Lazy Luddite Log

29.12.06

Visiting Logan

A walk I went on recently took me past a dilapidated and very much abandoned old house. I have always been drawn to such things and so naturally I took a bit of a look into the broken windows of the old shack. I even wandered onto the rickety porch for a better snoop. As I did this I began to imagine what it may have looked like if inhabited, and who may have lived in it. I was inspired by that experience to pen this short story...

It has been about twenty years since you last stood outside this old weatherboard house. Back then you were a child of eight. Nothing much about the place has changed in that time. That sameness is more jarring than if you had found the place replaced with modern townhouses. So much has changed in your life that you would have expected something to be different here. Surely, you think, in that time a tree would have been cut down or a fence replaced. And could those two old Hillman Hunter cars covered in matted pine needles be the same ones that fascinated you as a child? It seems that you are stepping into a photo from your childhood.

You walk along the narrow path to the wooden porch. You knock on the door. You hear barking from inside and then some shuffling. A moment later the door opens. The enquiring face of an old man looks out at you via the fly screen door. You hastily introduce yourself to Mr Mallee as the child of your parents, and say that you decided on a whim to visit, since you just happened to be in the area. You hope he can spare some time. Of course he can. You are warmly welcomed in while the excited dog, similar to one you remember, is shooed away from you. Mr Mallee tells you to call him Logan.

Inside things are pretty much as you remember. You have entered a kitchen and dining area that is wider than it is deep. The wall to the left has one doorway into the small living room. The wall to the right has two, one each into the study and bathroom. The back wall has one door which you know exits onto the back porch. But what draws your attention most is the blackened iron stove, which dominates much of the back wall. There are photos and cards arrayed above it and you recognise one photo of you playing with that dog from two decades ago.

Logan asks if you want some lunch that he has just now prepared. You accept, despite the fact that you have never been a fan of baked beans on toast. You also accept the offer of a glass of homemade elderberry wine, made from the bush in the backyard. Logan asks you how your parents are. You tell him of the many moves the family made and of the eventual divorce. This saddens Logan. He then tells you the story of how he befriended your parents, despite the fact that they were much younger than he. You ask him to elaborate on a few aspects of the story, which he does happily. You wonder how you can possibly broach the topic of why you truly came here. You figure the opportunity will present itself soon, so you let the conversation wander for now.

You compliment the wine. Logan ushers you into the backyard to see the elderberry bush. Once more the scene is a familiar one. The left and right ends of the back porch were long ago enclosed to form two separate rooms. To the left is the bedroom and to the right is the laundry. The toilet is still the freestanding structure along a pebbly path that so disgusted you back then, and still gives you the creeps now. The berry bush is a topic of much interest to Logan, but is just another plant to you. Then you see something that you think can help swing the conversation your way. You ask whether that rusty tricycle is the same one you rode as a child. Logan says it is. You then comment on how you have lost many possessions from your youth. Logan says that it is important to keep things from your past and then beckons you back into the house.

In the study Logan shows you his sketches. He sketches to this very day, and shows you the collection he has drawn over five decades. There are recent sketches of his neighbourhood, older ones of the workplace he shared with your parents, and even older ones of his youth in Dublin. You comment on how images can bring back memory so well. Logan responds that he knows something that works better, and with that he takes you over into his overly warm living room.

Logan asks you to sit in a dusty armchair while he puts the kettle on. He suggests that you can peruse his record collection and find something to put on the player. You take a look. One half of his collection seems to be jazz, like Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. The other half is folk music with names like The Chieftains and The Dubliners. You remark on this idiosyncratic mix as Logan returns with your tea. Logan smiles and says that his musical interests are determined by his 'Black Irish' ancestry. You look blankly at him so Logan sighs and explains his joke to you. He then puts the album you have chosen on his record player, drops the needle, sits back and closes his eyes.

You look across at your host sitting there, and wonder whether he looks any older than you remember from last time. Of course, as a child you had some issues with judging age, and anyone older than your parents was simply old. Logan looks ancient now, and yet, looks exactly as you remember him. However some minute change has come over him as he sits there and the crackling music washes over you. He then speaks with a slow and surprisingly sonorous voice:

“They say that smell evokes memory more powerfully than any other sense. But it’s hardly convenient to keep a library of smells and stinks. For me the thing that works better than any other is music. This song was playing on the wireless during my passage by ship from Ireland. I can remember the smell of the sea and the movement of the waves like it was yesterday. I recall the excitement of meeting my wife on that boat. I especially remember the thrill I got from the way she pursued me. It took a lot of gumption for a woman to be so bold back then. But she had all sorts of virtues, and gumption was just one of them.”

