Inner city Greens (make me wanna holler)

The Victorian election is living up to its billing as the latest battlefield in new paradigm politics, with the Liberals finding themselves shunted from the front pages by a stoush between Labor and the Greens. At issue are the professional activities of the Greens candidate for Melbourne, Brian Walters, SC, who has been targeted over his legal work for accused war criminal Konrad Kalejs and a company associated with coal mining. After a furious response from the legal fraternity and the liberal end of the Melbourne media (The Age playing a tellingly distinct role in the controversy from the Sunday Herald Sun), most have concluded Labor’s attack has badly misfired, with Andrew Crook of Crikey going so far as to argue it has doomed Melbourne MP Bronwyn Pike to certain defeat. The correctness of this view depends largely on the resolution of the campaign’s other Greens-centric controversy: the split in the Liberal Party over whether to continue placing the Greens ahead of Labor on how-to-vote cards.

The behaviour of major party preferences has been little studied, as in the normal course of events they are not distributed. Of much greater interest has been minor party and independent preferences and their bearing on major party outcomes. The only substantial interruption to this picture in recent times came with the emergence of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, who Labor and eventually the Coalition parties both saw fit to put last. Hanson herself topped the primary vote when she contested the new seat of Blair at the 1998 federal election, but was thwarted when about three-quarters of Labor preferences went to Liberal candidate Cameron Thompson. When state Labor advised voters to simplify matters with a “just vote one” strategy in 2001, made possible by Queensland’s optional preferential voting system, the rate of exhausted Labor votes shot from a third to three-quarters. These episodes confirmed what scrutineers had long known about major party voters’ observance of how-to-vote cards.

Even more helpfully, a ballot paper study conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission after the 2006 election (thanks to Peter Brent of Mumble for alerting me to this) encompassed all four of the electorates under consideration, and found the rate of obedience among Liberal voters ranging from 30 per cent in Richmond to 45 per cent in Brunswick. With those Liberal voters who didn’t follow the card favouring the Greens over Labor about 60-40, the total rate of preferences to the Greens was consistently around 75 per cent, or slightly below the 80 per cent recorded in Melbourne and Batman at the federal election. As a rough guide, it can be inferred that a change in the Liberals’ how-to-vote policy would cut their preference flow to the Greens from the high 70s to around 40 per cent.

The likely impact of this is best considered in light of recent voting patterns. The table below shows how the state electorates voted both at the 2006 state election and the recent federal election (results from the latter being derived from booth results with slight adjustments made to account for declaration votes). While the latter figures have the advantage of being more current, they are unavoidably contaminated by specifically federal factors.

2006 STATE
Melbourne 45% 27% 22% 48% 40%
Richmond 46% 25% 20% 46% 39%
Brunswick 48% 30% 17% 45% 40%
Northcote 53% 27% 15% 42% 37%
Melbourne 36% 37% 22% 57% 49%
Richmond 39% 37% 20% 55% 48%
Brunswick 46% 31% 19% 48% 41%
Northcote 46% 33% 17% 49% 42%

On the basis of the 2006 state election, the order of dominoes would look to be Melbourne, Richmond, Brunswick and Northcote, with some distance separating the last two. The federal election results tell a slightly different story, with the Greens in a substantially stronger position in Melbourne and Richmond than in Brunswick and Northcote – remembering that the former two constitute most of federal Melbourne, where Labor suffered the loss of Lindsay Tanner’s personal vote. By the same token, it should be remembered that Labor is losing incumbent Carlo Carli in Brunswick, where the contest could be further complicated if former federal independent Phil Cleary runs as an independent. The last two columns in the table project the Greens’ two-party vote in scenarios where they do and don’t receive Liberal preferences, and herein lies the rub. With Liberal preferences, they look to have Melbourne and Richmond in the bag, as well as being highly competitive in Northcote and Brunswick. Without them, they could yet emerge entirely empty-handed.

Personally, I would be very surprised if a party in a system as adversarial as our own saw fit to grant such a huge free kick to their real enemy. But at the very least, it will be interesting to see if the Liberals can do better this time in Greens preference negotiations which have traditionally been entirely fruitless for them.

UPDATE: Sam Bauers in comments makes the good point that the VEC study shows how Liberal voters behave when the how-to-vote card reflects their expectations: a change in policy might increase the rate of rebellion.

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.

159 comments on “Inner city Greens (make me wanna holler)”

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  1. Their real enemy depends on the state of the Liberals. If the Liberals are about government then their enemy is the Labor party. If that case
    Andrew Welders’s post
    “Why the Liberals should preference the Greens” is well argued.

    If the Liberal party is now no more than a means for the conservatives to express a political idiom, then yes the Greens are the enemy, then it’s out with long term planing, the seats go to Labor and Labor get another term of majority government.

  2. Hi fredn,

    In the previous thread you suggested that Victoria’s credit rating was Aaa.

    That is the Moody’s rating (and the last revision I’ve seen was May this year).

    Standard and Poor’s , however, give Victoria a AAA rating – see HERE.

  3. Excellent William. Your best since “Anyone for Dennis?”

    fredn, the problem with Kelly’s piece, as always, is the arrogant pretense that he is not a Murdoch shill, arguing in the nation’s (or someone or others) best interest. A line that he drops in the middle, but does not follow up, is

    [Search hard and there is no persuasive case, strategic or moral, for the Liberals to preference Labor, thereby saving Labor MPs from defeat by the Greens.]

