Saturday, August 31, 2013

Party Games 27/54 Future Party

The Future Party was set up by a group of maths and computer science types who are for the betterment of society by greater application of technology. With a starting point like that, there's a fair bit that I agree with them on. High speed rail, greater funding for education and research, a strictly secular government, marriage equality, supporting genetically modified organisms, and supporting the carbon tax.

Some of their tax ideas raise some doubts. Replacing rates, stamp duty, and some other taxes with a single land tax charged when the property is sold may reduce some deadweight loss, but would make it a bit trickier for councils used to a regular rates charge each year to manage their cash flows. And saying that governments are addicted to the revenue from sin taxes and so these should be set independently is an argument that could be applied to any tax.

They are the only Australian group I've seen suggest electronic voting done the right way (electronic voting device produces human readable voting paper, which voter checks before submitting, randomized checks of electronic totals vs paper totals with paper totals being primary). They also want to see more proportional representation in parliament, in the lower house by combining electorates into larger areas that each elect 3 members, and by making the senate a single nationwide electorate (the senate would be the trickier one constitutionally).

Their really big idea is founding a charter city called Turing (no disrespect to Alan Turing, but surely there's a local scientist we could name it after) to be devoted to education and R&D, making it an Australian Silicon Valley. Built from the start to support a high population density the target population is around the 5 million mark in a 10kmx10km square.

The Future Party has two senate candidates in New South Wales, and a single house of representatives candidate in New South Wales and Queensland.

twitter: @FuturePartyAus (although @FuturePartyQLD is a bit more active)

Party Games 26/54 Family First

Family First. Putting families first. But only if your family is mum, dad, 2.3 kids, and god. A tax plan based on the appeal of round numbers, outright denial of climate change, and zero tolerance on drugs round out the conservative checklist.

Their tax plan is 20/20/20. That's like 20 times better than 20/20, which is perfect or something. More seriously, their plan is 20% flat income tax with a 20k tax free threshold and 20% company tax. No indication of what they'll cut to make up for all the lost revenue, and no recognition of why flat taxes are bad. They also want to end transfers between state and federal government, instead expecting each to raise their own funds (currently federal raises a lot of money through income tax, the GST, and company taxes of which a large chunk gets funneled to the states).

Family First has candidates for the senate in all 6 states.

twitter: @familyfirstaust

Party Games 25/54 Drug Law Reform Australia

Another quick single issue party. Drug Law Reform Australia wants less strict drug laws for Australia. They want to legalize and tax cannabis, and decriminalize other drugs. They look to Portugal, New Zealand, and Colorado as examples of how this can be done well.

On other issues they have said that any elected members will have a conscience vote, with the exception that they won't block supply.

Drug Law Reform Australia has senate candidates in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and the ACT.

twitter: @DrugLawReform

Party Games 24/54 Democratic Labour Party

 The Democractic Labour Party are a blast from the past. They split off from Labor in 1955 over concerns that communists were taking over the Labor Party, they held balance of power in the senate for a while before being wiped out electorally in the double dissolution election of 1974. They went on the wane then, dieing out in all but Victoria in 1978. They returned to the Victorian state parliament in 2006 and the federal Senate in 2010. Historically, they are predominantly Catholics, and the inclusion of other denominations of Christians has caused some internal conflicts. (Thank you wikipedia for a history lesson)

One policy of theirs that caught my eye was the creation of an Federal Development Bank. Intended to raise funds for federal and state government projects, they don't exactly explain how it will work. They don't explain where it will get its money, but do rule out a few options by saying it won't be from overseas and that it will be separate from the RBA, and not part of the budget.

Given their Catholic membership, they are anti-abortion, anti-same sex marriage, pro-school vouchers.

For the wow factor, they propose the development of fusion reactor technology to provide cheap energy, although I think it's going to be a bit more work to get going than they think it will be.

The Democratic Labour Party are running candidates for the senate in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and New South Wales, as well as candidates for the House of Representatives.

twitter: @DLPAustralia

Party Games 23/54 Country Liberals

I'm not going to write much for the Country Liberals. They are the NT branch of the Liberal Party but for some reason is registered separately with the AEC. Their own website says to look at the main Liberal Party site for policy information, so there's not much point dealing with them here as a separate entity.

They have candidates running for the senate in NT.


Party Games 22/54 Country Alliance

The Country Alliance is a rural issues party based in Victoria branching out into federal politics. They seem to me to be similar to the Nationals without the baggage of being part of the Coalition and less of a focus on agriculture and more on day to day life in rural areas. Because of this most of their policies focus on Victoria, but most would generalize to a national level.

They want less restrictions on fishing and hunting, better access to healthcare in rural areas, the elimination of the carbon tax, government departments relocated out of the major cities, doubling the number of boat ramps, greater prosecution of environmental protestors, tax concessions for business and people in rural areas, and a halt to privatization.

The Country Alliance is running for the senate in South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria.

twitter: @CountryAlliance

Party Games 21/54 Citizen's Electoral Council

There's a man named Lyndon LaRouche. He's a bit of a nutjob who has made a habit of running for President over in america. And he has an Australian fan club, the Citizen's Electoral Council.

The position of the Citizen's Electoral Council is a bit hard to get your head around. At least it is once that start explaining the reasons behind the policy. A lot of it has to do with a conspiracy involved the British Royal family still controlling everything for the benefit of the financial firms in the City of London (the dutch are mixed up in there as well somehow).

