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The rise and fall of Malcolm Turnbull

On my first day of high school, I was looking around at all the new people with whom I would be spending the next six years of my life. One of the toughest looking girls wandered over to me, shoved me, and said “Wadda ya think you’re looking at?” I immediately responded “Dunno. I didn’t bring my zoo book with me.” She punched me in the face. Rather than responding physically, I went and told on her. She never bothered me again and I must say, I felt the winner on the day.

Malcolm Turnbull, by not standing up to the bullies in his party, has invited open defiance. They are waiting in the toilets to steal his lunch money. They are writing graffiti about him. They are banding together in a gang to harass him after school. They are demanding he dance and he’s obliging.

Previously Malcolm has been criticised for being too autocratic. He assures us he has changed, that he will be consultative and collegiate. But that presupposes that your colleagues will be reasonable – that, whilst being able to have their say, they will allow others to do so and reasonably consider the advice of experts to arrive at an informed decision.

As we have seen, these bullies refuse to listen to other views, to advice or to truth. They have decided their position before any debate is had, before any review is complete, before any party discussion. They dogwhistle to the most fearful in our society and stoke those fears with misinformation. They cannot compromise or negotiate because their view is based in belief rather than fact, in ideology rather than practicality.

This appeasement of the bullies must be very uncomfortable for Malcolm because it goes very much against his nature.

Alistair Mackerras, headmaster of Sydney Grammar, appointed Turnbull head prefect, knowing his unpopularity. “It doesn’t hurt to have someone who doesn’t mind doing unpopular things,” he said.

While Turnbull was useful for this purpose, Mackerras could see possible problems later in life. “When he bossed people around he did it in an abrasive way people didn’t like. He makes it clear that he thinks people are perfect fools and haven’t got a brain in their head – that’s not how to make friends and influence people.”

In 1991, Trevor Sykes, editor-in-chief of Kerry Packer’s Australian Business said of Turnbull, “I don’t think you are going to find a neutral commentator. The merchant banking world is the most bitchy I know. Malcolm, being a particularly abrasive character who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, was always going to suffer his fair share of detractors.”

John Lyons wrote of him, “Armed with an awesome, carefully cultivated network of contacts, Turnbull roams the corporate landscape, a hired gun after the main chance.”

Malcolm has seen his main chance to be recorded in history as Prime Minister of Australia, to move in the circle of world leaders. He used his carefully cultivated contacts to achieve his personal ambition, but he is serving the penance of having to tolerate fools and appease zealots because of the manner of his ascension. Barnaby Joyce is running on the platform that he can demand whatever he likes from the PM.

What must be even more galling for Malcolm is that this very vocal minority of fundamentalist bullies, for whom he or any thinking person could hold little respect, could well be the cause of his demise.

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  1. Felicitas

    Oh would that it were so!. Thanks Kaye, succinct and pertinent as always.

  2. Kaye Lee

    While they argue about rubbish in parliament, Australia is the only OECD country to not show improvement over the last two years in jobs, economic growth, productivity, balance of trade, wealth and debt. – in 5 areas we have gone backwards.

    The data confirms Australia’s economy has worsened significantly since they replaced the discredited Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey in September.

    Debt has increased at a higher rate. Actual employment, measured by hours worked per person per month, has fallen. December’s trade deficit at negative $3,524 million is in the four worst in Australia’s history. Wages are rising at the lowest rate since the GFC in 2009.

    Morrison has changed his mind on GST, negative gearing, superannuation tax concessions, tobacco tax, bracket creep, and the backpackers tax – all in 6 months.,8787#.VuqeXRBn8VY.twitter

    So what is Parliament doing? Arguing about Senate voting reform and the Safe Schools Coalition and what date the budget will be delivered.

    Oy vey.

  3. Kaye Lee

    I watched the ‘debate’ between Joyce and Windsor last night. Barnaby kept referring to the Turnbull/Joyce government.

  4. Gangey1959

    Thank yo Kaye Lee for another succinct article. Puts everything into perspective .
    The pic at the top says it all.
    Our pm, sad and lonely and stuck between his moron for hire deputy, and the spotty faced rich religious fanatic fat kid in glasses who has never done a hard days graft in his life bully with the “I’m the spotty faced rich religious fanatic fat kid in glasses who has never done a hard days graft in his life bully who’s giving the pm a hard time and there is nothing he can do about it cos my mates will beat the living shit out of him if he does” look on his face.
    Who’d be our malcolm, and I wonder where they have hung his testicles?

  5. Backyard Bob

    I come back to a discussion in another thread: how do we propose Turnbull stop the bullies? I see no avenue whatever for him to achieve that.

  6. Wayne Turner

    Turnbullsh*t is so GUTLESS,he stands for nothing,and just let’s the ultra right of the Libs run the show.There is no point of Turnbullsh*t being PM.No policy change from Abbott.A truly waste of space these Libs…

  7. Diane

    I think what scares me most about the prospect of this government winning the next election and getting another term is the sheer despicability (is that a word? hatefulness? obnoxiousness?) of the people surrounding Turnbull. Morrison, Dutton, Christensen, Bernardi, Abbott, Pyne…I could go on and on: Where else could you see a gathering so devoid of human decency and morality? What on earth were people thinking to elect bottom-feeders like this to positions of power in the first place? If it’s true that we get the government we deserve, we must have been really, REALLY bad to get this lot.

    Regardless of how boring and bland Shorten is, look at the people around HIM – how many of them appear so low on the scale as those in the LNP Band of Brothers?

  8. Pingback: Malcolm Turnbull, Australian Prime Minister | auntyuta

  9. Backyard Bob

    Turnbullsh*t is so GUTLESS,he stands for nothing,and just let’s the ultra right of the Libs run the show

    We can make that observation till the cows come home; it adds nothing and does not speak to the question, yet unanswered by people making this observation, as to how we imagine Turnbull can stop these forces and what the precise motivation of said forces actually is. Is it in some way ideological or is it just Abbott quietly inciting his troops to undermine Turnbull? Maybe a mix of both?

    What would you do if you were Turnbull?

  10. Lindsay Stafford

    “arrive at an informed decision.”

  11. Kaye Lee

    “how do we propose Turnbull stop the bullies?”

    Say no to them.

    There was a Senate inquiry into wind farms that found no evidence of harm. Don’t waste hundreds of thousands on a wind commissioner.

    There was a review into the Safe Schools Coalition Program. Adopt its recommendations to improve the program and tell them you will waste no more time and money on full senate inquiries.

    Insist that the parliament do its job in voting on marriage equality without wasting money on a plebiscite and avoiding the harmful public debate.

    Tell those who want yet another inquiry into whether humans are contributing to global warming that resources could be better spent on action than further inquiries.

    Insist that the government must honour the signed agreements with the States on education, hospital, and NDIS funding.

    Insist on cost benefit analysis for major spends like 72 dud fighter jets.

    Once the party room has agreed on a majority position, those who speak publicly against it risk disendorsement for preselection.

    A real leader finds a way to control his team or he hands on the baton to someone who can.

  12. lawrencewinder

    That this ruling rabble could still win an election boggles the mind. Collectively, the most hideous cabal of talent-less and vision-less mediocrity ever assembled in Canberra, whose prime concept of governance is to say NO and appeal to the lowest common denominator! There is no future with this mob.

  13. Jackie Deacon

    I agree with Wayne, Turnbull is GUTLESS and I cant see him getting out of the situation he finds himself in. The photo of him with Christensen and Joyce encapsulates it perfectly.

  14. Matters Not

    Backyard Bob, with the passing of the Senate voting arrangements there are some new dynamics to consider. Minor parties lose their clout. The Nationals fall into that category. For them to get Senators elected they must now be joined at the hip with their senior partners. This may, in the longer term at least, give the Liberals more leverage over the antics of the Nationals. The notion that the Nats will abandon the coalition is now much less likely.

    While that may influence the likes of George, it does little to discipline Bernardi of Abetz. For that he would need the strong support of the organisation which seems most unlikely at the moment given that State Branches of the Libs actually drive the buss and Bernardi and Abetz are very powerful figures in their States.

    Turnbull may have no option other than public denunciation but I don’t think he has that ‘authority’. Turnbull since he lost last time has lost his ‘bravery’.

  15. Backyard Bob

    Kaye Lee,

    Say no to them.

    Do you seriously think it’s that simple in a political context? Plus that “solution” ignores the other observation that has been constantly made here that Turnbull has long since abandoned his once strongly held ideas on just about everything. So, given that argument, why would he say no?

    A public repudiation of neo-con forces active in the LNP ranks is deeply risky for any number of reasons, all of which depend somewhat on the actual nature of the current ructions. Turnbull could risk the election by doing it. I’m sure we all recall how the public recently responded to internal instability in the Labor Party. Do we imagine Turnbull doesn’t have that swirling around in his head?

    Every observation we make about Turnbull and his apparent helplessness in the face of an active Right-wing arm of his party/government could be asked of Shorten and successive Labor PMs. Why hasn’t Shorten simply said “no” to the Right of his Party? Probably because it isn’t, and never has been, that simple.

  16. Peter Stanton

    The error in this article is that the writer is assuming that Turnbull wants to stop the the bullies. I make a practice of measuring people by their actions rather than their words. I have seen nothing in Turnbull’s actions to indicate that he does not agree with the views expressed by these fundamentalist fools.

