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ECB ‘cautious’ about eurozone recovery

July 16th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on ECB ‘cautious’ about eurozone recovery)

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has sought to temper hopes that the eurozone is about to rebound strongly, insisting that the nascent recovery remains extremely fragile.

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“I am very, very cautious about recovery. I can’t share the enthusiasm,” Draghi told a news conference on Thursday after the ECB held its key interest rates at their current record lows for the fourth consecutive month.

And the central bank “stands ready to act” should the situation suddenly deteriorate again in face of, for example, geo-political risks related to the situation in Syria, Draghi said.

“Certainly we are alert to geopolitical risks that may come out of the Syrian situation and economic risks that may derive from emerging markets situation,” the central bank chief said.

Earlier, Draghi had revealed the ECB’s latest updated growth and inflation forecasts for the 17 countries that share the euro.

And while the projections were fractionally more optimistic with regard to growth this year, they were more cautious about the outlook for next year.

Draghi says that the central bank’s staff projections see the eurozone economy shrinking by 0.4 per cent this year and then growing by 1.0 per cent next year.

In the bank’s previous forecasts in June, the economy had been expected to contract by 0.6 per cent in 2013 and grow by 1.1 per cent in 2014.

Looking at price developments, area-wide inflation was projected to average 1.5 per cent this year and then 1.3 per cent in 2014, compared with the previous forecasts of 1.4 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively.

Following six quarters of negative output growth, real gross domestic product (GDP) in the eurozone increased by 0.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2013.

Monster volcano uncovered on Pacific floor

July 16th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Monster volcano uncovered on Pacific floor)

Geologists say they’ve uncovered a stupendous volcano that is the biggest in the world and rivals the greatest in the Solar System.

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Dubbed Tamu Massif, the volcano is part of the Shatsky Rise, a deep plateau on the floor of the Pacific located around 1600km east of Japan, they said.

It comprises a single, immense, rounded dome in the shape of a shield, formed of hardened lava from an eruption around 144 million years ago.

It covers around 310,000 square kilometres (119,000 square miles) – the equivalent area of Britain and Ireland combined – and slopes upwards to a height of around 3.5km above the sea floor.

“Tamu Massif is the largest known single, central volcano in the world,” the team reported in the journal Nature Geoscience.

In area, “it is … approximately the same as the British Isles or Olympus Mons on Mars, which is considered the largest volcano in the Solar System.”

It adds: “Although Olympus Mons seems to be a giant because it is more than 20km in height, its volume is only around 25 per cent larger.”

Olympus Mons, in addition, has relatively shallow roots, whereas Tamu Massif delves some 30km into Earth’s crust.

Ocean surveyors had until now surmised Tamu Massif to be a vast system of multiple volcanoes, a kind that exists in about a dozen locations around the planet.

The realisation that it was a single volcano of truly massive size only came to light when the team, led by William Sager at Texas A&M University, sought an overview.

They assembled data from rock samples, taken from an ocean-floor drilling project, and a chart of the seabed, provided by deep-penetration seismic scanners aboard a survey ship.

Put together, the findings suggest mega-volcanoes found in other parts of the Solar System have cousins on Earth, says the paper.

“The Earth variety is poorly understood because these monsters found a better place to hide – beneath the sea,” it argues.

In an email exchange with AFP, Sager said it seemed unlikely that Tamu Massif was still active.

“The bottom line is that we think that Tamu Massif was built in a short (geologically speaking) time of one to several million years and it has been extinct since,” he said.

“One interesting angle is that there were lots of oceanic plateaus (that) erupted during the Cretaceous Period (145-65 million years ago) but we don’t see them since. Scientists would like to know why.”

Other volcanic leviathans could be lurking among the dozen or so large oceanic plateaux around the world, he thought.

“We don’t have the data to see inside them and know their structure, but it would not surprise me to find out that there are more like Tamu out there,” he said.

