Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The truth on plain packaging of cigarettes

I'm still in a froth about the Australian Alliance of Tobacco Companies Retailers' ads against plain packaging of cigarettes. In the process of finding some outlet for my frustration I have come across Action on Smoking and Health Australia which has an excellent page with information about plain packaging and this ad to counter the AAR campaign. I am also trying to focus my energy and get together some information that I can put together into a letter that voices my concerns to certain influential politicians- and to the new Liberal Member for Bennelong, the Hon. John Alexander, who is "vitally concerned with... health and exercise" and "an advocate for preventative health", yet whose party accepts donations from the tobacco industry and which will not commit to plain packaging of cigarettes.

Hmm, take a deep breath.... back to normal programming....

Sunday, August 29, 2010

National Lung Cancer Tree Planting Day

Today was the National Lung Cancer Tree Planting Day, so we joined in an activity in Royal Park, helping to plant 1802 trees in memory of the 1802 Victorians who died from lung cancer last year- and part of a national effort to commemorate the 7600 Australians who died of lung cancer.

Those figures make lung cancer the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Australia. Although there is a strong link between lung cancer and smoking, the majority of lung cancer deaths are in people who have done the right thing and quit smoking years before their cancer diagnosis, and there are a substantial number of deaths in Australians who have never smoked (1, 2).

The link between lung cancer and trees is that trees are the "lungs" of the planet, so the Tree Planting Day both increases awareness of lung diseases and improves Australia's tree lungs.

Needless to say, with unlimited access to water, dirt, trees and water, we also had fun!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Homemade Baked Beans

I've had dried beans from last summer sitting around the kitchen ever since. They were a mix of brown epicure runner beans, white bush beans and black and pink scarlet runner beans. I had initially planned to use them for next summer's crop, but was concerned about whether the bush and runner beans had cross-pollinated, meaning that I might get bushes where I wanted vines and vice versa. Besides, I still have plenty of the original seeds left, so I decided the dried bean harvest could be considered edible, supplemented by some less-local ones.
Baked beans were my recipe of choice. If you cringe at that thought, wait a minute: homemade baked beans are on a planet far removed from Mr Heinz (and friends') best tinned beans. The best recipe I've found so far is adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion.

Baked Beans
375g dried
beans, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, diced
50g ham hock meat (I had some in the freezer) or 2 rashers thick, streaky bacon (or pancetta), chopped
3 red or green capsicums, chopped
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tsp dried mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons maple syrup, treacle, golden syrup or honey

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

Rinse soaked beans, then put into saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then strain & rinse with cold water.

Heat oil in a large casserole and saute onion, garlic, carrot and meat.

After 5 minutes, when onion has softened and meat is sizzling, add capsicums. Add tomatoes to casserole with beans remaining ingredients, except maple syrup. Mix well. Add sufficient cold water to cover beans by 4 cm. Transfer casserole, tightly sealed, into oven and bake for at least 4 hours. Stir well after 2 hours, checking that it is still reasonably sloppy ( if too dry, add a little water and reduce oven temp). After 4 hours, stir in maple syrup, extra salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. The beans should now be in a rich sauce. If too thick, add a little water; if too runny and the beans are tender, increase oven temp and continue to cook.

Delicious served with toast and cheese on a cold night.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hyacinth in Hiding

This is our only hyacinth so far. If you look closely at the stem you can see a second flower-in-waiting. I haven't ever seen a bulb produce two flower stalks- is it unusual?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How hard the Greens campaigned for Melbourne

One of the outcomes of the still-undecided Federal Election was the landmark victory of the Greens' Adam Bandt in the seat of Melbourne. We ventured into GreensLand yesterday, and saw the extend to which the Greens courted every possible vote:
...including letterboxing a house which has been a burnt out shell for several years!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I was using a permanent marker the other day, and Big Bro asked me "why did you take that out from under my bed?" That sounded a bit suspicious, so I had a quiet look under his bed a bit later and found....

a dustpan brush, a glue stick and a permanent marker.
I have no idea what he was planning to do with them!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Francis Drake: virtuous or villainous?

