2011: episode two

The latest edition of the Democratic Audit of Australia’s invaluable newsletter taught me the following things I (mostly) didn’t already know:

• Griffith University commissioned Newspoll to conduct two polls on “constitutional values”, in May 2008 and March 2010, and has handsomely published the full results in a comprehensive report. This finds the most pressing item on the public’s constitutional agenda to be “a referendum to decide which level of government is responsible for doing what”, which 54 per cent rate “very important”, followed by “what levels of government Australia should have” on 47 per cent, indigenous recognition on 43 per cent and a republic on 38 per cent. Support for recognition of local government is very high in Queensland (and, relatedly, among Nationals voters), but shaky everywhere else. However, the 2008 survey found the public would be highly favourable “if changes state there must always be a system of local government, set rules and standards of accountability, and guarantee a reasonable level of funding for local government”.

• The High Court has published its reasons for finding in favour of the GetUp!-backed plaintiffs who challenged the early closure of the electoral rolls introduced by the Howard government in 2006. The ruling restored the old regime under which new enrolments and changed details were accepted during the first week of the campaign, obliging the Australian Electoral Commission to accept over 100,000 applications that would otherwise have been frozen until after the election. There is a summary here and full judgement here. The court was finely poised on the issue, with Chief Justice Robert French and Justices William Gummow, Virginia Bell and Susan Crennan forming the majority, and Kenneth Hayne, Dyson Heydon and Susan Kiefel making dissenting judgements.

• Daniel Kreiss and Philip N. Howard probe the laxity of regulation surrounding political parties in the English-speaking world in “Political Parties and Voter Privacy: Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and United States in Comparative Perspective”, published on the online journal First Monday.

• An Australian Parliamentary Library report tells us that a federal redistribution in South Australia should occur during the current parliament, with the seven-year time limit on the existing boundaries expiring this month. Other than the Victorian redistribution that has just been finalised, this is the only redistribution likely for the current term.

• The Queensland government has produced an 18-page paper entitled Reforming Queensland’s Electoral System, which canvasses “on political donations, caps on expenditure by candidates, parties and third parties, and automatic enrolment of eligible voters”.

• The Democratic Audit’s Joo-Cheong Tham has published a paper on regulation of NSW local government elections.

• The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has initiated its inquiry into the 2010 election, and will accept submissions until February 16.

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.

3,320 comments on “2011: episode two”

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  1. “the early closure of the electoral rolls introduced by the Howard government in 2006.”

    a Labor Govt Bill to fix this passed in HoR in Feb 2010
    BUT th Senate refferred it off to a Senate Committee , with Libs , Greens , FF and Mr X all wanting to ‘play’ and get there names in paper , so 21/8 electon could not cover Labor’s Bill by procalming it

  2. correction of adam’s post

    Greens Party refused to talk to Kevin Rudd or Labor over Labor’s ETS % cuts

    Greens Party publicly said cuts had to be 25%-40% and that 25% was NOT negotable

    Greens Party dealt themselves out of any talking on % cuts by there public non negotable stance , so no use greens bloggers creating a false myth that Labor did not talk to Greens when Greens chopped there own NOT negoatable mouth off

    (Why do Greens bloggers repeat this false myth , well bcause Greens Party (and th rotten Liberol deniers) is and will for evers be CORRECTLY blamed for preventing CC mitagation commencing in oz FROM july ist 2011 as per th provisions of that ETS !!
    – dont like recieving th truthful blame

    Both Liberal and Greens Partys rejected 3 Labor ETS’s & Seante records prove it)

  3. “This finds the most pressing item on the public’s constitutional agenda to be “a referendum to decide which level of government is responsible for doing what”, which 54 per cent rate “very important”, ”

    even Solomen may find wording an issue , & no Party will agree , and Feds will want keep there Tax powers And Reform thru COAG has been working & best process

  4. Ron, I am one of the bloggers repeating the “false myth”. Yet again you have got it wrong though.

    There were two statements by the Greens. Firstly, they said publicly that it must be at least 25% the way the ALP worded the ETS(pro polluters).

