sh_wulff

Aussies LXV - what choices have we?!

197 posts in this topic

Yes it is sh_wulff.  On both points!

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So another part of Australian politics is the ongoing disenfranchisement of NSW residents at the local level.  Last year (or was it the year before now?) it started with the dramatic watering down of the votes of Sydney City residents (of which I am one) by not just granted businesses which have a premises in the city twice the votes of a resident, but imposing actual punitive fines against them if they don't vote (rather then the slap on the wrist imposed on individuals) to try force them to kick out Clover.  If I'm remembering the figures right this means actual residents are now substantially under 1/2 of the total votes in the city.  Now Baird has pushed ahead with redistributing a bunch of councils regardless of the wishes of the residents of these regions, he's disbanded the duly elected local governments and imposed unelected administrators on the merged regions that will be in charge for over a year.

The new councils make little sense from a governance point of view, but viewed from a different angle you can make some sense out of them - when one area seems to accumulate all the high income districts, while the other gets all the low income ones it looks just a tad suspicious.

So this comes on top of a number of other decisions that personally I think are monumentally bad, and I really don't understand how NSW continues to be more scared by the spectre of a regularly corrupt Labor government rather than a Liberal government that isn't even hiding the ways its disenfranchising the public.  How the public continues to accept that Labor are the nanny state while the Liberals impose lock out laws, closing down the cities night life and lining the overfilling pockets of developers even further.  How certain parts of the right can accept a government that prattles small government as it attempts to extend extreme anti-terror laws to regular criminal investigations that will allow incarceration with no judicial appeal simply for suspicion of association - and this isn't even justified by actual increasing crime problems.  What the fuck is wrong with the apathetic attitude? This government is fucking legitimately scary. Sniffer dogs have a 80% false positive rate, but we'll continue to expand their usage but only at Redfern and Newtown etc so it's OK. When people post on a website that sniffer dogs are at a location, we'll have on duty police lying and say they aren't.  When Greens members of state parliament object to our use of such an unreliable mechanism, we'll have police officers racially villify her and organise an online bullying campaign against her.  But we should trust these same police with being able to just arrest people on their say so, with no ability to even have a judge review the case to have that person released...ever.

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On ‎11‎/‎05‎/‎2016 at 8:33 AM, Stan the Man Baratheon said:

Leaning towards Labor and also toward NXT in the Senate races. Prefer Turnbull over Shorten however. 

Also never ever for Greens. They are just another ultra left wing party with ridiculous and atrociously terrible border policy. 

Looking at Xenephons voting record in the senate, doesn't he usually side with the greens?

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5 hours ago, Squab said:

Looking at Xenephons voting record in the senate, doesn't he usually side with the greens?

Sort of has to. He is trying to be different than labor and liberal and ends up aligning with greens (more often then i would like however). More of a vote to commend for his work when he was my local electorate member. Truly was on top of everything. Really hard working bloke. 

Edited by Stan the Man Baratheon

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So Shorten won the first real debate against Turnbull by 13 votes, however 29 people were undecided. Seems like a solid performance from him though.

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22 hours ago, Squab said:

Looking at Xenephons voting record in the senate, doesn't he usually side with the greens?

Well, yes, but he also votes for the majority of legislation the the Coalition and that Labor votes with, too.

Most votes are carried in the Senate, so if you look at any senator's record, they'll always vote with all of the other parties a majority of the time.

In terms of voting with the government, it is true that he voted against more pieces of legislation than the Labor Party did, but less than the Greens. The nature of the legislation varied, though; to work out his ideology you'd have to look at individual pieces of legislation. That's a few hundred votes, if you can be bothered. Since he is only one Senator at the moment,  I don't think anyone has bothered. Nonetheless, he will probably be re-elected with at least two stable-mates in South Australia due to the strange decision to opt for a double-dissolution, so more emphasis will be on his voting than before. It's also unclear whether he'll ask his Senators to vote as a bloc, or if he'll let them vote according to their own feelings on contentious issues.

