SSM Votes are a Clear YES... so what now?

The ayes have it.

After months of respectful debate about the rights of a segment of our society, we've finally got the results - 61.6% of Australians voted yes - we should allow same sex couples to marry.

Every state and territory had a majority yes vote and 133 of 150 electorates in the country had a yes majority (though not my own electorate, Calwell, unfortunately).

If this were a referendum, it would be one of the clearest majorities we have ever seen - only six other referendums in our history have had a higher yes vote.

But this was not a referendum, it was a voluntary postal survey that's non-binding. So what does this mean now that it's all over?

Well, the results can be treated the same as any opinion poll. The progress on marriage legislation through Parliament is at the same point it was before we had the survey, only now we have another opinion poll stating the obvious:

Same Sex Marriage has had majority of support for more than a decade.

In a press conference after the results, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he wants to get the law changed by Christmas and will allow a conscience vote on the bill.

There's just two more sitting weeks of Parliament left in the year - November 27 to December 7 - so it will be a tight window.

Fundamentally, the change is a simple one - remove a clause in the Marriage Act stating that marriage is only "between a man and a woman," which was put there by John Howard in 2004, but that change is only the tip of the iceberg.

The real debate will be around the religious exemptions. Religious and conservative groups will argue for protections under the law to ensure their beliefs aren't infringed upon by other peoples' marriages.

We've already seen the dangerous side of this earlier in the week, with Victorian Liberal Senator James Paterson introducing legislation which would provide wide ranging exemptions, which are arguably discriminatory. 

But for today, it's a great victory for civil rights in Australia. With a 79.5% turnout it's one of the highest in the world for a voluntary vote on same sex marriage. It's come back with a resounding yes, and the people are rejoicing.

Australian Road Fatalities in Context

Driving is often the most dangerous thing you'll do all day, but how far has Australia come in making our roads safer?

The media always spruiks the road safety angle. The Herald Sun publishes a running tally of deaths on Victorian roads in their newspaper every day. There are stories of spikes in fatal car crashes on public holidays and some states double the penalties for traffic fines during those periods.

 Herald Sun, Wednesday 18 October 2017  

Herald Sun, Wednesday 18 October 2017  

Simply showing a death toll comparison from year to year doesn't show the full picture. There are historic trends that are lost when looking at two very specific pieces of data.

Australia wide, there were 3798 deaths in 1970 compared with 1209 in 2015. When visualised, we can see there is a dramatic reduction in the death toll in the past 45 years.

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Looking at the death toll in proportion, we see an even bigger drop. Australia's population has grown significantly since 1970, so it must be considered. Looking at road deaths per 100,000 people in Australia, we see a steadier drop.

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Taking into account population, there is a far smoother line and fewer outliers. Furthermore, if we look at both graphs side by side, using fatalities in 1970 as a base point, we can see that road deaths in proportion to population has reduced further than the death toll alone shows.

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So the next time you see the road deaths published in the Herald Sun each day, remember there's more to those numbers than meets the eye.

I don't take selfies with famous people

Last weekend I was at Vidcon, a YouTube and online video convention. Almost 10,000 people descended upon the Melbourne Convention Centre to meet their favourite Youtubers and be a part of this community.

I got to meet several high profile creators, all of which you can see on my vlog. You'll notice with a few of them the video cuts a bit dramatically, that's because I switched the camera off and had a conversation. 

One of the biggest features of the convention was a meet and greet space, a huge marked off area for lines to meet some of the big names who attended. The lines were massive, all to pose beside somebody for a photo a few hundred other people have got.

I'm not trying to disparage the people who do this. Some of my friends lined up for these meet and greets. Hell, I noticed on Twitter that Nathan Zed was walking around a part of the convention, so I went over to where he was to meet him.

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I didn't ask for a selfie though. I didn't freak out or try to overwhelm him, I went over with my camera recording (it was rolling for most of the convention), I said hi, switched the camera off and had a few words with him. I'll cherish that conversation more than any selfie.

These creators are just people like us, with their own lives, insecurities and everything else that makes us human. These meet and greets create a strange cult of personality around the people at the top of this industry, a whole other issue I'll write about another time.