The name Tamu comes from Texas A&M University, where Sager taught for 29 years before moving to the University of Houston this year, he explained.

Egypt’s interior minister survives blast

July 16th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Egypt’s interior minister survives blast)

Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim has survived an assassination attempt unhurt and vowed to go ahead with his “war on terrorism”.

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An explosion was set off as the minister was on his way in a motorcade from his house in Nasr City in eastern Cairo to the Interior Ministry building in central Cairo, the state-run Middle East News Agency quoted a security source as saying.

Twenty-one people, including 11 policemen, were injured, said health authorities.

Ibrahim appeared on state television shortly after the attack, condemning it as “cowardly.”

He said the attack, the first of its kind in Egypt in years, marked a “new wave of terrorism.”

“The incident is a return to terrorism of the 1990s,” he told the independent newspaper al-Masri al-Youm.

“I do not rule out the possible involvement of foreign sides with domestic elements to stir a kind of terrorism in Egypt,” he said, without elaborating.

During the 1990s, Egypt saw a series of attacks against government officials and foreign tourists.

Those attacks were blamed on radical Islamists fighting the government of then-president Hosny Mubarak.

Thursday’s explosion was caused by a bomb planted near Ibrahim’s house and was detonated by a remote controller, according to the Interior Ministry.

Human remains were found on the scene, raising the possibility that the attack could have been carried out by a suicide bomber, said the ministry. State media had initially reported that the explosion had been caused by a car bomb.

TV footage showed several charred cars and stores damaged in the aftermath. No one has claimed responsibility.

Russia holding UN ‘hostage’ on Syria: US

July 16th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Russia holding UN ‘hostage’ on Syria: US)

The US has accused Russia of holding the UN Security Council “hostage” over the Syria chemical weapons crisis.

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With the White House pushing Congress to approve military strikes on Syria, US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said she could see no way to seek Security Council approval for action against President Bashar al-Assad because of Russia’s blocking.

Amid mounting tensions between Washington and Moscow, Power said Russia’s protection of Assad has put the whole Security Council system of handling international crises under strain.

“Even in the wake of the flagrant shattering of the international norm against chemical weapons use, Russia continues to hold the council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities,” Power told reporters as Russia hosted US President Barack Obama at the Group of 20 summit.

Power, who took over as US envoy to the United Nations one month ago, said the UN Security Council system, in which the five permanent members – Russia, the United States, China, France and Britain – can veto any resolution, had failed the Syrian people.

“Instead the system has protected the prerogatives of Russia – the patron of a regime that has brazenly staged the world’s largest chemical weapons attack in a quarter century,” Power said.

The envoy spoke after US officials briefed other UN members on evidence that Assad’s forces carried out an attack using banned poison sarin gas near Damascus on August 21.

She said the evidence “overwhelmingly” points to an attack by Assad forces.

The United States says more than 1,400 people died in the attack, which the Assad government, supported by Russia, has blamed on Syrian rebels.

Since an uprising against Assad erupted in March 2011, Russia and China have vetoed three western-proposed resolutions that would have aimed to increase pressure on Assad, without imposing sanctions.

The Russian president said this week he would be ready to consider Security Council action if he could be convinced that Assad forces staged the August 21 attack. Power said she did not believe Putin would budge however.

“We have seen nothing in President Putin’s comments that suggest that there is an available path forward at the Security Council,” the US envoy said.

The Obama administration is seeking approval from lawmakers for military strikes, which could be joined by France.

Power’s comments reinforced Obama’s stance that he was ready to order strikes without UN approval. And she stressed US exasperation at the repeated blocking of Security Council resolutions and statements.

The resolutions had been proposed hoping that “our common security and our common humanity might prevail,” she said.

“Unfortunately, for the past two and half years the system devised in 1945 precisely to deal with threats of this nature did not work as it was supposed to. It has not protected peace and security for the hundreds of Syrian children who were gassed to death on August 21. It is not protecting the stability of the region.”

