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Rossleigh is a writer, director and teacher. As a writer, his plays include “The Charles Manson Variety Hour”, “Pastiche”, “Snap!”, “That’s Me In The Distance”, “48 Hours (without Eddie Murphy)”, and “A King of Infinite Space”. His acting credits include “Pinor Noir Noir” for “Short and Sweet” and carrying the coffin in “The Slap”. His ten minutes play, “Y” won the 2013 Crash Test Drama Final.

How Good Is The Quiet Scott Morrison?

Just lately I’ve noticed that we haven’t heard anything from our PM. His twitter account hasn’t been touched for a couple of days and there’s been no pronouncement telling us that we don’t like being told what to think.

My first reaction was to wonder if Peter Dutton had decided to use some of the laws at his disposal to take Scott Morrison into custody. After all, there are various anti-terror laws that enable people considered a risk to be questioned by ASIO for several days and nobody’s allowed to know where they are. Actually that’s not entirely true. They can tell their partner, and they don’t have to be a risk. It’s sufficient that ASIO believe they know something, so I guess that last point lets Scomo off the hook.

No, I decided, Morrison has decided to role model being a “quiet Australian” and to keep politics off the front page by saying nothing. This could be a winning strategy. It used to work for Tony Abbott. Every time he went on holiday or was otherwise incommunicado, his approval ratings went up; every time he spoke, he used to make people angrier than an interview on the ABC where they pretend that somebody who used to write for a Murdoch publication was a “quiet Australian”. I mean, forget Murdoch for a moment: Surely someone who used to be a journalist hardly qualifies as one of the quiet people.

I was rather annoyed at 7:30, but not because they interviewed people who voted Liberal and then seemed to be amazed that Liberal voters still voted for the current mob at the last election. No, I was annoyed because I was intending to do my own interviews with quiet Australians.

Yes, yes, all right. It is rather absurd because the quiet ones aren’t likely to speak, but leaving aside that oxymoron, I had the plan for the interviews in my head and they would have gone something like this:

“Why did you vote for Scott Morrison?”

“Because he got Labor’s debt under control.”

“Actually, the debt has doubled since the Liberals took over.”

“Didn’t the Liberals just announce a surplus in the last Budget?”

“Yes, but it’s only a projected surplus. It hasn’t happened yet and anyway, a surplus doesn’t actually pay off the debt. It’s complicated but because you voted for the Liberals and obviously like simple things, let me explain it this way. You’ve got a mortgage?”

“Yes.”

“Did you spend more than your earned last year?”

“No way.”

“So your mortgage is paid off?”

“Of course not!”

“Well, that’s how the Liberals are presenting it. It’s likes once you get into surplus that’s the same as paying off your mortgage.”

“Look, I really don’t understand all this government debt. What really matters is getting my franking credits when I retire.”

“Do you own shares?”

“No.”

“Then you don’t get any franking credits.”

“I don’t?”

“No, it’s only for people who own shares.”“Well, at least the NEG will get energy prices down.”

“They’ve abandoned that.”

“So, what’s their plan for getting energy prices down?”

“They don’t really have one.”

“So how are they going to get prices down?”

“The same way that they’re going to get wages up.”

“Cool and what’s that?”

“I don’t know, you tell me, you’re the one who voted for them….            you’ve suddenly gone very quiet.”

 

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How Many National Party MPs Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

Q: How many National Party MPs does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: How can we be sure that the lightbulb needs changing because lightbulbs have been around for millions of years, and besides now is not the time to talk about this because we have so many people injuring themselves in the dark!

Sorry, that’s not funny but you know what they say: Satire one day; National Party policy the next.

I think that I could almost buy the “We’re in the midst of a disaster and now’s not the time for politics over climate change” line, were it not for the fact that a number of MPs have come out and tried to blame The Greens for the rampant bushfires. Leaving aside the obvious point that they haven’t achieved government in either Queensland or NSW, one has to wonder if the fires burning over hundreds of kilometres could have quickly been brought under control if only we’d done some preventative burning at the beginning of the fire season. You know, in Spring, during October and November. Ok, it is November. So early November before either moustaches or fuel for the fire had reached the sort of bushy growth that threatens us all.

