Posts by Moz

  • Hard News: #GE2015: Proper Mad, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    We should elect our councils by an MMP type to elect councillors followed by the indirect election of a mayor by a majority in council (as the PM is "elected" by a majority in parliament).

    This causes significant issues in Australia. Commonly no group has a clear majority, and there are fairly often more independents than members of any single party (sometimes more than all parties combined). Deals are done where one group agree to vote for mayor B on the understanding that B will resign mid-term and group B will then vote for mayor A. You see the obvious flaw. The mayor usually gets paid more than councillors, often a full-time salary and position. Which means "I'll be mayor for 3 months, then you for 3 months, then Sam for 6 months..." is utterly impractical whther it's pre-arranged or the result of shifting alliances and regular no confidence votes.

    The flip side of that is that even powerful mayoralties can be very easy to obtain compared to buying a seat in parliament. Hence corruption scandals. For a property developer, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to satisfy a council regulation or paying thousands of dollars to help elect councillors who will vote to waive those fees... it's an easy choice.

    And finally, Sydney has the novel problem of an extremely popular directly elected mayor who is not aligned with any major party, and has seriously annoyed the two who control parliament. So we have seen shenanigans, not least laws passed by those parliaments specifically to contain or destroy that mayor. That is to some extent a reflection of the corruption in state parliament, but not entirely. Political "reform" is much easier to get if the major parties all agree that it's needed...

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 521 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: #GE2015: Proper Mad, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    That's not how it works. Excess votes are distributed based on proportions. If there are 20% excess votes to be re-distributed, then all of the second choices are counted

    Can you also explain exactly how the unpredictability arises in your scenario? I'm willing to accept your claim that no election in Australia currently exhausts preferences as I described.

    The problems in practice are usually simpler, per one of Anthony Green's presentations on reform:

    let me outline the extraordinary manner in which Wayne Dropulich of the Sports Party was elected. The Sports Party finished 21st of the 27 parties on the ballot paper. Twenty different parties contributed votes through preference tickets to the party’s victory, with 15 of those parties having recorded a higher share of the vote. At three points during the distribution of preferences
    Mr Dropulich had the second lowest vote tally of remaining candidates, only to survive by gaining ticket preferences on the exclusion of the only candidate with fewer votes. Under no other electoral system in the world would Mr Dropulich have been elected ahead of the other parties whose preferences were funnelled to Mr Dropulich.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 521 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: #GE2015: Proper Mad, in reply to carrie onn,

    The result is a clear-cut mandate to continue the economic stability that Cameron and his mob have delivered

    A voice from the future? Oracle says "the recession will continue indefinitely"?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 521 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: #GE2015: Proper Mad,

    I am not even slightly a fan of the Australian System, but it does seem to be one of the very few STV systems that's been widely tested. I consider it "great in theory, shit in practice" because it requires an informed, thoughtful voter. Which is great if you are one, but for the other 99% of the population it's just needlessly confusing. Rather than just deciding which candidate or party they prefer, they're asked to think about every single one and rank them in order. Even I don't want to have to decide whether the NeoNazi Party is better than the CryptoFascist Party.

    MMP or pure proportional is much better - it's simpler, clearer and in practice fairer. I prefer the Israeli system with all votes in one pool and no local MPs, but as a compromise the MMP system seems to work and is more likely to be adopted. In the UK the upper house is a huge problem, giving veto power to people who have bought the right to vote is so undemocratic I'm lost for words. IMO step one should be replacing the house of lords with a democratic equivalent - a pure PR senate with 10 year terms and ideally a term limit.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 521 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: #GE2015: Proper Mad, in reply to izogi,

    What has the experience been with the proportionality of representation in Australia under STV?

    Australia uses approximately 20 variations on preferential voting, all of which can be called STV. Typically each of the five different votes I cast will use a different electoral system. At federal senate level I must tick all the boxes, and I'm voting for five senators from a pool of about a hundred organised into about 30 parties plus some independents. In the federal lower house I vote for a single MP, usually from a pool of about five, again ticking all the boxes. For state reps, voting is optional so I only tick the ones I care about (then my vote exhausts), but the two votes are otherwise very similar to their federal equivalents. At local council level I vote for three councillors in my ward using the same optional preferential system as state votes, but the pool is about 6 candidates from 5 parties. Where I elect multiple candidates they don't use a proportional system except at council level, in the senate it's a quota system where overflows are distributed - if there are N positions each needs 1/(N+1) the vote (so for 1 position, 1/2 the vote).

