Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Godfather of soul dies

A Tribute to James Brown age 73

James Brown the God Father of soul died at the age of 73. James Brown and his band toured Australia regularly and first performed to a sellout audience in Melbourne at the Metro Night Club in Bourke Street (1988).

His Melbourne support band "Relax with Max" performed covers of songs written by James Brown. "Relax with Max" lead singer Max Vella's on stage presence was influenced by Elvis and James Brown in style and energy.

James Brown inspired a generation with his enthusiasm and rhythm and unique sound, surrounded by controversy, his memory will live on on his songs and his music.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Tully's Tally doesn't Tally

VEC's creative accounting under review

The conduct of the Victorian State Election and its management by the VEC is under review, amidst concern that the VEC tried cutting corners and in the process screwed up big time bringing the State Election and the VEC into disrepute.

Victoria's Chief Commissioner, Steven Tully, is ultimately responsible for the stuff-up and many questions are being asked as to how this monumental stuff-up could occur.

Public Information and results doesn't tally

To help you gain some perspective into the extent of the stuff up take a look at the following summary statistics:

Summary of upper house statistics latest Data

(published December 14, 2006 06:19)
Eastern Metropolitan3759471217938812612-12-2006 17:320
Eastern Victoria3792011262539182612-12-2006 18:550
Northern Metropolitan3601492173038187914-12-2006 06:19-6454
Northern Victoria3653911542638081712-12-2006 19:030
South Eastern Metropolitan3655472020038574712-12-2006 18:230
Southern Metropolitan3618051142037322512-12-2006 19:450
Western Metropolitan3744112507539948614-12-2006 03:57-478
Western Victoria3944781458840906614-12-2006 05:03268
Summary of upper house provisional count statistics
(published December 12, 2006 19:45)
Eastern Metropolitan3759471217938812612-12-2006 17:32
Eastern Victoria3792011262539182612-12-2006 18:55
Northern Metropolitan3666052172838833312-12-2006 18:22
Northern Victoria3653911542638081712-12-2006 19:03
South Eastern Metropolitan3655472020038574712-12-2006 18:23
Southern Metropolitan3618051142037322512-12-2006 19:45
Western Metropolitan3749822498139996412-12-2006 18:03
Western Victoria3945561424240879812-12-2006 17:31
Summary of upper house count statistics
(published December 12, 2006 16:49)
Eastern Metropolitan37539012679388069-57
Eastern Victoria37837413030391404-422
Northern Metropolitan35887722496381373-6960
Northern Victoria36396216654380616-201
South Eastern Metropolitan36381421640385454-293
Southern Metropolitan36020213464373666441
Western Metropolitan37384225773399615-349
Western Victoria39289315590408483-315
Summary of lower house statistics
(published December 12, 2006 16:49)
Eastern Metropolitan3726251558838821387
Eastern Victoria37502416382391406-420
Northern Metropolitan36271520475383190-5143
Northern Victoria36579415520381314497
South Eastern Metropolitan36600819631385639-108
Southern Metropolitan36129212378373670445
Western Metropolitan37251825361397879-2085
Western Victoria39168416550408234-564

At issue here is the number of total votes. Votes have gone missing and have not been accounted for. Normally all the number of ballot all papers are accounted. Each polling place returning officer is required to prepare a tally sheet that outlines exactly how many ballot papers have been issued.

The latest published summary information above shows to what extent the VEC stuffed up - Big time

A voter is supposed to be given two ballot papers, one for the lower-house and one for the upper-house. The number of lower-house ballots should match the number of upper-house ballots. The returning officer then includes this information in their return statements along with the number of ballot papers received and the number of unused ballot papers.

The electoral commission should have tallied up this information and ideally should know in advance prior to the final count how many ballot papers have been issued and how many have been returned. If there is a discrepancy then alarm bells should have rung. BUT this is not what has happened. The total number of ballot papers keep changing and the VEC failed to provide information that would have allowed a proper cross check to occur. (see previous posts on the VEC below).

There are still questions outstanding as to the accuracy of the poll and many believe that the VEC should be required to undertake a second recount in Western Victoria until they have at least managed to obtain the same overall result twice.

Steve Tully is under scrutiny with reports that many politicians, from all sides of the political divide, are not happy in with his performance and the way that he had conducted the election.

As previously reported "Tully's Tally" will come under review when the State Parliamentary Elections committee meets next year.

In the meantime Tully's team will be looking at undertaking some creative accounting to justify this stuff-up and hold on to their job. We think it is time to consider having a single independent professional Electoral Authority with Victoria's Chief Electoral Commissioner under the auspice of the Sate Auditor General and as an executive member of the new Australian Electoral Authority.

