Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We wish QANTAS a not so merry Christmas and an even worst New Year

The uncompassionate Australian

Thanks for stealing my FF Points...

I gave you loyalty, that was misplaced. I saved and saved and saved some more and was only a few points off my dream holiday when they took away my 100,000 points.

The service sucked and they sucked me in.

I will never fly QANTAS Again.

QANTAS Service has significantly declined under the current management. It's Safety record no longer merits a Rain Man quotation and soon the Federal Government will remove the 51% barrier.

I am in two minds on this issue. One side says that QANTAS should remain Australian and not go the way Vegemite has. The other says sell it. After 13 years of loyalty I now think QANTAS sucks and it is not worth saving. They can stick their red Kangaroo where its fits and I hope that the FF staff find themselves redundant because I could not give a rats about QANTAS anymore. I have a good mind to take them to the Consumer Affairs and complain about the poor quality of service and the fact that they have not delivered on past promises and service undertakings. So I guess I will vote against which ever way the QANTAS Board recommends.

They are no longer the Compassionate Australian.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Strike while the iron is hot

Peter Clarke pushes for electoral reform

Melbourne City Councillor, Peter Clarke, has moved a motion to kick start voter reform for the City of Melbourne in the wake of Melbourne's non-spectacular flop of an election last month.

Whilst electoral reform review is long overdue and should have been canvassed by the previous Council the proposal put forward by Clarke is half backed and falls short of community expectations.

The current system of representation has failed to deliver good governance and the newly elected council shows little sign of improvement more of a back slide into a council of ridicule and rip-off. Missing in Clarke's proposal is a review of the City of Melbourne's external boundaries and the need to consider a Greater Melbourne option.

The Clarke proposal failed to mention a review of the direct election of Lord Mayor and the leadership team structure.

The motion put forward by Clarke needs further review,consideration and direction.

For example: Who is going to conduct this review? Will it be the City Council itself or the morally corrupt and incompetent Victorian Electoral Commission? Neither body is capable of delivering the level of review and independence that the city requires.

Without a well spelt out, all encompassing ,terms of reference we can not expect any review to deliver on expectations.

You can not resolve the problems facing the City of Melbourne in isolation.

In the end it is the State Government that must take responsibility for any review. The Council needs to call on the State Government to show leadership and governance (something that has been remiss when it comes to the City of Melbourne).

The City Council needs to outline in more detail its proposed terms of reference and call on the State Government to commit to a wide review that involves all Melbourne's inner City municipalities. The Council needs seek a commitment for the State Government to a time frame and method of a review and in doing so needs to make sure that the review addresses all the real issues and is not just window dressing.

The other issue of concern is Clarke's proposed reintroduction of exhaustive preferential ballots. This must be rejected outright as it is undemocratic and a back slide into the past where 50%+1 elected three or more Councillors. If we are to re-embrace multi-member wards then it must be on the basis of proportional representation.

Clarke's motion , whilst a small step in the right direction, needs more work and serious consideration not just quick fix ideas, a slap them up, half baked proposal dreamt up between Christmas cocktails and celebratory drinks, designed to fill the blank pages of the council's agenda.

Agenda Item 6.2 - 16 December 2008


1. That the City of Melbourne request the Minister for Local Government to immediately
commence a review of the provisions of the City of Melbourne Electoral Act, including
but not limited to:
1.1. governance processes;
1.2. voting system (is exhaustive preferential and proportional);
1.3. the number of Councillors and possible re-introduction of wards; and
1.4. other matters the community may wish to consider.
2. The previous Council agreed to a review post the 2008 election. During the 2008 election
campaign, all elected councillors agreed to support a review of the current system.
3. The community via CORBA – Coalition of Resident and Business Associations – has
pressed the urgency of the need for an electoral review. We must respond and act
decisively whilst the election is fresh in our consciousness.

Moved: Cr Clarke

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Queensland Senate Count

Wrong candidates elected

An international team of experts have confirmed that the Queensland Senate Count had elected the wrong persons. The fault lies in the system used to determine the proportional results. Analysis performed by the OpenSTV project team has indicated that Greens Candidate, Larisa Walters, should have been elected to the Senate instead of ALP's third candidate. The OpenSTV count confirms the early analysis we had performed using a reiterative counting system such as Wright or Meek.

The Australian Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) is currently considering issues surrounding the method of counting proportional votes in Australia to make it more accurate.

The Australian Electoral Commission was asked by the JSCEM to report back to the committee to confirm the different outcome in the Queensland Results.

Whilst the AEC had the facilities and contacts to undertake detailed analysis they failed to provide the committee with the information requested. Instead the AEC provided a lame excuse to do nothing claiming that the system proposed has not been tried before and that all systems in use can provide a different outcome.

Whilst this is true it is still no excuse for the AEC to not undertake a full analsysis and review of the system currently in place. It has opted to keep the JSCEM in the dark in order for it to not act to correct tthe mistakes in the system. If Australia waited for an alternative system to be used somewhere else Australia would not have adopted preferential voting in the first place or above the line voting. Innovation and professionalism is lacking in the top end of the AEC administration.

The current system used to elect Australia's Senate, Victoria's Upper House and Local Council elections is seriously flawed in that it does not reflect the voters intentions. The counting system thats currently in place was designed to facilitate a manual count, a system that was a trade off between accuracy and simplicity.

With the advent and use of computer based technology there is no longer an excuse to maintain the outdated flawed counting system.

The AEC should not wimp out and provide a feeble excuse to do nothing. Clearly the system is flawed and must be changed. Innovation not complacency is required.

The AEC is normally a very professional and responsive organisation but in this instance the AEC has failed in its duty to the Australian People.

The JSCEM must again request the AEC to do its job and report in detail the proposed alternatives that should be implemented.

Friday, December 05, 2008

New Clowns

Selected for new season performance

Melbourne City Council has elected the best of the best - new Clowns and some of our favorite clowns returned to office


Leadership Team
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle (2008-)
Deputy Lord Mayor Susan Riley (2001-2004, 2008-

Peter Clarke (2004-)
Carl Jetter (2004-)
Jennifer Kanis (2008-)
Kevin Louey (2008)
Cathy Oke (2008-)
Ken Ong (2008-)
Brian Shanahan (2004-)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Keeping State Secrets

VEC under review

The Victorian Electoral Commission has been the subject of intense reviews by VEXNEWS this week. The review follows on from a number of complaints and growing disillusionment of VEC management and the culture of avoidance, corruption and cover up.

Victoria's public elections are no longer open and transparent and the Chief Commissioner Steve Tully has gone to extraordinary steps to avoid accountability.

A large number of complaints have beeN received across the state that the Victorian Electoral Commission has refused to make available copies of the detailed election results record on computeR. Candidates' scrutineers have reported that they were denied access to copies of the preference data files which are used to determine the results of the election in spite the fact that this information is a public document and subject to FOI the Commission is refusing to publish the preference data files.

The returning officer for the City of Hume wrongfully informed one candidate that the information was not available. Without access to this data scrutineers are denied the opportunity to scrutinise the count of public elections, there is no reason why this information is not made public.

In 2006 Steve Tully came under criticism for a botch up computerised count where wrong data had been recorded and over 250 votes went missing between count A and Count B in the Western Metropolitan region. The results of the election changed bwteeen counts with a difference of less then 150 votes. Without a copy of the crucial preference data-files, independnet analysis and review of the data-entry quality can not be made.

Steve Tully when requested by the Victorian Parliament Electoral Matters review committee to provide copies of the data file for booths counts claimed that the crucial information for Count A had been destroyed and the data overwritten.

This has raised serious concern over the practices and security of data held by the VEC. Some think that Steve Tully has deliberately mislead the Parliament in an attention to cover-up what was clearly a botched election count.

Simon Hancock and Glenda Fraser are responsible for the VEC computer count and many IT professionals consider it unlikely that there were no backups of such an important data-entry exercise, costing Victoria millions of dollars. To not have in place risk management and backup of data would be considered negligent and leave the Commission open to allegations of fraudulent coverup of mistakes made during the count.

There are accusations that Steve Tully has compromised the professional standing of his senior staff by implying that the administration of the VEC IT system is shonky at best.

Steve Tully has engaged in a campaign of harassment and lies, designed to seek revenge and intimidation of witness to the parliamentary enquiry into the VEC botched elections processes.

His disgraceful false accusations against Labor Strategist Ray Collins late last week is a sign of a desperate man who will stop at nothing to avoid criticism and review.

Submission have been made to the State Parliament to have the Ombudsman empowered to review the administration of the Commission. The VEC is specifically excluded form the review under the current terms of the Ombudsman Act.