This year Big Bro has become increasingly interested in reading non-fiction books. Our local library has a large children's non-fiction section so I've been including a few books from there in our borrowings. A few weeks ago I found the picture-heavy Famous People Famous Lives: Francis Drake (Emma Fischel) in the history section. I couldn't remember much about Francis Drake other than he was a revered explorer, and the first Englishman to sail around the world. When Big Bro and I curled up to read, my view of Drake quickly changed- certainly what I had rembered was correct, but I hadn't remembered that Drake made his fortune plundering treasure from Spanish ships and waging war against the Armada, avenging similar piracy on behalf of the Spanish fleet. It wasn't the story of bravery and innovation that I was expecting, and I spent as much time explaining to Big Bro how Francis Drake's actions weren't very nice as I spent reading the book! Our next library books went along much safer ground: garbage collectors and the Wright brothers. And we certainly won't be reading about Henry VIII any time soon!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Democracy for Dinner

We took the boys to the local primary school to vote today. I had prepared Big Bro (partly as it's likely he'll go to that school in a couple of years) but every time we discussed going to the school to vote he wondered "is there water? Where is the boat taking us?" He also found the concept of voting a bit abstract. The best I could do was offer that we were saying who we liked best (how do you explain government to a three year old?) The post-vote sausage seemed much more easily understood!
After a day of questions I proposed we have our own election, to decide on tomorrow's dinner. Four ballot papers were quickly printed and the not-so-secret ballot was taken.
Returns Officer Big Bro and scrutineer Mama agreed on the vote: Pasta-3, Salad-1, Rice-0. Pasta wins on first preferences.

So what's been happening?

A couple more signs that Spring is only 10 days away: nectarine and fig buds swelling.

I think I've polished off my list of winter jobs in the garden:
- roses and stone fruit pruned: in my case this was 36 roses and one nectarine
- sprayed the nectarine buds in the hopes of reducing fungal infection of the fruit
- major garden restructuring jobs achieved to take advantage of wet weather and dormant plants- most of this centred around the Colorado Bed. I've also shifted a spider plant which was spreading into the vegie patch (how dare it!) and a pittosporum which wasn't doing much next to a fence
- we haven't done a lot of new planting other than annual vegetables, apart from three new blueberry plants and three strawberry crowns in the now-dedicated shade/acid lovers bed, in between the camelias.
- I've been trying to get ahead on the weeding while the soil is moist. Big Bro is starting to get the idea of weeding and while is hasn't yet met the high standards set by other children, he's keen enough to deposit pulled weeds in the bin. This will be my third spring in this garden, and I'm starting to see through some of the pseudo-ornamental weeks. Canna lillies, a bulbous grass (I originally thought it was crocuses) and a spreading ground cover have persisted long enough that they are now on my "show no remorse" list
- after procrastinating for six months, I have finally taken the advice of a stranger at Bunnings who recommended Grow Organic for home-delivered manures. Most of the beds have now had a top dressing of manure; take it from this stranger, Grow Organic manures are a great product, and they were very easy to deal with over the phone
- rosemary cuttings have been started to make a hedge for the Colorado Bed; I've had about a 50% strike rate for rosemary cuttings propagated in pots (inside or out), directly in garden beds, or in water. In future I'll probably only propagate Rosemary cuttings by putting them in water for a month or two as it seems as good as the in-soil methods, and takes a lot less space and effort
- spring vegie planting has started, albeit slowly. So far we have two zucchinis and one Minnesota melon that were germinated inside and are now joining three overwintered tomatoes in the mini-greenhouse. Capsicums, eggplants, cucumber and more melons are next on my list. I have never got a melon or a cucumber past the flower stage (and usually not even that far) but I'll live in hope!

Have I forgotten anything? Bring on Spring!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Magpie Swooping Season

I was a little nervous a few days ago when this magpie stared down at the boys in our garden.
Fortunately it hasn't returned, so I think (hope!) we're safe from attacks. But evidently it is swooping season- I heard on the radio this morning that the Victorian Government has launched a Magpie Map to record swooping incidents. Seems like it's pretty new- when I look today I can find a lot more information from the Leader's Swoop Hot Spots Map.

