How green was my paper

The first of the federal government’s two green papers on electoral reform was released on Wednesday, this one dealing with disclosure, funding and expenditure issues. The paper was originally promised in June, but has been delayed pending consultation with state and territory governments. It might be hoped that this results in the unhelpful anomalies from one jurisdiction to the next being ironed out, potentially allowing for the establishment of a single authority to administer the system. You have until February 23 to make submissions in response to this paper or in anticipation of the next, which will deal with “a broader range of issues, aimed at strengthening our national electoral laws”. This paper’s concerns in turn:

Disclosure. State and territory party branches, associated entities (which include fundraising entities, affiliated trade unions and businesses with corporate party membership) and third parties (individuals or organisations that incur “political expenditure”, such as Your Rights at Work and GetUp!) are currently required to lodge annual returns disclosing details of campaign-related receipts, expenditure and debts. The Political Donations Bill currently before the Senate proposes to change reporting from annual to six monthly, but even this seems a bit lax. Voters would presumably want some idea of funding arrangements before they vote rather than after, and the practice in other countries shows how this could be done. In Britain, reporting is required weekly during election campaigns and quarterly at other times; in the United States, expenditures are disclosed daily during campaigns and donations monthly. This is made possible by mandatory electronic record keeping which is not required at this stage in Australia. Queensland’s and New Zealand’s practice of requiring disclosure of large donations within 10 or 14 days also sounds promising. Another issue is that itemised disclosure only applies to donations, which amounts to only a quarter of private funding – the rest coming from fundraising, investments and debt. Australia also uniquely requires “double disclosure” by both donors and recipients, which might be thought more trouble than it’s worth.

Funding. Australia is unusual in that it has neither caps on donations or bans on donations from particular sources. Canada allows donations only from private individuals; the United States does not allow donations from corporations, banks, unions and federal government contractors. Public funding arrangements such as our own are common internationally, but New Zealand interestingly uses measures of public support other than votes, including party membership, number of MPs and poll results in the lead-up to elections. This allows broadcasting time to be allocated ostensibly on the basis of current support, so that the system is “less vulnerable to criticisms of favouring major parties in comparison with minor parties and independent candidates”.

Expenditure. Expenditure caps apply in Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, with compensations of free air time provided in the latter two cases. They also existed here until 1980, when they were abolished on the basis that they “constrained campaigns” and were too hard to enforce. The US allows parties and candidates to agree to limit expenditure in exchange for public funding, which it settled for when set caps were ruled unconstitutional. Given that election campaigning is increasingly unconstrained by the formal campaign period, expenditure caps work best where there are fixed terms.

In other news, we’re probably entering a Yuletide opinion poll drought, but there’s plenty else going down:

• Antony Green’s dissection of the Queensland state redistribution has been published by the Queensland Parliamentary Library.

• The campaign for South Australia’s Frome by-election (the state’s first since 1994) is slowly coming to the boil – read all about it here.

• More action than you can poke a stick at from the good people at Democratic Audit of Australia.

• I missed an opinion poll last Saturday: Westpoll in The West Australian has the state’s new Liberal government leading 55-45, from a sample of 400. This sounds maybe a bit generous to Labor from primary votes of Liberal 45 per cent, Labor 34 per cent, Nationals 5 per cent and Greens 9 per cent. Labor’s Eric Ripper, viewed by all as a post-defeat stop-gap leader, has plunged seven points as preferred premier to 12 per cent, and even trails Colin Barnett 30 per cent to 26 per cent among Labor voters.

• The unstoppable Ben Raue at the Tally Room plays the dangerous game of anticipating prospects for the looming federal New South Wales redistribution that will reduce the state from 49 seats to 48. So for that matter does Malcolm Mackerras in Crikey:

Early this year I was quoted in The Australian as saying that the name Throsby would disappear. The Illawarra media quickly picked up on this and I heard Jennie George say on ABC radio that I was engaging in “pure speculation”. She is quite right, of course. Although the loss of a NSW seat has always been assured, it is pure speculation to say which one it will be.

Nevertheless my proposition actually is that the south coast seats of Gilmore (Joanna Gash, Liberal) and Throsby (Jenny George, Labor) will be merged into a seat bearing the name of Gilmore. Such a seat would, in practice, be reasonably safe for Labor so really it would be Gash to lose her seat. As to why the name Gilmore would be preferred to the name Throsby the explanation is simple. Dame Mary Gilmore (1865-1962) was a woman whereas Charles Throsby (1777-1828) was a man.

