The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Perhaps the most awesome of all possible results

Sunday 7 September 2008 at 2:46 am

So, on the one hand, it’s never much fun to see a race without a winner.

But given that I am a political nerd, I think a hung parliament is awesome. Given that the campaign was short, mediocre, and predominantly negative … this outcome is great.

I guess having the Olympics to draw people’s attention while Barnett figured out what to do was a good thing, and naturally I concede I completely underestimated the level of disenchantment people had with healthcare, Burke scandals, Carpenter himself, and so forth. I’m particularly impressed that most of the new seats from the one-vote one-value redistribution went to the Libs.

Yet the result seems to say “we really don’t like you, but nor do we trust that other mob”. I think it delicious to imagine the prospect of Alan Carpenter forming a minority government with the Nationals, and being forced to compromise and consult on every decision he takes. This, to me, would be a best-of-both-worlds that tones down his brusqueness while also keeping the only competent team for government that we have. (It is, of course, more likely that the Liberals and Nationals settle their squabble and form government with the independents; most of them are right-leaning, so that’d be more of a business-as-usual story.)

And at least things in Perth aren’t as bad as they are in NSW; competence is apparently harder to come by than I’d have guessed!

P.S. I’m amused that, even though I thought the ballot paper was awfully short when I voted a fortnight ago, I was among the record numbers of people giving first preference to the Greens (a.k.a. the only party in WA to have its act together).


“Close”? Really?

Sunday 31 August 2008 at 5:06 pm

Even though life has consumed me this last fortnight, there’s barely been anything in Western Australian politics to report! (This despite it being a bloomin’ election campaign!)

I was repeatedly hearing claims of media critics apparently becoming disillusioned at Alan Carpenter for being arrogant (because, y’know, John Howard or Richard Court weren’t?) and quoting polls to suggest people would go vote for the Liberals.

Oh, right, the Liberals. Their absence of policy is not as dire as it was a fortnight ago — they are headed in a vaguely positive direction with their education policy, and they’ve made reasonable commitments to the bigger towns (notably Kalgoorlie and Bunbury). But beyond that, their policies consist of … er … some mumblings about tougher punishment (have they budgeted more prison funding?) and a piffling $150 bribe to seniors.

Colin Barnett has squandered the three weeks he’s had to show he’s not the same guy we soundly rejected four years ago, and yet the Premier has said he thinks the election will be close!

srsly, wtf?


Kicking ’em while they’re down

Thursday 7 August 2008 at 4:40 am

I can’t tell whether the announcement of the next Western Australian election five months early is a well-played stroke of genius, or a tacky piece of cynical opportunism.

Yesterday I was somewhat stunned to see the WA Liberal Party fall into such a state of disarray that they had to go and defrost their ex-leader out of (almost-)retirement, even though they’d had plenty of much better-timed chances to dump Troy Buswell. But no matter how bad he was, I fail to see how such a late change could achieve anything, even if Carpenter did see out his term.

Meanwhile, the Government’s (re-)announcements a month ago of more spending on public transport, hospitals, and other infrastructure did sound awfully election-ey.

So I suppose an election shouldn’t come as a surprise. Now I just wait to see what this campaign’s version of the crazy canal proposal shall be …


Water, Web sites, and the World Bank

Thursday 17 May 2007 at 12:17 pm
  • My apologies to those of you waiting on e-mail from me — regular service might be returned shortly. Um, maybe.
  • On the new desalination plant, I am hesitantly supportive, although I’m scratching my head as to why building in Binningup is so much more expensive than Kwinana. I’m also at a loss to understand why yesterday’s West Australian claimed it was bad for the long-term — not being reliant on rainfall is supposed to be a good thing! (On that note, this is pretty funny.)
  • However, I agree that Maxine Murray is on to something in complaining about political influence in the public service: there’s certainly little evidence that Tuesday’s decision was made on formal advice. But everywhere I look there seems to be different opinions on whether this is a sensible solution or not, and whether it was right to “cave in to” / “acknowledge” / “finally listen to” pressure groups who didn’t want the Yarragadee tapped.
  • Deeper in the guts of yesterday’s paper lay an article about Twitter. It repeats the “X is the next MySpace!” cliché, and it muddles some terminology — but given that page 5 called Alan Carpenter the “predecessor” of Geoff Gallop, I can forgive that. It also quotes Tama, and therefore earns instant not-completely-clueless points ;-) Oh, and my take on how its owners intend to not go broke is the same as his — my four-year-old phone supports a vaguely similar service that never won much support, but Twitter could use its popularity to con phone makers into paying licensing fees for an enhanced interface or something.
  • I reserve judgement on the State Opposition’s “Plan for Perth” task force. As with the housing affordability task force of months past, there’s a chance it’ll produce interesting new suggestions and give the Liberals ammunition for the next election, but given that all we’ve seen out of them so far is cheap point-scoring that disagrees with anything and everything, I’m not holding out hope.
  • [World Bank ad entitled 'Women Empowerment'] The World Bank has been purchasing Adsense recently. (Like, WTF? A UN bureaucracy. Buying advertising. From Google?) I first saw this text ad on Pandagon, which is an increasingly-rare case of the big G’s matching algorithms working (I can imagine some readers of that blog might actually want to read their report), and a few days ago I saw this banner on PerthNorg. Is this an on-the-cheap attempt to improve PR in the wake of the ongoing scandal?
  • Finally, a geeky discovery: the Etchasketchist. I cannot begin to describe how awesome this dude’s blog and Flickr account are.
no comments »

The obligatory Burkie post

Wednesday 7 March 2007 at 10:53 pm

I had been trying to avoid jumping into the fray about the former Premier.* But according to Paul Keating, he can’t be avoided. (Admittedly, that radio interview has some delightfully sharp sound bites: “the fact is Burke is smarter than two thirds of the Western Australian Labor Party rolled together.”)

Overall, it’s my reading of the blogosphere that you either think Howard and Costello are using Brian Burke for yet another attack-slash-smear, or else you’re just an easterner and therefore don’t care about some bloke from Perth. And here I was thinking that it’s kinda cool to see events in the west actually having some bearing at federal level. (But it’s double-edged: some reporters can’t shake the idea that Perth is but a village with nary a dozen home-grown companies and a “small gene pool”.)

Locally, you can’t avoid all of the people who are calling for an election. While I agree in principle, exactly what would it achieve? It’s not like we have a serious Opposition in this state. Indeed, the WA political scene is kinda like NSW, the difference being that our scandal-plagued government is at least competent enough to deliver new infrastructure and run the trains on time.

As for Ian Campbell, few people have mentioned that he’d probably have been kicked out of Cabinet weeks ago if Johnny didn’t feel a need to placate West Australians (so in other words, this was a convenient excuse). Also, I do hope that the otherwise praiseworthy development at Belmont Park doesn’t get delayed or scaled back just because this furore has touched it.

(Incidentally, when the CCC was formed I was suspicious that the new organisation would be bureaucratic and ineffective, since it seemed to just be a rehashed version of the older anti-corruption bodies. Thankfully, I was wrong.)

* Naturally, this is a better excuse than “I’ve been snowed under” …

no comments »