Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Back in the mainstream

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    That is such a tough issue. If you take in boat people on humanitarian grounds then you just encourage more people to spend their life savings (or more ie debt) on a seat in some shonky boat run by people smugglers who don't really care if the boat makes it or not. Australian soil is only a boat ride away from Indonesia.

    I see where Australians are coming from with that. I'd probably choose differently than them, but their position is at least valid.

    Their treatment of the Tampa refugees, and the dishonesty that occurred along the line with the 'children overboard', however. Ignoring international law by refusing medical aid, and just plain making stuff up for political purposes right before an election. Sad. These were both, unfortunately, very popular actions in the Australian electorate.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report

  • Che Tibby,

    But looking at Australia, they're quite a way behind us. What a difference a couple of women Prime Ministers makes.

    in fact, there were strongly implied messages during the leadership debate that stated a woman would never be prime minister. it is an issue that aussies will need to face.

    as as for refugees. sure, manage and try to limit the willingness of people to load themselves onto boats and come to australia.

    but tampa and 'children overboard' was all about the willingness of a prime minister to *outright lie* about the motivations and actions of a whole lot of helpless people.

    people who, if memory serves me correctly, were predominantly afghani and iraqi not indonesian.

    and don't even get me started on the SIEV X conspiracies.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report

  • Andrew Smith,

    "This isn't to say that Kevin Rudd won't be a success. He is just by no stretch of the imagination a shitkicker."

    Perhaps not, but I saw Rudd on 'Rove Live' last week and he certainly held his own there. He also seems to have an affinity with the 25 - 35 age group. Or then again, was he just the pick of a boring bunch. We probably face that same dilemna next year.

    On his 'Iraq pull-out' policy, don't bet your house on it happening soonish. The Aussies were always going to withdraw their troops, it's just the timing. On Kyoto, Poiliticians use it as a convenient way to grab the 'left' vote, but I believe once the details of what it means emerge, there will backing off from Rudd with all sorts of excuses.

    Since Jan 2007 • 150 posts Report

  • InternationalObserver,

    yup, can't argue with you there Kyle ...

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report

  • Charles Mabbett,

    Ditto, Kyle. Well said.

    Also there's been the years of incarceration in detention centres in places like Curtin and Nauru. Remember that these have included children.

    And lately there have been a few cases unearthed of Australian citizens being mistakenly held in detention centres for years.

    Off topic but as one of the many that walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2000, I sincerely hope that finally, Australia's first peoples will get an official apology from the government. Now that's Bennelong, long time coming.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report

  • Paul Williams,

    Russell, Rudd's no old-style shit-kicker but the ALP campaign was his - he drove and directed it and he ensured it stayed on message (or got errant spokespeople back on message). He'll probably get the Cabinet he wants and will hopefully not give into the states. I think he could prove to be a very effective if not all that engaging PM. I don't know his attitude to NZ - Howard was a horrible little man but he was generally thought to be well disposed to NZ.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report

  • Che Tibby,

    oh. looks like i'm agreeing with both kyle and i/o.

    re: aboriginal people. i put a couple of great youtube videos over on my own blog.

    howard's ignoring reconciliation in favour of a pastoralist-led agenda to undermine native title is yet another reason to find the little rat reprehensible.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report

  • Charles Mabbett,

    These are the two cases in particular I'm thinking of - Cornelia Rau, a German born Australian who was mistakenly imprisoned as a suspected illegal immigrant and another Australian, Vivian Alvarez Solon, who was mistakenly deported, wheelchair-bound, to the Philippines.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report

  • George Darroch,

    Robyn said

    This is a good idea, but I can't find anything official from any NZ politicians. Not even my local MP - a blogger - is on Facebook.

    As long as I don't get "Click here to be a pirate/ninja/vampire" spam, I'd be happy to have a political Facebook friend.

    Well, you could try the Greens - Sue Bradford, Nandor, Metiria, Russell Norman, Keith Locke, and Jeanette are all there, happily facebooking...

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report

  • InternationalObserver,

    Now that's Bennelong, long time coming.

    Bennelong, long time

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report

  • Grant McDougall,

    Anyway, the most interesting post-election item is that Rudd is not letting the caucus have any say whatsoever in choosing the front bench. Now, that's definitely Bliar-ite, and only time will tell whether it ultimately has the same outcome.

    It's superficially Blair-ite and I can't see Rudd making the same mistakes as Blair or being a Blair clone in general. He would've kept an eye on Blair and learnt from his mistakes.

