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Comment: Doesn't help public sector transparency (Score 2) 288

by ajdlinux (#41526809) Attached to: Scientists Want To Keep Their Research Work Out of Court
As much as this may be beneficial to scientists, I feel that in the case of publicly-funded institutions, it would set a bad precedent for the overall cause of public sector transparency. It has been a long, hard fight for increased transparency in government (FOI laws and such) and I think creating an exception for scientific agencies doesn't send the right message.

Comment: And in Australia... (Score 3, Insightful) 500

by ajdlinux (#41280561) Attached to: Election Tech: In Canada, They Actually Count the Votes

In Australia, for most purposes we still use paper ballots. (There are a few exceptions - ACT territory elections have *optional* computer-based voting, and NSW state elections have an *optional* online voting system for some absentee or disabled voters.)

On election night, officials at every polling place - who are required to sign a declaration, under penalty, that they are not politically active - do an initial hand count of first-preference votes (yes, we have IRV and STV ballots here) and the votes for the top two front runners. These are the numbers that make their way to the internet in a matter of minutes and are used for the election night media coverage - but they actually have no legal significance at all, they're basically purely for the media coverage.

The real counting happens the week after election day, when all ballots are transported to the local electoral office for counting. For elections that use IRV ballots (e.g. the federal House of Representatives), the ballots are all hand counted. For STV ballots (e.g. the federal Senate), they do use computer based counting, however the paper ballots are retained and a hand count can be done if necessary. If there are any issues that arise, the Returning Officer has the discretion to order a recount as necessary, without necessarily needing court orders or anything like that.

The *entire process* - opening the polls, conducting the polling, closing the polls, the first count, the second count, and any recounts - takes place in front of candidate-appointed scrutineers (not quite as good as being public, but it's close enough). Every candidate can appoint scrutineers to witness the whole process and make objections.

And this is how Australia has elections that are virtually unchallengeable - for a typical federal election, there will usually be at most one serious dispute, and only in districts with the tiniest of margins where they need a judge to make the final decision. Heck, we're experimenting with computer-based and internet-based voting systems, and no-one's raising concerns because the Electoral Commission has such a high reputation for integrity and accuracy.

Comment: Re:CS is part of IT (Score 1) 520

by ajdlinux (#37513238) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: CS Grads Taking IT Jobs?
Agreed. I'm Australian, and I'm enrolled in a CS major - but I do my classes along side IT and SE students... as far as I'm concerned, all three terms are fairly close, just with some subtle differences. The umbrella term for everything, whether it's programming, consulting, sysadmin, etc. is 'IT'. This American differentiation between IT and CS just confuses me...

+ - Australian Elections Result In Hung Parliament-> 1

Submitted by ajdlinux
ajdlinux (913987) writes "For the first time since World War II, Australia has a hung parliament. The future of the Government now lies in the hands of the five independent and Green MPs, who will decide over the next few days which party they will back to form the next government. The Labor Party's National Broadband Network is now in doubt, but it at least seems the internet filter won't go ahead now that the Greens have the balance of power in the Senate."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Non-American Tax Days? (Score 1) 432

by ajdlinux (#31879274) Attached to: I mailed / filed my tax return form ...
Here in Australia, the financial year runs from July to June. Tax returns must generally be filed by the end of October or so, either through filling out the paper form with the aid of the 200-odd page TaxPack manual, or doing it online with their proprietary Windows-only software. The exact complexity of return forms depends on whether you qualify for a short return form, the normal return form, or in my case, the normal return form plus supplementary forms. Taxes here are often called high, but apparently we're quite low compared to many parts of the OECD. Income tax ranges from zero when you earn $180,000. The average is something like 30% or so I think. Other than income tax, we have a Goods and Services Tax (otherwise known as a VAT) on mostly everything, which is 10%. This is applied federally, and the revenue is paid by the feds to the state governments. We've also got a Medicare levy and Medicare levy surcharge which is administered on top of your income tax for certain people depending on income and health insurance status, and there's a few other taxes on various things as well. I don't generally think we're taxed too high - the revenue is needed to fund our health and welfare systems. That said, our state governments are pathetic when it comes to service delivery and there's proposals for federal takeovers of hospitals and things like that which I hope will make things more efficient. As for myself, I'm a student who merely has complex tax affairs due to a combination of welfare payments and self-employment, so I pay no tax at all, get no tax refund, and still have to fill out supplement business forms. :/

"Your attitude determines your attitude." -- Zig Ziglar, self-improvement doofus