Quote of which day?:

Paul Nunan writes: Re. “Campaign Crikey morning edition: Day 31 Editorial“. I refer to your “quote of the day” in this morning’s Campaign Crikey:

Quote of the day:

“Jesus didn’t say yes to everyone, Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it is not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.” — Tony Abbott responds to a Q&A audience member who asked the opposition leader what he thought Jesus would do about asylum-seekers.

The quote referred to was from a Q&A episode back in April — hardly a quote of day 31 of the campaign!

CRIKEY: You got us Paul. Our bad. That is indeed a quote from Abbott’s Q&A appearance in April, as opposed to last night. We could blame election fatigue but it’s a poor excuse. We’re still waiting for the official Q&A transcript (goes up at 2pm) but for now, here’s a quote from last night’s program according to ABC News online:

“This is an economic reform as well as visionary social change.” — Tony Abbott talks up the coalition’s paid parental leave plan.

The election:

Neil James, Executive Director, Australia Defence Association, writes: Re. “Keane’s Talking Points: at the business end, it’s the disinterested that count” (Campaign Crikey morning edition: Day 30, item 1). I hope Bernard Keane fears the uninterested rather than the disinterested among those swinging voters still considering who to vote for.

If there were more disinterested (neutral and objective) voters then both sides of politics would be much less successful with the spin they spout and which the bulk of voters just accept through ignorance, subjectivity or apathy.

Spin that is mainly focused on the died-in-the-wool voters and the uninterested.

Moreover, in terms of the “debates”, this election highlights the need for not only more and better debates but also for such debates to be actual debates and not run by the media.

Time and time again this election, the standard of questions asked by journalists in panels at “debates” has been profoundly disappointing, and media squabbles about the organisation of “debates” also demonstrates the conflicts of interest involved where the media organise them or control their broadcast.

Before the next election there needs to be a neutral debates commission to organise a minimum of three debates, one per week over the first three weeks of the election campaign, between the prime minister and opposition leader.

Other debates involving ministers and their shadows should also be set by the commission, but with their organisation delegated to respected apolitical and non-sectional-interest bodies. For example, the Australian Institute of International Affairs should conduct the foreign affairs debate. Taxpayers Australia should conduct the debate on budgeting and taxation. The Australia Defence Association should conduct the debate on defence policy.

I accept that there are no independent, apolitical public-interest watchdogs or other bodies in key policy areas such as the law, employment and the environment. But this does not mean that debates should not be so neutrally organised and conducted where they can be.

Finally, the format of all debates should allow the debaters to question each other and the question panels should include subject matter experts not just (or all) journalists.

Jackie French writes: Why don’t we care? Because — consciously or subconsciously — we know that few of the offered policies are feasible, or can be done in one term of government, if ever. The promises glitter, but when the TV cameras are switched off there are only shadows.

Barry Everingham writes: Re. Crikey’s Editorial. C’mon Crikey — the cost of travelling and the gas it uses up to spread the message pales into insignificance compared to the millions of dollars John and Janette racked up to use Kirribilli House instead  of The Lodge when they were running things.

Abbott is being coy about his intentions in that department which more than likely means he and Margie will follow the lead of his guide and mentor if he gets  up on Sunday.


Simon Wilkins writes: Re. “Mark Latham’s contribution to journalism not all bad” (yesterday, item 19). The meeja, including Margaret Simons, seems to be coming down hard on Mark Latham’s suggestion that people should blank vote … I think it is political genius.

If people are stupid enough to listen to Mark Latham, then a blank vote is probably the best contribution they can make to the political process. Now if we could just get a few other cantankerous old politicians to get out and suggest similar advice (I hear JWH has some spare time these days) then we might get away from “Rooty Hill” to people who make informed votes counting for something.

Also, in the spirit of democracy (pun intended), could you please make sure you produce a drinking game “cheat sheet” for this coming Saturday night??? Quite frankly, if we are not well hung or moving forward on Sunday, then I don’t want to be able to stand up.

Grace Pettigrew writes: Re. “Crikey Campaign Leftovers: Latham not guilty … Boaties back Abbott … Crikey omen bet update” (yesterday, item 17). Tom Cowie has not got it right either, regarding Mark Latham advocating an informal vote. It has never been an offence to advocate an informal vote, and Albert Langer did not advocate an informal vote. Quite the opposite, if you understood his real intent — to get rid of full preferential voting in favour of optional preferential voting.

At the time, Langer was successfully persuading many voters to mark their ballot papers formally by voting 1,2,2,2, etc, numbering all the boxes, but exhausting the vote count at the first preference 1 (double numbers cannot be counted and the legislation allows such apparent “mistakes” on the ballot paper through).

These were not informal votes, and they were counted, but they had a political impact by messing with the full flow of preferences which both major parties depend on for predicting marginals and targeting voters etc.