Still there’s nothing unusual about things that a logically inconsistent. And I don’t just mean the constant use of the word “unprecedented”, while people argue that we’ve always had bushfires so anyone suggesting a link to climate change is just a latte-sipping raving lunatic who should be kicked off welfare because we all know that only country people have jobs.

No, I couldn’t help but wonder how “The Age” journalist could write that Victoria was bracing for a “one-in-110 years” heatwave that would be worse than the “one-in- 25 years” ones which we had in 2009 and 2014. By my reckoning, these “one-in-25 years events” seem to be happening more often than that. Yes, yes I know. Some Coalition MP will that we’ve always had “one-in-25 year” heatwaves and when they were younger we used have them pretty much every year. In fact, we’ll be told, the temperature used to regularly hit 100 degrees in summer and that hasn’t happened this century… Don’t bother pointing out that it’s because temperatures no longer use the Fahrenheit scale or you’ll be treated to a discourse on how the Bureau of Meteorology is involved in a conspiracy to confuse us and that they change the way things are measured just to make it look like the polar bears are melting when anyone can see that they are, in fact, as solid as they ever were.

No, don’t mention climate change because people are out fighting fires and there’s no way that politicians could be discussing this while they’re busy with thoughts and prayers, which I notice Josh Frydenberg also tweeted… It must have been in the talking points, because the Liberal guy on QandA used the phrase too. Ok, I know that some of you are about to suggest if they have time for thoughting and praying, don’t they also have time to discuss climate change? Particularly, Joshie, the colour blind Treasurer who didn’t seem to notice that the blue of the banner on election day was the purple of the AEC. Josh, after all, had time for an opinion piece in today’s paper where he talked about the problems facing the economy, which to summarise briefly are that the economy has changed since Federation and we no longer rely on sheep and that it’s likely to change again so we need to worry about debt. There was no mention of climate change as one of the potential problems, because that would be political and we can’t have politics at a time like this.

What city folk don’t understand is that the Coalition government don’t have time for politics right now because they need to stand with the people who are affected by the fires. After all, you don’t often get photo opportunities where the PM can show off the funded empathy training he received. The smirk on his face as he stood behind Gladys was even bigger than the one he had when he rolled Malcolm.

Yep, only a lunatic would be worried about the possible causes of such extreme fires in November when there’s so many photos to be taken.

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Thoughts And Prayers Have Been Sent So Let’s Not Get Political!

You know the way it goes: SIEV X sinks and hundreds of people drown, but we shouldn’t get political about it because it would be wrong to blame John Howard, because making political capital out of personal tragedy is just offensive opportunism. Fast forward a few years and Labor are responsible for all the drownings at sea and there’s no problem.

Or when people die installing the pink batts, it’s brought up at every opportunity by the Liberals because they argue that the scheme should have had better planning and more oversight… This was, of course, at the same time as they were arguing for a reduction in red-tape because such things just slow down projects. We never hear of all the workplace deaths that this may have caused because death shouldn’t be used for political reasons.

And so, we have the current fires raging in NSW and Queensland but, hey, don’t mention climate change because we’ve always had droughts and flooding rains, and it’s not the time. Just like in the United States when there’s another shooting, it’s not the time for a discussion on gun control. It’s a time for thoughts and prayers.

If you don’t believe me, just check out the Prime Minister’s tweet.

So let’s not politicise things. Let’s not talk about how the NSW government cut funding to fire services. Let’s follow the lead of Campbell Newman who contradicted someone by tweeting that there have been worse bushfires in the past and then posted a link to a story from last century about a number of bushfires that covered almost as much territory as the current ones, in much the same way that I’m nearly as tall as the tallest man in the world when you compare us to a wombat. This is not being political this is just being factual with alternative facts.

And certainly, let’s not have a look at this from last week’s “The Guardian”:

Mr Mullins is one of 23 former senior emergency figures trying to get the Australian Government to listen to their concerns about climate change and the missing capacity to fight fires in a new era.

“It’s up to the retired fire chiefs who are unconstrained to tell it like it is and say this is really dangerous,” he said.