America’s Cup rivals vow fierce battle

July 16th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on America’s Cup rivals vow fierce battle)

The time for talking is done in the America’s Cup, with the final races shaping up to be a blood match launched Saturday on San Francisco Bay.

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Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill and Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker barely glanced at one another during a press conference on Thursday at which they each predicted racing will be fierce for yachting’s prized trophy.

“They probably both want to kill each other,” Emirates Australian wing trimmer Glenn Ashby quipped when asked what the rival skippers, both of whom he has sailed with, had in common.

Spithill said that in a shocking turn of events, defending champion Oracle has become the underdog due to penalties imposed on the US team as the result of a cheating scandal.

“We found out only four days out from the Cup who our race team could be. We lost one of our key guys, and we start out Saturday two points behind,” the Australian said. “So yes, I think we are the underdog.”

Oracle was docked two points for cheating during preliminary regattas. One Oracle sailor and two shore team members were banned outright and one sailor suspended four races after the team made illegal modifications to prototype boats it sailed in the America’s Cup World Series.

Software billionaire Larry Ellison’s outfit was also fined $US250,000 ($A274,000).

“We have the fight of our life on our hands,” Spithill said as he looked ahead to the 17-race series that starts on Saturday against the backdrop of Alcatraz and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

“There is a real hunger now given what has transpired,” he added. “Something has clicked and come Saturday everyone is going to be fired up on our boat.”

New Zealand will also bring its sailing passion to the Bay for the Cup finals, Barker promised.

“We have done everything we can. The team is in very good spirits and excited now we can finally get to go racing,” Barker said.

“Whether you think you are the favorite or the underdog, it is two teams going racing.”

Despite the expulsion of primary wing trimmer Dirk de Ridder and grinder Matt Mitchell’s four-race suspension, Oracle can still rely on the talented Spithill, who became the event’s youngest champion, aged just 30, with Oracle’s defeat of Swiss team Alinghi in 2010.

Further strengthening their ranks is American tactician and 11-time world champion John Kostecki, a 1988 Olympic silver medallist and 2001-02 Volvo Ocean Race winner. Oracle’s other helmsman is British four-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie.

Their challengers, Team New Zealand, romped to a 7-1 victory over Italy’s Luna Rossa in an underwhelming Louis Vuitton Cup to progress to the showpiece for the fifth time in the past six contests.

Despite the farcical nature of the challenger series, which featured just three teams compared to the 11 that competed in 2007 and prompted complaints from unhappy sponsors, the Kiwis gained valuable in-competition experience that could give them a further head start over their beleaguered rivals, who have relied solely on training runs thus far.

“We have the two most technically advanced pieces of yachting machinery coming against each other for the first time in a tight space; if that’s not cool, what is?” Ashby asked rhetorically.

However, Oracle attracted criticism for the decision to race the AC72s — expensive, 22-metre (72-foot) wing-sail catamarans that can travel faster than 80 km/h). Prohibitive costs kept many competitors away and their temperamental handling sparked concerns over safety.

“We’ve been sitting here listening to a lot of stuff, now it is time to get out there on the water,” Spithill said. “I expect next week to be the toughest week of my life.”

This is the first time in the Cup’s 162-year history that the races are being held “in-shore” to allow race-track style viewing for spectators on the shoreline.

Two races are scheduled for Saturday.

Pacific leaders to take on big polluters

July 15th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Pacific leaders to take on big polluters)

Big polluters China, the US and India will come in for criticism from small Pacific states threatened by climate change at the Pacific Islands Forum.

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Those powerhouses are attending a post-forum dialogue on Friday in the Marshall Islands, where they’ll face off with the leaders of low-lying states, whose future could be underwater unless action is taken to stem rising seas and other climate-related impacts.

Pacific leaders on Thursday agreed to the Majuro Declaration, calling on forum members and others to take meaningful steps to address climate change, including boosting their carbon reduction targets.

