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EYE-BALL’s Herman on – The Senate –

June 21, 2013
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Links to Previous ‘Herman’ Posts:


– 5th June – Zombies


– 1st June – Canberra – and black holes


-30th May – What is an adequate Contrition?


– 24th May – Simplex


– 19th May – The Tears of a Prime Minister


– 24th Mar – An Example of bureaucracy gone mad


– 10th Mar – The Carbon Tax – Post Election …


– 7th Mar – Wayne Swan – Please Stop


28th Feb – The Australian Labor Party View


– 6th Feb – Corruption


– 25th Jan – Anti Discrimination


– 17th Jan 2013 – Atheism


– 12th Nov – Hegemony


– 2nd Nov – A March early Federal election


To see more EYE-BALL ‘Herman’ posts:

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Title:
– The Senate –
| Author: EYE-BALL’s Herman O’Hermitage | 21st June 2013 |
As this parliament goes through it final death throes on the one hand you want to find something else to do, but then you know it will only be hours before there is another storm in a tea cup and some issues actually matter. For me the composition of the new government’s Upper House is everything. Those elected in September take office from July of next year.

The bigger picture is: if the Greens attempt to block the repeal of the Carbon Tax or MRRT, Tony Abbott has promised a double dissolution.

Far too easily said, but lacking in any type of real thought therefore strategy. In late September there will be a government in the lower house that will be so swollen they will be allocated seating on the cross benches. The ALP will be so reduced they will have a telephone box caucus rather than a kitchen cabinet. Most portfolios in opposition will go to senior senators therefore the few surviving opposition lower house members will have multiple spokesperson roles. The media will try as they might to dent the new government but most electors will still not be listening. The people have spoken so get on with it.

Under two successive half senate elections the Greens will be reduced to a failed party. That will be obvious from the half senate election conducted on September 14.

If we try to predict the Upper House result from first preferences then 30% ish is 2 quotas. 42% is 2½ quotas, which will translate into 3 quotas after distributing preferences. To explain; a quota is 1/6th of the electorate or 16.67%. Roughly in each state Coalition will get 2 to 3 quotas. ALP will get 2. Greens with maybe 6% have none. There will be contests in each state for the 5th and 6th spot. The territories are different. Predicting the outcome is just too hard. Julian Assange says that private polling dictates that he might get 28% support across the nation. I do not believe that. Nor do I believe Clive Palmer.

Most importantly the Coalition needs to get 60 plus % in each State to have any chance of controlling the Upper House. Ignoring all argument 58% across the country is unheard of.

If you then attempt to rationalise the double dissolution effect, each quota is halved therefore 1/12th of the electorate or 8.33% is the hurdle. So that 30% becomes roughly 4 quotas, and 42% becomes roughly 5 quotas, 6% becomes roughly 1 quota with each state throwing up 2 independents on local issues. By way of example, both Katter and Palmer would be first in line in Qld if they have secured approx 5% of the electorate this September. Pauline Hanson with 2% in NSW will still fail, no matter what.

Under a double dissolution the Greens will get a second wind. There are many other considerations. If this new parliament does not give policy implementation a very good go, the electorate will be only further disenfranchised. When an election costs approx $100mio every three years, that is an accrued budget cost of $33mio pa and we expect to see some progress for that taxpayer expense. Consider the outcry about electoral funding and think what would the electorate response be towards a double dip by early next year?

This new Government will need to work hard, and rebuild the electorate’s faith in representative policy making. I hope and pray they might even listen to the electorate, and start delivering on some real vision.

This can include Mr Abbott’s policies like;

  1.  Moving Deregulation out of Finance and into DPMC. After this year’s budget fiasco Finance do not deserve the right to even organise a sack race at a picnic. Not that my opinion of DPMC is any better, but it will herald the winds of change.
  2. The other easy area of policy gains would be immigration. Martin Bowles should be sacked as First Assistant Secretary for utter incompetence. I personally believe there are massive shenanigans going on in migration but believe most is systemic incompetence – going right to the top.
  3. Announcing a judicial inquiry into Union funds will also be a massive start. The terms must include, HSU, AWU and publication of all unions financial affairs with ASIC, and the same level of jurisprudence that follows under company directors through the Corporations Act. Gaoling a few thieves would go miles to restoring public faith. If that were to include any of the players in AWU or HSU that is the very embodiment of the notion of British justice. Done, seen to be done, without fear or favour. Simply call it jurisprudence.
  4. If it further includes dis-robing Justice Rares over his part of the Peter Slipper saga, once more so be it.
  5. Any other thoughts are most encouraged.

There are miles of issues to be addressed. These policies will culminate in a mini budget in about November, and the new government’s first full budget next May, 2014. It is time to get Australia proud of itself once more, and working together as a nation. So let us drop the thought of any double dissolution before 2015. For all we know BHP Billiton might re ignite Olympic Dam expansion project under the incoming coalition government.

I said through all the twaddle this week of news, there are some real issues.