  17. Kaye Lee


    I don’t think it is simple but I do think it is necessary. I cannot believe that the majority of the Coalition agree with Christensen, Bernardi and Abetz. They have had their say, outvote them, then tell them they must accept the party decision or risk expulsion if they show public dissent or undermining. Turnbull NEEDS to show some muscle for political respect if nothing else.

    If Turnbull was so concerned about what happenned to Labor he wouldn’t have knifed a first term sitting PM.

    Even though Shorten is part of the right faction, I do not see the labor Party as ruled by the right. The obvious disappointment is their failure in asylum seeker policy but turn/towbacks have been effective in reducing the number of boats coming here and they are right in saying that if we stop boats we will be able to close the offshore detention centres. I completely disagree with this policy but I understand its motivation. Overall, Labor’s policies and personnel are far and away preferable to the Coalition’s. The Greens suit me better but they will not get the numbers to govern and we must rid the country of a government in thrall to the nutters.

    I so hope Labor and Greens will stop ripping each other to pieces. That concerns me more than anything. Even with that mammoth sitting over, every man and his dog is giving interviews about it. MOVE ON.

  18. Michael Taylor

    Peter, it was quite easy to make those assumptions based on the Malcolm Turnbull we thought we knew. Perhaps this is the ‘real’ Malcolm and he’s just been leading us on all this time. Or maybe he’s gutless to be himself. Or maybe others in the party have too much control over him. It’s all guesswork at this stage. One day the ‘real’ Malcolm might stand up.

  19. terry

    come on kaye , there goes turnbull , job done , clean out the senate and here comes abbott to finish what he started . bad guy good guy worked like a charm , classic divide and rule . going to a election on union bashing . more like mic they all on same team and we are getting played [. turnbull , abbott ]

  20. Kaye Lee

    Peter Stanton, I just cannot believe that. Turnbull may agree with political manouvering but to agree with Christensen would be more than even Malcolm could stretch. Having to deal with Barnaby every day would wear anyone down. If you are right, then I will just give up, go sit in a corner and start sucking my thumb. Then again, I have been a poor judge in the past – I thought Abbott was unelectable, Gillard was unrollable, and Trump was a joke.

  21. Lee

    “While they argue about rubbish in parliament, Australia is the only OECD country to not show improvement over the last two years in jobs, economic growth, productivity, balance of trade, wealth and debt. – in 5 areas we have gone backwards.”

    Thank goodness the adults are in charge!

  22. Klaus

    Unfortunately, I can’t share your opinion (Kaye). At times you write as if he is a great guy, held to ransom by many bullies. I believe he is a unconscionable character to trample over anything and everything that gets in his way to be/stay in power. He is in love with himself. This leads directly to Australians coming second to his personal ambition. He doesn’t care about Australians. He only cares if it serves him to stay in power. I don’t believe he thinks highly of his factions (in fact he does not think highly about anyone but himself). If it means to tolerate the far right, he will do so gladly as it means his hold on power continues. He is powerless in making decisions. His only criteria to make any decision is whether or not it serves to hold onto power. Any other reason is secondary to that goal.
    He is no Luther or Martin Luther King or Ghandi. He can’t say that he has convictions to serve the people as they did. I don’t feel sorry for him and his mob.

  23. Kaye Lee

    Simon Birmingham has just spoken about the Safe Schools program. He spoke very well and gave a real slapdown, without naming them, to the ACL and Christensen. He also berated those who have done something at Bernardi’s office (protesters apparently causing damage). He said some people have an agenda to link this to the marriage equality debate and that this was very wrong.

    He has listened to recommendations to improve the program to address others concern.

    Well done Mr Birmingham. You have shown more leadership and decision-making skills than your current leader.

  24. Backyard Bob

    Kaye Lee,

    I don’t think it is simple but I do think it is necessary. I cannot believe that the majority of the Coalition agree with Christensen, Bernardi and Abetz.

    I’m confident they don’t, but I am sure that I don’t know what the current Coalition back-room dynamics are like. It may well be possible that the number crunchers are advising Turnbull that he does not have the wiggle room to take these jokers head-on.

    They have had their say, outvote them,

    That’s fine wherein there’s actually something being voted on.

    then tell them they must accept the party decision or risk expulsion if they show public dissent or undermining.

    Um, Turnbull doesn’t have that sort of power to wield. Who the hell knows where the various party executives stand on this. It’s up to them, not Turnbull or those in the Parliament that might support him. I don’t think threatening an ex-PM with Party expulsion is especially realistic, and Abbott is certainly a player in all of this.

    Turnbull NEEDS to show some muscle for political respect if nothing else.

    Ok, but this is where the real problem arises. It’s very easy to say he needs to do that; it’s harder to realistically state how. It’s not entirely up to him. If he’s to walk that path and throw his muscle around he has to rely on not only Parliamentary Member support but also party executive support and so on. Who knows how much of those things he currently possesses. Turnbull’s demeanour is certainly vexing, but I’m going to stick with the hamstrung rather than gutless theory till I have some substance to back up the latter. Mind you his previous tilt at Liberal leader lends some support to the gutless theory.

    If Turnbull was so concerned about what happenned to Labor he wouldn’t have knifed a first term sitting PM.

    That’s a good point, but in Abbott’s case one could possibly make a reasonable case for the necessity of it. But yes, that’s a good point.

  25. astra5

    Kaye Lee
    Thank you for putting the Turnbull cards on the table so neatly.

    It seems to me that Malcolm can acquiesce to the demands of his reactionaries and slowly die the death of a thousand cuts, or he can stand up to them, tell them he will not be bullied or ruled by them, and die suddenly in a bloody coup.

    In either case, we could conceivably see the resurrection of Abbott, whom we thought was ‘dead, buried and cremated’.

    Turnbull has let the bullies go too far for too long. He ought to have known that you can’t placate reactionaries. Their minds are made up. Evidence and logic are useless. With brains hard-wired to hold their extreme beliefs, there’s no way back for them. The fact that he even tries to reason with them, to accommodate their views, is a sign of his political immaturity.

    After holding out the hope that we might get more levelheaded government from him than we could ever have expected from Abbott, I have concluded that I was too optimistic. Whereas Abbott was unprincipled, stupid and incompetent, Turnbull looks as if he is what we subconsciously feared he was underneath that urbane exterior – gutless and impotent.

  26. David (other)

    As we are fairly certain the driving force behind the Tory agenda and therefore Turnbull is the IPA, they made a firm statement confirming that with the anointing this week in the Senate of their whiz kid, fresh off mamma IPA’s breast, new Senator for Victoria James Paterson.

    Young James set out his agenda clearly and succinctly summarising thus….”I’m not here for a career, I’m not here for personal power and advancement,” he said. …”I only want to be a minister to serve the goals of economic and personal freedom – not for my own sake.”
    Who is one of Senator Patterson’s mentors? Oh dear, Cory Bernardi.

    PM Turnbull has another card in the pack stacked against him, I am of the opinion show pony Mal will be long gone from the Lodge by Christmas, win or lose the DD
    Here is Latika Bourke’s take on the new Senators Maiden Speech

  27. Backyard Bob

    Paterson’s appointment only further confirms for me that there are political forces surrounding Turnbull that are beyond his ken, his pen, his zen and probably even his yen. Then again.

  28. Kaye Lee

    If Turnbull doesn’t have the backing of the majority of his party, including the party executive, he shouldn’t be their leader. If he does have majority support, they need to back him in gaining control.

  29. Barry Thompson.

    Anyone who has looked at Turnbull’s career history should see that he is not gutless, in fact he has at times been a risk taker to the point of recklessness.
    Turnbull highlighted Morrison’s incompetence by appointing him Treasurer and in so doing has lessened his chance of posing a leadership threat. He left Dutton with the poisoned chalice of Immigration, a portfolio in which no Minister can escape self harm.
    My guess is that Turnbull is playing a long game and will deal with the Abbott dross when the timing is to his advantage.
    Should he win the next election with a majority clear of the crossbench,we may see a Leader at last.
    As a Labor supporter I am torn between wanting him to show his true mettle and wanting him to fail.

  30. olddavey

    That photo!
    Looks like duelling banjos without the banjos.

  31. olddavey

    Gangey1959 March 18, 2016 at 12:35 pm:

    I reckon his testicles are hanging on my front wall inside the fttp connection box, causing the whole set-up to quite often run at dial-up speed.

  32. olddavey

    Klaus March 18, 2016 at 2:30 pm:

    “He is in love with himself.”

    And that sums it up completely!

  33. David (other)

    Barry with no intention of offense, you will forgive me for saying your post apart from the last line, sounded like a job application for the Turnbull office staff.
    As a Labor supporter I wish him nothing but failure, the harder the fall the better. He is to put it politely, a lying scumbag

  34. Terry2

    The new senate voting rules are now through as they ultimately had to be with the Greens supporting the coalition.

    That’s fine, we’ll see how it works out and if necessary it can always be changed by another government with a different view of democracy.

    What intrigues me is what did the Greens get out of the Liberals in exchange for their support given that the coalition saw this legislation as the most important reform needed in Australia, far more important it seems than taxation reform ?