However, his written requests for a meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison have failed.

“We were fobbed off to Minister [Angus] Taylor who is not the right minister to speak to,” Mr Mullins said.

“We wanted to speak to the Natural Disasters Minister and the PM. We asked for help with that, we never got a reply.

“You had 23 experts willing to sit down with a PM and come up with solutions, but he’s just fobbed us off.

“What does it take to wake these people up in Canberra? I don’t know.”

No, let’s do what the meme on Facebook says and ask those protestors why they’re not out fighting the fires. After all, isn’t it better to deal with a problem after it’s happened than to suggest remedies to prevent it happening in the first place? Complaining about these protestors is ok, because they’re the ones who are making things political with their constant whining about the government’s lack of meaningful action.

Let’s say that this is not unprecedented and that Australia has always had droughts and flooding rains because the poem tells us so and don’t you love Australia and its wide brown land? And let’s pretend that it’s just bad manners to even say the words “climate change” in the midst of such unprecedented disaster because we should be thinking about the victims and hey, how good is the government response, with the army reserve on standby and the coordination and no, we don’t need help from overseas and that’s not because they have none to spare because their fighting their own fires.

How good are thoughts and prayers?

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“How Good Is Putting Everyone On The Indue Card To Stop Secondary Boycotts?”

One of the things that’s always intrigued me is the way in which things can be framed so that people completely miss what’s going on. I’d like to think that I’m immune but I’m sure I’ve missed the main act while being misled into concentrating on the sideshow. I’d give you an example but – obviously – I can’t think of any personal examples because I failed to notice what was really going on, owing to the clever framing of the topic at hand. Or not at hand, given I was misdirected to something minor.

However, I can’t help but feel that Scottie isn’t as good as he thinks he is. Let’s take the whole protest thing. While it’s true that while we concentrate on the tactics of the protestors, I’m not going down the whole “Hitler liked quiet Germans so much that if they weren’t, they soon were!” path. The Liberal Party is at least two elections away from actually executing those who don’t like their policies… Although I did see a tweet from failed candidate Warren Mundine suggesting that QandA should be dragged over hot coals for their recent program. To be fair, this may not have been because he was advocating violence, but more about finding another use for coal when the rest of the world stops buying the stuff.

It was more the way Morrison described the protestors as “selfish” and “indulgent” which I found interesting in terms of the framing. Let’s just accept for a moment the rather interesting notion that they overstepped the mark when they got in the way of all those police batons and how the poor horse was subject to PTSD after that woman forced it to break her leg and look at our national waterboy’s framing of the situation.

As altruistic miners try to enter a building they’re stopped from their humanitarian aims by these incredibly selfish protestors who are just there for the fun of harassing the saints who, out of the goodness of their hearts, give up their spare time to find ways of giving people jobs. These saints of industry have worked tirelessly to eliminate all canaries from their coal mines and are moving towards a world where mining is fully automated and no humans will be forced to undertake such dangerous work. At such a time, they’ll then share the wealth they’ve created by donating their stuff to the people who can’t afford it at current prices because they’re such great human beings, unlike the bullies who are blocking their way just for the fun of it.

Whichever way you look at it, the protestors believe that they’re trying to save the planet. Even if you think that the planet doesn’t need saving, it’s really hard to argue that they’re the selfish ones. “You bastards, you’re only trying to save the Earth because you live on it! Have some consideration for people like Alan Jones who haven’t been on the planet for years!”

Whatever, it’s easy to see how you can crack down on people blocking pedestrian traffic. There is actually a thing called the riot act and police can read it, demand people disburse and arrest them if they don’t.