More information http://melbcity.topcities.com

Thursday, December 21, 2006

FOI Application required to obtain detailed election results for State Election

VEC brought to account

In followup to our numerous requests for information and details of the Victorian State Election we have found it necessary to have to submit and FOI application to obtain a copy of the detailed elections results of last months State Poll.

The conduct of the election undertaken by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) was a shame and has brought Victoria in to disrepute.

Nick Economu, election analyst and political commentator, has described the conduct of the count as a "farcical". That was putting it mildly. We would say highly unprofessional if not incompetent, lacking in openness and transparency. Information crucial to the conduct of the election was denied and the VEC continues to avoid public scrutiny and review by failing to publish the various count sheets and detailed preference data.

We were constantly being told that the software used in computerized vote counting system had been certified and that safeguards were in place to avoid and limit mistakes in a data-entry. That turned out to be false. As history often proves man is not infallible and the VEC most certainly has failed to live up to the expectations and requirement for an open and transparent election.

Rob Hulls, Victoria's Attorney General and Minister responsible for the Victorian Electoral Commission and the Freedom of Information Act, stated in his annual FOI report: "The existence of the FOI Act should not mean that the formal process provided under it is the only means of obtaining access to documents or information of an agency. "

Section 123 of the Victorian Electoral Act 2002 states:

123. Election information

(1) The number of first preference votes given for each candidate and the details of distribution of preference votes must be available from the office of the Commission.

The refusal of the VEC to publish this information, as requested, is an abuse of the system and denial of open and transparent elections.

VEC receipt of payment for FOI application fee

--- Copy of FOI request delieverd to to the VEC today ---

Thursday December 21, 2006

Sue Lang
Manager Communication, Education and Research Branch
Information Officer

Victorian Electoral Commission

Re: Freedom of Information Request

Dear Sue

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I wish to request the following information -

  1. Victorian State Election November 2006

    1.1. Copies of all count sheets in respect to all electorates for the Victorian Legislative Assembly and Victorian Legislative Council
    1.2. Copies of all recorded electronic data files detailing the ballot papers preference allocations used to determine the results of each election for the Victorian Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council
    1.3. Copies of all polling place returns showing the number of ballot papers issued and the number of first preferences allocated for each candidate for the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council

  2. Copies of all certification documents related to the software used in the conduct of the Victorian State election used in the tabulation and calculation of the elections results.

I have previously requested this information, to which the Victorian Electoral Commission to date has failed to respond.

The above, as requested information is a public document and should be readily available to members of the public for independent review and assessment.

It is in the public interest that this information is made available and that the results and the conduct of the election are open and transparent.

In addition, as this information is in the public interest and should be readily available to public, I request that the fee for this Freedom of Information Application be waived. However, in case you do not allow this, I enclose the required $21.50.

I draw you attention to the following:

Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal in 1999 (van der Craats v City of Melbourne [2000] VCAT 447 (29 January 2000) VICTORIAN CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL General List No. 1999/057919)

I request that the above information be provided without delay.

In the event that the Victorian Electoral Commission refuses in the first instance to provide this information I request that immediate internal review undertaken and if required I am prepared to have this matter refered to the Victorian State Parliament, Victorian State Ombudsman and the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal for review.

Should you require further I can be contacted via return email or telephone (03) 9016 3654

Yours faithfully

Anthony van der Craats

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Victorian Election results hidden from view

VEC deny public access to detailed election results bring the State into disrepute

Victorian Chief Electoral Commissioner, Steve Tully, continues to deny publication of detailed election results preventing independent analysis and review. Mr Tully has presided over the worst managed election in recent living memory with the Victorian Electoral Commission stuffing up the initial counts, double entry of votes, dodgy figures and an overall lack of accountability and transparency.

Earlier this week we saw the extraordinary situation were the VEC had overstated the Liberal Party vote and provisionally declared the wrong candidate elected. There was no excuse for this mistake. A comparison between the number of ballot papers issued and a tally of all formal and informal votes for each electorate should have alerted the VEC to the fatal mistake in the VEC data entry process. The VEC had earlier refused to provide statistical information related to the number of ballot papers issued and received prior and immediately following the November poll. Why? Details on the number of ballot papers issued by each polling place should have been made available on request and or published on the VEC Internet site.

It is fundamental that pubic elections are open and transparent and that information is readily available.

There are calls for the State Parliament to hold a parliamentary review of the Electoral commission and the mis-management associated with the conduct of the State Election. Responsibility for the VEC and State elections comes under the portfolio is Victoria's Attorney General Rob Hulls who is also responsible for the Freedom of Information Act.

The Chief Commissioner to date has refused to publish the detailed election results including the below-the-line preference data.

This information was previously made available in past elections but the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Steve Tully, following a multitude of errors and mismanagement of the conduct of the election has refused to publish the detailed election results in an attempt to avoid public scrutiny and review.

The continuing failure of the Chief Commissioner to ensure that Victoria's elections are open and transparent has brought Victoria and the State Government into disrepute.