    If the Liberals (or the Australian) believe half of the garbage that they have been going on about with regards the Greens, then there probably is a moral case for them to preference against the Greens. The real truth I suppose is that the Liberals do not have a coherent ideology, and merely exist to oppose Labor. Strengthening a party further to the left and dividing that enemy makes strategic sense, but not moral sense.

  4. Another aspect of potential preference deals in the Victorian election involves Green preferences to Labor. We know that these flow heavily to Labor regardless of any party direction in most cases, but in an environment where Labor are heavily attacking the Greens , calling for the Libs to preference Labor instead, etc etc there may well be a larger than usual “leakage” to the Libs, which could most certainly make a significant difference in close seats from Burwood, through Prahran on down the pendulum to Mt Waverley.

    THis is one of the reasons why I think the “attack the Greens at all costs” approach is not a wise one from Labor. It may well cost Labor more such seats in the suburbs and provincial areas than it saves them in the city. The price of such attacks isn’t necessarily just paid in the seats where they are aimed at!

    A worst case scenario for Labor would be one in which the ALP heavily attacked The Greens, but where the Libs still gave their preferences to the Greens. This could result in a “lose lose” situation in which increased “leakage” of Greens preferences away from the ALP in the suburban seats because of the attacks cost Labor tight races there, while at the same time Liberal prefs got the Greens over the line in the inner city electorates.

    Given that this is just about the only way the Libs would have any possibility of overtaking Labor, or even of forcing them into minority government, one can see the temptation for the Libs, even without any direct “quid pro quo” on prefs from the Greens.

  5. I see no reason for the Liberals to preference the greens

    If the difference is an ALP MP or a Green MP, history had shown that the Green MP will side with the ALP anyway

    In NSW, I think the Liberals should preference the ALP, to ensure that there is only 1 opposition party rather then a large lower house green party.

    The only reason for Liberals to preference Greens is to cause a minority Green – ALP Government, which is weak and will not be re-elected, see Federal ALP, but when a government loses its majority, and becomes a minority government, they are heading in the wrong direction in the first place.

    The only reason I see the Liberals preferencing the Green is if they get something back from the greens, preferences in a few seat, split tickets in the upper house etc

  6. The only reason I see the Liberals preferencing the Green is if they get something back from the greens, preferences in a few seat, split tickets in the upper house etc

    I’m not sure what the setup is in Victoria exactly, but I know that in NSW this would be very hard to achieve due to local group autonomy.

    The basic fact in Victoria is that in return for preferences to The Greens the Liberals get a weakened ALP and perhaps a hung parliament. By doing this they deal themselves into negotiations on bills where an ALP minority government is seeking support.

    That’s far better than languishing in opposition for four years while the ALP roll through whatever they please in majority.

  7. Weaker ALP means Stronger Green

    If the Liberals are in opposition, I do not think it makes too much difference between a big left coalition or an ALP government, Since Greens are likely to have some say in the upper house to begin with.

    Yes the Greens and ALP might get into a big brawl …. but they were likely to do that to begin with

    So I do not see any advantage of preferencing the Green without getting anything back

  8. Also, I have a problem with the application of the data from the VEC study to the “NO PREF” outcome. The VEC study only outlines the correlation between HTV and votes under circumstances where the HTV reflected supporters expectations. It would be a different matter altogether what the result would be if we follow the case in point and the Liberals indicated preferences to Labor ahead of The Greens, which would arguably be a more challenging proposition for their supporters to follow.

    It may not cause any more people to vote Green, but I think it would at least cause Liberal voters to abandon the HTV recommendations more readily.

  9. If the Liberals are in opposition, I do not think it makes too much difference between a big left coalition or an ALP government

    You are assuming that a left coalition of sorts would be formed. There are ways to create minority governments without forming formal coalitions. In any case, ALP and Green policy isn’t going to meld into one overnight in any case and the Liberals would be able to lever the gaps to push through some of their agenda.

  10. Slighty OT, but has Bill Tilley been endorsed as Liberal candidate for Benambra yet?

    I’ve just received two lots of material from his office which is innnocent of any Liberal Party insignia, and only mentions ‘a Baillieu Coalition Government’ after much bagging of the Brumby Labor Government.

  11. Chris Curtis

    sorry missed that education post of yours at th time that i was to reply to , and now your reminder

    perfomanse pays , yes I’m very in favor of that where Julia is going , tho you aint based on prev attempts But it depends how done & framework benchmarks As principals one can say many best teachers or those aspiring , do so w/o money incentive , and there is also promotions options when mor wages available

    However improving incentive to perform by salary is also a undenyable criteria that works with people within structures , and its framework how that is construct is key otherwise yes its a waste and further yes it can distort equity of funding A bonus focus should be “in class” teeachers , and a limit per school of number available , tho graded with more in lower socio econ schools (where past results for MANY other unschool reasons as well I admit has contuniued unhappy trends)

    test results is a clear measure , and again perhaps socio econ factor can be imput with higher wiegts As to too much emphasis on that area to neg of other areas then Sylabbus and indiv School’s Principal’s & Co-ordinators roles bcomes vip to avoid such distortions You highlited a no of difficultys that may cause ommisions of emphasis and agree that is a challenge bu suggest benefits out weigh

    You mention discrim of teachers and Principals Well feel discrim against actual performing bestest teachers by principals on bonus basis’s can be diminished by clear guidelines on test results and not adding value judgement stuff that is open to discrims

    Improving teacher quality espec inside class ones needs any strings as one cannt say all teachers is equal now in outpput or in motivation & a bonus system is just another string , but needs targeting and a no of limits per school

    there is an argumnet ffrom such bonuss system to t’fer excess best , identified from above , into greatr % into socio econ districts as well