We have the precedent of 2006 to know that the MP who is the actual victim of a redistribution is not necessarily the one whose seat disappears. In 2006 and 2007 Peter Andren was the true victim but the name of his seat, Calare, was retained. That he died shortly before the 2007 general election is not the point. His seat of Calare became so hopeless for him he announced that he would stand for the Senate. Consequently there is no reason why Joanna Gash may not be the real victim in 2009 even though the name of her seat is retained.

If this is the way the commissioners decide to do it then the flow-on effect would be interesting to watch. My belief is that Batemans Bay (presently in Gilmore) would be restored to Eden-Monaro, in which division it voted in 2001 and 2004. Then the Tumut and Tumbarumba shires (presently in Eden-Monaro) would be restored to Farrer, in which division they voted in 2001 and 2004. Consequently it would be possible to retain all the rural seats by moving them into more urban areas. Bearing in mind that in 2006 the NSW commissioners abolished a rural seat but made the remaining seats more rural it would seem to me logical that in 2009 they would retain all the rural seats but make some of them less rural.

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.

578 comments on “How green was my paper”

Comments Page 1 of 12
1 2 12
  1. Wasn’t the NSW redistribution being linked to a redistribution in QLD that will gain that state an extra seat? Assuming this is the case (working on my memory here which might be wrong), where does anyone speculate that the new QLD seat will arise?

  2. From previous thread.
    [that was an unnecessary commet ]

    You’re right, Ron, and I apologise. Clumsily, I was trying to say that I was commenting on the content of your post, not the form. You asked what I specialise in – chemical risk assessment and regulatory chemistry, currently focused on reclaimed water.

    [have i hurt Poly’s sensitive feeling? ]
    Fins, no. Just made yourself look like a bit of a berk.

  3. AM Agenda on Sky are discussing end of the year polls and one of the guest panelists described Rudd’s 70% PPM rating as a “AAA credit rating”. Spears was not happy 😉

  4. juliem,

    There’s more to that “AAA credit rating” comment than meets the eye.

    Based on this year’s effort by the ratings agencies, what AAA means is “very well regarded at the moment, but could easily go bust in the next year or two!”.


  5. Abolishing Throsby doesn’t make sense as where will the leftover electors go? Eden-Monaro could retake Bateman’s Bay but there’s a large area of south coast left over. You can’t fit all of Nowra, Kiama and southern Wollongong in one seat. Probably Cunningham and Hughes will be dragged southwards which could get messy- although it would eliminate the current strange boundaries of Hughes.

    Also, I think it would be Hughes (if pushed into north Wollongong), not Gilmore, which would become the safer Labor seat. Gilmore would consist of Kiama plus maybe a small amount of Shellharbour, plus the Liberal-voting coastal towns.

  6. Amigos, the fun i missed for going to bed early. i blame the missus for that.

    [Fins, no. Just made yourself look like a bit of a berk.]

    Amigo GG, yes, more headaches.

    btw Amigo Ronnie, Has Showy escaped from the G and on the prowl again.

    see you later alligator, off to make a fortune.

    Amigo Vera, this is for you, remember we ride, we love and we sing:

    and causing headaches

  7. Apparently the state secretary in vic steven newnham is to be deposed. to quote from lost in space, ewww they eat their own. anyone know any more?

  8. Be good if Gilmore merges I might get to live in a Labor electorate federally.
    Am in state Labor electorate (Kiama) north of the Shoalhaven river that runs through Nowra . Those south of river are South Coast.

    Finns thanks for the tune, not only singing and dancing but i get to learn a new language as well!
    [He hoe heet dat wat jullie doen?
    Rock-n-roll En wij rocken.]

  9. [Hmm, have yet to see a straight answer from any of the Ruddstars here on what
    (a) the MDB disaster means
    (2) what the forestry disaster in BC means
    (3) what the Arctic Summer Minimum Sea Ice Extent means and,
    (4) what the couple of hundred million people who are dependent for their livelihoods on glacier summer melt water are going to be doing for a living by 2030.]
    You could very well be right Boerwar but it’s not just me or those who acknowledge the “practical realities” on this blog who are the people like yourself that need convincing. It’s the vast majority of people who, when it comes to the crunch, put their present day circumstances ahead of what could very well happen in 2030.
    Politicians here, and obviously in Europe as well, are not silly. They know that with anything you need to take the people with you. You don’t like that and I understand it but you not liking it won’t change that.

  10. Possum

    “Now tell me that isnt framing the ALP response (monies) to everything from the ETS through to the economic security package!”