Information and details of the election results are public documents and as such the public has a right to view this information. Mr Tully has no justification or reason to prevent their disclosure or publication other then his desire to avoid accountability and public review.

If need be we will soon make an FOI application to obtain access to this information and refer this matter to the State Ombudsman for review. The requirement to have to make an FOI application to gain access to what should reality be available to public is an direct abuse of the FOI requirements and something that should be of concern to Rob Hulls as Minister responsible for the FOI Act. The Minister should intervene and insist that the result are made published and made public without delay. Failure to do so would reflect poorly on the State Government and undermine it's commitment to open and transparent governance.

The Victorian public have a right to know where the VEC went wrong and what can be done to prevent the mistakes occurring again in the future.

Those wishing to view the flawed VEC count sheet for Northern and Western Metropolitan Regions (missing is the below the line preference data that the VEC has refused to make available) can view a copy here. (Thanks to the anonymous contributor that sent us the files)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Welcome to the Danger zone

December is the time when most radical changes in government policy occur removed from public scrutiny and review

December, the period in the lead-up to the Christmas holiday season and the time when governments schedule policy changes to limit or avoid public scrutiny or review.

The City of Melbourne is renowned for using this media free and period for making decisions that are likely to cause embarrassment or create a community backlash. It is a period where the community's eye and attention is focused on other interests and Local Council is the furthest thing from their mind. Its the time when governments make their worst decisions.

The City of Melbourne is no exception. Planning approval for the redevelopment of the Hilton in East Melbourne is on the agenda and so we are told is a major restructure within the town hall. Although we can not find any details of the report on the Council's agenda papers. The City Council is no longer open and transparent with many decisions being made under delegation, behind closed doors and removed from the public eye.

Were are told that the senior management is about to undergo a major reshuffle of responsibilities.

Linda Weatherson, City of Melbourne's Governance Director of Corportate Performance has been side line and removed from the Governance portfolio (Something that is seen as a bonus as Ms Weatherson, along with former City Council legal Officer Alison Lyon, presided over the worst administration in Melbourne City Council's recent history resulting in an Ombudsman inquiry that touched on the heart of corruption and poor governance within the City Council)

Terry Makings has become the most influential and overloaded Director taking on all City Council statutory obligations.

Hayden Cock has been given an expanded portfolio of corporate affairs having extended beyond the media propaganda role he was first appointed to.

Rob Adams continues to design his job and although he is on extended leave based in Italy funded by the City of Melbourne is responsible for urban design and major projects.

The fact still remains that the City Council is top heavy and in need of serious review and reform. The number for directors should be cut back. Directors remuneration should be removed from the enterprise bargaining process and tighter controls placed on remuneration packages and bonus payments.

Question why has this information been withheld from public view? The proposed changes require changes in the legal authorisation and delegations which are governed by statute.

The public have a right to know the full details of the proposed changes and the likely effect it will have on the delivery of services and costs of Council. The City Council administration must be open and transparent if we are to eliminate corruption from City Hall.

City Council extravaganza under fire

$145,000 and 10 minuets of excitement spent creating a fire risk

Melbourne City Council's proposed expenditure of over $800,000 including $145,000 on a fireworks extravaganza has come under fire and labeled as irresponsible and a waste of ratepayers' money.

The proposed fireworks display represents a serious risk of fire at a time when Melbourne is experiencing one of the severest droughts on records and fire risk is at an all time high.

Responsible government and good use of limited public resources? We think not so.

Cracker night gets a rocket
Kate Adamson
December 17, 2006 12:00am

Source: Herald Sun
A $145,000 city fireworks extravaganza on New Year's Eve has been condemned as a waste of ratepayers' money.

The fireworks splurge should instead be spent aiding volunteer firefighters battling blazes raging across Victoria, business and farming bodies say.

Melbourne Council has committed $145,000 to the city display, which will be set to rock music. Another $700,000 will be spent on live bands, DJs, films and Bollywood dance lessons for city revellers.

The calls come as several other fireworks displays across Victoria are in doubt amid bushfires and drought.

Victorian Farmers' Federation president Simon Ramsay said the money would be better spent helping firefighters and their families.

"The council is spending $145,000 for two minutes of entertainment for the benefit of a small number of people while the rest of Victoria is fighting fires," Mr Ramsay said. "A sign of good faith would be to donate the costs of the entertainment to the fire effort."

Melbourne Business Council chairman Peter Nicoll agreed.

"I am sure the people of Melbourne would understand and perceive this as their civic duty," Mr Nicoll said.

"It would definitely be the right way to go."

Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Neil Coulson said the council should tone down the celebrations.

"It has been an unusually difficult year for many businesses in regional Victoria because of drought and bushfires," Mr Coulson said. "Any city New Year's Eve celebrations should take this into account," he said.