Monday, December 01, 2008

LM Poll Stats

Doyle versus the rest

Analysis of the 2008 City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Election showing a head to head competition Doyle versus all other comers.
Head to head statistical analysis of the Lord Mayor Vote

Fowles 26006 44.87% 31955 55.13%57961
Brandt 24911 42.98% 33050 57.02% 57961
Morgan2477042.74% 33191 57.26% 57961
Columb 21855 37.71% 36106 62.29% 57961
Roberts 19434 33.53% 38527 66.47% 57961
Crawford 19005 32.79% 38956 67.21% 57961

LM Poll Stats

Group Candidate tickets

Analysis: Lord Mayor HTV Ticket table

CandidatePapers % to Total VoteTicket votes% Ticket to Candidate

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Doyle leading

Lord Mayor race is close and still not over

Early analysis with 27,000 votes counted indicates Robert Doyle is set to scrape home with ALP Peter McMullin coming in second place.

The electron count is not finalised and the projected results are subject to final analysis. There are two very close conjunctions between Catherine Ng and Gary Singer, Catherine Ng and the Greens with less the 100 votes difference between the the two. If the Greens survive its a McMullin Doyle toss with Doyle winning.If Ng surveys its still Doyle. Doyle looks unbeatable have caught all the drift.

Inverse donkey vote or well known name. A recount is looking more and more less likely as the count progresses. The only chance of a surprise win is if Singer and out poll Ng but with a gap of 600 votes this is unlikely.

Update: 50% of the vote counted the gap has widened and Robert Doyle looks as if he is unstoppable. There is a close call that keeps changing the order of elimination between Catherine Ng and The Greens but Doyle still comes up trumps.

CandidatesVote CountedPercentage
DOYLE, Robert / RILEY, Susan867226.76%
NG, Catherine / MAKINGS, Terry356110.99%
TOSCANO, Joseph / ELY, Margaret4951.53%
COLUMN, Nick / CALDWELL, Sue15244.70%
BAND, Adam / MALTZAHN, Kathleen479914.81%
CRAWFORD, Robert King / KENNEDY, Michael3911.21%
ROBERTS, Shelley / FARAH, Abdiaziz3911.21%
SINGER, Gary / PAINTER, Joanne331410.23%
FOWLES, Will / WILSON, David27508.49%
McMULLIN, Peter / WILSON, Tim403512.45%
MORGAN, Gary / ANDERSON, Michele24737.63%

Denied a vote

Tens of thousands of voters disenfranchised by Friday's Closing

Tens of thousands of Victorian voters have been disenfranchised with hundred of voters turned away from Town Hall on Saturday expecting the right to vote. No effort was made by Town hall to register the names of disenfranchised voters.

These voters are subject to a $57 fine.

The VEC has refused to provide statistics on the number of late vote returns for each municipality.

Whilst some municipalities held attendance voting last Saturday most Council's opted for a Postal voting system where the voting closed earlier on a Friday.

many voters are angry that they will now face a fine for not voting. In the past they are use to voting taking place on a Saturday with many City shoppers and business people expecting they could cast an absentee vote.

Close call

VEC conduct under review

Time to reflect on days events.

Question: "How can someone win on 10% of the vote?"

Well it is 11% actually and it not clear if it is Singer or Ng on the hunt. It is close by all accounts which is why we believe there will be a recount. There is a huge unknown factor with the drift away from the book at around 40% or more.

We try and explain how the fold up might go.

The interesting close junctions are Singer/Ng virtually neck to neck at around 11%

The combined vote of Singer and Catherine Ng out polls the Greens in each case.

If Singer survives *** Morgan/Columb votes go to McMullin with drift from Morgan( now 27%) the Greens (now 19-20%) Doyle (29%) Singer 23%. Greens next eliminated bring Singer to the lead above Doyle and McMullin there is a close nexus between Doyle and McMullin exact value unknown due to drift to Doyle from Morgan But again it is close. With a McMullin/Doyle toss up Singer is best position to jump of the line either way

If Ng survives *** Morgan flows to Ng but with some leakage to both Doyle and McMullin. Ng is now on around 26-27% McMullin who is on around 25-26Doyle moves into the front at around 31% the Greens at 18% Greens are eliminated and the drift see McMullin at 33 Doyle 33% and Ng 34% It is potentially very close and the spilt can go either way Ng is in the best position as she collects most of the ticket vote and if she is ahead then the other is eliminated. So it is a question of who goes out and what value the drift is at this stage. No one is prepared to place bets at this stage. Some think it could be decided by a hand full of votes who is excluded and who is not. There is now two major junctions points Ng/Singer and the final three.

VEC Count under review

To add to the frustration the VEC failed to undertake a preliminary distribution into primary votes. reason unknown. They did do a manual sort for the city Council above the line which is the same size and effort had they distributed the leadership primary vote and did a manual count we would know the result by 12 noon tomorrow.instead it will take a good 12-14 hours to complete the data-entry and chances are there will be a recount. Under the circumstances where the VEC refused to maintain an open and transparent count and rejected the Parliamentary recommendation to undertake a preliminary first preference distribution anything within 1.5% merits a recount. (Had a preliminary sort taken place a recount would only be justified if the result was within 1%)

The Council seven have been decided on above the line preferences.
The winners are (With Primary vote indicated) Quota 12.5%

Candidate (Primary %)
JETTER, Carl (21.5%)
OKE, Cathy (18.7%)
CLARKE, Peter (9.1%)
LOUEY, Kevin (12.0%)
ONG, Ken (11.4%)
SHANAHAN, Brian (9.9%)
KANIS, Jennifer (10.4%)
(1% diff unknown)

I hope I have my maths right.

Again had the VEC undertaken a preliminary primary vote count as had been requested by most candidates the process and results would be much more clear and the count more transparent.

Apology in the offering but not good enough

I am also told that the returning Officer, Bill Lang, offered a private apology to Ray Collins who had been falsely accused by Steve Tully of threatening and intimidating VEC staff. This allegation was false and malicious.

A private apology is not good enough, Bill Lang and Steve Tully owe Ray Collins a public apology for what was clearly an act of intimidation on behalf of the VEC if not defamatory against Ray Collins. Ray Collins warned the VEC that the result was close and that a preliminary sort or manual count was the best way to proceed. They would not listen and Steve Tully made a false statement to cover up his wrong decision.

More on that soon when the count is over.

Singer's Team Melbourne shows promise

Breaking away from the chorus Singer moves ahead of Catherine Ng in preview

The City of Melbourne count is labouriously proceeding as the numerous electoral officials proceed to deflap and open ballot paper envelopes. We are told that there are all up around 61300 envelopes received. The VEC could not provide an accurate figure as such we are left with an approximation only.

In the absence of a preliminary sorting of ballot papers as is the case in a Federal Election it is virtually impossible to properly scrutinise the ballot, The VEC rejected the recommendations made the the State Parliament that ballot papers be resorted into primary votes prior to data-entry. So it is now left to a random sampling process.

Whilst it is still too early to give an accurate trend, indications are that Robert Doyle is receiving 20% of the vote sampled to date. In a surprise, yet welcomed outcome, Gary Singer from Team Melbourne is doing better then expected and could outcall his running mate Catherine Ng. The combined vote of Singer and Ng, who preference each other, would be greater the the Greens. This could prove interesting as Shelly Roberts also tops up Singers vote before being distributed to McMullin. Singer could retain the vote and out poll McMullin. If this trend holds then we could see Gary Singer take Catherine Ng place rising above the chorus and becoming the lead vocal. His main competition would be Robert Doyle. Doyle's campaign was noted for his absence from the campaign, relying purely on the name recognition factor.

Now I am not a Doyle backpacker, you understand, I think he would be a disaster for Melbourne (Mainly due to his choice of deputy lord mayor and his lead candidate in the Council ballot)

Again the information available is too patchy and too few to determine the outcome overall.There is also a built in bias in the count in that ballot papers are batched in a pseudo order based on the delivery time and collection, information that is not readily available to scrutineers. Unfortunately the count is not open and transparent, But we will keep you posted as results and trends become more clear.

VEC occupational hazard

Not enough room to breath let alone to work

Scrutineers are reporting that the data-entry of preferences is being held in a 10 x 15 metre room with 18 data-entry personal crammed in and no room for scrutineers.

It is hot and oxygen is in short supply. It is reported that many mistakes in the data-entry are being made as a result. First data-set should be available around lunch time. With 18 data-entry operators and 11 candidates in theory the room should be able to accomodate over 200 people. Fantatic logicistial planning on behalf of the VEC. If a recount is on the cards you can expect a full house

Estimated time to data entry is 14 hours based on the VEC estimate of 15 sec per vote has edited censored comments about Bill Lang and Steve Tully. "Censorship at its worst", Thanks to Vex News for publishing the facts.