    National syllabus of Julia’s you not mention so assume you happy there

    National testing itself as opposed to bonus methods tie in , an issue on literacy & numbers & publishing same via My School is certain a pro active means to raise standards , and allows feedback and identify of lower rates in aresto get explains and/or needed assistance or focus I never expected micro area of this to be perfect overnite however

    results of these Tests has been recent formal agreed at Minister level to be reviewed against those from prev tests for these purposes of comparision

    with socio econ ratings indexs on MySchool there is current comit to add to census catchment area basis with soco econ charateristics of families where it can be gotton like enrol forms However fine tuning of Index’s will be ongoing (as th only perfect Index calc answer has also got th perfect objecton !)

    your last comment of “Equity demands that education spending be distributed on the basis of need, not on the basis of the where the “good” teachers want to be.”would certain be my tabanacle not only of any bonus and best teacher T’fer sytem but of other issues I raised incl indexing , myschool’s role and testing itself is some of th means to improve teacher quality espec in class and where bestest teachers locate , (tho overall base being lifted has direct benefits fotr all kids irespective of means criteria)

    one of issues of this whole teacher & schools subject is so complex & diverse and exposing it within just a blogg limits I do tink MySchool and other Julia mechaisms has caused many Teachers unjustify and justify to be uncomfortablke with more public accountabilitys and of data in public but this a part of drivers for change for better , its evolutionary over time to get results , tho with nuts & bolts fine tunes eg on socio indexs on such exposures being regular needed

  12. Labor destroyed Pauline Hansen by giving 75% of its prefs to a Liberal instead of her

    Labor acted principal it could hav caused th Paul Kelly effect on Libs all thru Q’ld when One Nation then was QUITE strong….using arguement that liberals is reel enemy of Labor , it chose not to

    Liberals do got a strong idealogy , a point ‘left’ claim they don not , but they do , tho flexible if votes is involved eg using middle class welfare

    BECAUSE of such strong ideal Liberral philosopgy , Howard urged Liberals to pref Labor over Libs

    “I thought I would never see the day, I’ in agreement with Paul Kelly”
    well he did not quite delib , and you did not consider , what logical conclusion may be
    ie Greens ensuring very longer periods of State & Fed Liberal Govts in future via swing voters put off by many Greens extremism polisys as it gets more scrutiny & so is deemed part of a future Labor govt agenda by ‘allianse or association’

    That will be Bob Browns lunatic popuplarism strategic legacy , more Lib Govts ( but thaat is quiet diff issue to having BOP at State or Fed level of which i got no issues with) Strengtehnin Liberals future over time is inveitable , thanks Brown , and no thanks Paul Kelly for not hughliting th obvous politcal consequense This Greens is repeat of Democrat Labor party (Green type) efforts that kept Fed Libs in power 18 yrs

    (But then Greens only think of themselves, not who will more likeliest goverm long term , so Labor will more and more fight Greens in public as a enemy with polisy exposuring of there extexmism & there uneconamicness and unjobness approachs

  13. dovif
    [I see no reason for the Liberals to preference the greens

    If the difference is an ALP MP or a Green MP, history had shown that the Green MP will side with the ALP anyway

    In NSW, I think the Liberals should preference the ALP, to ensure that there is only 1 opposition party rather then a large lower house green party.]
    Except in NSW, the Liberals preferencing greens could result in several Labor ministers in inner city seats getting turfed out – surely a better outcome for the Liberals?

  14. I can understand why the Libs would preference the Greens, especially in Victoria where there is a much ‘softer’ Liberal leader and party than that of Tony Abbott’s federally.

    Firstly, it is likely that the only way the Coalition will take Government is through a coalition with the Greens. It is much easier for them to obtain 10 seats, plus another two or three with the Greens, than the 13 outright seats by themselves. Using Antony Green’s calculator (see: ) a 4.5% swing to the Coalition and 3.5% swing to the Greens will net the 13 seats required for a “L/N/GP” Coaltion. This is a fairly modest swing to the Coalition and not unusual for a State election.

    Secondly, the Greens have allegedly offered their support to both parties in a ‘minority’ government situation if they are given the Public Transport portfolio. I think this is an easier match for the Liberals than giving them the evironment or energy portfolios. After all, The Liberals are running their campaign on improving public transport too.

    Of course the Nationals are against it for ‘ideological’ reasons. Still, one wonders whether the Nats leader Peter Ryan would rather occupy the Deputy Premiers office and have his Ministers running agricultural portfolios in government than remain in Opposition. Especially if the Greens are restricted to Public Transport.

    I’ll make one final observation about the Greens: the figures above are, in my view, a little bit contrary to the Greens’ triumphant rhetoric after the Federal election. After all, any idiot can look at Bandt’s voting figures and realise that Liberal preferences pretty much got him over the line. It was not a triump for progressive politics; rather, most of these Lib voters were blindly followed their parties how-to-vote card rather than consciously choosing to “make history” in Melbourne. Similarly, if Brian “I’m not a hypoctrite for investing in coal centric Rockhampton and accepting money from coal companies” Walters SC wins his seat it will be from Liberals directing their preferences. I am not saying that this is illegitimate- it’s normal under our system- but spare us the arrogant and triumphant rhetoric. On first preferences, roughly 65% of Melbourne did not want a Green Federally; I suspect the same will happen at the State election, regarless of the result. A bit of moderation in your rhetoric would be sensible, if unlikely.

  15. Laocoon

    The Liberals are going to win either way, the only way the ALP are going to win next year’s election in NSW is if a tidal wave was away all but 1 person in NSW, then the ALP have about 20% chance of winning govenment

    Why have 2 opposition parties in the lower house, and 2 voices against you in NSW, much better to have just one party with little talent in NSW at the moment as the opposition.

