A gun example. Labor learned one thing from the defeat of Barrie Unsworth’s government all those years ago — it is not the opinions of a sensible majority that matters on election day but the militant minority who feel strongly about an issue.

Overwhelmingly there was support back then, as there is now, for severe restrictions on gun ownership and use, but normally Labor voting shooters, fearing the loss of their guns, could not get to the polling booths quickly enough to change sides.

Now I know that John Howard federally did not suffer in the same fashion after making gun ownership changes in the aftermath of the Port Arthur massacre but he did not have the problem of a cynical opposition pandering to the shooters vote. This time around in Queensland it looks like we might see a return to a political party seeking to gain an advantage from a militant minority.

On page one of The Australian this morning:

While the story was written in what could be called a tut-tutting way suggesting there was something wrong about connections between Bob Katter’s Australian Party and animal slaughterers, Mr Katter himself is unlikely to be upset.

He is  not in the business of becoming the largest party in the state parliament and appealing to a coalition of minority interests with strongly held views will do him very nicely thank you.

The same lesson on poker machines. The campaign against restrictions on poker machines fits into the same political category. I expect a majority of Australians would not really be concerned if they were banned altogether. Yet those who benefit from plundering the pockets of addicts care a great deal.

Given the choice between unfortunate fools being parted from their money and the closing of their neighbourhood greens, many recreational bowlers would prefer to keep bowling.

Hence the difficulty for the federal Government. Labor members are well aware of the potential of this issue becoming a vote changer but are caught with the difficulty of reconciling this with the fear that the proponent of the new restrictions will carry out his threat to withdraw support and force an early election.

The contest between these two politically blackmailing forces is fascinating indeed.

An All Saints day birthday. Quite appropriate really that it will be November the first in Australia when the United Nations Population Fund believes that the world’s population will hit seven billion.

To mark the occasion UNFPA has published its State of the World Population Report.

Mummy’s and daddy’s boys are the cause. From Twitter comes this revealing statistical analysis: European sovereign debt risk is strongly correlated with the % of men aged 25-34 living with their parents.

Finding the 99%. Wondering if you are one of the 99% of the Wall Street occupiers or a member of the elite 1%. The Wall Street Journal website has a fun little calculator enabling people to see where they would rank if they were US taxpayers.

Peter Fray

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