Steve Tully

Under review

Allegations of threats and intimidation is an abuse of authority.

There was no act of bulling or harassment as claimed by Steve Tully, Chief Electoral Commissioner.

Mr Steve Tully's accusations are false and not supported by the facts.

Mr Tully was not even present at the briefing in question.

Having spoken to a number of people present at the meeting all stated that Mr Tully's statement is a gross over-reaction to criticism at the way in which the VEC elections are to be counted.

There was no grounds or justification to Mr Tully's statement or his accusations.

The reason behind Mr Tully's emotive outburst is simple, Steve Tully had come under serious criticism in relation to his conduct of the 2006 State election along with concern that he may have deliberately mislead the parliament in his evidence given to the State Parliamentary committee on electoral matters.

Mr Tully had cut corners and in the process he made a number of serious mistakes during the conduct of the 2006 State election.

Under the terms of the Local Government Act and regulations the Returning Officer is required to preliminary sort ballot papers into primary votes which in turn is used to reconcile the number of votes pertaining to the election as part of the process of scrutiny of the ballot.

Mr Tully has opted to once again cut corners and ignore requests that the count be open and transparent and that the ballot papers be subject to a preliminary distribution as required under the Act for a manual count.

There is no justification for a computerised counting of the Lord Mayors ballot. A majority of candidates had supported calls for the ballot to be counted manually so that it could be subject to proper scrutiny.

The Victorian Parliament in reviewing the mistakes made during the 2006 State election recommended that the VEC preliminary presort ballot papers into primary votes as is the case with Federal elections. Mr Tully chose to ignore the parliament's recommendation and the request made by candidates and others. Mr Tully directed Mr Bill Lang, City of Melbourne's Returning Officer, to reject the request for the preliminary sorting of ballot papers undermining the independence of the appointed Returning Officer.

The Chief Commissioner misused and abused his position of authority.

At no time had staff been subjected to any threats and any act that warrants or requires police presence. Steve Tully's statement calling for police protection is a further act of intimidation and harassment against his critics and an abuse of authority.

Mr Tully made similar false threats of intimidation in the leaduop to and following the 2006 State election in which votes went missing during the count and the data recorded seriously flawed. Mr Tully was unable and unwilling to provide access to crucial data related to the 2006 count.

In giving evidence to the parliamentary Electoral Matters Committee, Mr Tully stated that the data records of the 2006 Western Metropolitan Province count had been destroyed and were no longer available. An extraordinary claim given that it costs millions of dollars to count the ballot and it turns out that backup copies of the data were not recorded.

The complaints and submission lodged in relation to the proposed City of Melbourne count were seeking to prevent a repeat of the mistakes made by the Chief Commissioner in 2006. Mistakes that were made as result of a lack of due diligence and denial of access to crucial data by the Chief Commissioner. Mistakes that should be avoided and not repeated with the Melbourne City Council elections.

It is fundamental to our democracy that elections are open and transparent in order that public confidence in the electoral process is maintained, This issue does not just effect the City of Melbourne but the entire State.

The actions of Mr Tully are a form of retribution and intimidation of critics to his administration. This is not the first time Mr Tully has acted in such a manner.

Members of Parliament are very much aware of Mr Tully's acts of intimidation and abuse of process against those who gave evidence to the parliamentary inquiry.

Mr Tully in making false accusations of this nature has raised doubts and questions as to his suitability to hold the office of Chief Commissioner.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Voting Closes 6:00PM

The Victorian Electoral Commission has received back 61300?? envelopes for the City of Melbourne Election as of Friday November 28. With just over 60% of the total number of voters on the roll recored at the close of the poll. A further 10,000 votes are expected to arrive on Monday or Tuesday.

Your ballot papers had to be received by the Returning Officer

Level 6, Council House 200 Little Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9639 0046

Spring Carnival Closing Event

Punters bets close 6:00PM today

An additional 10,000 votes arrive in the mail today. Punters have until 6:00 PM to place their bets. Sportingbet Australia is offering 5:1 on Catherine Ng. Catherine is the favourite to win the race with Peter McMullin (3.5:1)expected to be the other contender left standing as the horses cross the finish line.

The race guide promises an exciting bout and most punters will be hanging to their tickets until the end, with at least three conjunction points where the outcome of the race can be decided.

Race Guide anticipated fold up

The first three contenders to tap the mat are Shelley Roberts, Bob Crawford, and Joseph Toscano each polling less then 600 votes. Crawford and Toscano votes will top up the Greens and Roberts will go to Singer.

The next out will be either Singer or Column or Morgan. Singer's votes will flow to Catherine Ng and Columb Morgan votes will combine into one team.

The next elimination head to head will be between Will Fowles and the Greens. If Will is ahead of the Greens then the Greens vote will top up Fowles which would put him a head of Peter McMullin placing Robert Doyle back in contention. The odds are the Greens will out poll Fowles, in which case Fowles vote will top up McMullin placing him in the top three and the Greens set to top up Catherine Ng at a later stage in the race.

It is here the race gets exciting and punters begin to hold their breath and cling on to their form guide as they stare at their betting coupons and begin to pray.

If the combined vote of Morgan and Columb do not out poll the Greens and the two minor candidates then they are next to fall over Morgan's initial votes will flow to Catherine Ng and Columb's are expected to flow to McMullin/Wilson. There will also be an expected preference drift from both camps to Robert Doyle, who should be still standing at this stage of the race. However if Doyle polls at the lower end of expectation then the Doyle will be excluded and his vote will flow to Catherine Ng giving her the Yellow jersey earlier then expected. Doyle collects no support from other players and is relying on name alone drift to stay in the race.

The next elimination is the key when the Greens are exclude from the race. With Will Fowles out of the race the Greens top up Catherine Ng with some drift to Peter McMullin. At which time Catherine will be in a position close to the inside rail and a certain to win the race having came from behind and crawled up the middle. If for some reason Catherine Ng pulls up lame early in the race and Robert Doyle out polls her then McMullin is in a winning position.

Place your bets now while the odds are good and pray that the lord of the turf smiles on the last event.

Orders from Above

Bill Lang denies Melbourne an open and transparent election count

Bill Lang, City of Melbourne's VEC Returning officer rejects call for an open and transparent count of the City's vote bringing the conduct of the election into disrepute.

Acting from orders above, in spite the Greens support and their “unofficial” plea - Melbourne City Council’s VEC Returning Officer, Bill Lang, has refused to undertake a preliminary sorting of the ballot papers before data-entering preferences.

Lang's refusal under orders "from above" indicates that the returning officer is not really in charge.

The decision of the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) to not undertake a preliminary primary vote distribution undermines public confidence and demonstrates the VEC's Chief Commissioner's level of contempt for the Victorian Parliament which had recommended as part of its review of the 2006 State Election that ballot papers should be presorted prior to data-entry. Presorting would have enabled better and proper scrutiny of the count, ensuring that the conduct of the election is fully open and transparent It also provides a check digit to ensure that the data-entry count is correctly reconciled so no votes can go missing unexplained (This was something the VEC failed to do in the 2006 State Election).

The VEC's refusal to respect the determination of the State Parliament demonstrates its unwillingness to self-regulate its affairs and its inability to conduct an open and transparent count of the vote.

The VEC will prevent scrutineers from properly scrutinising the count which will now be hidden behind the vail of technology undermining overall public confidence in the Victorian Electoral Commission.

If it is tight, as expected (Within 1.5%), then a recount will be required.

The VEC claim that it will take them 15 seconds to data-entry each vote (This does not include time required for batching and administration of the count). There will be 18 data-entry operators keying vote preferences into the VEC database. The counting of the vote will be done in cyberspace, removed from the watchful eyes of Candidate's scrutineers. The time taken to count the Lord Mayor's vote is estimated at 13 hours (18 x 13 or 234 data-entry hours) to count 56000 votes. (We expect it to take much longer then that. - It would have been quicker and better to have counted the Lord Mayor's vote manually est. time 9 hours).

Under the provisions of the Victorian Local Government Act the Returning officer is required to presort ballot papers into primary votes.

Your vote is in the mail. To date, with one day to go, the VEC has received 51176 envelopes back. Voting closes Friday 6:00PM 200 Little Collins Street.

