Wednesday 20th of September 2017

zavatta xenophon joins the cirkus in leafy town kanbra

clowning about

"Democracy" said satirist H. L. Mencken "is the art and science of running the circus cage".

So, to prepare myself for Monday's special sitting of Parliament, I went to the circus over the weekend. (Actually, friends with a wry sense of humour bought me a ticket.)

The great Moscow circus no less, in – appropriately - Canberra.

The multi-trick ponies, camels, alpacas, a buffalo and a Macaw did their routines on cue with a precision and timing that the whips of the major parties could only dream of.

But it was the bare-chested young Vladimir Putin lookalikes and exquisite ballerina performers who most wowed the crowd with their near death-defying trapeze and high-wire routines.

The circus metaphor for Monday's events in Canberra is both obvious and obtuse. It's obvious because Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's out of the blue decision to prorogue parliament and call MPs and senators back for a special sitting is a risky political high-wire act of the first order.

Not only did Turnbull blindside his political opponents and the Canberra press gallery, he surprised and delighted supporters with the sort of hither-to absent bold decisiveness that defined his extraordinary success in the corporate world.

Turnbull – to use his own catchwords – was being both innovative and agile by pulling out the prorogation tightrope. But maybe there is a less obvious politics/circus metaphor at play here as well. Parliaments are generally (almost always) prorogued to signify the end of the previous parliament; to usher in the newly elected government, reinvigorated with a fresh agenda.

This prorogation is doing the very opposite. It's all about providing a trigger for a double dissolution election, which seems with increasing certainty, will take place on July 2. It's a high-wire act without a safety net.

Even though Employment Minister Michaelia Cash is genuinely negotiating in good faith with the crossbench on the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) legislation, there will be many in the Government who would be horrified if it actually got through.

There is no doubt bad, unlawful behaviour on building sites is costing jobs and productivity. The Royal Commission's findings cannot be ignored. Yet there are other more urgent issues our parliament should be addressing. Some of the reasonable demands of a number of crossbenchers – for a broader anti-corruption body –  a national Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)  - seem more pressing. Yet that is a bridge too far for the Government.

If it's jobs - and productivity – not ideology that the Government is most concerned with, the repeal of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal ought to be the first order of business on  Monday.


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/malcolm-turnbull-could-the-high-wire-act-end-badly-for-the-canberra-trapeze-artist-20160417-go88zc.html#ixzz468dN74ab
Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

 

voting above or below the line for the sad clowns...

After the federal parliament passed changes to the Senate voting system in March, the Family First senator, Bob Day, quickly brought a case challenging the legislation in the high court.

Day’s case focuses entirely on the new legislation but his arguments have much deeper implications, challenging elements of the Australian voting system that have been in place for decades.

So what will Day be arguing in the high court?

Uniform method of voting

Since 1984 Australians have been able to choose to vote either “above the line” (for a party) or “below the line” (for individual candidates). Day’s lawyers argue that this choice violates section nine of the constitution, which requires that the voting method is “uniform for all the states”.

This clause is generally accepted to simply require that the same voting system be used across Australia. Day’s lawyers instead argue that this clause requires that only one method of voting is permitted – and that below-the-line and above-the-line voting count as different methods.

If you accept this logic, the system that’s existed since 1984 would be unconstitutional, not just the latest changes – despite his lawyers insisting their argument only applies to the new law.

‘Directly chosen by the people’

The constitution requires that senators are “directly chosen by the people”.

Day argues that senators won’t be directly chosen by the people under the new voting rules because many voters will vote for a party above the line, and the votes will be distributed to candidates based on what party they belong to.

If this new law means that senators are not directly chosen by the people, it’s hard to see how the previous system could possibly be constitutional.

Under the former system, a vote above the line would follow the preferences lodged by that party before election day. The new system allows the voter to decide which parties they wish to preference.

Considering that the new method of above-the-line voting gives the voter far more control over their vote than the former method, it’s hard to understand how one could be unconstitutional and the other not.

Malcolm Mackerras, an election expert who has advised the plaintiffs, insists that the entire system has been unconstitutional since 1984.