So where does this lead them to. They want a reorganization of the entire world finance system, and a return to fixed exchange rates (ask the UK or Argentina how trying to maintain an exchange rate worked for them). They want Australia to become a US style republic, set up a national bank to give out loans at 2% interest rates, prohibit foreclosures on homes and farms, nationalize mining and oil and gas production

On the plus side, they are very keen on building infrastructure such as railways, expanding public health services, are pro nuclear power, and want to start up an Australian space program.

The Citizen's Electoral Council has candidates for the senate in Victoria and the Northern Territory


Party Games 20/54 Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)

Another religious party spouting its ideas that all would be right if we were just good Christians who did what god told us. But what would you expect from a party led by a man who left his church when they "officially decided to part with a literal interpretation of the Judeo-Christian Bible" (

The policies of such a group aren't going to surprise anyone. Mandatory filtering of the internet, a reduction in taxes on the rich (they want a maximum income tax rate of 30%, although they do also want to raise the tax free threshold), consider freedom of religion to mean freedom to be Christian, no to abortion, no to same-sex marriage, a 10 year ban on Muslim immigrants, no to the carbon tax and deny climate change (well are agnostic about it1), want all businesses to be closed on Sundays, teach creationism as science in school, support chaplains in schools. It's almost like they were writing the list of ways to get me to not vote for them.

I don't support using a religion as a basis for policy, and I don't like the policies they've developed from that basis. The policies are exclusionary, discriminatory, and controlling.

They have 5 candidates for the senate in NSW.

twitter: @FredNile

1) I find it hilarious that they will take a position of being agnostic on climate change but have no doubts about the god thing. 

Party Games 19/54 Carer's Alliance

Another single issue quick rundown. The Carer's Alliance is about getting more for those with special needs. The disabled, the elderly, the mentally ill. They want more support for these people, as well as giving them more control over how that support is provided (give them the cash, rather than paying a service provider who might not be able to give them exactly what they need). Not surprisingly, they are strongly in favor of the NDIS. The two questions I have are who gets to decide exactly how much support is needed in each case, and where will the extra funds come from?

The Carer's Alliance has 2 candidates for the Senate in NSW.


Party Games 18/54 Bullet Train Australia

Another single issue party, but this time an issue I can really get behind. The Bullet Train Australia party wants fast trains for Australia. Having enjoyed the shinkasen in Japan and the KTX in Korea, I appreciate what fast trains can achieve. I'd love to have something like that in Australia.

They've also taken a step that I've not seen from other single issue parties. They have said that any of their candidates who get elected will abstain from voting on non fast train issues, although they leave themselves an escape clause for conscience votes. With this in mind, they have absolutely no positions on anything else. I can see the reasoning behind the decision, but don't see it working if the next parliament is as finely balanced as the last one, or in the senate anytime in the last 15-20 years or so.

twitter: @BulletTrainAust

Party Games 17/54 Buliding Australia Party

A logo with an Australia made out of bricks. They are deeply concerned with housing affordability, public transport, public health, and the environment. An odd combination of policies, but as this is the party of the building industry, we'll see just how these tie together.

How to improve housing affordability? In a few ways. More land to build on, subsidizing infrastructure costs, and most importantly, reducing regulation of the industry. They have a really impressive idea on how to do this. They want to set up an Independent Building Commission. This Commission would assess all laws and regulations that affect the Building, Construction and Planning industries. Presumably this would include some sort of power over said laws and regulations or else why bother. The way they describe it is that it would have power over federal, state, and local governments, which is problematic. I also have the strong feeling that they know the type of people they would like on the commission, and that the phrase "regulatory capture" would often be mentioned in criticisms if it were set up.

There other policies also become a bit more understandable when looking at the specifics with the party's background in mind. Better public health is to be achieved by constructing new regional health centres. Public transport should be improved by building new rail links and transport hubs. Their plan to protect the Murray Darling system is to replace existing irrigation infrastructure with new lined and covered channels or pipes. Their position on the right of workers to choose how they work is to enshrine the position of the contractor and sub-contractor.

If you're a builder ready to expand your business, they've got a lot for you. If not, they've got a bunch of your tax dollars that they're ready to spend.

twitter: @BuildAustralia

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Party Games 16/54 Bank Reform Party

The Bank Reform Party just seems to be a rather expensive way of having a whinge about the banks. They bemoan the lack of competition among the big 4, high interest rates (despite interest rates being very low at the moment). They want to promote more competition by encouraging non-bank lenders.

Another fun idea of theirs is to place restrictions on the terms lenders can offer to borrowers to make them less strict on borrowers. Now for a group who are concerned about interest rates, forcing banks to take on greater risks, to which they will respond by raising rates, is of course a good idea.

They don't seem to actually be running any candidates, so you don't have to work out where you need to rank them. For me they'd probably be near the top of the bottom half. Nothing to really vote for, but also nothing bad to make me put them near the bottom of the list.

twitter: @BRPvote1

Party Games 15/54 Australian Voice

Australian Voice have a novel concept for running a party. Rather than the traditional state based sub branches, they have set up sub-branches based on specialist interests, so there's a doctors sub branch, a farmers sub branch, etc, etc. A rather odd choice for a party that feels special interest groups have too much influence.

Policy wise they are a bit of a mixed bag. On the pro side are greater funding for universities and healthcare, high speed railway, and a full review of all the subsidies and concessions businesses get. On the con side are scrapping the carbon tax, introducing levies on imports and ridiculously strict rules for food imports, limiting protected marine parks to an arbitrary round number of 10% (if you say that you want to do a full scientific review to see what amount of protect areas is appropriate while also saying what you want the result to be, you're not being serious about wanting a full scientific review), and providing subsidized loans to farmers. Overall I think the cons outweigh the pros.

Linking to a conspiracy website called truthology that seems to offer a mix of scientology and get rich quick schemes makes me wonder how serious they are.

