Category Archives: looking west

Tonight I rise to invite Prime Minister Tony Abbott to visit the beautiful state of Western Australia.

I do this in good faith, because we are only a matter of weeks away from a historic by-election that will not just determine the final makeup of this chamber after July but also will decide much more of consequence to the people of Western Australia, whether they are thinking of voting for the Greens or not. Prime Minister, you are welcome out west, but this is a respectful invitation to think carefully about what baggage you pack when you make your next flying campaign stopover.


There is an old story about the original creator of the game of chess, a wily mathematician who submits his invention to the ruler of the country. Asked by the delighted queen what he would require by way of reward, the mathematician requests to be paid in gold. He proposes the queen place one single coin on the first square of the chessboard, two on the second square, four on the next, eight on the next, doubling the number of coins on each successive square up to the sixty fourth.

The queen, perplexed that the mathematician would ask such a meagre reward for his inventiveness, nonetheless orders her chancellor to total up the number of coins. In disbelief, the chancellor calculates that this simple sequence of 63 doublings has the queen owing the mathematician 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 coins. Arranged neatly on the queen’s chessboard, the stack on the 64th square would reach 300 million kilometres past the orbit of Jupiter.[i]

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An impressionistic view of the place we want to create: home town, home state