    I actually think "the most interesting post-election item" is the decision by Peter Costello not to seek the Liberal leadership.
    He's been shafted by Howard and will never be PM. It's human nature for him to think "Stuff this, it's not worth it anymore." Howard noticably gave Costello a special mention in his defeat speech, yet it would've been made with the purpose of covering his own arse and giving the impression that there's no ill-feeling between them, when there has been for ages.

    Also, during the campaign, Howard said he was "sorry" that interest rates had gone up, but wasn't "apologising" that they had.

    Both incidents show what a venal, duplitious individual Howard is.

    As an aside, about 14-15 months ago, I read an interview by (I think), Peter Fitz-Simmons with Gough Whitlam. He asked Whitlam if he thought there'd be another Labor gov't in his time and Whitlam was very vague and non-commital about it. It's amazing fast things change and, well, now Whitlam can die happily, I suppose.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report

  • Richard Llewellyn,

    Can't say I'm sorry to see The Rodent leave - he has left more than a few morally repugnant stains on the Aussie national conscience that will take a while to fade.

    Interesting how Howard, in that last 12 months at least, lost his golden touch with regards to 'middle' Australia. Really, Rudd only had to present a half-way credible alternative and a small target for possible wedges, and the swelling electorate disenchantment with 'Honest' John did the rest.

    Hopefully all his various ugly henchmen (Abbot, Ruddock - who I presume is still alive? - and Alexander face-begging-to-be-slapped Downer) will get swamped in the Liberal party rethink.

    My favourite campaign moments; the excruciating interview in the Lodge as Howard and Costello tryed in vain to pretend to like each other, with Costello gritting his teeth as he had his tummy rubbed by his Master, and the disastrous dirty-tricks intervention of Jackie Kelly's hubbie. Campaign gold.

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report

  • Charles Mabbett,

    The Howard/Costello dynamic has been intriguing. I have been wondering if Howard had heeded concerns within his own party about his leadership going into this election and stepped aside, if Costello would have made a difference and the conclusion I've come to is that it wouldn't have. The Coalition would still have lost.

    Howard was gambling on his leadership as being the brand that voters would identify with in returning the Coalition to office. He might have made the call that Costello's leadership would almost certainly have meant the election would be lost. We know now that he gambled wrongly.

    It would have been a really tough ask to change leaders two months out from a general election and win. So perhaps with hindsight, if the Coalition were to have had a chance of winning, Howard should have stepped aside with about a year ago.

    However much has been made of the fact that he is a bit of an armchair historian and I think he became seduced by his own view of his place in Australian political history. By going again this time, he must have wanted to become the country's longest running PM but he made a huge miscalculation. In thinking too hard about his legacy, he lost sight of the evident public mood.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report

  • dc_red,

    Back in Bennelong, here's a detailed breakdown of the votes.

    With 79% counted (about 77,000 votes) Howard is trailing by about 340 votes. It appears the Green vote collapsed and fell in behind the Labor candidate.

    Although quite how that works in terms of Preferential Voting I'm not too sure.

    Interestingly there were over 3000 "informal" votes - I assume this means spoiled or blank. The flip side of compulsory voting perhaps?

    Anyway, for what's it's worth ... ABC Predicted Final Result: ALP GAIN: 5.8% swing to ALP

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report

  • Charles Mabbett,

    Under the Single Transferable Vote system the Greens would be -generally speaking, being on the left of the political spectrum - be urging their voters to place Labor above the Liberal Party in their list of preferences on the ballot paper.

    Commentators on election night made the point repeatedly that Green voters in seats where the Green candidate would not win would in all probability indicate that their vote should go to Labor above the Liberals. In fact I'm sure that the Green Party would be instructing their voters to do so. It is usual for parties to advise their voters who should be the next preference if their candidate isn't one of the two top polling candidates in a particular electorate.

    It probably isn't very clear but it is kind of simple. Just hard to explain.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report

  • Grant McDougall,

    Another few comments...

    The "Work Choice" legislation went down like a cup of cold sick, just like the ECA did here. People didn't like it, so they spat it out. This has been a major factor in the Aussie public turning against the Liberals.

    Also, as an Aussie commentator said on RNZ last week, the Liberals failed to take Rudd seriously until it was too late. They were too complacent, expecting him to take the same predictable lines as Crean, Latham, Beazley, etc and easily swat them away. But he didn't which left them unsure of how to respond to him.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report

  • InternationalObserver,

    It probably isn't very clear but it is kind of simple. Just hard to explain.

    It's very clear to me Charles! What a pity we ended up with MMP and not STV here in NZ. I mean, really, if you want to be truly democratic ...

    STV allows people to vote for the party they want, instead of voting to try and block a party they don't want. And if their chosen party is unsuccessful they can then express their preference for their second choice. I'd predict the Greens would do a lot better in NZ under STV if that were the case.