    They said that if the ALP changed it so it was stricter on the big polluters, then the Greens would be fine with 10%.

    As the ALP refused to budge on changing the ETS, the Greens refused to budge on the 25%

  5. I had the misfortune to catch the ABC Breakfast News on ABC 2 this morning. The female presenter (whose name I don’t know but she reminds me of Sarah Hansen Young) was interviewing Ian McFarland. Her entire approach seems to be to give McFarland a chance to kick the Government. Question with words to the effect of “Is the government doing enough to help” or “is enough being done to help”, or “what will you do if the Government does not help” Along with a number of questions that invited McFarland to put the boot in to the PM personally as though it was her fault that there were flood in Queensland.. On and on it went asking for a quote that was critical of the Government,

    McFarland to his credit largely resisted such opportunities and even was prepared to share the blame for the lack of dams being built over the last 20 years.

    To my mind this was a disgraceful performance by the presenter and is an excellent example of the ABC lack of understanding of what balance reporting is about.

  6. Puff, the Magic Dragon.@ # 6615 of previous thread

    “$ from Dick Smith to BB, personal, nothing to do with greens, non issue.”

    Utter rubbish. So if a MP receives a benefit that is not directly related to his election than it is ok. If someone standing for parliament receives free medical services for himself and his family this is somehow different from someone providing printing services for his re-election.

    What distorted thinking.

    “Ute to Kevin Rudd’s campaign. All disclosure procedures followed. Normal practice for all parties. No conflict of interest. Non-issue.”


    But the problem is that BB saw his pockets being filled with cash to be fine but criticized Rudd for the donation of the use of the Ute for his campaign.

    Appear to me to be a clear example of double standards.

  7. Good morning, Bludgers.

    Awoke to pouring rain as the first of a series of storms bursts overhead – No 3, currently shaking windows & pictures.

    Stories of the 1931 Brisbane flood describe a wall of water bearing down the river and a lone horseman riding like mad to warn people in its path – leading to the construction of Somerset Dam, Brisbane’s first major flood-mitigation project. I always had trouble envisaging it. Not any more.

    Even with Wivenhoe dam, Ipswich-Brisbane area is in a worse place than it was this time in 1974. My GenX son has only vague memories of it and most under 40 have none at all.

    If you have relatives, friends, acquaintances there, urge them to prepare for the worst & get the most precious stuff (inc vehicles) to any acquaintance who lives on a Brissy-Ippy hill – in Ipswich, much of the water comes up through old mines, and does so very swiftly. Stay out of underground & ground-level carparks. If it doesn’t happen, everyone can laugh about it for years. If it does, “if onlys” have been minimised.

    The vehicle bit is important. Most flood damage is repairable, so vehicles aren’t written off. Q comprehensive insurance covers flood – but there are already thousands in repair queues.

    Best wishes to you all.

  8. Some insight into the current government’s paranoia levels that may go part of the way to explaining its crass outburst against Wikleaks and Assange:

    The reports show not only Labor’s tenacity in pursuing leaks but also that such inquiries, if judged on their justice outcomes alone, are all but futile.

    Only two produced convictions, which means such investigations have what may be the lowest success rate in Australian law enforcement – 4 per cent.

    Just as stark is the judicial outcome when people are found guilty of leaks. The two convicted received good behaviour bonds and fines or sureties of several thousand dollars.

    What a waste of pubic money.

  9. Re #8
    I don’t mind “pubic” money being wasted – on drink or drugs, say – but public money is another matter. 😆

  10. What did people have to drink last night with their mushrooms? There was a lot of fuzzy thinking on political donations – although much of it was conscious and deliberate of course.

    Whatever the policies of the parties for changes to political donations/public funding, they all must work within the current system.