Australian Voice are running senate Candidates in NSW, WA, Queensland and Victoria, and a few house of representative seats in NSW and Queensland.

twitter: @Voice4Australia

Party Games 14/54 Australian Stable Population Party

The Australian Stable Population Party has identified the root of all our problems. It's too many people. Housing too expensive, too many people. Traffic jams, too many people. Overcrowded schools, too many people. And they have a solution, no more people. From the current population of 23 million, they want us to aim for 26 million at 2050. By my rough calculation, this would require us to stop all immigration and reduce the birth rate to about 75% of it's current level1.

They have a few ideas on how to achieve this. First is zero net immigration, where immigrants are only allowed in when someone emigrates. This means effectively no immigration2. They'll also end the unrestricted immigration of New Zealanders, so any Kiwis who want to come over Second is a getting rid of financial support for children beyond the second, so no birth payments or parental leave for the third kid and beyond. Doing it this way seems a bit harsh, although to be honest I'd rather see the birth payment gotten rid of entirely, but then again quite like the this idea from Finland.

They also feel that what's good for the goose is good for the gander and wants to tie foreign aid with recipients making efforts to reduce their population growth.

Given Australia's rather low population density, I disagree with their rather low numbers for what can be sustained. People have been predicting Malthusian catastrophe's since Malthus in 1798 and it's not happened yet. I think better infrastructure using better technology, more support for high density housing, better mass transit, and so forth would allow us to support many more people in our cities.

They have avoided taking a stand on other policy matters, thinking that population is the be all, end all of concerns. They are running candidates for the senate in every state and territory, plus a handful of house of representative candidates.

twitter: @PopulationParty

 1) given a current population of 23 million and a target of 26 million for 2050, assuming a constant rate of growth for the population, the rate of growth r = (26/23)^(1/35) = 1.0035 (I used 35 years instead of 37 as it's a rounder number). For this year that would mean a population gain of 80,000. In 2011 (the most recent year I could find ABS stats for) there were 297,903 births and 146,932 deaths, net growth 150,971 or twice the desired level. Reducing the births to 75% of what it was gets a net population growth of around 75,000, about the level suggested.

2) Emigration of citizens is pretty much balanced out by returning citizens, not leaving much for immigrants under a zero net immigration policy. ABS Migration stats

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Party Games 13/54 Australian Sports Party

The Australian Sports Party has a pretty clear focus. Sports. They want us to play more sports. Apparently this is the cornerstone of Australian society and we need to be doing more of it. This is the key to building strong communities and healthy Australians.

Given that I'm not much of an athlete, this is a tough sell to me. The physical exercise I do tends to be of a solitary nature, and trying to cajole me into a team sport isn't going to work. I do broadly support their aims, but question why they need to be a political party to achieve them And it's not like sport doesn't get plenty of government support anyway. From Abbot promising the Broncos a few million before the debate there to the ongoing funding of the AIS, sport gets a pretty easy ride.

Maybe if they were to encourage the sports I like I might be more receptive. Promising support for non-mainstrream sports such as chess boxing, Johan Sebastian Joust, and esports like competitive Starcraft might catch my attention, but they've not done that. They are a blokes party for those who enjoy blokey sports.


Party Games 12/54 The Voluntary Euthanasia Party

To sleep, perchance to dream, or maybe not given the rather unlikely existence of an afterlife. The Voluntary Euthanasia Party is all about people having the right to end their life when all that looms before them is pain. Given that one of the founders is Dr Philip Nitschke, who is also a senate candidate in the ACT (good luck with that (they also have a second senate candidate for the ACT which is either a sign of too much cash or too much optimism)), their position on the matter should be pretty clear.

Thinking about this party has raised an inconsistency in my thinking. I'm generally against suicide on the basis that no matter how bleak and miserable life may be, being alive is better than being dead. However, I've also been generally supportive of the right to choose when you leave this world. Why am I ok with it as an escape from pain and old age, but not from depression and misery. Maybe it is a false contrast of suicide being an escape or cop out, while euthanasia is an acknowledgement that life must end and that it may be better to do so on ones own terms than on the cruel ones nature offers. Both descriptions could be used for each other. Maybe I'm just more willing to accept someone old wanting to end it all while thinking someone younger has more potential. If you only have one or two more years it seems less of a waste than if you have 30-50 more years of life you're throwing away. I think I will need to do some more thinking on the topic before reaching a conclusion.

That said, if you support euthanasia, there are other parties that do so which also have policies on other matters as well. If you care about more than just this issue you may want to look into them and pick one as the Voluntary Euthanasia Party haven't told us what they think of other issues or committed to not voting on other matters, so unless you feel like taking a roll of the dice on their position on the NBN, Carbon Tax, parental leave or other issue of choice, you can probably find another party that supports both that may be a better first choice. If you really want to make a statement about your support of the issue and not so much about other stuff, then they may be your guys.


Party Games 11/54 Coke In The Bubblers Party

Ah for the days when we were all voting on class captains. A rather meaningless role with no actual consequence except for getting a shiny badge. Or maybe that was just my school. Although at my school no one ever promised coke in the bubblers. I don't think they ever promised anything. It was just a popularity contest. At any rate, it had about as much depth as the Coke in the Bubblers Party.

Their website is rather sparse on details. They do have a page where they say modern politician's are forced by the system to promise big and then not deliver. They then have many pages where the content simply says "Coming Soon". I'm not sure if this is very clever satire or people not realising just how much work they've gotten themselves into setting up a party.

They don't appear to have any policies per se, instead saying that there are a number of issues that they want to encourage discussion on. These include education, the economy and aged care, so it's not like their raising issues being ignored by everyone else.

