2010-09-02 08:34:32Australian politics
Dana Nuccitelli

So for John and any other Australians here, what's your take on the current state of Australian politics?  From what I hear there's a good chance Abbott will become the next PM, which seems like a scary proposition.  He seems like the Australian George W. Bush.

Seems like your Labour Party is a lot like American Democrats.  Decent ideas, but completely spineless.

2010-09-02 12:50:12Labour - well intentioned but spineless... yep, you nailed em!
John Cook


Tony Abbott is a climate denier. In the week before the election, he said global warming stopped in 1998. A few months ago, he advised 9 year old school children to be skeptical about anthropogenic global warming because "it was warmer in Jesus' time". So yes, pretty depressing, the thought of him becoming the leader of my country.

A recent survey of Australian politicians found 98% of Greens politicians relied heavily on scientists while only 43% of coalition politicians (the conservative party) rely on scientists. So where do they get their information? In Tony Abbott's case, sounds like right wing blogs and conspiracy theory websites.

The crazy thing is due to our current situation of a hung parliament, our government is to be determined by 4 independent MP's. One of them, Bob Katter, said yesterday that climate scientists are all stupid and there is no science on climate change. So I have a fairly good idea which way he's going to swing. I still have faint hopes that the other 3 independents are leaning towards Labour but we'll know within a few days.

The only bright point coming out of our election so far is the Greens party hold the balance of power in the Senate. One of their major policies is putting a price on carbon. If Labour gain government and somehow grow a spine about climate action, we could finally have a price on carbon here in Australia.

2010-09-02 14:13:16structure
Dana Nuccitelli

I don't know much about the structure of Australia's government.  Do you have 2 legislative chambers like in the USA?  I gather that whichever party is able to win 76 seats, or form a coalition of 76 seats, gets the PM, correct?

I was reading about those 4 independents.  It seemed like they generally leaned toward the conservative side, which was a bit worrying.  I gather that the lone Green (from Melbourne, I believe) would side with Labor to tie it up and leave the balance with those 4 indies.

My sister-in-law moved to Sydney a few years back (for a guy, who she recently married).  I got to visit about 2 years ago.  Very cool city and country.  It's weird to see those colorful parrots just flying around in the wild, that we only see in pet stores in the US.  Aussie rules football is a pretty awesome sport too (though I'm not big on rugby).

2010-09-07 21:12:22Structure of Australian government
James Wight

dana1981, you are basically correct about the way the Australian political system works. Australia has two houses of Parliament, elected according to two different electoral systems. Members of the lower house, the House of Representatives, are elected from 150 single-member electorates. This system favors major parties, so much so that minority governments are very unusual here – we haven’t had a hung parliament for about seventy years. However, the upper house, the Senate, works on a proportional representation system, and also has a built-in time lag, so the government usually controls the lower house but not the Senate. (Though I have other problems with the Senate electoral system, but I won’t go into those.)

The last of the independents declared their allegiance this afternoon. Three of the four independents have sided with Labor, and so has the Green, Adam Bandt, giving Labor the minimum of 76 seats required to form a minority government. It’s true that independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor are both former members of the rural conservative National Party, but both are in favor of a carbon price, and Oakeshott actually seems generally progressive. The one independent who isn’t backing Labor is Bob Katter, who is definitely a climate denier, and not surprisingly has come down on the side of the Coalition.
2010-09-07 23:40:35Independents on climate
John Cook

Was very significant that one of the independents, Tony Windsor, cited climate change as the #2 factor in his decision to side with Labour. It was touch and go but the final election result, Labour government, 1 Green M.P., 2 independents in favour of more aggressive climate action and Greens in the balance of power in the senate, are about as good as to be expected from a climate point of view. So a tiny pin prick of optimism has made its way into my heart after the soul crushing chain of events in Australian politics throughout 2010.
2010-09-08 08:59:06relief
Dana Nuccitelli

That sounds very similar to the structure of the US government, except our President is elected independently of Congress.

What a relief that Abbott isn't in charge eh?  Is it going to be difficult for Labour to get anything done with this tenuous coalition?

2010-09-08 09:21:13"Seems like your Labour Party is a lot like American Democrats. Decent ideas, but completely spineless."


A US psychologist compared political conservatives and liberals:

- Conservatives have a generally happier personality

- Liberals tend to be a bit more worried

So it could be constitutional. 


The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity ...

         - W. B. Yeats, The Second Coming


2010-10-01 09:43:25Comment
Robert Way


This is an interesting article on the "secret" militias coming up all over the place in response to Obama's presidency and talks some politics with the upcoming election. It is actually a surprisingly good read.