    The Greens had the opportunity to force a vote on marriage equality but they let that go : they had the opportunity to force a vote on political donations and electoral funding – very close to the Greens as Senator Rhiannon had put it forward on 24 February as a matter of urgency for senate action * – but they let that go too.

    Did the Prime Minister agree not to go ahead with his Double Dissolution – something the Greens are opposed to : we just don’t know.

    So what exactly did the Greens gain from this agreement with the coalition, there must have been something surely or it would have been a wasted opportunity at a time when the government desperately needed support.


  35. Lee

    Terry2, once again you are misinformed! As stated previously, Labor voted against voting on marriage equality. The Greens voted yes.

    As for the political donations threshold, this is another ALP stunt. I contacted the Greens today and asked why they voted against lowering the threshold. I promptly received this reply from Mark Quinn.

    “We have been campaigning, and legislating, for donations reform for many years. The Greens have consistently called to ban corporate political donations, increase transparency and establish a National ICAC.

    We have legislation before the Senate right now to ban donations from developers, tobacco, alcohol, gambling and mining industries. And Senator Lee Rhiannon’s ‘ Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2016’ would expose all political donations to greater scrutiny, ban foreign donations and increase penalties for donations offences.

    The Greens’ already have legislation that would reform political donations going through the Senate process, and that has been sent to a Committee Inquiry.
    Labor is trying to pull yet another political stunt by moving an amendment at the last minute in an attempt to derail the passage of the rest of the Senate reform legislation, to do something that Greens’ legislation before the Senate already achieves. The proof of the stunt is Labor’s failure to act on our 2010 agreement to reform political donations when we had the numbers in the Senate.

    If the Labor Party is serious about cleaning up political donations then we look forward to them supporting our existing legislation.”

    Mark Quinn
    Australian Greens – National Office Manager
    PO Box 1108 Canberra ACT 2601
    02 6140 3217 skype: mark.a.quinn|

    Also, as pointed out on AIMN recentlly, the government already has 2 triggers for a DD election that they have not yet chosen to use. The chance of the Liberal Party controlling both houses as a result of such an election is quite slim, quite clearly explained by Antony Green in one the links posted above.

  36. Barry Thompson.

    No offense taken David,just trying for balance.

  37. randalstella

    The Greens did not decline a vote on marriage equality. They voted against Labor’s attempt to filibuster to prevent the passage of the Senate voting reforms.
    There was never going to be any vote on the actual passage of marriage reform legislation. The Greens are the one Party bound to such reform – the Libs are against it, and Labor do not bind their members to a policy. The call for debate was cynical as Labor knew it would not progress marriage equality legislation at all. It was to waste time.
    They then lied about it, as if the Greens had declined to support marriage equality.
    Add to that, sexist and homophobic little jibes by Labor Senators against a homosexual Greens Senator – and there you have the Labor Party this week.
    Blatant lies all week long, not even artful deviousness. As the pages of this site show, it has been a campaign to abuse and denigrate he Greens as often as they can contrive.
    Probably they’re after the Lib-leaning bogan vote.
    Is Shorten responsible for this? This moral rabble I have to give my second preference to – or at least a preference above the Abbott/Turnbull mob.

  38. David (other)

    So Randalstella you contend the Greens for 20 hours of debate were as lambs, pure as the driven snow. No abuse, just sat and behaved. Well I listened/watched probably 2/3rds of proceedings and some of the abuse was coming from the Greens with gusto. So lets not bestow martyrdom on your darlings of the Senate, it doesn’t wash.

  39. Kaye Lee

    I watched a lot of the crap that went on in the Senate and have read about it till it is coming out of my ears. Every party in the place was playing games. The only person who showed any sort of honesty was Ricky Muir.

  40. bossa

    In the photo (shown above) Turnbull looks angry, his body language insecure and defensive. I cannot fathom a man in his position frittering away his political capital (his popularity) for fear of pissing off a few retarded right wing conservatives,

    Those RWNJ conservative liberals would, most definitely, prefer to be re-elected than not, and so now, it IS the time to be strong and bring the Liberal Party back to the centre.

  41. Kaye Lee

    The photo comes from the first Malcolm/Barnaby double act which was organised by Christensen at Harrup Park. Christensen holds himself up as a champion of free speech but he vetted his audience, just like he does on his facebook page.

    Dawson MP George Christensen said the event was for community groups and not an opportunity for political lobby groups such as the Mackay Conservation Group, Australian Marine Conservation Group, and Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping, to push their political message and anti-jobs agenda.

    “I am bewildered how these groups thought they would get an invite when all they have done is mercilessly attack everything I have pushed for the benefit of the community and everything the government has done for the community,” he said.

    George knows best. No other opinions will be tolerated.

  42. randalstella

    What a generous-spirited talent you are.
    Lambs, my(?) darlings, martyrdom, driven snow. It just oozes charity.
    You should really claim your own eloquence. Because the words are not mine.

    I am pleased to hear the Greens were sticking up for themselves.
    Liars and mischief makers need to be countered.
    Have a nice day.


  43. randalstella

    It’s a pity Muir is in the Senate on a rort.
    The defence of that corrupted system I cannot consider honest.

  44. David (other)

    Thankyou for proving my point Rand

  45. Lee

    It seems to me that the ALP is seeking to do an Abbott. They spend all their time having a go at the Greens, in the hope that their voters will abandon them and come back to the ALP, rather than come up with some decent policies of their own. The worst of it has come from politicians that I previously considered to be some of the best in the ALP and who I admired. The Greens have said many times that they are willing to work with the ALP. The ALP has not reciprocated. In recent years they have even resorted to directing their preferences to the right. Their attitude is very disappointing.

  46. Backyard Bob

    Here is a link to a Labor Party document on Senate voting reform from 2014 that is well worth reading. Depending on your browser it may cause an instant download of a pdf file. Relax, it’s the Government:

  47. Lee

    Good find, BYB. Sadly, I’m not surprised by the content.

  48. randalstella

    I wonder where Labor hide George Wright these days?
    Hard hiding the National Secretary. His submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters makes bullshit of the Labor claims in the past few days over Senate voting reform.
    It is a public document and capable journalism would have been pursuing Wong et al over this.

  49. Lee

    Thanks for the links, BYB.

  50. Lee

    “It is a public document and capable journalism would have been pursuing Wong et al over this.”

    The standard of journalism is even more amusing when you know Murdoch would really love to be sticking it to the ALP with this letter on the front page of every daily paper.

  51. David (other)

    OMG the Greens have destroyed the colour of my ancestory, my roots in Co Cork will never be the same, Now even after a win today with their Tory partner, the livers of the green party supporters here, that used to believe in so much are still dirty. Is it the realisation of the consequences of the Di Natale/Kroger love in are sinking in?
    Cant wait for the next full poll…

  52. randalstella

    Just reading through, you’ve been doing some solid work here, correcting lies and the false impressions people have because of those lies. .
    But, I don’t think the Murdoch minions would feature anything that seemed like support for the Greens.

  53. my say

    This government is chaotic and disfunctional, it matters not weather it is Abbott or Turnbull they are ruled by the back room boys, Turnbull has lost controll of his government and isnt fit to run this country ,It hasbeden six months since he knifed Abbott,and things have got worse
    We have a government that isnt capable of making a decision and sticking to it ,they are going from one disaster to another ,and australia is suffering badly from all his back flips
    You only have to look at the dumbing down of the safe school’s programme to know that while ever we
    have a coalition government ,we are never going to have marriage equality

  54. Lee

    I don’t see why Murdoch’s minions need to express support the Greens. They could attack the ALP as undermining the Liberal party’s attempt to restore democracy and credibility to the Senate voting process.

  55. silkworm

    I spent six years of high school with Turnbull at Grammar. I also spent some time with several of my classmates at MacKerras’ house at Kiama. The SMH article is wrong in the chronology. Turnbull did not holiday at Kiama with MacKerras’ and his wife in 1967 – MacKerras was not married at the time. I think MacKerras was gay. MacKerras was master of the lower school, and had to marry for appearances in order to become headmaster of the entire school.

  56. David (other)

    Lee/randalstella…the pair of you remind me of of green versions of Statler and Waldorf who share the stage left balcony box in the Muppet Theater…doesn’t matter what the hell is happening, if it isn’t in your scheme of things it is rubbish.
    Thank God I live in a broader world. You both expose the rump of your party

  57. Backyard Bob

    David (other),

    Did you read any of the links I just provided? Just curious.

  58. SGB

    “Barnaby Joyce is running on the platform that he can demand whatever he likes from the PM”.

    Blimey is that how far he has shrunk !

  59. Terry2

    Thanks Randastella (and Lee)

    There certainly is a lot of misinformation being peddled but my central question was :

    ” What intrigues me is what did the Greens get out of the Liberals in exchange for their support given that the coalition saw this legislation as the most important reform needed in Australia, far more important it seems than taxation reform ?”

    This morning’s news tells us that Turnbull took the senate voting reforms directly to the GG for assent and according to the ABC news a DD will be announced shortly. I can understand why the coalition want a DD and this legislation should (?) help Turnbull get control of both Houses but, I repeat, what was in it for the Greens to facilitate this ?

  60. Lee

    The Greens got the voting reform they’ve been after for 12 years!

