Dear Christian: An associate of mine recently told me about ALP tactics in the seat of Bass in the 90s. Obituaries were allegedly monitored and multiple registrations took place from the party faithful in order to cast multiple votes, leading to the defeat of Liberal Warwick Smith. Is this a common practice for campaign staff and the party faithful in general? Are these tactics likely to have decided seats in the past?
Dear Worried: You haven’t been listening to Alan Jones, have you? The Electoral Commission swears that electoral fraud doesn’t exist. That’s interesting, because the minister who’s responsible for the AEC, Eric Abetz, says just the opposite.
There are people who will swear black and blue that the 1993 election was stolen – but they also tend to be the types who line their hats with tinfoil to stop aliens reading their minds. Remember all the fuss caused by the Shepherdson Inquiry into electoral fraud in Queensland and the parallel investigations by the Commonwealth’s Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters? Have a look at those reports. They’re not particularly lurid, but show what we should be on the lookout for.
If you’re really keen on heading down the conspiracy theory path with respectable-sounding travelling companions like Dr Amy McGrath, stop and take a look at some of the people who use her theories as roadmaps. Following the League of Rights will get you hopelessly lost.
Gerard Henderson knows the ins and outs of Australian politics. He examined this issue back when Shepherdson was running strong and concluded that “voting from the grave is dead and buried”. Trying to prove him wrong might distract us from more pedestrian issues that damage the electoral process, like today’s report that more than 10% of voters on the roll are listed at the wrong address.
Dear Christian: I’m interested in those MPs who anonymously brief the press and then go close to giving themselves away by showing off. There was that line quoted after the Athens Declaration, “Hubris is a Greek noun”, and a bit in Matt Price recently about Sir Thomas More and Henry VIII and the “silence that bellowed up and down Europe.” How many of our MPs are that learned? Did Bob Carr sneak into the Liberal Party room? Would you be able to identify these chaps by their erudition?
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Dear Bruce: That’s a very interesting point. I’ve heard MPs repeat favourite historical allusions over and over again, but wouldn’t like to sink a career based on that sort of thing – single-handedly. Some readers might like to help, too. They know how to contact me.
Dear Christian: Why on earth is the deputy prime minister suddenly announcing what seems to be a major change to infrastructure policy, his plan to seize control of the ports, a week after the Budget?
Dear Ian: The timing is interesting in this matter – not because of its closeness to the Budget, but its closeness to the government taking control of the Senate. This issue is pure politics. Money hasn’t come into it. Yet. The feds will probably take on the states on a whole string of issues over the next few years a) because they can, b) because the states are all Labor and, c) because there may well be some neat special interest votes in it.
John Anderson isn’t just transport minister. He’s the leader of the Nationals – and the Nats must be worried about life after 1 July and how issues like the sale of the remainder of Telstra will play out.
So what do you do? You create a crisis – say an infrastructure crisis, something close to the cockies’ hearts – that the Telstra sale will fix.
That’s the politics. And the money? Well, there’s already been a surprising amount of, er, confusion between Anderson and Peter Costello over the Future Fund, hasn’t there?
Dear Christian: When is the ALP going to start its Peter Beattie to Canberra Campaign? I live in Melbourne, but even I can see he has more charisma and popularity than Beazley.
Dear Megan: Come off it! There are already two wannabe federal Labor leaders from Queensland. Do we really need a third? Do they? Look what happened last time a Queensland premier had ideas above his station. I reckon Beattie’s more than happy where he is.