    It might also be better, if there is some form of opposition, and not a completely gutted opposition, with not enough member and experience to even fill out all the Shadow portfolios

    Too much power is not a good thing, just ask Howard

  16. [It might also be better, if there is some form of opposition, and not a completely gutted opposition, with not enough member and experience to even fill out all the Shadow portfolios]
    Something I’ve been arguing for some time.

  17. dovif
    [Why have 2 opposition parties in the lower house, and 2 voices against you in NSW…]
    Divide and conquer! 🙂 Think Liberals vs ALP vs DLP
    [It might also be better, if there is some form of opposition, and not a completely gutted opposition, with not enough member and experience to even fill out all the Shadow portfolios]
    For the body politic, perhaps. But for the Liberals themselves? I am clearly much more totalitarian/monopolistic in leanings!
    [Too much power is not a good thing, just ask Howard]
    Coalition unlikely to control the LC (at least for more than one term)

  18. very interested to see how Serge Thomann does in albert park. I’ve checked out his website ( and it looks like his policies are genuinely moderate and independent. i’d imagine greens and libs wouldn’t preference him #2 before labor…. could be a dark horse.

  19. Laocoon, it would not be Liberals vs ALP vs DLP

    While the Liberals and Greens are best friends in NSW, and I have no doubt that in the event of a unlikely hung parliament, the Liberals will form government …. both Greens and Liberal goal is to get rid of a incompetant, do nothing government (you could argue that doing nothing is better then being incompetant)

    If the Greens thinks they are the opposition party (ie within a few seats of the ALP) they won’t be attacking the ALP. they will be attacking the Liberals (unlike the DLP scenario)

    Why would anyone want 2 oppositions, when they can do with just 1

  20. I think that some of the Liberal preferences that do not follow the how to vote card exactly (I presume that is what the VEC survey was studying) would still be influenced on major decisions like ALP versus Greens by the Liberal HTVs.

    The reason that the Bruswick August result is more like the Northcote August result (about 4% lower for the Greens in 2006 than Brunswick) that the Richmond August result (which is was like in 2006) was that Richmond and Northcote had heavy campaigning in August (for their respective Commonwealth Melbourne and Batman) while Brunswick did not (in Wills). I think Brunswick December result will look more like Richmond than Northcote.

  21. There were replies to my last post on Nielsen: 53-47 to Labor in Victoria, but the thread had closed when I returned, so I will deal with the issues here.

    The Greens’ proposed amendment to the Electoral Act is presented as one of principle but is designed to advantage the Greens. The Senate is currently elected by the single transferable vote (STV), the best voting system in the world and one that is based on voter preferences for individual candidates. The Greens think they are morally entitled to ALP preferences and so object when the ALP gives its preferences to other like parties, such as the DLP. They think that having voters mark party squares, rather than individual candidates, in order of preference would increase the number of ALP preferences that flowed to them and so they advocate this self-interested “reform” but hide it behind high-sounding principles.

    The preferences are always the voters’ preferences. Voting above the line is a decision to allocate preferences in line with the voter’s chosen party. If a voter does not want to follow his or her party’s preference allocation, he or she has the legal right to vote below the line. If he or she chooses not to exercise that legal right, he or she has still chosen a particular preference allocation and is trusting that his or her party has made a preference agreement that is in the overall interests of that party.

    The STV system us based on voters selecting individuals to represent them. In the election for the Senate, no candidate in any state can be elected until he or she has 14.3 per cent of the vote. It is irrelevant whether this quota is achieved in the candidate’s own right or as a consequence of preferences from candidates with a surplus or candidates excluded because they have the least votes at the time of the exclusion.

    The above-the-line voting system is to reduce the informal vote; i.e., it allows voters who have trouble or can’t be bothered counting to 60 or thereabouts agreeing to the preference distribution among the individual candidates agreed to be the party of their choice. No one has to use it. Anyone who choses to do so is explicitly distributing their preferences as agreed by their party. The alternative of voting above the line for the parties would turn our STV system into a list system, which would give parties even more power. If you look at Tasmania, where there is long experience with STV, you would see that Tasmanians reject ministers from their own party and replace them with other candidates from their own party – because they understand the system.

    All of the above is irrelevant to my initial point, which was that Bob Brown cannot logically say he is against preference deals and only does them because he has to when one of the choices open to him was a split ticket.

  22. Fredn (359 on the other thread),

    A pupil teacher ratio is, as Zoomster says, not an average class size. I don’t know when your day was, but if you had classes of 30, it was probably in the late 1960s or early 1970s. As I showed in my post, the primary PTR in 1974 was 22.6:1 and the secondary PTR was 14.1:1. They were the ratios that supported classes in the thirties (though I was the timetabler in a strong union school in the 1970s and we had classes of 25).

    Average primary class sizes over the last few decades have been:
    1982 – 26.5 (Report of the Victorian Commission of Audit)
    1992 – 23.5 (Report of the Victorian Commission of Audit)
    1999 – 25.4 (Summary statistics for Victorian Schools, March, 2010)
    2009 – 22.1 (Summary statistics for Victorian Schools, March, 2010)
    (In line with government policy, the average for prep to year 2 classes has gone from 24.3 in 1992 to 20.5 in 1999)
    Average secondary class sizes over the last few decades have been:
    1982 – 23.0 (Report of the Victorian Commission of Audit)
    1992 – 20.0 (Report of the Victorian Commission of Audit)
    1999 – 22.7 (Summary statistics for Victorian Schools, March, 2010)
    2009 – 21.6 (Summary statistics for Victorian Schools, March, 2010)
    PTRs include al teaching staff, whether or not they have regular timetabled classes (e.g., principals, librarians, SWCs, careers teachers, etc) but do not include non-teaching staff (e.g., integration aides, library assistants, cleaners, etc.) As you can see, the government has improved primary class size beyond even their 1992 level, but secondary classes, while better than they were under the last lot of Liberals, are still worse than they were in 1992.

