September 27, 2013

Horse 1545 - The Senate: Men In Car-Parks

Once upon a time in the days before YouTube, before Twitbook, before FaceSpace, before internet banking and before digital radio and television (shock & horror, it seems so ancient), when I was working in the cheque acceptance department of a bank, I saw something truly phenomenal which few others know about.
At the end of the day (declared to be 04:30pm) we would switch off the big cheque reading machines and collect several tubs of cheques which had been sorted into bank and branch numbers. These tubs would be placed into black suitcases and the suitcases into the back of a stationwagon to be taken to the next place.
At 04:45pm every day; almost to the minute, in perfect synchronicity, about forty stationwagons would arrive in the underground car park of the GPO, where suitcases containing the tubs of sorted cheques would be swapped so that the cheques could be returned to the originating branches to be checked and cleared.

Although this is an interesting tale, it serves as an allegory for what happens with preference flows in the above the line vote for the Australian Senate. What happens when a person chooses to be lazy on their Senate ballot paper, which shockingly is between 85% and 95% of all people, they surrender control to their flow of preferences to the backroom operators of that party; the unknown traders of suitcases from and to the back of stationwagons if you will.
As former Greens leader Bob Brown said: "Any party that does not join the behind-closed-doors trade in preferences is a mug."

I personally have no problem with the fact that a member of the Liberal Democratic Party or the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party from NSW has been elected to the Senate if they legitimately worked through the rules and were able to horse trade suitcases to obtain preference flows. Politics is a sport and like any other sport, people should have the freedom to play under the rules in so far as much as they allow.
The problem is that the rules themselves are probably quite quite wrong. By definition and from its roots, the word democracy coming from "demos" the people and "kratos" rule, a democracy should be "rule by the people" and not rule by otherwise hidden forces hiding out in metaphorical car parks.
Yet even a seemingly good idea of removing the power of the ballot box away from metaphorical suitcase traders in car parks back to the voters is fraught with problems:
Tony Abbott has issued a warning to the disparate group of senators likely to hold the balance of power that they should not try to stymie the Coalition's agenda.
The prime minister-elect also said he supported change to tackle the Senate voting process after micro party candidates in WA, Victoria and NSW look likely to be elected under complex preference deals.
Mr Abbott said his job was to be ''respectful and courteous'' to all members of Parliament, including minor party MPs.
''But in the end I think they all need to respect the government of our nation has a mandate and the Parliament should work with the government of the day to implement its mandate,''
- WA Today, 9th Sep 2013

It seems obvious to me that any proposed changes to reform the voting process which originate from either of the major parties are probably likely to benefit those same major parties. Limits to the numbers of candidates who can appear on ballot papers or even imposing minimums on the number of pre-poll supporters based on party membership or some other mechanism, even raising the required fee to stand as a candidate, must by design benefit the existing party machines.
If I was Grand Poobah and Lord High Everything Else, I wouldn't look at increasing the barriers of entry to candidacy but look at seriously removing the ability of people to negotiate preferences.

Currently an above the line Senate vote involves placing a 1 in one box. I'd suggest that all the boxes above the line be numbered and the preferences which flowed as a result of the order of party lists would follow.
I think that would more than likely remove the race for back office deals and minor parties in particular would have to campaign harder to engage with voters rather than merely engineering votes through preference deals.

Second to that, I would impose a limit to the number of candidates that any given party might put forward for candidacy. If there were 6 Senate seats up for grabs as there usually are in a Senate election, then every party would be limited to only 6 candidates.
This itself does open up the possibility that a major party might start setting up "shadow" parties just so that they could field more than six candidates on the ticket but what's to say that that hasn't already been done in the past? How does the poor voter on election day know that the Stop Preference Mining Party isn't just another shell for the Pioneer Australia Party?