Only now does Logan open his eyes and gives you a small smile. “Are you sure you just came here for the heck of it?” You are taken aback by this question and stammer that – well – there was something you wanted to ask him. You go onto tell a story of your own in a somewhat tentative and almost embarrassed tone:

“To tell the truth, I found some of the conversations you had with my parents to be a bit boring. So, you remember, I went playing with my toys in the backyard. Well, I lost one of them in the ivy. At the time I forgot about it pretty quickly, and since then I got interested in other things. In my teens I sold my entire toy collection to help pay for my first computer, and that was several computers ago. Anyway, I’ve since been looking at old papers and documents of mine, and came across an old toy catalogue. I realised how much fun I had in those days and think it’s a pity I sold them all. And then I remembered the one I lost here and wondered if there was some chance that you’d found and kept it.”

Logan grins now and walks over to a set of drawers in a corner. Opening one, he retrives a brown paper bag and hands it to you. “That what you looking for?” he asks. You open the bag and think ‘Eureka!’ to yourself. There it is. You had imagined it would be caked in dirt, but it looks pretty much as you remember it. The stickers are still on it. The parts are all still together and still move fine. It still converts from robot to appliance mode. It even has its gun still attached. You cannot manage to suppress a smile. You thank Logan for keeping it better than you could have as a child. Logan tells you that he understands the importance of keepsakes and is happy that it has such sentimental value for you. You nod agreement, while succeeding now in establishing a neutral expression.

After finishing your cuppa, you tell Logan that you have to get back home, as you have a long drive and the day was growing old. Logan seems to understand that you have to go. He keeps you talking as you slowly go from one room to another, from the front door to the front gate, and finally to your car. Logan thanks you for coming, as he so rarely gets visitors these days. You thank him for lunch and conversation but say nothing more about your fortunate acquisition.

As you are driving along the freeway you reflect on what a long and tiresome afternoon it had been. But you consider it worthwhile. As a child you never cared much for the 'Specteron' toy, despite the fact that you had got it by saving ‘robo-credits’ clipped from other toy boxes and sent away for via post. The character corresponding to the toy had barely any role in the cartoon intended to advertise the toys. The toy itself was smaller than others and what it changed into – binoculars – was pretty boring compared with a sports car or jet plane or robotic dolphin. But how time had changed all that!

Specteron had been made in small numbers compared with those sold in toy shops. It had been flimsy in construction and so many had been broken and thrown in the rubbish. Then, in the process of one toy company taking over another one, the original moulds for Specteron had been disposed of, preventing the issuing of any ‘classic’ collectors edition, once the children of one decade had become the affluent collectors of another. All this you discovered surfing the Net during slack moments at work, and so you knew that very few mint condition Specterons existed, and suddenly any that did exist could be auctioned on-line for an exorbitant fee. Your carelessness as a child, combined with the care and consideration of a lonely old man, had delivered you this surprise windfall, and all for the price of a few hours of tedious conversation and the tolerating of baked beans.

Specteron had even less sentimental value for you now than it had in your childhood, but it did have a monetary value, one that you would very soon put to use in paying off your gambling debts. Let Logan think that the silly thing was more than that. Your toy is just a novel solution to a life problem, you think, glancing at it on the front passenger seat as you take the turn-off towards home.

I submitted this story to the City Of Monash Short Story Contest 2010. It got nothing. I was hoping for some kind of acknowlegement but was expecting too much in a contest of over a hundred entrants. I did enjoy attending some of the associated workshops and got some worthwhile feedback. I suppose I will just keep writing as the inspiration takes me and may well have another shot next time...

Also note the named character is now the focus of another story.

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16.12.06

Sometimes They Come Back For More

I was told a week or so ago that there was a possibility of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) getting representation in the Legislative Council following the recent Victorian State Election. However I dismissed this from my concern because of some very strongly held assumptions I have regarding Australian political history. Those assumptions are (a) that entrenched major parties stay entrenched and (b) that minor parties can come and go but cannot come back once they have gone. It seems however that "sometimes they come back... for more"...

That incidentally is the name of a horror movie by a director with the name 'Daniel Berk' (I am just hoping to confuse search engines). And the supernatural gateway that has allowed the DLP to re-enter the world of the living is the almost occult (e.g. secret or clandestine) nature of above-the-line party preference negotiations. In this post I will address both what the DLP is and also refer somewhat to the controversial matter of above-the-line voting.

