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Why the ALP should preselect more union leaders

- First published in the Australian on 1 March 2014
New research reveals that contrary to popular belief, it would be in the interests of the federal Labor Party to preselect more, not fewer, former union leaders as candidates.
Researchers at an elite unit at the University of the Australian Capital Territory have analysed statistical returns for [...]

Polemics won’t do it

- First published in the Australian, 12 January 2015
IN the wake of the Islamic 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 crafted [...]

Voter ID coming to Qld

– Originally published in the Australian on 28 November 2013
QUEENSLAND’s Newman government is set to bring in voter identification requirements.
They are part of the Electoral Amendment Reform Bill 2013 which, as the LNP has about 90 per cent of the seats in the state’s single house of parliament, stands an [...]

Newspoll net “good for economy”

In my opinion the best Newspoll measure of the political worth of a budget. What will the next instalment bring?
(Question: “Thinking of the federal budget handed down by the treasurer (name), recently. Overall do you believe the budget will be good or bad for the Australian economy? If good do you believe it will be [...]

Revenge of the auditors

- First published in the Australian 17 November 2014
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 [...]

Wrong promise broken

- First published in the Australian 19 October 2011
The carbon pricing bills that passed the House of Representatives last week represent a broken promise by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. But it’s not the one everyone seems to think.
In this paper’s Media section on Monday Errol Simper was very scathing of Julia Gillard for breaking her [...]

South Australia, William 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 [...]


- First published in The Australian on 6 December 2011
The “light on the hill” got a good run at the weekend’s Labor conference. At least four speakers employed the phrase: Prime Minister Julia Gillard in her opening address; Left Spokesman on Everything Senator Doug Cameron against the sale of uranium to India; and Labor for [...]

Tony Abbott’s forgotten families

- First published in the Australian on 13 May 2011
In his budget reply last night, opposition leader Tony Abbott made two mentions of Australia’s “forgotten families”.
It was an obvious reference to Robert Menzies’ “forgotten people” speech. Kevin Rudd, when in opposition, also referred to the “forgotten people”.
The forgotten people speech was delivered on radio in [...]

Mike Kelly’s Labor preselection in Eden-Monaro may break bellwether habit

- First published in the Australian on 5 May 2015
Mike Kelly, the former Labor MP for Eden Monaro, has been preselected to run in the seat again at the next election. Eden-Monaro is a large, mostly rural NSW electorate. The whims and swings of the state with the most seats naturally has most influence on [...]