Thursday, September 23, 2010

John Lenders, Honour Awarded

John Lenders, Leader of the Government in the Victorian Legislative Council, was last night awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia, a non partisan organisation concerned with the promotion of democratic electoral reform in Australia .

In putting forward John Lender's citation for Honorary Life Membership the Executive gave recognition to John's commitment and contribution to electoral reform in Victoria and in particular the role he played in bringing about reform of the Victorian Legislative Council which was introduced following the State Government's re-election to office in 2002 in which it had won control of both houses.

John was actively engaged in the formation and implementation of the Labor Party's policy, from its conception to birth. As assistant and later State Secretary of the ALP going far back as 1985 when the ALP first adopted a policy of reform in preference to policy seeking abolition of the State upper-house. The Government's preferred model  when it was first introduced was for the State to be divided into five regions (two rural and three urban) with seven or nine members each.

Whilst the ALP had the opportunity to introduce electoral reform back in 1985 in the period between the State election and the Nunawading by-election it did not do so as it fell short of a constitutional majority to introduce other reforms such as restricting the rights of the upper-house to block supply.

In 2002 the Labor Government headed by Steve Bracks won control of both houses of the State Parliament and in doing so was in a position for the first time to implement Labor’s policy for reform to Victoria's State Constitution. As part of its commitment to the three independents who supported Steve Bracks election as Premier in 1999 the government set up a Constitutional Commission to consider in detail recommendations that were to be implemented. In the process of securing support and acceptance for the reforms the model was changed to eight regions each with five members elected. The reforms included removal of the power to block supply and entrenched into the constitution the method of election which can only be changed by referendum or with the support of 60% of both houses. John Lenders was pivitol in oveseeing this process. Without John Lender's imput and committement to reform it is unlikely Victoria would have a democraticly representative upper-house.

A motion to support Johns lenders being granted Honorary Life Membership was supported unanimously by the Society.

In discussion that followed concern was raised about the adoption of the Australian Senate rules in the counting of the vote in particular the method of calculating the Surplus transfer value and the segmentation and distribution of preference votes form candidates excluded in the count. John lenders recognised and supported the need for further reform. At the time of adopting the constitutional changes that were put in place in the lead-up to the 2006 State election it was felt important that the election be consistent with the Senate rules for its introduction.

John Lenders indicated his support for further voting reform that included a weighted surplus transfer value, which was adopted by the Western Australia State Parliament, and the idea of a iterative counting system which would be necessary with the adoption of optional preferential voting.

Whilst these changes will not be in place in time for the November State Election they will be considered by the Electoral Matters Commitee in the new Parliament.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

AEC pays out over 52 Million in public funding to political parties and candidates

2010 federal election payment to political parties and candidates

Updated: 21 September 2010
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has authorised the first payment to political parties and candidates for votes received at the 2010 federal election.
The total of the first payment is $52,411,291. Payments have been made to 10 parties and 17 independent candidates.
This first round of payments is based on the progressive vote count as at 10 September 2010. The AEC has paid up to 99% of the funding entitlements calculated at that date.
A second and final round of payments of all outstanding funding entitlements is to be made once vote counting is finalised.
Funding Entitlements are calculated using an indexed sum per first preference vote. At the 2010 federal election, each first preference vote was worth 231.191 cents.
In order to be entitled to election funding a candidate must obtain at least 4% of the formal first preference vote.
The following table shows a breakdown of the first payment of election funding for the 2010 federal election.
PartiesAmount ($)
Australian Labor Party20,935,323.18
Liberal Party of Australia20,819,820.08
Australian Greens7,086,053.13
National Party of Australia2,441,843.88
Family First Party403,122.45
Country Liberals (Northern Territory)177,617.04
Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)17,407.51
Australian Sex Party11,197.72
Liberal Democratic Party11,116.80
Shooters and Fishers Party10,527.26
Independent candidatesAmount ($)
Tony Windsor (New England, NSW)129,099.25
Robert Oakeshott (Lyne, NSW)91,691.26
Bob Katter (Kennedy, Qld)87,383.75
Andrew Wilkie (Denison, Tas.)31,557.85
Louise Burge (Farrer, NSW)21,400.20
John Clements (Parkes, NSW)20,933.28
John Arkan (Cowper, NSW)19,326.39
Michael Johnson (Ryan, Qld)17,284.98
Matthew Hogg (Riverina, NSW)11,710.96
Alan Lappin (Indi, Vic.)11,239.33
James Purcell (Wannon, Vic.)10,564.25
Charles Nason (Maranoa, Qld)10,427.85
Paul Blanch (Calare, NSW)9,364.37
Katrina Rainsford (Wannon, NSW)9,200.23
Brad King (Blair, Qld)7,353.01
Deidre Finter (Lingiari, NT)4,511.67
Kenny Lechleitner (Lingiari, NT)4,213.44
Editor’s note: Final payments to political parties and candidates following the 2007 federal election are available at:

Media contacts

Phil Diak
Director, Media and Communication Strategy
02 6271 4415
0413 452 539

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Andrew Bartlett still in denial

There are those that deny climate change and then there are those that deny flaws exist in the Australian senate counting rules.

Andrew Bartlet, failed Green's Candidate for the seat of Brisbane (Ex Democrat Leader and Queensland Senator) continues to deny the FACTS that the system used in the counting of the Australian Senate elections is seriously flawed.

Mr Bartlett, who served on Parliamentary Joint Select Committee for Electoral Matters failed to identify the flaws in the counting system.

Has he tried recounting the 2007 Queensland Senate vote?  (Excluding all candidates except the least seven standing - 3ALP, 3LNP and 1 Grn) Obviously not. Unless Mr Bartlet does recount the vote he is not in a position to make an informed decision, but that does not stop him from denying the facts.

FACTS that Mr Bartlett fails to comprehend.

  • FACT The method of calculating the Surplus Transfer Value is seriously flawed.  it increases the value of the Major Party Ticket vote in a situation where there is a delayed election.  In 2010 The Liberal National Party (LNP) NSW ticket vote increased in value byover  14,000 votes as a result of the flaw in the calculation of the Surplus Transfer Value.  14,000 votes is a huge bonus and potential winning margin in a close election.
  • FACT In 2007 David Feeney came close to losing the Victorian Senate election as a result of a "Bonus 7,000 votes" added to the Liberal Party Ticket vote. (Even Antony Green. ABC Electoral Analysis has acknowledged this flaw)
  • FACT Larissa Waters, Green's Senate Candidate in 2007, failed to win a Senate seat due to the flaw related to the method of segmentation and distribution of excluded candidates preferences.
  • FACT Western Australia recognised the flaw in the way the Senate vote is counted and legislated to change the method used in calculating the Surplus Transfer Value. WA did not correct the flaw in the distribution of excluded candidate's preferences.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Writs Returned - Mission accomplished

All Senate positions have been declared and the Writs returned

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) announced today that it had returned the writs for the 2010 House of Representatives elections, and for the Senate elections in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory to Her Excellency, Ms Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Writs for Senate elections in all states have been returned to the State Governors.

Close of Business, Friday September 17, Writs returned and the AEC still has not published the Below-the-Line (BTL) preference data for the Victorian Senate.

All other states have been published.


Update: (Sept 20)  Files are back up and can be accessed via the main menu page.  Victoria's BTL data still missing

 Loctation of data-files available 

The AEC’s refusal to provide scrutineers access to copies of the progressive BTL preference data files, reconciliation data files and the AEC Chief Legal Officer's, Paul Pirani, response to scrutineers request that copies of the BTL data would require payment of $30 and a FOI application has marred what has otherwise been an exemplary counting process.

The double entry-data verification, on-site and off-site backup twice daily, retention of the primary and secondary preference data and manual checking of reported forced entry and inconsistent data-entry records go a long way towards addressing concerns that were highlighted in the 2006 Victorian State election.

Unlike in Victoria votes did not go missing between count A and count B and crucial data files were not deleted, as was the case in 2006 Western Metro count.

Of course this begs the question "Why has Victoria spent Millions of dollars duplicating software development and process when they could have just utilised the professional services provided by the AEC?"

Millions of dollars wasted by the State government that could have been better spent on health, education, roads or other services.

Seams no one is monitoring the expenditure and waste in supporting multiple electoral authorities. Double counting, Numerous junkets undertaken by the administration and the pollys with no accountability. "You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours, MUMS the word"

It is time for a re-think and the establishment of a single independent electoral authority and time to put an end to the waste and duplication.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Queensland - AEC misleading declaration

The Australian Electoral Commission has come under fire for publishing false and misleading information  on its media release announcing the results of the Queensland Senate election

The Australian Electoral Officer for Queensland, Ms Anne Bright said that the Senate count had involved the keying-in of votes into a computerised system, and today an automated process was used to distribute preferences and determine the six elected candidates.