They also seem to need a better web admin. They have tons of icons suggesting various social media with links that don't work. Hell, my old school style of doing html in vi (I'm sorry emacs, it was on my mac and it was easier than trying to get emacs to work) would result in less links that don't work. They don't even have a twitter account for crying out loud.

Overall, just like the school kid promising Coke in the Bubblers, the Coke in the Bubblers Party have made a promise that sounds good, but they've overlooked all the practical stuff that goes into actually doing what they've promised.


Party Games 10/54 Smoker's Rights Party

First up on the single party roadshow is the Smoker's Rights Party. They feel smokers have been hard done by. High taxes on cigarettes, not being able to smoke in public venues, winnie blues no longer coming in a blue packet, it's a hard life. Apparently, slowly killing yourself is too expensive, and not being able to see the logo of your brand and instead getting a picture of what you're doing to yourself is unfair to the manufacturers and promotes black market activities since it's easier to counterfeit a plain packet (because everyone buying on the black market expects to be getting a legit product, or or they think supermarkets, local stores, and servos are going to buy cigarettes of guys off the back of a truck).

That said, I must concede they have a point. Given that I generally put drugs into the "I won't recommend it but I won't stop you from doing it" category, tobacco is just as much a drug as marijuana or alcohol. I guess I disagree with them on the level of taxation. They want taxes on tobacco at a level that covers the costs to the health system, while I'm happy to add on an extra "If you're stupid enough to want to die early, you deserve to be charged more" tax on top of that.

I also think banning smoking in public venues is a good thing. While living abroad I've been to places where there are no restrictions on smoking, and been to bars where the amount of smoke is so much it has stung my eyes. Not having to deal with this in Australian is a good thing.

I am a bit concerned at their claim that 20% of Australians smoke (the Cancer Council would disagree with them though). I had hoped that number would be lower, although I'm confident that they won't get the entire smoker vote.


Party Games a/54 - Single Issue Party Roundup

I've fallen a bit behind with where I intended to be with this project by this point in time. In order to catch up a bit, I'm going to shuffle around the order a bit and tonight I'm going to focus on some one issue and no-issue parties, as these won't involve as much reading to make sure I'm not misrepresenting them. So let's begin

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Party Games 9/54 Australian Sovreignty Party

The Australian Sovereignty Party brings us once again into the realm of the economic fringe. They have two main economic policies that just make one want to weep and then whack them alongside the head with Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations (which fortunately for this purpose is a pretty hefty tome. That diversion into the history of grain prices may not make for thrilling reading but does help you pack a punch).

First up is their plan to once again have the government create money, and to use this to fund government expenditures. One of the consequences of this will be bringing inflation down to zero. I'll repeat, the government creating money to pay its expenses will have the effect of reducing inflation to zero.

The second is their plan to revamp the tax system. They are going to replace all existing taxes with a debit tax. Every time money leaves one of your bank accounts you get charged a tax of 1% of the amount. This tax will apply to every transaction, so this means each time you transfer money between your accounts, or send money to a family member, or give to charity, you get charged the tax. It also means that there will be ripe opportunities for those who want to work on a cash basis to avoid the system. They estimate that this will bring result in a surplus of $235 billion mainly because it will bring in about twice the revenue the government currently gets. which when they also say that we will all be paying less tax because 1% is less than the current 10% GST does make it sound like someones getting charged somewhere that we're not being told about. Businesses doing lots of bank transactions are going to raise their prices to cover the costs of the extra 1% on every transaction, and I'm sure people aren't going to be happy if the go into overdraft because of the tax being taken out of their bank accounts.

They do better on some other matters. On internet privacy they oppose internet filters, and quite rightly put the onus on parents wanting to protect their children to do so themselves rather than restricting what everyone can access. They support the medicinal use of marijuana, and while not outright supporting decriminalization, encourage a full review of drug laws with that in mind. Their defense plan emphasizes good relationships with neighboring nations, but then diverts into a bit of anti UN spiel.

The ASP is also another proponent of Citizen Initiated Referendums, which again is set up as a way of binding parliament without going to the trouble of changing the constitution. I'm still not sure why so many small right wing parties think these are a good idea.

twitter: @Aus_Sovereignty

Party Games 8/54 The Australian Sex Party

With a name like the Australian Sex Party you know that they are after attention. Given the rather civil rights focused approach they take with their policies they could easily have chosen other less controversial names to go by. But the Sex Party they are, and they take pleasure in the name they have given themselves.

Their policies cover a wide range of issues but are not comprehensive. They mainly focus on ensuring personal freedom and allowing consenting adults to do what consenting adults want to do. On matters of technology they do well. Opposing mandatory data retention and internet filtering is how they initially got my attention. Easing up on censorship laws, and working to make them uniform across Australia works for me. They are pro gay marriage, pro women's choice for abortion, pro euthanasia, and want drug usage decriminalized and marijuana taxed.

They are also for a secular state. They want to ensure that public schools are free from religion which includes ending the school chaplains program. They also want to remove special tax exemptions for religions, which while something that should be done, they are pushing it in a way that seeks to be confrontational (given the likely response of religious groups, this may just be a matter of getting in first).

When it comes to sex itself, the areas they focus on are better treatment for those working in the sex industry, ensuring equal rights for LGBTIQ (that acronym keeps getting longer doesn't it), better access to sex education, and getting drugs that help with sexual dysfunction on the PBS.

