How to run an election – ACT style

I’ve lived in the Australian Capital Territory for more than 10 years.  Things are a little different in here to other parts of Australia.  Since ACT is a territory and not an original state, the constitutional arrangements are very different.  Until 1989 the ACT did not self-govern and had a variety of Administrators and systems run by the Federal Parliament.

Since 2013 is Canberra’s centenary, I’ll have plenty of enlightening stories about the governance of the ACT in future posts.

A few things to note:

  • Voting and enrolling to vote has been compulsory in Australia since the 1925 Federal Election.
  • Australia uses various proportional voting systems to determine elections.
  • While there are regional differences, the 2 main parties are the Australian Labor [sic] Party and the Liberal-National coalition.
  • Since 1995 ACT has used the Hare-Clark system to fill 3 multi-seat constituencies; Two with 5 members and one with 7 members.
  • To avoid “donkey votes“, where a voter writes 1 at the top and so on down the page, ACT uses Robson Rotation to randomise the order of candidates so that no-one will receive an advantage.  I heard that there were 220 different ballot papers produced.
  • Since 2001, the ACT has had electronic voting.  You can even download the source code from the ACT Electoral Commission website.  How’s that for transparency!
  • 256702 voters are enrolled.
  • As at 24/10/2012 21:38:42, 224648 votes have been counted.
  • 70008 pre-poll votes were submitted representing 27% of the electorate.  That seems very high.
  • 47677 pre-poll votes were electronic and are therefore counted in the first hour, giving the TV coverage something to talk about.
  • While coalitions with minor parties and hung parliaments are treated with horror in state and federal elections, the ACT has had minority governments 5 out of 7 times.  Doesn’t seem to bother use that much.

In my electorate there were 26 candidates for 7 seats.  As I’ve done in Senate elections forever, I also number every square.  This is as much to direct preferences in my own way as well as the particular pleasure that comes from putting someone last.  In a NSW upper house ballot I numbered all the way just to put “65” next to Fred Nile.

The local polling booth was electronic, with some 20 computers to record votes.  Paper ballots were available upon request, but the majority voted electronically.  There may be some who miss the opportunity to write rude words, which only the election official will see before it is counted as informal, but the computer only guides your selection and prevents duplicate numbering.  You can still finish voting before you fill out the numbers.

To get elected, name recognition is very important.  You can’t ride the coattails of your party and hope to be taken along as there’s no guarantee that a voter will choose all candidates from the same party.  With Robson Rotation your name could be anywhere on the ballot or the computer screen. So every candidate plasters the city with Corflute  (TM) signs; the voters must known you by name, not just find you near your party colleagues.

With Hare-Clark you are just as likely to be ousted by a member of your own party as by another party.  

And it takes a week or more to determine the winners.  In the meantime, you can learn more by reading Antony Green’s election blog at to see how the preferences are shaping up.  By Saturday 27 October we might know who won.

Why do I like this system so much?  It sounds draconian (forced to vote under pain of penalty?), complicated (you have to use numbers and fill ever square?), with results that change with the wind (one day you’re leading the count, next day you’re being excluded), that takes too long (a week is a long time without politics) and ultimately returns a hung parliament (so what was the point?)

Quite simply, it results in a parliament that has to work together, that represents the community, comprising members who are connected to the people.

I’ve called ACT government “reserve grade” politics and that really is unfair.  If I call it amateur in the sense of being for the love of, then that’s a fairer description.  And I mean that even for those I didn’t want elected… except for the twit I put at number 26.

First 1000km tank

I’ve spent 9 months learning about the Prius and how to get the best out of it.  Finally! After many attempts, much frustration and a little learning I have broken into the 600 mile and the 1000km club.

First 1000km tank. The “CONS: 3.9l/100km” is optimistic by about 5.8% as the true figure was just over 4.1l/100km.  And I was still nowhere near empty.

1002.8km (622 miles) at 4.125l/100km (68.5 mpg(Imp) 57.3 mpg(US) 24.2km/l) at an average speed of 44km/h (27mph). (The HSI displays 3.9l/100km as it is optimistic by about 5.8%.)

I used 41.37l from a 45l tank of 94RON E10 from Shell. While Toyota Australia recommends 95 RON, I follow advice from PriusChat that recommends that anything over 91 RON is not worth the extra.

Sadly, the joy of reaching 1000km coincided with a 12¢ jump in petrol prices to $1.57.9 per litre.  At current exchange rates that’s AUD6.00/ USD6.21 per US gallon.  It cost me $65.32 (USD67.63) to fill up.

Recent mods include fill 100% lower grill blocking and 45psi in the tyres. The weather over the last 3 weeks has been about 5-10°c warmer than during my last tank (4.6l/100km), which is probably a key factor.

As previously posted the Distance to Empty calculation is very conservative.  DTE=0km was reached at about 865km, so I beat my previous beyond zero record of 35km by over 100km.
Not to sound unkind, but my wife, who thinks that P&G is a company that makes toiletries, tends to drive as if the accelerator and brake were on/off switches. She drove about 200km of that tank at about 5.0l/100km, so my achievement is even better than I expected.

