Quirks of the Senate

Colin Smith writes: Re. “Do we need Senate electoral reform?” (yesterday).The Senate voting system legalizes de facto ballot-box-stuffing with the uninformed consent of most who vote “above the line”. The more ethical parties do their best to stuff in a way their supporters would approve, while the less ethical will even deliver preferences to their enemies ahead of their friends to maximise their own chances. The more ethical are liable to find themselves preferenced out of the race unless they too become less ethical.

The threats by current beneficiaries — to “preference against” the Greens and the Coalition should they combine to end this abuse — are empty. Lodging Group Voting Tickets which some 95% of voters will authorise by default is easy. Finding volunteers to physically distribute How-To-Vote cards is hard — and the cards will be effective only to the extent that they are copied on to ballot papers. Reform will end critical distortions of proportional representation (often plainly contrary to the intention of voters) which destroy public faith in democracy and hugely influence the national direction. But it will not kill small parties who are prepared to do the hard work of building their organisation and support.

On AFL boards

Don McKinnon writes: Re. “Mayne: will the AFL get Turnbull’s message on gender equality?” (yesterday). Regarding Stephen Mayne’s article ,it would be nice if he got Port Adelaide’s name right (and yes I am a member). “Port Power” is a pejorative term used by those who choose not to recognise where our club came from.  Although badged on our merchandise in ’97-98 the club is and always has been Port Adelaide.

Jenny Bridge writes: The link to the details of the Swans Board suggests that there are two rather than the single one indicated in your article. Not as good as five but better than one.

Piracy hurts

Australian Children’s Laureate 2014-2015 and Senior Australian of the Year 2015 Jackie French writes: Re. “With Fifield sticking to Brandis’ guns, is the piracy code dead in the water?” (yesterday). Just to clarify: Is Crikey really  advocating that everyone should have the right to steal copies of on-line books, music and films? Can we steal them from shops, too? How about not paying to download Crikey?