They don't have a policy on the environment (the first party I've come across to lack this), refugees and immigration (again the first party not to have one), and the NBN, while I think that they'd be on the positive side of these issues, given that anyone getting elected will need to deal with these issues, it would be nice to see them state a position on these.

twitter: @aussexparty

Party Games 7/54 Australian Democrats

Oh how the mighty have fallen. They who kept the bastards honest. They who forced John Howard to make compromises on the GST. They who then self destructed into what now appears to be farcical oblivion. I didn't realize just how bad things were for the Democrats until I was reading the statement the Pirate Party made on their preferences, and learned of the wreck that the Democrats currently are.

At the moment there are two separate groups claiming to be the Australian Democrats. One has the old logo I remember from years of yore and has candidates and has submitted preferences, the other has the no 1 spot on Google searches for Australian Democrats and better social media presence all round. The AEC are treating it as an internal matter and not really taking a stand other than saying until it's sorted out they won't change the registered officials. There are now questions as to whether the party still has the required 500 members to be a registered party.

So, how do I do this write up. Fortunately, their policies are pretty similar. They support the carbon tax, raising the tax free threshold, better treatment of refugees, greater access to schooling for children with special needs, a national curriculum. Without the personal squabbles, there's really no reason for the split.

As a centrist party they don't take any extreme positions, so there's not much to find there. I really wish they could get back to being in a position to keep the bastards honest, but I'm really not sure if they'll be around for the next election after this one. I'll miss them as they were the first party I was interested in, even if it was due to the fact that Natasha Stott Despoja was on Good News Week a lot, rather than any true political conviction, but I feel that they showed that there was room for a third party to contribute to the Australian political scene by being able to force the major parties to have to make deals rather than just follow their ideologies untempered by others (and indeed, Howard's downfall came only after he finally gained power in the senate). Others have followed in their footsteps in this role, and indeed the last parliament has been a great example of this.

Ultimately I'm still going to have the Democrats high on my ballot paper, but not as high up as they once were.

Website: (the one without candidates)
Website: (the one with candidates)
Twitter: @AusDemocrats (the one without candidates)

Monday, August 26, 2013

By the Numbers 34/52

A rather mixed week.

Net cash: $480.88
Got my tax return, but a chunk of that was taken out by the doctor telling me to her an MRI of my knee, something my health insurance doesn't cover (there's a whole rant on that matter).
Jobs applied for: 0

Net Calories: 1581 Calories
Less cardio due to the bad knee and lack of a working treadmill has hit hard, and increased snacking hasn't helped.
Fitocracy points: 385
Weight: I'll check and update this evening as I'm doing this on the bus to work

Bike riding: 92km
Bike broke down on Wednesday. Haven't got it fixed yet. We'll see how it goes. Pushing it home was a good workout.
Books read: 2
I finished Y: The Last Man and the churned through The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Kind of curious how they handled making a movie out of it as it was very much driven by the narrator's internal voice which I'm not sure is easily adaptable to film.
Games played: 13: 11x magic the Gathering (including my first draft tournament) and 2x Hanabi

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Party Games 6/54 Australian Protectionist Party

This one's going to be rough. I've haven't sworn at my computer as much as I did while reading the Australian Protectionist Party's policies in quite a while. From the leaflets explaining how mosques in you neighborhood reduce house prices to a tax plan put together by someone who likes round numbers more than actually paying for the expenses of government to a zero net immigration policy, the Australian Protectionist Party are I can't quite decide what.

Let's start with taxes. They're against them. The carbon tax, the mining tax, the GST, payroll tax, it's all bad. It hurts business, it causes paperwork, it reduces incentives to work, it's too high. They'll cut them all. And instead bring in a flat 20% tax with a $20,000 tax free threshold. Now, while I've not gone and found all the stats to work out just how much money this would bring in, it will be a lot less than the existing income tax (less income gets taxed at a significantly lower rate means less tax revenue). So we've got lots of taxes gone altogether, a massively reduced income tax and not much about how they'll cut spending to compensate for this huge drop in funds.

They're also a big fan of trade tariffs, wanting to impose a 10% tariff for all manufactured goods imported. I think I need to do some separate posts on why I disagree with certain policies as I feel I may end up repeating myself a bit. A more unique idea they have is forming an agricultural OPEC to get more money for agricultural exports (because if cartel for oil works, why not one for food?).
Immigration. A zero net immigration policy. Immigration on a one out, one in basis. This pretty much means no immigration. They also want an immigration policy that supports a homogenous society, by which they mean excludes Muslims and people from the Third world (although South Africa is on the list of countries it's ok to immigrate from).

Before I get too negative they do have some ideas I agree with. As part of their environment policy they want to encourage new energy sources such as solar, wind, and nuclear power. They want to build light rail networks and cycle-ways, and have more electric cars. They also want to have all government documents printed only in English to save paper so you can't win them all. Another positive is the cute girl they have modeling their t-shirt (you can tell I'm stretching for things here).

They have some people running for the house in WA, and senate candidates in Queensland and New South Wales. Senate preferences have the Coalition ahead of Labor.

website: Australian Protectionist Party
twitter: @AustProtParty

Party Games 5/54 Australian Fishing & Lifestyle Party

It's probably not going to be a big surprise if I tell you that the Australian Fishing & Lifestyle Party are fans of fishing, both commercial and amateur. They say that we should be able to do much more of both with much less government interference.

The general framework they set out for their policies have some hits and misses. Use of scientific data in the decision making process, respecting ethnic diversity, standardization of transport and communication services Australia wide, and recognizing the value of research and investment are all sensible starting points. I find it harder to get behind placing Australian sovereignty above international obligations because 1) it is an exercise of sovereignty to agree to a treaty in the first place, and 2) if we set a precedent of not complying with an obligation just because we don't like it anymore, it will be that much harder for us to convince other nations to comply later on.