Thirdly, I'd make below the line voting more attractive by decreasing the number of required boxes to be filled in below the line. I don't honestly think that in a race for only 6 seats that they could possibly ever get down to number 30 could they?
Having voters number 30 boxes instead of 110 (which we saw at this election) would encourage more below the line voting. Below the line voting completely negates and destroys any ticket system which a political party sets up. As much fun as it was to write 110 next to that prize eejit at the election, I know that I was very much in the minority as heaps of people were in and out of the polling place long before I'd managed to number that very last box.

Really I don't want to see the plurality of voices disappear from the parliament. I think of the tragedy of the American Congress which only ever sees a very few number of independents but the house of fun across the Tasman which is the House of Representatives of New Zealand; currently housing nine different political parties. Although the Beehive stands next door, the flower of government which has arisen in New Zealand puts our own great steaming mound on the hill to shame.

I like different voices in the parliament and I'd prefer it if those voices actually came from the people instead of metaphorical men in car parks, in blue and red ties and badly cut green suits.

September 25, 2013

Horse 1544a - Ezekiel Bulver (Additional)

The previous post was a fabrication; a fib; a lie. There is of course no Ezekiel Bulver and I'm not sure I would wish to have met him either. He is an invention of CS from an essay published in 1944. A further explanation follows.

You must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it "Bulverism". Some day I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver.
- CS Lewis, "Bulverism" from pp.16-20— Undeceptions No. 2 (June 1944)

Full text can be found here: Link - God In The Dock

Mr Lewis never wrote the biography of the imaginary inventor of the eponymous Bulverism. So why did I? Because there is an advert on a lamppost near where I work for a Bowdlerised production of Hamlet and I'd mistaken the two. Thomas Bowdler was a real person though.

Scheduled at 10pm AEST.

Horse 1544 - The Legacy of Ezekiel Bulver

Ezekiel Bulver: 25th Sep 1893 - 25th Sep 1973

Ezekiel Bulver was a British Conservative MP who was born in Royal Tunbridge Wells in 1893 and represented that same constituency.
Having been a gunner and then a field officer in the First World War; serving in some of the fiercest fighting at Ypres and the Battle for Poelcapelle, he won a Distinguished Service Order for "gallant and distinguished services in the combined X Corps attack on Keerselaarhoek" but it was his return to England and to the House Of Commons where he achieved notoriety.

Firstly as a vigorous supporter of Stanley Baldwin's first premiership he found himself resigned to the opposition backbenches when Baldwin's Government suffered the loss of a vote of confidence.
After Ramsay MacDonald formed a minority government in January of 1924, Bulver really came into his own. He was vocal over many many issues and partly because of the nature of the hung parliament, was certainly a factor in many pieces of radical legislation failing to be passed on the floor of the house.

It was Bulver's style which made him famous and his doggedness with which he refused to let go of an opponent. In fact, it is one of Bulver's speeches for which he truly left his mark on twentieth century politics and even into twenty-first century politics.

Assume that your opponent is wrong, and explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.
- EK Bulver, to the House of Commons, 19 Aug 1924

Bulver was one of the key advisers who led to the Second Baldwin Government's refusal to negotiate with the Trades Union Congress in April of 1926 which led to the General Strike of May that year. After the general strike many workers felt that they had achieved nothing and were forced to accept longer hours and lower wages.
So critical of "The Nine Days Wonder" was Bulver, that in the House of Commons of May 4 he spoke for 49 minutes in what has now come to be called the  "road to anarchy and ruin” speech.

I especially thought of Ezekiel Bulver on this the 120th Anniversary of his birth and the 40th anniversary of his death when this week, our own government under incoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott has shut down the Climate Commission and as part of Operation Sovereign Borders has chosen to withhold information about when and how many refugee asylum seeking boats have been turned around.
Abbott did a very good job during the campaign of telling us why he thought that the Labor Government was wrong and didn't really bother to try any prove why; now faced with the task of government, they're simply hiding and destroying political dialogue.