The secondary boycott prohibition, however, seemed so impossible to enforce that I just presumed this was another attempt at framing the debate so that we were discussing this instead of the whole climate change issue. It’s been quite easy to shift the focus. After Greta Thunberg addressed the UN, we were suddenly arguing about such things as her age, the nasty personal attacks and then to top it all off, we had the same people who’ve been spouting their own opinions with scant regard for the facts telling us that we should be listening to the scientists… even though that’s exactly what Greta had done.*

But then I started thinking about it…

Now, I know that I’m going to sound crazy. I know that this is going to sound like satire. However, let’s have a good long think about the Indue card. First they come for the unemployed and we don’t mind if we’re not unemployed. Then they come for the aged pensioners, and we don’t mind because we’re not aged pensioners. And then it’s for the childcare rebates and parents with dependants start to mind, but it’s too late because before we can do anything there’s no such thing as cash any more and the government tells us it’s to crack down on the black economy and make everyone pay their share so that we can finally get the Budget surplus that we’d have if it weren’t for all these tradesmen doing cash jobs, then…

You can’t boycott a company because the government says that it’s a good one and you can’t use your money to help that other company because it’s not on the list of approved companies and not just because it didn’t lend money to Adani or donate to the Liberals. There are other reasons but these like Scott Cam’s salary and what he’s actually doing for the money are commercial-in-confidence…

Ok, nonsense. I know…

But it might make a great scare campaign and that seems to be what wins elections these days!

*A few weeks ago, Kevin Donnelly, told us that 47 respected climate experts disagreed with Thunberg and that the world had managed with higher levels of CO2 about 500,000,000 years ago and we still have plants and animals. Yes, I thought, but not the same ones. Anyway, I wonder how Kevie feels about the 11,000 scientists who came out telling us that  climate change is real and we better start taking it seriously. Nah, he’ll say, I like my 47 better and those 11,000 were probably just taken in by that sixteen year old.

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«How Good Is Listening To The Quiet Shareholders?»

Earlier today the newspapers had the gift of prophecy. Various media outlets informed us:

“Apocalyptic in tone. It brooks no compromise. It’s all or nothing. Alternative views are not permitted,” Mr Morrison will say.

 

Outrageous. Apocalyptic in tone! Alternative views are not permitted. No, he’s not talking about The Book of Revelations. Neither is he repeating Peter Dutton’s latest pronouncement. No, as the prophets of the press went on to tell us:

“I think some of our largest corporations should listen to, and engage, their ‘quiet shareholders’, not just their noisy ones,” Mr Morrison will say. “Let me assure you this is not something my government intends to allow to go unchecked.”

So, in order to stop these “indulgent” and “selfish” protests, MoSco is ensuring that alternative voices to the climate activists are heard, by introducing measures to stop the views of the climate activists.

“Together with the Attorney-General, we are working to identify mechanisms that can successfully outlaw these indulgent and selfish practices that threaten the livelihoods of fellow Australians, especially in rural and regional areas, and especially here in Queensland.”

Now, some of you may be concerned that this is an attempt to silence legitimate protest and it’s a bit hypocritical given that one of his reasons is that alternative views are not permitted, but I think Scott’s got a bigger problem.

No, it’s not that he may turn them into the “quiet Australians” that he says are the only ones worth listening to… Of course, it’s impossible to listen to the quiet Australians because they don’t say anything.

Neither is it the fact that it should be easy to get round laws preventing people from urging a boycott. I mean, how could one be prosecuted if one were to, for example, publish the following: “Even though some of you are very upset about Alan Merandabolt’s comments about whipping Senators who disagree with his Holiness the PM, I wish to remind you that it is illegal to call for boycotts of his advertisers. In particular, it’s illegal to call for the boycott of the following advertisers: Acme, Beta, Gamma, (etc), so don’t do it because you’ll be breaking the law. Can you please share this community service announcement to remind people that they shouldn’t boycott anyone and urge people to contact the various advertisers to assure them that there will be no boycott!”

It is, in fact, Scottie’s proposed religious discrimination laws. They may run smack bang into his anti-boycott laws.

I’m not suggesting that banks and insurance companies can refuse to service coal industry on the grounds that they may have gay people working for them and if florists can’t be compelled to bake wedding cakes then financial industry people can argue they can’t be compelled to lend them money. And I’m also not  suggesting that the government would have any trouble arguing that the belief in man-made climate change isn’t a religion, even though ministers like Angus Taylor have called it one. No, they’d have no trouble saying that yes, it is a religion but not one that’s eligible for a tax-free status, or protection for its adherents to say what they like because it’s a deeply held religious belief.