    To say the Greens are hypocritical to have a policy in favour of public funding, while accepting donations under the current system allowing donations, is wholly illogical.

    One must work under the rules as they exist – but it is not ‘hypocritical’ to have a policy for legislative change on the books.

    As Labor great Rodney Cavalier said a long time ago about his wealth: “There is nothing in the manifesto that says a comrade must impoverish himself during the capitalist phase.”

  11. jv @ 8,

    Fancy you lighting on that article, jv!

    Interesting that they compare the end of the Howard Govt (when the Public Service people in the Govt were as much their own appointments as they possibly could be, and thus as “safe” as they could be) with the beginning of the Labor Govt (when the Public Service people in the Govt were almost entirely appointed by their predecessors, and thus as “unsafe” as they could be).

    Not a useful comparison, I think. Nor is the author’s focus on the conviction rate that the leaks inquiries led to (without mentioning the rate under the Howard or any other Govt): as the most important thing in these enquiries- yes, they are political- is finding who was most likely responsible, not getting them convicted.

    The article also makes no mention of the unprecedented, virtual clean sweep through the upper Canberra Public Service that the Coalition made at the beginning of its first term in 1996 ➡ thus making the Public Service as politically “safe” as possible as quickly as possible, but creating huge dislocation and loss of corporate knowledge. Rather a useful bit of background, that, I would have thought. But Mr Welch saw no need for it.

    Now that pogrom in ’96 was a real waste of public money…

  12. Can anyone remember when the suggestions that one of the first serious symptoms of global warming was likely to be an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events were first made?

    I can find plenty of refs from the mid 1990’s , but I’m sure there were similar suggestions being made in at least the mid to late 80’s.

    We’ve certainly managed to waste a heck of a lot of time prevaricating, haven’t we!

    It is way past time to get serious about this stuff.

  13. No doubt Roo had a quiet Xmas and thought things may have dissapeared off the Radar after he settled out of court with a few of his millions.
    It will be difficult to make ground with the Tories in power but hopefully the pursuit will gain momentum in the new year, now that another of his Myrmidons has been stood down.

    One thing is for sure and that is the story won’t gain any attention in the media here.
    The guy is not a fit and proper person to own media in Australia and should be disqualified.

    [Now that the News of the World assistant editor, Ian Edmondson, has been suspended because it is claimed he knew of the routine interception of phone calls to the royal family, politicians and showbusiness, television and sports celebrities, there are very serious implications for the police and the Murdoch family, and for us all.

    For News International, the phone-hacking story is clearly moving into the perilous stage of the unravelling deception. From watching and, indeed, precipitating the collapse of thousands of public figures over the years, Murdoch’s journalists will know that the exposure of a cover-up may be a great deal worse than the criminal investigation into the paper’s practices following the jailing of the private detective Glenn Mulcaire in 2007…………………Better still, imagine how Murdoch’s papers would have reacted if they’d had a whiff of this sort scandal at the BBC. We would never have heard the end of it; the director general and the board of management would have had to resign. Jeremy Hunt would be reassigning TV channels.

    The truth is that no other organisation in Britain could have acted in this way and come so far without suffering serious penalties and public humiliation.

    That alone is enough to reveal the extent of Murdoch’s power in British affairs – the penetrating influence of a man who does not even pay taxes here. News International has not endured the same pitiless scrutiny that it applies to others and that certainly should now change.]


  14. Rod Hagen

    After all the death and destruction that is occurring in Qld, I doubt many will still understand or accept that it relates to climate change.

  15. [After all the death and destruction that is occurring in Qld, I doubt many will still understand or accept that it relates to climate change.]

    Victoria..The conservatives will still view this event as an act of god and nothing else.

  16. [After all the death and destruction that is occurring in Qld, I doubt many will still understand or accept that it relates to climate change.]