Despite all this, the first ever Vidcon Australia was a rousing success. I got to meet so many like-minded creators, and even met a few fans of my videos. It's lit a creative fire under me to do more, be more and create more online. Stay tuned for more blog posts and more videos this year!

I accidentally bought a car

I woke up on Wednesday with no intention of buying a car any time in the next 12 months.

36 hours later I was signing the contracts for a new car. So uh, how did I get here, sitting in a beastly new (to me) Toyota Prado?

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My old car, a trusty old Mitsubishi Magna was beginning to show its age. A few costly repair jobs were done on it earlier in the year, and a few more are just around the corner. It wasn't getting any younger - it was 19 years old this July - so I planned on replacing it sometime in 6-12 months.

With lots more snow trips in the future as well as job prospects in regional areas, I wanted a 4-wheel drive. Ideally a Landcruiser, finances permitting.

On Wednesday I was sitting in a very boring class being taught something not related to the assessments in that class, so like everyone else I had tuned out. I started casually browsing carsales.com.au, seeing what a used Landcruiser was worth. 

My heart sank. Most were above $50,000 - a figure uni students only ever see in their HECS debts - so the dream seemed out of reach, until one entry. A 1998 Landcruiser Prado, just as old as my current car. The listing showed low kilometres and barely any use, enough to pique my interest. 

And then I noticed who was selling it - Melbourne City Toyota. Their used car sales manager, Steve Atto, is an old family friend who sold me the Magna all those years ago! What are the odds...  

I show up at the lot the next day to check the car out. Steve and I got reacquainted and then down to business. Hoping they have cars like this show up every now and then, I asked him how often a car this old and in such good condition come through the dealership.

He responded, "Mate, never. We never get these sorts of cars in." 

At that point I knew this car was mine.

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Everything else was just formality. I looked at the car and everything was immaculate, I don't think anyone has driven it this century. We took it for a spin around North Melbourne and it ran beautifully.

Back in Steve's office, he offered a generous discount on the list price and threw in a set of new tyres. He offered to take my old Magna for a paltry sum, a favour to take it off my hands more than anything.  

So with contracts signed and all the paperwork in order, I am the proud owner of a new (to me) Toyota Prado. I'll pick it up Tuesday, almost five years to the day that I got my license.

I'm no superstitious man, but everything seemed to fall into place, to the point where even the rego plate is perfect - SBS 186 - you couldn't get a more auspicious plate for a journo!

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Over the weekend, I'll take the Magna for one last drive. Saying goodbye to my first car has left me feeling sentimental, might make a blog post later in the week about it.

 The old Magna, just before picking it up in 2012

The old Magna, just before picking it up in 2012

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The Big Thing

In order to succeed against fierce competition, one needs to be single minded about what they are doing.

...the commanding general’s mind can be seized. For this reason, in the morning their ch’i is ardent; during the day their ch’i becomes indolent; at dusk, their ch’i is redolent.
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Sun Tzu says you need to be ardent - very enthusiastic or passionate - when starting out. The Big Thing is reflected in a lot of the smaller stuff that I'm working on, in this blog, and everything I am doing right now. You could say I'm ardently pursuing it.

The big thing is launching a journalism career. 

It's a tumultuous time for the industry. Everyone from CEOs to students are scratching their heads trying to figure out where it's headed. Nobody has figured out the future of journalism - if anyone has, they would be billionaires - but that doesn't change the primary goals of journalists. We tell stories to inform the public and make voices heard.

To put things optimistically, more people than ever before are reading the news. More countries have access to independent journalism than ever before. But according to Reuters only 13% of Australians are willing to pay for online news, the only place where media consumption is steadily growing. Where does that leave an industry starved of revenue?

Like everyone else, I have no idea where this industry is headed. We see steep cost cutting, job losses and redundancies at every major news organisation. Despite all this, the need for people to tell the public what's going on will never disappear, society will always need people informing them. They need people to expose corruption and everything else that journalists do.

Oh, and it sure beats any other office job. Why sit in front of a computer staring at spreadsheets when you can get a job driving around asking important people dumb questions?

 January 2017, about to ask Richard Di Natale some dumb questions

January 2017, about to ask Richard Di Natale some dumb questions