    You’ve misread th principal compensation distribution purpose & who’s getting it This ETS scheme will directly cost every Australian money from there pockets

    Labor in line with its principals has simply specificaly compensated “working” family(s) , pensions and aged fixed income self retirees who wuld be th least likely able to wear th increased costs Not being absoluteley sure how hard th $$ hit will be Labor has consevatively given mor than forcast costs Whereas those those groups more able to wear costs incl higher incomes missed Labors compensaton boat

    Twisting Labors sensible econamic & fairness principals management of compensation into anything else is wrong

    Further , this compensation illustrates why MOST PBers here didn’t ‘get’ it , when they inaccurately initialy said things like “Rudds CC policy is pathetic” Hell pahetic ?…th compensation package demonstrates reel cost hits this Country is gonna take solely as a $$ sacrifice to reduce Co2 So Rudd has dared to start CC mitigation & action CC , whilst most Countrys just talk

  11. Some interesting quotes:

    “The bar may be too low to shift investment, minimise overall costs of climate change and provide Australia with the credibility to be a valued participant in global action to address one of the biggest challenges of our time,”
    Frank Pagan
    Chairman, Investor Group on Climate Change
    which has over $550 billion in funds under management

    If the ETS doesn’t provide enough incentive for business to invest in lower emission technology then the only way of meeting the 5% target is by shutting down enough old technology polluters to do so. How many jobs will that cost, not only of those directly employed by them, but also by their customers?

    But of course that won’t happen because the government is building enough fudge and ‘get out of jail’ lurks into the ETS to keep even the worst emitters going for a very long time.

    “We would have been very happy with 10 per cent and we think that the electricity industry could have absorbed that….. Given the compensation levels to low-income and medium-income households, we think that they could have absorbed that, too.”
    Carl McCamish
    executive general manager of corporate affairs
    Origin Energy

    So even energy companies wanted it to be tougher.

    (Both the above from: )

    But what I believe will be the all time spot on quote about the Rudd/Wong ETS is:

    “By 2020 no Australian polluter will live in poverty,”
    Dr Richard Denniss
    Australia Institute executive director

    If the opposition doesn’t hammer the government with this every day from now until the next election then they don’t deserve to be elected dog catchers in Woop Woop.

  12. All very well Mayoferal but they all have seemed to be away from school the day the teacher covered that part in maths that says 10% lies between 5% – and 15%.

  13. I’ll try and make that sound like English.
    All very well Mayoferal but they all seemed to have been away from school the day the teacher covered that part in maths that says 10% lies between 5% and 15%.

  14. WOO HOO !!!! 😀

    Democratic challenger Al Franken finds himself on the cusp of winning a seat in the United States Senate after Minnesota’s canvassing board awarded him a host of challenged votes during deliberations on Thursday.

    As of 8PM ET, the Minneapolis Star Tribune projected that Franken would finish the recount process with a lead of 89 votes, positioning him to become the 59th senator caucusing with Democrats in the upcoming Congress.

  15. I know I’m going to incur the wrath of some here when I also mention that the main protagonists of the government’s ETS, the Greens, want a 25% – 40% target range. I wonder how Carl McCamish, executive general manager of corporate affairs, Origin Energy would have responded to such a target? I’m betting his response would be quite different.

  16. Gary,

    My preferred target was 10-12.5%. Big enough to make it worth investing in lower emission technology, big enough to actually reduce the amount of CO2 we emit (which I don’t believe will happen with 5%) and yet still low enough to not frighten the horses, remembering that Treasury modelling found 25% would reduce average incomes in 2020 by an additional $20/wk compared to the 5% model.

    So 12.5% would have added about $7.50/wk in 2020. And that doesn’t factor in the overcompensation that the government has committed to paying most families and SS recipients. Deduct that $200/yr or so windfall and most would have been paying the cost of a mars bar more a week.

    IMO, the only ones to benefit from a 5% reduction is the polluters. It’ll do bugger all for the environment, or for improving the odds for a successful outcome from Copenhagen.

  17. polyquats

    “You’re right, Ron, and I apologise. Clumsily, I was trying to say…”

    Accepted poly , no problam

    I should add I apparently offend numerous posters here with my lingos although many ar quite unintentional (but then most here only rely on imported English)

    Imagine your current focus on reclaimd water gets varying reactions from th fully uninformed not realizing th processes utilized

  18. MayoFeral – Genuine questions – what is to stop any company or industry setting their own target to say 10%, given that the range is between 5% – 15%, if they think they can cope with the 10%?
    If you’re happy with the range of 10%-12,5% and believe it will do some good how come others believe that is too low to do any good? Take for example the Greens. You know very well that had the government set the target of 10 -15% there would be those arguing that that would be insufficient to do any good.

