Monday, October 31, 2011

MMP and all that...

In thirty years of “Fixed Past the Post” parliamentary elections I never failed to vote. But none of my votes ever had the slightest chance of making any difference. It just happened that I always voted in an overwhelmed minority or an outright majority. Indeed, I felt that my contribution could make so little difference that one time when Paul was studying the election at Intermediate School I took him into the booth and he did it.

Only people who lived in marginal electorates could change anything. And the Electoral Commission, which set the electorate boundaries, sometimes had more to do with the outcome of subsequent elections than the voters. Tiny swings in voting made for enormous changes in the parliament and some outstanding leaders on both major sides lost their seats to much less competent aspirants. I hope that we don’t ever go back to “First Past the Post”.

My two bits’ worth is that we don’t need to abandon the Mixed Member Proportional system. It obviously needs some fine tuning. But basically it ensures that every voter can cast a vote that counts for something.

Any voting process which requires people to sort the candidates in order of preference asks a great deal more than some voters can hande. Indeed, about .5% of those who vote in Australia, where voting is compulsory, just go for the “donkey” vote, numbering the candidate list down from the top in numerical order.

Let’s tidy up MMP and give it a few more parliaments before we tinker with the whole system all over again. If you want to confuse yourself with all five options, they’re well laid out in

The Margin of Error?

I’ve just had my fourth phone call for a political poll. All of them in the dinner hour. One I just refused to handle and two I put on hold while I answered the door and when I got back they’d gone. Funny, that.

This last call I answered as well as I could about how I’d voted last time and various things. Then I found myself saying No to a series of questions about voting in Taranaki. I asked why was I expected to know about Taranaki and, after a lengthy pause—oh, dear, I’m sorry, we’ve made a mistake.

I was more than slightly concerned about this kind of “mistake” so I asked for a chat with the duty supervisor. Again, an apology was forthcoming and then I was assured that my responses would be discarded. That didn’t impress me too much, either.

What reliance can we place on results when the interviewers pick up the wrong question sheet or don’t know where their respondents live and then discard certain results on a cavalier basis?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

You saw it here first!

The short news piece on the Chapel of our Lady of Rugby the other night was no great surprise to members of our congregation.

Our parish’s last monthly newsletter featured the chapel in an editorial that asked whether God has favourites in the Rugby World Cup. Helen, who wrote it and found the lovely photos of the stained glass windows, did some more research by last Sunday when she was rostered to lead worship.

So we learned that the chapel was established in 1964 as a memorial to team members who died in an accident. It has become a shrine for visitors and has attracted gifts of mementoes of the game.

For those players whose Christian faith is a serious part of their life there must be some sense of satisfaction about their sport being honoured in this little building. It’s pleasing that it has not been overlooked in the current celebrations.

Go the ABs!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Go the ABs!

Yes, by all means. It’s about time we had our turn with the Rugby World Thingie.

But let’s not go overboard if we do manage to grab it. Let’s be sure that our celebrations do not detract from the achievement by resulting in discourtesy, damage, injury, or death.  

And if the unthinkable happens and our team goes slightly down at the end, let’s remember that winning and losing are facts of life. For every winner, there’s at least one loser. If that happens to us, the national psyche doesn’t need to be permanently racked.

We are already winners, just living in this great little country. We excel at all kinds of human endeavours. If this particular trophy isn’t ours just at this moment, let’s get on with doing those things which we do so well.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rena and the beach

It's been heartening to see the response of local people and officialdom to the disaster being strewn on the Bay of Plenty beaches.

I was disappointed to hear that, at first, volunteers were banned from the beaches, and then not called up after they registered their offers to help. So I'm really chuffed to hear that there's a big turnout of locals being actually used in the wretched task of scraping oil off their pristine coastline.

I think there's no end to the capacity of people to volunteer to meet a need. And, most of the time, I think we do pretty well in taking up their availability. Well done, everyone.