Ezekiel Bulver would have been proud.

September 20, 2013

Horse 1543 - A Fallacy Continues to Show Itself (The Second Amendment to the US Constitution)

I'm afraid that there's something that I really just don't understand. I can see something so incredibly obvious; yet an entire nation it seems is prepared to ignore it; even argue vociferously against it.

I am of course talking about the incident at the Washington Navy Yard in which Aaron Alexis, who was working as a military contractor, went on a shooting rampage; killing thirteen and wounding a further eight.
Let me clarify this. Aaron Alexis, the gunman, not only completely legally purchased the weapons with which he destroyed people but was actively empowered by a constitutional right to do so.

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution says that:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Yet somehow this (especially with coercion and "lobbying" from the The National Rifle Association of America) has morphed into a dogmatic barking of merely the last clause; namely "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" despite and in spite of the consequences.
Earlier this year we saw even more tragically those consequences when at Sandy Hook Elementary School, twenty-six people were destroyed; including twenty children. Yet what was the NRA's response to this? Rather what was the response of the CEO of the NRA?

"the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun"
- Wayne LaPierre, CEO The National Rifle Association of America, 21 Dec 2012

Let's think this through shall we?
So, a bloke walks onto a naval base and kills 12 people, but arming teachers at Sandy Hook would have stopped a school massacre? If only, if only someone at defence establishments had more guns...?

As far as I'm concerned, I'm pretty well much convinced that the above statement has been pretty well much proven to be a fallacy and  that there actually are no "good guys" with guns; or if there are, where are they?
Come on America... Something's clearly wrong... except...

Yet as far as the NRA is concerned, something is obviously very right with America or else pressure would be brought to bear to change the culture. The killing of 20 school children did nothing and the killing of 13 military personnel also will do nothing to change the culture, much less the idiocy of the Second Amendment and the results therein.
The American people have decided long ago that the deaths of 10,000 people a year and the residual medical costs of gun violence are an acceptable price to pay for "freedom".
If this had happened anywhere in the 'civilised' world it would have been a tragedy, yet in America, 13 people in the grand scheme of things is neither impressive or statistically important.

My judgement must obviously clouded by virtue of the fact that I happen to live in a nation in which after just one mass-shooting, the people and government decided that that was unacceptable and passed laws to prohibit and restrict the use of semi-automatic weapons. When only a single tragedy happened, we in Australia looked at how to prevent it, which I think is a sensible reaction. Clearly I and indeed Australia must obviously be wrong because America looks at tragedies like the Washington Naval Yard and Sandy Hook, flagellates itself for 11 days in the media and then on average waits approximately 78 days for another 10+ people to be destroyed; only to repeat the process.

Really, I ask the question of the utility of law and whether or not it does any real conceivable good.
Didn't someone long ago write about truths which were held to be self-evident? What happened about those?
This is an example where people's "life, liberty" and "their pursuit of happiness" has been stolen, yet America seems to consistently arrive and even argue that allowing people widespread access to the instruments of death is somehow good.
Moreover I personally I fail to see how the continued inclusion of the Second Amendment furthers or promotes the fundamental purposes and guiding principles of the Constitution itself as laid out in the preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

A more "perfect Union"? The establishment of Justice? How does it insure domestic Tranquility or eve provide for the "common" defence? Does the destruction of people needlessly really "promote the general Welfare"?
The way I see it, each of those 12 deaths at the Naval Yard shouldn't be simply a statistic. Every one of those people was a father, a brother, a son, an uncle and very dear and special to someone. Yet because of the operation of the law which allowed someone access to the instruments of death, families are ripped apart, never to be healed. How about telling those families that the destruction of their loved ones and lives are really the "Blessings of Liberty"?

I'm afraid that I really really just don't understand the justification as to why the Second Amendment to the US Constitution should continue to exist, unless the destruction of people is the real aim of the people who continue to defend it.

