August 27, 2010

Horse 1102 - We're Going To The Polls Again, Or Not... Or Maybe... Who Knows Any More?

72 Australian Labor Party
44 Liberal
21 Liberal National Party of Queensland
1 The Greens
7 The Nationals
1 Country Liberals
4 Independent

With 81.52% of the primary vote counted, the Australian Electoral Commission's Website is now no longer listing any seats as doubtful. This means that the above statistics are now as accurate as it gets.

This means that officially, Labor is on 72 seats and the Coalition has won 73. To gain the 76 seats required to form government, Labor would need the support of all four independents whilst the Coalition only requires 3. Having said that it is still possible to end up with a double deadlock if Labor gets 3 and the Coalition gains one with the single Green member standing against the Labor/Indy group.

What is certain is that the Parliament must sit either on or before November 26, which itself is 30 days after the AEC must declare the result of the ballot. If another election is held as the result of a "no confidence motion", then that campaign must run for a minimum of 33 days.
Logically if no "stable government" can be formed, Australia would be going to the polls in early 2011.

Having said this, I'm finding the following comments from Family First Senator Steve Fielding a little curious.
Family First Senator Steve Fielding says he is considering blocking legislation in the Upper House if Labor forms government.
Now the outspoken Family First senator says he believes voters are "not happy" with Labor and says he could decide to block a Labor government's bills in the Senate.

Basically, Fielding would hold the parliament to ransom if the Labor Party was to form government anyway. What's even more startling about this is that Fielding doesn't lose his own seat until July next year, which means that even if the Labor Party were to form Government, they'd still not be able to pass the 2011 Budget and when the Budget (which is a supply and money bill) fails to pass, this immediately renders the government unable to conduct business and we'd be going to the polls again anyway.

It has been obvious for some time that Steve Fielding is a closet Liberal. During the Howard coalition government, he regularly sided with them and likewise regularly voted against the Rudd Labor government. His position on climate change was very clear, he didn't believe in it, although he vote against Work Choices.

What is looking increasingly likely is that we're probably going to the polls before August 2011, although we might not if Abbott can form his own Coalition government.

Having said that, news follows that Abbott has probably hit that threat back into the gutter:
A spokesman for the Coalition leader, Tony Abbott, said if the Coalition were in Opposition, it would not block supply.
The Greens Senator, Bob Brown, further ridiculed Senator Fielding's threat. From July 1, the Greens would assume the balance of power in the Senate.
Even if Senator Fielding succeeded in blocking the budget, the Greens would unblock it on July 1, the day the budget came into effect.

Who honestly knows anymore? Yes? No? Whatever? About the only thing that is certain is that:

Nobody's in charge, Australia! Let's eat the condensed milk out of the can!

August 25, 2010

Horse 1101 - Micra Loves Cities... Hopefully Cities Might Like it Back

This is the Nissan Micra... that we don't yet have.


I first saw the Nissan March in Japan in 2002. This was strange as it was not yet in Australia at that time. Japanese domestic traffic is unique in having a lot of short run cars that never see the light of day except as grey exports* to other countries, so I expected that the March which I saw in the Nikko Winds Hotel in Narita was for Japan only.
The car was everywhere on my 2003 trip and had already appeared alongside the butt-ugly Nissan Primera in the UK, but it still hadn't showed up in Australia. In fact it wasn't until it had passed side-impact tests in December of 2003, that we saw it show up.

I always thought that the K12 March/Micra looked a little odd with its "Poirot" moustache for a front grill, and that the car practically begged for a different set of front light clusters and front grille. There was such a thing as a Nissan March "Rafeet" which did somewhat fix the error, but it wasn't entirely satisfactory to my tastes, and never sold in Australia anyway.

The new K13 March/Micra drops from 1.6L in Australia, to probably 1.4L and if the 1.2L engine pops out 59kW (77bhp in the old money), then expect the 1.4 to chuck out about 71kW (93bhp).

The base model currently sells for ¥999,600 in Japan which is A$13,383, so I guess once you factor in the bigger engine, shipping costs, and the rising Yen, then when we get it in about October (I imagine it will be at the Sydney Motor Show, if they do in fact decide to hold one), then the sticker price in Oz wil be about $16500 ex-on-road costs**.

I hope that the Micra does well in Australia. Nissan have sort of an image problem, for apart from their GTR and their 370Z, the Tiida and Maxima are entirely uninspiring, and the little Micra looks... like Poirot.

*A grey import/export is of a (usually) second hand car, done "privately" under the radar of the luxury import taxes. Most commonly you'll find 2 year old ex-Japanese Domestic Market cars in New Zealand or in Australia with semi-sports cars.

*The Micra will be one of about six cars which will replace Mrs.Rollo's ageing Nissan Skyline R31; the others being the VW Polo or Golf, Mazda 2, Pug 206 or 207.

