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”

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  1. Amigo FINNS

    And to back of your point , Diogenes quoted Stephen Colbert today saying th same principal “Reality has a well-known libertarian bias.”

    which decoded may mean its easier to decree for th less well off sitting in an Ivory Tower , as it is for capitalists vested interests to rip off those same less well off ……its all in equity balanse say th knowledge trees

  2. fredn


    “Ron When it comes to net censorship the technical issues will not be overcome…..

    As to official censorship; I have always found it strange that they have trouble with a nude bodies and political ideas and yet have no trouble allowing the continual transmission of violence.”

    Yes there is inconsistncy with graphgic violence however perhaps ths a reflecton of societys tolerance levels of nude vs violence My interst in debate has been solely to
    suggest there is no “right” of adults to view child porn and to argue to prevent totaly internet accesibility Two diferent points , one is a “freedom” issue for some but definitively not all libertariens and second is a tech capacity issue (which some computer experts here say not be done and some say is possible , either way I remain hopeful of a ‘science’ solution

    Other issue of concern for some Fielding/Mr X agenda to broaden 9which I oppose) , and was th secrecy of baned sites which nbelieve can be overcome by strict governance & independence requiremetns

  3. Ron 496

    Fair comments – I never criticised the structure of the Rudd ETS which is sensible. The critical bits I objected to were the 5/15 reduction targets over 2000 emissions (not credible) and the 90% free permits AND compensation to current large emitters, which is excessive and not necessary or equitable IMO.

    On the plus side if Rudd, Swan or Tanner keep moving on things like funds for “green cars and removing the deduction for salary sacrifice/work cars they will make progress reducing transport emissions – I have seen a few papers calling for those measures. But that still leaves the elephants in the room – industrial electricity usage (our aluminium industry) and high home elec use. The next “low hanging fruit” in terms of electricity usage would be things like mandatory solar hot water systems on new homes (and replacements for existing homes).

  4. Add Gerard Henderson to the list of right-wing hacks supporting Rudd’s ETS. Socrates, we should feel vindicated since we, as “the left”, are being attacked from the likes of Henderson, Albrechtsen and Kelly.

  5. [Two diferent points , one is a “freedom” issue for some but definitively not all libertariens and second is a tech capacity issue (which some computer experts here say not be done and some say is possible , either way I remain hopeful of a ’science’ solution]

    Ron, there is no “freedom” issue with anyone here when it comes to child pornography. No one thinks people should be allowed to do it. There may be some minority somewhere in the country who believe this, but since they aren’t here defending themselves or even raising the point there’s no need for you to keep bringing it up.

    The “freedom” issue is in regards to having a secret blacklist with no oversight or accountability being created and enforced by a government department and at the whims of politicians.

    No, there is no “science solution”. Can you stop child pornography in the “real world”? No. And you won’t be able to stop it’s existence on the internet. There are ways to deal it with and arrest those responsible for creating, sharing and watching it but a filter will not achieve that.

  6. Oz

    Yes its not just us. As I said to Ron I think the basic structure is sound – if it had a 20 or 25% reduction target I’d be happy with it. But 5/15% makes us look like a bunch of coal mining hicks. And anyone who understands the economics knows the free permits and business compensation is a crock – its just buying off potential political allies in a quite inequitable way. Under Rudds scheme coal burners and aluminium smelters won’t have to change anything.

  7. Socates


    Yes we ar agreed on those two elphants there , these ar challenges which with clarity of Coppenhaggen (assuming there’s targets agreed & lets hope min 15% with 2nd step promise of 25%) may lead to prioritising to address , although MRET schme is very promising in th solar RE bit

    As to actual 5% target you’ve (very reluctantly) accepted thats all curently politcaly possible that will get thru Senate at moment As to 90% permits , frankly hav never been comfortable there but feel others (not you) also do not appreciate how compromised EU hav recently watered down in permits and concesions on econamic politcal & social grounds KNOWINGLY against CCC grounds , just others ar also impure

    I might add I do understand th ratioanle for th 90% free permits initialy at start , however perhapds its th phasing down period of that specific % group of those 90% permits I would hav prefferred acelerated progressively

    I’m pleased we’ve made a start even if less than many may hav prefferred Crunch will be post Kyoto as to finetuning ETS’s here and in other Countrys……and its th absense of ETS’s in USA , India , Chian and Russia that make it impossible to make comparisons of models That car deduct bit , do you don’t feel that may bite at replacement sales levels & so reduce scales of producton needed for oz manufacture plants viabilaty

  8. Ron

    I am trying to be constructive in my comments on the ETS and respect your honest explanations. However I cannot agree with the 5%; I don’t accept that – I just understand why its chosen. I still think it is a miscalculation. With all the compensation and permits we should have look at 10/20 as an absolute minimum. This deal doesn’t give us credibility outside of Australian politics.