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I remember hearing it was difficult to draw any meaningful analysis from Senate votes.

I don't have any evidence or actual knowledge of this, but I'd imagine most legislation that looks likely to be defeated would not make it to a vote.

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Pardon the length of this, but for any non-Australians reading this, here's how it works:

Systems of Parliament

Firstly, Australia's two houses aren't "upper" and "lower." They both have equal power. Legislation can be introduced in either house. As long as it passes both houses, it becomes law. Unlike the USA, the executive government is part of the House of Representatives. Like the UK, the head of state is the Queen (or Governor-General, who the Queen appoints) and the role is ceremonial (except for one, highly controversial time).

The party or parties in majority of the House of Representatives pick a leader to be Prime Minister. This is the head of Australia's executive.

Senate

Each state (of which there are 6) gets 12 Senators.

Australia has ten territories, but most of them are puny (like Norfolk Island) or uninhabited (like Antarctica) so only two of them get Senators: the ACT (the seat of the Federal Government) and the Northern Territory (an area one state, South Australia, ceded to the Federal Government ages ago).

Senators usually serve six year terms, with half being voted at each election. State Senators always begin their terms on July 1. Territory Senators begin their terms as soon as Parliament resumes and end as soon as it is dissolved.

Under normal circumstances, Australia would be voting for only 6 senators per state, as well as the 4 from the territories. However, the government has chosen to re-elect all Senators. The ones elected with the highest share of votes will serve for 6 years, and the other half with only serve for 3 years.

House of Representatives

Australia's House has to be roughly twice the size of the Senate. At the moment, it has 150 electorates. Each electorate elects one member to take a seat in parliament.

For the most part, these are divided up in roughly equal population distributions. However, each state is guaranteed a minimum number of electorates. Tasmania, which is Australia's smallest state, has 5 electorates even though it wouldn't be entitled to so many under population distributions.

The electorates are drawn up by an independent body to ensure that, as best as possible, they reflect the average voting pattern of their wider community. Electorates are redrawn and redistributed every single election because no electorate may be 10% larger or smaller than the average electorate (except for Tasmania, see above, although its electorates are still redrawn to ensure they each have one-fifth of the state's population). In other words, Australian law prohibits gerrymandering.

The members of the House serve for a maximum of three years. A government may decide to call an election at an earlier date if they wish. They generally aim to call an election when a): it is close to the expiry of Senate terms to avoid needing another election a short while later and b): When they are in a favourable position in polling.

Voting

Voting in the Senate is a proportional vote. If a party receives 10% of the vote, they get 10% of the Senators. 50% of the vote means 50% of the Senate (an extremely rare event). It uses a single transferable vote, meaning that if you vote for someone who wins by a massive margin, since you can't elect the same person several times, any excess votes they receive can be given to your next preference instead.

Voting in the House of Representatives is preferential voting. Voters choose their parties in order of preference, and then votes are tallied. If a party wins on first preferences, then they are declared the winner. If no one has a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and then their votes are redistributed according to the ballots' second preferences. This keeps going until someone has a majority.

All Australians over the age of 18 and under the age of 70 must vote. Voting is voluntary for people over 70. Failure to comply isn't a huge issue, it's just a $20 fine, but turnouts are nonetheless very high: 90% would be considered low.

Double-dissolutions

Usually all of the House and half of the Senate is elected. This election is a double-dissolution, because both houses are dissolved and put up for re-election. That means that all of the Senate will be elected. The half with the highest vote will serve six year terms and the remainder will serve for three years.

The theory behind it is that a government should feel bold enough to pass contentious legislation - but in such instances, the general public should decide the matter.

A double-dissolution happens when:

1) The House of Reps passes a bill.

2) The Senate rejects the bill.

3) Three months pass.

4) The House passes the exact same bill again.

5) The Senate rejects the bill again.

6) Both houses are put up for election in their entirety so the public can decide on the bill.