August 24, 2010

Horse 1100 - As Bonkers as Bob Katter

Before I go any further I should like to point out that I spent most of last night carefully considering my first words for this edition of Horse because I realised that they had to be quite prolific, so then, here it goes:

Welcome to Horse 1100.

Independent MP Rob Oakeshott says Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott should consider a ruling coalition which would see former political enemies sitting side by side around the cabinet table. Mr Oakeshott and his fellow independents Tony Windsor and Bob Katter have been touted as the kingmakers if either of the two parties tries to put together a minority government.

My idea for a Unity Government doesn't sound quite so silly anymore if Rob Oakeshott has also proposed the idea. However what is sounding quite silly and invariably a lot more fun is the idea of having a Unity Government with Bob Katter as Prime Minister, as is being suggested by the less serious members of the blogosphere and twittisphere.

Bob Katter has been described as a "maverick" MP, and until 2001 he represented the National Party, but frequently crossed the floor and voted against his own party.
Equally bewildering are his many comments which often mix metaphors to the point of ridiculousness:
"I mean, if you could imagine 20 or 30 crocodiles up there on the roof, and if all that roof was illumination, and saying that we wouldn't see anything in this room because of a few croco-roaches up there,"
- Bob Katter, on climate change.

Even more bonkers is the tide of Bob Katter Facts, which seems to have sprung up over the past 24 hours. This is a small sample from the annals of Twitter.

Bob Katter's boots are made for walking. And crunching skulls.
Mark Latham is scared of shaking Bob Katter's hand.
Bob Katter will do more than turn back the boats, he'll throw them into the sun.
Bob Katter is so tough he once called Belinda Neal "cutie-pie."
When the north wind blows, Bob Katter nail-guns his hat to his head.
Tony Jones raises his hand before asking Bob a question.
Bob Katter's hat knows more about economics than Joe Hockey.
Bob Katter is poisonous to cane toads.
Bob Katter thinks that The Greens are a side dish to go with his steak and potato.

I even went to the effort of making this little gem:

However and to move away from the flood of fun which is Bob Katter, the best piece of commentary on this state of limbo that I've seen is this:
Nobody's in charge, Australia! Let's eat the condensed milk out of the can!
This is so pert that if you walk into a Borders Bookstore up until a government is formed and quote "nooneisincharge", as a discount code, they'll promise to give you 10% off the purchase price - Now that is as bonkers as Bob Katter.

August 23, 2010

Horse 1099 - A House Divided

"It's better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a man in a chaotic period"
- Chinese Proverb
...we however do not live in a chaotic period.

If you were to believe the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph this morning, the so called "failure" of the Australian people to elect meaningful and obvious government is either the death of democracy or the end of the world as we know (and I feel fine).

The truth is that we actually do have a functioning government right now, it's just that we do not see it.

The Government is formed out a majority of members and even then only by convention. Section 61 of the Constitution provides that the actual "executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative". In the normal course of business this revolves around the Ministers of State (provided by in Section 64) who form the Federal Executive Council (provided by in Section 62).
AT NO POINT does the constitution mention that government must be formed from a majority of members and also AT NO POINT does the the constitution mention that in the event of a hung parliament, that government can not be formed.$FILE/ConstitutionAct.pdf

In fact, the government may be formed forcibly by the Governor-General using his reserve powers and him/her appointing anyone he actually feels like from either/any party he wants to as Ministers of State.

As it stands with the Labor Party holding 70 seats and the Coalition nominally holding 72 seats (assuming that the Nationals and the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party hold ranks), no-one is currently in a position to hold a majority in their own right, however through negotiation either side might be able to.

Of course it is assumed that Labor and the Coalition would not join in a 142 seat super-majority, however the reserve powers of the Governor-General are such that he could force it.

The idea isn't all that stupid as you might think. Whilst it hasn't happened in Australia, in the United Kingdom whom we inherited the Westminster System from, there were several in the 20th Century.
A so called "National Government" was declared no less than 5 times, with PMs Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill all running governments quite effectively.

What is wrong with selecting a Cabinet from both sides? If I was the Grand Pooh-Bah, Lord High Everything Else, I would select a "Ministry of All the Talents", and select the strongest possible government and so include most leading politicians from almost all groupings.
Imagine what sort of government would have Joe Hockey as PM, Wayne Swan as Treasurer, Julia Gillard as Deputy PM and Minister for Education, Tony Abbott as Minister for Health and Ageing, and Barnaby Joyce as Minster for... who cares? He's a right hoot anyway. Pick the bets members for the Cabinet posts regardless of political persuasion and colour.