Thankfully I've never been swooped by a magpie; in Hobart the equivalent were spur wing plovers that would cause parts of our school oval to be closed off until the plover nests were destroyed (now illegal...)

To be honest, I wouldn't know what to do if Mr Maggie above decided to start swooping, though I've heard plenty of stories of bike helmets, paper eyes to stick on the back of your hat, wearing ice cream tubs as hats.... Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spring is in the air

I love crocuses, and I love these paper crocuses a friend gave me five-or-so years ago. Like real crocuses, they remind me that spring is coming.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Human Power: solution to a bike repair saga.

Big Bro's balance bike popped out one of its bolts on the street a few weeks ago, and I couldn't find it. I must say I didn't look that hard: when it wasn't immediately obvious I thought "it's a bolt, I'll just get another at Bunnings next time I'm there". Even easier, it was one of a pair so I knew exactly what I was looking for.

Well..... so I thought. First stop Bunnings. There I discovered that this was one of the rare hardware items Bunnings does not stock. The guy was pretty helpful, however, referring me on to a specialist bolt shop up near LaTrobe University. Well, it would have been helpful advice if the shop stocked the bolts. I did however learn that I was looking for a "bed bolt" (it screws flat against the bike so there are no projections for knees to bump). And I was sent on to a furniture store. Still no luck.

At this point the ever-logical B asked "why don't you just go to the bike shop where you got the bike from?" The bike was from ALDI, who don't even answer their phone let alone send off for spare parts, but the idea of a bike shop seemed good. Certainly better than trawling homemaker centres!

We tried a couple of bike shops in our area which didn't stock anything similar. One guy lectured me about how bad balance bikes are and how Big Bro should be riding a scooter for balance and a pedal bike with training wheels for learning how to pedal (actually, he can already pedal on a tricycle). A sales pitch wasn't what I was looking for, just a bolt, so I moved on.

Not long after, we were at CERES and for the first time I realised they run a bike repair shop, The Bike Shed. I pulled the bolt out of my handbag and asked them what they had, and- free of charge- they dug up something of the right diameter and length. Unfortunately, when we got home and tried it for size it wasn't quite right. Push on.

Then I remembered something about a bike shop in Thornbury mentioned on The Bourgeoi-Vieve, which is very pro-balance bike (so I figured they'd only hang out in balance-friendly territory!) so our next stop was Human Powered Cycles.

Seeing their slogan: "if you can ride it we can fix it", I knew I was at the right place. Fix an ALDI bike? No problem. And the boys were even allowed in the workshop to watch. Of course this was hard work, so our next stop was the adjoining Human Powered Cafe where the boys got their usual babycino (with a real grated chocolate dusting, very swish), I had a pleasant mocha, and we shared a yummy toasted cheese and vegemite foccacia.

And the end result:

Mission accomplished!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The heartwarming scarf

My mum visited us last weekend, and on Sunday night I dropped her back at the airport, with the boys in tow in their pyjamas and beanies, and a scarf for Big Bro. We'd had a busy day, and by the time we reached the airport, Big Bro was sound asleep. We dropped my mum off, then headed home.

Pretty quickly, somewhere on the Tullamarine Freeway between Mickelham and Bulla Roads, Little Bro decided that without the company of his co-passengers the car was not a fun place to be. Usually in that situation he'll settle down with a bit of attention, usually in the form of hand-holding: either Big Bro will chip in with "you wanna hold my hand?", or I'll reach over from the passenger seat. Unfortunately in this case I was of course not in the passenger seat, and didn't fancy driving at 100kph one handed while in the process of dislocating my shoulder. Experience with Little Bro's gripes had taught me that stopping the car would mean Little Bro would expect to get out of the car, so I gritted my teeth and headed towards home.

Gripe, gripe, gripe. Flicking through radio and CD options didn't help. Gripe, gripe, grip. What if he could hold something other than my hand? (I was not the first time in my life that I wished I had shelled out for the hand-simulating Zaky Infant Pillow) A picture book passed back didn't help. Gripe, gripe, GRIPE. What about a bit of clothing? I considered my outfit and concluded that my sock would be the only thing I could remove whilst staying within the boundaries of the law.... and the idea of a stinky sock as a comforter didn't seem quite right (nevermind the logistics of how to remove it whilst driving).

