government seats running the ‘Your Rights at Work’ campaign for at least the last 12 months.
    Sure hope history repeats itself and The Rodent does a Stanley Melbourne Bruce and loses his own seat – even if he doesn’t, he’ll have to stick close to home or risk the Maxine/Hoggie boilover.
    Likewise with Turnbull, though with his money he could give every voter thousands of dollars each and still hav a few million left.

    Wasn’t it lovely to hear Lord Doofus Downer strangling on his own fishnets! The Adelaide Hills are alive with the sound of blue blood! If there’s a God in heaven ( pardon the blasphemy for you believers) Downer will lose Mayo. Bring back John Schumann I say, especially with a few Redgum songs, if his former band members can stand him! – he’d take at least 15% of the vote and ensure Labor unseated the Great White No-hoper on prefs to Labor.

  35. Anyone read the other nutty professor today? Paul Kelly is sickening:

    “Howard’s famous tenacity is engaged in his seemingly doomed struggle. He knows only one way to fight: with energy, professionalism and courage. He will not admit defeat until the final vote is counted.”

    Keep on barracking Professor, even after your master has decided. on the other bloke.

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