Wednesday 31 October 2012

Will you help to save your local NSW Environmental Defenders Office?

This isn't just about coal and coal-seam gas -- this is about the Left agenda to destroy the economy - NSW Minister for Resources and Energy Chris Hartcher in The Australian 26 October 2012

Minister Hartcher should visit Lismore and surrounding areas. At the recent local government elections a poll showed nearly 87% of Lismore voters rejected CSG exploration and production in their council area. I'm sure the residents of Lismore would be amazed to find that they are part of a "Left agenda to destroy the economy" - Cr Simon Clough, Lismore City Council, in The Northern Star 30 October 2012

Will you help us to save your EDO?

After nearly 30 years of helping the people of NSW to protect their environment and heritage under the law, EDO NSW faces an unprecedented threat to its survival and we need your help to ensure we can continue to assist you in public interest environmental matters. Please read on to better understand the problem and what you can do to help.

In recent days, the NSW Energy Minister attacked EDO NSW's involvement in last weekend's community conference in Gloucester. The conference provided an opportunity for community members to obtain information on developments across NSW and was attended by farmers, elected representatives and the broader community. This latest comment follows months of repeated attacks in The Australian newspaper, the National Civic Council and in NSW Parliament, mainly by Shooters and Fishers Party MPs. These are unjustified attacks on our work as lawyers for the environment.  Click here to see our letter of October 19th 2012 to NSW Government Ministers and MPs responding to these attacks.

The NSW Government is now being urged to stop EDO NSW funding under a review of legal assistance services. At the same time, the major source of our annual funding - which comes from the Public Purpose Fund of the Law Society of NSW (PPF) - has been cut. We have been receiving PPF funding since 1996, normally under three-year grant agreements, and our work has been actively supported by the Trustees. The first cut was to 6 months (July-December 2012); and as of this month has been reduced to only 3 months (January-March 2013), with the dollar value cut by a quarter.  As a result, both our PPF funding, and NSW Government funding, must now be considered at risk.

This damaging uncertainty makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a strong, independent EDO, that can offer ongoing help to clients, and serve the wider community, while operating free of the politics of the day. If our PPF funding is not restored and public funding affirmed then EDO NSW as you know it will be decimated if not destroyed in the New Year. This is occurring at the same time as the Government is pursuing its signature reform of the planning laws, with the avowed intention of restoring community participation and public confidence after the dark days of fast-tracking major projects under Part 3A.

The uncertainty can be solved by the NSW Government making clear its strong and unambiguous support for ongoing PPF and public funding of EDO NSW, ideally with cross-party agreement in the Parliament. In this way, community participation and public confidence in the planning and environment system can be maintained.

We need our many supporters to speak up long and loud. Please do any or all of the following:

If the current situation goes unchanged, it means we will have to lay off most of our valuable, highly professional and tireless staff early in the New Year, and begin dramatically scaling back or shutting down our popular key community services including:
  • Free legal advice telephone line – we took nearly 1500 calls last year
  • Community workshops – 95 across NSW in the past three years, with about 95% in rural and regional areas
  • Rural and regional work – a major focus for the past 10 years, with a regional office in Lismore, and support to communities on key issues like native vegetation, water plans, coal seam gas, mining, private conservation and local planning
  • Indigenous program – unique support to the Aboriginal community on culture and heritage
  • Education and publishing – major guides/handbooks, and 40 much-used Fact Sheets, and a major new guide on mining set to be published
  • Policy and law reform – including extensive input to the current major reform of the NSW planning laws, with 2400 hits on our online guide to the Green Paper during the submission period
  • Court cases and mediation – ensuring high quality cases get heard and those with poor prospects are filtered out, which has led to many important environment cases on behalf of communities from the cities to the bush

If NSW loses its EDO, the community's only source of accessible, independent, expert, public interest legal advice on planning and environment matters since 1985 will disappear.

If that alarms you, then please take a stand. Help us to save your EDO.

Yours sincerely,

Jeff Smith, Executive Director

P.S. We are trying to reach as many EDO NSW supporters as possible so our apologies if you receive this email more than once. Thank you for taking the time to make your voice heard for your EDO.
Address: Level 5, 263 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 02 9262 6989

We saw whales! versus Don't trash my home! The two faces of regional tourism

The Daily Examiner publishes a letter from another satisfied holidaymaker on 25 October 2012:
Good stuff, council

I just spent a delightful week in Yamba.
Can you imagine my surprise when I picnicked in Ager Park on a beautiful sunny day and the view from my picnic spot was wonderful?
Twelve months ago when I was here on my annual holiday, all I could see in Ager Park were weeds (bitou bush) and trees.
I did not know the view was so spectacular.
We saw whales.
I asked a local who had cleared this bush and I was told Clarence Valley Council.
I would just like to congratulate the Clarence Valley Council on the wonderful job; and you haven't allowed the environmental propaganda to block your view.
Three cheers to Clarence Valley Council and see you next year.