September 10, 2013

Horse 1542 - The Senate: The Great Tub Of Ice-Cream

Manipulated, Farscical, Undemocratic, Slapstick - these are some some of the words which have been used to describe the process which we use to elect Senators and the results they produce. I'd like to just add - LONG MAY IT CONTINUE.

Suppose for instance that parliament is like the ice-cream cabinet of your local supermarket. In the lower house we only really ever seem to get two flavours: Banana-Choc and Choc-Banana. Most of the time as these two flavours compete for space in politics, they move closer and closer to the centre and the net result is that a lot of the time despite the different branding we get, we always end up with something beige.

A French sociologist called Maurice Duverger theorised that over time in a single member district system, such as we have in the House of Representatives, tends to produce a two-party system. We can see over the long run of many elections, that two parties tend to occupy the vast majority of seats; including the hung parliament from 2010 to 2013 when the two major parties held 96% of all seats in the lower house. From 2013 onwards, that moves to slightly more than 96%.
In contrast, in the Senate where there is a system of proportional representation, this should produce a greater tendency to multipartism; lo and behold, this appears to be what we're going to end up with. The Senate has been accused in the past as being "unrepresentative swill" but arguably, it is the Senate which more greatly reflects the makeup of modern Australia.

Unlike the Banana-Choc and Choc-Banana House of Representatives, we've seen the election of swirls and nuts into the ice-cream tub that is the Senate. This is in addition to an already wider spectrum of flavours such as Green mint and red Strawberry.
How do we know for instance that the appointment of David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democrats and Ricky Muir from the Australian Motor Enthusiast Party aren't a deliberate protest against Banana-Choc and Choc-Banana? Suddenly we've got boysenberry and walnut in our tub of ice-cream.

What the Banana-Choc and Choc-Banana parties really fear is that the electorate might not like the bland taste that they've had in their mouths for a long time. What they fear is that the electorate might be yearning for a different set of flavours.
Certainly if I take the train and bus across Sydney, I see far far far more than merely the Banana-Choc and Choc-Banana people who make up the vast majority of the parliament. I see guava and pineapple, star fruit and nutmeg, kiwifruit and duku, durian and pitaya people. Does the tub of ice-cream with only two closely related flavours in the lower house better reflect society or do we prefer the multi-coloured kaliedoscope that we get with the tub of ice-cream that is the Senate?

We want to taste something new in politics. We want to experience new flavours, new ideas and new ways of thinking. We want to see the parliament properly represent all Australians rather than the duopoly of Banana-Choc and Choc-Banana; even if that does mean that the nuts get in.

We're sick of beige ice-cream.

Horse 1541 - Charity Sucks Because People Do

Every year the Australian Taxation Office publishes all sorts of really neat statistics (okay, I'm strange, I know) to do with Tax Returns that were lodged in the previous year. We get to find out some really cool things like (okay, I already admitted that I'm sad; strange little man, I know) peoples' wages, the ratio of income derived from sources like dividends and interest as well as the amount declared as charitable donations.

I had a ramble through the figures for 2011/12 and found a pretty sorry looking tale. At least as far as the Australian Taxation Office is concerned, we're just not terribly charitable as a nation at all, despite whatever lies we like to tell ourselves.
During 2011/12, as a nation Australia gave a paltry 0.5% of GDP away as charitable donations; that's pretty poor (now who's sad and strange?). When you consider that we spent 0.7% of GDP on "snack food" for the same period, it's downright scandalous. It seems that we would rather stuff chips down our faces than help those in worse circumstances than ourselves.
Forget the "lucky country", if anything we're the "stingey country".