Yesterday Sarah Hanson Young was electioneering on ABC News 24 morning TV about re listing of the debate in the upper house regarding Australia recognising same sex marriage performed overseas. The motion was defeated soundly. (Some 40 odd to some 20 odd). She was asked will it affect real change. Surreptitiously she smiled, and said she was not confident but we will have to see. She then went on to talk of the danger of the Coalition winning her senate seat in the up-coming elections. As set out above, the Coalition will get 2 to 3 in SA, the ALP 2, and should we get real politicians like Nick Xenophon in the other 1 to 2 positions, then we might expect a much less emotional and less stupid debate that to which we have become accustomed over the last 3 years.

At roughly the same time yesterday morning Saul Eslake (economist from ANZ bank) was at pains to describe why he has now changed his prognosis to include a 25% chance of recession from mid 2015. Why all this political correctness? He is at pains to say that we need to start priming the pump now, given 2 successive quarters of negative Gross National Expenditure to March 2013, and by 2015 when 7 major gas infra structure projects go from construction phase to export phase the loss of jobs may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. That includes a projected fiscal black hole of $20bn in 2013/14, outstanding government debt of $300bn, natural stabilisers will hurt the fiscal position, and with unemployment hovering at 6% what hope is there for Consumer and Business confidence?

Already the mining services sector is in backwardation. Call it down-sizing, or down scaling whatever. Mining Services Companies are tendering at cost, simply to survive, and attempt to maintain technology, capacity and relevance.

Before getting back to the election I must mention Clive Palmer. Good old Clive is saying that all material published by Hedley Thomas in the Australian against him, is factually wrong, stolen and designed to vilify him and promote the Coalition’s prospects in the election particularly in his upper house ambitions of controlling the balance of power in the Senate.

Like many others I don’t know what to think of him. He and Katter will get all disaffected right wing support from the combined Liberal National Party. That was the great fallacy of combining Liberal and Nationals. There will always be those who don’t like what the combined ideologies represent.

But preferencing matters. Using AEC acronyms, there are essentially 3 types of upper house votes. They are SATL – Single vote above the line, RATL – Random above the line and BaTL – Below the Line. SATL are the biggest group. Over 90% of electors vote SATL. Liberal, National, ALP, Green and so on. There is no preference given, and therefore they can’t be counted or assumed. The next one RATL, they actually determine where preferences go.

Most electors think that they like one group, but don’t like who they are giving their preferences to so I won’t vote for them. The elector decides. Not the party. Let us imagine that you were intending to vote for Bob Katter Australia Party. But you heard somewhere he and Palmer had a preferencing deal. The only way your preference flows to Palmer is if you put Palmer second. The only deal made is the suggestion on the how to vote paper, mark KAP 1, UAP 2 and so on. If you were to do say KAP 1 then IND 2 then LNP 3, there is no way UAP gets that preference. If there is no 4, a valid vote, then should your vote not work for KAP, then next considered is IND, then LNP in that order, you remain a 1st preference for KAP despite preferencing continuing amongst other candidates. Thereafter when the six who have received the highest number of preferences are declared successful and duly deemed elected.

BaTL are a thing of the past. Assume you don’t like the 2 first candidates for LNP yet you want to vote for LNP candidate 3. You can start your numbering 1 from there and 2 goes to candidate 4 and so on until you have given the required number to be valid. That number is not yet known – probably 10. This is where many votes are declared informal. You have not followed the instructions. If I was to see 1 in candidate 3, and 1 repeated in candidate 4 and nothing else it is unclear. You have not met the minimum number required, but I also have no idea if you are attempting to vote for LNP candidate 3 or 4? If you choose the BaTL method be very careful you don’t put the same number twice. BaTL doesn’t really make the work of the AEC any harder.

On election night the polling staff are tired and just want to go home to sleep having started about 7am. They still get it rather correct. All lower house votes are counted first. Only 1st preference is counted. Then again using lower house votes, the most accurate staff preference between ALP and Coalition. It is assumed no independent will feature, unless there is an incumbent, like Tony Windsor in 2010. Hence Wilkie was quite overlooked until the following day, when more analysis occurred at divisional returning office. After 2 party preference comes Upper House voting. They are split into Above The Line and Below The Line and then put into piles of 1st pref.

When that is completed and results phoned through, divisional returning office instructs the Polling Place Manager to send the staff home. All ballot papers are then returned to a secure storage for further determination by the Returning Officer. In the case of the upper house that is known some 4 weeks later, 3 at best. In the case of lower house, if it is close then postal votes and absentee (or declaration votes) need to be considered. Counting of Postal votes often takes a week to start, and Absentee (Declaration) votes are even slower. When a candidate has a handsome margin over the next (possibly as low as 2 – 4%), news analysis will concede the result, while the Returning Officer only does that when he is 99.99% certain.

In the case of Upper House preferences computer scanning occurs at the Returning Office. They still get it right. The vote on the night is a fair indication of the mood of the electorate, however no one can guess with certainty the last spot in all the states.

This September Australia’s fate is in the hands of this senate process. What will occur in the Lower House will be determined by the make up of the Upper House. No one can possibly know how hostile the senate will be towards the Abbott led Coalition at this stage. It is most unlikely the Coalition will control both houses. It is also fairly unlikely Australia will go back to the Polls in the first 18 months. After that it is just too hard to tell.

Believing in senaty is indeed insenaty.

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EYE-BALL’s ‘Herman’ …

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  1. June 21, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    On re reading there are several oversights.

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