Terry Mortimer
Wagga Wagga

PS My daughter said that from Ager Park she saw a black-tailed wallaby in the Pippi Beach sandhills.

The next day the same newspaper published this:

River vandals

We have run a cattle property on an upper tributary of the Clarence River for five generations. The river habitat up here is healthy and supports a rich biodiversity, which we value greatly.
People camp illegally by the river on a TSR (Travelling Stock Reserve) that is leased by our family and although we often clean up rubbish left by campers, most camp responsibly, leaving little or no trace of their visit.
Last weekend, however, a large group came and left the place looking like a war zone. Large amounts of rubbish, including cans and broken beer bottles, were strewn everywhere. Along with disposable nappies, piles of uncovered human faeces, soiled toilet paper and fishing lure packets (despite the river currently being closed to fishing).
Worse still, areas of pasture were destroyed by reckless vehicle activity and several beautiful old bottlebrush trees were chopped down. Cleaning up the filth yesterday, I wondered, why try to make the place look good again if it's only going to encourage more people to come and trash it. I can't understand how these campers thought it was okay to treat part of the Clarence Valley with such disrespect and leave it in such an awful state.

Clinton Killen

Tuesday 30 October 2012

ICAC concludes Operation Jarek and publishes report into corrupt conduct in local government and public authorities

In October 2011 the NSW Independent  Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) began an investigation into 110 local government and public authorities.
Ballina, Byron, Bellingen, Clarence Valley, Lismore and Tweed  councils were on ICAC’s list.