So then, being disappointed by this "lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck", I decided to see how we fare against other countries and their rates of generosity; sadly, they don't tend to do much better either.
The UK's HM Revenue & Customs Office puts British giving at 0.77% of their GDP. The United States appeared to be way more generous with the figures produced by their Internal Revenue Service at 2.1% of GDP but they also included 1.15% of GDP which is tithes and offerings to church organisations, which are tax deductible. Still, at 0.95% of GDP, Americans are still more generous than the people of Australia.
I found that the Canadian Revenue website was hard to navigate and Germany and France's were simply impossible because I don't know enough German or French but by that stage, I'd lost heart and given up the search anyway.

I suppose that an argument could be made that people who make charitable donations aren't reporting them because of some weird piety or something but Occam's Razor (the principle that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one) leads me to believe that as Adam Smith said in his 1776 book "The Wealth Of Nations" that people act according to their own rational self-interest and self-love (though I'm not terribly sure about it being rational most of the time).
It makes sense for instance that because of that Self-interest, people are more likely to spend that next dollar on themselves (me included) then give it away to charity.

Usually what people are likely to do with the next dollar they earn is described by their marginal propensity to consume or save; it's reasonably easy to calculate that ratio. However, when it comes to giving to charity, if there is such a thing as a marginal propensity to be charitable, it's going to be far harder to calculate.
Probably because there's not actually a direct benefit between the dollar given to charity and the benefit conferred on the person being charitable other than a sense of well-being and/or piety, charitable giving tends to be far more erratic.
Then there's the rather annoying fact that some people are just more generous by nature anyway. Granted that there is a general tendency for people statistically to be less generous as a percentage as their incomes increase but I don't know if that's more to do with the effect of increasing the size of the denominator in calculations or if richer people actually are generally more stingey.
There's a third problem in that people are way way way more generous after they've died than they ever are when they're alive. The realisation that you genuinely can't take it with you, does result in very big portions of some people's estates being given away to charity.

Thinking about all of this, I wondered if there's some sort of way to induce people to be more generous because if America is anything to go by, there must be at least a grain of hope there. What could be done to improve the system? Is there some sort of solution via the market? How do you induce people to be more charitable anyway?
Currently in Australia there is a tax deduction for charitable donations. What if there was some sort of bonus loading say of 25% on that? What if for donations to medical research, there was a specific deduction in one's Medicare Levy?

I will say this though, precisely because charity is such a poor mechanism, I'd prefer government intervention to solve some of societies problems. I'm reminded of the difference for instance of the impact of governments providing schooling in the 1900s as opposed to charities doing it in the 1800s; similar sorts of stories can be drawn from the history of governments providing hospitals as well.
What this does say though is that by force of taxation, society finds a better way to address issues than by leaving it up to the presumed generosity of people.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that charities aren't extremely valuable and that the work that they do is somehow bad, I am suggesting something even more fundamental than that; something darker about human nature itself.
I think I've come to the general conclusion that as a mechanism, charity sucks because people do.

September 09, 2013

Horse 1540 - Election 2013: O Australia, What Hast Thou Done?

As Australia woke up on Sunday morning, as a nation we found ourselves metaphorically slumped over a picket fence, shoes missing, hair suddenly coloured blue, to see Tony Abbott cycle past as the new Prime Minister and whilst in a groggy state and with our heads thumping as if in a hangover thinking "Oh Dear, what have we done?"

Of himself I don't think that Mr Abbott is "the great Satan" for a second. He will probably make for a fairly standard sort of orthodox conservative Prime Minister and provide stable leadership within the Liberal Party; so in than respect I don't see him as necessarily a bad thing. What I am concerned about isn't so much this term of office but the next one following the 2016 election and the one after the 2019 election (assuming Tony decides to sensibly set aside his wish for a double dissolution).
What I fear about an Abbott Government will not happen in the first or possibly second term but might very well happen in the third term.

Mr Abbott went into the election campaign, only releasing costings and actual policy three days before an election. To actually achieve his savings will require the axing of about 600 public service jobs per month between now and June 30 2014. The problem with axing public service jobs isn't so much to do with eliminating waste but the nature of the jobs which end up being removed as a result.