Other New Year's Eve fireworks across the state could be scrapped over fears they might spark blazes.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tully's up and Tally goes astray

Chief Electoral Commissioner oversees Victoria's biggest electoral management stuff up and avoids accountability

Steve Tully, Victoria's Chief Electoral Commissioner in a article published in the Age Newspaper seeks to dismiss responsibility for the biggest stuff up in Victoria's electoral management. Mr Tully has tried to shift blame on the long hours worked by VEC staff and in doing so Mr Tully seeks to avoid and deny any accountability or responsibility.

Steve Tully and the VEC had poorly managed the election and the VEC made a serious error in the data-entry of the ballot papers by over inflating the result of the election and the Liberal Party vote by 6,000 votes. Mr Tully subsequently provisionally declared that the last position of Western Metropolitan Region was won by the DLP lead candidate candidate, John Mulholland.

The fact remains is that had the VEC done its job properly this monumental stuff up would never have eventuated.

We had prior to the November election and immediately following the ballot requested information on the number of ballot papers that had been issued and received by the VEC. Information that the Chief Commissioner Steve Tully refused to provide. WHY?

Had this information been provided and accounted for, as requested, the Electoral Commission should have and would have known before they pressed the run button that there was a serious flaw in the VEC data-entry process. A quick tally of the number of primary votes and the number of informal ballots would have alerted the VEC that something was wrong . This is the exact reason why we had requested this information in the first place. In accounting terms it provides a trail balance, a check digit that ensures that all votes recorded are account for. In previous Victorian elections this information was previously available.

The fact that Mr Tully refused to provide this information, as requested, undermines the integrity of the election and prevented effective scrutiny of the ballot. It also raises questions as to the integrity of the software in use. The VEC has spent millions of dollars in software development and basic checks and balance were not in place to avoid the error that inventuated.

The problem is Steve Tully and his refusal to ensure that Victoria's electoral process is open and transparent. His refusal to provide information on the number of ballot papers issued and detailed eloection results can not be excused.

This election has been one the worst managed elections on record. The VEC still has not provided the details of the election results and electoral commission continues to refuse to make the details of the election results public. In doing so Mr Steve Tully continues to bring Victoria's State election into disrepute.

There is no excuse for the Chief Electoral Commissioner to not publish the detailed results, including the full count sheet and the transcribed below-the-line preference data files.

Without access to this information it is impossible for the electronic election results to be effectively scrutinised or verified, denying the public the right of independent review and analysis.

The detailed election results are a public document and legal precedence already exist requiring the electoral commission to make the data readily available for independent review and analysis. The VEC should and MUST publish this information on its web site without delay.

If necessary we will make an fresh Freedom of Information (FOI) application to ensure that the election results are readily available. The necessity of having to make a FOI application is itself an abuse of process and one that should be of concern to the Minister and State Attorney General, Rob Hulls, who is the Minister responsible for both FOI legislation and the conduct of the Victorian Electoral Commission. Mr Hulls office has been made aware of the deficiency in the VEC's management of the election.

The Chief Commissioner's actions and the identified problems with the conduct of the November State Election warrants a parliamentary review and the Mr Tully's resignation.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Thornley expected to win Southern Metro

Latest data from the VEC limited reporting indicates The ALP will secure the fifth spot

Latest counting reported by the VEC has placed the ALP Evan Thornley in a winning position with a lead of over 1,000 votes. Whilst the VEC continues its appalling lack of transparency in reporting the progress and results of the election count.

Analysis details can be found here

For reasons not fully explained David Southwick, based on results published Monday December 11, showed, went backwards in the actual count and the ALP and Greens moved forward over the weekend.

Counting in Western Victoria has the ALP below the Greens and the DLP who picked up minor party preferences above the National Party. As a result the fifth position in Western Victoria will go to the DLP with ALP Elaine Carbine missing out in being elected to the Victorian parliament.

Labor will hold 20 seats, the Liberal Party 15, NP 2, Greens 2 and DLP 1.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Tourist Bus Trap

John So and City Council pump more money in to tourist trap

John So and his spend drift team are planing on pumping yet again more money into the dubious Melbourne Tourist Bus promotion scheme whilst ignoring inner city transport needs.

Flush with cash for the long term "we hate cars" parking tax the City of Melbourne has resolved to spend millions more on expanding the free tourist bus.

The Tourist bus does not serve Melbourne's residents and business community and certainly is not benefiting or reducing traffic congestion. The City of Melbourne has already put a private tour company out of business by providing a free bus tourist service. The free bus also undermines Melbourne free tourist tram. Why not sure who is benefiting from this Tour Bus deal but pouring more and more money into the ill considered venture is not the way forward.

The money could have been spent in setting up a private drive-owner mini bus taxi service that links Melbourne inner-city suburbs of East Melbourne, Carlton, Parkville and North Melbourne.