The Commission obtained evidence indicating that gifts in excess of $116,000, including gift vouchers totalling at least $64,380, were provided to public officials working for the majority of the 110 authorities over the period reviewed.
From the outset of the ICAC's investigation, it became apparent that the provision of incentives by businesses to public officials in NSW was widespread.
Given the sheer scale of the alleged corrupt conduct and the finite resources and time at the ICAC's disposal, the ICAC decided to focus its investigation on the conduct of employees of 15 of the 110 public authorities in NSW whose staff were alleged to have received gifts from suppliers.
These 15 public authorities, selected after assessing a number of factors including the value of the gifts received, were Ballina Shire Council, Bathurst Regional Council, Broken Hill City Council, Burwood Council, Byron Shire Council, the Council of the City of Botany Bay, the Council of the City of Sydney, Lithgow City Council, Liverpool City Council, Narrandera Shire Council, Orange City Council, the Roads and Traffic Authority, Walgett Shire Council, Waverley Council and Yass Valley Council.
ICAC’s 29 October 2012 Fact Sheet further stated:
The ICAC found that the following people engaged in corrupt conduct by receiving gifts and benefits from supplier companies as an inducement to continue placing orders with these companies or as a reward for placing orders with these companies: Glen Lapham of Ballina Shire Council, Graham Gibbons of Bathurst Regional Council, Anthony Harman of Broken Hill City Council, Ronita Tompsett of Burwood Council, Robert Vagne of Byron Shire Council, Donald Harris of the Council of the City of Botany Bay, Jeffrey Duncum, Edwin Roger Martin, Christopher Myers and Robert Nies of the Council of the City of Sydney, Steven McMurtrie and Lee Warner of Lithgow City Council, Maxwell Bancroft and Amjad Maaya of Liverpool City Council, Mathew Kelly of Narrandera Shire Council, Peter Evans and Peter Lewis of Orange City Council, Phillip Burnie of the Roads and Traffic Authority, Mark Ward of Walgett Shire Council, Scott Ingwersen and Peter Naidoo of Waverley Council, and Kerry Smith of Yass Valley Council.
More generally, the Operation Jarek Investigation Report (October 2012) found that:
In NSW, most local councils and public authorities have a code of conduct and a gift register. Many have a policy banning the receipt of gifts and provide training to their staff on this policy.
Despite this, the investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (“the Commission”) found that a large number of public officials across 110 agencies took gifts without declaring them, contrary to such policy and training.
The gifts accepted far exceeded any reasonable concept of token value, and included holidays, television sets, camcorders, DVD players, iPads, iPhones, coats and gift vouchers.
The Commission found that agencies generally focused on having rules in place around the acceptance of gifts, but did not consider corruption risks in the broader relationship between buyer and supplier, and the opportunity for corruption in their procurement and inventory management systems…..
The Commission has made 15 corruption prevention recommendations to all councils in NSW, as it is evident that the conduct uncovered in this investigation is systemic and all councils should take action to mitigate these risks.
While the recommendations are mainly aimed at local councils, the Commission considers that other public authorities can also learn from this investigation and they are encouraged to read this report and the recommendations contained herein.
Recommendation 1
That councils communicate to suppliers a clear set
of supplier behaviour expectations and the associated
consequences for non-compliance.
Recommendation 2
That councils develop a proactive and comprehensive
supplier engagement framework.
Recommendation 3
That councils review their codes and policies on gifts and
benefits to ensure they effectively communicate expected
behaviour in a way that the intended audience can easily
Recommendation 4
That councils ensure that their policy provides that all staff
who hold financial delegations are prohibited from receiving
gifts of any kind.
Recommendation 5
That councils ensure that staff training on gifts has a focus
on the disciplinary consequences of accepting gifts.
Recommendation 6
That councils assess which of their staff members operate
in an environment where relational selling is commonplace,
and equip these staff members to recognise and respond to
these sales tactics, including the offer of gifts.
Recommendation 7
That councils, if they have not already done so, analyse
their procurement processes to identify points of
corruption risk and take steps to improve the design of their
procurement processes.
Recommendation 8
That councils, if they have not already done so, consider
introducing e-procurement as an efficient method of
controlling possible vulnerabilities in their system.
Recommendation 9
That councils, if they have not already done so, review
which reports are available to the managers of stores and
ensure they (councils) can generate a report showing the
orders placed by any individual across all cost centres.
Recommendation 10
That councils, if they have not already done so, analyse
inventory management systems with a view to improving
controls and reducing waste.
Recommendation 11
That councils examine options for control of their
pull-based inventory and implement an option that is
suitable for their operations.
Recommendation 12
That councils, if they have not already done so, organise
their stores so that all items are labelled clearly, stock is
securely stored and movement of all goods in or out of the
store is recorded on an integrated inventory management
Recommendation 13
That councils ensure stocktakes are conducted
independently of store officers and by staff knowledgeable
about the principles of stocktaking.
Recommendation 14
That council management assesses the residual risk in its
store and, if appropriate for the organisation, conducts
random spot checks or cycle counts of select aspects of
inventory management.
Recommendation 15
That councils, if they have not already done so, consider
the risks highlighted by this report, namely,
relational selling and gift giving
procurement processes
inventory management,
and, where they consider the council is at risk, add these
topics to their internal audit programs.

What's up, doc?

If you've ever partnered a local GP rocking on the briny with a line out for a feed of fish, it's odds on that one day he'll deflect any general gripe about health services with the jibe that a lot of patients "doctor shop" rather than take good advice.
Well here's the answer to that little bit of self-delusion.

"The majority of Australians reported they always go to the same general practice. Ninety-three per cent of Australians indicated they always go to the same general practice, 66% reported always seeing the same doctor and 27% reported they may see different doctors.
Australians aged 65 years and over were significantly more likely to always visit the same general practice and always see the same doctor (see Figure 16). Although the majority of Australians aged 25-44 years reported they always visit the same general practice, they were the least likely age group to always see the same doctor." {The Menzies-Nous Australian Health Survey 2012, 23rd October 2012}

Hat tip to Australian Policy Online for the link.

Monday 29 October 2012

New definition of Clarence Valley Council management gaining currency

Is it any wonder that Clarence Valley Council management is now frequently referred to as a bucket full of ar$eholes and a few other unprintable phrases?

Spot the not so subtle alteration of the history of Clarence Valley shire councillors’ response to residents’ concerns over the sudden removal of part of the Yamba Road Cycleway by council management without prior community consultation.

These concerns directly related to cyclists' safety when using a section of Yamba Road in the vicinity of the Freeburn Street T-intersection and pedestrian safety on the nearby designated 'shared use' footpath which does not meet council's own minimum width requirements as set out in the Pedestrian access and mobility plan (PAMP) and bike plan (2008).

Click on the images below for a larger and clearer view of the text.

