Start by having a chat with Andrew Demetriou. So the federal government is expanding its bureaucracy by setting up a new national unit to protect the integrity of sport in an attempt to stamp out match-fixing. Well a good place for the new investigators to start would be at the AFL, the body that institutionalised incentives for teams to cheat through its system of concessional draft picks. Getting to know the election winners. At least we don't have the problem of working out whether the opinion polls will be accurate. In China they don't even officially publicise the candidates. There's not even any certainty about how many members the Politburo Standing Committee will have after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. What we do know, for the official website tells us so, is that the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party at a preparatory meeting for the main event to start on Thursday "comprehensively analyzed the current situation and task, deeply discussed several important issues concerning developing the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics under the new situation and pushing forward the new grand project of the Party building, making full preparation for the convention of the 18th CPC National Congress."

That Chinese kind of full and frank disclosure requires a special kind of political tea leaf reader to guess at what is actually going on. Here's an extract of the view of Cheng Li, Director of Research at the Brookings Institution's John L. Thornton China Center:
Of all the concerns about the forthcoming political succession in China, none may ultimately prove as important as whether or not the factional balance of power will be maintained. China is now confronting widespread social unrest, slowing economic growth, increasing divisions within domestic public opinion on the issue of the country's political trajectory and rampant official corruption as revealed by the Bo Xilai scandal. Any further signs of elite disunity or upsets in the factional balance of power within the top leadership could be overwhelmingly detrimental in terms of the continued rule of the Communist Party. That is why the composition of the new Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), the supreme decision-making body in China, is critically important. What will be the status of the competing factions in that committee? Will the existing system of collective leadership in China continue -- or is it headed towards failure? China is a one-party state in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) monopolises power. The party leadership, however, is not a monolithic group. Its members do not all share the same ideology, political association, socio-economic background, or policy preferences. In fact, two main political factions or coalitions within the CCP leadership are currently competing for power, influence and control over policy initiatives. This bifurcation has created within China's one-party polity something approximating a mechanism of checks and balances in the decision-making process.
News and views noted along the way.