Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘elections

Legal lunacy?

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I should not have been surprised when I read this.  But I am surprised.  This is nothing short of utter stupidity in my view.  Bureaucracy or red tape or something gone nutty.

Read the full article for how one in receipt of such an order is supposed to crystal ball the problem, but the crux of it is:

Allow him to explain. ”I received a County Court suppression order warning me that under the Serious Sex Offenders Act I could not identify a respondent or broadcast any information that may lead to the identification of that respondent ‘without the leave of the court’.”

Fair enough so far. But wait: ”When I went to see whose name I could not legally use, the suppression order said the man’s name had been suppressed. So I have a court order telling me I cannot name a person whose name they won’t tell me – but if, by a fluke, I do mention a name that happens to be the one they have suppressed – I am breaking the law.”

Whoo, seriously weird. Browser phoned the Justice Department, which flicked us on to the County Court where a spokeswoman told us: ”Ahhh, most of the time the names are there. On rare occasions they are not. If they are not suppressed in the Magistrates Court and you follow the matter through, you will know who that person is. And sometimes they are suppressed after the first directions hearing. Before that time the name will be published. But it can be tricky, I agree.”

When I was working through my husband’s shambles of a protection visa case I came across all sorts of things that made me shake my head in utter amazement.  I’m actually not sure what is worse – or maybe both are cut from the same cloth.

What the hell has happened to plain old every day common sense?

I’m totally ignoring the big news of the day, on the basis it is no surprise: we have another election result so close that again no result will be known  for days.  What did worry me about the election was the terribly low voter turnout.  Where is democracy going when even in a country where voting is compulsory, we seem more prepared to pay a fine that exercise our democratic right? 

And so the world turns……..

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Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 28, 2010 at 12:09 am

Posted in News, Stupidity

Tagged with , , ,

Another dead heat? Voting in Australia…..

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Chamber, Parliament

Elections!  Arrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!  This time it is Victorian State Parliament.  We just had a hung Federal election and it looks like we could get a hung Victorian one as well if some of the commentators are to be believed.  While I rarely agree with Andrew Bolt about anything much at all, I have to say he is rather on point with his assessment that this looks like another “dead heat” in the making.

Farrah Tomazin of The Age is saying rather much the same thing.

The headline banner of the HeraldSun says “On a Knife Edge”.

I have a sense of deja vu.  Impending doom of another two week wait for independants to clutch their moment of power while staring at the TV cameras like deer caught in the headlights.  Maybe not quite, but there is no situation like a hung election result to give an amazing amount of attention to a few – sometimes just one.  There was once this senator from Tasmania, I believe………

We Victorians will all dutifully trudge to the polls tomorrow at our local primary school, the church hall, the this or that building to have our names marked off the role and put our numbers in the little boxes.  Those of us who forget will be fined if we don’t have good reason for foresaking our democratic right to vote.  To Americans the concept of compulsory voting is indeed strange.  They think it is undemocratic.  But then I have had Americans swear they live in a republic, definitely not a democracy.  I’m not sure what they teach in American schools about “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.  At least we have the sense to hold elections on a Saturday.  Can you imagine voting on a Tuesday, a work day?

I like the fact Australia makes it a family thing.  Children pop along with their parents and grow up with the idea voting is the normal thing to do.  The odd sausage sizzle adds to the flavour of the day.  We could do without all the “how-to-vote” cards but I guess it just goes with the territory.  How many really follow those things anyway?

In the Federal election we had a record number of “informal” votes – in fact, if I recall correctly, we had a record number of actual blank votes.  Perhaps I should explain a little.  You see, having been a scrutineer myself in another life, I can personally attest to the interesting things one finds on ballot papers.  Interesting anatomical drawings are not uncommon.  Swearing is also popular.  Blank is actually quite unusual.

People in Australia have been making quite a political football out of asylum seekers of late, especially any that happen to cross the seas in a boat.  To those people who want to see us treat these people to the conditions of places such as Christmas Island and then send them home, I suggest as you exercise your vote on Saturday, you take a moment to reflect on how lucky you are to be able to stroll down to the polling station, kids in tow, grab a snag from the fund raising sausage sizzle and wander home in peace.  With your hands still attached to your wrists.  No bullet through your head.  No risk of your wife or daughter being raped because you had the audacity to vote.

Treat your right to vote with the respect it deserves and while you are doing it, have a thought for those who flee from regimes where it is perilous to attempt to achieve the freedoms we take for granted.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm

We are being profiled?

