25th October 2003


Well they've been, they talked to parliament, and they left.

Australia has a preferential voting system.  That makes a difference if there are more than two candidates and a lot of difference if there are multiple seats.  Every voter may select more than one candidate to receive his vote.  If the first choice is eliminated, then his vote goes to his second choice.  At federal level, we have a senate, that draws twelve senator representatives from each state, voted by the state as a single electorate.  This means that a minority party with 1/13th (~8%) of the votes including preferences can have a senator when there is a double dissolution, or with 1/7th (~14%) of the vote including preferences in a normal election.  This has given us a number of minority Senators, among them are the Greens (2), the Democrats (?), senator harradine, and One Nation (1)  This multiplicity of parties means that most of the time there is no majority party in the senate.  Parliaments rely on majorities in the House of Representatives to elect an executive.  In Australia electorates elect the Representatives.  Most Australians seem to like a senate with no party having a majority, which is capable of forming a deadlock over controversial legislation.  (I cannot recall when we last had a senate that was not deadlocked.)

Senator Harradine is, in your diarist's opinion, the most ethical & responsible legislator in parliament.  (Sometime I might explain why).

The greens are feeling their oats.  Leader of the Greens, Bob Brown, was responsible for being outspoken when President Bush addressed the Parliament on Thursday.  Bush took it in his stride.  "This is what democracy is all about" he said.

Mr. Hu was scheduled for Friday.  Apparently he spat the dummy.  Either he or Brown didn't go.  Brown was excluded.

Now while your diarist does not agree that Brown was correct in his behavior, (read "he is a ratbag") I do defend his right to express his views.  Harradine also disagreed, but he expressed his displeasure by not attending.  Probably though, that is how things are done in China.

It is interesting to note how the world has developed in the last few decades.  Prior to WWI the UK was a world superpower.  Although the UK was a commercial power, its preeminence was (arguably) based on its men of science.  Then came the USA.  The US has always been a "can do" society, depending not so much on pure scientists like Newton & Maxwell, but on practical men in the tradition of Bell and Edison.  Japan is currently the second superpower in the world.  Japan has a military tradition, and while it has a vigorous political innovation, has always depended on the smothering of individual initiative for the good of the community.  These traditions have enabled the Japanese to copy the technology of others very successfully, and for the last few decades have permitted an astounding expansion.  But has not enabled them to surpass the US.  The Japanese now have imitators, mostly in ASEAN.

For the last decade the Chinese economy has had record increases in productivity.  The Chinese appear to have avoided the stifling of economic initiative that marked the Japanese miracle.  The Chinese system has always stifled political initiative.  The only way to change politics in China is for a province to conquer the central government. That is why they are so sensitive about Taiwan.

My own assessment is that China will asymptotically approach the USA as a power. 
India and Taiwan are dark horses.