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My pre-election prediction

Source: SMH

Well, this is my final post before Saturday's election, so I figured I would use the time to make a prediction about what I think the final result could be. In terms of my reasoning, I've based this educated guess on reviewing the 4 major poll results from across the election, including a fair bit of decent analysis of said polls provided by that great marsupial at Pollytics. Basically, the aim was to draw together what possible information I had available to me, as well as what trusted analysis I could look to, and attempt to provide some kind of reasoned theory about the voting.

So what do I think it will be? My prediction is that the ALP will be returned, with a 2PP result of 52 - 48, resulting in a net win of 81 seats for the ALP, 66 seats to the LNP, with the 3 Independents being returned. I am prepared to drop the ALP number down to 80 seats if the Greens manage to win the seat of Melbourne, which some are suggesting is a possibility. As for the Senate, well, I haven't been following the numbers there enough, but I am hopeful for the Greens to get the balance of power up there, which should include the scratching of Family First Senator Steve Fielding (whichever way the election goes, this single fact has to be a good thing!).

All in all, however, this election campaign has been a fairly uninspiring affair, to be honest. Neither of the major parties have really been able to articulate a clear and large vision for Australia going forward. It's this element that the campaign has lacked so far - any sense of grandness of ideas, or anything that approaches as a vision extending past the next 3 years. The closest we've had is the ALP NBN announcement, but even that was a hangover from the 2007 election, so it doesn't really count.

The LNP, meanwhile, have really missed a beat by running such a negative campaign. If the only reason the people elect you is because you're not the other mob, then that is a pretty sad state of affairs for Australian democracy.

The one interesting party in all this has been the Greens, who seem to be saying the right things, and doing the right things, to offer some vision going forward, and look set to increase their primary vote quite a bit over past elections. Which is a good thing. I like the idea of a third major political party working in the mix. Hopefully going forward this means that Greens Leader Bob Brown might be included in the 2013 Leader's Debate, which would not be a bad thing at all. Heck, it might actually make the debate interesting to watch!

In the end, however, one thing is certain - this Saturday is going to be a very tight contest. We might not even have a result on Saturday night, given how close some of the major opinion polls have been calling it of late.

I just hope that whoever does win, we aren't regretting it as a nation in 3 years time. 'Cause sadly, election voting is one of those things that it is very easy to get "morning after" depression about...

My plan is to live tweet the election on Saturday, with a summary blog post as soon as a result is called. If I get excited, I might even try recording and uploading some YouTube videos as well. It all depends on whether technology works for me.

See you all on the flipside, folks!


Things I Like... Part 1 of X

In an attempt to distract myself from the misery that is the 2010 Federal Election, I thought it might be interesting / fun (depends how you define those two words, I guess!) to write up a list of the various podcasts / web sites I visit several times a week, and my reasons for doing so. If nothing else, it might help you in broadening your vision about what is available out there, or even more simply give you a better insight into me as a person. The latter of which could be quite a scary prospect! So, in no particular order, here is THE LIST:

The TWiT Netcast Network with Leo Laporte


If you are in any way interested in tech, this has to be your go-to web site for all the best tech podcasts out there. Sure, Leo's constant need to talk over his guests / cohosts can be a right royal pain, and his pro-Mac tendancies do grate with me as a PC guy, but the fact is that Leo has taken his TechTV Days obsession into what has proven to be very fertile ground with an endless series of excellent podcast offerings, such as my personal favourites This Week in Tech, Windows Weekly, The Daily Giz Wiz, and Tech News Today. Oh, and the TWiT Cottage has to be the single coolest place to visit in North America!


Following on from the previous entry, Josh Topolsky and his team at Engadget are easily the single best web site out there for anyone interested in gadgets or technology. Quite aside from the excellent reportage, the right-angle humour of the site is to die for. The best example of this is the weekly Engadget Podcast, which simply has to be heard to be believed. Easily the single best podcast out there at present, and with some great humour and jokes included, this is something I love listening to each Sunday morning (along with the above Windows Weekly podcast). As well as this, their monthly Engadget Show podcast is an excellent example of how the media is being slowly democratised, and indy producers are creating excellent content the mainstream media would never touch. Totally worth 80 minutes of your time each and every month.


