Sins of commission

Kooyong and Chisholm legal challenge latest; by-election rumblings in Isaacs; Jim Molan strikes back; and the Victorian Liberals gearing up already for federal preselections.

Possible (or possibly not) federal by-election news:

• The Australian Electoral Commission has petitioned the Federal Court to reject challenges against the federal election results in Chisholm and Kooyong. The challenges relate to Chinese-language Liberal Party signage that appeared to mimic the AEC’s branding, and advised voters that giving a first preference to the Liberal candidates was “the correct voting method”. As reported by The Guardian, the AEC argues that “the petition fails to set out at all, let alone with sufficient particularity, any facts or matters on the basis of which it might be concluded that it was likely that on polling day, electors able to read Chinese characters, upon seeing and reading the corflute, cast their vote in a manner different from what they had previously intended”. This seems rather puzzling to my mind, unless it should be taken to mean that no individuals have been identified who are ready to confirm that they were indeed so deceived. Academic electoral law expert Graeme Orr argued on Twitter that the AEC had “no need to intervene on the substance of a case where partisan litigants are well represented”.

• Talk of a by-election elsewhere in Melbourne was stimulated by Monday’s column ($) from acerbic Financial Review columnist Joe Aston, which related “positively feverish speculation” that Labor’s Shadow Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, would shortly quit his Melbourne bayside seat of Isaacs with an eye to a position on Victoria’s Court of Appeal. Aston further reported that Dreyfus hoped to be succeeded by Fiona McLeod, the prominent barrister who gained a 6.1% swing as Labor’s candidate for Higgins in May. Dreyfus emphatically rejected such “ridiculous suggestions” in late August, saying he was “absolutely committed to serving out this term of parliament”, and again took to Twitter on Monday to say he would be “staying and fighting the next election”. Aston remains unconvinced, writing in Tuesday’s column ($) that the suggestions derived from “high-level discussions Dreyfus has held on Spring Street with everyone from Premier Daniel Andrews, former Attorney-General Martin Pakula, his successor Jill Hennessy and his caucus colleagues”, along with his “indiscreet utterances around the traps”.

Federal preselection news:

• Jim Molan has won the endorsement of both Scott Morrison and the conservative faction of the New South Wales Liberal Party to fill the Senate vacancy created by Arthur Sinodinos’s departure to become ambassador to the United States. However, the Sydney Morning Herald reports this is not dissuading rival nominee Richard Shields, former deputy state party director and Insurance Council of Australia manager, and the runner-up to Dave Sharma in last year’s keenly fought Wentworth preselection. Shields’ backers are said to include Helen Coonan, former Senator and Howard government minister, and Mark Neeham, a former state party director. Earlier reports suggested the moderate faction had been reconciled to Molan’s ascendancy by a pledge that he would only serve out the remainder of Sinodinos’s two-year term, and would not seek re-election in 2022.

Rob Harris of The Age reports the Victorian Liberals are considering a plan to complete their preselections for the 2022 election much earlier than usual – and especially soon for Liberal-held seats. The idea in the latter case is for challengers to incumbents to declare their hands by January 15, with the matter to be wrapped up by late February or early March. This comes after the party’s administrative committee warded off threats to members ahead of the last election, most notably factional conservative Kevin Andrews in Menzies, by rubber-stamping the preselections of all incumbents, much to the displeasure of party members. Other preselections are to be held from April through to October. Also proposed is a toughening of candidate vetting procedures, after no fewer than seven candidates in Labor-held seats were disendorsed during the period of the campaign.

Self-promotion corner:

• I had a paywalled piece in Crikey yesterday which noted the stances adopted of late by James McGrath, ideological warror extraordinaire and scourge of the cockatoo, in his capacity as chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, which is presently conducting its broad-ranging inquiry into the May federal election. These include the end of proportional representation in the Senate, the notion that parliamentarians who quit their parties should be required to forfeit their seats, and — more plausibly — the need to curtail pre-poll voting.

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.

2,219 comments on “Sins of commission”

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  1. Mavis

    Yes I was using the iPad keyboard. I agree I should have broken it up.

    Final thought for the night. A recent segment on Utopia has been widely commented on in professional transport planning circles I know. It is surprisingly accurate from a technical viewpoint. Labor policy advisors and aspiring ministers need to watch this episode “Ghost of Christmas Future”.

    Night all.

  2. Socrates:

    [‘Yes I was using the iPad keyboard. I agree I should have broken it up.’]

