Wednesday, April 09, 2008

What to Blog... What to blog

The US election stuff bores me to tears, and I have no interesting opinion about the candidates.

I was going to talk about the local council elections, because I feel violated in that preferential voting was thrown out the door, and no explanation nor correspondence was entered into. First past the post significantly devalues votes for anybody other than the front contenders. I would reccommend throwing out the state Labor government but it appears a near certainty anyway.

Kevin Rudd appears to be in his element on a diplomatic world tour. He is uniquely placed to bring up the issue of Tibet appropriately. Meanwhile Julia Gillard can knuckle down getting that unemployment rate back up from its continuing record lows.

I was going to say more about brass banding, but all I've got is that I was offered a trumpet part in "Thouroughly Modern Milly", a local theatre production, and I turned it down.


Dr. Clam said...

First past the post voting?!?
What next... pre-decimal currency?
Slide rules?
Whalebone corsets?
The ducking stool?

Your ex-premier- and the current one, if she had anything to do with it- ought to be compelled to live without indoor plumbing or vaccination. And I will start my campaign immediately to see that the error of 1859 is rectified and Queensland is reabsorbed into NSW.

Marco said...

It is funny you should say that :) Queensland Governments have a long tradition of ramming through changes that amount to gerrymandering. These have *oh so often* come back to either haunt or humiliate the party which introduced it. Clearly, first past the post favours single large parties over coalitions. Merging councils under the discretion of the government gives a lot of discretion in redrawing electoral boundaries without looking completely stupid (like Sir Joh Bjelke eventually did).

All I can say in defense of Queensland's system over other states is that it seems to work. Barring the optional non-preferential vote introduced about a decade ago by Labor, obvious tinkering with electoral stuff sees landslides go the opposite way to the marginal benefit intended. Not having a second house gives freedoms to government to make larger errors (and beneficial mutations) before they can be attacked by a hostile electorate.

Dr. Clam said...

I am an enthusiastic proponent of *optional* preferential voting. This puts an additional level of control in the hands of the voters, rather than the government, and was a big factor IMHO in the exciting and fun Queensland state election of 1997 when it looked for a few minutes like the duopoly might get shaken up.

I also think getting rid of the second house is a good idea. My feeling is that here in NSW it is just a waste of money. (joke)Under my amalgamation plan NSW would retain two houses, but the 'Upper House' would naturally be the one elected from what is now Queensland, while the 'Lower House' would be the existing NSW lower house.(/joke)

I think a much more robust separation of powers/check on the state government would be achieved by constitutional recognition of local government. I refuse to participate in local government elections on the grounds that it is a travesty of democracy and a waste of time to vote for people who can be dismissed by fiat whenever the state government feels like it.

[How do you like my new hypertext markup idea, demonstrated above? I think it will make it easier for any readers we get from irony-free countries.]

Marco said...

Point taken regarding shaking the duopoly. My issue is that once the duopoly regained control of the media, optional preferential voting just entrenched it further, as exhausted preferences have been shown to do in Qld. Optional preferencing means that more voters vote with less thought about who they *don't* want in.

I am not optimistic that the changes you suggest would have the desired effect of balancing powers. Local governments appear to be most useful as a politician training field. For the most part, even the wholesale upheaval of the recent Qld reform appears to be an improvement on balance. The amalgamations were the thing most complained about but will show the most benefits. The voting system changes, were the least talked about changes, and they could yet cause real damage to the democratic checks and balances.

(non sequitur)Hypertext markup Good!(/non sequitur)