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who has written 226 posts for Mumble.

A Liberal in Melbourne?

- First published in the Australian 26 July 2012
It has been reported that the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party is very likely to preference Labor ahead of Adam Bandt in the federal seat of Melbourne at the next election.
The expectation in some quarters is that this will send the sole Greens House of Representatives [...]

Revenge of the auditors

IT’S now a little over a year since the Australian Electoral Commission discovered that 1, 370 ballot papers were missing from the recount of Western Australia’s Senate vote for the 2013 federal election. Worse, much worse, was that the closeness of the count made an expensive re-election necessary.

It was around this time that the AEC crawled into the doghouse. It has not yet been invited out.


This blog/website is currently sort of in hiatus while I work out what to do with it. You can read some recent writing at Inside Story.
In Fairfax on same sex marriage referendum and the danger of failure. Here.
In Fairfax on asylum seekers. Here.
In SMH on Trump win (ignore the headline).
In Fairfax on Australia’s in-built political [...]

Polemics no use

- First published in the Australian 12 January 2015
IN the wake of the Islamist terrorist killings in Paris, let’s get a few things straight.
The pen is not really mightier than the sword. That’s just a nice line picked up from an old book. Napoleon Bonaparte isn’t a huge figure in global history because he [...]

South Australia, William Robinson Boothby & the development of Australian electoral institutions

In 2012 I gave a talk in Adelaide’s Parliament House to the Electoral Regulation Research Network. It was a short version of the main findings of my PhD thesis, with the boring bits taken out.

It deals with the development of South Australia’s electoral apparatus in the second half of the nineteenth century. It was the model of running elections, and most importantly enrolling people, that the Australian Electoral Office adopted upon its creation in 1902.

Be warned: it’s five and a half thousand words long and written as a rough guide for speaking. It has no references.

A quick history of enrolment

In 2013 I attended and gave a paper to a workshop run by CABER.

CABER was the then Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn’s Advisory Board for Electoral Research.

From memory this was a two-day workshop and the session I spoke at dealt with automatic enrolment, or as the Commish wanted us all to call it, direct enrolment. This is something I’ve been going on about for years.

The Coalition was strongly against it and one person in attendance was the Shadow Minister of State Bronwyn Bishop. When it was time for questions she commandeered the podium to … patiently explain her position, and eventually had to be talked down so others could have a go.

I called my talk A History of Enrolment in Australia. (I think some of the words were filched from other of my presentations.) It gives a brief history of enrolment, in the “mother country” and then here, before moving to direct enrolment.

Short history of preferential voting

Australians have had preferential voting for national elections since 1918, but it took almost half a century for some key concepts to be understood.

This is something I wrote in 2006 for an academic paper I never finished. This being a longish Sunday, I’ve slightly polished and updated it and plonked it here.

It’s about the history of preferential voting in single member electorates (aka AV) in Australia, and people’s understanding of it. Thinking in terms of a national two party preferred vote (which is not very applicable to UK’s three party system) didn’t really arrive until at least the 1960s.

Originally published in my Australian blog 18 April 2011.

Taking stock …

Cranking this blog up again. Current writing can be found at Inside Story and the Drum.
Older writing at the Oz here and here.

An Australian Nate Silver?

- First published in the Australian, 23 November 2012.
Since Nate Silver’s fame was well and truly cemented with the US presidential election result, some have suggested that Australia “needs a Nate Silver”.
Silver, who blogs for the New York Times, rose to fame with PECOTA, a system for forecasting baseball players’ performance. (Wikipedia entry here.) I [...]

The first returning officers

A tiny slice of my PhD thesis. A five minute slide show on Youtube.