Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Melbourne Icon derailed

Plans by the State Government to scrap W-Class trams

The Brumby State Government has announced plans to scrap Melbourne's iconic W-Class trams. W-Class trams will only serve the Melbourne City Circle route.

The W-Class tram has been a national Icon, like that of the Sydney ferry, has served Melbourne for nearly a century and is recognised world over.

The W-Class trams should continue in service along the Toorak, St Kilda, Carlton and bayside routes during the summer months.

The proposal to abandon Melbourne's W-Class trams is widely opposed by community groups such as the National Trust of Australia and Victorian tourism organisations

The W-Class tram with its opening doors and natural ventilation is well sought after and will be sold off to oversees buyers at a premium price.

Government's come and go but the W-Class trams should stay forever

The decision by the State Government is reprehensible and demonstrates a lack of social and historic understanding and appreciation of what makes Melbourne, Melbourne. Those responsible for this decision should lose their jobs.

Once they have gone they are gone forever.

It is now incumbent on the Australian Government to place restrictions on the sale and export of this important part of Australia's heritage.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Chinese Government threatens Melbourne Sister City relationship in attempt to dictate Foreign Policy

The Chinese Government is once again seeking to strong brow Australia in an attempt to dictate to Australia Australian Foreign Policy and who Australia should and can invite to visit Australia.

The Chinese Government has threatened to cancel Melbourne's Sister City relationship with Tianjin if Lord Mayor Robert Doyle does not intervene to stop the screening of a film about Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer at the Town Hall today.

The Chinese Government has considerable power and is not afraid to exercise it by threatening bilateral trade and cultural relationships. In Russia for example the Dali Lama has been refused a visa to visit Russia due to undue Chinese pressure (Even though Tibetan Buddhism is one of Russia's recognised religions) .

If they can strong arm Russia what hope is there that Australia will not bow to pressure? Last I knew Australia was a democratic sovereign nation and as such our foreign policy is independent from other nations. If the principle of maintaining independence over our sovereignty places at risk Melbourne's Sister City relationship with Tianjin then so be it, let the Chinese Cookie crumble.

The Chinese Government has declared Rebiya Kadeer a terrorist (in the same league as the Dalai Lama - I had met the Dalai Lama in Melbourne back in 1992 and he did not seem to be a Terrorist to me) even though there is no such evidence that would warrant this charge

Australia's Parliamentary Foreign Affair's Chairman, Michael Danby, spoke out in support of Rebiya Kadeer right to visit Australia.

Michael Danby has been hard to contact and efforts to contact his office to discuss this matter has failed (due to ongoing staffing issues and his constant absence from his electoral office)

But in this instance we fully support his stance (if only he would push for more democratic and fair electoral reforms - Michael Danby is a member of the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Victoria takes one step forward on the path of reform

Federal Government held in shame

The Victorian Parliament Electoral Matters Committee has recommended that the electoral act be modified to adopt a more fairer and accurate calculation of the results of the upper house elections

Recommendation 8.1: The Victorian Government considers introducing the Weighted Inclusive Gregory Method of counting votes for the Legislative Council

The proposal brings Victoria in line with Western Australia which had also adopted similar changes earlier in the way votes are counted.

The reforms proposed by the Victorian Parliament will have its greatest impact in the Local Government sector including the City of Melbourne. (Assuming that the same policy will flow through to Local Government). Analysis of past elections has shown that the results of the City of Melbourne Elections would have changed had this reform been in place at the time.

The recommendation of the State Parliament has flown in the face of the Australian Federal Government who earlier this year rejected calls for similar reform to the Australian Senate System. The Australian Government, increasingly seen to be at odds with the states on electoral reform, remains stuck in the 19th century clinging on to an outdated and discredited counting system.

Analysis of the 2007 Senate election has indicated that ALP Senator David Feeney could have lost his seat as a result of the distortion on the Senate Counting system, a system that would have delivered the Greens an additional 7,000 "bonus votes" above and beyond the number of actual votes received.

The recommendation of the State Parliament Electoral Matters Committee is a step forward in improving the accuracy and public confidence in Victorian elections.

The Parliament now needs to consider further the other anominally and error in the Senate Upper House election system, namely the way in which votes allocated to excluded candidates are redistributed.

The order in which votes for minor candidates are distributed seriously effects the outcome of the senate elections. The system currently in place unfairly resulted in the Greens Queensland Senate Candidate "Larissa Waters" missing out in the right of representation in 2007 . The ALP unfairly won a third Senate spot as a result.

With the advent of computer assisted election counts, both the Australian Parliament and State Governments, should consider adopting a re-iterative counting system (Wright System) or the use of Meeks Method of counting the vote as the next step for electoral reform