Ordinary Monthly Meeting Minutes of 26 June 2012:

Voting recorded as follows:
For: Councillors Williamson, Comben, Dinham, Howe, Hughes, McKenna, Simmons,
Tiley and Toms
Against: Nil

Ordinary Monthly Meeting Minutes of 17 July 2012:

Ordinary Monthly Meeting Business Paper of 16 October 2012:

Included in this council officer's report as Background was Item 021/12 Yamba Road Cycelway, Yamba, containing the precise wording as is set out in the minutes below.

Ordinary Monthy Meeting Minutes of 16 October 2012:

Yes, that’s right. By including that last item in the October official business paper and minutes as it is written, council management totally ignored the fact that the June 26 Ordinary Monthly Meeting did not fully endorse the NSW R&MS Clarence Valley Local Traffic Advisory Committee recommendation (which had been heavily influenced by the very same management advising this committee) and, as Clarence Valley Council's 9 October Civil & Corporate Committee Meeting Business Paper contained the very same wording this was not a simple mistake.

It is a distinct possibility that council management did not make the Local Traffic Advisory Committee aware of the fact that its recommendations had not been fully endorsed and that this external committee has an imperfect understanding of the true status of its recommendations.

It is also possible that councillors have been voting since the beginning of October under a manufactured misapprehension concerning council's own past decisions relating to the Yamba Road Cycleway.

Council management obviously believed that newly-elected and re-elected councillors would not easily recall the details of the Yamba Road Cycleway debate and therefore decided to rewrite the record in order to do exactly as it pleased.

At the same time as council management improperly seeks to go against the 26 June 2012 OGM resolution and erect additional signs directing all bicycle traffic onto inadequate footpaths, it is avoiding any meaningful in-depth evaluation of the problem it created on Yamba Road in the first place

Thereby showing nothing but contempt for the democratic process and once again flipping the bird to the Yamba community behind councillors’ backs.

Strewth, Ruth! What a whopper

Quentin Bryce is to stay on as Australia’s G-G past the next federal election election.
Abbott thinks that’s great? ROFL.
If he wins government on that particular Saturday, look to Bryce suddenly ‘resigning’ within the month.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Grafton-based GJ Gardner Homes franchisee ordered to pay $99,120.27 for defective building work

See the full details concerning Wood v Fischer Built Pty Ltd here at
Breakdown of allowed claim in favour of the applicants on 18 October 2012:
Scott Schedule

Item 1 $960.00
Item 2 nil
Item 3 $18,090.00
Item 4 $5,427.50
Item 5 $39,507.27
Item 6 $1,180.00
Item 7 $9,500.00
Item 8 $6,966.82
Item 9 $4,220.00
Item 10 $11,215.00
Item 11 nil
Drain Cost $945.00
Cutting Table $599.00
Repair of paintings $509.68
61. The total of all these amounts is $99,120.27 and the respondent is ordered to pay this amount to the applicants within 28 days.

According to The Daily Examiner on 27 October 2012: 
Company director Rick Fischer confirmed he would be appealing the decision, adding he wasn't "prepared to say anything further at this stage."

Michael Moore tweets who he voted for in the 2012 US Presidential Election (photo)

I didn't switch off the porch light and it's all Julia's fault!

On 1 July 2012 NSW electricity prices rose yet again.
The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulation Tribunal set this price rise and produced this table outlining the cumulative causes of these increases:
Samantha Lubke-Wood It's not the electricity company's fault, it's the governments fault for selling the company's off and privatising the section. Now it's owned by an overseas company so now they can charge as much as they like. Don't blame essential energy they just get paid to maintain the lines. Blame The PM.
Thursday at 12:29pm via mobile  (Someone obviously forgot that it was a state government sell-off of power assets, that the NSW Government still owns “the lines” aka network and actively lobbies for increases to its own charges, that Essential Energy costs do end up on residential bills and, that electricity pricing is a lot more complicated than 'It’s all Julia's fault!')
Julie-Anne Wiles Our bill came down $250. All we did was turn off the second fridge and not use the dishwasher. I was actually happy with our bill.
Friday at 11:42am via mobile (A mother of two who took the necessary action to avoid household budget stress)

First Dog wickedly takes on the Canberra Commentariat

From First Dog on the Moon at Crikey

Saturday 27 October 2012

Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham to visit the Orara Valley on 7 Nov 2012 to discuss CSG frack finding tour

MNC Greens Media Release:

An Hour in the Orara Valley With Jeremy Buckingham, Greens MLC

Jeremy Buckingham, Greens MLC, will be speaking about his recent frack finding tour to inspect coal seam gas in the United States and his Responsible Mining Bill (Protect land, water and communities) 2012 at the Upper Orara Valley Community Hall, Cnr Dairyville Rd and Upper Orara Rd between 12.00-1.00pm, November 7th.