    Fair enough old chap, your post not being in its usual form.

  3. Confessions @ #2180 Tuesday, October 15th, 2019 – 8:02 pm

    Except they can’t offer Trump pardons for state crimes.

    She was thinking purely political from the standpoint of McConnell, who would rather gnaw off his own arm than lose his Senate majority. The options for him if the GOP Senate majority is genuinely threatened next year are to either convict Trump in the Senate if he’s impeached, or a deal brokered with Pence et al where Trump resigns and Pence assumes a caretaker Presidential role,…

    The problem with any plausible (legal) option for removing Trump is the same: Being the president is the only thing keeping his arse out of jail, and the Repubs can’t change that for him.

    So they have no bargaining chip, no effective threat or inducement that could get Trump to resign.

    They are going to have to fire him, and deal with consequences.

  4. Socrates says:

    Final thought for the night. A recent segment on Utopia has been widely commented on in professional transport planning circles I know. It is surprisingly accurate from a technical viewpoint.

    “Ghost of Christmas Future”.

    Watched it. A bit sad.

  5. WB:

    [‘See the second bullet point of this blog post.’

    ‘Mark Dreyfus would shortly quit his Melbourne bayside seat of Isaacs with an eye to a position on Victoria’s Court of Appeal.’]

    I did WB.

    I doubt that Maxwell, P, having three years before compulsory retirement, would resign, but who knows?

    Dreyfus though would be, if he were to be anointed, an over the top appointment, on a similar a scall to Murphy’s appointment, his trial I witnessed in Banco in ’85.

  6. Anyone interested in large scale grid storage batteries?

    Google: “Don Sadoway Stanford Youtube” and watch it.

    Fascinating and exhilarating.

    Lots of other stuff about Professor Sadoway’s liquid metal battery on Youtube.

  7. I watched some YouTubes last night by and about Professor Donald Sadoway from MIT, and his Liquid Metal battery.

    He has formed a company called “Ambri” (the middle cut out of the word CAMBRIdge, because the battery was invented in Cambridge, MA and the company is located there):

    Sadoway is an engaging, lucid and entertaining lecturer, especially when it comes to the benefits of his team’s battery inventions. He reminds me of Richard Feynmann in personality and delivery.

    The basic idea behind his batteries is that they use cheap/abundant, non-exotic materials (“To make something dirt cheap, make it from dirt” as the Prof says) and can be easily scaled.

    Each battery is made from a “sandwich” of molten metal as the base, floating on top of which is the molten salt, and floating on top of that is another type of molten metal. Because each successive layer from bottom to top is lighter than the one underneath it, there is no need to separate the layers by means of expensive and brittle membranes. They just separate out naturally by floating on each other, like oil floats on water.

    When transported, the two metals and the salt in-between them are solidified layers. Hence the battery will not function, giving complete safety from explosions in transit (as lithium batteries tend to do).

    The batteries are most efficient at large scale (the standard size of a single battery cell is 80mm cubed, and a 1 megawatt hour array is packaged in a sort of mini transport container, 2.2 metres cubed).

    Charging is accomplished by simply reversing current flow and, at the moment, testing indicates that the batteries retain 100% factory capacity for at least 10 years, probably 25 years. That is, they don’t wear out after multiple recharges, like lithium batteries do. Ambri claims they are more efficient than pumped hydro, which currently comprises 95 of grid-level storage technology around the world (as opposed to small scale storage such as for phones, drones and other hand portable gizmos).

    The batteries work at 250-480 degrees Celsius, depending on the chemistry used, latterly towards the 250 degree (“low” temperature) end.

    Each battery array (producing 1 megawatt hour of power) weighs 2 tonnes. 400 cells are needed to make an array, compared to 3,000 for lithium cells to make an array.

    Prices are similar to lithium, in large scale. This was an absolute design consideration from the start of research. The technology uses cheap, abundant materials, no rare earths, exotic metals or dangerous chemicals. It cannot melt down, as the stuff inside is already molten! Even when overheated accidentally, no gases are produced, so no explosion can take place (as the maximum temperature reached is only about 1/3 of that required to melt the steel container the array is housed in).

    TOTAL Oil, Bill Gates and NEC are investors and shareholders.

    So, to my question for those who monitor such technologies: is Professor Sadoway regarded as a quack, crackpot or charlatan destined to go broke?

    Or is he a visionary who holds the solution to grid-level battery storage (thus making wind, solar etc. much more viable at grid level, as both storage and – just as importantly – load balancing solutions)?

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