A government very rarely actually cares about the bill in question. Usually they just want an excuse to vote for the entire Senate at once because they can see a political advantage in doing so. Indeed, in this election, the bills under review are not an election issue, nor have they been a focus for campaigning.

However, once in Australia's history, a government did, in fact, actually want the bills under review passed, and pursued the next series of steps.

7) The House of Reps tries to pass the bill again.

8) The Senate rejects the bill.

9) All of Parliament, House and Senate, join and vote on the bill as one. It is then decided by an absolute majority of both houses as treated as though it was passed by both separately.

Incidentally, the only time that the full process happened was in 1974, when Australia passed its universal healthcare bills (among others, but that's by far the best one to pass).

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Nothing like an election campaign to get this thread rebooted.

For the first time in my life, I'm living in a marginal seat (at federal level) where there's a high likelihood of the incumbent LNP guy being kicked out. In any case, I've pretty much always voted ALP and can't see any good reason to change.

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I live in what is traditionally the safest Liberal seat in the country, which is also (not coincidentally) the highest income electorate in the country (Bradfield). So everyone's vote in Bradfield for the House of Reps is more or less meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

The good thing about the Senate (and a good argument against its abolition, which has been bandied about every now and then) is that at least the Upper House vote always counts no matter which electorate you're in.

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15 hours ago, Jeor said:

I live in what is traditionally the safest Liberal seat in the country, which is also (not coincidentally) the highest income electorate in the country (Bradfield). So everyone's vote in Bradfield for the House of Reps is more or less meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

The good thing about the Senate (and a good argument against its abolition, which has been bandied about every now and then) is that at least the Upper House vote always counts no matter which electorate you're in.

It's a very good argument.

What happens when you don't have a house of review is you get Queensland under the Newman regime.

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Is there even an argument about abolishing the Senate?

I think the smaller states (Tas and SA) have too much representation in the Senate. There is room for rebalancing with a three tier system instead of the current two.

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27 minutes ago, arya_underfoot said:

I think the smaller states (Tas and SA) have too much representation in the Senate.

While not necessarily disagreeing, this was intentional when the Senate was made. It was to prevent NSW and Victoria always winning every state-versus-state dispute due to their enormous population sizes at federation when compared to the other states.

The proportional voting helps to ensure that minority groups receive representation. I don't really like the suggestion of a three tier system, but I do like the idea of simply removing state boundaries from the Senate.

So, for instance, have 100 senators (which I'm picking for ease of numbers). These senators represent all of Australia and they are allocated in the same way as now, just with all of Australia, not states. Therefore if 40% of Australia voted for a party, it would have 40% of the whole Senate. 1% of the vote Australia wide = 1 senator.

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18 hours ago, Jeor said:

I live in what is traditionally the safest Liberal seat in the country, which is also (not coincidentally) the highest income electorate in the country (Bradfield). So everyone's vote in Bradfield for the House of Reps is more or less meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

There is some benefit to your first preference no matter what:

Parties receive a rebate for all first preferences they receive, provided they reach at least 4% of the overall primary vote. This is roughly $1.50 per primary vote.

This helps to fund future campaigns for that party and it is how smaller political parties and independents are able to gain ground over several elections - or fade out into obscurity if nobody seems to like them no matter what.

Also, when electorates are redrawn, the AEC tries to prevent "pockets" of voting forming. In other words, they'll aim to make each electorate a logical shape. For instance, suppose there were three suburbs. The western one was reliably Labor, the eastern one was reliably LNP and the centre one was hotly contested. If they had to make three electorates for this area, then they would avoid making 2 safe seats and 1 marginal. Instead, they'd aim to reflect the community as a whole and make 3 marginal seats, arranged so that each includes some of the western, eastern and central suburb.

Two very well-known examples are Melbourne, which lost a wide slew of rusted on Labor voters in a redistribution and was won by the Greens as a marginal seat, and Bennelong, the seat of former PM John Howard, which went from a blue ribbon Liberal seat to a marginal seat and was even held by Labor from 2007 until 2010.