    The value of small classes has been conclusively demonstrated. Professor John Hattie, of New Zealand, has done a comprehensive study (EARLI Presentation by John Hattie for Web.ppt) of all the factors that lead to improved student achievement. He concludes that smaller class sizes are not as significant as other factors, but nonetheless he rates them as giving a nine-month improvement in student achievement. The Tennessee STAR study (available at also showed that smaller classes result in improved student learning.

    The reasoning the Liberals gave at the time was not state finances. If it had been, there would have been apologies and promises of temporary belt-tightening. Rather, as I have quoted in the past, we had the following teacher-bashing rubbish:
    ‘…teacher unions have “captured” the operation of education services in regard to staffing and working conditions so that the education system has become unduly teacher-driven.’ (Institute of Public Affairs, Schooling Victorians, 1992)
    ‘There is extensive over-staffing of teachers, inefficient work practices and “union” capture of education expenditure.” (IPA, Schooling Victorians, 1992)
    ‘The schools are simply a racket and a rort for teachers who use it as a fully salaried system of outdoor relief.’ (Peter Ryan, “Teachers fail to get the point”, The Age, 1/8/1992)
    ‘Socialist Left ideology…is nicely entrenched throughout the state education administrative system, thanks to a continuing infiltration of the faithful throughout the Cain/Kirner years.’ (Michael Barnard, ‘Labor could not learn”, The Age, 28/8/1992)
    ‘The perks and privileges of this cosseted profession were absolutely sacrosanct.” (“A lesson in anarchy”, Herald Sun (editorial), 19/11/1992)
    ‘Schools…appear to be run more for the benefit and convenience of their employees than for their users.’ (Claude Forell, “A reckoning unions had to have”, The Age, 25/11/1992)
    ‘The Kennett Government is pledged to a course that promises to break the debilitating union stranglehold…” (Michael Barnard, “Teachers in a state of intellectual undress”, The Age, 27/11/1992)
    ‘A strong moral case for the present Government unilaterally renouncing all agreements entered into by the previous Government with its employees can be made on the grounds that they were not arms-length agreements.’ (Professor Ross Parish, “Let the Public Service pay towards cutting the ranks”, The Age, 11/12/1992)
    ‘Mr Kennett…set out to break the power of the education unions which had been running then system…’ (“A hundred high speed days” (editorial), Herald Sun, 11/1/1993)
    ‘The present system has allowed education to become captive of its bureaucracies and powerful lobbies.’ (“A testing year in education” (editorial), The Age, 25/1/1993)
    ‘Money for schools was channelled into creating more jobs and better conditions for teachers.’ (“School lessons in economic necessity” (editorial), The Age, 27/1/1993)
    ‘The emergency teacher system…had not existed before 1980…’ (Don Hayward, quoted in Denis Muller, “Schools already feel bite of education cuts”, The Age, 1/3/1993) [As a school daily organiser, I knew this was untrue because I had employed emergency teachers without restriction in 1978.]
    ‘Money which could have been saved by reduced teacher numbers has been used to improve teachers’ working conditions…the education budget has been allowed to become unnecessarily bloated…Throwing more money at a problem, by itself, can never be guaranteed to achieve the desired result.’ (Kevin Donnelly, “Why we’re inefficient”, Herald Sun, 3/5/1993
    ‘That structure is prone to “capture” at the centre and the extremities by organised interest groups such as teacher unions…(page 9, Vo. 2, Report of the Victorian Commission of Audit, 1993)
    ‘The powerful public sector unions were permitted by default to run…education…’ (“Jim Kennan scratches”, Herald Sun (editorial), 29/6/1993)
    ‘…during the 1980s, the union movement “captured” the operation of the public sector. This led to considerable over-staffing and restrictive work practices…’ (Des Moore, “Why government needs to be rolled back”, The Age, 5/7/1993)
    ‘…cosy deals with teacher unions…wasteful school work practices.…It is understandable that some union officials who rode the Labor gravy train are resistant to reform.’ (Alan Stockdale, “Education’s future depends on savings”, The Age, 22/9/1993)
    ‘Unions have focused on industrial relations to build up a cosy bracket of work practices rather than concentrate on professional standards.’ (Don Hayward, quoted in Felicity Dargan, “100 schools to go”, Herald Sun, 30/9/1993)

    State debt under Henry Bolte was far higher than it is now, and nobody worried.

  23. dovif
    [If the Greens thinks they are the opposition party (ie within a few seats of the ALP) they won’t be attacking the ALP. they will be attacking the Liberals (unlike the DLP scenario)]
    I just dont think that this is likely scenario, no matter what preference deal, post March 2011 (nor, I suspect post March 2015). What is Green’s *best case* scenario in the Assembly – 6 seats absolute max??

    Consider the Green vote out west – not good. Greens will be good “trouble-makers”, not a putative opposition; for both Liberal, but also Labor

    So why not, if you’re Liberal, create a bit of trouble for Labor, instead of all the trouble being on yourself?