Exhausted votes are ‘disenfranchised’

Under the new system, voters will have the choice of numbering some, but not all, boxes. If you only number some boxes, and all the candidates you preferenced have been excluded, your vote will “exhaust” and no longer count. This is the system already used for state elections in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania.

Under the old system, voters were required to number a large number of boxes if they wanted to choose their own preferences – as many as 110 in NSW. If you made an error, or didn’t want to preference every candidate, you would risk your vote being marked as informal. The new system will let votes count even if very few preferences are marked – but the cost of that change is that many voters will choose not to preference.

Opponents of reform have argued that 3 million voters who didn’t vote for Labor, the Coalition or the Greens would be “disenfranchised”.

First, this number is an exaggeration – many of those 3 million voted for someone who would have been elected under the new system, and the figure is based on an assumption that none of these voters will fill in their preference.
Second, it’s hard to see why a voter exercising a choice to not direct preferences is equivalent to that person being disenfranchised.

How the quota is calculated

To win a seat in the Senate you need to poll a quota of votes – if you get more than a quota you can pass on your leftover votes, and if a candidate reaches a quota they are elected.

The quota is calculated as the lowest number of votes that can be achieved by six candidates but not by seven. This number is just over one-seventh of the total vote. This formula is called the “Droop quota”.

Under this system, up to one-seventh of the vote will end up with a candidate who is not elected. Day argues that is unconstitutional.

In reality, there will always be a losing candidate who misses out. Even if you increased the quota to one sixth, you would still have two candidates competing for the last spot and one of them would miss out.

In House of Representatives elections, almost 50% of voters could vote for a candidate who isn’t elected. Voting for the losing candidate isn’t the same thing as being disenfranchised.

Day’s case will be heard by the full bench of the high court on 2 May and 3 May, and a decision will be expedited to ensure that an election can proceed. It seems very likely the case will fail and the new laws will proceed and govern the conduct of this year’s election – but if the case does have merit, the consequences could be far more wide-reaching than simply invalidating the new Senate voting system.

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/18/senate-voting-challenge-could-have-wide-reaching-implications

hypocritical stand of xenophon...

 

Independent senator Nick Xenophon has accused the major parties in South Australia of colluding to deny his candidates victories in local seats.

But the Lower House battles could come down to preferences, and Senator Xenophon fears Labor and the Liberals have done a deal to stop his candidates.

"I just want the major parties to come clean on what deal they've done in South Australia and around the country because right now they're behaving like a cosy duopoly," he said.

"In fact they're behaving a bit like a cartel.

"There seems to be a very cosy deal that's been done in order to squeeze out competition."

But the Liberals have said they will be running a split-ticket, leaving it up to voters to decide who to preference.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-14/nick-xenophon-attacks-'cosy-deal'-to-squeeze-his-party-out/7507292

 

Hey, Mr Xenophon ! Hypocritical idiot ! You voted with the Greens to kill off other political parties... Remember?

 

xenophon makes another dirty deal for a bit of silver...

 

Australia's media industry looks set for a major shake-up, after the Federal Government finally struck a deal to pass a suite of changes.

Key points:
  • The two-out-of-three rule will be scrapped, as will the "reach rule" under the proposed changes
  • Key to the passage of the bill was the support of Senator Nick Xenophon and his team
  • Pauline Hanson's One Nation was also involved in the deal and wants an investigation into the ABC

 

The Coalition has been negotiating with the Senate crossbench over the proposal for weeks, and has now managed to hammer out a final agreement.

Under the changes the two-out-of-three rule will be scrapped, allowing a company to own a TV station, newspaper and radio station in a single market.

The "reach rule", which prevented a single TV broadcaster from reaching more than 75 per cent of the population, will also go.

There will also be a change to revenue-based licence fees, which will be replaced by a lower spectrum charge.

Key to the passage of the legislation has been the support of senator Nick Xenophon and his team.

Senator Xenophon said the negotiations were "the most difficult and protracted" he had ever been involved in, but key to his support was a fund for regional journalism.

"I and my colleagues welcome the Government's commitment to implement a regional and small publishers jobs and innovation package worth $60.4 million over three years," he said.

read more: 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-13/media-reforms-set-to-pass-senate/8...

Xenophon believes in fairies... All he will get is a bunch of garden gnomes... Read from top.