Keeping the duopoly

Colin Smith writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday). The use of the postal-voting system as a loophole for taxpayer-funded electioneering, and for harvesting personal information, are both serious issues.

But there has not been much reference to a third issue.

Party workers handing out how-to-vote cards are required to keep their distance from the entrance to the polling booth — even if it is raining. And if they need to enter the booth they must remove or cover all party insignia. And rightly so. Yet political candidates are allowed to insinuate themselves into the process whereby a voter applies for a postal voting form, sticking their logos all over the documentation and conveying the idea that they are only being helpful.

Furthermore, independent and small-party candidates with limited funds — and unable to claim the postal costs as electoral expenses — cannot afford to provide this “service” and thus at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the Laberal duopoly.

Private parts

Helen Mackenzie writes: Re. “On the record: do journos have access to your internet browsing history?” (yesterday). You quote Fairfax as saying “”We also collect information about you that is not personal information. For example, we may collect data relating to your activity on our websites”. The definition of personal information in the Privacy Act 1988 is “information or an opinion (including information or an opinion forming part of a database), whether true or not, and whether recorded in a material form or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion”. Information about which Fairfax websites I visit is information about me and is therefore my personal information within the meaning of the act.

Mon dieu!

Mark Williams writes: Re. “Front page of the day” (yesterday). It’s what Sartre’s play title conveys to a native French speaker/literate readers of the play’s pass notes that counts, and that is that “huis clos” is a legal term for the period the courts are in recess, i.e. during a period of absence of justice.  The play’s title is sometimes given as “In Camera”, which is not accurate either but certainly better than “No Exit”.  That makes the headline so much more chilling but also (like the optimistic side of existentialism) a cry for the rule of law.

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Peter Fray
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