15 April 2005

BC-STV or preferences across the sea

Australian senator stumps for STV
Any kind of proportional representation is far superior to the single member electorate system, according to Australian Senator Bob Brown.

'Every system has its faults, but no system is as faulty as single member electorate,' said Brown during a speech in Powell River on April 5. 'Any change toward proportional representation is better. But from my point of view, STV (single transferable vote) is a wonderful system.'

Brown, famous for booing United States President George W. Bush when he addressed the Australian Parliament in 2003, was on a three-city tour in BC in support of Green Party leader and candidate in the Powell River-Sunshine Coasting riding Adriane Carr. About 140 attended his speech in the Evergreen Theatre at the Powell River Recreation Complex.

Brown was a family doctor in Australia when he became involved in a campaign to stop the construction of a dam on the Franklin River. That work led to his arrest, along with other protestors, and a decision to run as a Green Party candidate in Tasmania.

He was elected as the first, and only, Green Party MLA in Australia. He has been elected twice to the Tasmanian state House of Assembly and twice to the national Senate.

BC voters have an opportunity to vote on STV in the May 17 provincial election. It is the system recommended by the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform.

British Columbia Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform
The Citizens Assembly was created by the Government of British Columbia with the unanimous support of the B.C. Legislature. It was an independent, non-partisan assembly of citizens who examined the province's electoral system - that is, how our votes determine who gets elected to sit in the provincial Legislature.

The Citizens Assembly had 160 members, one man and one woman from each of B.C's 79 provincial electoral districts (constituencies) plus two Aboriginal members. They were representative of the province as a whole, and worked for all British Columbians. Members were picked by random draw from a pool that reflected the gender, age and geographical make-up of British Columbia. Assembly chair Jack Blaney was also an additional member, the 161st.

The initiative was unique. Nowhere else in the world had such power been handed to randomly selected citizens.

The people of British Columbia will vote in a referendum on 17 May. The province has a history of disastrously one-sided election results (including governemnts winning landslide legislative majorities with a minority of the popular vote) that BC-STV is designed to cure.

Australia has a similar problem, the republic. A citizens assembly elected by random draw would probbaly be an excellent way to unblock the logjam on the issue. We use random juries for serious questions. British Columbia has used it for electoral reformmbly. South Australia recently used it for a constitutional convention. Why not the republic?

10 April 2005

Red faces would be a lot better than tight lips

Beazley tight-lipped on McGuire approach
Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley has refused to comment on claims that Labor has approached some high profile media and sporting personalities to help it win the next election.

Several media outlets are reporting that Labor has asked the president of the Collingwood Football Club, Eddie McGuire, to stand at the next election.

Labor officials are also reported to have approached AFL boss Andrew Demetriou, Brisbane Lions coach Leigh Matthews and Essendon's Kevin Sheedy.

The last political movement to place Eddie McGuire in a prominent position was the Australian Republican Movement. They went on to well-deserved defeat in the 1999 republic referendum. It's bad enough that Labor may be chasing celebrities instead of persuasive policies. But Eddie McGuire? Really...