marko_the_rat: (standing)
That was a fun night last night! :) I always like a close campaign. The second #AusVotes election in three elections which looks likely to end in a hung Parliament. I think the major parties are going to have to accept this is the new normal and get on with it. Minority governments work well in many other countries; I don't see why we should be special.
I wanted to get on the record my predictions for the election results, which we won't know for at least a few days yet. I think neither party will get a majority but the Coalition will end up with their nose in front. Turnbull will cobble together an agreement (even though both sides swore they wouldn't!) with Katter and maybe Nick Xenophon or Cathy McGowan. He will still have a raucous circus in the Senate to deal with. The schizophrenia in his own party will deepen, likely ending up with him being pulled too many different ways and he will get overthrown (the fourth leader toppled by their own party since 2010--this really is a new national sport!). The alliance will break down and we'll go to an early election.
I am struck by the parallels from the 2010 election. A leader gets rolled in their first term, the new leader takes the party to an early election where they just limp over the line as a minority government. (I know there are important differences too.) That one ended in failure for both Labor and the Greens. (The Greens announcing an "alliance" with Labor was always bad politics and they should have known better.)
So where does this leave the gay marriage plebiscite? I'm afraid that will end up a political football (but it was always going to be anyway). The newly empowered loony right in Turnbull's own party may kill it, or he might use it as a wedge issue in the Senate if he is confident Labor and the Greens will block it. Either way, I do not see gay marriage becoming legal in this term of government. We can try again in a few years' time! :)
marko_the_rat: (standing)
No, you still can't vote online in Australia (or any other democracy to the best of my knowledge--there are serious identity issues that would need to be overcome first), but at least I've worked out how to make it easier to number below the line on the unwieldy Senate ballot paper. I'm a big fan of numbering below the line because I'm not happy with any party's preference allocations and it's due to back-room preference deals by the major parties that we get anomalous results like Family First winning a Senate seat in Victoria on 1.8% of the primary vote. The problem is, Senate ballot papers are becoming harder to number below the line. For example, Queensland has 82 candidates and 36 groups. Most people don't do it because it's so hard, and so easy to get it wrong and invalidate your vote. What we really need is voting reform where we can number the groups above the line and just have that count as allocating our preferences in order down the group, but that will be a long time coming. In the meantime, you can get a spreadsheet program to help you get it right, but be warned this is not for the faint of heart. If you're unsure, you're better off just numbering "1" above the line in the box corresponding to your preferred party so you don't waste your vote.

EDIT: Antony Green provides some useful websites for automating this process and points out that you only have to 90% of the squares and still be valid. You can also put a "1" above the line as insurance in case you get your below the line voting wrong.)

Click here for instructions... )
marko_the_rat: (Ratatouille joy)
I have a tradition of making a Furry Party of Australia flyer every federal election, updated to reflect the themes of this election. You will probably have to be a political junkie (like me) to get all of it, but that's okay.

fpa-flyer-2013
marko_the_rat: (Default)
Gmail has been offering me the Are You De-Necessary site often of late, probably because it can tell I'm a political junkie. As much as I agree with their argument that it's stupid to lose thousands of jobs in the fastest growing state during a recession, I can't help but cast a cynical eye over the site. If you have enough time to take a photo of yourself and explain why you're necessary, just how "necessary" are you? I've been tempted to take a parody photo of myself in Rattus and then write something along these lines:
Squeak! I'm necessary because I'm a scavenger! Scavengers are important because they eat all the useless rubbish that departments generate, like annual reports and strategic plans.
But I'm sure they vet all their submissions first and besides which I don't want to sabotage their site, as much as it's begging to be satirised.

And full disclosure: Yes, I'm a public servant. No, I don't feel I'm a leach on society. Even though I'm not on the front line I believe I'm doing valuable work and that my workplace would be the poorer for my absence. And I do work my furry tail off, thank you very much.
marko_the_rat: Angry (angry)
[livejournal.com profile] ristin and I (echoes of the Queen's "my husband and I"?) are most decidedly not amused at the Australian government's plans for net censorship in this country, bringing us on par with happy democracies like China, Iran and North Korea. Yes, this is the government that we cheered on its introduction but I warned then that in 10 years' time we may think of Kevin Rudd the way we think of John Howard now. I was hoping not to be proven right so soon.