I endured a couple more gripes, and then it was time to turn off the freeway. At the first red light I realised that I wasn't the only wearer of comfort items, and pulled the end of Big Bro's scarf from where it had fallen on his lap. Bingo! Little Bro seemed quite entertained by the idea that he and Big Bro were both holding the scarf, and better still, immediately settled down for a long winter's nap. When we reached our house I had to take this photo of brotherly connections. Long may they last.

AMB blog carnival button
Part of the AMB September Blog Carnival.

The blank protest vote?

I didn't watch Mark Latham's election report on 60 Minutes last night, but I read this morning that he advocates casting an informal vote as a protest against the major parties.

To quote last week's Q&A: how big a tool is Mark Latham?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cakes.... of soap

Mmmm, delicious. Well, the smell is; the taste is less appealing. These cupcakes are made from soap, by More Soap Vicar. Little Bro was completely deceived when we stumbled across their stall at the Abbotsford Convent Makers' Market today, first singing a "lovely" (lovely for a 1 year old) version of "Happy Birthday", and then trying to sample the "dakes".
I think they'll make cunning presents for a couple of diabetics whose birthdays are coming up.
The soaps are made in Melbourne from sustainably farmed ingredients (no palm oil here) and the scents match what the cake flavours would be. We bought ours at a end-of-winter sale price of $5 each.

Also, while talking about the Abbotsford Convent Makers' Market, I think should give an update on our DokiDoki Designs screen print shirts. A couple of months on, with regular use (and washing!), the print and fabric still look great. I picked up three more to send to friends overseas.

Garden Girl and her Edible Garden

This came up on Little Garden Helpers- nearly-4 year old Garden Girl made a video doco of her garden. I love her enthusiasm for courgettes "I like them, so I want to eat them for dinner tonight. {aside} Can we make courgette for dinner toNIGHT?"

It's very cute, but even more than that, it's great to see such enthusiasm for an edible garden in a three year old!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cigarette Advertising: Something that get me really angry

I'll say it right now: smoking is a disgusting, life-destroying addiction.
Do not smoke around my children.
Do not smoke around me.
And any company that exists to profit from addicting people to this habit is pretty close to evil in my eyes.

My anger about the tobacco industry was reignited this week by two factors:
- hearing an excellent seminar by Prof. Melanie Wakefield, a behavioural psychologist at the Cancer Council Victoria, who described the important factors- in particular, increases in cigarette prices, restrictions on smoking in public places, and "shock" advertising- which have fueled the recent decline in smoking in Australia
- seeing the political advertisements by the Alliance of Australian Retailers* with lots of nice little corner shop owners saying that plain cigarette packaging will just make their lives hard, and, even more blatantly politically (specifically, anti-ALP), saying that "like the alcopops tax", there was "no evidence" that plain packaging of cigarettes would decrease smoking.
*I am too angry to link to any of the tobacco lobby's propaganda. Google it if you want to know...

These, plus a quick bit of googling, have led me to understand that
1. Plain packaging has the potential to reduce smoking rates, by reducing the appeal of cigarettes both to potential smokers and current smokers (reducing uptake and increasing quitting).(lots of research has confirmed this, including research by the tobacco lobby showing that "tobacco companies view cigarette packaging as an integral component of marketing strategy" (1))
2. The Alliance of Australian Retailers is almost entirely funded by the tobacco industry. No nice little corner shop owners there. (Phew, I was just about to boycott the local milkbar.)
3. The Labor Party is committed to plain cigarette packaging. The Liberal Party will "consider" it if in government... which is widely taken as a dismissal. (2)
4. The Liberal and National Parties continue to receive funding from the tobacco industry- millions of dollars in the past decade, with no plans to stop (3). The Labor Party has refused such donations since 2005 , and prior to this was funded to a lower extent (4).

Read what you want into it, but let's just say that I would vote for anything that reduces the exposure my children have to smoking.

Did I mention I was angry? Good thing the Liberal Party have forsaken my seat and not sent a single blue-ribboned doorknocker north of the Yarra, cos I would be wasting plenty of their time.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Contact me

Brief admin note: you can now click on the button to email me via the free Kontactr form. (I receive enough spam already, even without releasing my email address.)