2010 has so far proven one thing - it's that the mainstream media, including the ABC, really do suck. Big time. I am finding it increasingly difficult to believe anything that is reported in any of the major newspapers, on-line portals, or TV networks. Thankfully, there is but one bastion in this entire sea of stupidity and anti-ALP fervor. And that is Crikey. Even if you are not totally into great independent journalism, there are two reasons to take out a Crikey subscription. One is Bernard Keane's excellent articles on the latest polly shenanigans in Canberra, and the totally Double Rainbow All The Way Across The Sky cartoons of First Dog On The Moon. That is by no means a complete list, but there is simply too much awesome at Crikey to list everything. Just go get yourself a subscription, and you will honestly never regret it.

Well, that's a pretty decent start. It certainly helps to show off a little bit about what makes me, well, me. More links to come in future posts...!


Back to the future on broadband

Source: ABC News

So today the Coalition announced their answer to the Government's National Broadband Network, a policy that they themselves have quite specifically rejected as something that is in any way good. Their policy, should they win Government later this month, would be to scap the $43b NBN and replace it with a $6b infrastructure upgrade, which while it wouldn't deliver the same sorts of speeds and coverage that the NBN is promising, the Coalition feel that by offering what is essentially a backhaul upgrade, and a market-based investment in various wireless technology (such as HSPA+ and LTE) they can safely deliver an average speed of 12mbps to 95% - 98% of the Australian population. It would also not include the FTTH plan of the ALP, nor the structural separation of Telstra. Their argument is that we cannot afford a massive NBN rollout at this time.

So while it is cheaper, is the Coalition's plan actually going to meet the Australian people's future needs for broadband access? The simple fact is, whichever way you look at it, the Coalition's plan simply cannot work for the Australian people. Let me explain why.

The fact is, the Federal Government have announced a $43b Fibre-to-the-Home network, which involves replacing the existing copper network with a brand spanking new Fibre-based network. This will mean Australians will have access to speeds of between 100mbps and 1gbps, which is all very exciting. This would bring us in line with pretty much every other Asian country within the region, whereby they started rolling out Fibre networks several years ago, all to very critical acclaim. Sure, it's true to say that the end user will get speeds of variable quality - the above figures are nothing more than rough "best estimate" guides. But they are certainly better than the current "best estimate" guides based on our current copper network of ADSL2+ connections, which have a maximum speed of 24mbps.

The main advantage a Fibre-based network offers is that it is not as dependant on distance from the exchange like the current copper ADSL network is, which means the further away from the exchange you are, the slower your speed is. With FTTH, this is nowhere near the problem, which means faster speeds for those of us unlucky enough to live more than several km's away from our local exchange.

Now, this is all in stark comparison to that of what the Coalition are suggesting we build, and that is to upgrade to fibre ONLY the backhaul network within the country, with the actual service delivery being left to market forces to decide what is best to offer, and what price to charge, with what seems like a heavy reliance on wireless technology such as HSPA+ and LTE. The "peak speed" the Coalition are offering is 12mbps, which is essentially the speed you can hope to obtain so long as no-one else is connected to the same wireless tower as you are.

So, while the Coalition policy offers us always on wireless access, the speed is a heck of a lot less than what the ALP are offering, and anyone who has had to suffer poor mobile phone reception issues will know that right now, wireless is not the option. Sure, HSPA+ can offer maximum speeds of 42mbps, and that may possibly improve in the next few years. But the fact is, most people know that wireless Internet is convenient, yes, but is no replacement for a proper landline-based Internet connection.

That's not to say that at some stage inside of 20 years wireless Internet will become the defacto way in which people access the Internet. That much is not in doubt. The problem is, right now, in 2010, the technology just isn't there. So anything the Coalition does now is likely to be superceded within several years, while the ALP solution at least future proofs us for several decades to come, and when next generation wireless technology comes on-line, it will certainly benefit from being able to access a national fibre-based broadband network.

This is all beside the main point, however, and that is this - the NBN has a massive amount of potential to offer the Australian business sector, particularly in the areas of health and education. A dedicated FTTH network for e-health and education delivery will be a massive boon to Australia inside of a decade, and it is for this reason alone that I fully support the ALP plan of rolling out a NBN between now and 2020.