The host of next year’s forum, Palau President Tommy Remengesau, says he plans to build on the momentum on climate change that the Marshall Islands has started.

“This is an issue of our very own survival, and our sustainability as a people, and as small island nations here,” he said.

On Friday, US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will hold one-on-one meetings with several leaders, but her reception from the host nation will be lukewarm, the Marshalls’ Foreign Affairs Minister Phillip Muller has indicated.

“We would have expected, if not (Secretary of State John) Kerry, somebody close to him,” he said, adding that Mr Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, attended last year’s forum in the Cook Islands.

“When you send a minister of the interior, that’s the person who manages the internal affairs of another country, and for us I think that’s really more than just a slap in the face.”

Along with pressure on the US to boost its climate change commitments, the Marshalls – a former US territory which endured dozens of nuclear tests 60 years ago – will also demand it live up to its obligations to Marshall Islanders still affected by resulting health issues, and settle the $US2 billion ($A2.19 billion) in compensation claims still outstanding.

Argentine boxing champion weighs in for Madrid bid

July 15th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Argentine boxing champion weighs in for Madrid bid)

Former England football captain Beckham helped London win the right to organise the 2012 Games and Brazilian great Pele was part of Rio de Janeiro’s successful bid for the 2016 Games.

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NBA basketball player Pau Gasol is a figurehead for Madrid, competing against Istanbul and Tokyo in Saturday’s International Olympic Committee vote to stage the 2020 Games.

Madrid, however, is also getting a helping hand from Argentine sports figures in Buenos Aires.

World middleweight boxing champion Sergio ‘Marvel’ Martinez, a Madrid resident for more than a decade, has followed Barcelona football ace Lionel Messi, also Argentine, in promoting the bid in his home city.

Martinez extolled the virtues of Madrid and Spain at a news conference on Thursday and played down the adverse effects of the world’s economic crisis on the Spanish capital.

“The crisis affects the whole world, there isn’t a country that escapes it but Spain is all right,” the 38-year-old said.

“Anyone who comes and goes between Europe and Latin America can see the difference between a crisis in a country like Spain and a country like Argentina.

“I think Spain has an excellent infrastructure already in place and an enormous solidity in the people who are committed to working to make these the best Games,” said Martinez.

“(Madrid) has the experience of having made two previous bids and they say third time lucky,” he added, referring to the failed bids for 2012, when they were third behind London and Paris, and 2016 as runners-up to Rio.

“Chances grow (with each bid) and there are lots of very capable people (working for Madrid) but the most important thing for me is the generosity and warmth of the Madridian, the Spaniard.”

Talking specifically of boxing at the Olympics, Martinez said the event had played an important part in the careers of leading fighters like Muhammad Ali.

“Although there are differences between amateur and professional boxing, the talented boxer as an amateur will be a talented pro,” he said.

“Olympic medal winners who turn professional almost always become big names,” said Martinez who won the WBC middleweight title by beating Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez Jr last year and defended it successfully against Briton Martin Murray in April.

“I didn’t get to be at an Olympiad but I know it’s always positive for sportspeople and boxers to take part at a Games.”

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

Baseball/softball hope for last-minute Olympic home run

July 15th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Baseball/softball hope for last-minute Olympic home run)

The two sports, excluded from the Olympics in a 2005 vote, have since merged into one federation to boost their chances of re-entering the Olympics in 2020.

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But with frontrunners wrestling – cut from the 2020 Games programme in February only to make the shortlist – and squash battling for inclusion the competition is tough.

While softball and baseball have no doubt improved their chances by joining forces, it is difficult to see how they could edge past wrestling, with all its Olympic funding, wide global appeal and clear IOC support as well as backing from the United States, also the heartland for baseball/softball.

Top IOC members have already praised wrestling for the changes it undertook following its shock exclusion in February while squash is advertising its small, compact and cheap proposition.

However, Don Porter, co-president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, told Reuters Television: “I think we are going to have a strong message, a very strong positive economic message to the IOC about what baseball and softball can do to be an added value to the Olympic programme.