    Why are you expecting the LNP to consider taxation reform as the most important issue? It’s only the left that wants the wealthiest people in our nation to pay their fair share of tax. The LNP’s idea of tax reform is to screw the lower incomes even more and they don’t need tax reform to do that.

  61. randalstella

    Yes, Terry2
    (Thanks for your posts here, by the way.)
    It usually means something else is afoot,doesn’t it? But the Greens have been going on about Senate reform for a long time,as Lee says.
    I have this uncomfortable feeling about the Greens that they have a commitment to the belief that with enough information the public will become concerned about major issues, and rationality will win out electorally. I keep thinking of the joker who cut down the last tree on Easter Island.
    We’ve seen some irrational responses in this past week – even on this site. BYB adroitly supplies some informative links, one that is absolutely central to this immediate issue of Senate voting reform, and someone reacts with a Muppet movie reference. If you go to Wicks’ site, his recent silly article attacking the Greens has support from people whose allegiances depend on defying facts, such as the claim that the Greens will gain more Senate seats out of this – when,of course, they will struggle. With a DD the Greens could lose both SA seats to Nick’s Never-Closed-A-Pokie team.
    It is very hard to know what Turnbull is thinking, as he shows no directive hold on his own Party, and this suggests he is Leader under sufferance, to get them over the line in an election. They would want it sooner, as the troubles among them cannot be held in.

    It has been a lamentable week. I want Labor in power, but the petty lies they have peddled over this matter suggests they are a little worn rationally. Again I repeat, Penny Wong’s conduct has been quite sad to see – as Labor depend on her calm intellect and sense of fairness. It’s a mad world when she goes on like a Party hack. More reaction than considered thought was evident.
    The Labor Herald includes some of these unfounded claims against the Greens, so the anti-Green line has to be taken as official.

    There has to be a wise head somewhere among Labor and Greens to heal this animosity. Someone needs to take the initiative, brush past the hyperbole and insults. Two people getting together could bring things into an order, rather than the current chaos. Given a very unreliable electorate, the country needs a solid working relationship between the Greens and Labor. Without it, we might be pretty much stuffed.

  62. Terry2

    Lee and Randastella

    Thanks for the input, I guess we’ll have to see how it all works out.

    Interesting article from Malcolm Mackerras in the Age :–contemptuous-of-constitution-20160229-gn6809.html

    Also, this observation from Anne Summers, also in the Age :

    “in the last election government minister Senator Michaelia Cash received 130 fewer first preference votes than Ricky Muir, the Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator who is being portrayed as the exemplar of what’s wrong with the current system”

    So, if I can be facetious for a moment ; perhaps the new senate voting system will mean that we can get rid of people like Cash – now that’s progress !

    Have a good day : I’m off to the markets.

  63. Kaye Lee


    I feel so frustrated by all this. I was thinking the other day, if Turnbull, Shorten and di Natale sat down together I think they would actually come up with a good direction for the country. If they could forget politics, block out the cacophany and just talk to each other, I believe they could negotiate agreement about so many things. They are all reasonable men with good negotiating skills.

    It will never happen of course. I sincerely hope that we can soon stop rehashing the poison this senate week has brought about, and start preparing to face the real enemy. What’s done is done…we need all resources devoted to future battles and we need to somehow restore trust and respect. (sigh….another thing that I fear is impossible to achieve)

  64. Lee

    Michaelia Cash got elected on votes for the Liberal Party. Once the Liberal candidates ahead of her got their quota to be elected, the surpluses passed to her. That isn’t going to change much, unless the order of Liberal candidates on the ticket changes. If Cash is at the bottom of the list, then she might miss out. If she’s at the top of the list she will almost certainly be elected. When voters number the boxes below the line, they tend to number consecutively down the party column more than anything else, so the candidates at the top of the list get more votes than those on the bottom.

    Antony Green provides an explanation here, and also points out why comparing Cash’s votes to Muir is meaningless.

  65. Lee

    ” if Turnbull, Shorten and di Natale sat down together I think they would actually come up with a good direction for the country. If they could forget politics, block out the cacophany and just talk to each other, I believe they could negotiate agreement about so many things. They are all reasonable men with good negotiating skills.”

    I agree Kaye. Unfortunately it is never going to happen while parties are only committed to fulfilling the wishes of their largest donors. I’d like to see limits on how much businesses can donate (a much smaller amount than some of them are donating now, say $10,000), as well as a lowered threshold for reporting the donations. Currently voting for the major parties is as risky as having unprotected sex with a stranger. You just don’t know who they are sleeping with!

  66. randalstella

    Exactly Lee. Comparing Ricky Muir’s votes with a down-the-list candidate, even from a major Party, is apples and oranges.

    Kaye Lee, I’ve met a few like Malcolm. I don’t believe he could be trusted. His intervention at the ABC over Nick Ross was autocratic and presumptuous. Very typifying. He smiles and does ruthless things. He’d be very accommodating if he did not feel he had the power to do otherwise. I wish him such circumstances.

    I was going to add – but the post was already long – that Di Natale might have justifiable reasons for anger, but justifiable anger can lead to a worsening of circumstances. I am far too remote to know what goes on there personally, but it should not have more than momentary effect. It appears however, from this distance, to be settling into agendas.
    Bill Shorten is obviously a ‘bit’ conservative. But he does not seem a bad bloke. He seems to be a conciliator, and that should not be underestimated.

    I can’t see progressive politics winning out from within contentious bitterness. Importantly it sets the political context into aggro mode, that the Media love. Its influence does not aid the electorate’s tenuous regard for rationality.

  67. nurses1968

    Sky News Australia Verified account

    #BREAKING: Independent Senator Bob Day will challenge the Senate voting reform in the High Court.

  68. corvus boreus

    Has ‘independent senator’ Bob Day resigned from the Family First party?

  69. nurses1968

    I don’t think so that was just the way it was reported on Twitter.
    Good on Bob, Family First or Independent for taking the action

  70. cornlegend

    “It’s a pity Muir is in the Senate on a rort.”
    No, he’s not.
    I had this discussion with the ABCs Antony Green yesterday

    Antony Green ‏@AntonyGreenABC Mar 18

    @Biggy1883 @jamnic77 @Greens The Feeder parties were all organised by Glenn Druery and Peter Breen
    2 retweets 3 likes
    cornlegend ‏@cornlegend1 22h22 hours ago

    @AntonyGreenABC @Biggy1883 @jamnic77 @Greens Antony, tell me what they did wrong other than wisely use preferences
    1 retweet 1 like

    Antony Green Verified account

    @cornlegend1 @Biggy1883 @jamnic77 @Greens They did nothing wrong

    cornlegend ‏@cornlegend1 22h22 hours ago

    @AntonyGreenABC @Biggy1883 @jamnic77 @Greens Well, why the big song and dance ? they actually gave supporters of small parties a say

    They did nothing wrong”

  71. Backyard Bob

    “They did nothing wrong”. Neither do wealthy pricks who use the Caymans to minimise their taxes. The words “They did nothing wrong” are pretty meaningless.

  72. Kaye Lee

    Muir was legally elected under the rules of the day. I was extremely sceptical about him but my respect for him has grown. He has made an effort to understand legislation and the social consequences of it.

    I still don’t understand why the unions say

    “The grubby deal that the Greens and the Liberals have done makes the passage of anti-worker legislation more likely today than it was a week ago. That’s unacceptable.”

    They are certainly not going to be able to get it through this parliament. As I keep saying, the only way that can be true after a DD is if the Coalition win the HoR, which is a possibility, and also get 39 seats in the Senate – something I do not see happening. That would mean six Senators in every state, one in both territories, plus another from somewhere. To elect six Senators in one state at a double dissolution, the Coalition would need to reach 46.2% of the first preference vote. In the last 25 years that has only happened 8 times, six of them being in Western Australia, one in Qld, and one in SA. It has not happened in the last quarter century in NSW, Vic or Tas.

    I think Labor, Greens and micro parties would be far better served explaining to voters how they can allocate their own preferences to make sure the Coalition does NOT get an outright majority in the Senate. They should also show more confidence that they can win the HoR.

    If they really want to avoid a DD then don’t pass the supply bills until the morning of May 12.

  73. Lee

    I still don’t understand why the unions say

    “The grubby deal that the Greens and the Liberals have done makes the passage of anti-worker legislation more likely today than it was a week ago. That’s unacceptable.”

    There’s nothing to understand. It’s nonsense. As you correctly point out Kaye, there are some practical ways of making full control difficult for the Libs to achieve.

  74. silkworm

    The voting reforms are very good – they are progressive and democratic, giving the voter more control over where their preferences go, rather than the recent situation where preferences were given based on backroom deals. These reforms have been part of both Labor’s and Greens’ platforms for years. The two main puzzles though are: why did Labor suddenly turn on its own proposal? and why did the Libs suddenly side with the Greens’ proposal.

  75. Kaye Lee


    My assessment is that Labor backflipped because they don’t want a DD because they are scared the Coalition will get more seats in the Senate, and the Libs sided with the Greens because they do want a DD to get rid of the crossbench. The Greens did it because it is one thing crossed off their list of policies they have been striving for. IMO it wasn’t the hill to die for – there are bigger battles to fight and people can easily overcome party shenanigans by voting below the line and numbering enough boxes to make sure their vote counts.

