NEWSFLASH! In September I will join The Conversation as its Business and Economy Editor. I have been honoured to work at The Age for the past ten years, originally alongside the legendry Tim Colebatch, and for the past four years as economics editor in my own right.

At The Conversation, my job will be to make the best thinking from Australia's 40 univerisites accessible to the widest possible audience. That means you. From the new year I will also write a weekly column.

On this site are most of the important things I have written for Fairfax and the ABC over the past few decades. I recommend the Search function. The site is a record for you, as well as me.

I'll continue to post great things from The Conversation and other places here, and also on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Did Australia's voting system cost Avatar the gong for Best Picture?


Oscar voting used to be first-past-the-post.

This year for the first time since 1943 they decided to use Australia's preferential voting system.

Voters will rank order the ten nominated films. If any film has a majority of voters picking it as top choice, it's elected. If not, the film with the fewest first place votes is eliminated and that film's supporters are counted as voting for their second choice. Repeat until some film has majority support.

It made the US-based Australian economist Justin Wolfers proud.

And it would have cost Avatar the Oscar if, as is likely, it

(a) received more first-preference votes than any other film; but

(b) when it came down to the wire most voters didn't want a high-tech sci-fi film to win.

Do you think?

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