“We think that this message will show that baseball and softball, economically and (through its) gender equality… is going to be something that we hope the IOC members will see as important, and put baseball and softball into the Olympic programme,” he said.

The IOC will select one sport for inclusion in the 2020 Games on September 8 at its session in Buenos Aires.

The chance of an Olympic return for baseball/softball is hampered by what analysts say is a limited global appeal, the potential absence from the Games of the top American players and the larger number of competitors needed compared to the other two sports.

To boost their cause, baseball and softball have added Antonio Castro, the son of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and vice president of the federation, to their delegation in Argentina.

“We are fighting for the dreams of more than 65 million boys and girls around the world, fighting for those dreams of so many people, and to be in the party that is the Olympics,” Castro said.

“If we are in the Olympic Games, it would be much more than the 65 million (people playing) that we have today.”

Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo are bidding to host the 2020 Games with a decision to be announced on September 7.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Young Turks form charm offensive

July 15th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Young Turks form charm offensive)

The city has selected 50 young athletes under the age of 25 to woo Olympic kingpins on Saturday when the Turkish capital will go head to head with Madrid and Tokyo in Buenos Aires.

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“Turkey’s youth are our greatest natural resource and they are for the future,” bid leader Hasan Arat told reporters in the Argentine capital on Thursday.

“The delegation we have here is a clear sign of how seriously we take our pledge to engage with the huge young population in Turkey and across the Olympic Movement.

“Turkey’s youth are at the very heart of our bid, our greatest natural resource and our brightest prospect for the future – so it is right that we should turn to them to help us bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games to Turkey for the very first time.”

Expanding on his theme, Arat said there are twice as many high school students in Turkey than there were 10 years ago, and that the country produces 700,000 university graduates every year.

“Youth unemployment has actually dropped since the start of the global economic crisis – the creation of 4.7 million new jobs since 2009 has helped Turkey register some of the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe,” Arat added.

The former basketball player said the 50 youngsters would be present during Istanbul’s presentation to the International Olympic Committee and would sit in the front seats ahead of politicians, administrators and bureaucrats.

“At the IOC Congress in Copenhagen in 2009, the IOC said that ‘the youth of the world are at the heart of the Olympic Movement’, and we fully subscribe to that belief,” Arat said.

“If we are awarded the honour of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the first time, Istanbul 2020 will be the ideal platform for engaging young people.”

The 50 young ambassadors will comprise half the official Istanbul 2020 delegation. Arat said they represent the huge youth population in Turkey, where nearly half of the population is under 25, making it the youngest country in Europe.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

Tangled deals could turn up Senate surprises

July 15th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 上海性息 - (Comments Off on Tangled deals could turn up Senate surprises)

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

That marks a rise of more than 50 per cent from the previous election in 2010.

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But the issue, to many political observers, is not so much the wide range of choices as it is the even broader question of what impact those with little chance may have on the outcome.

Nine years ago, Labor voters in Victoria were stunned to find, when preferences in the federal election were all tallied, they had elected a man named Steve Fielding to the Senate.

Less than one in 50 of the state’s voters had actually voted for the candidate from the fledgling, socially conservative Family First party.

But Labor had listed Family First ahead of the left-leaning Greens in its preferences, and Mr Fielding, a self-avowed climate sceptic, wound up sharing the balance of power.

Nine years later, political experts are suggesting essentially, in the words of the old comic-book character who revealed secrets about Batman, You ain’t seen nothing yet.

A record number of Senate candidates are on the ballot in this weekend’s election, and a tangled web of deals between groups with no track record could bring huge surprises.

Political scientist John Wanna, from the Australian National University in Canberra, says the so-called micro-parties have learned to play the system.