McMullin-Wilson present their credentials

laying down a challenge to the big end of town

Peter McMullin and Tim Wilson have presented their credentials to Melbourne's business community. McMullin-Wilson team is without doubt the most experienced and professional team in the Lord Mayor's race offering Melbourne strong leadership and fiscal management.

Tim Wilson, who is a senior consultant at the pro-enterprise think tank "the Institute of Public Affairs" and a senior member of the Liberal Party, has sent out a personal letter to try and shore up the business vote in hope of securing 4,000 votes that otherwise would have gone by default to Robert Doyle.

Robert Doyle has run the most lack lustre campaign of all the main contenders, showing contempt and disengagement from the political process. Doyle is relying on the recognition factor. In the process he has undermined and divided the liberal conservative vote that would have normally been allocated to the likes of Peter Clarke (Gary Morgan) Fiona Snedden (Nick Columb). Doyle appears to be coasting, not taking the election or the electorate seriously. He is expected to help top up Catherine Ng, who is being backed by Ted Baillieu, in what is shaping to be a close contest with two main players, Catherine Ng and Peter McMullin.

Robert Doyle's disengagement in the campaign has erroded his initial vote pull expectation. There are some people who think that Doyle may bottom out and receive as low as 12% of the vote. Expectations are that he will attract around 18-20% but that this level of support will not flow on to his Council Ticket which is headed by Carl "jet set" Jetter.

The McMullin Wilson letter should give McMullin that extra edge in his campaign. Voting closes at 6:00PM Friday November 28.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Officially Its unofficial

But there is hope that Melbourne's Democratic Elections will be open, transparent and subject to proper scrutiny

The Melbourne Greens have come on board and Officially supported the campaign to ensure that the counting of the ballot will be open and transparent and that scrutineers will not be denied the opportunity to properly scrutinise the electronic count.

We welcome the Greens official support even though it is unofficial. We only hope that Bill Lang also excepts the need for the count to be open and transparent.

Under the terms of the Local Government Act ballot papers MUST be presorted into bundles of primary votes as part of a manual count. The problem is that the VEC has the right to vary the procedure any way they see fit under a computerised count. Descension in the absence of regulations.

The Victorian parliament in reviewing the 2006 State Election recommended that ballot papers be presorted prior to batching and data-entry. We support the Parliament's recommendation and note that there is nothing that prevents the Returning Officer from undertaking a pre-sorting of ballot papers prior to the data-entry process.

It is a question of self regulation and honesty. The Victorian Electoral Commission has an obligation to ensure that the election count is conducted in an open and transparent manner in order to maintain public confidence. The count must be seen and be above board. (The same policy should also apply to the Below-the-line votes in the Council election)

The Offical Unoffical responce to our concerns

The Greens have made an unofficial request to Mr Lang [VEC Returning Officer for the City of Melbourne] that the VEC bundle the primary votes of the leadership ticket candidates before the data-entry stage. I have reason to believe that Mr Lang will seriously consider doing this despite being under no obligation to do so.

As we are only two days before 'election day', but already some months after the contracts for this election were agreed on, we consider it inappropriate to support any calls for an injunction.

We are happy for you to indicate on your blog (without copying any part of this email) that The Greens give in-principle support to the bundling of primary votes of the leadership ticket only.

Best regards,


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

VEC denies opportunity for proper scrutiny of the Lord Mayor ballot

Another Candidate calls for a manual or more open and transparent count

Another candidate has written to the VEC requesting a manual count and or presorting of the ballot papers prior to computer data-entry of preference votes.

Any savings in time by not presorting the ballot into primary votes(Which is debatable) come at the expense of the scrutiny of the electronic ballot denying candidates the right to an open and transparent count.

-- Copy of open letter to Bill Lang --

To: "Bill Lang"
Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 1:39 PM
Subject: Count of Lord Mayoral vote


After consultation with Shelley Roberts we would like to support a manual count of the Lord Mayoral vote. We believe that this will enable a more open and transparent process than the proposed computer only count. We can understand the usefulness of a computer system in the more complex councillor ballot (but even here the presorting, checking and manual count of primary votes would be appropriate). We believe that the straight forward preferential nature of the simpler Lord Mayoral ballot (the same as state and federal lower house ballots) lends itself to a manual count with easier scrutineering. If it is your decision to proceed with a computerised count,we would request that the ballots be at least sorted, checked and counted according to primary vote prior to any data entry.

Nothing in this request should be taken to reflect on or infer in any way a want of confidence in you and your dedicated staff, rather we have a preference for a simple manual count which would avoid any inadvertent mistakes during data processing and allow scrutineers to undertake their role in the more tried and true fashion.

Yours sincerely,

Garth Head
on behalf of Shelley Roberts.
Candidate for Lord Mayor City of Melbourne

So why did John quit?

Talk around town points to Ngp>

With the Spring Carnival Circus event coming to a close we are left to ponder why John So decided to not run for a third term? Surely if he stood he would have been elected? So why did he not stand again?

John is a likeable person, you can not help but smile and enjoy a conversation with him.

The answer to the question "Why did john not stand for a third term?" lies with Catherine Ng, John So's lead candidate in 2001 and 2004.

Take a walk down China Town and you will see just how divided they are. Peter McMullin with the support of John So and Kevin Louey have been actively campaigning within the Chinese Community. McMullin's poster's are on display, but as is often the case in the Chinese community, the real decisions are made in quite on the street and in the Chinese community newspapers where Catherine Ng has not been doing so well. Peter McMullin/Keven Louey have been doing extremely well in China Town, just how well will not be known until the weekend when the ballot is counted

Talk around Town Hall has it that John could no longer work with Catherine Ng, which explains why John had not openly supported Catherine Ng's bid to succeed him. Instead he has backed Peter McMullin and Gary Singer to be he replacement as Melbourne's next Lord Mayor.

There is no doubt that many of the negative issues surrounding John So's leadership are connected back to Catherine Ng. If this election is close as most expect it will be then it is the Chinese community that will decide which direction Melbourne will head.

The Melbourne Chinese community, which represents around 13% of the electorate, is divided.

The Chinese community is well aware of the fallout between John So and Catherine Ng. It is ear as daylight as John has not embraced Cathrine's campaign. John So is reported and having said that he and his wife can not get on with Catherine. They no longer talk to each other. It would have been wrong for John and Catherine to be publicly seen to be at odds with each other. Rather then try and force her out John decided to not contest the next election.
Catherine Ng has been the subject of a number of complaints within the town hall of harassment and abuse staff. Catherine is on the nose with many from the Chinese community she can not count on the level of support that was given to John So.

If Catherine can manage to secure more votes then Peter McMullin then yes she has a chance of becoming Melbourne's second Chinese born Lord Mayor. Catherine Ng is best placed in terms of the various preference deals that are on the table, she collects preferences from just about everyone, but I would not throw the IChing dice just yet.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Melbourne's most Travelled

Consolidated Travel Expenses Revealed

We reveal the list of the MOST TRAVELLED Councilors and Council Staff over the last four years of John So's rule.

Five of the top big spenders are candidates for the City Council election.

They include Gary Singer, Kevin Louey, Fiona Snedden, Brian Shanahan and Carl Jetter.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as the City Council's Creative Accounting prevents the real cost from being disclosed. The City Council staff go to extraordinary steps to avoid disclosure and accountability including the scam of pocketing QANTAS Frequent flyer points earnt by spending Council money. They are all in on the racket and QANTAS is the master fraudster/bag man.

City Council Big spenders over $10,000 in Overseas and Interstate travel

NamePositionTotal CostNo of DaysNo of Trips
Scott ChapmanDirector Economic Development$107,569.3511524
John SoLord Mayor$67,538.625915
Geoff LawlerDirector sustainability and Regulatory Services$59,478.316314
David PitchfordChief Executive$52,095.086518
Fiona SneddenCouncillor$46,337.52538
Kevin LoueyLord Mayor's Chief of Staff$46,286.52399
Gary SingerDeputy Lord Mayor$36,563.46335
Linda WeathersonDirector Community and Culture$32,051.69327
Peter ChaffeyKnowledge Capital Executive$28,039.16325
Jane SharwoodManager, Melbourne International$24,689.19345
Brian ShanahanCouncillor$22,492.63575
Michael AndersonPrinciple Project Officer Business.Development$21,827.00161
Kristy TaylorProgram Manager, Melbourne Destination Marketing$18,249.28132
Edgar DongTeam Leader - Global$15,820.68393
Carl JetterCouncillor$14,873.86222
Mark DrewManager - Customer & International Relations$13,489.18142
Tom ParkerSenior International Relations Coordinator$12,740.81565
Stella ZhangTrade Advisor$12,589.14101
Colleen LazenbyManager Community Safety and Well being$11,270.69257
Keith WilliamsonManager Governance Services$11,176.42123
Trudy McPheeProject Coordinator - Melbourne International$11,170.12332

Club Melbourne

QANTAS Frequent Flyers points paid for by Melbourne Rate Payers

The Herald Sun has reported that the City Council administrators have spent over 250,000 on overseas junkets this year. This is the tip of the Ice berg as many Overseas junkets have been hidden.