Furthermore the whole idea of actual Party Politics didn't really exist before about 1850 in the UK. Governments would be formed from elected members, who could be very swayed to switch sides if it was in the best interests of their constituents. Possibly Robert Peel the founder of modern policing was the first proper Prime Minister elected on the basis of his party in 1841, though the idea of a leader of the opposition wasn't properly solidified until about 1851 when Benjamin Disraeli assumed the title by himself.

Personally I see this result as a clear statement to both parties, and that is actually reflective of the campaigns which both sides ran. Both Labor and Liberal repeatedly told us that their opponents were not fit to run the country. I think that the Australian people have agreed with them and in an almost perfectly balanced fashion, actually told both side that that they are precisely that - not fit to run the country.

In the wash-up the most likely scenario is Labor 72, Coalition 73, Others 4 and one Green Raca Baka*. Whatever the outcome my learned friend Brendan is quite correct. The world will not blow up if either side is not given or returned to power, and despite protestation we will not have unstable government...

... but if we do have unstable government then I want to see chairs start flying like they do in some parliaments. It would make Question Time far more exciting.

*Raca - is a Hebrew word which could mean either fool, empty one, or even effeminate. All of which are appropriate.
Baka - is a Japanese word which either means fool or idiot. Both of which are also appropriate.

August 16, 2010

Horse 1098 - You've Got to Dream, You've Got to Hold Onto the Dream

Blackpool 4 - Wigan 0

As the Premier League stands this weekend, Blackpool by virtue of their 4-0 thumping of Wigan, sits second in the table; second would see them in the European Champions League.
Of course the above situation is probably quite ridiculous but it's OK to dream once in a while isn't it?

I have of course waited 20 years for Liverpool to win the league again, and in the meantime, my other team Blackpool whom to be honest I'd never thought would achieve anything have managed to do something quite remarkable. In just 10 seasons they've gone from avoiding relegation from the old League 3, the fourth tier of English football, to being promoted through every division (and in every case via the playoffs), to stare down some 88 places down from where they were - 88 places.

Even last Monday, Marlon Harewood who netted a double in the 38th and 43rd minutes wasn't even at the club. Only a few weeks ago, columnists were saying that Blackpool didn't even deserve to be in the league at all.,19528,11728_6169853,00.html
But that doesn't necessarily mean they deserve a place in the Premier League. For gaining promotion is the easy part - it's what you do with the riches that count, and in no way are Blackpool an elite club.
A team does not prove it deserves a place in the top flight by simply getting there - they must prove they are worthy by convincingly competing next season.

For 124 minutes until Chelsea had beaten West Brom 6-0 in the late game, Blackpool were top of the league and although one sparrow does not a summer make, for at least two hours if Blackpool don't deserve a place in the Premier League, then NOBODY did.

Gloat gloat gloat gloat gloat. How long is this going to last I wonder?... I predict 4 weeks until Blackpool is back in the relegation zone. Poo.

August 11, 2010

Horse 1097 - There Is No "Right to Marry" In The First Place

One of the things that I find most disturbing is the deliberate confusion and blurring of the lines, with regards the definitions of things. What I find particularly weird was a tweet that I received in reaction to Horse 1096. The tweet was subsequently deleted I notice, and my reply wasn't duly answered, but it left me with an intriguing question, and that is to do with the so-called "right" of same-sex couples to be married.

The really weird thing is that I wonder if the right to marry, is in fact a right in the first place.

If you read through the contents of the Marriage Act 1961, there actually isn't any mention of whether or not a "right to marry" exists, so this is of no help. There is also no mention of the so-called "right" in either the Bill of Rights 1689, or the Scottish Claim of Right 1689. Therefore, the only place where the "right" is mentioned at law with regards Australia, is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as adopted by the UN in 1948; Article 16 does mention marriage.

Article 16
1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

As I said in Horse 1096:
I believe that the main reason for the institution of marriage is to do with the formation of families; this includes fairly obviously, the raising of children, though isn't exclusively so.

Not only does the UN agree with me, but in consequence they happen to have stated that the family is also entitled to protection by society and the State. Curiously, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not mention either what the definition of a marriage actually is, nor do they indicate if the state should be forced to recognise something.

Now although I was married in the United States and specifically in the State of California, it could have just as easily been done in Australia. Since it is the state who happens to recognise the validity of a marriage, then this implies that it is the state which is charged with the governance of the laws with regards it.

Marriage itself is governed with the issuing of a Marriage Licence or the notice of an intent to be married and hence application of the state to recognise it. Either way, a licence or and application beforehand does NOT imply a right, but rather a permission granted by the state or a privilege granted by the state, with all the consequences applied therein and after.

Because marriage is governed by the issuing of a licence and a subsequent certificate that it has been authorised by the state, by very definition the state has conferred permission for people to marry, and therefore be recognised by the state.