The policies they have specifics on are encouraging greater commercial fishing where they believe we can significantly increase catches without impacting fish populations, making amateur fishing something promoted by all levels of government (provide infrastructure for, sure, I'm not sure if the government should be an advocate for a hobby though), the encouragement of the aquaculture industry, and greatly limiting the power of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

This last part is where I start to see some inconsistencies. Despite stating that use of scientific data in the decision making process is a part of their policy framework, in making the case that there is no threat to the reef from humans they say that the existing threats to the reef are weather events such as cyclones (no humans there), climate change (we've pretty much been caught red handed on that one), and sea level change (melting icecaps anyone?). To say climate change is not caused by human activity makes me doubt their commitment to the use of scientific data in making decisions, which then makes me wonder about their other policies such as where they say that catch levels can be set much higher without impacting biodiversity or population levels. They also say pollution and invasive species such as the Crown of Thorn are not significant threats to the reef (although given the size of the Great Barrier Reef, the word "significant" probably gives you a lot of wriggle room in these matters)

I have them pegged as a bit of a mixed bag. Some good ideas, some doubts, and ultimately their focus is on something I don't particularly care about (I've been fishing once in my life, and while it was a pleasant enough day it's not something I'm going to dedicate my life or my vote to.

The AFLP has two candidates running for the senate in Queensland. Preferences are to some small parties first (Australian Independents, Australian Christians, and the Australian Motor Enthusiasts Party are the first 3 preferenced). The LNP comes before Labor, and the Greens are placed last.
website: Australian Fishing & Lifestyle Party

Party Games 4/54 Australia’s First Nations Political Party

The Australia’s First Nations Political Party is a Northern Territory based party advocating for Aboriginal issues. Their focus is pretty strong on this area. Major policy objectives they have include a roll back of the Northern Territory intervention, recognition of First Nations peoples leading to a treaty with the government, respect for the environment, and statehood for the Northern Territory.

I'm pretty positive on most of these matters. I think the intervention was horribly conceived and executed, so agree with rolling it back. A treaty similar to the one New Zealand has with the Maori people is something I support in principle, but would want to see specifics before committing myself. Respect for the environment is a given.

Statehood for the Northern Territory is an interesting one. The constitution doesn't require a new state to get the same level of representation in the house and senate as original states (Tasmania has more representatives than its population would otherwise entitle it too because as an original state it gets a minimum of 5 members in the house of Representatives) so the issue of such a sparsely populated area getting a significantly beefed up presence in government isn't a necessary outcome, but I think those pushing for statehood would want to see a greater presence than there currently is. This would be a delicate negotiation. In becoming a state NT would get greater independence from the federal government (I don't think something like the intervention would be possible). I'm sure there would also be some transfer of powers from the federal government to the new state, but I don't know enough about how the NT is currently set up to say with any certainty what powers would specifically be involved. I won't say I support NT statehood, but I don't oppose the idea, with caveats that I'd need to see a specific proposal before making a decision on the matter.

The Australia’s First Nations Political Party is only running candidates in the Northern Territory. They have two senate candidates and two candidates for the house of representatives (which is every available seat in the NT). Preferences are to all the other small parties first, then the Greens, the Country Liberal Party, and in last Labor. Given that NT's two senate seats usually get split 1 each Labor and Country Liberals, the preferences probably won't come into play.

website: Australia’s First Nations Political Party

Friday, August 23, 2013

Party Games 3/54 Australian Christians

First up, I'm an atheist, so the Australian Christians are always going to find me a tougher sell than other people. When you say that you have formulated gold standard policies, based on biblical principles, I'm going to ask just why those principles are relevant to 1) Me, and 2) governing Australia. We have a nominally secular government (section 116 of the constitution) so to say that you want to govern using religious text as the basis for your policies gives me cause for concern.

Given that they are a Christian based party, some of the policies that they have aren't all that surprising. No to gay marriage, no to abortion, more funding going to religious schools, no to euthanasia, yes to internet censorship, abstinence only sex ed. They don't specifically mention contraception, but I don't think I'm going out on a limb saying they're against it.

Their environment policy says we should take care of the planet god gave us which includes doing things like reducing pollution and ensuring development is sustainable, so they aren't as bad as some Christian groups that say global warming can't be happening because God wouldn't let it. They don't go into much detail, but their environment policy does follow the broad outlines I look for, so they do have that going for them. I am a little worried that "Recognising our shared global responsibility in reducing pollution" might mean not doing anything about pollution while China and the US continue to pollute, but don't have much to back that up with.

I'm not sure they quite get the meaning of religious freedom though. In that section of their policy list they say that they want to see parliament continue to be opened with Christian prayers and that the government has a responsibility to uphold Christian traditions. That their understanding of religious freedom is limited to freedom for their religion shows that they've kind of missed the point of religious freedom. They also want to give preference to Christian asylum seekers over Muslim asylum seekers.

Australian Christians are running candidates for the Senate in Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, West Australia and South Australia, and candidates for the House in WA, Tasmania, and Victoria. Preferences are to various small parties first, and putting the Coalition ahead of Labor.

twitter: @OzChristians

Party Games 2/54 Australia First Party

The Australia First Party. Where do I start? Xenophobic, jingoistic, over the top on law enforcement, economically niave. I have to say there's not much about this party I like.

Their law enforcement plan is to eliminate all the state police departments and the AFP and create one nationwide police force, constitutional issues not withstanding, eliminate trial by jury, the reintroduction of capital punishment, and the abolition of parole. They want a zero tolerance approach to drugs.