    It is true that the car tax deduction did prop up Oz car sales. But that had to end – lately even it hasn’t been enough. Now a lot of people are using the deduction to buy imported cars anyway. There was no alternative to restructuring the industry, even in the short term. This isn’t Rudd’s fault – it was a disaster waiting to happen. I bagged the Libs former car industry plan on this blog over a year ago and, regrettably for the workers, have since had my views confirmed. Besides, with the drop of our dollar back to 65-70 cents and building four cylinder models the locals should have a far more competitive position. They must be MADE to seize it or they’re dead.

  9. GB @ 490

    I asked an open question. I am genuinely curious about what people in this blog think about the issue and how they factor it into their thinking.

  10. Ron

    I am told that if you do a google search for child porn you get no results, I have never done a test to find out as I am technically competent to know nothing on the internet is secret and I don’t want police banging on my door because of political curiosity. I remind you people have been sent to jail for no greater crime than having the stuff on their computer.

    If a google search returns no results ( something I would support) people looking for child porn are finding it because they know where to look. After Conroy has spent millions it will still be available to people who know where to look, the program to access the image will be all that changes. In other words Conroy’s excuse for wanting this is rubbish. The real question is why! I suspect it is related to the balance of power in the senate, and the extreme stupidity of one of the senators in the balance of power group. I could be wrong, Conroy may be the idiot.

  11. OZ

    Some posters (eg d i) hav said “anyone should be allowed to watch whatever they like in there own homes , not that I would”

    That is A “freedom” issue , and a branch of libertarism that has been expressed here So my rebuttal is I do not tink adults hav th ‘right ‘to be able to watch anything they like in there own homes….being specificaly not child porn I hav actually NOT ever believed that was ever your view I feel th view I’ve expressed is probably overwhelming community view

    Second “freedom” issue is secreacy of baned Sites where you and I do disagree You wish th see th List published , whereas I believe I understand why it needs to be secret but would want strict oversite governance and independence

    Third issue is Mr Fielding Mr X widhing to also extend exclusions to there Ageda We both I tink agree in opposition to Fielding /Mr X

    Fourth issue is tech , where you’ve and others here hav been adamant , however Ruawake a computer specialst on this site has queried that assertion For mine I’m open both now and to possible tech innovations to hav a filter doing what is intended stoping child porn without affecting legit stuff , as for speeds I’d wear some speed slow down to stop child porn

  12. Yes, it’s a very Happy and Safe Christmas and New Year to the Amigos: GG, Ronnie and Vera.

    As well as to all the Pollbludgers and WB.

    Last but not least to Diog, who is always w RON g but there were few times lately that he might be right, also to his delightful wife who is a potential 5th Amigo.

    A musical extravaganza from the Finnigans:

  13. “The Internet is already filtered, get over it.”

    Perhaps direct access to some sites from some locations, but that is about it, and the filtering only effects those that don’t know how to get around it.

  14. GB @ 510
    I went back, had a look at the question, looked at the answer, and, yes, I see where you are coming from. By the looks of it, we will just have to differ in our respective judgement calls.

  15. Fellow Bludgers

    Seasons greetings. I wish you all a happy festive season and a New Year filled with enjoyable posting, and prosperity as well.

  16. Ron
    As I keep trying to point out this has nothing to do with child porn, that is the poster child. Lets stamp it child porn, who could argue that we should not block child porn. And the suckers get suckered.

    As I have pointed out, people who want to access that sort of material know where to look and all that will change is the program used to access it.

    I personally would like to see all violence banned, there is no need for it, who has proved that violent movies leads to violence, no one, its just dam poor taste.

  17. Merry Christmas to all you PBs. It has been very enjoyable reading all the posts, including Ron’s, except for the USA blog.
    Again, enjoy the holidays and drive carefully as we will have a busy year in 2009 at PB’s.

  18. Hi Finns,

    Lovely sentiment and best wishes to you and your family.

    Merry Xmas to all at PB. Special thanks to William for his fair and balanced hosting which given the egos, perspectives and prejudices on display has been a Herculean effort.

    Cheers all.

  19. Gusface,

    Sorry to hear your news.

    I work in the Sydney CBD and morale could not be more rock-bottom. Plenty of folk worried, not about their bonus, but about whether they’ll have a job at all in six months’ time. And of course quite a few are gone already, the last few weeks have been quite nasty. The really bad thing is that this sort of downturn feeds off itself – for example, shops and eateries are far less busy than usual for this time of year, it would seem, as well.

    What to do for those who are still hanging on to our jobs? Hang in there for the time being, and hope that a New Year, a new POTUS, and a new sense of realism does the trick for confidence.