You can learn more about this half-baked plan that promises to slow internet access and make Australia a laughing stock on the world stage and what you can do to help at nocleanfeed.com.

If you're an Australian citizen, please do what you can to help and pass this message on. I wouldn't normally ask this because LJ memes annoy me but this one is important and affects every Australian LJ user. It doesn't matter if you look at pr0n or not.
marko_the_rat: (Default)
It is my great privilege to introduce you to the next president of the United States:



And yes, he was born in America so he's eligible to run. Hmmm. WestHaven/White House... is it a sign?
marko_the_rat: (Default)
I never would have expected this from the previous government, but my hopes were not high for this one either: the federal government is overhauling laws about gay couples to remove discrimination against them in laws relating to tax, social security and superannuation. As the article is at pains to point out, this will also result in less benefits in relation to social security but that's only fair--legal recognition cuts both ways.

But there's more! Even though this has long been official Liberal Party policy as well they would never dare to enact it for fear of enraging the powerful Christian Right. But a lot of the Christian Right's lustre must have worn off after the election; they pulled out all stops to save the Liberals at the last election (crucifixes aplenty were in evidence among Liberal party workers on election day) but it wasn't enough. The opposition leader, after pressing the usual hot button issues (marriage, adoption, IVF) is cautiously promising to support the bill. If he is true to his word, this leaves Family First's one senator powerless to stop it. *suppresses an urge to gloat*
marko_the_rat: (Default)
Each federal election I like to do a Furry Party of Australia flyer with updated political references. Call it an election tradition.

Here is the one for this election. )
marko_the_rat: (forehead)


*tries so hard to stifle a comment he ends up making injured animal noises and gives up* The story is not that Family First is giving Pauline Hanson a leg up. That's no surprise to me. What is a surprise is Andrew Bartlett's about-face. I know I should be pleased that he's seen the light and is denouncing FF for what they are, even though the real reason he's upset is because he thinks it hurts his own re-election chances, but I can't help thinking back to his expression of injured innocence after the last election defending his decision to swap preferences with FF, claiming he was trying to keep the Senate independent.
marko_the_rat: (Default)
I know I get "punished" in the ratings when I spout off on politics, but this election your roving rat reporter just can't help himself. As The Australian belatedly admits, the balance of power in the Senate is on a knife-edge between Family First and The Greens. Regardless of which major party wins in the House of Representatives (in spite of the opinion polls, I still read it as "too close to call"), neither will have a majority in the Senate and will therefore be reliant on the minor parties. The Democrats have been a bad joke (this from a former member) for some years now and it is universally agreed that the last vestiges will be wiped away at this election. The only other option for a badly needed progressive voice in the Senate is the Greens. Some people may be fearful of a Green Senate (and I admit the Democrats did a good job before they went off the rails), but all this comes from media hysteria (more on that below) whipped up by short-sighted business interests and narrow-minded religious zealots. If people took the time to dispassionately read their policies, they would see there is not much to be concerned about and quite frankly it doesn't matter anyway. They are never going to be in a position to implement their policies; the most they can do is influence government policy for the better.

Contrast with Family First, who would influence government policy for the worse. FF is an abuse of religion and the political process. They are a front for extremist churches in South Australia. It is not just homosexuals who have cause to be concerned at the rise of this party; anyone who isn't "normal" (which would be just about everyone reading this) should be worried about how they could skew politics in this country.

Both Labor and the Liberals did preference deals with Family First at the last election, which led to them winning a seat in Victoria on 2% of the primary vote (contrast with the Greens, who missed out even though they had 8%) and almost picking up a seat in Tasmania. I very much hope the ALP won't repeat the same mistake this time. They should realise that FF is a serious political force and Family First will not work constructively with them in the Senate. Some grass-roots workers have (quite rightly) threatened to revolt if the Labor power-brokers do something so destructive again.