The City Council administrators also have another scam going which we reported on earlier. They ring up large sums of Council expenditure on their "personal" credit cards and have the Council pay off the cards but they collect massive QANTAS Frequent Flyer Points in the process. QANTAS has become the under the counter bride Airline. If it's not trying to bribe Police commissioners it is being used as a way of laundering corporate/government funds without fringe benefits tax. As the saying goes there is no such thing as a "free flight" lunch.

Council must put an end to the QANTAS Frequent Flyer scam but with Staff and Councillors all invloved there is little to no incentive to stop the rort which includes those at the top. QANTAS holds its Annual General Meeting on Friday in Brisbane.

$200,000 splurge on staff trips
Herald Sun - Ian Royall

JET-SETTING Melbourne City Council bureaucrats have spent more than $200,000 on overseas and interstate travel in just nine months this year.

The Town Hall staff have even earned frequent flyer points, racking up thousands of personal credits from the ratepayer-funded trips.

Melbourne's most-travelled employee is commerce and marketing director Scott Chapman, who has made five overseas and four interstate trips this year.

His $44,000 travel and accommodation bill includes flights to Britain, New York, Beijing, Osaka and Auckland.

In total, he spent more than a month away from Town Hall.

Mr Chapman's itinerary included a nine-day, $20,000 trip to New York for the G'Day USA conference in January.

Town Hall chief executive Kathy Alexander said Mr Chapman was invited to New York by the Victorian Government because capital city representation was critical.

Melbourne was also represented at trade and investment forums, and also helped to secure the Jersey Boys theatre production for Victoria.

"Melbourne can't remain a recognised international city without building extensive international relationships and maintaining them," Dr Alexander said.

Kevin Louey, Lord Mayor John So's chief of staff who is now running for council, flew to China, India and Japan on the city's Asian mission.

His bill reached $19,011.

Other trips included:

AN expert in IT flew to Las Vegas for an "online virtualisation conference".

A RESEARCH manager ran up a $6378 bill for a one-week jaunt to a "international regions benchmarking consortium" conference in Seattle.

ALMOST $15,000 was spent on sending community and culture director Linda Weatherston to New York to share information on homelessness.

The Town Hall staff total of $209,091 covered 125 separate trips between January and September.

Some trips were paid or part-paid by conference hosts, not the council.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The vote is in the mail

Melbourne voters who do not vote face $57 fine

Herald Sun

VICTORIAN councils are expected to reap millions of dollars from voters who fail to vote in next week's local elections.

Melbourne City Council voters have until 6pm on Friday to get their ballots to their returning officer, or they face a $57 fine.

Non-resident voters and voters older than 70 are not obliged to vote at council elections.

But if the Victorian Electoral Commission fines only 10 per cent of non-voters, councils could reap a revenue windfall of more than $2 million in fines. And some predict the sum may be higher.

On Friday evening, only 24 per cent of the ballot papers had been returned in the Melbourne Council election.

"We would normally expect about half the votes to in by now," Lord Mayoral candidate Peter McMullin said.

The VEC said yesterday it would not fine people whose ballot papers arrived on the Monday after the election, but their votes would not be counted.

Double standards?

The Age under review

The Age newspaper has published a review of Melbourne City Council Lord Mayor candidate Peter McMullin. (Copy below)

It raises some interesting questions but in the process it has also brought into question why the Age had not applied the same standard of questions and inquiry to other candidates? It most certainly has gone light on Robert Doyle who is seen as the favorite and most likely candidate to win the election. Likewise it failed to question the validity of the catch phrase "Keep politics out of politics" as it makes good media copy.

Robert Doyle, former State leader of the Liberal Party, has hardly been seen in this campaign. yet he is expected to win hands down on recognition factor alone. By Contrast Peter McMullin has attended all functions and all public events and by doing so has demonstrated a commitment to Melbourne and the seriousness of the campaign.

Running as an independent Peter McMullin has put together an impressive bipartisan professional team. His deputy lord mayor candidate Tim Wilson is a prominent conservative member of the Liberal Party and his lead candidate is Lord Mayor, John So's former chief of staff, Kevin Louey.

Peter McMullin, like other candidates who are seeking election, is also a long standing member of a political party - The Australian Labor Party (something he has not tried to hide).

The Australian Labor Party, along with the Liberal Party, have not endorsed candidates for the City Council election, yet Peter McMullin is coping flack for his party membership even though he is running unendorsed as an independent using his own resources and money.

The fact that McMullin's team is bipartisan gives testament to the level of his independence from party politics.

Nick Columb, Gary Singer, Gary Morgan and Catherine Ng have all criticised party involvement in Town Hall, even though each of them also have members of the major political parties on their teams. Nick Columb is supporting Fiona Snedden (Liberal), Gary Morgan is promoting Peter Clarke (Liberal), Catherine Ng's lead candidate is Brian Shanahan (Labor), Gary Singer's Ken Ong (Liberal).

The only political party that has endorsed candidates for election is the Greens. So why is it that Peter McMullin is the only one that comes under the spot light for his party membership?

As to the question of his wealth there are others running in the Council election who are much more wealthy then McMullin. Will Fowles, Gary Morgan, Nick Columb all have a few grand to throw away. The direct election model is expensive and without party backing someone has to pay the bills. The Greens have their party machine and a pool of cash handed them by the Government. Yes McMullin is not the ideal choice but in comparison he is the best of a bad lot.

The answer to the question of why has the Age gone light on other candidates? Who is paying Catherine Ng's bills? The answer to the Age go easy policy of support might be found in the fact that Catherine Ng has a very expensive graphic paid advertisment published on the Age online -displayed very prominently on the same page as the article in question. (Update: The Age has now removed Catherine Ng's ad which was displayed until 12:00 noon on Sunday)

McMullin firms for lord mayor role, but is he a little bit stale?
The Sunday Age

NEXT Sunday Melbourne will have a new lord mayor. There's barely a political commentator in the state brave enough to predict the winner - the city's electoral system is too quirky and the preference flows too unpredictable. But yesterday the bookie's favourite was a man called Peter McMullin.

So, who is Peter McMullin and what sort of lord mayor would he make?

McMullin has also secured two important endorsements, one from former premier Steve Bracks, who said he "couldn't think of a better person" to be the city's next mayor, and the other from Lord Mayor John So, who described McMullin as "someone I have always held in the highest regard".

Full text of article click

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Who should you vote for?

Peter McMullin and Nick Columb should be your first and second choice for good governance

The issues are not which project or ideological dream is good. Every candidate has their pet projects.

The real key issue is corporate governance.
Who will hold them (the administration) to account? In this difficult economic time we believe there are only two candidate groups worthy of support - McMullin Wilson Melbourne's future or Nick Columb's Passion for Melbourne.

Peter McMullin has put together a by-partisan independent team of professionals. Nick Columb has hit the nail on the head with his passionate concern to put an end to the City Council's extravagance and waste.

We need a professional and effective Council who will put an end to the high spending feather bedding empire building. The administration must be held in check and held to account.

Both Peter McMullin and Nick Columb should be your first and second preference choice in this election. -

Voting closes 6PM Friday November 28.

Columb's touch of relish in town hall street fight

Jo Chandler The Age
November 22, 2008
Photo: Vince Caligiuri

Nick Columb: In the race for lord mayor.

LORD mayoral aspirant Nick Columb might choke on the comparison, as he's no fan of the incumbent, but there's more than a touch of the John So's about his own history. Both are the sons of wealthy businessmen whose fortunes were lost to the march of communism — in So's case, it was the 1949 Chinese Revolution, while Columb's inheritance vanished when the Russians arrived in Romania at the end of World War II.

So's family were insulated by some investments that underwrote a new life in Hong Kong. The Columb family also fled to a new country, using the last of their money and connections first to buy his father's way out of a Bucharest jail in 1946 — "one key at a time" — and then to furnish a railway car with a secret compartment in which father, mother and infant Nick hid for the ride across the border to Austria, later travelling to France and, eventually, Australia.