Let's just hope they win the election, eh?


Commentary on the MSM and Election 2010

Is it just me, or has the mainstream media (MSM) been really rather anti-ALP in this campaign? Well, indeed going back further than just this campaign, one can easily get the feeling that some media outlets are distinctly anti-ALP.

Of course, it's never been any real great surprise to anyone that News Ltd, in particular, The Australian, has been extremely anti-Labor for several years now. It's because of this bias that they were nicknamed The Government Gazette when John Howard was in office. I had really hoped that such an attitude would change in 2007 with the election of a Kevin Rudd Labor Government, but so far that would not seen to be the case.

In fact, if nothing else the election of an ALP Government has resulted in News Ltd stepping up their anti-ALP campaign, spreading the opinions further than just The Australian, with most of the News Ltd papers now producing similar sentiments.

The real worry is that we're now starting to see this kind of stupidity infect our national broadcaster, the ABC. Several stories of late have been decidely anti-ALP, with key facts in the stories missing to help present this bias, and yet very few people to give a stuff about this.

It's clear that News Ltd in particular have realised they have a lot of sway over how the people vote, and since they were so pro-LNP when Howard was in office, I guess it makes sense that they would do everything they can to help restore the LNP to Government. Hence the recent run of stories on the BER failures, not to mention the pink bats problems. Both stories have hardly been the disasters The Australian have been key to paint them as, and yet despite there being some extreme positives to come out of these stories, you don't hear much about said positives when you read the front page of The Australian or The Courier Mail.

I guess bias really is in the eye of the beholder.

My vain hope is that this anti-ALP attitude does not have too direct an impact on the outcome of the upcoming Federal Election, although I do suspect it will. Otherwise Murdoch and his team wouldn't be wasting this much energy on such fervour if it didn't have a chance in succeeding.

My question is this, though - how did the media become so powerful? And what on Earth can we do to turn things around in the next several years?


The Seven Stages of Grieving

Source: QTCWhether or not it was good political timing or not, the Queensland Theatre Company's latest production, The Seven Stages of Grieving, is an excellent exploration of a variety of issues that have faced Indigenous Australians for the last 50 years. The sad part is that most of the issues discussed are still in some way relevant to today's society, even if not in a direct way. The simple fact is, Indigenous issues are still a very large part of contemporary society, and it is great to see QTC tackling some of these issues in what is a mostly emotional, but occasionally humorous, look at one woman's life as she lives through most of the major issues of recent years in Indigenous society.

The script, by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman, is an excellent exploration of these issues - be it the Stolen Generation, Black Deaths in Custody, National Sorry Day, or even just day-to-day life for Indigenous Australians. The entire story is told through the eyes of one character, a nameless Indigenous Australian woman, who recounts her experiences around these various issues. Along the way, we hear some great stories, most of them funny, but all with a sad sting in the tail. It is this sting that eventually proves to be the more potent element within the text, for we are soon finding ourselves as an audience empathising with the character in a very big way, and this proves to be very satisfying.

Finding yourself an effective cast is always a major demand for any theatrical production, particularly so when all you have is a single actor through which to carry an entire 60-minute production. Which is why it is so brilliant that Director Rosalba Clemente found actor Lisa Flanagan to carry this entire show. Lisa brings a certain wickedness to the character, which is nicely balanced with a darker sorrowful side as she relates to us the various happenings of her character's life. It's a deep portrayal, and one that the subsequence post-show Q&A demonstrated was a very personal performance for Lisa. The phrase "no acting required" is certainy conjured up, even if her performance was filled with great acting.

The production design for the show was also of a very high standard, if at times extremely minimal. Some effective use was made of projection elements, including some overtly humorous use of said technique. The stark and simple set was clearly cheap to produce, but in so many ways it was extremely effective. There wasn't any need for an intricate set, given only one person would be using the space. I am a very big fan of minimalist set design, and this show certainly did not disappoint.

Overall, The Seven Stages of Grieving was an excellent production, furthering QTC's reputation as a group who offer excellent educational performances for high school Drama students. Sadly, the season has ended, but I am confident it will not be too long before another production of this excellent script emerges. If and when it does, my advice is to go and check it out, because the text itself is timeless, and its themes important.