Read more:

Tepco finally admits nuke crisis avoidable | The Japan Times Online

Tepco finally admits nuke crisis avoidable | The Japan Times Online.

While It’s about time.  While the earthquake and tsunami were very powerful, their magnitudes and impacts were far from unpredictable or unavoidable. The fact that no-one died from the earthquake (I think I’m right?) indicates that the engineering and construction of everything from houses to factories was basically sound and capable is withstanding very high loads.  Putting generators seaward with little protection and no backup  was avoidable. 

Fuel Consumption trends –


I keep track of my petrol use on It has a simple interface and lets you record all manner of details in one place.  You can compare your car to the same model; there’s even 3 Trabants!

Here’s my stats and trends since January 2012:

Fuel Consumption

  • Average: 4.8L/100km
  • Last: 4.6L/100km
  • Best: 4.5L/100km

Filling Up

  • Average distance per tank: 719.7km
  • Best distance for a tank: 859.7km

The Distance to Empty (DTE) display is very conservative.  It reads 0km when there is clearly a lot of petrol in the tank.  I once drove 35km beyond DTE = 0km and still only put 40.59L into a 45L tank.  Could I have reached 965km (600 miles), I wonder?

Here’s a trend in L/100km from January 2012 to October.  Despite the weather getting significantly colder and only now starting to warm up again, my fuel consumption (FC) has trended down from 5’s to mid-4s’.  A combination of driving style and modifications have helped me improve FC against a tide that would tend to increase FC.  Yes, there was one particularly cold, foggy, wet and miserable day when I drove to Sydney and back using the A/C and rear defogger for most of the journey (and a flattening rear tyre) that pushed my into 5.1 territory.  Will I start getting regular tanks below 4.5 now that the weather is warmer?Image

Here’s the same data in Miles per US Gallon.  To compare, the US EPA lists the Prius as 51/48/50 City/Highway/combined MPG, so I’m starting to get better than EPA.Image

You don’t have to be slightly obsessive like me to record your fuel consumption on a website.  We can remember how much we spent on fuel, but we rarely know how much fuel we are using.  Keeping track tank by tank can help show if there’s a problem with your car in a way that keeping track of money spent cannot: prices fluctuate, the size of your tank does not.

Sign up to and find out how much fuel you’re really using.


ScanGauge e – and a big thanks to Jon

I read a Prius forum based in the USA, I’ve joined what seems to be the only Prius club in Australia, which is based in Queensland and apart from the white GenII with the Tesla sticker I see in Belconnen, there doesn’t seem to be a hardcore Prius scene in Canberra.  I see a few Gen II, Gen III and Prius v, but none seem to have been modified or tinkered with in any way.

So it has taken me from Australia Day until the end of September to finally meet someone who knows his LOD from his LHK.

Jon was visiting Canberra for Floriade (you really must see it) and took some time away from his family to meet me, talk Prius and sell me a ScanGauge-e.  Here’s the thing… the reason he had one for sale is that he had already reached the limit of 4 ScanGauges daisy-chained together and couldn’t fit any more.

Jon has not 1, but 4 ScanGauges and a tyre pressure monitor in his Gen II. Every conceivable piece of data captured.

As mentioned, I already use a Garmin 2460LT GPS and Garmin Mechanic with ecoRoute™ HD.  The ecoroute captures data from the OBDCII port and transmits them by Bluetooth to the GPS for display.  It is even clever enough to store capture data until the GPS is connected.

In my short time of using the ScanGauge-e I can say that there’s a fair degree of overlap with the functions in the ecoroute.  However, there’s a difference in how data are presented: The Garmin has separate screens for Fuel Consumption, ‘eco score’, 5 gauges (out of a choice of 12) and of course the map.  ScanGauge-e has a 2 line dot matrix display that can display two parameters from a choice of 19 and a fuel consumption graph.  Both have a method of recording fuel used, but whereas the ecoroute records each fill up on a spreadsheet, the ScanGauge uses the data to calibrate and calculate Distance to Empty and similar functions.  Since the DTE function on the Prius is incredibly conservative (I drove 35 km beyond the DTE = 0km mark at freeway speeds and still had 4 litres of fuel left) having an independent DTE is a boon, especially if I want to hit my first 1000 km tank in relative safety.

Jon helped with the initial set-up and calibration.  I even had to fill up, which is the time to start the calibration.  Only problem was the fuel price set at $75.0.  Despite holding the button in, the value took a long time to change.  Of course, the hidden cents value was dropping rapidly, but only the tens of cents value was displayed.  Today I used a handy clamp to wind the price back to a more realistic cost per litre.  Only took 20 minutes to reach $1.46.

My clamp-based, button-holding, value-reducing solution.  Halfway there

Makeshift installation was a bit wiry.  The OBDCII splitter worked fine (you can’t always feed OBDC data to two devices). The main issue was the amount of cable to conceal and devices to place.  Today I re-installed all of my devices in the interests of safety and efficiency.  I routed the cables under the steering column, using some unused switch blanks to enter and exit the dash.

Neat. In a fashion