You know you want to ;-)

Big Cook, Little Cook

We changed our Foxtel plan a few weeks ago, which gave us period of access to channels we hadn't seen before- including CBeebies, the BBC kids' channel. The boys don't watch a lot of TV, but for Big Bro the novelty of new programs has taken over what was his iPad time. His favourite has been Big Cook, Little Cook, a series in which two cooks (Big and Little by the magic of television) cook appropriate dishes for the characters who come through their cafe- a zucchini plane for a pilot, a traffic light sandwich for a police officer, and a hairy spaghetti for Rapunzel. BBC seem to have been keeping close hold of their copyright, so most of what appears on YouTube isn't a good representation of the real show, but here is Big Bro's favourite part (usually minus the signing!):

We've cooked a couple of the recipes, or variants- they're not too bad in the nutrition stakes, with plenty of vegetables appearing. And each episode features a "how is it made?" segment where the preparation of one ingredient is shown- in one case inspiring our alfalfa growing. Yes, it's television, so I won't get too excited about its virtues, but as far as TV goes, Big Cook, Little Cook is definitely at the better end of the spectrum.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Salad Season

It's not really been salad weather- maxima of 12-15 degrees most days and rainy periods (not that I'm complaining!) are soup and casserole weather in my book. But it's perfect salad-growing weather- my lettuce always bolts at the merest hint of summer! Here are a couple of versions I remembered to photograph:

Lettuce, radish, grated beetroot

Lettuce and alfalfa

All homegrown!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Voting tools for parents... and other time poor electors

Australia operates a preferential voting system to elect 6 senators per state at each election. Voters have the option of voting "above the line" where you chose which party's (or independent's) preference ticket your vote will follow. But we also have the option to vote "below the line" (BTL) meaning we chose our preferences, by numbering candidates 1,2,3..... In Victoria this election I will be numbering each box from 1- 60. It's no wonder that the proportion of voters voting BTL is (roughly) inversely correlated to the number of candidates standing for senate election. And apart from some minor exceptions, if there is an error in your numbering of preferences then your vote will be declared invalid.

I always vote BTL out of principle- I worry that one day some bright spark might try to eliminate it, if noone uses it! However, the prospect of wrangling the two boys (in partnership with B, to be fair) concerned me that my BTL vote could be invalid if I am distracted by the boys somewhere between preference 52 and 58. Antony Green's blog (now in the side bar, until the election) referred me to two tools- http://belowtheline.cc/ and https://www.belowtheline.org.au/ that allow me to use a drop-and-drag list of candidates online to prepare my BTL vote before the day, at my leisure. This generates a mockup of my ballot which I can print, so in the booth all I need to do is transcribe the numbers onto the official ballot.

Big thumbs up for this from me!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Spring sampler

I'm not usually a cut flower person when it comes to my own flowers- I tend to prefer them to be au naturale- but I made an exception for these jonquils.
The frilly erlicheers at the right have the most wonderful scent. They bring back memories of my grandmother's garden in Launceston, which was packed with spring bulbs. We would often go to visit in the September school holidays, and return with a huge bunch of daffodils, jonquils, hyacinths and freesias wrapped in a damp rag and foil. So the scent of jonquils brings back memories of sunny afternoons driving through the Tasmanian Midlands. Strange but true. :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Snow day

I've been meaning to say.... a few weeks ago, we headed up to Lake Mountain to let the boys see some snow. Lake Mountain is Melbourne's closest alpine resort, with dedicated tobogganing slopes and cross country trails and- as we found- an easy day trip from Melbourne. Despite the advertising, snow in the Victorian Alps isn't guaranteed so I was impressed that there was a good 20cm coverage when we visited- plenty for the boys' preferred activities:
sliding (sans sled- hooray for waterproof pants!)
and snow man construction.

It was overall a good day- Big Bro keeps asking when we will be going again- but for the adults it was also memorable for the sights on the way up.