On economics they are just woeful. They want to create a domestic oil market independent of the world market. This they expect will result in lower prices in Australia than on the international market, because of course oil companies won't sell to overseas buyers who will pay more. They want to create a national bank that will provide subsidized loans for home buyers and businesses. They want to set up a national market and pricing system for food with the government setting prices. They want to nationalize all superannuation funds and restrict them to investing in Australia. On the tax side of things, they want to replace most taxes with a debit tax, so each time money comes out of one of your bank accounts, you get taxed on that. Note this includes paying a friend back some money they lent you, donating to charity, giving money to a family member in need and more, and doesn't pick up anything done on a cash only basis.

They are very much of the Australia is for Australians only persuasion. They want to eliminate foreign ownership of land and resources, the promoting of European culture and values in schools and government, and renouncing all international treaties we have signed.

They are one of several parties wanting the introduction of citizen initiated referendums. Given how well this has turned out for various states in America, I have my doubts about this. Like other parties wanting citizens initiated referendums they want the referendums to have the strength of a constitutional amendment without having to go through all the work of amending the constitution.

Their preferences seem to be going to other small right wing parties first. They have done something interesting when it comes to the two big parties, which are about halfway down the ticket. They have alternated between Labor and the Coalition, starting with the lowest ranked candidate in each party and working their way up to each party's no 1 candidate.

I've not sent them an email with questions about their policies as I couldn't find an email address or any contact details on their website other than a phone number on one of their press releases from a year or so ago which I haven't tried. They also appear to have no presence on facebook or twitter.


Party Games 1/54 The Animal Justice Party

First up is the Animal Justice Party. Opposed to anything that may harm animals. The core of their philosophy are the five freedoms they say all animals should enjoy. These are
1: freedom from hunger and thirst
2: freedom from discomfort
3: freedom from pain, injury and disease
4: freedom to express normal behaviour
5: freedom from fear and distress

From these five freedoms they build up their policies which include banning circuses and rodeos, banning the sale of dogs and cats by pets stores, prohibiting animal shelters to put down animals, legal recognition of animals as sentient being, greatly reduced experimentation on animals (one of the conditions that they place on animal experimentation is that it benefits the species of animal being experimented upon), banning the hunting of animals for recreation, massive reforms of farming practices, banning live export of animals, greater protection of wildlife, eliminating the property status of animals, and more.

In terms of policies and positions the Animal Justice Party reminds me a lot of PETA, a fact that does not help them to get my vote. While I certainly agree one should not be cruel to animals or cause them pain for no reason, animals don't require the same level of care and protection as people. Giving them special status that they can not be considered property seems to me to be counter productive to helping protect animal welfare, and would open up the mother of all demands for compensation from farmers (Can you imagine a farmers reaction when told he doesn't own his livestock anymore?).

For me the answer of how do we protect animals from human cruelty (because I see little here about protecting animals from each other) is not to put humans and animals on an equal footing in terms of laws and rights, because quite frankly we're not, but to educate and enlighten. For many of their policies I find I agree with the intention, but the implementation is too much (yes, I would like to see koala populations restored, but a target population of 1 million (which is around 200 times the current population) seems very high)

The Animal Justice Party is very much a single issue party. They have no policies on the NBN, healthcare, education, the economy, or the carbon tax.

The Animal Justice Party is running candidates for the Senate in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, West Australia, South Australia and the ACT, and are not contesting any seats in the House of Representatives. They have given preferences highly to the Australian Democrats and the Stable Population Party, but I'm guessing most of the preferences will end up going to the Greens in the end.

twitter: @AJP_Australia

Party Games 0/54

As many of you are aware, an Australian Federal election is coming up on September 7th. You may not know that a record high 1,717 candidates are standing for seats in the house or senate around Australia from 54 different parties. Rather than going by some of my previous voting methods which have included rolling dice, asking questions on the day, and going by how many of their members have appeared on Good News Week (I joined the UQ Australian Democrats club but never attended any meetings on the basis of Natasha Stott Despoja's many appearances on GNW), this time I'm making an effort to be informed.

To achieve this I'm reading up on every one of the 54 registered parties, and I'm going to give each one a bit of a write up here. I'm currently at around 30/55 so still have a bit to do, but I'm hoping to churn through the rest before the end of next week.

I'm also sending an email of questions to each party. Depending on how detailed the information they have on their websites are, the questions are usually about 1/3-1/2 questions about their policies, and the rest are some general questions I'm putting to every questions. These general questions include "Who would you try to make a deal with in the event of a hung parliament?", "How does your party decide on policies?", "Why should I vote for you?", and some other similar questions. These general questions may be cut where the policies are pretty clear where they stand on a matter (I didn't feel the need to ask the No Carbon Tax (Climate Sceptics) party what they thought of the Carbon Tax for example).

In doing the write ups I'm going to try to be fair, but I'm also going to be giving my assessment of the parties. If I think they're crazy, I'll say so, but I'll give my reasons why. I'll try and present pros as well as cons, things I agree with and disagree with.

So far I've not had much success in getting responses to my emails (1 actual response, 3 read our websites, and a few automated we've got your email and will get back to you as soon as we can). I had initially been planning on waiting for responses before doing the write ups, but since it turns out I've been wildly optimistic about the response rate I'd get, I'm going to do the write ups and if I get a response I'll do a follow up.

In terms of order of write up, I'm generally going in alphabetical order, with a few exceptions. A half dozen parties were registered after I got my initial list of parties from the AEC website (the full list of parties), so they got tacked onto the end of the list. I'm also going to save the major parties (by which I mean parties with more than 1 person in parliament already, so the ALP, the Coalition, and the Greens) for last, as they get a heck of a lot of coverage already.

Monday, August 19, 2013

By the Numbers 33/52

Mixed results this week.