Please be aware of where your preferences are going to in the Senate and think about your vote accordingly.

Queensland is one of the states where a Senate seat could fall to either the Greens or Family First, and this is why I will be out there on polling day putting myself at personal risk (at the last federal election, there were instances of violence by FF workers against Greens workers) for something I believe in.

Just to lighten the mood a little bit, please enjoy this rat-themed political cartoon harking back to the famous alleged quote of a Queensland Liberal Party senator that John Howard is a lying rodent. You can see he's been rubbing off on his ministerial colleagues. ^_^

And as a last parting shot, what a shame The Australian, our leading national newspaper, is no better placed than Fox News at resisting the urge to sow fear of the internet in the hearts of its trusting readers/viweers for the sake of ratings. Our favourite newspaper (and to be fair, it is the one I read most weekdays for its world coverage) is reporting on Second Life being a new training ground for terrorists. Now, I can't comment on whether this is true or not, though it does does sound far-fetched to me, but I can't leave unchallenged this egregious error in the report. In the first paragraph they tell us the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) sim was cyber-bombed, apparently by terrorists. About three quarters down, they admit the "bomb" was later found to be a server error. One thing they did get right is the ABC's reliance on their community to help police their sim. Wolfie, a very old and dear friend, has the power to delete inappropriate items in the sandbox and even eject and ban people and he takes his responsibility very seriously. He was one of the first people on the scene when the server error occurred and is responsible for the image that appeared in the print-version of The Australian at the time, which reported, without later retraction as far as I could see, that the ABC was the victim of a cyber-terrorist attack. The reports of commercial billboards being put up on the cratered site was pure media invention.
marko_the_rat: (Default)
There's this lovely bit of fear-mongering from a federal government minister. This government has always been good at the politics of fear, and it's good to see they haven't lost form. The only trouble is, it's easy to get it turned against you. The way I interpret his argument is this: "The Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate after the election, so if you want a functional government you'd better vote for the party that can work constructively with them in the Senate. Unfortunately, that's not us." Of course, it's naive in the extreme to assume that the Greens will hold the balance of power, but the politics of fear has never been strong on logic. We only barely avoided having the Christian fundamentalist Family First holding the balance of power in the Senate at the last election, and in my opinion that's something to really be afraid of. I only hope the Labor Party has realised they can't do deals with the devil without expecting to get burnt.
marko_the_rat: (Default)
There was an article on the front page of The Australian today about Kirby's plea to PM on spouse pension. Michael Kirby is a High Court judge of long standing who is due to retire soon and he argues that his spouse of 38 years is entitled to a pension on his death, the same as any other judges' spouses. Unfortunately, the federal government disagrees because he's gay. What struck me about this is his courage in making this a front page issue. He's certainly not doing it for the money--neither he nor his spouse need it. He's doing this on behalf of all the gay couples in Australia who are being discriminated against because of the lack of federal legal recognition of their relationships. He's raising this now in the hopes of making it an election issue, a federal election being due later this year. Perhaps he's hoping to goad the Labor Party into making a firm commitment on this issue? I'm not so hopeful--Kevin Rudd is a devout Christian who still thinks he can wean some Christian Right voters away from the Liberals. I can just imagine the tirade of abuse he'll get from people concerned about the loss of "family values", in fact just for fun I wrote one in my head that grew increasingly hysterical, and I expect to read letters in a similar vein in The Australian tomorrow.

Birth rate

Apr. 1st, 2007 10:06 am
marko_the_rat: (Default)
As many of you know, although I generally don't like to talk about politics in my blog, I'm a political rat. As I was watching Insiders they had an interview with our Treasurer Peter Costello and I just couldn't let this quote go by: "No one's done more than me to increase the birth rate in Australia."

Gives a whole new meaning to Google's "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.

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Marko T. Rat

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