    It could take a while though.

  20. On that note, Merry Christmas all. Special thanks to William for his efforts. Awards to Dio, Ron and Glen – my three favourite PBers. Hope no-one took any of my criticisms personally – just as I didn’t take yours. I’m getting away from the computer for a while but I’ll be back in January!

  21. No joke about jobs.

    I’m in the US at the moment where literally hundreds of thousands of jobs are going week by week. Unemployment where I am is already twice that in Australia and there’s a real sense of desperation in the air.

    Very scary stuff.

    Happy holidays to all the bludgers.

  22. Socrates

    “However I cannot agree with the 5%; I don’t accept that – I just understand WHY its chosen. I still think it is a miscalculation. With all the compensation and permits we should have look at 10/20 as an absolute minimum”

    correction , yes I realize Socrates you don’t accept th 5% at all so aopplogy for using that accept word I did reely intend accept in th context of you understanding why re Senate numbers with Labor in Senate minority , and not acept meaning that you agreed as I already knew you don’t I should hav used full lingos lingos and it would hav been much clearar

    Apart from Senate numbers imperatives (I frankly won’t hide behind Senate numbers alone even though that point is politcaly enough in Senate numbers) as I and I tink rudd wouldn’t hav gone higher anyway , which is where we do disagree….one on basdis if Kyoto fails we’d be enonomicaly uncompetitive with our 2 major trading partners who’d potentialy hav zero targets , and twos because an alegedly more credible 10% may hav inferred to th World th wrong meassage thats all we’d go to , whereas 5% being low implys givn Govt rhetoric implicet indictor that we’d agree to a higher figure (reverse of McWQivan of FR

    On carplan
    Quote Courier Mail “Any changes to the FBT scheme will be strongly opposed by the car industry, which receives billions of dollars in government assistance to stave off plant closures.”

    Courier Mail did mention billions of subsides via th FBT Auto Industry receives & proposed cuts look like no replacmetn else , perhaps whole FBT in this areas would be better to reallocated to more eficiently to Auto bus assistance

  23. I think we can all take a break from chastising one another based on our wacky political opinions…so now let us sit back and enjoy the holiday season…as im sure all our favourite pollies are doing right now.

    Ill end with a quote…

    Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, kiss my ass. Kiss his ass. Kiss your ass. Happy Hanukkah – Clark Griswold (National Lampoons Christmas Vacation)

  24. Happy holidays all pollbludgers. Keep up the good work. I hardly ever post, but immensely enjoy having running commentary to current events.

  25. Ron

    Thanks; I shouldn’t have overreacted; I see your intent in hindsight. I think we respect each other’s positions at this point.

    The CM quote on the car FBT is grossly exaggerated; the trick with the car FBT change will be timing – if it can be flagged now but phased in with the arrival of the local 4 cylinder models, or restructured to only include cars like them, that would be a big step forward. That being said, in terms of pure economcis, it really should go, so it is purely poltiics and current circumstances that might dictate the details. at present there are ludicrous situations where people deliberately take their cars on long driving holidays to acrue minimum annual mileages near the end of the financial year. That is crazy – hence these rules should change.

    Believe it or not our local manufacture of buses (just assembly) and trains (in Qld and Vic at least) is actually quite competitive. There is a pressing need for more rolling stock in every capital city and yes – this would create local jobs (not for me but stil…). A very good idea, Ron.

    I missed Gusface’s news, so I trust he is OK?

    As Glen said it is the season for goodwill and that is worth remembering regardless of what beliefs we may share or not. Australia is only as scivilised as we each make it. So thanks to William, peace on earth and good will towards all bludgers 🙂

  26. Have a happy and safe Christmas and a safe and sucessful new year to all Poll Bludgers. And a special wish for Ron – hav a hapy crisma an a grate nu yere 🙂


  27. fredn


    fredn thanks for your 2nd reply I had not till now realized that you had already replyed to me , because I was replying to oz , then postd it without refresshing and then went out

    Yes I agree with your fiirst post about conroy who apparently inferred terribly labeled all opponents as child porn protectors or something I don’t reely think its about Senate numbers & would object if it was If your an oppenent suggest call it naive or foolish Neither Fielding or Mr X make me comfortable having senate balanse of power , prfer Labor of course otherwise would ahv prefferred Greens….incidentley some Labor nutter playing numbers got Mr F into th Senate regret that I do (and just as bad again , a DLP guy in vic upper house…Labor & Greens need to negotoiate beter than that)

    “Ron As I keep trying to point out this has nothing to do with child porn, that is the poster child. Lets stamp it child porn, who could argue that we should not blck child porn. And the suckers get suckered.”
    As I have pointed out, people who want to access that sort of material know where to look and all that will change is the program used to access it.”