Net Cash: $178.67
Pretty much balances out last week.
Jobs Applied for: 1
A friend said their company is recruiting someone for data entry type stuff, which if it pays better and gets me off the phones is probably worth switching for, but still not my end goal. Haven't heard back yet from my current work about the interview from the week before last.

Net Calories: 3844 Calories
Yeah, an entire pizza for dinner on Friday was not a good idea, even if it was one of the smaller chef's best ones from Dominos (that said adding bacon to a Hawaiian pizza is genius). Snacks while watching World's End on Sunday also contributed.
Fitocracy Points: 0
Yep, no exercise this week. My knee is still sore.
Weight: 93 kg
And with all that, I manage to drop some weight.

Bike riding: 448 km
Books read: 0
Still working through The Art of Thinking Clearly as well as Y: The Last Man
Games Played: 10, Gunship:Afterburners, 3x Dominion: Intrigue + Guilds, 1x Hanabi (which I now own a copy of), 5x Magic: The Gathering
Movies seen: World's End
Not as great as the other Simon Pegg/Nick Frost/Edgar Wright films, it had its good moments but just didn't have the consistency of quality the others did and it was harder to buy into the scenario (which given we're talking about zombies and a homicidal conspiracy to win town of the year is saying a lot)

Monday, August 12, 2013

By The Numbers 32/52

I got back from Sydney late last night so I left the write up to tonight.

Net Cash: -$182.63
Taxis account for a good chunk of this. Eating out in Sydney was another chunk. A bit too much snacking while at work didn't help either.
Jobs Applied for: 1
I once again put my name forward for a different job at work. The same one I've applied for 3 times before. But since they didn't appoint anyone last time, and they gave me another interview, I can't have been completely ruled out.

Net Calories: 889 Calories
I indulged a little in Sydney, and ate a bit more in general expecting a rather big deficit that didn't occur
Weight: 95kg
Fitocracy points: 790
I did a 5km jog/walk on Monday, some circuit training at a place on the corner on Wednesday, and indoor rock climbing on Friday. Notably absent is the 14km fun run I mentioned last week. I banged up my knee on Friday night (it was ok after the rock climbing, but I woke up on Saturday with it being sore and a bit wobbly), and while it's ok to walk on, I don't think it was up to 14km of jogging/walking. I was fretting all day how I'd tell my sister who got me to sing up for the run that I couldn't do it, then an hour before my flight got a text saying she wouldn't meet me at the airport because she'd twisted her ankle. So we just had a relaxing day hanging out in Sydney instead.

Bike riding: 282 km
Books read: 1
I finished the Thrawn trilogy. I'm now working through "The Art of Thinking Clearly", which is more a field guide to cognitive biases than a how to guide. I bought it at the airport as according to Dymocks it was National Bookstore Day, which was a good enough excuse for me to buy a new book (I think it may be just a made up thing to encourage people to actually go to book stores instead of buying online, but still who doesn't need more books?).
Games played: 2: St Petersburg and Fruit Ninja: The Card Game

Sunday, August 04, 2013

By the Numbers 31/52

A rather standard week overall

Net Cash: -$391.43
Big ticket item was return plane tickets for the Sydney City to Surf my sister has roped me into participating in. I fly down Saturday evening, Sunday morning is a 14km run, and then I fly back 7pm Sunday night. Should be fun. Also, the first proper grocery shopping since getting back from Melbourne (I shouldn't need to go shopping again for 2 weeks)
Jobs Applied for: 0

Net Calories: -2494 Calories
A good result, mainly from extra exercise in preparation for the aforementioned City to Surf.
Weight: 94 kg
 Fitocracy points: 3035
A lot of time on the treadmill at a faster pace than I usually do to the point I may have burned out the motor on the treadmill, and some indoor rock climbing on Saturday
Fitocracy level: 16

Bike riding: 364 km
Books read: 0
Games played: 8, Through the Ages, Castle Dice, 6x Magic: The Gathering

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Because of Nothing, the Confusion is Great (paghmo' tIn mIs)

So I got around to seeing Much Ado About Nothing. Not my usual fare, but with Joss Whedon directing and the cast including Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof, Tom Lenk, Agent Coulson (I should know his real name and I can't be bothered doing an IMDB search), Toufer (Franz something, another IMDB search I should do), Garkunkel (or Oates), and more, I was prepared to try something out of my regular fare. Overall, I enjoyed the film and thought it was well done.

I quite liked the way Whedon mixed the old language of the play with modern visual cues. The lords and princes are identified by suits, official photographers and bodyguards with earpieces talking into their wrists, the watch are cops with CSI sunglasses, and so on.

In terms of the language, they appear to have stuck pretty well to the original play (I say appear because I've not really read the original play. I own a copy but it's a dual language copy and when I attempted to read it I was more focused on the non-English version), which apart from a few instances where Beatrice and Benedick were verbally sparring where it got a bit too quick, was easy to understand.

The casting seemed very much to have been Joss Whedon calling up people he's liked working with before, as nearly all the cast have been involved in at least one Whedon production before this. A random thought I had during the film was what sort of character Amy Acker would have had if she'd appeared on Firefly, but I think Firefly was over before Acker entered the Whedonsphere. 

Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof both put in great performances, especially when playing off each other.

The only bit that I didn't get fully behind was the plot, which seemed to be highly contrived and not make much sense at all, but I'm sure it worked better with the crowds of Shakespeare's time, and the fact that it's being remade says it still has some resonance.

Thank you to the various people who recommended it to me, as otherwise it may have gone onto the I'll watch it someday list rather than the I've seen and enjoyed it list it now sits in.