So who is the DLP?

We have to clarify that there are two DLPs in Australian political history. The original DLP was formed in 1955 and disbanded in 1978. The current DLP is a distinct legal entity that was established since then (in Victoria only) by those who refused to let the DLP pass into history. We have the issue then of whether these two thing are the same thing. In a lot of ways I think they are but in some cases I will need to qualify that. In the rest of this post I will say 'the historic DLP' to refer to the original DLP and 'the current DLP' to indicate the present party.

In a recent post I provided short ideological descriptions of the parties contesting the state election. In that post I linked the DLP to this description of mine from the Political Objectives Test:

Your commitment to both equality and stability puts you in the hazy area that exists between the socialist and the conservative. This combination may seem unusual but consider the way in which both think loyalty to community takes priority over loyalty to oneself. You recognise the value of traditional culture and institutions. You also value government intervention in the economy. You hope that a combination of traditional values and interventionist economics will protect your way of life. You are concerned that the twin forces of free markets and permissive culture promote selfishness and erode community standards.

This description well fits the historic DLP and may well also fit the current DLP. However, to say that we need information on the current DLP across both cultural and economic issues. Long-term observers of the current DLP will have noticed DLP candidate statements in local papers which refer only to right-to-life issues such as abortion. A 'pro-life' stance is consistent with historic DLP policy (keeping in mind that in 1955 pretty much every party was 'pro-life') but we need more info than that to say that the current DLP is the same as the historic DLP. I think for some DLP members, such as its prime-mover John Mulholland, they have been pretty much just a pro-life lobby group that uses elections as a way of promoting the cause. What other time will local papers give your members a guaranteed 50-word space to insert your pet rant?

But Mulholland fell short of the preferences needed to be elected. The DLP candidate that has been elected is one Peter Kavanagh and he seems to have a fuller sense of his own politics. He has been keen to convince supporters of the historic DLP that his party is the rightful inheritor of the party name and legacy as can be seen in this letter to News Weekly. News Weekly is the publication of the National Civic Council (NCC) which is a think tank that was closely associated with the historic DLP. One line in particular from that letter is informative as to what Kavanagh thinks his party represents:

The DLP remains the only political party in Australia which is pro-family, pro-life and genuinely pro-worker.

Those who suffer under the limitations of the 'left and right' dichotomy in politics will have difficulty understanding that someone can even say this.

There has been a lot of confusion in the media in recent days as to what the DLP is. Some for instance suspect that they are homophobic and racist. That is only half right. The DLP position on issues like access to in-vitro fertilisation and same-sex marriage serves to support accusations of homophobia. But to say they are racist is just laziness on the part of those who think that one kind of prejudice will always necessarily go hand-in-hand with all other forms of prejudice. The historic DLP opposed the White Australia Policy years before the major parties abandoned it and as far as I can tell the current DLP are likewise non-racist. All this is hardly surprising once you consider the Roman Catholic basis of DLP membership and support. They will be homophobic in the sense that they oppose 'sin'. However they will be non-racist in accord with the universalist nature of Catholicism.

Then there was the Age editorial (14 Dec 2006) which stated that the historic DLP represented 'middle class' Catholic values. What? Did the DLP members and supporters suddenly become more affluent the moment they defected from the ALP in 1955? Maybe the DLP charged lower membership fees! Of course the Age is referring to cultural values rather than economic standing and it is using 'middle class' as a pejorative term. So by that I assume they are implying a 'white picket fence' way-of-life. But that is arguably as much a working class value as it is middle class. And nowadays the Age is closer to representing middle class 'latte set' values while the DLP is closer to a working class 'battler' identity (but a cosmopolitan Roman Catholic one mind you).

Do I mind that the DLP now have a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC)? It has come as a bit of a shock but that has more to do with having my assumptions challenged than it does in me finding the DLP scary. I differ strongly from much of what they think (more on personal issues than on economics) but at the same time I am prepared to recognise that they represent a set of attitudes that is under-represented by the major parties and may deserve to have some representation. But did they deserve to get one member elected in the way they did?

Preference Negotiations

The current DLP have always got a small rusted-on vote from those who supported the historic DLP. In addition some speculate that they get some votes as a result of confusion over the party name ("Look at the ballot paper... is it the Democrats... is it the Labor Party... no it's the Democratic Labor Party!") but this can never have been particularly big. The DLP primary vote in Western Victoria (the region in which Kavanagh was elected) was between two and three percent. It was preferences that gave them victory and the huge majority of those preferences were above-the-line votes delivered by behind-closed-doors negotiations between parties.

