Post #28 – Racial Discrimination Act Changes

Proposed changes to the wording of part 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act have been abandoned. These changes were proposed as part of the “cutting down on red tape” measures and even when they were in the public eye regarding them, the coalition would not back down. Reasons included:

– It was limiting the right to free speech
– It was limiting democratic freedom
– It was “unnecessary” legislation
– It was needed after political commentator Andrew Bolt was found guilty of breaking the law in 2009 for something he commented on regarding the stereotyping associated with light skinned indigenous people

In fact, our Attorney-General told the senate “People do have a right to be bigots, you know. In a free country, people do have rights to say things that other people find offensive, insulting or bigoted.”

Hmmm. Well, my students should be able to tell you the answer to this one but…do we actually have the right to free speech in Australia? There is no bill of rights last time I checked and certainly nothing explicitly written in the constitution.

Bill Shorten was vocal in his abhorrence of the change (as we would expect) stating “Section 18C empowers minorities with the ability to fight back, with the force of the law and the sanction of our state, in the face of the outrageous and malign, which could otherwise be the first step down a dark and evil path.”

This article details that the change has been abandoned at the moment and government MP Christopher Pyne is quite clear in saying he thinks the public should applaud this as it is in response to their protest.

Article link here (ABC).

It seemed hypocritical to me that the government was funding campaigns focused at reducing covert racism whilst at the same time promoting this, so I personally applaud the (hopefully permanent) move away from the change.



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Filed under accountability, constitution, election 2013, law making, Media, senate

Post #27 – The Promise Checker

Just a short one tonight to tell you about this very nifty tracker the ABC has created! The link can be found here to the video demo and the details on promises kept, broken and in progress:

promise checker

Here’s a quick summary shot for you though as of today’s date.


The tracker allows you to see the areas relating to each promise type and you can examine detailed timelines as well. Interesting stuff! I just love technology.


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Post #26 – The Carbon Tax Repeal and History of the Carbon Tax in Australia

So what exactly is the history of the Carbon Tax in Australia? How did we get to a point where it took our PM (who has a very dominant majority in the House of Reps) months of negotiation and multiple attempts to repeal something he claimed to have a mandate for?


1999 The Australian Greenhouse office releases four discussion papers about a possible emissions trading scheme (ETS)

July 2003 Howard cabinet considers an emissions trading scheme – backed by departments of industry, environment and treasury – however Australia’s energy intensive industry disparage the plan and are an economic strength at this time.

December 2006 As public concern about climate change grows, Howard establishes a taskforce to consider an emissions trading scheme

May 2007 The Shergold report recommends an emissions trading scheme.

June 2007 Facing what he later described as a “perfect storm” of public opinion and international interest, Howard announces he will implement an emissions trading scheme if he wins the 2007 election. It would start no later than 2012. Howard loses the November election.

July 2008 Rudd government releases a green paper outlining the structure of its “carbon pollution reduction scheme”, and a white paper in December 2008.

August 2009 Senate rejects CPRS for the first time.

December 2009 Liberal party ousts Malcolm Turnbull as leader because of his determination to cut a deal with the Labor government and pass the CPRS, elects Tony Abbott by one vote.

December 2009 CPRS rejected by the Senate a second time – creating a double dissolution trigger. Turnbull opinion piece says Abbott’s alternative Direct Action policy is “bullshit”.

January 2010 Kevin Rudd considers, but does not call, a double dissolution election

February 2012 CPRS introduced a third time.

February 2010 Turnbull tells parliament Direct Action would be “a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale”.

April 2010 It is revealed Rudd has decided to shelve the emissions trading scheme until at least 2012 – leaving Labor with no policy to tackle what the prime minister has described as “the greatest moral challenge of our time”.

June 2010 Rudd is voted out as Labor leader, Julia Gillard becomes prime minister. Just before the August election Gillard says, “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead,” adding that she would “lead our national debate to reach a consensus about putting a cap on carbon pollution”.

September 2010 After forming a minority government, Gillard forms a multi-party committee with lower-house crossbenchers and the Greens to develop a new climate policy.

March 2011 Abbott’s anti-carbon tax campaign intensifies as he tours the country warning the tax will kill jobs and cause huge increases in the cost of living. He addresses a demonstration at Parliament House where some protesters wield placards saying “Ditch the witch” and referring to Gillard as “Bob Brown’s

July 2011 New emissions trading scheme with a three-year fixed price – effectively a tax – is released, called a “clean energy future”.

November 2011 New ETS is passed by parliament.

July 2012 Carbon tax comes into effect, with a majority of families receiving compensation, low-income earners fully compensated for its impact and emissions-intensive industries receiving most of their permits for free.

July 2013 A month after being returned to the Labor leadership and facing almost certain electoral defeat – in part because of Abbott’s relentless carbon tax campaign – Rudd announces that if re-elected Labor would move to the floating, and much lower, carbon price in July 2014, one year earlier than scheduled. Labor is defeated at the election.