    The giant flaw in the system is that it is unpredictable in exactly the same way as the UK system is, but much less comprehensibly. Few people in Australia understand how voting works and IIRC 80% of people vote "above the line" - they tick one box and the party they choose allocates preferences for them.

    Preference distributions are one of those apparently simple things that leads to chaotic behaviour (in the mathematical sense). The problem is that in the senate exactly which votes get allocated to a candidate and which get distributed matters, and some systems allocate fractional votes and some don't, resulting in a different outcome for the election. Imagine the first half of the votes for a party all preference A,B,C but the send half all preference A,C,B. If the first half are allocated to the winning candidate, and most of the second half are excess votes that get redistributed... C comes out way ahead desipte only getting half the "next preference" votes overall. Or something like that. We saw this in the Western Australian Senate recently, where every vote in the state was upset because a thousand ballot papers were lost, making the outcome of the election unpredictable. So they had another go...

    The Australian approach could reasonably described as: it's very confusing, by design.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 521 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Synthetic cannabis: it just…, in reply to BenWilson,

    There wouldn’t need to be any off season drought period even if it were grown entirely out of doors. The stuff can be stored for very long periods

    And using the example of basically everything you can buy in a supermarket, commercial growers would have incentives to breed for long shelf life if there was a legal market. I mean, you don't hear of "seasonal droughts" in tobacco or carrots, do you?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 521 posts Report Reply

  • Access: The disabled soldier “problem”,

    I find June Tabor's version of that song deeply affecting, much more so than the usual ones.

    I suspect that few to no soldiers come out of war unaffected, the few I've known have all had quirks as a result. And my grandparents were variously wounded, one grandfather dying early after years of increasing pain (and restricted mobility) as a result of wounds.

    Australia had an issue with Vietnam vets killing people at a higher rate than the rest of the population, most often themselves. And as hidden disbilities go death is pretty severe. Although I've seen contrary claims from the USA, that their ex-military are less prone to issues than similar people who've not been in the military.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 521 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Reviewing the Election, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Just imagine how much more we would put children at the centre of policy if they had a vote.

    I keep hoping we'd have more concern for the future> As someone above said, young people have to live with it for longer. Kids also tend to go through a rabid conservationist phase at school because that makes perfect sense, it's not until they've been exposed to "money is the measure" for a few years that they stop valuing things of themselves and switch to a more money-centric system. In some ways I think four would be the ideal voting age, since that's when the "it's not fair" sense is strongest. And I don't mean "four and older", I mean "if you're four you get to vote" :)

    As far as overseas voting goes, I'm not sure whether it's pure self-interest but I think anyone who can be bothered should be allowed to.

    I'm also opposed to any differentiation between the "we grew here, you flew here" cohorts. Strongly, and not politely. One of the best things about NZ is that permanent residents get to vote. I think it's grossly unreasonable that other countries don't do that, and as usual the USA is exceptional in their "no taxation without representation" doesn't mean all tax-payers get to vote, or even no tax for non-citizens. Or, for that matter, the huge range of "guilty of being poor" demancipation laws don't have that effect either.

    On that note, if we have incarcerated enough people to materially effect an election when we let them vote, we have done something horribly wrong and we should fix it. Hiding the problem by denying them the vote is not a solution.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 521 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Reviewing the Election, in reply to izogi,

    Maybe it's totally appropriate to let kids vote directly into the current system. That's another issue again, and it can work then great. But if it isn't then I think there's merit in at least having something.

    My point is that if we're going to look at the arbitrary exclusion of young people from democracy, we should use evidence rather than just dropping another random number onto the stack. We have scientific evidence about when and how people are capable of making decisions, and we could no doubt benefit from more of it and an evidence-based iterative approach to designing the voting system.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 521 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Reviewing the Election, in reply to izogi,

    what about in some kind of segregated parliamentary system that’s tied to the real one? Let younger people vote for representatives. Those reps get speaking time in parliament...{but no vote}

    That sounds great. I'm all for it. But I don't think it goes far enough, we should do the same for Maori. And women. And old people. And convicts. And those overseas. And disabled people. And QUILTBAGS (probably several categories would be required). And probably other groups I haven't thought of yet. But the main thing is that we introduce arbitrary qualifications for "real parliamentarians" that disqualify as many people as possible from actual participation in democracy while making a lot of noise about how they're privileged and special.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 521 posts Report Reply

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