If a government holds out the carrot of voluntary redundancies, then the people most likely to take them up are those people who have the most to gain monetarily. What that essentially means is that the people with the most experience, the people with the greatest skills and the people who potentially have the most to teach and pass on what they know are the first to go.
If you assume that half of the public service is wasteful (which I'm not going to suggest is the case because having been a public servant I can tell you we were hideously understaffed and overworked) then the half which goes are either the people whom a lot of the burden of work falls upon and those people in management who basically take free money and game the system. It is the worst of both worlds.
Instantly the policy designed to remove "waste" rewards wastrels and creates a skill drain and a brain drain. What is left is a public service which is less competent at doing the thing which was intended; serving the public.
Of course when you create a less competent public service by policy design, it leads to the impression of even more waste and the expectation that government isn't able to deliver; thus the door is open to privatisation.
The thing is that once privatised, you're never going to get back the thing which was privatised ever again.

When you think about entities like Telstra, the Commonwealth Bank, the Federal Airports Corporation etc. these things have on occasion gone onto produce massive massive profits. Those profits which would have rightfully have belonged to the government where they could have been reinvested or used to defer the costs of the public service, never again get ploughed into the public purse.

Think about it, Mr Keating who privatised the Commonwealth Bank in 1991 effectively has to date forgone in 2013 dollars the equivalent of $110bn. Mr Howard when he privatised Telstra effectively forwent in 2013 dollars $33bn to date. Now I don't know about you but I find that personally insulting. If someone in business tried to pull that sort of feculence, they'd be shown the door faster than Usain Bolt can run when he is late for the bus.

Mr Abbott's own words are of note here:
We will abolish new health and environmental bureaucracies. We will deliver $1 billion in red tape savings every year. We will develop northern Australia. We will repeal the mining tax. We will create a one stop shop for environmental approvals. We will privatise Medibank Private. We will trim the public service and we will stop throwing good money after bad on the NBN.
- Tony Abbott, Address to Institute of Public Affairs, 5th April 2013

I know I've made mentino of this before but:
For example, privatising the ABC, Australia Post, Medibank Private and SBS alone would transfer 44,200 employees to the private sector – an amount 15 times greater than the Gillard government’s proposed 3,100 APS staff reductions for this financial year.
- Julie Novak, page 2 of Razor cuts, not paper cuts: A framework for rightsizing commonwealth government employment, Institute of Public Affairs, October 2012

Rightsizing? Seriously?!

If Labour does what the unions tell them too, then on the other side, the LNP does what organisations like the IPA tell them too. Policy in this country is hardly created by the parties anymore but by the people who fund them. It is the ones who pay the piper who get to decide what tunes are played.
This is what really scares me. Mr Abbott is by nature, a continuance of the Howard spirit whom he learned his trade off as a Cabinet minister from 1998 to 2007. He was part of that government which sold Telstra and the Federal Airports Corporation. Now that he is in government as the top dog, I can pretty well much guarantee that the ABC, the NBN and Medicare will be either privatised or dismantled by the end of the decade.
That's a world which I don't particularly want to live in but one which the Australian public thanks to three years of goading by the media and by scaring the illiterati who live in places like Sydney's west, we may have inadvertently signed up for.

2013 is not the election you are looking for, you can go about your business... move along.

September 06, 2013

Horse 1539 - When It Is Not News

ABC's Media Watch has pretty well much been Australia's only really serious media analysis television program... well... ever. It is frequently accused of being biased, being written by a bunch of "ratbags" and for promoting the ABC's opinions. Media Watch even says of itself that "everyone loves it until they're on it".

