The Null Device


After a recount in the Victorian state election, the DLP has lost one of its two seats to Labor, who, in turn, have lost one of theirs to the Greens. So now the upper house looks like:

  • ALP: 19
  • Liberal Party: 15
  • Greens: 3
  • National Party: 2
  • DLP: 1
Which means that the cold war zombies' influence on the legislative agenda could be marginal. Given their eccentrically reactionary policies (they make Family First look almost like a bunch of progressives), that can only be a good thing.

Meanwhile, political scientists are blaming the election of this bunch of fusty relics (who are rather unlikely to speak for the fabled Silent Majority Of Suburban Battlers) on the above-the-line preferential voting system used to elect candidates. In short, this system works by allowing voters a choice: vote below the line, enumerating your candidates of choice in order from most to least preferred (and there's usually a good 40 or 50 there), or tick the box of one party above the line and automatically vote according to whatever preferences the party has chosen in its various deals. The political enthusiasts who keep up to date with the details of the preference deals are, for the most part, the same tiny minority of voters who can be bothered to vote below the line; meanwhile, the vast majority of voters tick one box and hope for a result with the flavour of their particular party.

IMHO, there is a solution: make above-the-line voting preferential, allowing voters to rank their parties of choice in order, removing control over the exact distribution of the preferences of above-the-line voters from party dealmakers.

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Last week, a tornado hit an otherwise ordinary North London street, destroying a few houses. One of those rendered homeless was Caroline Phillips, a freelance writer for the Evening Standard. Her story is here:

If you dream of your home, it symbolises your psyche, what makes you you. It's your security. My soul was in that house. For three years, I'd indulged my passion for perfect decor. In January, it was to have been shot for Homes & Property. On Saturday Ella is, no, that's was, having three friends for a birthday sleepover. I am crying as I write this.
Simon Willsmer, our loss adjustor, hasn't yet broken that news to us. The insurance companies have taken a recent slating, but he was sensitive and honourable. He said we could stay in a hotel. Adrian explained that there is only one hotel in London: Claridge's. Simon did not demur. And he loved what's left of our specialist-polished plaster walls.
We took Anya, 11, "home" on Friday. Her room was virtually untouched, being at the front of the house. But she feels displaced and traumatised. On Sunday we took Ella. She was devastated that her cat, Happy, was missing, possibly killed. She surveyed the destruction wreaked on her spotty Cath Kidson carpet, rosebud blinds and soft toys. "You always say my room looks like a bomb site," she said, smiling bravely.

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