Mini buses are the way to go. The bus would ply a fixed rout and would be able to be flagged down and stop on rout in the same way as you would flag down a taxi. Each bus would be operated by the driver-owner and council would in the first instant subsidise the setting up of a trail service. The idea of mini=buses has not taken off in Melbourne for some reason as the main public transport operators prefer to run large buses. Problem is with large buses is that they require large bus stops and the frequency of service is far and far between. Mini Busses could run every 15 minutes of so depending on the route or demand. They would not require large bus stops and can travel routes that large buses could not travel.

John So should stop wasting limited Council resources and pumping more money into a failed service. John So continues to demonstrate that he does not have the answers or right policies to see Melbourne develop into the future. Meanwhile the Greens continue to sit back and remain silent grateful that the City of Melbourne is prepared to pick up the tab for Eco-non-friendly world tours.

Traffic congestion hits City Council

John So pays CEO huge inducement bonus for a bad job done

The Age newspaper today reports that the City of Melbourne is facing a traffic jam in processing thousands of complaints related to City Parking fines. Melbourne City Council and John So and his cohorts spend up big and continue to show no sign of fiscal restraint or responsibility. John So just can not say NO!

Meanwhile Melbourne's CEO, David Pitchford, was paid a bonus of $43,000.00 on top of his already high $300,000 per year salary. For what? Melbourne City Council was earlier this year raided by the State Ombudsman department who's investigation found that the City Council's administration was corrupt and that the Council was using traffic fines as a means of revenue fund raising and not as a deterrent for illegal parting. Council's Grey Ghosts had a quota 'bounty' system going on and Melbourne's motorists where the target of this corrupt practice which the CEO David Pitchford was ultimately responsible. Ratepayers will surely be happy to know that the CEO has received such a huge bonus when the City Council's administration continues to bring the City into disrepute.

The City Council's Governance department acting on advise and instruction of the former City Council Legal Officer, Alison Lyons, challenged, in attempt of avoiding accountability, the legal right of the Ombudsman to review Council's records. Ms Lyons reigned from the City Council prior to the Ombudsman report which was highly critical of the Council's administration.

The problems facing the City Council for so great that the State Government had to step in and legislate to put a stop to the ongoing abuse and corruption with the City Council.

Given the poor performance of the City Council over the last year one has to ask why was the CEO paid $43,000 bonus on top of his already excessive salary?

Reports in from our spies in the Governance Department at town hall tell us that John So, in a highly questionable move, tried to awarded himself and his deputy two votes for each elected city councilor's one vote, tipping the scale in favor of the Lord Mayor and controversial Deputy Lord Mayor Garry Singer. Gary Singer was found by his peers earlier this year to have acted improper in relation to staff salaries and financial mismanagement of various trust accounts under his care in his role as a trust manager and legal officer of the courts.

Our City Councilors having balked at the notion of the Lord Mayor and his Deputy being given two votes to their one thought they did well by cutting the Lord Mayor and his deputy down to one and a half votes each. (We still think that is way too much and fail to see why the Lord Mayor should receive more votes then any other elected City Councillor. One vote one value. There are questions as to the legality of this move) This "weighting" of the votes gives the Lord Mayor and his Deputy much more say in the pending CEO's review which is due early next year. Stacking the review in his favour.

Council may lose thousands in parking fines
Clay Lucas,
City Reporter
December 4, 2006

Source: The Age
HUNDREDS of people are escaping parking fines from the Melbourne City Council because its employees are buckling under the weight of thousands of objections to tickets.

Disgruntled staff within the council's parking and traffic branch say there are as many as 15,000 outstanding objections to tickets. Under State Government laws introduced on July 1, the council has 90 days to prove a fine is valid if a motorist objects.

In 941 cases the council has already run out of time and could end up writing off as much as $51,000 in parking fines.

In April, the council was stung by a State Ombudsman's report that raised allegations of incompetence and bullying in its parking and traffic branch. The Ombudsman is still investigating claims that a whistleblower within the branch has been treated badly by the council because of the report.

The council denies there are 15,000 outstanding parking fine objections, although it concedes there are at least 4500 letters of objection, and that it was taking about 65 days to process each objection letter.

"This is well within the 90-day limit," said acting chief executive, Linda Weatherson.

But staff inside the council branch, who did not want to be named for fear they would be sacked, said this was untrue.

Anyone objecting to a parking ticket could get off because the council had so many objections to work through, they said.

Lord Mayor John So said the council was working hard to lower the time it took to respond to objections.

"No one is going to get away from paying," he said.

Many other inner-city councils are struggling to meet the 90-day limit, but the sheer volume of objections to parking tickets that Melbourne City Council gets is pushing its 12-person objections team to their limit.