Section 329A was inserted in an attempt to stop Langer’s strategy, which went viral in 1996, but it failed spectacularly, and the section was repealed.


Tony Lamond  writes: Re. “Coalition broadband: a wireless tower in every street“(yesterday, item 5). It amazes me that Labor is making constant reference to the need for Australia to match Singapore [and Korea — the South end I presume] in broadband speed. Have any of them actually been to Singapore?

Our daughter moved there just two weeks ago to study at the University of Singapore and the first thing she noticed was how slow was the internet performance. And Skype [over the broadband] is absolutely hopeless.

True, Singapore has a more “technically advanced” system than Australia [and let us keep in mind it is a “country” only  the size of the ACT] but it is overloaded  on its demand for internet services so the actual speed of its broadband system has dropped dramatically. Major city broadband speeds in Australia are actually must faster than Singapore — right now!

The propensity for computer and communication speeds to be constantly move ahead of memory and cable capacity is a  universal international experience. Just consider what would happen when, after investing a mind-boggling  A$43,000, 000, 000 [yes, the zeroes are correct] a Government controlled broadband runs out of capacity — as it will — we will be waiting a long time for the second investment.

The Greens:

Kevin Bonham writes: Re. “Brighter House of Representatives prospects for Greens” (yesterday, item 4). Richard Farmer suggests that based on past comparisons of pre-election Newspolls with actual election results, the “accepted wisdom of experts” that the Greens will probably do worse than their current polling is hard to fathom.

However, following the 2007 federal election, Newspoll changed the way it asks its questions (see Antony Green on this). Its old way of asking them tended to lead to underestimates of the Green vote (and it was the odd one out in that regard); its new way tends to lead to overestimates, in common with many other pollsters.

As for the overestimates in Tasmanian state elections, these are not just because of scaremongering about hung parliaments, but also because the main local pollster, EMRS, tends to record a very high undecided response and redistribute it proportionally; experience suggests almost all the “undecided” voters are actually major-party supporters, primarily Labor.

Newspoll predicted the Greens vote very well in Tasmanian state elections up until this year, irrespective of “hung parliament” scares or otherwise, but this year with their new method of asking the question in place, they overcooked it by four points. Could we still see a 12-15% Green vote in the House of Reps?

It’s possible, but I’ll be just a little bit surprised if it is in the lower end of that range, and amazed if it is at the higher end.  I think 9-12% is a more realistic range.

Maloney’s Marginalia:

Mikey Hughes writes: Re. “Maloney’s Marginalia: Lindsay — voting twice at Rooty Hill” (yesterday, item 3). I loved Shane Maloney’s piece in yesterday’s Crikey. Funny, entertaining, and informative. He’s a good egg.

Zachary King writes: More of Maloney please. This pathetic pair of peripatetic piss-ant “politicians” are good for inspiring parody and nothing more.

Rooty Hill:

Glen Frost writes: The letter from Adam Suckling from FOXTEL (yesterday, comments) get’s one point right; SKY is making an effort. ABC TV, despite having all those studios and staff, are making little effort to engage people outside of their comfort zone (ABC radio and web is very good however). I suppose the western suburbs are a bit far from Ultimo, travel in Sydney being such a slog. Maybe Tony Jones, Mark Scott and Kerry O’Brien could limo-share?

On the evening of The Great Rooty Hill Debate, I was in a subscription-only hospitality lounge of an Aussie airline at Sydney Airport, where all the LCD TV’s were tuned to SKY — the lounge was packed with corporate suit-warriors and most were watching, or at least looking at the text on the screen whilst having a beer or checking the emails.

Maybe they were tweeting Mark Scott?  The point is the TV’s weren’t tuned to the ABC TV.


Jim Ivins writes: Marcus L’Estrange (yesterday, comments) wrote that “Birth rates worldwide have already declined by more than 50% since 1980 so population growth has already been checked”.

No peer reviewed source (or even a Wikipedia entry) was cited to substantiate this factoid. But whether the decline is real or not, a moment’s thought is sufficient to grasp that in addition to birth rate, other variables also determine whether the global population problem has in fact “already been checked”. For example: the death rate, the average lifespan, and the base population to which all of these variables apply must also be quantified.

High school mathematics aside, Marcus then makes it clear that his interest in this debate is purely selfish (“those whose payments keep pension funds solvent, those who empty the bedpans in nursing homes,” and so on.  Either that, or he doesn’t know what a pyramid scheme.

Finally, the suggestion that ecological problems are caused by Government inaction is absurd — analogous to claiming the common cold is caused by lack of a vaccine or cure.

The reality is that infectious diseases are caused by pathogens, and as such our options are limited: either we change our ways and form a symbiotic relationship with our host planet; or else we find a way to cross interstellar distances and hence infect new hosts.

If the second of those options sounds fanciful compared to the first, you may have underestimated the scale of the challenge we face.