The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Gee, that was quick

Wednesday 28 November 2007 at 12:10 pm

Wow, only a couple of days out from an election loss and already the Liberal Party is descending into something of a splattered mess. (Why are they even questioning whether to support a dumping their own policy?)

Perhaps it was fortunate that the Liberals lost last weekend; John Howard had previously emphasised the unified strength of his team, but now that’s looking like it was just a facade. Or maybe the party is full of back-knifers.

And then there’s the race for a new leader. Malcolm Turnbull is indeed the best of the three, while Brendan Nelson has suddenly grown a conscience, but neither they nor Tony Abbot have the nous that made Howard so good at holding votes.

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I see the Ruddster’s taking the reins

Saturday 24 November 2007 at 9:51 pm

It’s true that I didn’t want to call the election ahead of time, afraid of something unexpected happening. But that never eventuated and so there’s something … a little ho-hum about tonight’s result. Aside from everyone knowing the outcome ahead of time, many seats that were supposed to be marginal seem (in my quick inspection) to have been pretty decisively won.

It shall be interesting to see just how much actually changes now. Ratifying Kyoto and whatever comes up to replace it? The troops in Iraq (and Afghanistan)? Funding for higher education? Workplace relations law?

And it’s time to find a whole new set of puns and clichés. Strip clubs, cheesy little smiles, and being from Queensland all come to mind …


Wondering how to vote?

Thursday 22 November 2007 at 11:59 am

With just a few days to go before the end of election madness, I figure I should act like a political party and tell y’all how to vote. Or more to the point, how best to take advantage of the preferential system on Saturday.

There’ll be two forms to fill out, the little green House of Reps ballot and the big white Senate ballot. Consider first the little green one.

My advice here is to not put the number 1 in front of a Labor, Liberal, or National candidate. Instead, vote for a small party, perhaps even one of the tiny obscure parties like the Citizens’ Electoral Council. Then put your real vote as number 2. Whoever you mark first will almost certainly lose, which means your vote will then be passed on to whoever you put second.

There are two advantages to this. The first is symbolic: even though your vote ends up with one of the big parties, they’re not your first preference, so you can legitimately claim that you don’t support the bastards and their big-spending ways. The second is hip-pocket: parties get money from the AEC based on how many votes they receive, so by putting that 1 in a different box you’re directing about $3 to a party that may well need the money more than the big two would.

The big Senate paper is a different matter, since you just have to put 1 in a box above the line. (I won’t explain what to do below the line; I’m assuming that if you’re crazy enough to do that, you’re enough like me to know what to do. Just make sure to get the numbering right!)

Each above-the-line box represents a party, but if the party you choose doesn’t get enough votes, your vote will be passed on to one of the big two (as decided by each party). So again, I strongly recommend that you vote for one of the smaller parties rather than Liberal or Labor.

No matter who wins the election overall, Australian democracy tends to work better when the Senate isn’t controlled by one of the big parties. And as long as you choose a minor party that’s aligned with your interests (e.g. the Greens if you like Labor, maybe Family First if you support Liberal) then your vote will still be headed in the right direction if they lose.

Thus, Hourann’s Sure-Fire Voting Technique:

  • pick a small party you like
  • on the green paper, put 1 for that party, then 2 for the big party you prefer
  • on the white paper, put 1 in that party’s above-the-line box

Whoever said this was hard?


And thus, the mad rush

Thursday 22 November 2007 at 11:11 am
  • Is it Back To The Future week or something? Exhibit A: the Foreign Minister repeating the tired allegation of a few weeks ago that Rudd is all about style, not substance. Nevermind the fact that, for example, he hits issues younger voters tend to care about (the environment, education, and so forth) and is doing a much better job communicating with them.
  • Howard’s last big speech of the campaign also seems to have been all about past achievements … wasn’t he saying something last week about the future?
  • The recorded phone calls from Johnny that were the bane of so many people in 2004 are back!
  • Oh, and Pauline Hanson admits she’ll have a hard time getting in to the Senate ;-)
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Howard-isms are popping up everywhere!

Wednesday 14 November 2007 at 11:31 pm
  • There was a column in last Friday’s South China Morning Post responding to the Chinese prime minister’s claim that the economy here has had years of strong growth, and therefore his economic policy is awesome and can’t be faulted. This sounds strangely familiar! And as the column put it, just because we know A equals B doesn’t therefore mean X equals Y …
  • And yes, the Latham story died down and we’re back to the same-old of throwing a million dollars or so here, a billion or so there, and who really cares about keeping track of these expenses anymore?
  • Team Howard, meanwhile, seem intent on asserting that this election is about the future. I’m not convinced of that, and I doubt the punter on the street could ever be convinced. Is this really the best that Liberal strategists can come up with — after all, aren’t all of the Ruddster’s big policies about the future too?
  • I am missing this whole saga with BHP and Rio, which is a shame because it sounds mighty funny. “You’re undervaluing our company!” “No, you’re undervaluing our company!” … or something to that effect.
  • Finally I doubt there’ll have been much coverage in Australia of the successful float of Alibaba, the largest e-commerce venture in China (and one of the world’s largest). I was even tempted to write about a new Internet boom in Asia, except that the IPO happened alongside a massive fall on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Markets here behave in their own very strange ways …

“I am the ghost of elections past”

Friday 9 November 2007 at 12:31 pm

I was thinking that this week of election campaigning didn’t sound all that interesting: in short, “interest rates aaaarrrgghhhh!”

But then THE LATHAM BEAST reared its ugly head.

Team Howard says this is proof that Labor intend to backflip once elected, and if they’re to pull a rabbit out of their hat this election, I think a scare campaign along these lines may be their best bet. So it’ll be interesting to see if this story disappears as quickly as the other scandals of the campaign have.

In true Latham style, there’s a kernel of truth in what he’s written — the big announcements from each party really haven’t been far off identical. But then, how does that differ from the 2004 election …?

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