22nd September 2004


An election was called on 31st August 2004.  All seats in the House of Representatives will be up for contest, and half of the Senate seats will be contested.  Each of our original six states will select six senators, (new states will select two) and each will select a number of representatives based on population.  In Australia, the house of Representatives elects the chief executive, called the "Prime Minister".  In the "Liberal Party" (which would be the Republicans in the USA) the representatives appoint the PM and the PM appoints cabinet who supervise the various executive departments, defense, foreign affairs etc.  In the "Labor Party" (= the Democrats) the "Caucus" (which is a shadowy group of people, elected by party hacks) chooses the PM and also chooses the cabinet.

The Liberal Party led by PM John Howard has been in power for three terms, and looks set to either obtain a fourth term, or be the near majority party with a couple of Independents holding the balance of power.  A parliamentary term is limited to three years, as determined by our constitution.  Our constitution can only be changed by a referendum, wherein two thirds of eligible voters must agree to the proposed change.  Australian politicians have expressed the wish on many occasions that the three years term should be extended to four years.  They believe that we the people of Australia would not countenance such a change.   Then again, we the people of Australia do not get what we want.  I believe that a majority of my fellow Australians would dearly love to directly elect their own executive, and would even more love to have the power to dismiss our government a' la Schwartzenegger, but regrettably our political masters do not feel inclined to offer us those options.

The reason for our successive re-election of John Howard is fairly obvious.  Australians are a conservative bunch, and if our executive is not doing something terribly wrong then we tend to reward by re-election.  Of course there is the microstructure of the election.

Pauline Hanson is been reported as having 11% possibly having 22% of the primary vote in Queensland.  You only need 1/7 (=14.3%) of the votes to become a senator in a state that elects six senators, so she has a chance of making it.

By the way, Pauline, if you do happen to read this, might I suggest that you read the letter (below) to Peter King.  (I have not found a direct e-mail address, or I would have written to you direct).   I believe that you actually believe in greater participatory democracy, and the suggestion contained therein might well be the thin edge of the wedge that leads to CIR.


I sent the following email to Peter King, the federal member for Wentworth, NSW, on 15th September 2004.

Dear Peter King, MP

I am a resident of Paddington. I consider John Howard to be a pretty dreadful PM, but (as they say of Democracy) the best on offer.

One of the problems with our parliamentary democracy is the fact that I (as a voter) only have two choices of leader, although there are myriads of policies on which I have preferences. In slightly more than half of those policy matters I agree with the Liberal party platform, in slightly less than half with the Labour platform. So basically I only get what I want about 51% of the time.

It occurs to me that it should be possible, in this computer age, for we the people to participate more actively in the democratic process.

If you were to offer to set up a website, with appropriate security, to poll your constituents on all major legislation which comes before parliament and on which you must vote, and then agree to abide by the majority decision (with safeguards, e.g. that say at least 5% or 10% of electors must submit votes) then I would consider you as my only choice in the coming Federal election.

I believe that such an offer would attract considerable interest among the other voters in Wentworth, where there is a high level of computer literacy. It is obvious that members of any major political party would be unable to match your promise.


I would anticipate that on your website would be something that looked like the polling sites that newspapers operate, however each of your constituents would have an encryption key (mailed to him by your office, at his request) which would permit him or her to cast just one vote on each question. The constituent would log in to your website using that key, (the technology would be something similar to netbank) and vote. As a security check I expect that you might also have a list of the constituents who have voted, (without of course indicating how they voted). In this way someone who had not voted could determine that his vote had been improperly applied.

yours faithfully

He responded:


Good Idea!

I have an excellent set of policies on my website - have a look.  I have asked my website manager to set up a participatory system as suggested by you - although it will have to wait until after my re-election.

Thanks for the excellent suggestion.

Warm regards

Peter King

MP for Wentworth

I don't care what policies you implement, Peter, so long as you implement an open participatory system, similar to that suggested.  With such a system your constituents will always feel that they have a continuing influence on government.

The numbers in this morning's Herald had you trailing the Labour party with 25% to 27%, while Turn bull was about 35%.  I believe that you will get elected.  The people in Wentworth (like those in Calare,) like independents, which is a factor that the numbers men have not accounted for.

- PP McGuinness & Breeding -

I sent the following letter to Padraic McGuinness:

FROM your article:

"Better to have quality of life, not quantity
By Padraic P. McGuinness
August 26, 2004"

"all the nostrums such as paying women to breed faster"


By my (admittedly anecdotal) observation, many women are postponing breeding because of the high cost (for the couple) of setting up a home (e.g. buying real estate). Regrettably, with increasing age, although the home becomes available, the inclination and ability of the woman to breed seems to decline.

In the 19th Century a book named "Progress & Poverty" by Henry George appeared. His solution to the problem of ever spiraling land prices was higher property taxes.