  76. Terry2

    Unfortunately many voters just don’t understand the system and were it not for compulsory voting they would probably opt out altogether.

    At the local government polling booth today – in Queensland – I watched as the person handing out voting papers explained, time and again the optional preferential system which was already clearly outlined on the voting materials.

  77. Backyard Bob

    Wow. Today’s council elections couldn’t have been simpler for mine. I mean, in my Ward we had all of 3 candidates. Was nice to be reminded of how much fun it is to vote.

  78. Lee

    “IMO it wasn’t the hill to die for – there are bigger battles to fight and people can easily overcome party shenanigans by voting below the line and numbering enough boxes to make sure their vote counts.”

    Except that the ALP and the micros know that most people can’t be bothered numbering all the boxes. In fact, most parties in their how to vote instructions for their supporters, tell people to put a 1 for the party above the line and provide no instructions for voting below the line. Next they’ll be wanting to decide the preferences from the informal votes too.

  79. metadatalata

    “I feel so frustrated by all this. I was thinking the other day, if Turnbull, Shorten and di Natale sat down together I think they would actually come up with a good direction for the country. If they could forget politics, block out the cacophony and just talk to each other, I believe they could negotiate agreement about so many things. They are all reasonable men with good negotiating skills.”

    Kaye, your written words about the reasonableness and intelligence of Turnbull and to a lesser extent Shorten are too kind. I suppose it makes reading a little less depressing.
    But the simple truth is that Turnbull has no character. He is a container. His life is about putting trinkets in the container and this is how he judges his worth. To him, the position of prime-minister is like a medallion that he has added to this container, as he has with positions in many other endeavors. There is no space in the container for actually doing something positive for the people of Australia. And the container is pretty much full now that the trinket representing the dismantling of the NBN is ready to be thrown in. For the rest, he has no real interest so will let his party dictate the proceedings.

    The Greens Party is coming into its own era and Labor now see the Greens more of a threat to their own party than as a collaborator. This is because Labor has more policy in common with the LNP with the main difference being their allegiance to unions as opposed to LNP’s allegiance to the IPA. Both still corrupt and beholden to their paymasters. If Greens do not preference their votes to Labor, it will pretty much finish Labor as a major player in the future of Australian politics. And why should they?

    I believe the polls and the big parties will be in for a shock next election if they expect voting business as usual. We have seen already the move away from greedy politicians in QLD and Victoria. There will be more people who will take better care to vote away from the big parties at the next election primarily due to the attention this electoral voting change has brought about. Perhaps Penny Wong was afraid of this last week. The LNP have no idea what could possibly happen with a DD but I am personally looking forward to it. We can expect to see many new independents in the senate that might sincerely do more to represent the people of Australia than the current leaners (oops, I meant leaders).

    Kaye, as usual, great discussion points in your writing. Thank you!

    And also great contributions from other commentors.

  80. corvus boreus

    I guess that demonstrates the hazards of sourcing your news from Twitter.
    Family First (religious far-right) senator and IPA ‘alumnus’ Bob Day is, indeed, talking about making a court challenge to the new senate reforms, based upon the fact that the constitution specifies the election of candidates rather than parties.
    If this is so, then the old system (the one under which he was elected) is also unconstitutional and invalid (much more so, in fact), and there should be further reform to disallow any above-the-line (party bloc) option, and instead require all votes to be made below-the-line for individual candidates.

  81. nurses1968

    “the hazards of sourcing your news from Twitter.”
    That is exactly what Malcolm Makarras said to the Senate Hearing and what Day has based his challenge on

  82. nurses1968

    Senator Day’s office said the basis for the challenge is that three million voters will be disenfranchised by the laws because their votes will no longer result in electing political candidates.

    “Their votes will die under the optional preferential system, once they have voted for the minor party,” Senator Day told AAP

    Senator Day is also seeking an injunction from the High Court to intervene before the election to decide whether the electoral changes are constitutionally valid.

  83. Lee

    Agreed CB. I read somewhere (and at the moment I’m unable to find it again) that the last time senate voting was changed, voting below the line was kept because voting above the line is unconstitutional.

  84. corvus boreus

    So the basis of this court challenge is that some people casting party/bloc votes might not have any of the parties/candidates they vote for elected into power if their choices do not obtain sufficient votes?
    If that counts as being ‘disenfranchised’, then I am disenfranchised in my HoR vote every single federal election.
    Ps, Mr Makarras, in his hyperbolic and emotional speech (“filthy” et al), at no time claimed that senator Day was an ‘independent’.

  85. Kaye Lee


    I heard Day himself use the word “independent” but that’s neither here nor there. Once again I feel the protagonists are being dishonest. They say that people who vote for minor parties are being disenfranchised. That is not true. ANYONE who really wants their vote to count can fill in as many boxes below the line as they please, thus overcoming everyone’s objections. You can only disenfranchise yourself by being lazy.

  86. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    If Senator Bob Day (Family First Party) describes himself as an ‘independent’ (non-party affiliated) then he is either misinformed as to the meaning of the term, or being deliberately dishonest, which is unsurprising given his parliamentary track record and dubious associations (eg he is an IPA member).

    Personally, I do not care much about the dishonest machinations around ATL ‘gumby’ votes and preferences, so long as they do not effect the implementation of limited BTL preferencing, which has long been my desire as a voter.

  87. Lee

    But do people want their vote to go to someone who is the exact opposite of what they thought they were voting for or someone they never knew existed?

    I don’t even want preferential voting. I hate that I am forced to put preferences where I don’t want to preference. I want my vote to go for my chosen candidate/party and if it can’t be used there I don’t want it going anywhere else.

  88. Terry2

    The challenge to the constitutionality of these changes will probably not get up but it’s always useful to have the High Court run a ruler over any changes that affect our constitutional arrangements.

    Section 7 says (in part) : The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State, directly chosen by the people of the State, voting, until the Parliament otherwise provides, as one electorate.

    The key point is whether the new arrangements still maintain the principle “directly chosen by the people of the state”. It may very well be that the previous arrangements were not constitutional.

    The wisdom of the constitution is that it has never acknowledged parties: I applaud that !.

  89. Kaye Lee


    My understanding is that is exactly what these reforms will achieve. If the people you vote for don’t make a quota your vote will be exhausted (won’t count). For those who want to make sure it counts, they fill in as many below the line as they feel necessary. It seems to me that we have control now if we want it.

  90. nurses1968

    Day, Makarras or anyone else who thinks the Senate is unconstitutional have a right to test it in the High Court.
    It is rather commonplace for that to happen as others recently on different issues have shown
    It seems the Greens themselves don’t mind a High Court challenge now and then

    ENVIRONMENTAL campaigner Bob Brown will challenge Tasmania’s tough anti-protest laws in the High Court, claiming they breach the Australian Constitution.March 10, 2016

    The High Court today threw out a challenge to the Australian Government’s immigration detention centre on Nauru. 8 Feb 2016

    Anti-Protest Laws Unconstitutional?Jul 15th, 2014 The Greens

    Unions NSW Threatens Constitutional Challenge To Baird’s Anti-Protest Laws March 8, 2016

  91. corvus boreus

    ‘The key point is whether the new arrangements still maintain the principle “directly chosen by the people of the state”‘.

    Upon this point, election into office through systems of indirect preferencing would also be unconstitutional, since such preference deals (whether by party arrangement or agency brokerage) do not reflect the voter’s directly stated intention on the ballot sheet.
    By the basis of his challenge, Mr Day’s own position in parliament is unconstitutional and invalid.

  92. Lee

    Kaye, if the people I vote for don’t get elected, I don’t want my preferences passing through multiple other micro parties to finally elect Bob Day. I’d rather my vote be exhausted. I make sure my vote counts for my top 6 preferences by numbering all the boxes. I don’t intend for my vote to help anyone else.

  93. Lee

    How many people who are currently only voting above the line actually know that the party directs their preferences? In a discussion in my workplace on Friday, three people admitted they were unaware of that. They thought they were voting for one party. The politicians know damned well that many people are unaware of this and many of them are all too happy to take advantage of it.

  94. Lee

    The issue is not that Bob Day is going to the High Court, it’s the nonsense he’s taking there. If South Australians wanted that idiot in the Senate, we would have voted for him directly, not via numerous other parties.

  95. nurses1968

    Why, if something is unconstitutional, is it nonsense.It seems to have validity from those expert in that field
    If it is unconstitutional, deal with it, if not,move on.That is a High Court decision,not yours
    Do you support the High Court challenges on issues viewed as unconstitutional that I posted above?Or are some unconstitutional issues ok as long as they suit your views?Cherry picking issues on a personal whim is a bit off.Let the High Court decide then get over it

  96. Lee

    “Would a challenge to the proposed ATL voting method be successful? If voters couldn’t vote for candidates perhaps, but electors can still vote for candidates.

    If the proposed ATL method were challenged successfully, I believe it would be a pyrrhic victory for small parties as I cannot see how the proposed ATL system could be declared unconstitutional without the existing ATL system also being ruled unconstitutional.”

    Bob Day has also said that the voting reforms are undemocratic. As Green points out in the same article above:

    “Since ticket voting was introduced in 1984, the effort involved for electors in voting either above or below the line has always been an asymmetric choice.

    Voters had the quick and easy option of voting ‘1’ in an ATL box , or the laborious task of numbering every square below the line.

