Category Archives: Legislation

From the Drafts Folder… Politcal rant from after 2013 Commonwealth Election
Date Created: December 18, 2015  Date Modified: December 18, 2015

Trying to clean up some of the bloat on this WordPress, I decided to publish this–I probably chose not to post at the time of writing, for various reasons, but none I can remember, so here, have an out-of-date rant:

The 2010 Commonwealth election had a number of interesting outcomes–a hung parliament being the most obvious, but after the 2013 result I think it’s imperative to look at our system and how we can improve it for the future of all Australians. As many of you would be aware there has been much discontent on both sides of the political spectrum on the current state of Australian politics, and for us all to have a better say I have come up with four areas we should address.

Education of The Preferential Voting System

Most Australians have a very abstract knowledge of our political system, and one of those areas that seems ambiguous to many voters is the preferential voting system. If you ask the average voter who they voted for the response would more likely be the head of the respective party, that the party which the candidate they voted for belongs to. This misnomer is what keeps local issues from the Commonwealth agenda, as they won’t engage in dialogue with a candidate that is invisible to them.

This education of Preferential voting does not necessarily have to be part of a school curriculum, it can occur from the candidates themselves; By getting out into the community and engaging with their constituents. But for this to be truly effective, addressing politics and the Australian political system in a curriculum aimed at school aged children will be a benefit for our future democracy.

Education on Bicameral representation

As with the above this can be achieved with community engagement. Most people would have a hard time naming more than one senator from their State, and usually its one who has had some media exposure (for better or worse, most often the latter). If Senators became more media visible, and put themselves amongst the community then the Upper House would be more effectively representational.

Additionally, tho not directly related to Commonwealth democracy: Queensland must at some point in the near future install an Upper House as its mono-cameral system has lead to a number of fringe parties entering the political arena without any political background.

Incentives to enrol and muster

There are nations that disenfranchise, or impose penalties on voters if they do not participate in the electoral process if required:

Belgian voters who repeatedly fail to vote in elections may be subject to disenfranchisement. Singapore voters who fail to vote in an general election or presidential election will be subjected to disenfranchisement until a valid reason is given or a fine is paid. Goods and services provided by public offices may be denied to those failing to vote in Peru and Greece. In Brazil, people who fail to vote in an election are barred from obtaining a passport and subject to other restrictions until settling their situation before an electoral court or after they have voted in the two most recent elections. If a Bolivian voter fails to participate in an election, the person may be denied withdrawal of the salary from the bank for three months.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_voting

Personally, I don’t think these measure would be effective on the average Australian non-voter; The carrot, not the stick is the best approach. My immediate suggestion is a voting rebate, where after voting you are given a receipt which will allow you to be re-enumerated for the time taken out of your day to muster. (A possible side effect: By allowing rural voters larger re-enumeration due to distance travelled, it might soften the blow of adjusting rural malapportionment?)

This is an important factor; In the 2010 election there was 14,086,869 enrolled voters and only 13,131,667 (93%) showed up to muster; Of them 729,304 voted informally (5.55%). In 2010 more people voted informally that voted for the National Party, nearly twice as many. And when our seats are decided by just a couple of thousand votes, it painful to see that the result could have been different if they actually made their vote count1.

Media Accountability

This is the big one. The media have taken issues away from politics and replaced them with the talking head. Today’s politicians are praised more for their media-savvy of being able to dodge unsolicited questions, rather than for their ability to address them with intelligence and substance.

There is no magic bullet solution to the media, regulations become ineffective once a new technology penetrates the main stream. The internet for example is exempt from a media black-out prior to polling, in an age where more and more people are relying on new media for their information is this short-sighted?; I think so.

I don’t know; Just some thoughts about today’s… what my cousin called “democracide”

1. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-10/federal-election-preview/4801802

New Media and Democracy: From Trolls to Bots
Date Created: January 20, 2013  Date Modified: January 20, 2013

As mentioned in my earlier New Media and Democracy posts, the conservative coalition have had no qualms about enlisting the help from their young supporters to muddy the waters of political discourse, well it seems they have stepped up their game and hired a coder to automate their trolling with the use of bots.

Tiphereth Gloria, social media expert with VML Australia, said the bot evidence presented in the Storify post appeared to be accurate and she believes it pointed to a Liberal Party campaign. The fake accounts appeared to be part of a “propaganda war” effort to “increase share of voice of anti-Labor sentiment”.

