April 7th 2001

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: BHP goes offshore as Australia goes broke and ill

EDITORIAL: IMF or UN intervention - what's the difference?

New Zealand sets up a People's Bank

BRITAIN: Foot and mouth: the real costs

Straws in the Wind

QUEENSLAND: Horan has the hardest job in Queensland

DRUGS: Beazley's drug policy: more of the same



TRADE: Europe's Common Agricultural Policy flourishes

ECONOMICS: The Aussie peso is dropping; but so is the penny


COMMENT: Islam and the West

BOOKS: 'Damaged Men: The Precarious Lives of James McAuley and Harold Stewart', by Michael Ackland

BOOKS: 'LIFE IS A MIRACLE: An Essay Against Modern Superstition', by Wendell Berry

BOOKS: King's servant: 'David Collins: A Colonial Life', by John Currey

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by De-Anne Kelly, Peter Wilkinson, Alan Barron

News Weekly, April 7, 2001
Life left in Nationals yet


There is much I can agree with Thomas Bradley, in his article "Nationals: the last hurrah?" (News Weekly, March 10, 2001) but he presents a distorted and, may I venture, incorrect view of the reasons for the election outcome in Queensland.

The election analysis presented by Mr Bradley takes no account of the difference in voting patterns in regional Queensland, relying as it does on the statewide first-preference statistics.

Had he looked at the State electorates which make up my North Queensland seat, for example, he would have found that in three out of the four, the majority of first-preference votes went to those parties, including the Nationals, which could genuinely be described as conservative.

It is clear therefore that in those three State electorates, it was not the intention of voters to have a Labor Member of Parliament, yet in two of the three that was precisely what they got.

The reason lies, clearly, in two areas - Queensland's optional preferential voting system, and the extraordinary success of the Beattie "Just Vote 1" campaign.

Under the optional preferential system, voters are not required to fill in all boxes, and allocate a preference for each of the candidates in their seat.

This was masterfully, albeit cynically, exploited by Beattie, who changed the election into a de facto "first-past-the-post contest", knowing full well that this would be of enormous benefit to Labor if he pulled it off.

His "Just Vote 1" message impacted on many voters, not just those who voted for Labor.

The number of votes which gave a first preference to a minor party, but then were exhausted, averaged around 40%, with some booths being as high as 80%. These votes simply "died in the dust" on election day, and catapulted Beattie and Labor to their win.

The Queensland Nationals certainly have some rebuilding to do - but to suggest that this is the "last hurrah", I think not.

De-Anne Kelly,
Federal Member for Dawson,
Mackay, Qld

Competition hypocrisy


The article on National Competition Policy (NW, March 10, 2001) whilst accurate, left a few stones unturned. Those of us in small business with experience of National Competition Policy reviews, understand that being 'reviewed' means allowing our businesses to be destroyed, and 'transferring', free of charge, our hard won efforts to the major retailers.

National Competition Policy decreed that for liquor retailers in Victoria, there be no restrictions on entry to selling liquor. It gave the major chains unlimited outlets by abolishing the present licence 'cap'.

All this enforced liquor, like milk, deregulation supposedly promotes greater choice, competition, stability, lower prices and diversity.

Such unfettered deregulation destroys competition, removes choice, and promotes instability among the small retailers and in the long-term leads to higher prices. Overlooked in your article was the fact that Graeme Samuel is a Commissioner of the Australian Football League (AFL).

The AFL is the most regulated contrived competition in Australia. The salary caps in that organisation are enforced against all members.

* All clubs comply with strict entry guidelines into the AFL; an application by the Boree Creek Thirds would meet a blunt refusal.

* Teams that wished to include a rendition of Swan Lake in the weekend card as part of diversity are not tolerated.

* Players "transferred" attract huge fees for the clubs involved.

* No discounting of tickets at any AFL match is allowed.

* Clubs that do not meet the strict monetary returns are removed. Fitzroy, Footscray and South Melbourne consumers had no choice when their 100-year-old suburban teams were forcibly translocated and merged.

The AFL would never tolerate one club winning the premiership every year, or a system that enabled only the richest club to get the free kicks.

Is there not a certain irony that he who dismantles small businesses in the name of National Competition Policy plays different rules in the AFL?

Peter Wilkinson,
Liquor Stores Association of Victoria,
Clayton, Vic

Why female?


It's disappointing that in his article Bill James, in outlining his ideals that a female Philip Adams should possess, didn't raise the question of gender; why female? (NW, March 24).

The ABC's managing director Jonathon Shier, instead of looking for a female "right-wing" Philip Adams, should be looking for a male right-wing equivalent. As in the rest of the media industry, female journalists appear to be the majority now and especially at Aunty, while male journalist numbers are shrinking daily.

Alan Barron,
Grovedale, Vic

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