  19. [Imagine your current focus on reclaimd water gets varying reactions from th fully uninformed not realizing th processes utilized]

    My favourite so far was the taxi driver who said he’d heard that we’d all get rotten teeth drinking reclaimed water.

    Guess he’d heard that it was very pure, and had low levels of minerals, i.e. calcium. I’m not sure we get too much of our calcium from drinking water, though I have read there is some correlation between water hardness (high calcium content) and lower rates of heart disease.

  20. Gary,

    AFAIK, there is nothing to stop a company buying more permits than it actually uses, or even upping the price of their product to offset the added cost, except commercial disadvantage. Anyone can buy all the permits they want.

    Indeed, one of the problems created by handing out free permits is that any CO2 savings smaller businesses and individuals may make on electricity or gas consumption won’t necessarily reduce overall CO2 output because the utility can on sell the unneeded permits to someone who will use them. This will also tend to reduce the market price of permits.

    Which is why Dr Good was advocating a couple of days ago that people buy and retire permits. It is the only guaranteed way of taking the permit out of the system. Going solar or switching off lights may save a few bucks, but it’ll do nothing for the environment.

    OTOH, it is still not clear to me from my reading so far, and I’ve still got quite a way to go, just how tight the emissions accounting system will be. However, I can see a least one way of rorting the scheme, at least for a year or two.

    I’m not suggesting that 10-12.5% is great, just that it might have actually made a difference. Only a very small difference. I doubt 5% will, at any level.

  21. “However, I can see a least one way of rorting the scheme, at least for a year or two.”

    Since Green Paper , ASIC has power to prosecute Companies & Indivdials guilty of manipulating th market This Permit Market is to be subject to safe safeguards as Commonwealth Bond Markets

  22. Of course Will the interesting point @ 30 is that the Green vote is still 89% to 4% amongst the Greens, poll taken a few days ago

  23. I want to know where the coalition stands on the CPRS?

    The Australian people do not want an inquiry, they do not want a committee, they do not want another summit, they want decisive action and leadership.

    Losers! 😉

  24. How alive was my Dear Leader?

    Crikey, i think this Dear Leader is doing rather well (from Crikey where Subs required}. As I wrote few posts back, Bernard Keane also wrote that “he quits in favour of Julia Gillard, which he’ll probably do in 2014, in his third term”.

    [Rudd has the keenest political instincts we’ve seen in a generation. Whereas Howard’s talent lay in coming from behind and converting bad polls into convincing election wins, Rudd’s skill is in avoiding the bad polls in the first place. Not having to come from behind each time is an altogether better strategy. And Rudd has been a very, very good student of political history. One year into the Howard Government and there were already a half-dozen ministerial corpses. That Rudd’s ministry has entirely avoided scandal of any kind in its first year is testimony not to luck, and not merely to Rudd’s control freak nature, but to his knowledge of the pitfalls of new governments, especially ones long out of power like this one, where new ministers can wander into all sorts of traps.

    That’s why he’s leading in the polls by a country mile…. Think Rudd will be a oncer? Are you kidding?

    2009 will, assuredly, be a much tougher year for the Government. We haven’t collectively worried about unemployment for many years. Once the holidays are over, and we hit February and head back to work and face a long year of growing joblessness, the political dynamic might seem altogether different. But on the evidence so far, Rudd has the smarts to stay on top, and Turnbull hasn’t worked out what to do about it.]

    meanwhile, the other Dear Leader is also apparently also doing well and in control. So his death was greatly exaggerated.

    [“He’s alive and he remains in control of the North Korean government,” Keating told a press conference, adding he had no particular details about the 66-year-old North Korean leader’s medical condition.]

  25. Boerwar

    “Hmm, have yet to see a STRAIGHT answer from ANY of the RUDDSTARS here on what
    (a) the MDB disaster means
    (2) what the forestry disaster in BC means
    (3) what the Arctic Summer Minimum Sea Ice Extent means…”

    Your question seems to imply that Rudd suporters here ar unaware there is some visual evidence of serious CC efects , and were we to reely understand there ar serious CC efects happening now then we would then agree with your position that rudds 5% is inadequate

    Straight answer you wish from a Ruddstar ? Your premiise is wrong
    Every Rudd supporter knows there is serious CC damage being caused right now , and many of them would know of examples more explicit than you’ve listed BUT I’ll giv you a terrifying example on BEHALF of ALL Ruddstars that is POST last th IPCC Report in September 2008

    Your dissent to Rudds 5% target is based on science , and on those grounds you ar clearly right However your stance and others and th Greens etc is to assume Govts must/will act on science based reasons alone , and totaly ignore 1/ totaly ignore th econamic consequences on there whole country of going alone in this World , 2/ totaly ignore econamic consequences on its peoples and its Industries by adding an ETS cost to every citizen and 3/ totaly ignore ignore th inevitable voter fury resulting from 1/ and 2/

