Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Swinging and Hanging

Continuing to find things to question in news reports, I found a version of my recent favourite misunderstanding/oversight again yesterday, when I looked at the election coverage in the Daily Tele I found on the train seat. Speaking of the hits Labor took in inner Sydney without looking like losing a seat, they said Grayndler had gone from a massive 25% margin to 5% or less. Apples and oranges, anyone?

The (almost) 25% figure is based on the two-party preferred results between Labor and Liberal at the last election. Had preferences between Labor and the Greens been compared, it would have been significantly less, despite the Greens not doing well enough on primary votes to make that count happen. (Actually, there wasn't a need to look at any preferences.) While we can't say for sure, I'd be surprised if the change in Labor v Green 2PP result was much more than the primary swing against Labor, that is, about the same as the 8% swing being reported for the Labor-Liberal 2PP in nearly safe Labor seats. Moving on to even more guesswork, the change in the Labor v Liberal was probably even less than that.

In any case the parliament is almost certainly going to be hung. For many years I've had a dream, probably inpsired by NSW in the early 90s, of hung parliaments where independents actively pressure the major players to work together across party lines, as well as providing a separate voice of their own. Now, I'm amazed that Independent Rob Oakeshott is actually make this sort of “cheeky” proposal. I'm not still naive enough to think that this would be all good, but I like the way Oakeshott and Windsor are talking.

Macquazza Dictionary

A recent SMH article explores the internet phenomena creating a generational communication gap. It starts with laguage being influenced by txt speak, and even contrasts it to traditional Aussie abbreviation. In that context, it seems particular strange that the example the Macquarie Dictionary editor gives as having reached spoken language is "TMOZ". Does she think that word's origins are purely in the typed or even written world. Really?

Friday, 20 August 2010

Stopping the boasts

With a resurgence in the number of asylum seeker-carrying vessels moving shorewards, Tony Abbott has taken us back to 20011 and told us he will
Stop the boats.

In response, Gillard and the ALP are slightly more confused about persuing an almost identical outcome. While there are issues of fairness and honesty involved, and the policy in this area doesn't deserve to be ignored, the acceptance of the idea that unauthorised boat arrivals are significant to the overall questions related to immigration and population2 is ridiculous.

The rest of the Liberal mantra can almost be summarised as 'stop the bloat'. While I've seen some details of Labor's “real solutions”, mostly they've been simply telling us to
Stop a boat,

sorry, stop Abbott, and that only they can achieve this for us. I am told that, if elected, Abbot will “take Australia backwards”. Economics and industrial relations get a run, but no doubt we're also meant to conclude that the coalition broadband-lite will 'stop the posts', at least the ones requiring a lot of bandwidth.

Not wanting to be outdone on personality-driven anti-campaigning, in the last week the opposition moved their ads forward from the bloat and boats message to also question the PM's trustworthiness. Both sides have put a lot of effort into telling us not to choose the others, and they both get agreement from Mark Latham, who thinks the answer is to
Stop your votes.

Whatever your choice, I expect that most of the boasts and promises will be stopped and forgotten pretty soon - probably by Monday.

1Which was, incidentally, the last time I was in Australia for a federal election campaign.
2The discussion of which has been, for the most part, bringing together every issue that has population as a factor and putting them together as a scare campaign targetted at self-interest, with very little consideration of how the details interact with each other.

Friday, 13 August 2010

First preference: getting it straight

In several places, I've emphasised the fact that Labor seats reported as "safest" due to the high two party preferred result against the Liberals are actually closer to being taken by the Greens. I've done this mainly it is often overlooked in an unhelpful tendency to make everything one-dimensional and it find it interesting just in being unusual.

As it turns out, Sam Byrne's campaign material has this plastered all over it - "It's between the Greens and Labor". I must admit that while it may add legitimacy to their perceptions, I doubt that it's an effective way to campaign, particular combined with the rest of their comments.

Still, at least it makes more sense that Anthony Albanese's complaints about them. Whatever they suggest regarding preferences, they're making it very clear that they're not looking for a "protest vote". There might be more to say when you put it in the national context, but I don't see anything misleading said about this particular contest.

Then there's the (inconspicuous) Liberal candidate, who also seems to protest a bit much. Even though he may well have other outcomes foremost in his mind, suggesting preferences for the Greens ahead of Labor is exactly the same as saying (truthfully or otherwise - not that I think there's a deal here) that you'd rather the result go that way. Not that that in itself should matter to a potential voter. In fact, let's completely avoid the Alan Jones response to how-to-vote cards and point out that whatever you think of the parties, candidates, and electoral and parliamentary machinations, there's no reason not to choose your own ordering.