    This is abit dificult for me to argue with someone like you obviousley tech knowledge Thats why I’m happy to argue for Bill on process ,…no Felding/X agenda , no minisrt involvment in banned sites…all 3rd party non Party asociation approval committeess & transparent & if so happy they’re secret , and no blocking of legit data
    NOW up to here I believe th child porn Bill is on dfensible grounds , and did hope for strong suport publicly

    But your program changing point I don’t know about Assumed a Dept would know ovrsaes test results favourabble before going downs this path ! So fredn I cann’t diagree as don’t know , and by way am not disbelievng of you so hav you some links I can better understand

  28. Gusface

    I just saw your previous post and my sincere sympathy – that is unpleasant news at any time, least of all with present circumstances. I agree with you on Rudd too – I am dissappointed in the ETS but not otherwise. Whatever disagreements we may have had the thought of going through the GFC with Workchoices and a compassionless government in place does not bear thinking about. Good luck.

  29. Soc
    Ta for that

    The company i worked for has trimmed from 55-22 employees since july.most staff had been graduate or above earning good money in the IT sector.

    I personally will be OK 🙁

    but the sudden impact upon people who have been “blinsided” by the GFC is harrowing to say the least.I think All political parties should be fully aware that this aint some blip on the charts

    rudd has a whole lot more on his plate than 13 mths ago,and the whole CC debate will be framed in terms of the structural change the GFC is forcing on the economy.

    At least the debate has progressed from denial to targets as regards CC

  30. Gusface

    Am reely very sorry also Gusface as you ar still effected anyway , been there so understand shocks and all other confusing feelings when this happens

    Can I ask you re IT , how do you get those yellow smiley things on posts & how come right mouse doesn’t always click to edit or copy so end up manualy editing or
    copying Anyway XXX is th yellow smiley

  31. Gusface

    Your comments about the GFC remind me of those of a friend of a friend who was unfortunate enough to work for Lehman Brothers. It made me realise just how nasty the collapse was. Over 20,000 people lost their jobs, with no payment of entitlements, even for some people who had worked their whole careers there. Yet the losses had been racked up by the traders who comprised less than 1000 of the total staff and had already made a fortune in bonuses anyway. Meanwhile the execs paid out their own bonuses with millions they transferred back from the British branch (leaving their staff in the lurch too even though that part of business had still been profitable) just before filing bankruptcy. Hard to believe laws haven’t been broken.

  32. ron
    : plus )

    combined give a 🙂 (make sure no space between)

    ps xxxx always is a smiley in my book


    Am not so much into materialism as most, and the impact on people pyschologically and emotionally is quite telling.
    A good friend is mid management with one of the big Four,he has been drawing up plans to abolish upwards of 2000 staff-the irony is his job is one of them.

    I will restate that I m glad Rudd is at the helm because I think we need leadership and untiy rather than blame and division

  33. A very merry christmas to all Pollbludgers and to you William.

    Gusface, comisserations re the job. I have been there twice already myself. First time, no trouble, new job next day.

    Second time unfortunately fell into age bracket where no employer wants you. Highly educated, highly skilled in a variety of areas but all going to waste.

    I believe the problem here is that the recruiters are usually younger and think you are past it. Either that or they don’t wish their relative experience to be shown up by someone more mature and experienced. I have experienced both types unfortunately.

    It must be quite unbelievable the number of highly trained, experienced people thrown on the scrap heap here in this country. What a waste of a valuable resource both in acumulated knowledge and the loss of mentors for the up and comers.

  34. well now you know why I asked Gus also about mouse , and copy paste & deleting problams having sometimes to manualy do so and why I don’t hav a coloured monaker like everyone else So here goes 🙂

  35. Was going to give up posting for a couple of days but cannot go without saying a couple more things:

    1. Sorry to hear about your misfortune Gus. I am retired, am not high in the wants bracket and am OK but I spend a fair bit of time worrying about my grown up children, some of whom are in jobs that are clearly under threat. Anyway, best wishes in your job hunting.
    2. I forgot to say thank you to William. Much appreciated. You do a great job balancing things out. Hope Santa does the right thing by you.

  36. [LABOR’S proposed reforms of political donations will benefit unions and disadvantage conservatives.]


    Albretsen overlooks that thats only because because the proposed reforms will bring it back to a level playing field with equal rules for all.

    Albretsen is turning into a female Piers with her articles, talking of “dirty unions”, maybe she is hoping to spark a reaction and get extra hits on her site. She was overjoyed when Keating penned a note criticising her.

    The lib cheer squad never had a problem with the moeny flwoing from the exclusive brethren and companies who benefitted from Howard largees in grants and subsidies like the ethanol mob.

    No “dirty” connection there, no siree, just good honest lobbying.

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