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.
We often forget about the role of the Executive council in post-colonial Westminster systems. This body, presided over in Australian states by a Governor, officially advises the Sovereign's representative. In today's
, David Solomon writes on the importance of the independence of the Governor from the Premier - and why that means the Governor should be elected.
"During the republican debate in 1999, Peter Beattie said he might radically change the way in which the Queensland governor was appointed: he raised the prospect of the governor being elected by the people, rather than selected by the premier."
What is striking is Solomon's argument for the independence of the Governor from the Premier, based on the precedents of former Governors in raising specific issues. But in none of the cases have the Governors actually held the Premier to account for their actions. Indeed, this is what Solomon is missing in his article, and perhaps his lecture: he seems to imply that an elected Governor would be better able to question the actions of the Executive Council advising him or her, but he never states this. I'll post an update once the lecture's full text is online.
NSW has two periods of party activity. The first is prior to the 1930s when most governments were minority governments and elections highly competitive. Since the 1930s and the UAP winning the election after Lang's dismissal NSW has seen the increasing party discipline form of government with strong majorities and long electoral success.
The party system as we know it in Australia is Labor's innovation. Prior to Labor's appearance in Australian electoral politics the governments were fluid bodies of coalitions who would often form around a strong leader. Because of the pledge and Labor's discipline to the party's national executive this factional form of organisation was broken.
The Liberals formed in 1904 as a response to Labor and basically out party organised the Protectionists and Ministerialists such that the latter two parties were not electorally competitive.
Rodney Smith writes:
The New South Wales Branch (of labor) is widely regarded as one of the most successful but conservative of Labor's state branches. Labor governed for 58.7 per cent of the period from 1910 to 2000, a proportion only bettered by Tasmania's 60.6 per cent.
Smith argues that the reason for NSW Labor's success has been that it has seen winning elections as its organisational goal. Consequently it has placed itself ideologically to match the wider electorate - both urban and rural.
Bryan Palmer is trying to construct a thesis of why and how governments lose elections
. Another approach might be to look at the maximum a government can achieve in electability when constantly facing the voters to retain their legitimacy.
This is a chart of the number of elections a party leader has won
and includes the election they won to come into power. For instance Menzies first election win made him Prime Minister and he then won six as the incumbent giving him a total of seven.
Howard is already on the upper end of what history indicates is achievable in winning elections. Unlike Menzies he does not have a split Labor party to campaign against. Menzies also had a quick run of elections in 1949, 51, 54 and 55. So in a six year period he won four elections which inflates Menzies numbers a bit in this graph, whereas Howard has tended to use the full three year term and in the first six years of his government only contested three elections and after the 2001 win not going up for election until 2004.
We could argue then that Menzies electoral achievements are only a little above what Howard and Hawke have managed. This suggests that there may be an upper barrier in Australian national electoral history that Howard is fast approaching. So rather than looking at the economy, recessions, corruption, etc, there may be a hard barrier in which a party leader ceases to be electable any longer.
Another bar chart, this time grouping the runs in power parties had with the party leaders that won elections.
I think I may have ripped Menzies, Holt and Gorton off one election win. They should be nine IIRC. Also note that there has been no one-term Prime Minister since 1942.
how including elections that were contested but lost would change the previous bar graph
looking at upper boundaries to re-election. The change is significant. The darker party colour indicates a lost election.
Suddenly Howard and Whitlam jump Hawke in the list. Curtin and Chifley do not come off well either while McMahon lost the only election he contested as party leader.
A larger version of the same chart can be seen here
Via Peter Martin
, unfortunately the research paper itself is behind a paywall
; "We find that unemployment has a strong impact on election outcomes, with each additional percentage point of unemployment reducing the incumbent's re-election probability by 3-5 per cent. ... We also find evidence that unemployment driven by a clearly exogenous source - the US economy - has a non-trivial impact on re-election probability"
Most Popular on South Sea Republic
The articles that have been viewed the most:
Most Popular Restaurants in Phoenix
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Most Popular Hikes in Arizona
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.
Alternate Australian Constitutions
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
Archives For South Sea Republic
South Sea Republic started in 2004 as an Australian constitutional blog in 2004 based on scoop software. It was an immigrative outgrowth of Kuro5hin. The archives for each year since then;
The articles are ordered by views.
Who Is Cam Riley
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.
Websites Worth Reading
Websites of friends, colleagues and of interest;