No, quite simply the banks and insurance companies can simply remind everyone: Money is a religion. And it’s one of their strictest commandments that they don’t throw it away by lending it to people who are highly unlikely to pay it back.

By the way, did you happen to notice that Adani has had its $18.5 million payment for their water licence bill pushed back again. Now it’s due mid-2021.

Yes, when it comes to Adani, I’d certainly want some collateral.

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And It Really Does Send You Blind Or My Conversion On The Road To Damascus…

Ok, for all those heathens reading this, Saul used to persecute Christians… Now, in spite of my support for marriage equality, I’ve never gone out of my way to do that, even though some of them have felt that I was mocking them for their religion. That’s not true. I wasn’t mocking them for their Christianity; I was mocking them for their lack of fashion sense, which I understand will still be all right, even if Scott Morrison’s religious discrimination laws got through unamended.

Anyway, back to Saul. He used to persecute Christians until, one day on the road to Damascus, God struck him blind with the words, “Saul, Saul why dost thou persecute me?”

Now, Saul was a clever sort of a chap for someone who never married because… well, he just didn’t, ok? In these political correct times, I can’t say, but let’s use some sort of innuendo to besmirch the poor man because that’s what we do now that I don’t have the freedom of speech to come out and say that he didn’t like women. Saul straight away that the best way to get away with his past crimes was not to seek forgiveness as Jesus suggested. It was to pretend that he was someone else entirely, so Saul changed his name to Paul and started writing letters that people eventually passed off as gospel.

Similarly, I can see the writing on the wall and I’ve decided to embrace religion so that neither God nor Scott Morrison needs to strike me blind. Why? Well, I could suggest that it’s because God told me directly, but that may be considered blasphemous by some and, believe it or not, blasphemy is still a crime in a number of Australian states.

The difficulty, of course, will be finding a religion that suits me. I want one that has a similar signup clause to the Coalition’s approach to climate change action. I want to sign up and get all the benefits, but I don’t want one that forces me to change my lifestyle in any meaningful way. And by meaningful way, I mean, at all.

This sudden conversion may seem a little insincere but  I have been thinking for some time that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. All the tactics that we’ve tried to create a more just society have just been defeated by wedge politics, so maybe the only way to start pushing people back to some sense of sanity is to jump so far to the ridiculous that you make Pauline look like a bleeding heart leftie! (One could never do that to Peter Dutton; he’ll look like anything other than Voldemort in the Harry Potter films!)

Instead of using reason and evidence, perhaps we should start saying things that will split the Coalition. Here’s a list of ten possible ways to wedge the Liberal Party which you could use for Twitter or a letter to the Editor:

  1. Why hasn’t the Labor Party been declared an illegal organisation and its members all been stripped of their citizenship?
  2. How dare the Federal government allow our schools to teach foreign languages as part of their LOTE programs!
  3. Why don’t the “quiet Australians” get two votes at election time?
  4. Abolish the judicial system and let Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt decide all future cases.
  5. Isn’t it time for removing the dole in Queensland because now that Adani has begun work there are plenty of jobs and anybody who isn’t working must be a protestor?
  6. Let’s introduce six months compulsory National Service for all ten-year-olds where they get taught Australian values and the importance of coal while spending time learning how to survive in the bush.
  7. Why do we drive up the price of newspapers by paying journalists when they just regurgitate the government’s talking points?
  8. Instead of locking up asylum seekers wouldn’t it be a greater deterrent if we were to simply drown them? (Actually, we may already be doing this but we don’t know because it’s an on-water matter)
  9. Shouldn’t aged pensioners have to meet the work test too?
  10. Let’s raise the medicare levy by two percent and give the money to Gina and Rupert so they can create more jobs.

Yes, I do realise that you’d need to be careful because the current mob may take them seriously and start implementing them, and while it could be argued that this would certainly lose them the next election, when I look at the number of stuff-ups in the previous year, I can’t believe that they didn’t lose this one.

Whatever, my religious conversion is only lacking something to convert to, so once I have that, and once the new religious freedoms are in, I’ll be able to say whatever I like because isn’t everything a religious position?