September 2013 Abbott government elected, immediately abolishes the Climate Commission, instructs the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to stop making investments.

November 2013 Government introduces bills to repeal the carbon price, abolish the independent Climate Change Authority and repeal the carbon price.

March 2014 The Senate, still constituted as it was before the election (Greens and Labor hold balance of power), votes down the carbon price repeal.

10 July 2014 The new Senate rejects the repeal for a second time, after the government and Palmer United party are unable to agree on last-minute changes to PUP amendments. PUP and independents hold the balance of power after the new senate began on July 1st.

17 July 2014: Senate passes the carbon tax repeal with a vote of 39-32 to scrap Labor’s carbon pricing scheme after securing the support of PUP senators and other crossbenchers.The future of the alternative Direct Action policy remains uncertain at this time.

Timeline is sourced and summarised from the following link:

Tony Abbott’s success in scrapping the carbon tax last week the does not seem to have abated the coalitions slide in the polls with Labor and Shorten still scoring high as preferred PM and in most categories across the  nationwide Fairfax/Nielsen survey, taken over three days from Thursday, July 17 to Saturday, July 19. The poll shows Labor well ahead of the Coalition on two-party-preferred terms at 54-46, based on 2013 preferences which amounts to a swing to Labor of 7.5 points since September 2013.

Fairfax/Nielsen poll of 1400 respondents conducted July 17-19

Fairfax/Nielsen poll of 1400 respondents conducted July 17-19

Politically, the repeal allows Prime Minister Abbott to boast he has completed two of his three major election pledges — to “axe the tax” and to “stop the boats”. The third was to repair the Budget. However the coalition is on rocky ground as it must now make sure electricity prices stay down (after pledging the repealed tax will save households $550 a year) and is starting to realise the support of PUP is no guaranteed thing within the Senate.

Quotes from the stakeholders in the carbon tax battle…

Tony Abbott (PM):

Speaking after the vote in the Senate, Mr Abbott rejoiced at the passage of the repeal bills, declaring “today the Parliament finally listened. Today the tax that you voted to get rid of is finally gone.”

“We are a government which absolutely appreciates that we have only got one planet and we should pass it on to our children and grandchildren in at least as good shape as we found it.”

“So we are a conservationist government and we will do what we think is the sensible thing to try to bring emissions down.”

“We are honouring our commitments to you and building a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia.”

Bill Shorten (leader of the opposition/labor):

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott had “embarrassed Australians” and that “history will judge Tony Abbott harshly for refusing to believe that action is needed on climate change.”

At a press conference Mr Shorten also said Labor would take an emissions trading scheme to the next election but would not back the Coalition’s Direct Action Scheme.

Christine Milne (leader of the Greens):

Greens Leader Christine Milne condemned the government and crossbench senators for what would be “the legacy of their political career”.

Senator Milne declared the vote was a “failure” that would see Australia become a global pariah as other countries marched towards pricing carbon and stronger action on climate change. “This is an appalling day for Australia when a government, rather than lead in the face of what the world is facing up to … is determined to stick with the past.”

Clive Palmer (leader of PUP):

Virtually impossible to find a quote from Mr Palmer after the fact! As we all know, he was a little confused before the vote with some policy flips but this quote was made 3 days before the vote went through to repel the tax during debate in the house of reps, where the PUP leader said his party would vote to abolish the tax in the Senate now that its amendments were in place.

”It’s not the Labor way or the Liberal way, it’s the right way that’s important for Australia and the world.”



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Filed under constitution, election 2013, law making, mandate, repeal, senate

Post #25 – Peter Cosgrove sworn in as new Governor General

Hello year 12s and welcome to a very relevant section of your course – The Executive.

You should easily be able to tell me what sections of the constitution are related to the executive, what chapters, whether they are effective in their role and most importantly….how they are appointed.

According to the constitution, the Governor-General is the most powerful person in Australian politics but by convention, this power is instead utilised by the Prime Minister. Can anyone tell me what section the PM is mentioned in within the constitution? Anyone? 🙂

This ABC article talks about Cosgrove’s swearing in ceremony, his speech and some of the ceremony he had to go through on the day of his selection. You can watch the video footage of his first speech in the role here.

What do you think, is the role of the GG just ceremonial or do they still have any real power?

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Post #24 – WA half-senate election

Hello politics lovers (or haters), did you miss my rants/posts/cartoons/conversations?

I sure missed you!

It has been awhile between blog posts for a few reasons – a trip overseas and the start of the new school year being major culprits. However, since my last blog post we have had a change in government (you can cheer or boo here depending on your points of view), a very interesting and ongoing battle about the concepts of mandates and most interestingly for those of us here in WA, some missing ballot papers.

Now as all smart politics students know, the senate ballots in each federal election are only ever half senate elections. This is because as per section 13 of the constitution, slightly more than half of the Senate is contested at each general election (half of the 72 state senators, and all four of the territory senators), along with the entire House of Representatives. Except in the case of a double dissolution, senators are normally elected for fixed terms of six years, commencing on 1 July following the election, and ceasing on 30 June six years later.