Separately, other spam bot accounts are more blatant. One suspected anti-Labor bot Twitter profile with over 88,000 tweets is @LaborDirt, which pumps out a constant stream of anti-Labor content. Anti-Gillard account @GI-Gillard has reportedly been retweeted by the same bots that retweeted Mr Hunt’s tweet.
Source: SMH

A Storify user calling themself The Geek has followed this a little closer than I have:

Update 1: Since publishing this story earlier, I have put together a growing list of LNP Bots here:
https://twitter.com/geeksrulz/greg-hunt-bots/members
Also at last count 19 January 2013, there were about 40 genuine retweets out of 175 in total for this tweet. The Bots are tweeting via an app or platform called “The People’s Voice”. Has anyone heard of this? Contact me @geeksrulz on Twitter.
Update 2: I tweeted a link last night to my storify feature is.gd/3r9Xj1 to @GregHuntMP for comment. No response so far.
Update 3: Since shining a light on this single tweet by Greg Hunt, the retweets have jumped to 192. They are by real LNP supporters who are possibly coming to Greg Hunt’s rescue to even up the ratio between spambots and real people.

Update 4: It appears that Twitter has finally acted and they have suspended the spambots that were identified. With friends like these, who needs enemies.

Update 5: Henk Luf is threatening to sue me for using his name in this feature. (Oops just did it again.) I have threatened to sue him back if he keeps using my name in his political tweets. Please go to the special Henk Luf section below if you can be bothered. See, spambots are missing out on all the fun that real people have 🙂
Update 6: Finally a response from Greg Hunt via @bennpackham. Greg Hunt says he hasn’t got the technical skills to pull off such a ruse. Fair point. I wonder how he managed to get his website up and running.
http://storify.com/geeksrulz/the-desperation-of-a-liberal-mp

He goes on to point out further details of this troll, and even gives an example of another Conservative MP doing the same…

Can we make legaslative provisions to prevent this type of trolling? or will we just be making an over-regulated online media? I dont have a solution to this other that teach ethics in Computer Science 101.

Our Shameful Past
Date Created: November 10, 2012  Date Modified: November 10, 2012

Its hard for a person to admit their wrongs, when those wrongs were committed by a collective–in this case Australia, its hard for the collective to accept their wrongs even happened. Yesterday I was in my usual online discourse (read: argument with friend) and in the course of that discussion I came across the following piece of historical legislation that highlights not only the subjugation of Australia’s first inhabitants, but also sheds light on a little bit of the War on Drugs mentality. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of War on Drugs, I suggest you look to Google for some background.

This (legacy) legislation had quite a significant impact on the indigenous population, as the link above states:

This document is the instrument effecting a major law directed at Aboriginal people in Queensland. It was followed in other Colonies and thus probably affected more Aboriginal people than any law until the passage of the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1992.
Founding Docs website

Wikipedia article on the Act goes further, claiming:

The creators of this Act saw it as a solution to a short term problem, but the administrators of the legislation had a different idea, and from the beginning used it as a device for social engineering and control. It became the instrument with which Aboriginal people could be stripped of the most basic human rights. The Act was the first measure of separate legal control over the Aboriginal people and as Reynolds has pointed out it ‘was far more restrictive than any [contemporary] legislation operating in New South Wales or Victoria, and implemented a system of tight controls and closed reserves.’

Administrators were able to gain control of Aboriginal affairs through the extensive use of Regulations which could be made lawful simply through proclamation by the Governor-in-Council. In this manner, decision-making passed from politicians to the public servants. The welfare of Aborigines was, after all, only one small part of a busy member’s portfolio. But not only did public servants have responsibility for a huge amount of delegated legislation, individual protectors had extensive autonomy in administering the Act and Regulations.
Wiki article

Emphasis mine. The explicit implication is that this was a case of enacting Narcotics legislation to control the indigenous peoples and their lands. If we look at this from a modern perspective, where Australia’s first inhabitants are disproportionately represented in our prison systems, it becomes not too much of a stretch of the imagination that this over-representation is by design and not by accident.

The wiki article derives from THE ABORIGINALS IN COLONIAL SOCIETY, 1840-1897 By Professor Henry Reynolds et al. It is some heavy reading, if you can approach the topic of our past injustices to our indigenous brothers then please read some–its a long document and covers nearly 100 years of injustices, but its information should never be collectively forgotten just because it paints us in a less than favorable light.

LAW150 – Assignment – Byron Levene – 30188908
Date Created: October 4, 2012  Date Modified: November 4, 2012

Notes from author: This assignment can be downloaded from Scribd with its original formatting. This assignment has not been marked at this point.

I’m using my LegalCSS plugin shortcodes for the Names of Acts.

It is the purpose of this essay to outline advice to the plaintiff, Ace Hi Fi, on potential action against AZ Hi Fi, and the third parties of Planes R Us, and Adventure Air, who were under contract by AZ Hi Fi to provide aerial advertising services, in respect to a special events order obtained by Ace Hi Fi under Part 2 of the Major Events (Aerial Advertising) Act 2009 (WA) (‘MEAA’). Three individual events must be examined here. The action of Planes R Us, under contract by AZ Hi Fi, to fly aircraft displaying advertising material as defined in MEAA section 3, near the venue on the first day of the event; The knowledge of potential actions of Planes R Us to fly aircraft dropping flyers, under contract by AZ Hi Fi, over the venue on the last day of the event; And the actions of Air Adventures, under contract by AZ Hi Fi, to fly jetpacks displaying advertising material over the venue on the last day of the event.

