Senate ballot paper madness

I’ve just voted, and despite the temptation to take the easy way of voting above the line in the Senate, I resisted, because I really don’t want to allow my preferences to be decided by the political party I vote for above the line – so I struggled on and filled in all 110 boxes under the line.

At one point as I was sliding the ballot paper side-to-side in the narrow voting booth, the paper nearly slipped down the crack at the side of the booth and disappeared – I rescued it just in time. Additionally by the time I got to number 110, the pencil I was using was in serious need of re-sharpening – there is a non-trivial possibility that some people voting below the line will cast informal votes because of blunt pencils.

It’s pretty clear that the current system is broken and needs to be reformed in one or more of the following ways:

  1. Tighter rules for nominating candidates/parties, to restrict the number of candidates to a sensible level.
  2. Allow preferential voting above the line. i.e. allow numbering the parties (not candidates) in order of preference.
  3. Have a minimum allowable number of votes below the line to cast a formal vote. e.g. like in NSW where as long as you’ve numbered 1 to 15 (or more) then the vote is valid.

Foolish, stupid, or deceitful?

It’s decision time tomorrow, and in my final pre-poll blog posting I’m going to lay out why I could never vote for a party led by Tony Abbott. The problems I see in him are pretty much exemplified in the story from last year, when Tony was banging on in parliament about how a poor pensioner’s electricity bill had more than doubled as a result of the carbon tax. Subsequent enquiries established that the power bill had doubled because the pensioner’s electricity usage had doubled!

I can only see three reasons why Tony Abbott could end up quoting this power bill in a political attack in parliament:

  1. He is foolish. Someone passed the story on to him, and he just started using it without checking the veracity or validity of the argument – he just foolishly and rashly rushed in without stopping to think about it.
  2. He is stupid. Perhaps he is too mentally incapacitated to understand how power bills work, that the cost is proportional to energy used.
  3. He is deceitful. He knew that the story didn’t stack up and had no validity, but to gain political points and publicity he deliberately told untruths, saying that the massive bill increase was due to the carbon tax, when it simply was not true.

So which is he? Foolish, stupid or deceitful? Or some amalgam of all three?

Whatever the proportions, he ought not to be leading this country.

Roads to now where?

The coalition has just announced that if elected it will cut 4.6 billion dollars from Australia’s foreign aid budget, and divert the money into “infrastructure” projects in Australia, where “infrastructure” is code for more roads!  In the Infrastructure section of their policy costings document there is 11.5 billion dollars across 31 line items – 30 road/bridge projects, and just one rail project (and funding for 5 rail projects abolished). Oh, and they also want to spend 1.8 billion dollars propping up the car industry by reversing recent fringe benefits tax changes.

I’m sure the millions of people in developing countries lacking clean drinking water and basic sanitation, subject to the vicissitudes of climate change will understand the need for Australians to drive on new 6 lane expressways in new cars bought from a government subsidised local car industry, burning fossil fuels in a carbon tax free economy, within an automotive friendly fringe benefits tax regime. Surely they’ll understand that we must do that? Surely?