"As with all aspects of the count, the automated distribution of preferences undertaken today was open to scrutineers appointed by the candidates," Ms Bright said.

"Approximately 97% of voters cast their ballot Above-The-Line on the Senate ballot paper while 3% voted Below-The-Line," she said.

The AEC refused to provide scrutineers access to copies of the below-the-line preference data-files during the preference data-entry process.  Without access to this information scrutineers can not verify the accuracy or validation of the below the line preference vote count.

In what has otherwise been an exemplary count the AEC's refusal to maintain an open and transparent counting system has undermined confidence in electronic computerised counting of the ballot.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Slipping back to the past. - Optional Voting under review

If we adopt optional preferential voting we will by default be reintroducing a First-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system.  A backward step in my view.

First-past-the-post is an outdated and undemocratic voting system. It needs to be relegated to the history books and kept in a museum along with a stone tablet, a type writer and a PDP11.

Australia's preferential voting system is one of the best in the world.,

Both the UK and Canada have been debating scraping FPTP voting and adopting a preferential voting system. The UK is expected to do so sooner rather then later.

Under a FPTP or Optional Preferential voting system a candidate can be elected in a single member electorate with less then 50% support, They can be elected with as little as 34% of the vote.

Preferential voting is by far preferable to the other alternatives.

First-past-the-post voting is used in many European counties such as France and Ukraine to elect their head of state, however to prevent the head of state being elected by the minority they have adopted a two-round voting system. The two round voting system simulates what we have here in Australia but costs twice as much as two rounds of voting is required. 

If they adopted our preferential voting system they could save 100s of Millions of Dollars by only holding one round and they would achieve the same result.

Australia is the envy of the democratic world.  We should be proud of our preferential voting system and resist calls to water it down or make it ineffective.Yes it has problems but Optional preferential is not the solution. Education and maintaining an open and transparent and accurate voting system is the way forward

Scrutiny denied

The AEC has responded to scrutineers request for copies of the below the line preference data files to be made available for proper scrutiny.


scrutiny pronunciation[skroot-new] Show IPA
–noun, plural -nis.

  1. a searching examination or investigation; minute inquiry.
  2. surveillance; close and continuous watching or guarding
  3. a close and searching look.
Mr Paul Pirani, AEC legal Officer's, response (extract below) is a clear indication that the AEC is unwilling and incapable of self management in order to maintain an open and transparent electoral process.  Without access to the preference data-files it is impossible to properly scrutinise the conduct and counting of the election results.

Mr Pirani in his telephone conversation on Friday  falsely stated that to do so would nessiate the delay and stopping of the data-entry process.  This is not the case.  According to information provided by AEC staff, Ballot paper preferences are data-entered on stand alone computer terminals located in the counting room and the information and data is then copied on to a numbered USB drive and transferred to a central database terminal which is networked and connected to the Internet.   Networked computer terminals are set up that provide limited "Read Only" access to each ballot paper data record. The information that is available is limited by the method of access one record at a time. Copies of the data files can readily be produced and the integrity of the count is not compromised, nor is the secrecy of the ballot, as there is no means of identifying the voter.

Without copies of the data-files being progressively made available there is no means of monitoring the quality and integrity of the data stored or any means of ensuring that the information has not been tampered with over night. In expressing these concerns we are not implying that the AEC staff have in any way acted illegally, to the contrary, in all other aspects the conduct of the count of the election is exemplary, but it has been marred by the AEC's refusal to not subject the full details of the count to proper scrutiny.

There is no legal limitation that prevents access to the data files requested, in spite Mr Pirani's assertions that there is an "implied limitation".  This information was freely provided after the 2007 Federal Election (be it some three months after the declaration of the the poll). Mr Pirani stated that the information would only be made available on application under the provisions of the freedom from information Act and payment of $30 fee. (Something we consider to be an abuse of process given that this information should be readily and freely available)

It would have taken the AEC less then 3 minutes to make a copy of the requested data files, much less then it would have taken for Mr Pirani to espouse and pen the reply below.