    This asymmetric choice has always looked like a way of herding electors into using the ATL option.

    The preference harvesting strategies of parties have been developed knowing the difficulty faced by voters choosing to do other than vote for a ticket.

    The surge in nominations at recent elections has been a deliberate strategy to make ballot papers more difficult to manipulate, to increase confusion, to make BTL voting harder, and therefore to encourage even more ATL voting.”

    In addition to that, we’re seeing parties provide instructions to voters – just put a 1 in their box ATL, with no instructions for BTL voting. In NSW in 2013, 97% of voters voted ATL.

    Back in the early days of the current senate voting method, it was common to see group voting tickets at polling booths. They got handed out with how to vote cards. Parties were very openly telling voters where their preferences would go if they voted above the line. In the last 2 federal elections I’ve not seen a single group voting ticket anywhere in or near a polling booth. (They are available at the AEC, but many voters are unaware of that.) Why are parties now trying to be as secretive as they legally can about it?

    Bob Day has rocks in his head if he honestly considers this to be democratic.

  97. Lee

    The Family First party was founded by Andrew Evans who, for many years, was the head pastor at Paradise Assembly of God Church. I used to attend that church with my ex-husband when Andrew Evans was head pastor and when he started up the FF party. What the party won’t tell you outside of the church is that their goal is to exercise control over all of our lives and prevent any legislation that, according to their interpretation, does not line up with the Christian bible. Except they put a positive spin on it by saying they are standing up for families. What they also won’t tell you is that they are only interested in Christian families headed by two heterosexual parents who are married to each other. This is why Bob Day wants to be able to harvest votes.

  98. Lee

    “Why, if something is unconstitutional, is it nonsense.It seems to have validity from those expert in that field”

    The expert is a god botherer. Do you think he might have other reasons to challenge this and he’s looking for a straw to clutch at?

    Do you think the major parties are unaware of the need to keep BTL voting if they are directing the preferences ATL? Do you think they never sought expert opinions before introducing the bill? Do you think they won’t trot those expert opinions out during a challenge?

  99. Kaye Lee

    Family First’s national office is based at the Bert Kelly Research Centre in inner Adelaide. The centre, built and funded by Senator Day, has over the years housed many of Australia’s most conservative foundations, including the Samuel Griffiths Society, The Conservative Leadership Foundation, and the Australian Taxpayers Alliance.

    The Conservative Leadership Foundation, which was headquartered there until last year, is a Senator Bernardi product and he is currently its chairman. The CLF serves as “a leadership development and training organisation for young conservatives”, according to its website.

    Senator Bernardi also produces online videos via a project he calls Cory Bernardi TV – CBTV for short – recorded in the purpose-built TV studio at the back of the Bert Kelly Research Centre, which was owned and operated by CBTV.

    The Bert Kelly Centre houses a substantial conservative library which is often used for book launches – several of which Senator Bernardi has personally MC’d, including the launch of climate change sceptic Ian Plimer’s book

  100. nurses1968

    It doesn’t bother me that he is a “god botherer”, he has every right to challenge something he feels is unconstitutional, just as the Greens had the right to pursue issues they though unconstitutional.
    I wouldn’t mind betting that on RW sites they used the “tree hugger” argument as you did the “god botherer”
    What do you fear from the High Court ruling if it is unconstitutional, or not?
    Now, I’m not a political tragic, so I really don’t care who mounts challenges, as long as they believe they have an argument and a High Court rules .
    Clears things up for everyone and keeps us within the Law on all manner of issues

  101. Kaye Lee

    Surely it is ok to discuss the issue? As has been pointed out, if ATL voting is unconstitutional, then everyone there has been elected unconstitutionally.

  102. Lee

    I don’t fear a High Court ruling. I’m stating that Bob Day is a hypocrite, because the system that he currently relies upon to get elected is unconstitutional. Before you ask, I don’t expect anyone to challenge the current system in the High Court, because they are getting some benefit from the current system.

  103. David (other)

    Cory Bernardi TV, now there is a vehicle for manipulation, bigotry, hate, racism, homophobic terrorising

  104. Lee

    Interesting info re: Cory Bernardi, Kaye. He calls himself a Catholic but at times has come across like a Pentacostal, and others have said he is Pentacostal. They have some very strange beliefs and need to be treated with the utmost caution.

    For example, a lot of them don’t believe in mental illness. A former pastor of the Paradise AOG has a son who is mentally ill, but his parents consider that he is demon possessed and rather than encourage him to seek medical treatment, they’ve been praying for him (and probably performing exorcisms as this practice is common amongst Pentacostals too). The illness led the son to embezzle money. I haven’t kept up with the outcome of his time in court so don’t know where he is now. It’s very sad that he ended up in this situation because his parents’ beliefs resulted in them not getting their son the help he needs. Don’t expect the Pentacostal politicians, or anyone leaning that way, to be supporting mental health services. A sizeable chunk of the population have their quality of life lessened by mental health issues and this area is very underfunded at present.

  105. nurses1968

    As a psych nurse, let me tell you, the greatest problem we face from religious fruitcakes are the Scientologists, well funded in their delusion by the likes of Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
    All followers of a sham founded by a science fiction writer with a belief in Xenu { a not so friendly alien}

  106. Lee

    nurses1968, when the Scientologists put up a candidate, I’ll vote against them too.

  107. randalstella

    Of course it was inevitable that the Labor urgers would give a cheer for whatever Constitutional challenge was to be made to the new Senate voting laws.
    But it’s a cheer for extreme reactionary bigot Bob Day. That is of course not a ‘dirty’ cheer.
    Did the ALP think of a Constitutional challenge of their own? Now, that really would be arch.
    But why leave it up to Day, if it’s as important as their hyperbole would suggest?
    Maybe this is explained by ALP National Secretary George Wright’s letter to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM), giving the official ALP position in 2014.

    Anyone seriously concerned about the issue of Senate voting should read Wright’s letter, and be prepared to discuss it.
    To anyone who does read it, it is very clear why these Labor hacks want to act as if it does not exist.
    But they are far from being representative of Labor voters. Polling indicated that Labor voters are clearly in favour of the changes, by a bigger margin than Greens’ voters.

    Here is the letter in full:

    The Hon Tony Smith MP


    Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters


    Canberra, ACT 2600

    By email:

    24 April 2014

    Dear Mr Smith

    The following submission outlines some of the views of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in

    relation to the Terms of Reference for the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM)

    Inquiry into the 2013 Federal Election.

    The ALP notes that the specific purpose of the current hearings is to investigate whether changes

    should be made to processes for a Senate election. The ALP will consider a further submission into

    other issues associated with the last federal election at a later date.

    The ALP has consistently supported the maximisation of the franchise and the election of

    representatives that reflect the true intention of voters. Following the 2013 federal election, the

    ALP is supportive of the JSCEM investigating the system of Senate elections.

    Western Australian Senate Re-election

    The ALP shares the disappointment of many that voters in Western Australia were forced to

    return to the polls six months after the last federal election for the half-Senate re-election.

    The ALP notes the long history of effective service to the nation by the Australian Electoral

    Commission (AEC) but notes the finding of the review in to the Western Australian ballot by Mick

    Keelty AO.

    The recommendations of the Keelty Review should be implemented in full, and the JSCEM should

    also look at possible changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (CEA 1918) following from the decision of the Court of Disputed Returns in relation to the Senate vote in Western Australia.

    In particular, JSCEM should note the reasoning in the judgement in the Court of Disputed Returns

    and the capacity for future challenges to declared results which may be vexatious.

    Preventing Manipulation of the Senate Vote

    The ALP believes that Australia’s system of voting is fair, transparent and works to deliver on the

    intention of voters. As a general rule, alterations to the operation of the current voting system

    should be avoided. Without evidence of a problem that must be addressed, the fact that the

    overwhelming majority of voters are comfortable with the existing voting system should be


    However, in relation to the Senate vote in recent years, it is clear that candidates have been

    elected with little public support. This has occurred through the manipulation of micro-party

    preference deals.

    The ALP believes that JSCEM should consider recommendations that address these issues as they

    relate to the Senate.

    Specifically, the election of Senators who attract only a very low primary vote and rely principally

    on preference arrangements to get elected do not reflect genuine voter intention and need to be


    Not discounting the number of minor issues relating to the current Senate situation that will also

    need to be considered, it is our view that there are two primary issues that need to be specifically


    1. The inadequacy of current registration requirements for micro parties to register and

    contest Senate elections; and

    2. The current operation of Group Voting Tickets in harvesting preferences and by doing so

    delivering outcomes that are not an expression of genuine voter intent.

    Current requirements for registering and contesting Senate elections

    The ALP believes that JSCEM should consider recommendations that make changes to the system

    of party registration to ensure that candidates representing themselves, or a minority of interests

    are not able to abuse party registration to misrepresent or over-state to voters their agendas,

    intentions or status.

    There has been an explosion of micro parties registering and contesting Senate elections.

    This has seen ballot papers grow dramatically in size which is compromising their functionality

    and has encouraged the harvesting of preferences through the registration of Group Voting

    Tickets (GVTs).

    While not wishing to discourage genuine and new participants in the democratic process, it is

    clear that the current requirements around party registration and nomination are not proving a

    sufficient filter to discourage or eliminate those candidate whose objective is to game the current

    system and achieve Senate results which do not reflect the true intentions of voters.