There lies the answer. It is the state who gives permission whether it will recognise marriage, therefore "the right to marry" does not in fact exist.

August 06, 2010

Horse 1096 - Same-Sex Marriage Ban Overturned - Democracy is a Sham,0,7711145.story
In a long-awaited ruling, Judge Vaughn Walker says the ban on same-sex marriage violates constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. The decision is expected to reach the Supreme Court.
The federal judge who overturned Proposition 8 Wednesday said the ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage was based on moral disapproval of gay marriage and ordered the state to stop enforcing the ban.

U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker, in a 136-page ruling, said California "has no interest in differentiating between same-sex and opposite-sex unions."
"The evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples," Walker wrote. The ruling struck down Proposition 8 as a violation of federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

I honestly expect to see some rather pointed hate mail as a result of this post, however just because I express an opinion which is radical, doesn't necessarily mean that I shouldn't express it.
There are several issues at play in this.

Firstly, why shouldn't same-sex marriage be allowed?
From a biblical perspective, same-sex marriages are ungodly and sinful. Now although you might disagree with the validity of the Bible in the first place (because I can not possibly know who is reading this), then that opens up an entire other discussion well beyond the scope of this post. The most obvious condemnations are listed below:

"For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."
—Romans 1:26-27 (NKJV)

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."
— 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV)

"Knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,"
— 1 Timothy 1:9-10 (NKJV)

It doesn't really surprise me that the United States would overturn a state ban on same-sex marriage. The US Constitution itself explicitly denies that the country was ever a "Christian" country in the First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
By definition, the United States is, and always was from its inception an athiest country. If you remove "moral and religious views" from shaping the law, then can you really expect any other outcome?

Secondly, what is a marriage in the first place?

I live in the swirling metropolis we call Sydney, in the Commonwealth of Australia. Thankfully, we don't have the stupidity and evil of the US Supreme Court, but rather we have our own legal framework which is probably subject to as much moral degradation.

Since I live in Australia, this is legal definition of marriage as provided by both the
Marriage Act 1961 and the Marriage Amendment Act 2004.

"marriage means the union of a man and a woman"

S.88EA Certain unions are not marriages
A union solemnised in a foreign country between:
(a) a man and another man; or
(b) a woman and another woman;
must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

Specifically according to the Marriage Act 1961, the whole definition according to the law in Australia is thus:
Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
I think that's fairly straightforward.

Thirdly and more importantly... why?

If the Bible and the law specify something, then it follows that there must be a pretty good reason for it. The most important thing that I can think of is to do with the purpose of marriage the first place; the reason for its existence.

I believe that the main reason for the institution of marriage is to do with the formation of families; this includes fairly obviously, the raising of children, though isn't exclusively so.

The family is essentially the fundamental societal building block. It is the place where children are trained in how to live and function in society. We learn how to relate to each other primarily through how we were taught by out parents. If for some reason a child doesn't have either one or both parents through accident or divorce etc. then the children who grow up as a product of those conditions have a less than perfect model of how to live and function in society.

Laws themselves exist for three fundamental reasons: the regulation, protection and the standards of society. This is true for everything from road rules, building regulations, taxation, corporations legislation, town planning, crime, even things like distances, voltages, etc etc etc.

The definitions in the Marriage Act 1961 are there for precisely the same purpose. Namely the regulation, protection and the standards of society. Fiddle with the definition and society itself changes and usually for the worse.
The standard contained in the Act is in fact the best possible standard. I would just like to find someone to prove otherwise. Go on, I dare you.

The implications of that last paragraph are immense. In 25 February 2010, the Marriage Equality Bill 2009, with the view to change the definition of marriage at law to include same-sex marriage did not pass in the Australian Senate by a vote of 45-5, with only the Greens voting in favour and many senators not in attendance.

Furthermore the Greens manifesto for the 2010 Federal Election explicitly states that they intend to have another tilt at changing the definitions under the Marriage Act 1961.

Personally I think that it is the duty of every Christian in the country to put The Greens LAST* on your House of Representative ballot paper and to do likewise in the Senate. If The Greens were to get a substantial say in parliament, then they will do their best to change the law.

Actually it can be argued very easily that once the definition of marriage is changed, that same-sex couples should be given the same entitlements at law is normal married couples. If you then consider that this includes things like adoption and IVF rights, it is still a question of changing the fundamental societal building block, the family. Also, in particular with IVF, if you consider that same-sex couples can not through their own means produce children of their own, it does pose the rather pointed question if that is in fact parasitic in nature.

Lastly and leastly, this proves that no matter what or whom you vote for, democracy truly is a sham. Even if "we the people" want something and decide to make our voice heard through the ballot paper, those who are more vocal and better at manipulating the system are the people who run the show, despite and in spite of what the people voted for.

*Don't vote GREEN.