Is it right (for instance) that People Power directed above-the-line votes to the DLP? It is argued that this decision may well have come as a surprise to People Power voters. People Power talk of 'empowerment' and 'self-help' for individuals while the DLP are much more into a paternalistic 'community' deciding what is best for us. On the other hand I think "but how many People Power voters know what People Power stand for let alone that they preferenced the DLP?"

My attitude to this issue of party preference negotiators 'tricking' the electorate differs with my mood. If I am in an arrogant and grumpy mood then I am likely to say that every voter who votes above-the-line is freely deciding to let the party decide the fate of that vote and that what results from this process is the right result. Any voter can at any time consult the electoral commission or the political parties to discover how above-the-line preferences are to be allocated. Any voter can do a bit of homework into who the candidates are. The Internet makes this much simpler than it once was. Nobody is taken for a ride or if they are then they have chosen to let that happen to them.

But in a more realistic and generous mood I do think that we need to have a more transparent and voter-friendly process. Life is busy. Politics is complicated. For many the Internet is still a turgid maze of confusion. Many of us miss getting a decent civics course at school. More can and should be done then to help voters understand the effect of how they vote. Also changes could be made to the way preferences are distributed. One proposal that has got some publicity and which makes sense is to allow us to fill in all boxes in sequence above-the-line. This way the only thing party hacks would then control is the order in which their own candidates got preferences.

And what of the overall result of the new Legislative Council? I got what I wanted. Nobody has a majority and negotiation between different political perspectives must proceed if legislation is to pass both chambers. Labor at 19 MLCs are two votes short and so must go to Liberal (15 MLCs) or Greens (3 MLCs) or Nationals (2 MLCs). With just one MLC the DLP can be overlooked by the government for the purpose of passing legislation. However they can still be there and express themselves in parliamentary debates. The Legislative Council may now even be a chamber worth observing rather than just a place in which to have a nap.

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12.12.06

Long Day Short Lunch

My end-of-year work function this year was different from last year. Then they held it as a dinner in Shepparton (home of most of the staff). This year they decided to hold lunch at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Murray River in the 'Port of Echuca' historic precinct. For those from Shepparton they had a bus take them there and back (allowing them to get extra drinking and cheese-and-crackers in) but for the few of us from Melbourne it was more of a challence. Others who went made a weekend of it and stayed overnight there on Friday and Saturday nights. I however had other things on the weekend that prevented me from taking so much time.

So I spent pretty much all of Saturday travelling just to attend maybe 90 minutes or so of a lunch. I got PT from the burbs to the City. Then V-Line to Shepparton (technically Mooroopna). Then a lift with some workmates to Echuca. Then all of that in reverse and most of it in the hot and smoky conditions we have been facing lately.

On getting there some of those who had been drinking a while had some fun with me by saying things like "your lift will never get you back to the station in time" and "you will have to stay the night in Shepp and cancel your plans for tomorrow morning". They were just ribbing me but I took it at face-value and was secretly concerned. Still I made like I was coping okay with that and managed to enjoy what was a very nice free lunch (they have also reimbursed me for the V-Line return ticket). There was some chatting and group photos. The older staff (40s-50s) seemed to be having a lot more fun and bahaving in a childish manner much moreso than the younger ones (20s-30s).

It is a pity in some ways that I dashed there and back as the port area with its historic shops and paddlesteamers looks interesting. But on the other hand it was nice to get back to Melbourne. I suppose an experience like that reminds me of what a joy it is to live in a city like Melbourne with everything it has in it.

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5.12.06

State Election Musings

A few weeks back I announced my candidacy on this blog. Then last week I wrote this:

I will hold off on writing about the state election campaign till we more fully know the result. For now I will just say thanks to those of you in South Eastern Metro who gave me a Number 1 below the line. It is fun to have a friend say "hey I voted for you" and also brings the whole political experience into some sort of wider life context. In other words it reminds me that the different compartments of my life are in fact part of the same whole. The juxtaposition can be a bit surreal...

Now I can expand on those aspects of the campaign and its results that were of interest to me. To start I have to say that the phrase “taking one for the team” is the perfect description of my standing as an Australian Democrat. Once more we got dismal 1ish and 2ish percent figures and some may wonder why we even bother. My answer is that the decision to eliminate the Australian Democrats from the political scene belongs to the electorate rather than to a handful of party volunteers. Even if we are tired of all this I think it is still important that we give voters every opportunity to support or reject the party and what it stands for. Only then can we truly say that the public will get the representation they deserve.