    There are a number of existing requirements for registration and nomination that operate in a

    number of state jurisdictions that are more rigorous than the existing federal requirements.

    These have not proven to be a barrier in those states to those who would seek to stand and

    genuinely contest elections. In fact, there has been no evidence of which we are aware of any

    significant opposition to the operation of the various state requirements. In particular, NSW,

    Victoria, WA and SA all have requirements that extend beyond the current federal system if

    extrapolated to a national requirement.

    While not wishing to impede the development or capacity for new and smaller genuine entrants

    to participate in our democratic system, it is difficult to reasonably argue that existing state

    requirements cannot be extended to address some of the issues that have emerged in the Senate.

    The ALP supports a review of existing party registrations, and stricter regulations for the

    registration of a political party under the CEA 1918.

    This should include parties with similar names to existing parties having their registration

    reviewed. The ALP believes that attempts to confuse and mislead voters via the party registration

    system should be discouraged.

    Additionally, JSCEM should also consider a more rigorous system of registration.

    As previously noted is the case in other state jurisdictions, the ALP supports higher numbers of

    members required for a federally registered political party and regular audits of membership for

    those parties to continue their registered status. Upwards of 2,000 members nationally should be

    required as a minimum threshold to register a political party for a federal election.

    The AEC should also be empowered to conduct signature checks of valid members.

    As a condition of state party registration in NSW and South Australia, a certain number of party

    members are required to physically fill out and sign an official form confirming their membership.

    This measure should be adopted federally.

    Registered parties should be required to prove they have a certain number of valid members, for

    example 50 members, in every state and territory in which they contest elections. Further, there

    should be an increased fee for the registration of a political party and different parties should not

    be able to share the same office bearers.

    The JSCEM may also wish to consider whether the requirements for candidate registration for the

    Senate meet community expectations. Candidates not resident in the state or territory they are

    nominating for, or being nominated by voters external to that state or territory present issues

    that JSCEM should examine.

    Group Voting Tickets

    The manipulation of Group Voting Tickets (GVTs) are a central reason that candidates with little

    public support have seen themselves elected to the Australian Senate. Without GVTs, the capacity

    of these candidates to deliver sufficient preferences through a coordinated preference harvesting

    strategy would not exist.

    However, a return to the pre 1984 system where all voters must number every square on a

    Senate ballot paper would lead to a massive increase in informality and mass voter confusion.

    The sheer size of any Senate ballot paper, even if there is a decline in micro-parties, would still

    make such an approach impractical, onerous and confusing for voters.

    A Senate ballot is complex for a number of reasons including:

    · the large number of candidates,

    · the nomination of multiple candidates from particular parties,

    · the election of multiple vacancies, and

    · the operation of a proportional representation electoral system.

    As a result of the complexity of a Senate ballot, and the problems that have emerged with the

    gaming of GVTs, it is important that any changes considered by JSCEM:

    · encourage formality,

    · are simple for voters to understand, and

    · maintain confidence in the democratic system.

    In addition to the above, it is important to be clear that the possible measures suggested below

    that JSCEM may consider to address unique problems that have emerged with GVT in the Senate,

    particularly some form of Optional Preferential Voting (OPV), are a response to the specific issues

    with the current Senate voting system only.

    There is no evidence that similar issues, most particularly the abuse of GVTs, exist in the current

    House of Representatives voting system and the ALP would not support any consideration of OPV

    for House of Representatives elections.

    In this context, the ALP believes that an appropriate model of OPV should not be excluded from

    JSCEMs consideration as a possible option to address the specific undemocratic issues that have

    emerged in the current Senate voting system.

    In the specific circumstances of the current Senate voting system where GVTs are so blatantly

    being abused to frustrate the democratic will of electors, even the normally undesirable effect of

    OPV which leads to a significant number of votes exhausting may be the lesser of two evils.

    Maximising voter participation, encouraging formality and maintaining confidence in the electoral

    system must be JSCEMs key priorities if it is to consider any move to OPV for the Senate in

    response to the current abuse of GVTs that is occurring there.

    In this context, the NSW upper house system could act as a guide to any proposed reform.

    Under the NSW system for upper house voting:

    · OPV is allowed both above and below the line,

    · any preferences above the line are deemed to run through each nominated party’s listed

    candidates in their nominated order before moving on to the next nominated party and

    · a vote above the line can be a single 1, and be formal.

    Due to a requirement of the NSW Constitution, a vote below the line must number 1 through 15

    to be formal. There is no need for there to be such a requirement for the Senate.

    Labor’s preferred position would also see a requirement that ballot paper instructions and howto-

    vote material advocate that voters fill in a minimum number of boxes above the line, while still

    counting as formal any ballot paper with at least a 1 above the line.

    This would highlight and encourage voters to indicate preferences if they were inclined to, and

    assist in keeping vote exhaustion to a minimum.

    Funding and Disclosure

    The ALP has consistently argued for reform of the funding and disclosure regime to increase

    public funding for elections and to remove the distorting influence of vested interests and big

    money politics.

    The need is more evident in Australia than ever before, and recent Senate election campaigns

    have again demonstrated that the ability to purchase a large media presence contributes to

    electoral results.

    JSCEM should seek further data on actually media spends from registered political parties in 2013

    and the WA Senate re-election and consider further reform in this area. It should also look at

    associated corporate media spends during the electoral period.

    The ALP would welcome the opportunity to more fully present its views on reform of funding and

    disclosure at a later date.

    Yours sincerely

    George Wright

    ALP National Secretary

  108. Kaye Lee

    I find the letter confusing.

    “Due to a requirement of the NSW Constitution, a vote below the line must number 1 through 15 to be formal. There is no need for there to be such a requirement for the Senate.

    Labor’s preferred position would also see a requirement that ballot paper instructions and howto-vote material advocate that voters fill in a minimum number of boxes above the line, while still counting as formal any ballot paper with at least a 1 above the line.”

    Does this mean they don’t want limited preferential voting below the line?

  109. randalstella

    I regret that the last post was so long, but I did not want to edit or in any way reshape the letter. I thought it important enough to be printed here, and not just be another link.
    While I am here, I have just been to Wicks’ site, which impresses me only for the lack of reason and abundance of gratuitous speculation. Surely Labor are smarter than that?
    I mention it because his site does some very childishly hostile photo-shopping of pics of Di Natale, It sets the tone of the place.
    I have always thought such distortion of photos to put a declared enemy in a bad light is gratuitous, unfair and beneath real discussion and debate.
    This site should consider this.

  110. Backyard Bob

    Day, Makarras or anyone else who thinks the Senate is unconstitutional have a right to test it in the High Court.

    It appears the Labor Party is actively teaching its social media army the Theory of the Imputed Strawman.

  111. randalstella

    Yes, the letter is not clear about BTL preferences.
    It is a pity that Labor were not part of a positive debate on the matter. Instead they felt compelled to act as if Wright’s letter, its serious concern about GVTs in particular, were annihilated history..
    Maybe we could have had a better reform than the ATL/BTL hotchpotch made law. I would have liked Wong and Cameron’s serious input, instead of the night of infantile acrimony.
    One curious thing is the big discrepancy between instructions to the voter on the ballot paper, and what is deemed a formal vote. .
    I cannot see who needs to allocate more than 6 preferences, of named candidates. I cannot see what a voter could know that would make more than 6 preferences a realistic and meaningful choice.

  112. nurses1968

    A 2 year old letter from George Wright on an issue that was fluctuating as quickly as the deals could be done seems a grasp at straws .
    Eves Greens own supporters couldn’t keep up with the twists, turns, deals and ammendments that were happening .
    At one stage they were confused whether it was 6 or 12 for a formal vote

  113. Lee

    Ok my curiosity was sufficiently aroused that it led me to waste 10 minutes of my life on Wick’s site that I’ll never get back.

    This criticism of the Greens seeking to change a system that got them elected in the first place is just nonsense. The Greens have admitted the changes will disadvantage them. Anyone with half a brain knows that the changes will disadvantage them. Wicks’ attitude suggests that anyone who seeks to improve a system should never do so. That attitude is just utter BS.

    I read an article he wrote a couple of weeks ago where he refers to the Animal Justice Party (AJD) being shafted by the Greens. Unless there’s some good evidence for that, I’d take it with a grain of salt. First of all, it’s no secret that the AJP is angry with the Greens for voting with the LNP to change senate voting, thus making it harder for an AJP candidate to be elected. The AJP wrote to the Greens and asked them not to do it. Now it’s understandable that micro parties will be upset at this. But their rant (along with everybody else’s) is anti-Greens only. I’ve not read anywhere of anyone criticising Nick Xenophon for also voting with them. Although Nick got elected on primary votes on both occasions, he also stands to benefit from preference deals in the current system to get further candidates elected.