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report

  • Paul Williams,

    The Greens did preference Labor in Bennelong.

    Here's a simple explanation of the STV system as it applies to HoR seats:


    The Senate is the same, however because of the number of candidates and parties, you can vote "above the line" which means your preferences are distributed according to whatever formal arrangements have been agreed by the parties themselves. This Green Party link is good summary:


    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report

  • LegBreak,

    Has there ever been a more spectacular dummy-spit than that performed by Costello over the last couple of days?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report

  • tussock,

    It's quite the hobby in Oz to literally write "Informal" on ones voting paper before boxing it; a bit of a rebellion against compulsory voting in races where only the norms can be represented.

    Since Nov 2006 • 611 posts Report

  • Moz,

    What a pity we ended up with MMP and not STV here in NZ. I mean, really, if you want to be truly democratic

    Unfortunately in practice STV turns out to be anything but democratic - it is just a polite way to enforce the two party system. It's rare for a third party to get elected under STV, and Australia's history seems to be the slow decline of third parties.

    Where you do get third parties is the upper house. But if you look at the Australian Senates you find that they're mostly proportional (combined with STV) and often not under the control of the two major parties. The combo is interesting - if you have 5 senate seats to be elected, that's a 20% quota per seat. Typically the two major parties will get one each, so a 30%/30%/others distribution becomes 10%/10%/other, and the STV part kicks in. Which can lead to ugly scenes as tiny parties dump votes on other tiny parties until eventually someone with 1% of the primary vote reaches a quota and we get a Family First member in the Victorian Senate (FF are part of the religious wrong here).

    Where I live we have a strong Greens vote and a left-wing Labour member, but even with a relatively affluent, educated electorate it's very hard to get people to vote Greens ahead of Labour or Liberal, and a lot of voters say "yeah, I support you so I gave you my number two". Which is completely backwards, but it takes a fair bit of explaining to get that across. Hence many minor parties try to explain how voting works on the back of their how to vote cards and in their mail-outs.

    It still annoys me that campaigning is allowed on the day and largely unpoliced. Plus the major parties are full of people who will happily lie if they think it will get them an advantage - I spent time at two booths and both times Labour were using the line "The Greens are only standing in the Senate, vote for the Labour MP". They facilitate that by not putting party affiliation on their how to vote cards. Which makes it that much harder to get third party candidates up. It also cuts them out of electoral funding because that's based on primary vote.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report

  • Emma Hart,

    I'd predict the Greens would do a lot better in NZ under STV if that were the case.

    Um... how? The Greens got seven percent of the House of Reps vote, and no seats. STV isn't proportional, and it hasn't switched Aus off being a two-party state.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report

  • Idiot Savant,

    Moz: it's worth remembering that Australia's House doesn't use STV, but PV, which isn't a proportional system at all.

    As for the Senate,that is much better, but at the same time it has some quirks - notably that they've fixed the system to encourage party ticket voting by having "above the line" and "below the line" votes. If you vote above the line, you tick some tickets box, and your preferences are distributed accordingly (and this part is so far a good cruft). But if you vote below the line, and start individually numbering canidates, you must fil out a full preference list, with a number next to every candidate, or your vote is ruled invalid. And when there are up to 70 candidates on a ballot, this really encourages party ticket voting rather than a real individual choice between candidates.

    Fortunately, NZ's implementation of STV seems to be a little smarter than that, and allows incomplete preferencing.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1717 posts Report

  • Charles Mabbett,

    Actually I suspect that the Greens would do better under MMP. Watching the results come in on Saturday night, it was noticeable that the Greens were polling well but in third place in most electorates which means they will have no elected MPs in the House of Representatives.

    It appears they have polled around 7.6 percent of the total vote and it is only in the Senate that their percentage of the vote will be translated into the number of Green Party Senators. It is confusing but it essentially means that polling healthily but finishing third in electorate seats doesn't get you more representatives in the House. The Senate is a kind of compensation for that.

    But there is no doubt that Labor's strong endorsement of climate change policies and the Kyoto Protocol have cost the Greens support.

    Interestingly one in five Tasmanians voted Green because there's a local pulp mill issue there that really energised the environment vote.

    I have some sympathy for Bob Brown the Greens leader who is a little upset because his party has not yet recieved any acknowledgement from Kevin Rudd for assisting in Labor's win. I think the Green vote played a key part in throwing the Coalition out.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report

  • Tom Semmens,

    Given the history of factionalism in the ALP I would think the greatest threat to Rudd at the moment is Julia Gillard. Lets face it, her and Kevin Rudd don't exactly share the same agenda.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

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