My own wish list for the election result was as follows:
1. Any growth at all in ADs primary vote
2. The return of the Bracks Labor Government with a
reduced majority in the Legislative Assembly
3. A Legislative Council in which nobody has a majority

With this in mind the election was a mixed result for me.

Wish List Item 1

The ADs seem to be stuck with one and two percent figures. This is the case in all five electorates in which we stood even if the level of effort put into regional campaigns differed markedly. What this seems to suggest is that on-the-ground campaigning makes barely any difference and that in modern campaigning mass media is of utmost importance. The media as a whole seemed to make a decision to cease reporting on ADs activity during our time of internal trench warfare and the resultant rapid changes in Federal Parliamentary Leadership. This is a decision they have stuck with despite us having addressed those internal issues since that 2002-04 timeframe. The most common comment got by ADs helpers on polling booths these days is the surprised “are you still here?”. That alone is grounds to keep standing.

We are mistaken however if we think that media is the only thing that matters in a campaign. People Power had a lot of media attention and managed to attract some strong community-based candidates but they fared worse than even us. For many voters People Power were too new and so I suppose it helps to also have some kind of roots in political history or in particular electoral demographics.

The Australian Greens had decent media coverage and they have a grounding in the electorate and recent political history. And I think they did well to go from zero representation to most likely having two Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs). I understand however that a lot of Greens members and supporters feel deflated. This can only be in relation to overblown expectations. This falling short of expectations has occurred now at three elections (two state and one Federal) and I wonder why. To some extent it can be a clever tactic to overstate your chances thereby helping get yourself into the ‘story’ the media tell. However to consistently overblow your chances by that much suggests something more.

I think too many Greens accept at face value party propaganda which says that “The Future is Green”. Even if environmental issues become more significant to the electorate (as they did in this election) it is more likely that this will result in the greening of the major parties than in the elevation of the Greens to major party status. However State Parliament may have been greener if the Greens had had better preference arrangements than they did. As it is the Australian Democrats were pretty much the only party to consistently preference Greens and I hope that it is Democrats preferences that will get the Greens over the line and into a more diverse and representative Legislative Council.

I want to pay tribute to the Australian Democrats (Victorian Division) preference negotiators (they know who they are) whose expertise and integrity gave us preferences that both we and others were happy with. If we had had a better primary vote then these preference arrangements would have given us a chance of parliamentary representation. If we can replicate the same kind of standard in preference negotiation for the 2007 Federal Election while also getting the kind of primary vote suggested by recent Federal opinion polling (5.5% in Morganpoll) then there still may be a future for the ADs in Victoria.

Preferences became a big media issue during the campaign and I am thankful that that was one story we were never part of. To my mind preferences as a media story fall into the same category as personal attacks on candidates. Both detract from coverage of substantive issues and both cater to the desire of the media to present politics as nasty and personalised. The definitive statement on preferences was made by Australian Greens Federal Parliamentary Leader Senator Bob Brown (‘The Age’ Thursday 23 November 2006 p 12):

”When Greens come up with a sensible, mature arrangement that gets the Greens the preferences in those four Melbourne seats, I say good on them, that's a sign of political maturity"

In other words the purpose of preference negotiations is to help get your own members elected. In the past however the Greens have attacked others for saying exactly the same thing. But why would you criticise others for what you do yourself? Here is Brown once more (same source):

"You have to recognise the important thing here is who gets into the Parliament. I'm a green in a world that needs it...”

The Australian Greens think that the Australian Greens are the best party. But the thing they are missing is that every party thinks that it is the most important party. Only once you recognize that your competitors legitimately have different objectives from you can be begin to engage with those competitors in a respectful and constructive manner. This is something I think the Greens still need to take on as part of a maturing process. At present they seem to think that everyone should work for the best interests of the Greens rather than for themselves. This is why they will divert some campaigners away from the job of campaigning for Greens candidates and into the task of hampering the ability of rivals to campaign. Hence we witnessed greens protesters making life difficult for the Member for Melbourne District because she had the audacity to campaign to keep her own electorate (the cheeky thing).

On the topic of misallocation of campaign efforts I have a story to tell on the topic of the Citizens Electoral Council (CEC). During the campaign I walked past a CEC information stall on Swanston Street with two or three members staffing it. I can bet you that at that same moment they had totally neglected to have anyone at the Melbourne Town Hall pre-poll centre. I say this because I remember staffing the pre-poll centre for the 2001 Aston Federal By-Election and the CEC had a temporary office a 30-second walk from there. They had staff there talking on phones but nobody at pre-poll. You would think I would be happy that a rival party is so stupid but I feel that it shows a disturbing lack of regard for the electorate and the political process. But then if you are stuck on bugger-all percent of the vote then maybe kicking back at a stall is smarter than standing on your feet at a polling place!