    Not to forget, of course, the extremes that gave us the Victorian and SA bushfires and are currently giving SW WA one of its driest years on record, the chaos in Europe and North America caused by the big freezes at both ends of 2010, the “one in a thousand year” floods in Tenessee in May 2010, the hottest summer in record in Russia in 2010, resulting in catastrophic fires and 15000 heat related deaths, the massive floods in Pakistan, the second highest number of hurricanes/cyclones ever recorded world wide (only exceeded in 2005), extreme drought in the Amazon, etc etc.

  17. Rod Hagen

    I am with you. The extreme weather we have been witnessing is hard to ignore. Still, as Peter of Marino said, many will view it as acts of god.

  18. Gweneth,

    If you are lurking about. The weather on the Gold Coast looks to have broken, at least for now. For the first time we woke to no rain and a brighter day. If the weather changes on the Coast, I will update it here for you.

    So far so good, your cherub looks to be able to have a connected journey.

  19. [I am with you. The extreme weather we have been witnessing is hard to ignore. Still, as Peter of Marino said, many will view it as acts of god.]

    Pretty clearly any god responsible for such things must be an absolute a*&^hole. He, she or it certainly wouldn’t want to be claiming responsibility in Toowoomba at present!

  20. I echo victoria’s comment @ 11 and extend it to all Bludgers (and everyone else) caught out by the Queensland floods. Especially those around the Toowoomba flash flooding.

    Cars in flash floods can be very nasty. While some people may find temporary shelter on top of one, they become safety hazards to many more. They also often get washed into drains, efficiently blocking them and so making the flooding worse…

  21. victoria,

    We barely lifted our skirts compared to some. My heart aches for those who lost their lives yesterday. Play it safe people.

  22. The tragic events that unfolded in Queensland yesterday are climate-change writ large and examples of what we can expect in the future.

    How anyone can argue the cost of mitigation is too great is beyond me and this sort of comment from Centre last night:
    [Therefore I have every justification and right to comment on how good global warming is going.

    Importantly, it’s the way the ordinary voter sees it, and at the moment, oh yeah (global warming) it’s going real good.]
    is in terribly bad taste given the circumstances.

  23. Think Big,

    Unless these weather events come with a flashing neon sign that says “I am an extreme weather event resulting from climate changes”, people will continue to pooh-pooh the idea that it is even happening.

  24. What is perhaps ironic, is that the very people who do not believe in the science, at the very same time expect science to predict with extreme accuracy, changes in weather on a minute to minute basis.

  25. [are climate-change writ large and examples of what we can expect in the future.]

    If current predictions are correct, THink Big, I’m afraid they are mere forepangs of what is on the way.

  26. RH

    I read a CSIRO conference proceeding on atmospheric modelling which identified the propsect of more frequent and severe storms in 1988. From memory the editor was Pearson.

    Sympathy to those in Toowoomba and nearby towns. That really was a freak event, even in the context of a flood. Very little people could do to prepare for it.

  27. Rod Hagen @ 13

    I totally agree with your post.

    The mad right have had two major blows this week with the dreadful events in Queensland and the shootings in Tuscon.

    Creeps like Monckton on one hand and the Palin Fox News vitriol on the other should have good reason to question their positions.

    Their vitriol is being shown for the fraud that it is.

  28. Ratsars.
    If the Dick Smith wants to pay BB’s legal bills or his dentist want to give him a filling for free, and it is openly recorded on the gifts register, and is not an inducement for his vote or bribe for his actions, or BB is not profiting from his office, then yes, it is okay for one person to give a gift ao another. Also includes said ute.

    What about all those free holday invitations to wealthy individuals skiing lodges or the Grand Estate? I am sure others here from all parties can find a the splinter in the other’s eye.

    Of course it is double standards for BB to complain about the ute than have his party accept the huge donation. Again, it is a case of not letting your own nakedness stop you from pointing out others are unclothed.

  29. Kersebleptes:

    Spot on @ 12.

    Didn’t see any mention of the numbers of actual leaks or potential leaks during the respective periods either.