Planes R Us Fly near venue of first day of event.

The action of Planes R Us, under contract by AZ Hi Fi to fly a banner advertising AZ Hi Fi on the first day of the event, does meet the requirements of aerial advertising as defined under the MEAA . However, in order to satisfy a breach under section 11 of the MEAA, the aircraft must be “within sight of a specified venue…”, as we have no definition of “within sight” in MEAA, we will to refer to its ordinary meaning in an dictionary . The Macquarie Dictionary defines within as:
“in the compass or limits of; not beyond: within view, to live within ones income.”
And sight:
“range of vision: in sight of land.”
It being the case that the aircraft displaying the aerial advertising in question could only be seen with the use of binoculars, therefore outside the unassisted visible range from the venue, and not meet the meaning ordinary meaning of “within sight”.

Further information would be required to confirm if this act by the Planes R Us aircraft was in fact exempt, in that it may be the case an event order was taken out by AZ Hi Fi, in another location adjacent to the venue at the same time .

Due to the Planes R Us aircraft being out of visible range, and the possibility of another event order covering this flight, no action for this incident can be taken under the authority of MEAA 2009, with the information provided.

Planes R Us Dropping Flyers Over the Venue on the Last Day of Event.

The planned action of Planes R Us, under contract by AZ Hi Fi to fly over the venue on the last day of the event and drop 100,000 flyers, satisfies the definition of aerial advertising in MEAA, and no information has been provided that permission has been given by the event organiser for this action . It also can not meet an exemption for ‘…another specified event at another specified venue.’ , as this action is to take place at the specified venue required of the original event order taken out by Ace Hi Fi. Regarding the exemption allowed for “…an emergency; […] or in, provision of emergency services.” There is no indication this is applies from the information supplied.

It is important to differentiate between the actions of Planes R Us, and those of AZ Hi Fi in relation to this event. In relation to the Planes R Us, under contract by AZ Hi Fi to fly the planes over the venue on the last day of the event, this would meet the criteria of “…within sight of a specified venue during the specified time…” , and therefore meet criteria for an injunction.

It should also be noted that AZ Hi Fi, having fore knowledge of the event order in place and choosing to ignore the restrictions by procuring the services of Planes R Us to make this fly-over. Being that the flight was not conducted by AZ Hi Fi directly, this would constitute “attempting or conspiring to contravene section 11”.

As this action satisfies a breach of the event order, the event organizer does have the option to apply to the Supreme Court to seek an injunction restraining both AZ Hi Fi and Planes R Us from engaging in this activity.

Jetpacks flying over stage on last day of event.

The potential of Air Adventures, under contract by AZ Hi Fi to fly Jetpacks over the stage on the last day of the event satisfies “within sight of a specified venue during the specified time in relation to a specified event conducted at the venue…” being that this would occur over the stage while the event is at its climax.

The shirts worn by the Air Adventures staff would display the name of AZ Hi Fi, which falls into the definition of advertising as defined in the act, and that the shirts are not the normal branding of Adventure Air, this would also satisfy the definition of aerial advertising as defined in MEAA.

Being that this action on behalf of AZ Hi Fi, by Adventure Air meets the criteria for an offence under MEAA, the event organizer has the option to seek an injunction to restrain both AZ Hi Fi and Adventure Air from engaging in this activity.

Remedies

As outlined above the criteria has been met to apply to the courts for an injunction to restrain AZ Hi Fi and Planes R Us form flying over the venue on the last day of the event and dropping flyers advertising AZ Hi Fi. Another order could be sort to restrain AZ Hi Fi and Adventure Air from flying jetpacks over the stage on the last day of the event.

Section 14 (1) of MEAA allows action for damages under a breach of section 11, however these are limited to any “…loss, injury or damage, or damages in respect of loss, injury or damage. As no loss has occurred, due to the breeches of section 11 being future acts, no damages could be sort under this section.

Section 14 (2) allows “…recovery of future losses as a result of the potential loss of sponsorship of an event.” As there has been no indication that the plaintiff, Ace Hi Fi has lost sponsorship of the event, no action can be made for future losses under this section.

Giving consideration to the above, Ace Hi Fi would likely be granted the injunctions to restrain: 1) AZ Hi Fi and Planes R Us from dropping flyers over the event on the last day, and 2) AZ Hi Fi and Adventure Air from flying over the stage on the last day of the event.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cook Catriona Robin Creyke Robert Geddes and David Hamer, Laying Down the Law (LexisNexis Butterworths, 8th ed, 2012).
Butt Peter and David Hamer (eds), LexisNexis Concise Australian Legal Dictionary (LexisNexis Butterworths, 4th ed, 2011).
The Macquarie Dictionary (3rd ed, 2001 at 27 September 2012).
Interpretation Act 1984 (WA).
Major Events (Areal Advertising) Act 2009 (WA).