John So and Nick Columb both ultimately capitalised on capitalism, accumulating new fortunes with the single-mindedness of so many migrant sons. But while So, who arrived in Australia as a 17-year-old student, never did get a handle on the language, Columb, who landed at Station Pier as a four-year-old speaking "Romanian, German with an Austrian accent, and French", lost no time acquiring a firm grasp of the Australian vernacular. "Get f---ed," he was famously quoted as telling a turf writer who second-guessed his horse Imposera's narrow 1988 Caulfield Cup win as he bolted to the mounting yard to collect the trophy.

Finally, John So was also considered a rank outsider for the job of Lord Mayor when he first won it in 2001.

Now the migrant melting pot of Melbourne has thrown up Columb as one of the 11 starters in the race to replace So in the job. "I think I'm a rough chance," says Columb over coffee at Southbank, a stroll from the city apartment that's been the nexus of his move into city politics.

In truth, he's more fancied than that and in terms he can appreciate. According to Sportingbet he's gone from 11-to-1 odds to now be ranked in third place behind the favourites — Labor-backed Geelong councillor Peter McMullin and former Liberal Party leader Robert Doyle. And no, says the long-time punter, he did not put money on himself, though he does admit to putting about $25,000 into his campaign.

So who is this dark horse?

Columb, 62, is no household name, though he's a player in sporting and business circles. Most of his adult life has been preoccupied with making money, losing it, and making it again. And with horses. He spent almost 20 years as chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners' Association. The only position he has held that might approximate to public office was as president of the Footscray Football Club. But as the man who signed the failed merger with Fitzroy in 1989, for many supporters his era was less than glorious.

Columb says his involvement with Footscray dates to his earliest days in Melbourne. The father of one of his kindergarten mates played for the reserves. "His mum would take Chris and I to the footy, and we'd watch his dad and meet Charlie Sutton and Teddy Whitton and all those blokes who became my heroes, and later in life became my friends. I remember going home to my mother and saying, 'I need you to knit me a jumper, red, white and blue'." She did, but got the colours in the wrong configuration. "I cried and cried apparently. She unravelled the jumper and she knitted it again."

Columb loves to spin a yarn, especially one that draws on the rich pickings of a varied life. Telling stories was his trade for a brief while, when he was a cadet journalist at the Herald, until his editor suggested he might be better off seeking his fortune somewhere other than newspapers. After a journey through public relations, he made his first pile capitalising on the '70s penchant for handicrafts by setting up a fair selling the wares of Eltham artisans out of a stadium in Albert Park. "In three days, 57,000 people came through, and they paid me $2 each. The chairman of BHP wasn't making that sort of money. So I was off."

It spun into a deal to manage and sell space on the prize wheel for Channel Nine that endured from the days of Graham Kennedy right though to Don Lane, and then to music expos that brought the youth market into the Exhibition Building in droves.

The empire grew to a pub, private hospitals and the magnificent Morning Star estate at Mount Eliza. Then, when the economy hit the skids in the early 1990s, the banks revalued the assets, called in the loans and it all fell over. "I went to bed a rich man, woke up a poor one."

He started over again, and in the past 15 years property development has largely underwritten a financial recovery, though never, he says, back to the scale of his earlier empire. Throughout it all, his distraction and passion were his horses. He's had 17 group one winners over the years. "I grew up watching horses and watching the old man have a bet, and that was where I guess I got the bug."

Why now, in his 60s, a different race? He says he's worried about city safety — "where I live, I hear screams, I see fights. It's not a safe city … As a 62-year-old, I can't walk up to town to have a plate of pasta and walk home at midnight. I can't."

He's also concerned about what he sees as the erosion of the power and relevancy of Town Hall, and the party political plays that occur there. Which is why he says he's putting his hand up for the job, as an independent.

His ticket essentially gave his preferences to Labor's Peter McMullin, and he was expecting a similar arrangement in return, which didn't happen. McMullin apologised. "That's like stabbing someone in the back and when you notice he's still alive, offering to pay his hospital bills," Columb said.

While he continues to deplore the party games, there's more than a touch of relish in his engagement in the city street fighting.

VEC's contempt

Bill Lang refuses to ensure that the conduct of the municipal election is open and transparent

The Victorian Electoral Commission is set to repeat some of the mistakes they made in 2006.

Bill Lang, Melbourne City Council’s Returning Officer, has refused calls for the Lord Mayor's election to be counted manually. There is no justification for a computerised data-entry count. A number of candidates in the election have supported the call for the count to be open and transparent.

If the computer count is to proceed then the VEC should presort ballot papers prior to batching them ready for data-entry.

Whilst there is nothing in the legislation that requires a presorting of the ballot, other then the obligation to ensure that the election is open and transparent, there is nothing that prevents the VEC from presorting ballot papers into primary votes, as is the case in Senate elections.

The election of Lord Mayor of Melbourne is expected to be close and the presorting of ballot papers would significantly assist in the orderly scrutiny of the ballot whilst maintaining an open and transparent counting of the ballot.

Without presorting of the ballot it is impossible to effectively scrutinise a computerised data-entry count of the election.

The Victorian State Parliament in its report on the Conduct of the 2006 Victorian State election had recommended that ballot papers be presorted prior to data entry. (See comments below for copy of extract from the Parliamentary Inquiry)

By refusing to initiate a presorting of the ballot papers the VEC has thumbed its nose at the State Parliament demonstrating its level of contempt and inability to self-regulate the conduct of the election in order to maintain an open and transparent electoral process.

A complaint has been forwarded to the Minister, Richard Wynne and the Victorian Parliamentary Electoral Review Committee.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Seven days

Less then 25% votes received back

With less then one week to go, as of Friday November 21, the VEC has received back for the City of Melbourne in the post 23844 envelopes. This is less then 25% of the number of voters on the roll.

Voting closes on Friday November 28 at 6:00PM Ballot papers must be received by the Returning Officer prior to this date and time

Bill Lang
Level 6, Council House
200 Little Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9639 0046

Morgan Gallops towards the finish

When your losing just go for it

Gary Morgan, eccentric millionaire with a twist, gave an impressive performance in the Herald Sun live blog. He powered through the hour answering more question then any other candidate and it was not just quantity, he answered over 52 questions, but also quality that counted.

Morgan who is running to support Peter Clarke in the Council election has published

One mailing and a small amount on printing. I've taken money from nobody.

Unlike Robert Doyle, Gary Morgan has attended all public functions and participated in the public debates. He was quick to attack Catherine Ng and Robert Doyle over their participation and attendance of meetings

[Comment From Tony] What do you say about Councillors who don't show up to council meetings like Catherine Ng? How will you raise the standard of our representation?

It's outrageous Cr Ng didn't attend the meetings. Particularly, as she was chairwoman of the building and town planning committee. I will request that all councillors attend, unless they have a genuine excuse - Robert Doyle hasn't attended many of the residential meetings over the [last] two weeks.

[Comment From coasting] Robert Doyle appears to be coasting to victory in this election, mainly on name recognition. Do you think it's right someone could be elected with little scrutiny?

You're correct. Blame the media. They have done a poor job in bringing the issues to the attention of the voters. He has to be favourite to win.

It is this last point that I particularly want to support "Blame the media"

The media has been rather remiss in not addressing the issues and being more critical of the various statements being made. The Age in particular has been appalling, pushing its hidden agenda and failing to publish or report faithfully replies to allegations made by Catherine Ng and others promoting a false ethos of "Keep Politics out of Politics."

Peter McMullin whilst a prominent member of the ALP is running unendorsed. He has put together an impressive team which crosses the political divide. His candidate for Deputy Lord Mayor, Tim Wilson, is a senior member of the Liberal Party.

Just because someone has a commitment to public debate and the political process does not preclude them or limit their ability to represent Melbourne. To the contrary it is in many ways an added bonus as they can bring to bear their considerable experience and networks into play to benefit the city.

Catherine Ng herself is promoting Brian Shanahan as her lead candidate. Brian Shannahan is a member of the ALP who prior to the campaign had supported the notion of ALP endorsement.

Yes Political parties should not endorse candidates in local government (The only party that has is the Greens) but that should not preclude or prevent any candidate who is an active member of a political party from participating in community affairs. It is a cheap shot and one that does not stand up to proper scrutiny. Scrutiny that the media has not provided.

Morgans comments are worth reading. I have a soft spot for the Morgan family, Gary's Morgan's brother, Geoff (now deceased) was a strong supporter of local issues and yours truly.

Robert Who?

Doyle Missing in Activation

No comment VEXNEWS

Night Stalker

Catherine Ng proposes city's museums, galleries and churches open 24 x7

Melbourne City may soon have a 24 hour Art Gallery and City Museum if Catherine Ng has her way.

