Matters related thereto
Roy Morgan has spared the government a new set of poll results this week, presumably holding over last weekend’s face-to-face results for a combined two weeks’ result to be published next week. So here’s some stuff that has accumulated during my recent period of indolence:
The federal parliament’s Joint Standing Committee of Electoral Matters brought down its report into the 2010 federal election a fortnight ago. One noteworthy innovation is a less pompous report title, The 2010 Federal Election: Report on the conduct of the election and related matters replacing the traditional formulation of Report on the conduct of the (insert year) federal election and matters related thereto. Antony Green summarises its recommendations here; now that my holidays are over I’ll shortly get around to reviewing it and will have more to say after I’ve fully absorbed it.
One of the majority report’s recommendations was that the federal government follow the example of New South Wales and Victoria in allowing government records such as drivers licences, vehicle registration and Year 12 school enrolments to be used to automatically update the electoral roll. However, this is opposed in the dissenting JSCEM report from the committee’s Coalition members, for reasons I do not find persuasive. Antony Green has reviewed the impact of such measures in New South Wales since their introduction last year, observing that only 12 per cent of the 70,000 people whose enrolments have been added or updated have taken the trouble to enrol the old-fashioned way for the federal electoral roll. His conclusion: On the evidence so far, by the time of the next commonwealth election in the second half of 2013, there could be as many as 200,000 voters enrolled for NSW elections and eligible to vote at commonwealth elections who will be missing from the commonwealth roll or be enrolled at the wrong address.
Draft electoral redistribution boundaries have recently been published for both our nation’s territory parliaments. Antony Green surveys the results for the Northern Territory here and the Australian Capital Territory here. An ACT redistribution would normally be of minor interest, as the territory is only divided into three electorates for purposes of a regionally based system of proportional representation, but Antony asserts that in this case the changes are radical enough to be of substantial interest, and in particular to put at risk the fourth seat the Greens won at the 2008 election. For the Northern Territory, Antony has calculated new margins for each of the 25 seats, with the caveat that the enormous sitting member factors which result from pocket-sized electorates of 4000 to 5000 voters make party-based margins less reliable than usual.
There has been much talk lately about the possibility of an incoming Coalition government calling an early double dissolution election should it meet Senate resistance from its efforts to abolish a carbon tax. Tony Abbott’s argument to those concerned about the resulting uncertainty and expense is that opposing its repeal in the Senate would be politically suicidal for a defeated Labor Party, a case pursued by Queensland legal academic James Allan in The Australian.
There was a fair bit of material I had been compiling on Western Australian matters to coincide with a looming quarterly state Newspoll, but I was caught on the hop when it was published a month earlier than I’d anticipated.
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