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This website is in imminent danger of being shut down. It has been online since 1995, but the personal circumstances of the owner, Malcolm Farnsworth, are such that economies have to be made. Server costs and suchlike have become prohibitive. At the urging of people online, I have agreed to see if Patreon provides a solution. More information is available at the Patreon website. If you are able to contribute even $1.00/month to keep the site running, please click the Patreon button below.


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Wayne Swan: Connecting With The Missing Middle – Reforming The Parliament And The ALP

Wayne Swan, the ALP’s Shadow Minister for Families and Community Services, has made a major speech analysing the outcome of the 2001 Federal Election and proposing a series of constitutional, parliamentary and electoral reforms, as well as reforms to the ALP.

SwanSwan delivered the speech to the Fabian Society. It is titled: Connecting With The Missing Middle: Reforming The Parliament And The ALP. The full speech appears below.

Swan, the member for Lilley, advocates radical reforms to the ALP’s structure and organisation, in the wake of the party’s third successive election defeat last November. Swan has also proposed a number of parliamentary reforms to revitalise the political process. [Read more…]


Paying Attention To The Rules Of The Election Game: John Warhurst

This is an article on electoral laws, electoral reform and electoral donations by John Warhurst, an academic at the Australian National University.

The article was published in the Canberra Times on June 29, 2001. Copyright is held by the newspaper and the author.

Text of article in the Canberra Times by John Warhurst.

Paying Attention To The Rules Of The Election Game

Democracy relies on effective and fair elections, and the rules governing elections are enshrined in electoral law.

The hardest thing to excite most students of politics about is electoral law. [Read more…]


Carmen Lawrence: Renewing Democracy – Can Women Make a Difference?

The former Western Australian Premier and Federal Health Minister, Dr. Carmen Lawrence, has called for wide-ranging political reforms in a speech to the Sydney Institute.

LawrenceLawrence, the Labor member for Fremantle, calls for a number of parliamentary reforms, including the establishment of an all-party Business committee to determine the business of the parliament. She proposes giving parliamentary committees the power to initiate legislation, especially if their recommendations have been ignored by the government.

The speech also refers to the increasing influence of money in Australian politics. She says: “We run the risk of becoming a “corporate democracy” in which the number of shares you have purchased in the party of your choice determines your effective voting power. While there has been extensive debate about big money in politics in the U.S., there appears to be a conspiracy of silence on the issues among Australian politicians. Public funding of elections was supposed to reduce the parties’ reliance on private corporate and union donations: all that has happened is a blowout in both public (doubled since 1993) and private funding as parties engage in an increasingly expensive bidding war at elections.” [Read more…]


Making The Bastards Honest: Democrats’ Accountability Package

This is the Australian Democrats’ Accountability package.

The documents includes policies on political parties; the public service and Freedom of Information laws; government appointments; ministerial code of conduct; politicians’ entitlements, including superannuation; and corporate accountability.

The document was released by the party’s leader, Senator Meg Lees. [Read more…]


Greens Win Protection Of Voting Rights For Youth And Prisoners

This is the text of a press release by the Australian Greens.

Australian Greens press release.

A Greens campaign against Government attempts to disenfranchise young people and prisoners was successful when the ALP, the Democrats and Senator Harradine backed the Greens stand in the Senate.

“This is a victory for democracy, by stopping Government legislation that would close the electoral rolls early before an election, the Senate has protected the integrity of our electoral system,” said Senator
Brown. [Read more…]


Gary Gray: The Funding Of Political Parties

This is the text of a speech on Political Funding by the ALP National Secretary, Gary Gray.

The speech was given at The Sydney Institute.

Thank you, Gerard.

Ladies and gentlemen.

I have not come to the Sydney Institute today to pick over the entrails of the election on 2 March. Today I want to discuss with you an issue which goes to the heart of our pluralist democratic society.

The issue I would like to discuss is how our parties are funded. The inter relationship of politics and business has always been….controversial to say the least. But with our kind of economy and our kind of democracy, there will always be a close relationship between politics and business.

So I would like to flesh out…from the view point of the Labor Party some principles and a philosophy on the funding of parties.

Over the last three year political cycle, the two major parties, counting the Coalition as a single entity, spent over $155 million. The Coalition spent around $88 million, Labor around $67 million. [Read more…]


Derryn Hinch Suspended By 3AW After Breaking Election Blackout

Two days before the 1980 federal election, broadcaster Derryn Hinch was suspended by Melbourne radio station 3AW for breaking the blackout on electronic election coverage.

For many years, radio and television stations were banned from covering federal politics in the final two days from midnight on the Wednesday prior to election day. Political party advertisements were also banned. The ban did not apply to newspapers.

Hinch had consistently opposed the blackout. On October 16, 1980, with the ban in effect, he went on air at 8.30am, having earlier declared that he would break the blackout.

The broadcast had a 7-second delay. Management was happy to milk the occasion with little risk to the station’s licence.

In those days, Hinch had a daily segment called “What the papers say” in which he summarised the main stories from the daily newspapers. It was in this segment that he intended to break the electronic blackout by reading from the newspapers which were not affected by the ban.

  • Listen to the broadcast as it happened (5m)

3AW took Hinch off air but he returned the following week.

Some years later, the electonic blackout was repealed. Political advertisements remain banned in the final two days of an election campaign but there are no longer any restrictions on news and current affairs coverage of the final days of an election campaign.

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This picture was taken by Rennie Ellis in 1979. It shows Hinch with Playboy Playmate Allyson Best at the Hilton Hotel. It has nothing to do with the election blackout and is gratuitously reproduced here, probably in breach of copyright:

Derryn Hinch