Mm, I’m sure that Angus Taylor said that climate change was the new religion. Does that mean that nobody will be allowed to dispute anything any deeply committed Greenie says because it’ll inhibit their free speech?

Interesting times!

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Scott Morrison And His Strange Relationship With Children (No, Not About The National Party)

“To a hammer, everything is a nail.”

MY wife hit her head yesterday and she decided that she wanted to go to an emergency department to check it out. Without going through all the ins and outs of the experience, she’s fine and, after triage, we sat in some less than comfortable chairs for the next hour, until my wife complained about her head and she was given pain-killers and sent to sit outside the “fast track” for the next couple of hours.

This was the point at which I started to wonder what “fast track” actually meant and I decided that it was just a way of making those complaining feel better. Naturally, this made me think of Scott Morrison. Sitting there, I wondered if we’d be there till the next day and, at such a point, were I to complain would the conversation go something like this:

“Excuse me, but these chairs are impossible to sleep in.”

“Well, the chairs are only temporary and people aren’t meant to sleep in them.”

“But it’s been all night and I haven’t managed to get any proper sleep.”

“Look, the best form of care is a hospital bed.”

“But we haven’t been given a hospital bed. If my wife was in a hospital bed, I could go home and…”

“We have put more people in hospital beds than the hospital down the road, so you should just think about all the people who are in bed and remember that the chairs aren’t meant to be a long term thing!”

Ok, that’s a ridiculous conversation, so why can the government get away with talking that way about raising Newstart! I mean it’s not like unemployment is going down. Generally speaking, when a government starts talking about the number of jobs that they’ve created, it’s because they have no idea how to reduce the number of unemployed. There are always jobs being created; the issue is whether more are being lost.

But that the thing about this government. It’s all about the marketing rather than the substance. Granted, some marketing is necessary or nobody knows what great things you’ve done, but when you try it without actually doing anything, the message eventually wears a little thin. Take the drought. While it sounds like the government is doing something when they talk about the billions they’re spending drought-proofing Australia sometime in the life of the next Parliament, this is only going to impress those not directly affected. It’s like turning up at an accident scene and instead of calling an ambulance or administering first aid, the politician makes an announcement about increasing the spending to remove dangerous intersections. Worth doing, but the bleeding guy with the broken leg would probably rather be in the hospital emergency room, even if the fast track is only an illusion…

Anyway, while I was waiting I came across the following tweet from Mr Morrison.

Now, if you watch it, you’ll notice that not only does Jude have a wonderful grasp of sentence structure for a prep student, but he also has some of the best fine motor skills that I’ve seen in a five-year-old.

But leaving aside the veracity of the letter and the appropriateness of a middle-aged man telling us that he wants to encourage kids to write to him, it does seem that the message we’re meant to take away isn’t very clear.

Forget the fact that it’s a kid and we’re left with the following: A constituent writes to the PM, he reads out the letter, laughs about the request and says that he’s not going to do anything about it.

Is that really the message that the PM wants to send? Or was he virtue signalling that it’s great that this kid has a similar work ethic to the one he has. Scott is a very hard worker, after all. If he’s not playing tennis, praying for rain or running water for the rugby team, then he’s telling us that we need more love and shouting at the Labor Party because they don’t show enough for his policies… Although since the election…

Anyway, I was wondering if we were likely to hear more letters from children, you know things like:

Dear Mr PM, 

My name is Charlotte and I am six, I am really pleased with your request to let kids be kids. My classmates don’t like that Greta Thunberg and not just because she’s different. It’s her views on anthropomorphic climate change, which she asserts without the benefit of peer review. 

Thanks and keep up the good work.

 

Dear Mr Morrison,

Thank you from protecting us from all the boogy men. I used to be scared but now that Peter Dutton is keeping us safe, I don’t need Mummy to leave the night-light on.

Love,

Andy, 6 and a half.

P.S. Good on you for telling those silly UN people where to put their negative globalism

.

Dear ScoMo,

I am starting school next week and thanks to your hard work with the budget, there will be more money for my education and healthcare. Good on you for ignoring those troglodyte Keynesians who don’t understand that there’s no such thing as a free lunch and refusing to jeopardise the surplus with a stimulus package. 