“Essentially, what happened is we introduced over-the-line voting because people were getting confused voting below the line, and people who were not good at maths, or slightly dyslexic, or didn’t understand the English about the instructions, would get it wrong, and so, in ’84, there was quite a high informal vote, which was just all accidental. What’s happened is, once we’ve gone over the line, the micro-parties have realised, as a result of things like the New South Wales Legislative Council elections, that they can piece together these deals, which are basically anti-democratic deals really. They’re trying to shift your vote to somewhere else. And they’ve had a couple of decades now to work out how to game the system. And they’ve learnt how to game the system.”

In over-the-line voting, more commonly known as above-the-line voting, voters can check one box for their preferred party, which then designates the order of preferences itself.

In below-the-line voting, voters retain the power to order their preferences.

But, with this year’s Senate ballot paper running more than a metre long in some states, they must order each of up to 110 candidates.

For candidates to be successful in this year’s half-Senate election, they will need to win a quota, or proportion, of total formal votes of about 14 per cent in the states.

Those who get more than 14 per cent on first count of votes are declared elected, but then begins the complex distribution of preferences to decide the other winners.

Professor Wanna suggests the next federal parliament may act to change the voting system again, requiring a higher threshold of first-preference votes to qualify to win a Senate seat.

But that does not help this time around.

So an associate professor of politics at Adelaide’s Flinders University, Haydon Manning, offers some advice.

First, for those 95 per cent of Australians traditionally expected to vote above the line.

“Any voter looking to vote above the line, it would pay just to do a Google search (of) Senate vote 2013 preferences. You’ll get to one of the web sites that simply show your state, show the party you prefer, and what they’ve registered with the Australian Electoral Commission as to how they want their preferences to go. Have a look at that. If you’re happy, (and) there’s not a problem, vote 1 above the line. But if you’re not happy, well, then take a deep breath, take a cup of coffee — just take a flask of coffee — into the polling booth, and just take your time and fill out all the boxes below. Because, that way, you’ll get what you want.”

Maybe.

On further thought in this most unusual of Senate elections, Dr Manning has some advice for those voting below the line, too.

“The best advice I can say to people going below the line is a bit like, ‘Count backwards.’ So, if there’s 110, work out the ones you really don’t like, start with them — 110, 109, 108, et cetera. Get rid of them. Then in, you know, the first third or so of the count, make sure you’ve got the bigger parties, the more likely ones to be elected. Put them there. And then if you’re going for some minor parties — you know, the little parties, (the) Shooters (and Fishers Party), Sex Party, One Nation, whatever — put them up the top … 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, in that order, that sort of range. But you’ve got to recognise the party’s likely going to be eliminated — although, I’d best be careful, One Nation has got a chance in New South Wales.”

One Nation founder Pauline Hanson is, indeed, a prime example of the micro-party bonding.

Almost every small right-of-centre party is directing its preferences to her for a New South Wales Senate seat ahead of Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos, who’s seeking re-election.

Arthur Sinodinos has been seen as the probable Finance Minister in a Coalition government, but he could be kept out of parliament altogether.

The House of Representatives also has a record number of candidates this time – almost 12,000 – but the Coalition appears all but certain to win an easy majority there.

The Senate races, then, have taken on a vital role, because they could determine if an expected Coalition government has to negotiate – and with whom – to pass its legislation.

Greens leader Christine Milne says the focus has already shifted to the Senate in this final week of the campaign.

“Tony Abbott has now become so arrogant that he is assuming that he’s already got The Lodge. What he’s now coming after, this week, is control of the Senate as well, absolute power and control of both houses of parliament. And the Liberal Party’s advertising is going in that direction.”

But at the Australian National University, John Wanna suggests a lot of people will still be scratching their heads in wonder when they hear some of the results on election night.

“I expect a lot more people will vote over-the-line because it’s so complicated below the line and they won’t realise – they personally won’t realise – where their preferences are going, because they just won’t know. And, if, when they get home on election night and they … you know, someone is saying it’s quite likely that, ‘in this state, these voters who voted for this party have ended up electing this person,’ they’ll all scratch their heads and go, ‘Who voted for them?'”