In a desperate move to attract attention

Catherine Ng who is chairwoman of the City Council's planning committee has proposed that Melbourne Museum Art Galleys and Churches be open 24 hours a day so that Melbourne night life can benefit from the cultural and religious experiences. (Herald Sun) Cr. Ng failed to provide a costing for the proposal which came under criticism by other Candidates. Cr Peter McMullin, who is also chairman of the Melbourne Museum, said there Catherine Ng's is in cloud cuckoo land, "there is no demand for a at night opening of the Museum" which is situated in the Carlton Gardens.

Meanwhile scare tactics have infiltrated Gary Singer's campaign who came out and criticised proposed development of the Queen Victoria Market car park site. The QV site has long been the subject of proposed development and McMullins plan of action is not new but loNg over due. The Queen Victoria market was built on an early colonial settlement grave yard and if any development takes place any remains would be exhumed and reburied as was the case when the Market was first built.

Gary Singer like Catherine Ng are showing signs of desperation in promoting horror stories of "digging up dead" and their desire for more night life activity.

Could it be that Catherine Ng and Gary Singer are night crawlers and if so could be of great interest to Buffy?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cyberwar or Hanke panky

Catherine Ng 's "Children Overboard" scam

War of words and a free plug for Catherine Ng.

The Age newspaper published yesterday a free campaign plug for Catherine Ng who has falsely claimed that her opponents had initiated a google cyber attack against her site.

Catherine Ng's claims are another example of the false and misleading statements of wrong doing that is being pumped out by her campaign director Ian Hanke - The Liberal Party "Spin doctor" who promoted the "Children Overboard" lie used to win votes for John Howard in 2004.

The Age, keen to promote Catherine Ng and cash in on the false and misleading statements, demonstrated an alarming lack of professionalism and bias in its reporting. If you look closely at the Google screen shot shown in the Age article you will notice on the right had side (slightly obscured) an ad placed by Gary Singer. The Age had deliberately sought to crop that out from the photo.

Catherine Ng's spin masters tired to make our and imply that there was some of hanke panky going on in cyberspace. The only Hanke panky is coming from Catherine Ng herself. So desperate is Catherine Ng to seek headlines and attract media attention to her campaign that she has stooped to making false claims. There is nothing wrong or underhanded in a person buying advertising space on the Internet. in fact is is very much apart of the free market economy and a open democratic society.

Gary Singer, Catherine Ng's running mate, admitted that he also had brought Google advertising space to promote for his campaign.

It should also be noted that both Ng and Singer also have placed ads using Google keywords.

Honesty overboard

Contrary to the statements published in the Age article hotlinks to Catherine Ng and Gary Singer's web sites appear more regularly then they do for Peter McMullin who has been the target of envy, dirty ticks and lies by the Singer and Ng camps.

A simple Google search on the keyword "Lord Mayor" shows that all three candidates appear in the Google hot links page, proving that the statements made by both Ng and Singer that their ads only appear when you do a Google on their names are false.

False statements or deliberate lie published in The Age dirty tricks campaign?:
Cr Singer has an ad on Google. But like Cr Ng's, his ad only appears when his name is typed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Doyle Puppertry

Candidate failed to turn up (again) to face the press

Melbourne City Council, front runner and celebrity candidate, Robert Doyle failed to front up to the Press Council's grill the candidates' breakfast.

Doyle's absence and lack of commitment to the City election has been a notable talking point throughout the campaign. By not turning up to meetings and public events Robert Doyle has avoided public scrutiny and questioning over his leadership and policies for Melbourne. The level of contempt shown by Robert Doyle seriously undermines confidence in the the direct election of Lord mayor.

Robert Doyle has been a silent puppet candidate with his Deputy candidate, Susan Riley, pulling the strings. Susan Riley was John So's former Deputy Lord Mayor before being dumped by John So in favour of Gary Singer.

He has thumbed his nose at the people of Melbourne and expects to be elected Lord Mayor on the strength of his name alone. Robert Doyle's lack of participation and minimial activity in the campaign does nothing to support his billboard campaign slogan "Activate Melbourne".

Questions of Law

pollster calls halt to illegal election

Never to let a chance go by Pollster and wana-be Lord Mayor candidate Gary Morgan today called into question the legality of the City Council election. Claiming that over 20,000 corporate representatives had been added to the roll without their consent. How much of this claim, like the recent hype of Catherine Ng who falsely declared a Cyber war, was designed to attract some free media is unknown.

Herald Sub - Hamish Heard
November 19, 2008 04:25pm

OUTSPOKEN mayoral candidate Gary Morgan called today for the election to be cancelled, claiming 15,000 voters were illegally enrolled.

At a meet-the-candidates breakfast at The Hotel Windsor this morning, Mr Morgan said Melbourne Council had added about 20,000 corporate representatives to the electoral roll in the lead-up to the election based on information gleaned from ASIC.

However, only about 5000 had been properly authorised with signed consent forms, Mr Morgan told the Melbourne Leader.

“Under the Local Government Act electoral regulations it says that enrolment applications must include a written, signed declaration that verifies they are the owner, occupier or authorised company representative and that they consent to the application,” Mr Morgan explained after the Press Club breakfast.

“I have very good legal advice that this is illegal and we will write to (Victorian Electoral Commission returning officer) Bill Lang and ask to have consent forms available to our scrutineers and we’ll check every signature.

“If they dont all have consent forms the only fair thing would be to have another election.”

Ten of the 11 candidates for Lord Mayor were questioned by journalists and other interested parties at the breakfast, with less than a week before the close of voting.

Boys with Toys

VEC denies Melbourne the opportunity to effectively scrutinise the election of Lord Mayor

The Victorian Electoral Commission to is set to deny proper and effective scrutiny of the Municipal ballot - setting the scene for a repeat of the mistakes made in conduct of the 2006 State Election.

The Victorian Electoral Commission intends on using a computerised counting system to count single-member electorates and in the process will limit opportunity for the proper and detailed scrutiny of the ballot which in turn brings the electoral system into disrepute.

There is no justification for a the use of a computerised count for single-member electorates or the City of Melbourne 'Lord Mayor' Leadership Team.

In multi-member electorates a computerised count can assist in the filling of casual vacancies but there is no advantage in conducting a computerised count for single-member elections. Any savings in time comes at the expense of the scrutiny of the ballot. We could very much see a repeat of the mistakes made by the Victorian Electoral Commission during the 2006 State Election. In many cases it is quicker to count the ballot manually tehn by a data-entry tabulation.

Unlike the State Election the Victorian Electoral Commission will not pre-sort ballot papers into primary votes before subjecting the ballots to a computerised data-entry count.

The process adopted by the Victorian Electoral Commission is akin to the three shells and a pea used by con artists. A ball is placed and hidden under a shell and then the shells are rotated and mixed-up and the punter has to guess which shell the pea is under.

Ballot papers will be randomly collated and batched before preferences are transcribed and data-entered into a computer. Whilst scrutineers will have the limited opportunity to observe the data-entry process they will not be able to effectively observe all ballot papers.

The quality of the count would be better if single-member electorates where counted manually as it provides more opportunity for the proper scrutiny of the ballot. By pre-sorting the ballot papers into primary votes scrutineers can follow the count and focus their attention on the votes that count. The randomisation of the data-entry process prevents the proper scrutiny of the ballot.

The Victorian Electoral Commission does not use a system of double entry validation, instead they use what is referred to as random sampling quality checking. This system has a number of short comings which is unacceptable where the results of the election are likely to be close.

Radom sampleing is fine in a manufatoring process, where strict control is not required but it would be unaceptable for a bank to use a random sampling process in the counting of money. It is also unacceptable in the counting of votes.

The time and resources required to undertake a computerised count for single-member electorates is the same, if not more, then a manual counting process. More important is that the quality of the count and the scrutiny of the ballot is significantly reduced as a result of a computerised count.

The use of a computerised counting system for single-member elections is a case of Boys with Toys.

The Victorian Electoral Commission has spent millions of dollars duplicating resources and developing a computerised counting system. having spent allthis money dupolicating systems atht are already used by the Australian Electoral Commison the VEC consider it is necessary to use the computersied counting software even though the results and savings in the process are minimal if not worst.

A computerised counting system should not be used for single member electorates.

Where a computerised count is undertaken, ballot papers should be pre-sorted into primary votes before being transcribed and data-entered into a computerised counting system.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Going Solar

A shadow of doubt and practicality hangs over the Greens

The Greens candidature for the City of Melbourne centers around a catch phrase of "A solar panel on every roof" delivering renewable energy for Melbourne.