Ms Weatherson said one parking objection officer was working through 1443 objections. In the three months to October 1, the council handed out 114,000 parking fines and received 10,500 written objections.

It collected $26 million from parking fines last financial year.

The news comes on top of council figures showing that income from parking fines plummeted by $1.2 million in the past three months, compared with last year.

The council said petrol prices meant fewer cars coming to the CBD. But the fall in parking fines coincides with parking officers having been forced to drop a daily quota of 30 tickets, exposed by the Ombudsman's report in April.

Chief executive David Pitchford is under pressure to fix the troubled branch of the council, after the report painted a shambolic picture, citing "morale problems, absenteeism and complaints of bullying and harassment".

Mr Pitchford was last week awarded a $43,000 performance bonus on top of his $300,000 annual salary.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Community Notice

Any complaints or issues related to the VEC's conduct of the election

Victorian State Election
Saturday November 25, 2006

Victoria's Southern Metropolitan upper-house region is a very close race with a likely possibility of the election results being challenged in the courts. anyone with any information or complaints about the election process are encouraged to document their concerns and where possible verify the facts. Information can be posted here on this blog for all to see or sent confidentially.

Note: Any comments marked confidential in the first line will not be published but will be looked into and investiged and refered to relevant people if need be.(If you can please include an email contact address in your login but please do not include email addresses in the comments section itsef.

Any issues related to the conduct of the election in general and Southern Metropolitan Region in particular.

Issues such as a person being denied a vote, their name taken
off the electoral role for no apparent reason, the refusal of the VEC to provide information relevant to the conduct of the election. Letters received in the mail from minor candidates and any events on election day itself.

Who is John Barry Myers

With Southern Metropolitan heading towards a photo finish every vote counts

History in the making with a close race heading to a photo finish

Southern Metropolitan is shaping to create another historical election event for Victoria with the contest for the last two positions being a close race. A race between the Titans. The best analogy we can come up with is a Yacht race or maybe a long distance marathon. Much depends on who can maintain the momentum as the count continues and who cross the line first.

With an election this tight every vote counts and the two biggest issues are "where does the below-the-line vote go once it leaves the group associated with their first preference vote" and "Who is John Barry Myers" the unaligned independent candidate who is currently on a total of 245 votes.

With a margin of less the 50 votes John Myers's votes (as is the case of every other vote) will play a potentially significant role in the makeup and control of Victoria's future Parliament.

Heading to the courts

All ready we see the contest for Southern Metropolitan heading to the courts, as each main party starts documenting every aspect of the election in anticipation that who ever loses the election will mount a challenge in the courts.

Questions will be asked about the roles and conduct of the Victorian VEC, the lack of information, openness and transparency in the conduct of the election.

All these issues, including our concerns about the Victorian Electoral Commission staff accessing the result of the e-voting polling booth data prior to Saturday's poll (Something Mr Steve Tully, Chief Commissioner, has emphatically denied taking place in spite evidence to the contrary) along with concern about Mr Tully's refusal to provide relevant information to candidates, campaign managers, staff, scrutineers and members of the public in a timely fashion preventing appinted scrutineers and others from monitoring and properly scrutinising the conduct of the election. All issues will be subjected to judicial review.

This could be a repeat of the 1985 Nunawading challenge where Bob Ives was denied a seat in Parliament following a court ruling that called for the election to be rerun. If this was the case then all five positions would have to face re-election leave the ALP without its leader in the upper-house. This would depend on wheather a court injuction would prevent any candiadte form taking office pending the outcome of any court challenge in 1985 Bob Ives was allowed to take up his seat but soon lost it when teh court declared the results inconclusive and callwed for fresh elections. Maybe the losing side will opt to save the public millions of dollars in the cost of a legal challenge and the cost of having to hold fresh elections in Southern Metropolitan Region but that would be asking too much when so much is at stake.

It's too early to speculate with certainty on the immediate aftermath of the election result. The vote is still continuing and there are an estimated (No one seams to know exactly) 30-50,000 votes to be brought on the table (where from who knows certainly not the public). VEC's lack of openness and transparency in the conduct of this election has little to be desired.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Southwick Heads South

The Southern Metropolitan Region has just produced a change of fortune for ALP dot.com millionaire

UPDATE: (December 1 17:00) There was some residual counting left over from yesterday and Thornley has taken the lead once again as the three main players race to the finish line. Its neck and neck and anyone can come out of this race the winner.

At the crucial conjunction point the vote was ..
GRN 46863
ALP 46814
LIB 41714
FF 9696
DEM 9197

People Power had just been eliminated and they top up the Democrats who are marginally below Family First.

The Democrats votes flow to the Greens who on the Democrats ticket first preferences cross the line with minimal surplus. (This is the segmentation order at play) The Democrats still have another 4,387 votes to distribute (that came to it as second preferences + their below the line volts to their lower candidates). The Green surplus (256 votes) is then distributed to the ALP.