It is expected that many will travel from Coffs Harbour, the Clarence Valley, the Orara Valley, Bellingen and the plateau to hear the facts about mining in NSW. Those attending the meeting are encouraged to attend with posters and banners.
"The Greens Responsible Mining Bill will prohibit coal seam gas and mining in certain productive agricultural areas and other sensitive areas.  Additionally it will provide local councils with the power to prohibit coal seam gas and other mining in certain areas under their local planning provisions," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
A recent meeting in Coramba was attended by a large crowd seeking information. Altius Mining Limited is planning, according to announcements it has made to the ASX, to continue exploration in the area following the completion of its aerial magnetic survey in 2011.
It is reported that exploration targets include Mt Brown (directly south of Karangi), Illabo Mine north of Coramba (near Coramba Nature Reserve), and the Beacon Group of Mines halfway between Coramba & Central Bucca.
"Gold and antimony mines produce large amounts of pollution.  The sensitive environment, terrain and rainfall patterns in the Orara Valley mean it is not the place for such mines," said Mr Buckingham.
The forum will be of particular interest to property owners concerned about a drop in land values, visual pollution and river pollution, small business owners dependent on tourism and all users of local roads, especially parents of school children.
MNC Greens Media contact: John Vernon Ph: 0402 308 231
Media Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202  or  0419 444 916


Wednesday November 7th

• 10.30 to 11.30 am Coffee with Coffs Harbour Greens at the Happy Frog. Car pooling to travel to 12.00 to 1.00 rally-meeting at Upper Orara Community Hall cnr Upper Orara Rd and Dairyville Rd. All welcome.

5.00 pm Joint Coffs Harbour and MNC Greens meeting at the Alternatives Bookstore, Hyde St, Bellingen

• 6.30 pm Jeremy speaks at Lock The MNC event. Dinner included/Music/Bimblebox Film at 5 Church St, Bellingen ($20/head) Book at Kombu or No 5.

Thursday, November 8

• 10.00 -11.30 am Responsible Mining Forum (with video highlights of USA tour) at Dorrigo Memorial Hall (the Community Hall)

• 2.15 – 3.45 pm Responsible Mining Forum (with video highlights of USA tour) at the Seniors Citizens Centre Hall, Princess St, Macksville

• 5.00-6.00 pm Jeremy Buckingham Responsible Mining  Forum in Kempsey

Jeremy Buckingham will be sharing a ‘cuppa’. Hear how his Responsible Mining Bill can protect the Kempsey area from further destructive mining practices.

Where: The Oddfellows (Macleay Valley Arts Council) Cnr Kemps Street & Edinburgh Lane, West Kempsey

• 7.00 pm Three Rivers Greens Group Meeting in Wauchope (Wauchope Arts Society Hall - might also be called Wauchope School of Arts) with Jeremy.

Friday 26 October 2012

How modest is the Member for Clarence?

The Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, has had a very big week in the Legislative Assembly.

Tuesday:  " I make a modest contribution to debate ..."  Hansard, 23/10/12

Wednesday: According to Hansard, Mr Gulaptis did not speak in the chamber. (Hmmm, perhaps modesty prevented him from doing so. Then again, perhaps he was too busy practising his lines for Thursday - see below.)

Thursday: " As a member of the Committee on Economic Development I will make a modest contribution ... "  Hansard, 25/10/12

CNN withdraws online article which suggests a woman's vote is ruled by her hormones

Right in the middle of the final half of the 2012 US Presidential Election CNN committed an editorial blunder by apparently giving serious consideration to the concept of biological determinism as a political reality.
Unfortunately CNN didn’t tell Fox2 Now in St. Loius which went to press with the very same article five minutes later.
It is reproduced here as part of the historical record of the U.S. political landscape in October 2012:

Study Links Women’s Voting Choices With Ovulation

Posted on: 8:20 pm, October 24, 2012, by Staff Writer
(CNN) — While the campaigns eagerly pursue female voters, there’s something that may raise the chances for both presidential candidates that’s totally out of their control: women’s ovulation cycles.

You read that right. New research suggest that hormones may influence female voting choices differently, depending on whether a woman is single or in a committed relationship.