In support of his theories I found in my recent travels in the USA that in those states where property taxes were high, (e.g. Fort Worth, Texas, where property tax is about 1%-1.5% of value) the value of real estate was low. Where property taxes are restricted, (e.g. San Francisco in California, where property taxes are restricted by proposition 13 I believe) the capital value is high.

I believe that we are actually paying the incentive to women in the wrong way. I would suggest a higher tax on real estate, disbanding the departments of social security, education and health, and distributing the money thus saved (by my calculations, over $160 billion, plus the increased real estate tax, say $40 billion) equally among the 20,000,000 citizens, giving each about $10,000 pa.

Of course further money could be saved by paying politicians less (since they now have less responsibilities). Other savings could be obtained by removal of the ~$5000 tax free threshold (since all citizens are obtaining $10,000 taxable income from the government)

You can no doubt confirm all those calculations yourself. The amount of $10,000 is nearly as much as unemployment benefits, and would, in the hands of responsible parents go a long way towards paying for private education of each child. Australia would of course have a lot more unemployed (all those public servants). Fortunately those persons are not contributing to the production of goods, so will not reduce the underlying productivity of the economy. And I feel certain that those industrious ex-government employees would soon find some enterprise or employer to supplement their basic $10,000 ($20,000 for a couple) income. By this procedure we also eliminate wealth traps.

I am sorry if I have diverged somewhat from the subject. My point remains, women will be more likely to breed when they feel secure.  They will feel secure when they have their "nest" and their minimum supply of consumables guaranteed. I believe that high property prices and uncertain benefits are currently making them postpone breeding.

And yes, I do realize that all of the above is politically impossible.

I am still awaiting a reply.


The fact that Kerry is in trouble, even in NY, should be news to no-one.  Here are some reasons for his rapid devolution.  (Similar reasons apply in some cases to Latham in Australia.)
  1. Kerry started out on a back foot when US papers reported that European and other world leaders expressed a preference for him.  Americans would be sensitive about such comment.
  2. Although the Democrats are supposed to be the party of "Intellectuals" they do not show much common sense.  Anybody who has to keep a household account knows that if spending is increased, then income must be increased.  That means more taxes.  Basically people prefer to manage their own financial obligations.  People understand that regulation benefits the few at the expense of the many.
  3. Rupert Murdoch.  Up until now, the media has been largely controlled by "big capital" which is generally pro-Democrat, mostly because Democrats enact legislation at the behest and to the benefit of large corporations.  Murdoch is publishing the alternate view, that of the smaller businesses which do not have such political power.  He is in fact annoying the vocal liberal section media so much that they have initiated demonstrations (in contravention of the constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech) against the Murdoch media.  Some liberal documentary makers are making a financial killing by producing pretend "documentary style" films (e.g. "Farenheight 9/11", "Outfoxed").
  4. He does not seem to actually have policies.  He names a policy, and reverses it shortly thereafter.  This does not worry the converted, but the swinging voters are confused.
  5. Bloggers and the internet (which predecessor Al Gore claims to have been responsible for) are increasingly destroying Kerry's liberal journalist power base ("Media Dinosaurs, your game is up", Glenn H Reynolds)


Iran seems to be determined to acquire of nuclear weapons.  The European powers are wringing their hands ineffectually, (something like another time, another place) and hoping that their remonstrations will prove effective.   There are rumors that the Israelis might be surreptitiously invited to step in if negotiations fail.  The Israelis (rightly, in my view) do not trust nuclear weapons in the hands of fundamentalist Islam, whose originator Mahommed once set an example by obliterating a whole tribe of Jews in Medina.

France has received a rude shock: despite it's fawning to Arab Muslim sensitivities, French journalists have been seized and held to ransom.

The terrorist unrest in Iraq has reached desperate levels.  The Muslim terrorists do not understand western culture any more than western culture understands them.  Nor do they seem to realize that the increasing vehemence in the liberal media of the USA is actually just a bunch of journalists who realize that the election hopes for Kerry are rapidly diminishing, and are trying to create a new policy.

The murder of hostages by Muslim extremists in Iraq is not likely to end occupation.   I suspect that Muslims will next be saying that it is actually the CIA that is committing these murders as an excuse for the US to send more troops to Iraq to suppress the "Muslim" menace. (a' la Saddam Hussein) and thus guarantee Bush's re-election.  (Perhaps, by calling for withdrawal, liberal journalists are the unwitting pawns of a vast right wing conspiracy?)  I expect that Muslims would reason that nobody who follows Mahommed could commit such atrocities.

Rupert Murdoch, meanwhile, is no doubt happily counting the increased market share produced by his Republican supporting editorials.  If he follows past precedent he will allow his many titles to revert to traditional editorial policies after November.