That's a simplified explanation, but it means that even if your vote may not change a result this election, your primary vote will alter the next election.

To summarise:

1) Your primary vote leads to a financial backing for your chosen party.

2) Your primary vote contributes to redistributions, leading to once safe seats becoming marginal.

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Interesting! Thank goodness we don't have those huge gerrymandered contortions that exist in the US House of Reps.

And now that you mention it, yes I do remember the funding rules. One of my friends back in the day thought of running purely to see if he could reach the threshold to get the money back. Wisely he thought better of it.

And regarding abolition of the Senate, I don't think it was ever seriously on the table, but various commentators every now and then have mentioned it. Single-chamber governments can be fairly dangerous, though, like Stubby mentioned with QLD. Another one I have heard is the potential for abolition state governments and devolving more authority to local governments, but I don't see how you get rid of state governments without getting rid of states, so I doubt either of those will happen.

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3 hours ago, Yukle said:

While not necessarily disagreeing, this was intentional when the Senate was made. It was to prevent NSW and Victoria always winning every state-versus-state dispute due to their enormous population sizes at federation when compared to the other states.

The proportional voting helps to ensure that minority groups receive representation. I don't really like the suggestion of a three tier system, but I do like the idea of simply removing state boundaries from the Senate.

Yes I know what the original intention was. However, state loyalties do not exist in modern federal politics. Senators virtually always vote along party lines. SA and Tas would be no worse off with less senators, but the Senate overall would be more representative.

 

I like your suggestion of removing state boundaries from the Senate election.

 

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1 hour ago, arya_underfoot said:

Yes I know what the original intention was. However, state loyalties do not exist in modern federal politics. Senators virtually always vote along party lines. SA and Tas would be no worse off with less senators, but the Senate overall would be more representative.

 

I like your suggestion of removing state boundaries from the Senate election.

 

This isn't really true. Especially in the upcoming double dissolution, as not all senators are elected from the major parties. Xenophon is very vocal about advocating for SA, and will more than likely end up with 3+ senators, and potentially the balance of power. Similarly Lambie (however much I disagree with her) is vocal about Tasmanian issues, and she will probably retain her seat. Then there's Lazurus for Queensland.

Still if we were to move to a purely representative system removing state boundaries would be the way to do it. However I think you're kidding yourself if you think the states outside the east (especially the south east), wouldn't end up worse off, which is why it'll never happen.

Edited by Impmk2

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From a major Australian (unlikely Australian owned) sports betting site:

Malcolm Turnbull in as a Clinton-esque favourite at $1.34; Bill Shorten out in Trump land at $3.20.

In seppo-land: Clinton: $1.36; Trump $3.25.

Thought it was interesting how similar the odds are at the moment considering Labor and Clinton are both leading the opinion polls.

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34 minutes ago, Squab said:

From a major Australian (unlikely Australian owned) sports betting site:

Malcolm Turnbull in as a Clinton-esque favourite at $1.34; Bill Shorten out in Trump land at $3.20.

In seppo-land: Clinton: $1.36; Trump $3.25.

Thought it was interesting how similar the odds are at the moment considering Labor and Clinton are both leading the opinion polls.

Are you trying to say bet the house on Shorten and Trump? I hope there's a multibet for that. 

Also it's fucking absurd that you can bet on politics. Has there ever been like a politics match-fixing scandal? 

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16 minutes ago, Gears of the Beast said:

Are you trying to say bet the house on Shorten and Trump? I hope there's a multibet for that. 

Also it's fucking absurd that you can bet on politics. Has there ever been like a politics match-fixing scandal? 

I wouldn't bet the house on anything, even if it was negatively geared.

You could multibet Trump + Shorten at odds of $10.40.  Read the T&Cs as there is usually a maximum payout and they take any and every opportunity to separate you from your money.

Betting on politics is one of the few things where you have a say in, and influence on, the outcome and still keep your winnings if you do win.

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