    Secondly, the AJP and its supporters are spruiking some absolute nonsense about the Greens. The Greens have introduced several bills related to animal welfare over the years, but since none of them have been successful, the AJP sees the Greens as useless. Never mind that any bill introduced by the Greens needs other parties and independents to vote for it because the Greens don’t have the numbers, and the major parties don’t give a rat’s posterior about animal welfare issues. So the AJP is giving the Greens the flick and now wants to get cosy with the ALP. If you saw half of the crap they come out with, it’s rather obvious that they haven’t the faintest idea how the senate works, and they’re burning bridges with the party that is most likely to support them. Animal welfare is an important issue for me, but I’m rapidly getting the impression that a vote for them is wasted and keeping the micro parties out is a good idea when they’re so clueless. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge about the senate and the need for calm, level-headed negotiating when you’re a minority and the odds are against you, is not limited to the AJP. I’ve seen similar attitudes from other micro parties too in the past.

  114. nurses1968

    Backyard Bob,
    I am not a member of any political party but I strongly support
    “Day, Makarras or anyone else who thinks the Senate is unconstitutional have a right to test it in the High Court.”
    It is a common thing to have things tested in the High Court as to the constitutionality
    Why must it be “the Labor Party is actively teaching its social media army the Theory of the Imputed Strawman.”Don’t you think people are capable of independent thought?

  115. Backyard Bob


    It’s perhaps an unstated rule of the universe that those most likely to engage in overt or imputed strawmen style arguments are oblivious to the fact. It requires a certain level of logical acuity to perceive it.

    I don’t know how to explain it to you without appearing condescending, so I’ll just make it as plain as possible: no-one, at any point in this debate, either stated or implied that Day, or any person, has no right to challenge the Constitutionality of any piece of legislation. Hence your wording constitutes a strawman because it implies that they have. I was kind enough to call it merely “imputed” rather than overt.

    I mischievously spoke of a Labor Party based agenda for this because you’re not the only Labor supporter here who engages in this practice.

  116. Lee

    What do the amendments have to do with the ALP’s position, as expressed by George Wright, on back room preference deals that is seeing micro parties being elected, which are not consistent with voter intent? That position is identical to the Greens. In 2014 there was not a concern in the world that such a change would allow the Liberal Party to control both houses.

    The current ALP position suggests that
    a) the ALP feels it doesn’t have a chance of winning the next election.
    b) it is determined to vote against the Greens at all cost.
    c) it is annoyed because it can’t channel the majority of its voters preferences to the right because when made to choose their own preferences a significant number of them will preference the Greens.
    d) all the ALP cares about is getting elected, democracy is unimportant and they’re quite happy seeing the current system being abused.

  117. randalstella

    Mackerras. Malcolm Mackerras.
    If you are so interested in his opinion – which is? – get his name right, at least eventually.
    He is only the most published and prominent psephologist in this country’s history.
    I don’t think a Labor urger would like what he says.
    And nor should Bob Day.

    Look up Gary Gray, about 2 weeks ago. He just can’t get that George Wright/ALP letter out of his head.
    Nor can John Faulkner, whose presence was sadly missed through that long night.
    And there would be plenty of others who have very serious misgivings.
    Oh, there’s George Wright, of course. National Secretary.

    Again, why are Labor not joining in the challenge? They usually like to be involved.
    I would like them to be.
    Some good might come of it yet.

  118. Terry2

    Sections 7 and 24 of our Constitution deal specifically with voting for the Senate and Reps respectively.

    When there is a legislated change to our voting arrangements it is not only appropriate but highly desirable that the High Court should review the constitutionality of that legislation.

    This is not a question of winners or losers, it’s a question of Constitutional law.

  119. corvus boreus

    To quote Mr Mackerras in the article Terry2 linked to (19/3 9:18);

    “While my hostility to the Bill would remain, it would be diminished if they would restore the one element of the 2014 Report of the JSCEM of which I truly approved, namely optional preferential voting below the line.
    By that I mean an elector in a state could vote 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 for candidates and still have it counted as a formal vote.
    More important, however, is my judgment of what would happen in the event of a High Court challenge which I regard as a near-certainty – launched by South Australian Family First Senator Bob Day.
    My lawyer friends advise me that the odds would favour the government if that simple right of below-the-line voting were given to the elector”.

    The BTL reforms he advocated have subsequently been tabled and been ratified, so it seems like the esteemed Mr Mackerras (and his lawyer friends) doesn’t like the odds of Senator Day successfully challenging the constitutional validity of the reforms.
    I also note that the hostile diatribe by Mackerras that Nurses1968 linked to (20/3 7:59) was prior to the inclusion of BTL elements within the reforms being tabled, and his opinion has since mollified somewhat.

    Ps, As an aficionado of acute irony, I would PMSL if ‘independent” Family First senator and general RWNJ Bob Day’s court challenge led to all ATL blocs, and the attendant preference trading, being declared unconstitutional and thus abolished.

  120. nurses1968

    I don’t particularly have much thought to the opinions of Malcolm MacKerras, and the correct spelling of his name is of little consequence to me.I don’t get too bothered about names I’m hardly ever likely to lose any sleep over, I was more interested in his action.
    “I don’t think a Labor urger would like what he says.”
    Neither do I, but as I said I am more interested in the actions he is taking rather than any name calling he may have got up to
    “Again, why are Labor not joining in the challenge? ”
    Why would they bother if someone else is doing it?
    Look, I really don’t care about names, who said what 2 years ago etc
    I am just interested if it is Constitutional or not

  121. Kaye Lee

    In my opinion, everyone should just accept what has happened and work out what to do within the new system.

    The number of micro parties had become ridiculous. What is to stop several of them with some similar philosophies from banding together to provide the alternative to the two major parties that people seem to want? They could inform the electorate that their members will have a conscience vote on all legislation based on expert advice and with the overriding question being “Is this in the best interests of the Australian people”. This would be more attractive than being a single issue party.

    It seems to me, a DD election gives smaller parties a good chance to get someone in with 12 Senators to be elected in each state. They should be advertising encouraging people to vote below the line.

    There has been too much time and acrimony wasted on this by our politicians who should be running the country. No election has been called but we have ground to a halt.

  122. nurses1968

    What’s wrong with testing it in the High Court as to Constitutionality?

  123. Lee

    “The number of micro parties had become ridiculous. What is to stop several of them with some similar philosophies from banding together to provide the alternative to the two major parties that people seem to want? They could inform the electorate that their members will have a conscience vote on all legislation based on expert advice and with the overriding question being “Is this in the best interests of the Australian people”. This would be more attractive than being a single issue party. ”

    Agreed Kaye, and this is what the Australian Progressives have done. Micro parties are more attractive to me when they have a range of policies. It’s too risky voting for a single issue party, because they are likely to make stupid deals that affect a large number of people, in exchange for getting what they (a small number of people) want.

    “It seems to me, a DD election gives smaller parties a good chance to get someone in with 12 Senators to be elected in each state. They should be advertising encouraging people to vote below the line.”

    Correct again, their quota is halved and I hadn’t thought of that previously. So bleating at the Greens for bringing on a DD election is even more ridiculous because it is the easiest time for them to get elected.

  124. Lee

    “What’s wrong with testing it in the High Court as to Constitutionality?”

    Their right to do so not withstanding, there are a couple of things wrong with it. First of all, it smacks of hypocrisy when the current ATL system, which is being used by over 90% of voters (97% in NSW in 2013), is highly likely to be unconstitutional but no one is crying about that because they are deriving considerable benefit from being undemocratically elected. Secondly, the time, money and energy spent mounting a High Court challenge is better spent on coming up with some decent policies to benefit all Australians.

  125. randalstella

    This seems like last week’s news now. But a challenge to the Senate voting reform could make it very topical if it interferes with Turnbull’s timing.
    The micros were elected by paying money to the Whisperer to game preferences under the now-former voting requirements above the line. They are now without such a means of election. They are complaining about that. It is self-interest, an assumed right to game the system, irrespective of voters’ intent. It was never a concern for the rights of small Parties to be democratically elected. That is what made the Labor shrieks untenable.
    The complainant micros now have to depend on actual voters’ preferences, not ones constructed by the Whisperer.
    They are right to be pessimistic.
    For the slimy Sen.X, more manna from a twisted heaven. The Greens will likely lose out because of their principles – which will have the self-defeating Laborite bozos chortling and hurling more abuse.

    Why is the “current ATL system… highly likely to be unconstitutional”? I might agree with Malcolm Mackerras that there should not be a means of voting that ignores the individual candidates. Like him, I might like that to be declared unconstitutional under sect.7. As MM might be suggesting, that is a long way from it being “highly likely”.
    I welcome the High Court challenge, as arguments will have to be better than offered so far. I would particularly like to hear Labor’s objections, in cool and reasoned language – but that may not be likely.
    The challenge may not even be on sect.7. Mackerras’ statements and Day’s do not gibe. Day’s own seem very contrived.

    The one problem is that this is not a very imaginative High Court. Its decision on the Migration Act amendment showed they are willing to go along with a reactionary Government’s bizarre argument that their total responsibility for offshore detention centres means that they can rightly deem themselves without responsibility for what goes on there. A dismal and ridiculous decision. This was of course one Abbott/Turnbull piece of legislation that Labor crucially supported. Despite one murder and repeated accounts of rapes and other abuses.

    But you never know.

  126. corvus boreus

    Well, the constitutionality of the senate reforms has been tested in the high court.
    To quote the presiding judges summation of Senator Day’s challenge to the changes; “None of the arguments has any merit and each can be dealt with briefly”.
    The high court dismissed the challenge, and the costs will have to be paid by Day and the other applicants.

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