Lake Mountain is accessed through Marysville, which was one of the towns worst affected by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires (which also destroyed the Lake Mountain resort; rebuilding is underway). The town is rebuilding, but is still frighteningly empty: there were many driveways leading to an empty block, often with the remnants of gardens, and businesses operating out of shipping containers or temporary buildings, and burnt signs around the town. I couldn't take any photos there, but this is from the road between Marysville and Lake Mountain. Each of those eucalypt tree trunks is covered in new shoots emerging from the charred wood. If only everything else could recover that well.

Higher on the mountain the trees hadn't recovered as well, for whatever reason, making an eerie black and white landscape.
These are all pictures take from the road and I've deliberately left in a glimpse of how close the trees come to the road. This is a road leading down the mountains out of Marysville.
For all of us adults, seeing the closeness of the trees to the roads- and these were the major roads out of the region- made us realise how people were trapped in townships like Marysville and events of Black Saturday was suddenly more understandable, if such a horrible tragedy can ever be understood. The recently released Royal Commission into the fires includes a recommendation to clear zones along roads to make late evacuations a safer option.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fourth sign of spring: white asparagus anyone?

A terrible photo- the iPhone camera can't cope with the high contrast of white on black!- but take it from me, it's an asparagus spear emerging. Vindication of the chore which brought me to the asparagus bed in the first place- a top-dressing of rotted manure.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Decisions, decisions

If you hadn't noticed- or aren't following Australian news- we're in the midst of a federal election campaign. To briefly explain for offshore readers, we'll be voting for a local lower house member, and six upper house senators per state. The lower house will be mainly contested between the left-of-centre Australian Labor Party and a right wing coalition between the Liberal Party and the National (country) party, but in the upper house there is the chance (or likelihood, if you believe the polls) for the balance of power to be held by minor parties or independents- at the moment the balance is held by an unallied group of four senators from the Greens (x2), the Christian Right Family First and a "No Pokies" (gmabling machine) senator.

A lot of people in real life and online have been expressing their lack of interest in the election- it was called in the shadow of the replacement of ALP Prime Minister by a more right-leaning politician, and since the last election, the major parties have backed down on a number of significant environmental policies. There has been a lot of comment that whichever major party wins power, their policies will be the same. And a lot of people commenting that because they live in a safe seat, their vote is irrelevant.

I agree with the view that the major parties are equally disappointing in some aspects, but rather than ostrich-like apathy, my response has been to research alternatives. My favourite election analyst, Antony Green of the ABC, has a very thorough blog on all things electoral, with as much information as anyone could need to know about trends, swings and other roundabouts, which has been more than adequate as a starting point for my research. The Tally Room is also good for summarising the key aspects of the contests.

In the lower house, we live in a very safe major party seat so as far as that goes my best hope is that a vote for a minor party will send a message about my disenchantment. Obviously that's not the case everywhere, and the implications of a such disenchantment would have actual outcomes in the inner city electorate of Melbourne (where we used to live) where the Greens are close to taking their first lower house seat (unless there is a swing towards the ex-Bush-Republican-campaign-worker Liberal candidate... hmm, unlikely?)

The senate, however, is where these feelings of disenchantment could be translated into outcomes. In Victoria, a minor party- probably the Greens- are likely to take a senate seat (probably at the expense of the Family First Senator). The Australian Democrats, a former force in the senate, also have a chance of distinguishing themselves from the major parties on several key issues. So I've taken this as incentive to research my senate vote closely.

In thinking about my vote, I have had to question what is important to me. High on my priority list are the usual things like economic benefit to my family and the community, and provision of community services like health care and education. Having children has also made me more aware of how my vote could alter the country that I bring my children up in (the never-ending Howard era may have something to do with that). I want my children to grow up in a rich, fair and diverse society, which values its people, its industries and its planet. So I have been busy researching policies on climate change, immigration and the environment.

I've put more energy into researching this election than ever before. Because in ten years time, I want to know in my heart that I tried my hardest to make my country the best I could for my children, whether the candidates I vote for win or lose.

So please don't tell me my vote doesn't count.

It does- to me.

Postscript: Interestingly, since I started writing this a few days ago, Antony Green has raised the same issue on his blog- Do Australian Elections Offer Voters a Choice?

And I have just realised that The Tally Room is run by an ex-Greens candidate so caveat lector. But it did teach me a new word: psephology.

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