Whilst the push for clean renewable energy is a worthy cause issues of practicality make it impossible to install a solar panel on every roof. Most of inner Melbourne with the exception of the tallest buildings are in shadow. Solar panels just would not work in a high density built environment. What happens if you or your neighbors invest in the installation of a solar system and a building near-by is later built that casts a shadow across your roof, do you have the right to claim or seek compensation for the loss of sunlight. Melbourne's planning scheme provides for four hours of sunlight at the equinox and in many circumstances in the inner city this is not achievable. The Solar dream is just that. A dream limited by the practical realities of physics more so then political policy. The City Council's luxury six star administration building itself has failed to deliver in the promises with many features of the building's design not living up to expectations or functionality. An independent building performance audit should be undertaken and less self adulation and promotional activity. But that would place another dent in the City Council's reputation of competence and an honest performance appraisal is beyond comprehension.

The Greens are not in a winning position to secure the Lord mayoralty but they will secure a seat at the Council table. Hopefully the Green's will make a positive contribution to Melbourne's future development but ideology should not supersede or dictate realities on the ground or as the case may be "up on the roof".

Pumping the parish

Melbourne 's want-a-be clowns star lineup

Melbourne City Council hopefuls met last night for auditions for who will be elected and who will eliminated. Voters had a chance to attend one of two public meetings held within the City (Kensington and Carlton)

Less then 100 people attended the Carlton "All Nations Church" most of tyhose in attendance were directly connected with various campaigns. It was difficult to know who, if any, where truely undecided in who they will vote for.

Most punters will decide who they will support based on political alliances and or the statements published in the information instruction booklet that has been set out with ballot papers. Reports in the Herald-Sun have indicated that there is a delay in the dispatch and delivery of ballot papers with many voters reporting that they had yet to receive their ballot papers for the City Council election. Somay voters have not been engaged in the campaign.

Ballot papers must be received by the Victorian Electoral Commission before 4:PM on Friday November 28.

The meeting in Carlton, whilst not that well attended, was never the less informative. If anything it provided an opportunity to meet face to face the candidates for office. The focus of the meeting was generally on the position of Lord mayor with little to no attention given to the Council representatives who are seen as secondary support acts not not the main game.

One of the greatest problems with the current City of Melbourne electoral model is that candidates that nominate for the "leadership team" of Lord mayor and Deputy Lord mayor are in a win or lose election. If they win they are handed the keys to the Limousine and have the right to wear the gold chains and robes of office if they lose they have no opportunity to directly contribute to the cities governance.

The choice of who is elected Lord Mayor is not based on ability, questions of good governance or even policies of the various candidates. Most punters will decide who to support based on public perception and popularity not policies. Many of the Lord mayoral candidates no not have well thought out or detailed policies of governance. Will Fowles "A fresh approach" is still to publish his policies on his web site.

Catherine's Policy of Opposition

Incumbent hopeful Catherine Ng had difficulty after seven years at the helm, in justifying her position. She put forward a range of pet projects and which included a planned Town Hall campaign of opposition to the Labor State Government in 2010. Who whe was proposing to support was not clear. If you listened and believe what Catherine Ng had to say all the faults and problems facing the City where problems of State administration and that her failure to deliver on governance issues and representation did not come into consideration.

Catherine Ng, once again, was in denial about her refusal to subject the City Council to open public review of its representational model. Catherine, along with other candidates, paid lip service and supported a public review of the system sometime in the next term of office, but she failed to explain why on three previous occasions she rejected outright proposals for a public review to take place prior to current election.

Clearly there is an overwhelming need to review Melbourne representational model. Having to endure another four years of poor representation before a review is implements does not instill confidence in the existing incumbent councillors.

Professionalism versus adversarial politics.

Of the nights performances two candidates' political forces stood out as being the only candidates worthy of support.

The star performers would have to have been Nick Columb and Peter McMullin's future team. The rest just fell by the wayside.

Both Nick Columb and Peter McMullin team presented two different and diametrically opposed approaches to governance.

Compliance and perpetuation of much the same with added professionalism.

Peter McMullin has put together an experienced and diversified team capable of working closely with State Government to deliver certain outcomes for the City's future, although they did not come across at the meeting as a dynamic team they are never the less a team worthy of consideration an their campaign is extensive and costly. If you believe that Local government can best meet the needs of ratepayers, residents and business by working closely with the State Government then McMullin is your best choice.

Adversarial polices for Melbourne

If you believe that the role of Local government is to act independent and in an adversarial role then Nick Columb is a candidate that deserves consideration. Nick has provided a fresh, articlulate and passionate campaign even if he is short on campaign funds. He has pulled no punches and calls a spade a spade following the long held tradition of Australian parish politics of old. He was not proposing a people's uprising nor was he proposing compliant subordination to Spring Street or pandering to the wishes of the governing tenants of town hall. If elected Nick Columb would provide an interesting four years to come, his style of leadership would be colorful and as vibrant as Melbourne's Spring Carnival. His forthright criticism of the waste and exuberance in town hall and his manner of doing business gave a clear indication that he was more then capable of advocating a change in direction for the City of Melbourne.

Doyle a familiar dud

The award for dud candidate for the night would go to Robert Doyle's "Activivate" team. Robert Doyle continues to demonstrate his lack of commitment to Melbourne. Doyle did not turn up to either the Carlton or Kensington meetings, instead he left the campaign to be run by his Deputy Lord mayoral candidate Susan Riley. Susan Riley, who was John So's first Deputy Lord mayor back in 2001-2004 (before John So dumped her for Gary Singer) was one of the worst Deputy Lord mayors in Melbourne's history. Her groups policies of reopening Swanston street and building the Edditington tunnel are at complete odds with the direction Melbourne has been heading.

Doyle's "billboard campaign" relys solely on the recognition factor, Doyle is the most well known of all candidates. The fact that he is considered favourite to win highlights one of the greatest problems of the direct election system. It is about recognition not polcies or ability. A tell tale saign of dislike for fpoyule's nomination is the fact that all candidates in this election have placed Doyle last or low on their HTV cards.

Nick Columb summed up more or less the prevailing opinon "Robert Doyle is the sort of person you do not want as Lord mayor". His lack of commitment to this election demonstrates why he failed as opposition leader in 2002 and why, as Nick Columb puts it, "failed politicians should not be allowed to be elected to Town Hall".

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Melbourne City Council Consolidated Councillor Expense Statements

2 December 2004 to 30 September 2008

Note: The above Consolidated expense statement graph does not include an estimated $710,739.72 (John So, Lord Mayor) and $162,049.42 Garry Singer , Deputy Lord Mayor) associated with the cost of proving Limousines for their personal use. The Councillor expense statements also do not include the costs of internal catering, free booze and support staff, which would add a further estimated 400,000-800,000 dollars to the rate payers tab.

Missing (estimated) Local Travel Costs from December 2004 to July 2008(based on last quarter)
$66,694.88 (John So, Lord Mayor) and
$43,540.56 (Garry Singer, Deputy Lord Mayor) for the private use of Council funded Limousines.


Estimated additional costs (not included above) for the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor's Local Travel expenses over four years

ItemJohn SoGary Singer
Lord MayorDeputy Lord Mayor
Total additional est. costs$710,739.72$162,049.42

The 1999 Auditors report called on the City Council to make a budget allocation for Councillor expenses and to report on the YTD so as to facilitate budget monitoring of Councillor Expenses

A budget was set for one year but subsequently reporting of budget YTD comparison has been dropped. Reasons unknown. Councillor expenses have an unlimited budget that comes from the general administration budget.

The City Council, on the motion of Carl "Junket and local travel reporter' Jetter refused to provide back dated Council expense statements for the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor's Local Travel - the value published in the last quarter expense statements does not include the costs listed above. Carl Jetter claims his full costs for the use of City Link against the City Council (Even costs associated with private travel by the looks of it. Gary Singer has 100% of his vehicle costs paid for by the City Council including free petrol, insurance,registration, service and depreciation costs. There are questions as to his entitlement to receive this benefit as the the limousine which is also used for personal travel.

The extent that the Council administration will go to to avoid detailed disclosure of Council expenses (You scratch my back and they will scratch yours) never ceases to amaze. This culture of cover-up demonstrates how corrupt and unreliable the Council expense statements are. It is an embarrassment to the Council Auditors who have to endured such unprofessional conduct.

Below a revised comparative graph which includes estimated costs associated with the Lord Mayors and Deputy Lord Mayor (Excluding costs associated with the Lord Mayor's chauffeur [$500,000.00] and Cr Sneddon's child care [$31,898.66])

For a detailed break down and copy of the data table - click here (pdf)