The Democrats remaining votes are then distributed to the ALP pushing Thornley over the line a head of Southwick. with a margin of less then 20 votes.

You begin to see how close this race is. Those 20 could easily disappear in the exhausted pile or drift from the below the line voters. The Democrats and People Power preferences are keeping the Greens in the race but Labor and the Liberals are catching up fast.

http://melbcity.topcities.com/ for latest analysis count sheet..

(November 30: 1700) Latest election counting has put David Southwick in the lead for the fifth spot in Southern Metropolitan: shattering ALP dot com millionaire Even Thornley's hopes of entering parliament and with t the ALP's dominance of both houses.

The long expected 7000 + postal votes have been counted and Southwick has received the lions share. It's literally with 0.04% less then 150 votes.

This will certainly go to a recount and may even go to court. There were a number of irregularities in the count with the Victorian Electoral Commissioner refusing to provide detailed information relevant to the conduct of the election. This would have to be one of the worst conducted counts in recent memory.

Already questions are being asked on a number of issues. The main issue appears dissatisfaction with the ALP decision to preselect a candidate in Western Metropolitan with close ties to Syria which has alienated Melbourne's Jewish Community who in turn dumped the ALP and voted on mass for the Liberal Party.

With the adoption of optional preferential voting Labor's fortune are expected to decline even further as many of the Green votes are expected to exhaust reducing Evans chance with them.


Andrew Landeryou has posted on the Other Cheek a real possibility that if the vote continues to unfold as it has in the last 24hrs ,where the Greens have been losing ground, there is realistic possibility that Evan Thornley could overtake the Greens and be elected on the back of a small surplus delivered to the ALP but the Liberal Party.

For each vote added to the table the quota changes. 2/3rds of each vote is absorbed in the existing four quotas.

Problem is we do not know how many ballot papers have been issued. We tried to get this information from the VEC but the Chief Electoral Commission was unable to unwilling to provide any statistics on the number of postal votes that had been issued. This information is normally readily available but for some reason Steve Tully refused to provide the data prior to Saturday's poll.

As a result it is difficult to ascertain. Certainly if there are more votes to be counted and the Greens percentage is declining then YES the Greens could lose out and could fall below Evan Thornley in which case Evan will cross the line first. Again its like walking around in the fog without necessary information. Another issue that needs to be examined is the impact of optional preferential voting. I am waiting to hear feedback from Scrutineers. Hopefully they will be able to secure a copy of the preference data file because without that there is no way they can properly scrutinise the election in this round without it. again this information use to be made available but Mr Tully has to date refused to make it available. With this election being close he will have to reconsider or face a court challenge.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Brack's new team announce

Ex Melbourne Lord Mayor, Richard Wynne, appointed Local Government Minister responsible for the City of Melbourne

Andrew Landeryou (The Other Cheek) has just reported on the make-up of the new Bracks Government Ministry following a historic 3rd-term win for the Labor State Government

Not a bad team and it was good to see Dick Wynne allocated the most important Local Government Ministry. Dick, a former Lord Mayor of Melbourne, knows Local Government best. He should and hopefully will put his mark on the portfolio and continue with much needed reform of this sector.

When the ALP get around to fulfilling Bronwyn Pike's election promise to residents and business of Kensington to review the City of Melbourne's external boundaries, hopefully Dick will open up the review and include all players and interested parties (including Carlton, Prahran, South Yarra, Kensington and possibly Richmond and Albert Park, South Melbourne, Port Melbourne and St. Kilda regions - By suggestion is that a Greater City of Melbourne should take in the State Seats of Melbourne, Richmond, Prahran and Albert Park based loosely around the former Melbourne Province Boundaries with the Yarra being the central uniting focus)

The ALP has a clear mandate for reform of the inner city council and with Melbourne City Council's senior Liberal party member, Peter Clark, recently supporting a call for a review of the cities boundaries, the idea of Greater Melbourne might manage to make it onto the Governments reform agenda. if its going to happen then Dick is the man to oversee the transition.

We look forward to a successful term in office as the ALP works towards a forth term in 2010.

Changing boundaries

Review of Melbourne City Council's external boundaries must be broadened to include Prahran, South Yarra, and Carlton

The Bracks Government's ability to reinvent and rejuvenate itself is an important attribute of good goverance. The changes to the cabinet line up is a positive move and a new direction for the Labor Government and new faces and fresh talent take on the task of providing policy renewal and reform.

Candy Broad did not address the many issues still facing local government. There is a need not just to regularly review the internal representative boundaries of Local government but a need for further review of external boundaries as well.

The City of Melbourne is on such example. If it was not for Bronwyn Pike's commitment to review the City of Melbourne boundaries in respect for Kensington she would have been in a much closer fight to retain her seat.

