I received my postal vote a few days ago. I must say I felt a rush of pride when I opened the envelope and unfolded the Senate paper across the length of the table. There are 50 candidates on the list, and in Australian elections you can list them in the order you choose. I always number every box for the Senate. That, my friends, is representative democracy.
Having the leisure of an internet connection this year, and being happily free of thugs intimidating me to vote a certain way, I decided to drill down a little further than usual. In extravagant detail, even. Who are these people, anyway?
Six incumbents are up for election in Queensland. Both Liberals Brett Mason and George Brandis are lawyers; Democrat John Cherry is a lawyer; Labour's Jan McLucas was a teacher but Joe Ludwig is a lawyer; and Len Harris may have been a fine gold miner, but is a political joke.
(Of the six not up for re-election: Andrew Bartlett was a social worker for a bare 2 years before becoming a politician; Labour's John Hogg was a BSc and life-long union man where Claire Moore was a public servant; the Nationals Ron Boswell was a small businessman; the Liberal's Ian MacDonald is a lawyer and Santo Santoro is a career politician.)
What a depressing collection of lawyers and toadies, especially on the Liberal side. Ron Boswell is almost the pick. Struth.
Who else is on the ticket then. Nigel Freemarijuana must be running for the lower house this year, his brother Guy Freemarijuana is heading up the Hemp ticket. Might throw some preferences their way just on principle. Australian Progressive Alliance doesn't impress. Greens, like their environment and immigration stuff but they're protectionists and Drew Hutton might actually win a seat, best not put them too high. Family First, never heard of them before, probably social conservatives at a guess. Pundits say they've got a Pentecostal church base and preference the Coalition, which is interesting. The website says "Family First wants Australia to be the very best place on earth to raise a family." The Christian Coalition meets the DLP. Not really my style.
Whatever happened to the Natural Law Party? I desperately need taxpayer's money to help me achieve yogic flying and a holistic health balance. Who's going to represent me now ...
Barnaby Joyce heads the Nationals ticket, an accountant apparently. At least he's not a lawyer. Nationals - they should probably split and merge with the Liberals and the Greens. A Green / Green alliance of social and environmental conservatives with economic protectionism, now there's a scary thought. You could mix foreign policy isolationism with self-righteous denunciation pretty effectively though. The Fishing Party - seems pretty self evident and doesn't have a website. Will have to go with my first impression of it being the "habitat protection is irrelevant to my fishing weekends" party.
Hetty Johnston, never heard of her but the pundits say she's the gadfly responsible for bringing down Peter Hollingworth as G-G. Unafraid of slinging mud too. Gadflys are great, but perhaps this one would be better outside Coward's Castle. I wonder who these
other independents are ... Terry Rushton doesn't seem to have a web presence. Selwyn Johnston
- ah, interesting. Appears to be in the American Reform Party mold, a states rights, constitutionalist, isolationist, protectionist and Citizen Initiated Referendum man. Well, you have to take the good with the bad, I guess. All the minor parties seem to have a CIR bent, even the major minor ones, as it were. Selwyn doesn't trust people to see his below-the-line how-to-vote card though. Gail Duncan doesn't have a web presence. They're missing a trick here, using the web is a cheap way to get word out with a small campaign. Doesn't help if you're from the Luddite party though.
I am intrigued by the party name The Great Australians
. What's the slogan, "Vote for us, we're tops"? Their website is unusually comprehensive for a minor party. More or less Australian libertarians - a point of view sorely lacking in Australian political discourse. However, they lack the intellectual honesty of American libertarians with respect to the economic competence of the state. Rather than planning to abolish government involvement in wide swathes of the economy they claim that a flat tax reform will dramatically increase the efficiency of the state. The claim is that by abolishing all existing tax and instituting a 2% transaction tax they will reduce the costs of labour in tax collection and the Australian government can have its cake and eat it too. Resulting in policy like this:
AusEtax will mean we can provide more funding for Government and non- Government schools. Government schools will be adequately funded to provide the resources needed to educate our children.
They support ratification methods and an independent defence policy, but with tax policy like that they may as well support feline emancipation and the annexation of Munchinland. Are there no serious independent thinkers in Australian politics? Does no-one think this creature of government should treat citizens as adults? Is everyone so in love with the cuddly koala leviathan? American libertarians are wacky and extreme, but at least they recognise that politics involves hard choices.
The New Country Party
website, basically social conservatives that yearn for the days of the Old Country Party, of Australia under God, Queen and Menzies. Two ungrouped independents, gamely trying to get some publicity for their causes, like Hassan Ghulam, Afghani refugees advocate.
Whoops, forgot the Citizens Electoral Council
... necessary legislation for economic reconstruction, including debt moratoria for farmers and the re-establishment of a national bank, among other key elements; these programmes and legislation are far more urgently needed now, than when they were written.
So, it appears my choice is between lawyers, civil servants, and a plethora of command economy romantics in a variety of socially conservative, socially liberal, or environmentally friendly strains. I might have missed some off my list too, the electorate is a fickle thing.
There is, of course, one name left. Pauline. That woman, who will forever be linked in my mind to The Whitlams
, live, singing
Come on Pauline
What the fuck do you mean
to the strains of a song usually featuring Eileen. Ah, Pauline. A riddle, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in yesterday's newspaper.
What a list of jokers. What dismay. This, my friends, is representative democracy.
And yet, and yet. Whatever the limitations of the unimaginative Australian polity, I will still enjoy my choice as a citizen, when I inscribe the number 50.
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.