Mind you I do still enjoy polling place duty. The cross-party company at my booth on election day was good and we were well-served by the local primary school sausage sizzle. I spent all ten hours at it which may have been a bit much for me: That night on laying down my head and closing my eyes for sleep I was suddenly presented with after-images at the back of my eyelids of voters coming at me and my arm twitched reflexively as if to offer them how-to-vote cards!

Wish List Item 2

I have been asked a few times whether my party is more like Labor or Liberal. I think the assumptions behind the question overlook the possibility that the two major parties are more alike than they are like us. But in answering within the confines set by the question I say that we are closer to Labor in policy platform but closer to Liberal in party workings (e.g. an absence of formalised factions and formal links to sectional interests). As a party hack I think that the way a party operates matters. But as a voter I am much more focused on public policy outcomes and with that in mind I prefer Labor governments. Hence I wanted Bracks to win. I am also very keen to see the Labor hegemony at state and territory level preserved till such time as the Liberal-National coalition looses power at a Federal level (big fan of the difusing of power me).

However as a big fan of limited government I also wanted Bracks to win with a reduced majority because it never pays for any government to take its power for granted. I got that but much less so than was expected. I think I got a bit sucked into the whole media feeling that Baillieu was much stronger in presenting policy messages than was Bracks. However it seems that the contest between Bracks and Baillieu was an instance of "the tortoise and the hare" in which the slow-and-steady of the incumbent was what won the race.

The small growth in Liberal support is hardly surprising given a number of key factors. To start with Baillieu was given barely any time to establish his image. If the Opposition want to do better next time then they need to stick with one Parliamentary Leader. And while Baillieu did present some innovative policies, these were frequently neutralised by Bracks releasing very similar policies. This bidding war for votes may be populist but it does seem to deliver the public what they want. I for one am happy with this process as it will have given me the merging of the Met Ticket Zone 3 into Zone 2 which will make my life that bit simpler and better priced.

Those predicting stronger growth in Liberal representation tended to exaggerate the impact of particular issues. The imposition of tolls onto the Scoresby Freeway was supposed to return many eastern suburban electorates to the Liberals. This was minimised by the vague and changing position of the Opposition on the issue. However I think it was also a mistake to assume that there was only one opinion in the area to that issue: "I want a freeway that is toll-free therefore I will abandon the party that gave us tolls". In addition there may well have been "I wanted a freeway that is toll-free but the contracts have been made so the issue is over and done with" and "I wanted a freeway and am prepared to make a co-contribution for what is a massive infrastructure project" to "I never wanted the bloody freeway anyway so who cares if it is tolled". Besides which, voters rarely make decisions based on just one issue.

One surprise for many from the election was the modest growth made by the Nationals. This I think can be attributed to them forging an identity separate from the Liberals at a state level. Some commentators have advised re-establishing the coalition but I think that the Libs and Nats are better served by cultivating distinct images rather than in throwing in together.

Wish List Item 3

It takes ages to finalise the count of proportional preferential voting so we are yet to be told the final composition of the new 20-member Legislative Council. My hope is that Labor will fall short of having a majority in the chamber thereby necessitating negotiation between government and non-government parties to pass legislation. The most likely result that will give me what I want is this:

ALP (20) - LPA (16) - NPA (2) - AGV (2)

If Labor had to work with any one of Lib or Nat or Green that that will produce more representative outcomes than if they can simply use a majority to rubber-stamp everything. However the end result may differ from my suggested figures. Labor may still get that extra position they need to have a majority (at the expense of Libs or Greens). Even then the new Legislative Council will be better than the old one in that there will be a number of alternate perspectives represented and the opportunity for debate and scrutiny of government actions. Also with both chambers now facing fixed four-year terms there is every chance of a more balanced Parliament next time.

But what will happen between now and then? Nobody can say for sure. I had better get onto checking that Zone 3 is abolished as promised. So who is the new minister for PT anyway?

Update

Since having written this entry the final results for the Legislative Council have been determined and the composition of that chamber is as follows:

ALP (19) - LPA (15) - AGV (3) - NPA (2) - DLP (1)

I have written more on the topic of the DLP in this more recent post.

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