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Poll Source: The Age http://www.theage.com.au

OK, so it was a busy day for me and I only just got to glance at the paper now – after 1am in the morning.  What am I greeted with?  The news that the two main political parties are profiling voters.  Here is a snippet of the article.

It shows how Labor campaign workers have access to details of private lives of voters, including information people may have intended to share only with the offices of local MPs. Database entries seen by The Age include details of a family’s concern about an East Malvern man’s prostate cancer, a man’s financial problems after he purchased a gaming agency, a Brighton family’s complaint about superannuation payments, and details of a woman’s victims of crime compensation claim.

The major parties have different versions of the software – Electrac for the ALP and Feedback for the Liberals – enabling the creation of detailed, cross-referenced files on constituents.

Now, while I know public servants have access to a lot of personal information: The Health Department knows what operations I’ve had and when I go to the Doctor, the Tax Department knows how much I earn, what I do and where I work (and have worked in the past), the Immigration Department currently know more about me than any government department should know: the list goes on.  The article indicates that the information is not coming from government departments – let us all hope that is definitely the case.

I do not expect that information about me from any source that I have not personally authorised will be available to political party campaigners or to candidates that have not yet been elected.  Even elected ones should not have access to private information in this way.   What is going on here?  The article goes on to quote a constituent:

Sam Waszaj, of Travancore, near Flemington, expressed dismay that his correspondence with a federal minister about Medicare funding for late abortions led to a database entry.

”The minister wrote back to me and said Labor was happy to hear my concerns. But they never said to me, ‘Oh, by the way, we will store this on a big database’,” Mr Waszaj said.

This is what the KGB used to do. Who has access to this information? How will it be used in the future?”

Sam asks some very good questions.  I’d like to know the answers too, as I am sure would a lot of other people.  The poll above indicates 91% of those choosing to participate in the poll did not approve.

On my Personal Site I asked were we really “Moving Forward” to 1984.   After reading this article, I’m seeing us get closer to 1984 every day!

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 23, 2010 at 1:37 am

Should I pay for your right to have children?

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A really cute grandnephew of mine

Of late we in Victoria, Australia have been inundated with either our own elections or election commentary from overseas.  We had our own Federal election in August, followed by the USA mid-terms and now we are in the final stages of the Victorian State elections.  We vote next weekend.  At least we are sensible enough to hold elections on the weekend!

Paid maternity leave has always been a bit of a problem for me.  Essentially the community ends up funding the cost to business.  Replacement staff are needed and this is passed on to the consumer in the prices of goods and services. Perhaps that is a good thing: after all, we do need the next generation and the economy is structured such these days that one income is really not enough, unless you are the CEO of one of our major banks!  So there is an argument for community funding, however indirectly that may be.  I have for years tossed this around in my thoughts against my belief that having children is a personal choice and responsibility.  I acknowledge perhaps it isn’t, totally.  There is a Nigerian proverb, once made famous by Hilary Clinton, that it takes a village to raise a child.  There is considerable truth in that.

Now it seems we want to go a step further.  The incumbant Victoria Premier has annouced a policy of a guaranteed right to return to work, part-time.  Current legislation guarantees only a return to the previous job, which is usually full-time.  This will increase the costs of maternity leave dramatically.  As this is not a look at economics, I will let another quantify the costs to business (as I am sure the opposition will), especially small business which employs the largest number of employees in our economy.

I wonder if people really cost out returning to work at all.  I know years ago my sister and I sat down and worked out all the additional costs related to her returning to work: petrol/travel, office clothes and childcare were just a few of the expenses.  We worked out she would gain about $20 a week.  Admittedly this was quite some years ago (she is a grandmother), she had four children and she had no formal qualifications to earn a high powered salary (such as the bank CEOs).  All the added stress and reduced mother time simply wasn’t worth $20.  Times have changed and the sums may no longer be the same.

What I DO know is that for business this will increase costs, which will be met by everyone – or the business viability will be compromised.  Businesses are not charity institutions, they exist to make a profit.  If they don’t, they fold and people lose their jobs.  How many manufacturing operations have already been moved off-shore due to the cost of labour?  How many call centres are based in India for the same reason?  Those are jobs that Australia has lost.  Yes, I know our unemployment is much lower than, for example, the USA and the UK.  Our economy is stronger.  We need to see it stays that way.

I am not sure this is for the benefit of all.  I see a grab for votes that sells papers and TV time here, rather than a considered analysis of the impact on the economy.  The health of our economy affects everyone, including the new mothers and their newborn babies.

What do you see?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 21, 2010 at 9:09 am