  24. Ron,

    Brief points:
    1. Principals aren’t that good, and I have seen so much poor leadership victimisation and favouritism from members of the principal class that I would not let them anywhere near salary determination.
    2. If the government wants to increase the number of “best” teachers at disadvantaged schools, all it needs to do is to create tagged promotion positions for them, something that has been talked about for 30 years but never acted on.
    3. National curriculum is a second-order issue. It depends what’s in it. If it is low-standard like the VCE, there’s no point.
    4. Teachers are uncomfortable with a lot of things because they have been lied to, abused and exploited for decades, whelk the IPA, other think tanks and their media allies (e.g., The Australian) dominate public discussion.

    Here are two letters I sent to the education writer of The Australian indicating how wrong that per gets stuff:

    You wrote “The two subjects [history and geography] have been taught as part of an integrated social studies course in all states except NSW since the 1970s” (“Visual curriculum omits drawing”, 8/10/2010). This is not true. Given the general nonsense on education that is regularly published in The Australian, the absence from its pages of corrective facts and how long it is has taken it to understand the extent to which Victorian education has been decentralised since the 1970s, I guess it will take some years for the facts on history teaching to penetrate your newspaper.

    My enclosed 1978 timetable clearly shows that I taught year 7 history (Form 1A in those days) in the 1970s. My enclosed 1978 timetable clearly shows that I taught year 10 history. My enclosed 1980 timetable clearly shows that I taught year 7 history. My enclosed 1981 name-free mark book page clearly shows that I taught year 9 history, with the topics, Governor Phillip, NSW Corps, Macquarie, Gold, Eureka, shown. (You might also note that there are only 21 lines filled in, indicating a class size of 21 students almost three decades ago, and that marks are listed, giving the lie to the other oft-repeated claim that teachers stopped giving marks.) My enclosed 1988 timetable clearly shows that I taught year 9 history, 9HIG meaning that the class did history for half the year and geography for the other half. My enclosed 1996 name-free mark book page clearly shows that, even though the subject was called Social Education – in a genuflection to the Liberal government’s SOSE – I taught year 8 history as a distinct subject within that course, as shown by the topics the Industrial Revolution and Exploring Australia. My enclosed 2003 timetable clearly shows that I taught year 8 history, coded as SOHI, meaning that it was the history component of the SOSE subject.

    History was taught in every school that I taught in. Sometimes it stood alone; at other times it was under the umbrella of SOSE, but even then it remained distinct. The subject did not disappear even when the Liberals tried to bury it in SOSE. I know that Kevin Donnelly always writes as if the introduction of SOSE was the fault of the federal Labor government, but everyone in Victoria at the time knows that it was brought in by the Kennett Liberals. Some schools fell into line. Others resisted.

    You wrote “For years, the arts have been taught as an optional extra in schools…”, 19/10/2010). This is not true. Every school that I taught in had arts subjects in the compulsory core at junior levels.

    The enclosed pages from Waterdale High School’s Handbook 1977 show that art was a core subject at years 7, 8 and 9.

    The enclosed pages from Edenhope High School’s 1984 Special Needs Submission show that art, music and pottery were core subjects at years 7 and 8.

    The enclosed pages from Whittlesea College’s 1994 Planning Report Number Three show that art, graphics and music were core subjects at years 7 and/or 8.

    The enclosed pages from Hampton Park Secondary College’s HPSC Allocations 1/2003 show that art (ARTS) and music (ARMU) were core subjects at year 7 and that performing arts (ARPA, being dance and drama) and graphics (ARGC) were core subjects at year 8. (You might also note that history (SOHI) was a core subject for years 7, 8 and 9.)

    If you want to get your teeth into a real scandal in education, you could do some work on the revival of the failed 1970s fad of the open classroom. I am enclosing an unpublished letter to the editor in response to a puff piece on the topic in The Australian only a month ago.

    The unpublished letter to the editor referred to follows:

    The open classroom, the “breaking down” of separate subject disciplines and the teacher as “guide” (“Meddling: The key to the future”, 22/9) are nothing new. They were all tried 40 years ago and abandoned as failures. They are now being recycled with new terminology; e.g., “flexible learning space”. Experienced teachers shudder when these fads are forced on schools by bright young things on their way up the promotion ladder and hope that the experiment will be briefer than it was in the 1970s.

    Teachers are meant to know more than their students. They are meant to be experts in particular subject disciplines. They are meant to be able to communicate this knowledge to their classes, and that does mean they can and do use a range of techniques beyond “talk and chalk”. It does mean that points of overlap between different disciplines can be made explicit.

    However, it does not mean the collection of up to 225 students in the one room doing enquiry-based projects – i.e., copying and pasting from the web – and being supervised by a “team” of conscripted teachers – conscripted because their professional judgement tells them the idea is rubbish and thus they will not volunteer for it.

    As an ex-teacher, I feel for my former colleagues trapped in a pincer movement by the trendy left’s jargon-filled play-way to learning and the hard right’s outcomes-based cost-cutting. I feel even more for the students whose education is so diminished by these two supposedly opposite forces.

    Yours sincerely,

    Chris Curtis

    Emailed to
    As Been there, done that, it didn’t work

    One more example of an unpublished letter to the editor to show how The Australian gets education wrong:

    The editorial assertion that outcomes-based education “shied away from knowledge-based teaching” (“Curriculum must be excellent”, 21/9) is contradicted by statements made at the time of its introduction by the Victorian Liberal government. Those of us who attended the “Improving Student Learning” Conference on June 16, 1994, were told by officials of the Directorate of School Education (the Liberals’ Orwellian name for the department) that OBE meant the new focus in education was to be on “outcomes”, not “inputs” or “free-floating process statements”.