Regards, Timmy aged 4 and 3 quarters.

 

Dear Mr Morrison, 

Can I please go for a ride in the submarines when they are built?

Best Wishes, Christopher Pyne.

Yep, I can see children’s letters to ScoMo getting a regular spot on TV. Maybe it could replace MediaWatch…

 

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Journalists Need To Remember That Nobody Is Above The Law!

Interviewer – This week the Prime Minister told Parliament that while he supported freedom of the press, nobody was above the law. To clarify what this means in practice we have Liberal spokesman, whose name we’ve redacted to enable him or her to speak freely. Government Spokesman, do you mind if I call you Neville?

“Neville” – That’s not my name and I’m quite happy to speak freely without the need for all this subterfuge. You can use my real name?

Interviewer – I intend to ask you questions about Peter Dutton’s department.

Neville – Neville, it is then.

Interviewer – First of all, the Prime Minister asserted that nobody is above the law…

Neville – That’s quite correct.

Interviewer – Well, if that’s the case, how can the government justify that Freedom Of Information requests are falling outside the legal time?

Neville – Simply because the volume of requests is quite overwhelming and there aren’t enough staff to…

Interviewer – But isn’t this due to government decisions about the number of staffing…

Neville – Exactly. The government is committed to a Budget surplus and to ensuring that there is no waste.

Interviewer – Hang on. I don’t wish to get distracted by the obvious point that if there’s not enough people to process the requests then more staff are clearly needed. My point is simply that if nobody is above the law, then how can the government justify FOI requests falling outside the legislated time…

Neville – No, not at all.

Interviewer – Why not? I mean doesn’t this suggest that the government thinks that it is above the law?

Neville – No. They’re not above the law, they’re outside the law.

Interviewer – I don’t see the difference.

Neville – Well, something that’s like the difference between your roof and your garden shed. You wouldn’t want your shed to be inside.

Interviewer – I wouldn’t want my roof to be inside either.

Neville – Exactly.

Interviewer – But when it comes to the law, what’s the difference between being above the law and outside the law.

Neville – Well, clearly someone – let’s say a journalist like you – who thinks that they’re above the law feels that they can break it with impunity whereas somebody who’s outside the law doesn’t feel they can break it with impunity; they simply understand that the law doesn’t apply to them in a particular case.

Interviewer – Isn’t the result the same?

Neville – Yes, but the difference is that journalists are trying to suggest that they’re a special group whereas the government can just change the law if it doesn’t suit them, so while they’re getting around to changing it, they can just operate outside it.

Interviewer – But doesn’t that make the government above the law?

Neville – Exactly.

Interviewer – But wasn’t the PM suggesting that no-one is above the law.

Neville – No ONE is above the law, but because there are lots and lots of people in the government, then they’re more than one.

Interviewer – But there are lots of lots of journalists. Doesn’t that mean that they’re more than one?

Neville – Look, if you’re just going to play silly word games…

Interviewer – Let’s move on. The Intelligence and Security Committee announced its concerns about the proposed legislation to allow facial recognition because it felt there weren’t enough safeguards. Is the government prepared to consider further measures to ensure that people aren’t singled out when they’re simply engaging in legitimate protests.

Neville – No, it’s purely an anti-terror thing.

Interviewer – So, you’ll be happy to put in place legislation to ensure protesters aren’t targeted?

Neville – Definitely… Unless, of course, the protesters are doing illegal things such as holding seditious slogans.

Interviewer – Seditious slogans.

Neville – Yes, you know things that… um, let me quote the law directly. Seditious intent includes things such as using words “to excite disaffection against the Government or Constitution of the Commonwealth or against either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth”. 

Interviewer – So you’re suggesting that people could be identified in demonstrations for holding signs criticising the government.

Neville – For example. I mean, they could also be identified and charged if they block traffic… or pedestrians.

Interviewer – But what about people’s right to protest?

Neville – They can protest as much as they like so long as they don’t use seditious language or get in anyone’s way. Nobody is above the law, you know.

Interviewer – Thank you.

Neville – Is that all?