Any review of the City of Melbourne external boundaries should not just be limited to Kensington. Carlton, Prahran and South Yarra should also be under consideration and opportunity provided to seek all residents' opinions and views on the creation of a Greater City of Melbourne. Democracy is about giving a voice to the people. Kensington residents' and others, myself included, have been calling for a review of the City's external boundaries ever since the Labor Government obtained office.

To deny the community the opportunity to have their proposals heard and acted on is a denial of representation and the right of the community to self determination on how best they are governed.

This issue must be put back on the agenda and the State Government has a clear mandate to do exactly that.

Anthony van der Craats

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Scrutinising elections in e-Space

Ongoing of concern about the conduct of electronic voting and the need for information to be readily available

The conduct of the 2006 Victorian State election had little to be desired, with the Victorian Electoral Commission again proving that it is the lesser of the two public authorities responsible for the conduct of public elections in Victoria.

The refusal of the VEC to publish detailed polling booth data for the Legislative Council and its failure to provide statistical information on the number of ballot papers issued prior to Saturday's election has denied Victorians the right of an open and transparent election.

We are told that the reason that polling booth data was not provided is that the ABC
thought that the information was unnecessary for their purposes. If the provision of relevant data was too much for the ABC then the VEC should have produced two separate data files and left it up to the ABC what they wanted to report on.

The VEC has an obligation that goes beyond information the media. It is about maintaining open and transparent process.

Question: Will the polling booth data and below-the line-preference data be readily available after the declaration of the poll or do we have to FOI them again?

In future hopefully those in the loop will not only recommended but insist on full disclose of detailed election results and that includes producing data on the number of postal votes, pre-poll ballots issued along with electronic votes being identifiable from ordinary manual votes.

The issue of the VEC accessing the e-voting data before the close of the poll raises a number of issues of ongoing concern about the security of the electronic voting voting system that's been implemented. What mechanisms are in place to ensure that the results are true and accurate and subject to independent, effective and proper scrutiny?

The recent mid term elections in the USA also highlight a number of issues.

The world was told that Florida's elections were a true and accurate account, but there was no way to independently verify the fact.

Our system is a little different. We have a a preferential voting system, one of the worlds best and most democratic. With preferential voting the need to provide the preference data used to calculate the results is crucial. Even more so when it involves a third-party data-entry process.

Whilst there are some mechanisms in place to limit some data-entry transcription problems the system is still is open and susceptible to errors.

In previous election counts the VEC refused to do a preliminary manual throw of preferences, preferring to jump in and start the random data-entry process. This resulted in nightmare as it made it extremely difficult and close to impossible for scrutineers to monitor the accuracy of the computerised data-entry count. Another check digit removed.

A preliminary throw of the below-the-line votes not only helps with analyzing the outcome of the election but it also assists in the data-entry and scrutiny of the ballot. Scrutineers can decide which votes are of interest and devote resources accordingly. (We had the absurd situation, during the Melbourne City Council and other municipal elections, where if there was 20 candidates and 20 data-entry personal up to 400 scrutineers would have been required to properly scrutinise the data-entry process) Without a preliminary manual distribution scrutineers were denied the right to effectively monitor the various processes.

Unlike the VEC the AEC also provided information on the informal votes which was included in the data-set the AEC provided. This was very interesting and useful as votes of interest could be identified, pulled out and rechecked.

In providing copies of the preference data-set, Scrutineers are afforded the opportunity of undertaking independent analysis of the data as the count unfolds. Various electronic data queries could be run against copies of the data, queries that would not normally be undertaken by the electoral office, highlighting again votes of interest that could then be subject to a secondary glance and review.

Most of the issues discussed above diminish if and when we remove the third-party data-entry process altogether and voters record their electronic vote directly. As we move closer an closer to a time when voters will use computer technology to record their votes directly in real time new and additional issues of concern begin to rise . Issues such as the electorate office undertaking a preliminary count of the vote prior to the close of the poll. (As appears to have been the case in this election)

Electronic voting machines MUST be fitted with write once read only recording devices so that we can be confident that the data has not been hacked into from a central location out in cyberspace. Copies of this data and backup disk must be made available to scrutineers at the close of the poll. Each unit must also be stand alone and not be reliant on a central data connection. The last thing you want is someone with access to this data recording information, unknown to others misusing that data by either changing a few preferences or selling the information to interested parties (Political and commercial). At the conclusion of the count a certified and digitally signed data copy of all votes and preferences MUST be published on the Governments Internet site as part of the declaration procedures.

The issues that have been identified in America are the same here and world wide. The more elections move into e-Space the greater the significance in the provision of data in order to ensure that the election process remains open and transparent and is subject to independent public scrutiny. Without this information, as has been evident in this count, the public and scrutineers are left in the dark.

In previous elections polling booth data and the number of ballot papers issued were available and should have been in this election.