    The real purpose of the OBE PR stunt was to justify the Liberals’ cuts to education. It was all part of the economic rationalist agenda to attack spending in the public sector by railing against “inputs” and focussing media attention on “outcomes”. The media fell for it.

    Classroom teachers, of course, had been teaching to outcomes, such as correct spelling and grammar, for generations and were not fooled by the adoption of the agenda of the economic rationalist right, though they must now be bemused to see history rewritten with OBE portrayed as a trendy left plot.

    Yours sincerely,

    Chris Curtis
    (English Coordinator, Whittlesea College, 1988-1999)

    Emailed to
    As Some of us still remember the truth

    The four letters are evidence of how education is misrepresented in the press and show why teachers do feel under attack by ignorant people with power.

  25. 22

    Most voters do not check how ATL preferences are distributed.

    Tasmanians vote at state level without ATLs and because of this and Robson Rotation (having several different ballot paper orders for the candidates of each group in the same election) and only have to number 5 boxes.

    Since the introduction of ATLs in 1984 Tasmanians have not managed to elect someone who was lower down their party`s Senate list than someone who was not (the had done this a few times 1949-1983 (the only State to do so)).

    It is the ATLs that mean we have a list STV system and above the line preferencing would allow the voter to chose the parties their votes get distributed to without having to number 60+ boxes.

    The Greens would have a reduced likelihood of Fielding or Kavanagh from ALP preferences but they would loose at least 20% of Liberal preferences on the mainland and this could cost them seats.

    If ATLs are to be retained then they should be changed so a party cannot determine the order of election of its own candidates because the ATL vote is distributed by Robson Rotation among its own candidates. Failing that, the ban on ATL split tickets having the candidates of their own party in a different order should be lifted.

  26. Chris Curtis
    Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Permalink


    “Brief points:
    1. Principals aren’t that good, and I have seen so much poor leadership victimisation and favouritism from members of the principal class that I would not let them anywhere near salary determination.”

    fair enuf point Chris , i wont argue aginst that as can undrstand how abuse occurs
    I’m then open to how balanse of my suggests re bonus’s framework can be done and othr reform points i raised re tests , indexs my school , etc

    yes tagging will do for my bestest teachers approach , & later t’rs of excesss into worse socio econ districts

    (BTW , read those 4 letters careful , a joke , deeling with fruitcakes or idealoges is frustrating , ecept one keeps fighting as they want sensible peoples to giv up)

  27. Ron,

    It might be the Libs cunning plan. Don’t run anywhere and then they don’t have to make any decisions about preferences.

  28. [pancho
    Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink
    If the Liberals (or the Australian) believe half of the garbage that they have been going on about with regards the Greens, then there probably is a moral case for them to preference against the Greens. The real truth I suppose is that the Liberals do not have a coherent ideology, and merely exist to oppose Labor. ]

    Pancho they don’t exist to oppose Labor, they exist to take government, it’s just a basic fact that the only party that can stop them is Labor so it is Labor they oppose. The greens are a side issues.

    Of cause there are right wing nuts that think that the culture wars matter.

  29. Greens idea is to make Senate voting more undemocratic , and wou;d incr informal votes cast because Greens require a min no of prefs to be made , and hav voters prefs exhaust at 4th

    and supose this was designed for Greens benefit

    We already got best system in world , lower house 2 PPT pref and winner most seats of HoR confidense

    and Senate prop represnt by State
    and ALL of a voters pref do count
    and a voter can simply vote abov line with i no , or below line if a voter chooses alocating prefs in own indiv orfder that THEY choose , all with a single transfer vote

    (BTW this already best democrat system wont be changed anyway , so its all theory)

  30. ABC TV 7 pm news ran a story naming Government Ministers and members who don’t live in their electorates, including the Premier. Did the reporter check if the boundaries had changed? I think not! Sounded like the yarn came straight from Liberal Party HQ. Or was it the Greens?

  31. Greensborough Growler
    Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink


    “It might be the Libs cunning plan. Don’t run anywhere and then they don’t have to make any decisions about preferences.”

    agree GG
    i expect Libs to play low key & pref Greens in low House w/o any fan fare hoping no one notices , and there’s no MSN over highliting

    (but may be a sleez back room unoffical deel between Greens & Libs , where Greens pref LNP in upper house perhaps in Melb Sothern and in Eastern regions seats , watch election voters i guess)

  32. Seriously, how many voters even know what a Senate group voting ticket is, or that they even exist? After the 2004 federal election why were so many ALP voters outraged when Fielding was elected to the Senate?

    Interested in what the experts have to say about ATL voting. Here are some key references to read:

    1. Democracy in Australia : Redesign of senate ballot papers to ensure transparency of preferences
    [Researchers and commentators have, however, expressed much concern with the current Senate above-the-line voting practice. They argue that above-the-line voting not only puts the voter in the hands of the chosen party but makes it very difficult for the voter to understand what the preference implications are of his or her vote. The virtual invisibility of preference flows may direct a vote in a way not intended by the voter. This is because parties increasingly negotiate preference deals not on issues of policy or principle but on the basis of strategy and self interest….

    Election analyst Anthony Green writes that the price for a decrease in informal voting achieved by above-the-line ballot papers is that “a democratic deficit has developed, with serious questions as to whether the results engineered by group ticket voting truly represent the will of the electorate”.]

    2. Green, Antony. 2005. Above or below the line? Managing preference votes

    3. Brent, Peter. Time to Scrap the Ticket Vote for the Senate?

    4. Sawer, Marian. 2004. Above-the-line voting – How democratic?

    [“Proportional representation is a fair system,” Mr Green said. “What is unfair is the system of group ticket voting. The DLP came third-last in the seat of Western Victoria, but because it benefited from preferences from others below it pushing it up, it won the seat.