    Could it be that more were reported simply because more actually occurred?

  30. [Puff, the Magic Dragon.
    Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink
    I don’t see why parties can’t learn from each other. I don’t see the Greens forming government in their own right any time soon. So if I want a progressive govt, and not Abbott, I want a Labor govt. But there are a lot of Greens policies I see a lot of sense in. Others are never going to cut it. Estate taxes I find quite odious, even if they did originate with Labor in the bygone years.

    I recognise worth where I see it. Most of the Greens policies are going to get at least one interest group or the other offside, but have intrinsic worth. The Greens may split the progressive vote, or they may pull both Labor and Liberal back from the right-ways lurch that has happened during the Howard reign. I think that as climate change bites, it will be the latter. ]

    Puff, I have just caught up with all the posts from last night, and I’d like to compliment you on your very sensible stance in the middle of all the rubbish.

  31. Can some of the more enlightened minds here, explain to a dummy like me, what causes flood water to surge like it did yesterday in Toowoomba?

  32. When you get a couple of inches of rain in an hour or so over an area covering a few kilometres when the soil is already saturated, it all runs down hill. So you start with 2 inches (ok 50mm) of water over over several square kilometres of land. It all runs downhill, so just work how high that volume of water is once it reaches the spillway creek at the bottom of the hill.

  33. 8 dead and 70 people missing according to the OO. Things could get a whole lot worse as events unfold. My thoughts are with those affected.

  34. SK,

    It’s really just very intense rainfall, on ground that is already sodden with drains that are already part full.

    Once all the pore space and drains are full the water has to stay on top of the surface, because there is nowhere else for it to go. It then stacks up on the additional water it meets as it moves downhill, like the classic image of the runaway snowball.

    Especially heavy rainfall on sodden ground can also convert the stormwater disposal system into a stormwater distribution system, as drains suddenly become hugely filled and reverse their direction of flow.

  35. RH

    Sorry the 1988 conference proceeding was by Pearman, not Pearson:
    [Greenhouse : planning for climate change / edited by G.I. Pearman.
    Melbourne : Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Australia) ;Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1988.]
    It included modelling of impacts on Australia and even then correctly predicted more storms, dryer in the south of Australia and wetter in the north.

  36. …and looks like much more on the way, right over the Wivenhoe catchment!


    [The 1.45 million ML flood compartment is close to half full, with managers yesterday scrambling to increase releases from 116,000ML to 170,000ML a day as rain fell in its 7020sq km catchment. It also holds a further 1.17 million ML of drinking water supplies.

    SEQ Water Grid spokesman Barry Dennien said Wivenhoe peak inflows had hit 1,032,000ML per day. Somerset Dam inflows were about 360,000ML per day.

    “Considering Wivenhoe’s flood storage compartment holds 1.45 million megalitres, at this rate the compartment could fill within 1.5 days,” Mr Dennien said.]


  37. [Can some of the more enlightened minds here, explain to a dummy like me, what causes flood water to surge like it did yesterday in Toowoomba?]

    More water than normally experienced, creek unable to handle as much water as they previously could, due to increased development, badly designed water control measures channelling all flow into a confined space, which then fails to cope.

    Look at Toowoomba on Google Earth and you will see a couple of creeks running through the town, both heavily constrained by development and artificial channelling. Great way of stopping localised minor shallow flooding in normal times. Potentially catastrophic when the water can’t escape and the creeks/drains can’t cope.

  38. [The ruling restored the old regime under which new enrolments and changed details were accepted during the first week of the campaign]

    Someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but thought the government introduced legislation either last year or early this year to restore the former system, but it was blocked in the Senate?

  39. SK
    (This is hearsay on radio, no links)
    Someone said (local reporter?) that the storm drains had suddenly been unable to cope with the flows and the water “came up” from below.
    Someone else said that people had gone to look at the storm channel through the street which had been flowing faster than usual, and they were caught when the water suddenly rose.

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