Please continue reading with caution. Although the study will be published in the peer-reviewed journal Psychological Science, several political scientists who read the study have expressed skepticism about its conclusions.

A bit of background: Women are more likely to vote than men, other studies have found. Current data suggest married women favor Gov. Mitt Romney, in a 19% difference, over President Barack Obama, while Obama commands the votes of single women by a 33% margin, according to the study. And previous studies have shown that political and religious attitudes may be influenced by reproductive goals.

In the new study’s first experiment, Kristina Durante of the University of Texas, San Antonio and colleagues conducted an internet survey of 275 women who were not taking hormonal contraception and had regular menstrual cycles. About 55% were in committed relationships, including marriage.

They found that women at their most fertile times of the month were less likely to be religious if they were single, and more likely to be religious if they were in committed relationships.

Now for the even more controversial part: 502 women, also with regular periods and not taking hormonal contraception, were surveyed on voting preferences and a variety of political issues.

The researchers found that during the fertile time of the month, when levels of the hormone estrogen are high, single women appeared more likely to vote for Obama and committed women appeared more likely to vote for Romney, by a margin of at least 20%, Durante said. This seems to be the driver behind the researchers’ overall observation that single women were inclined toward Obama and committed women leaned toward Romney.

Here’s how Durante explains this: When women are ovulating, they “feel sexier,” and therefore lean more toward liberal attitudes on abortion and marriage equality. Married women have the same hormones firing, but tend to take the opposite viewpoint on these issues, she says.

“I think they’re overcompensating for the increase of the hormones motivating them to have sex with other men,” she said. It’s a way of convincing themselves that they’re not the type to give in to such sexual urges, she said.

Durante’s previous research found that women’s ovulation cycles also influence their shopping habits, buying sexier clothes during their most fertile phase.

“We still have the ovulatory hormones that have the same impact on female brains as across other species,” she said. We want sex and we want it with the best mate we can get. “But there are some high costs that come with it,” she said, particularly for women who are already in committed relationships.

This isn’t the first time hormones have been looked at in connection to voting. Last year Israeli researchers published a study in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology examined the stress hormone cortisol in voters in Israel. Levels of this hormone were higher in people right before they were about to vote than in the same people when they were not voting.

Durante’s study on women noted that liberal attitudes favor social equality and tend to be less associated with organized religion. Conservatism is more about traditional values and is linked to greater participation in organized religion.

The most controversial part of the study is not only that hormonal cycles are linked to women’s preferences for candidates and voting behaviors, but also that single women who are ovulating are more likely to be socially liberal, and relationship-committed women are more likely to be socially conservative, said Paul Kellstedt, associate professor of political science at Texas A&M University.

One of the major caveats this paper fails to address is that men also have biochemical changes, Kellstedt said.

“The reader may be left with the impression that women are unstable and moody in ways that extend to their political preferences, but that men are comparative Rocks of Gibraltar,” Kellstedt said in an e-mail.

Kellstedt does not study biology, but he has been involved in research suggesting that men’s political preferences are even more volatile than women’s.

“There is absolutely no reason to expect that women’s hormones affect how they vote any more than there is a reason to suggest that variations in testosterone levels are responsible for variations in the debate performances of Obama and Romney,” said Susan Carroll, professor of political science and women’s and gender studies at Rutgers University, in an e-mail.

Carroll sees the research as following in the tradition of the “long and troubling history of using women’s hormones as an excuse to exclude them from politics and other societal opportunities.”

“It was long thought that a woman shouldn’t be president of the U.S. because, God forbid, an international crisis might happen during her period!” Carroll said.

A better explanation for the divide in voting preferences between single and married women is the difference in economic status, she said.

One expert gave it a little more credence: Israel Waismel-Manor, a political scientist at the University of Haifa in Israel, who did the cortisol study last year.

He’s not sure that this hormonal effect Durante found among women isn’t real, but offered an alternate explanation too: Research has shown women prefer more “manly men” when they are in their most fertile phases of the cycle. Obama and Romney are both handsome, in good physical shape and could fit the type of “provider of the family,” so either could fit the ideal, depending on a woman’s preference.

Assuming there is some hormonal explanation, the effects could cancel themselves out, since different women will be on different cycles when they vote, and the candidates have a similar level of physical attractiveness, Waismel-Manor said. A more elaborate research design is needed to examine it further.

“Even if the finding is correct, there’s a chance that it won’t have a cumulative effect on the electorate,” he said.

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2012 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.