So there were some missing ballot papers from the WA senate results and as a result, it would seem it has disadvantaged one of the parties.  Antony Green pointed out for us that there was a chance of a completely new election being called for WA voters. Which is what has happened! The Court of Disputed Returns has overturned the result and called an entirely new election which will be held for WA voters on April 5th, 2014. This simply had to happen because of uncertainty over the filling of the final two out of the six vacancies. On the first ballot paper count, Labor’s Louise Pratt and Palmer United Party’s Zhenya ‘Dio’ Wang won the two seats remaining in contention. On the re-count excluding the ballot papers that went missing, the final two seats were won by the Greens’ Scott Ludlam and Sports Party’s Wayne Dropulich. This is a significant difference.

For the current Abbott government the ruling of a new election is a blow. Of the six seats up for election in September 2013, four seats were not affected by the closeness of the count. Those Senators whose election was not in doubt (they won their proportion free and clear of any missing papers) included all three elected Liberal candidates. However, while two Senate seats are left in doubt by the count, the only option for the court was to re-run the election for all six senate seats.

Antony Green (ABC) has answered another question really well for us. If there was a known issue with numbers straight after the election and during the count, why did they declare a result? It isn’t urgent as the new senators don’t start until July so why not wait and see if the missing papers show up? Or do another recount?

“One question I have been asked is why the AEC has declared the result if it knows there is a problem?

The answer is simple. The electoral act specifies that Court of Disputed Returns challenge cannot begin until a result is declared. Having spent the last week trying to locate the missing ballot papers, the AEC had little choice but to declare the result so that the Court of Disputed Returns process could begin.”

The re-election could easily put one of the Liberal’s “safely won” seats in doubt. If the Liberal Party lost a seat at the re-election, it would weaken the Abbott government’s position in the Senate and strengthen the alliance of minor parties that has developed around Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party. Alternatively, the Liberal Party might maintain its support from the federal election, and could potentially turn the election into a “referendum” on repeal of the carbon and mining taxes.

We can already see they are taking the issue very seriously with the political action ramping up in WA today with Abbott, Shorten and Palmer targeting voters. This article from PerthNow (always check bias and validity) outlines statements that do seem to support the idea of the Libs using the election to promote their mandate.

Another issue that has come to light is the lack of understanding over what it is people are voting for. The majority of voters in Australia would be hard pressed (in my opinion) to explain how many senators they are voting for, why it is that many, what difference this election could make (it could swing the balance of power further away from the liberals and towards the minor party alliance in the senate which is a pretty BIG deal) or even what role the senate plays in day to day government.

What do you think about having to vote again in WA? Will you change your vote? Have the political actions of the government swayed you one way or another since September? Do you fully understand why it is that you have to vote again or even what it is you are voting for?


Cartoon Source: Cathy Wilcox

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Post #23 – vote compass summary 2013 election

Now I’ve already written a post on what I think about vote compass and its bias. I also published the evidence they provided to say it is not biased – although some of that really helped my argument a lot!

However, biased or not, vote compass has been an interesting tool this election. I know some of my students have made use of it to decide their preferences and help them see where they line up with the major parties.

The article below details some of the findings of the 1 million + results obtained from vote compass.

One of the interesting ones to me was the fact that none of the major leaders ranked higher than 4 out of 10! Disillusioned public much?

I also found the fact that half of labors voters disagree with their asylum seeker policy unsurprising…interesting though. The majority support for gay marriage was also not a surprise although the overwhelming figures supporting legal euthanasia was. I think this is where bias in samples may start to play a role.

#16 says 61% of Australians want more done for climate change but liberal has just announced a cut to that department? Smart thinking leaving that one to the end of the election then.

There are a few other interesting tidbits in the summary article, available here.

Included here is a article highlighting the coalition spending plan and a link to their full costings. Foreign aid copped a hammering, we are one of the strongest economies in the world – at what point do we as a nation say to liberal that cutting this is not okay? Apparently….never….. Click here.



Filed under election 2013, voting

Post #22 – I hit a nerve with ABC!

Oops, seems I hit a nerve with ABC with that last blog post. Since posting it, the head of the analytics sent me a tweet and ABC has posted two clarifications of how their sampling is adjusted for bias.

The detailed explanation is available here: PDF file.

The ABC also say this via twitter:


So what have we learnt from this? Question all sources, even what your teachers say 🙂 which is exactly what I have been teaching you!

I do feel some of my points remain with an element of truth however. It is an online poll (not phone based like the ones the parties rely on), it is advertised and promoted via ABC (which not everyone accesses) and there must be a fair number of people who lie or who change their answers simply to see what happens.

I wonder if all this would make vote compass more reliable than the galaxy polls then? Ooooh controversy! I doubt it though, hence why you don’t really see the parties responding to it (so far….)

As a data collection tool it is fascinating however.


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