    Govt’s represent people and will also decide on 1/, 2/ and 3/ colectively and so they should Rudd has not rejected CC at all , he’s embraced CC action but not exclusiv to everthing else , but embraced within and balancing CC with 1/ , 2/ and 3/ Thats th unpalatable reality of knowing science based dire efects but accepting one lives in a reel World of peioples living standards & jobs , econamics and politcs combined

    Perhaps coppenhaggen will open more desirale doors , but if so th sacrifice will not be a feel good feel as now knowing oz cann’t reduce world co2 wbhich Bob Brown forgots , but reel CC mitigaton target decisions because every country will be doing it

  26. Ron, to come back to the point near the end of the other thread, it may be economically responsible for Rudd to do what he’s doing, I don’t know, I’m no expert (nor am I an expert on climatology, unlike practically every other commentator on the web it seems these days). What I am looking at is the politics of the thing. The idea that Rudd has to go slowly because of public opinion is just not borne out by the polling data, however uncomfortable the fact may be to the media (and some Labor supporters).

    I think there are more basic political factors of this particular Labor government, that without a social base, it finds it hard to take tough decisions. This is especially true in economics because the one thing this Labor government lacks is a relationship to the unions that would allow it to constrain working living standards like the last government did.

    But here we get to the nub, this is going to be a problem. One thing that was clear from the Howard years is that he was saved not by bribes but by manufacturing issues that allowed him to strut around as a conviction politician and give his government purpose. GST didn’t almost kill the first Howard government, it saved it. Rudd is going to have to find issues that make him look ‘tough’ and climate change, given it is popular but still perceived as tough, would seem ideal.

  27. Rudd has not set a target of reducing emissions by 5% because it is popular nor unpopular, Rudd has set a target with a mimimum 5% reduction because it is the RIGHT thing to do at this point in time.

    I would like critics of the PM to name ONE tough decision that he should have taken that he hasn’t?

    “GST didn’t almost kill the first Howard government, it saved it” The GST almost cost Howard the 98 election. If you don’t believe it, have another look at the election results and you may form a different conclusion!

  28. Centre, anybody who was alive during the shambolic first Howard term would know that the whole problem Howard had was that he had no program. GST filled a gaping hole.
    Do you think Howard would have won comfortably if he hadn’t? You really think Howard is a such a conviction guy that he would threaten his re-election for what he thinks he is right? Give us a break. He is a fraud. The credit some people give Howard is unbelievable.

  29. TPS,

    Anyone who frequents your interesting blog is aware that you think the GST was indispensable to Howard’s re-election in 1998.

    Whilst this contention of yours is interesting and well-argued, it is nevertheless only your opinion. Not a statement of fact, even though you are fond of presenting it as such.

  30. Well, let’s see!

    Howard wins the 96 election with a near record thrashing. Howard implements gun controls with some 90% support in the community. Costello delivers budget surpluses. Interest rates and inflation were falling. The economy was growing. There had only ever been one one-term government in history. So what happens, given all that was in his favour, Howard introduces the GST, what he believed in. Yes Howard definitely would have won the 98 election easier.

    The credit some people give the GST is mind-boggling!

    Also, don’t forget Howard introduced workchoices (what he believed in) when in a very strong position politically.

  31. Fair enough.

    By the way, like you, I am still mystified as to why Rudd didn’t go for a larger target. I would have thought that a larger target made a lot more political sense.

    There’s only one way I can make sense of what he’s done – that is to postulate that he’s convinced that the recession is going to be a lot uglier than anyone’s talking about in public, and therefore thinks a larger target could be used as a stick to beat him with in say, 18 months’ time. That’s the only way I can make sense – politically – of what he’s done.

  32. Dyno (46), I think the sensitivity Rudd has is on the economy. He doesn’t want to be seen as economically irresponsible. I think this vulnerability stems from the fact that this is the first Labor government without a firm relationship with the unions, which has always been the centre of any Labor government economic policy.

    Centre, re what unpopular thing Rudd should do, I tend not to think governments should do anything unpopular. I trust the electorate. Perhaps though I would have liked it if he had reversed his support for the NT intervention and reinstated the anti-discrimination laws that were over-turned by Howard. But that’s a personal thing. Apologies if my tone over the Howard first term was a bit aggressive. I just have a Keating-esque annoyance at Howard being credited with principles.

Comments are closed.

Comments Page 1 of 12
1 2 12