The week before last, it ran a piece which looked at News Corp's and specifically The Daily Telegraph's bias in the run up to the 2013 Federal Election:
In the last two weeks the result is even clearer. 
Out of 107 stories:
59 in our opinion are quite clearly Anti Labor. While just four are anti the Coalition. Only three of the 
Tele’s stories are pro Labor, while 19 are pro the Coalition. And the rest are neutral.
- ABC Media Watch, 26th August 2013

These sorts of stories being as they are will often attract supporters and detractors on both sides of the political divide; in many respects politics is the same as the Celtic vs Rangers Old Firm matches, the difference being that after shouting at each other for 90 minutes, the supporters go home.

One comment however drew my attention and so I've decided to copy it in full:
You know as sure as God made little apples that the ABC has voted for Labor and your recent expose on Rudd's rudeness showed that. There was no need for the item about the make-up artist at all. It was hardly worth more than a moment. As for the Tele's bias the ABC's is as bad or worse. But then you must co-operate of be out of a job, eh? I liked your books. They are your strength but campaigning for the ABC and Labor is beneath you. Further your research and experience must show you that in any election News Corp or Fairfax or the like choose whom they will support. News Corp favoured Rudd in 2007. They are not as committed to balance as the public broadcaster should be but these days seems to have lost that characteristic.
- RH, 28 Aug 2013 5:55:33pm

This of course raises a very interesting point. It's all very very to accuse News Corp of bias but unless you actually look at the data, it's meaningless. I initially thought that maybe this may have been evidence of something called an "illusory correlation". That is, that we only tend to complain about things when they affect us for the worse. This also helps to explain why "the other lane always moves faster".
Is this merely a case of an illusory correlation which has been caused by a distorted influence of our memory on our judgments? Really the only way to properly answer that would be to collect empirical data.

I thought I'd have a look at the two final and therefore most heavily fought weeks of the 2007 election campaign.
From the 10th of November 2007 to 23rd November 2007, the Daily Telegraph ran 137 stories which could be described as political in nature. In my opinion, 48 were anti Labor, 9 were anti Coalition. 12 are pro Labor whilst 29 are pro Coalition. Curiously, 3 are sort of apologetic, perhaps lamenting the fact that Kevin Rudd would swing to power inevitably.
Of course even I could be accused of bias in collating the data and I'm sorry that I can't provide links because I was looking at these newspapers on microfilm at the State Library of NSW but I still thinks it illustrates the point.

It probably should have been obvious that The Daily Telegraph would show a degree of bias: every single writer who has ever existed displays bias. Because it is a commercially driven publication; living in a broadly rightist media group, of course it's going to act according to the business wishes of its owners. They even admit on their website that:
Our political clout stretches from MacQuarie St to The Hill in Canberra thanks to a team of dedicated journalists who work round the clock. We are dedicated to listening to what our readers feel most passionate about. We don't just publish transport woes, we offer solutions.
- Daily Telegraph website "About Us"

The newspaper doesn't pretend to be a newspaper of record; why should it? I even support the right of the paper and its owners to push any political views that they may have because the right to free speech is one of the fundamental cornerstones of an active democracy. What is at issue though is the use or power that flows from having only a few major sources of news and drivers of political thought.

The question which the ABC is asking; which the Daily Telegraph doesn't answer and to which the general public are I think for the most part too dim to understand, is one of fairness, and the truth is that both the ABC and the Daily Telegraph are politically motivated in answering that question.

It's worth at this point revisiting the words of Benjamin Disraeli, who I think spoke eloquently on this very subject:
It is the initial letters of the four points of the compass that make the word "news," and he must understand that news is that which collies from the North, East, West and South, and if it comes from only one point of the compass, then it is a class publication, and not news.
- British PM Benjamin Disraeli, speech in the House of Commons, 26 March 1855

Just how much of the "news" is actual news and which is mere opinion and therefore not news? How much of published opinion do you need to change the political views of a nation; to persuade dullards and the illiterati to vote in a particular way?
Moreover, is the Daily Telegraph brazen enough to run with the headline on Sunday when Tony Abbott is Prime Minister "It's The Tele Wot Won It"?... maybe.