    “The election result is not the will of the people. It comes close to corruption because it is being done by a bunch of people sitting in a room deciding to do deals.”

    Mr Green said a fairer system would be an above-the-line preferential voting system, which operates in NSW, so voters can decide which party their vote goes to if their first choice does not win enough support to get elected.]

  33. [ABC TV 7 pm news ran a story naming Government Ministers and members who don’t live in their electorates, including the Premier. Did the reporter check if the boundaries had changed? I think not! Sounded like the yarn came straight from Liberal Party HQ. Or was it the Greens?]

    Or perhaps one of the ALP factions that Brumby doesn’t belong to, Scringler? Come on! You can do better than that!

  34. The Liberals should preference the Greens because it would force the ALP to fight years and years worth of battles on two fronts.

    Once the ALP ends up being eaten alive on both sides and turns into an irrelevant rump like the DLP did, the Liberals will have an easier time selling their own policies against the Greens, who won’t compromise on their principles, than they have against the ALP, who would sell their grandmother’s organs if it meant getting a 2% boost in some marginal seats.

    There’s really not much the Liberals can ask of the Greens in return, so they really should stop asking. Lower house preferences from the Greens would be a stupid thing to ask for, because the only people who actually ever read a Greens HTV card are people who vote for and actively support Labor, Liberals or some other party.

    Greens voters certainly don’t read Greens HTV cards. They don’t even take them as they don’t want to waste the paper.

    I’ve handed out Greens HTVs and scrutineered for Greens and related independent candidates many times. Greens ballots are entirely random and appear to be consistently numbered in the voter’s order of preference.

  35. I’ve just read the ABC story on the place where members are living. It is a cheap shot, with overt editorialising in what pretends to be a news item:

    [There is no obligation for MPs to live in their electorate, but so close to an election voters might ask whether their local MP can understand local issues without experiencing them on a daily basis.]

    The only ‘source” quoted in the article is the coalition’s David Davis.

  36. At last, some scrutiny of the implications of Greens policies.

    While many of the Greens’ more radical economic policies can only be decided on a federal level (like raising company taxes to 33 per cent and raising the top personal tax rate to 50 per cent), a Greens party with the balance of power in the new Victorian Parliament could reimpose the death tax as a price of a political coalition.

  37. #39 GG

    At last, some scrutiny of the implications of Greens policies.

    While many of the Greens’ more radical economic policies can only be decided on a federal level (like raising company taxes to 33 per cent and raising the top personal tax rate to 50 per cent), a Greens party with the balance of power in the new Victorian Parliament could reimpose the death tax as a price of a political coalition.

    And what will Labor do?

    Probably nothing!

    Labor is on the nose because it doesn’t want to do anything to offend anyone; no guts, no leadership. Of course true believerism is the ALP religion there are always people like you to carry the flag no matter what Labor does. The Incendiary insults that you and other rusted on Laborites post on this blog are certainly not winning much support from me and I suspect other former Labor voters.

  38. GG,

    you hate the Greens because they take vote from your precious Labor party. In my experience Labor and Greens voters get on fantastically, but you and your breathren hate the idea that Labor voters are drifting towards the Greens. If the ALP wasn’t so concerned about chasing the votes of right wing talk back radio tragics insted of it’s traditional supporter base we wouldn’t be having this polite discussion.

  39. Mick S,

    All I’ve done is put up a post criticising the Greens policy on death taxes.

    Alll you’ve done is slag me off.

    You still haven’t addressed the issue of death taxes. Are you too frightened to be accountable?

  40. Higher company taxes and a high tax rate for the wealthy..and death duties on the super rich all sound fine to me.(..perhaps a new wealth tax too on valuable personal collections/vintage cars/valuable antiques…Mitterand did that in France !)
    Once they were a staple of Labor policy…why no more !

  41. Rod Hagen 38
    [The only ’source” quoted in the article is the coalition’s David Davis.]
    And he was a bit circumspect, saying they should live “in, or adjacent to” their electorates – probably because he knows of a few (there are at least two) Liberals who don’t live in their electorates.

  42. GG

    I just want good government, I honestly don’t care if it is Labor, Liberal or Green. I have lurked on this blog for a few years now and I know you (and your fellow travellers) try to get a rise out of Green voters just for kicks. As for the death tax, personally, I don’t give a stuff. But your kind will post things like this to get a reaction out of people who dare to question ALP orthodoxy. Well you got a reaction out of me and I don’t mind saying so.

    You ALP types have two options, you can re-engage with your lost supporter base or you can continue to needle those who have turned to the Greens or the Liberals, or any other political party.

    To put it bluntly over a million people voted for the Greens last federal election, you have to ask your self why! I suspect most of them were ex Labor voters.

    I have written this post after seeing months of venom towards Greens voters, Strewth ! most of these Green voters are ex ALP voters. Think about it!

  43. MrPC 37
    [The Liberals should preference the Greens because it would force the ALP to fight years and years worth of battles on two fronts.]
    The Liberals WILL preference the Greens but I think that long term Labor will move more to the right (away from the Greens, knowing they’ve got that side of Politics “in their pocket” – unlike the Democrats and DLP between the parties ), and force the Liberals even further to the right.

    Thus years of Labor-Green formal and informal coalition governments – the current Senate reflects this – Labor-Green has the first “left” majority for 67 years, and both the 2007 and 2010 elections returned the same “left” majority for each half of the Senate.

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