Interviewer – I certainly hope so!

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Sometimes Even Censorship Doesn’t Help…

Most of you probably saw Monday’s papers which contained words interrupted by large blocks of ink suggesting that the inbetween bits had been redacted. Of course, they hadn’t because if you read the printed words, they still made sense so the whole thing was a little contrived.

Personally, I’m not sure that it was the way to go. It may have been far more effective to have printed a story with the best bits blanked out. To show you what I mean, look at the following hypothetical example:

Barnaby Joyce caused quite a stir while at the (redacted). After consuming (redacted) followed by(redacted), he seemed (redacted), so nobody was surprised when he pulled out his (redacted) and started showing (redacted) to anyone in the vicinity. “Look at my(redacted)!” exclaimed Barnaby, “What a beautiful (redacted)!” He was forced to stop when his (redacted) went (redacted).  He requested to put his (redacted) into a nearby (redacted) but he was told that it (redacted). He did manage to use someone’s (redacted). 

Which, of course, is a lot more worrying than the unredacted version.

Barnaby Joyce caused quite a stir while at the local pubAfter consuming a hearty main course followed by a dessert, he seemed relaxed, so nobody was surprised when he pulled out his phone and started showing  photos of his baby to anyone in the vicinity. “Look at my boy!” exclaimed Barnaby, “What a beautiful baby” He was forced to stop when his mobile went flat. He requested to put his charger into a nearby powerpoint but he was told that it was faulty He did manage to use someone’s portable charger.

Similarly, read this one about Scott Morrison so that you can see how censoring information can create a totally wrong impression.

ScoMo, as he likes to call himself, or (redacted), as many others call him, has some very interesting friends. Most people have heard about his friend, (redacted) , whose father was a (redacted) . But very few people have heard about his bestie whose part of (redacted)  group which believes that there’s a “deep state” conspiracy trying to (redacted), and whose wife is on the public payroll as (redacted) , because the media have been told not to print anything about them because it’s been declared off limits by Morrison and none of them want to print anything unless the government says it’s ok.

Oh, apparently I can’t print the unredacted version of that one without expecting the police to come and ask me to hand over my computer and show them what I had in my underwear drawer…

Anyway, I can’t wait for the media to actually show the sort of courage that I’m not prepared to because I’m worried that they’d make fun of my Sponge Bob boxer shorts. Besides I’m not a serious journalist…

I trust that last sentence won’t have me sharing a cell with Julian Assange, and not just because the Ecuadorians said that he wasn’t much fun. Whatever, if you don’t hear from me, you’ll know that I’ve been (redacted) and (redacted). 

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What The Liberals Did Next And Wasn’t It Just The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?

Ok, I thought I might be imagining it, but I’ll show you the tweets to see if you notice what I noticed. I don’t actually follow the Liberal Party of Australia on Twitter but their tweets pop in my feed… possibly because I frequently go to the sites of various Coalition politicians to check if they really said that because I’d feel like a prized chump… or Trump… if I believed something when it was so clearly a hoax from something like The Chaser or The Betoota Advocate. Unfortunately, the answer is almost invariably, “Yes, he really said that!”. Not always, of course. Sometimes, the answer is: “Yes, she really said that!” but given the small number of female MPs in the Coalition and the even smaller number of times they’re allowed make a public statement, that’s a pretty rare occurrence. Anyway, Tweet 1 (Tweets are images and may not show on some platforms)

Tweet 2

Tweet 3

Tweet 4 – Are we noticing anything yet?

Tweet 5 – Ok, surely you must have thought what I thought by now!

Tweet 6 – If you haven’t noticed by now, you must have voted for them at the past two elections…

Tweet 7 – Still haven’t noticed? Are you Alex Downer?

Tweet 8 – Yes there isn’t a single tweet that’s about something they’ve done since 2013 until the following one. However, it is a retweet. The caption, “future of Australia” is just a coincidence because I snapped a video. It’s not mean to suggest that Mr Morrison thinks that this guy is the future of Australia. It’s certainly not suggesting that Morrison is the future of Australia.

Tweet 9 – Ah, John Howard. We’ve moved into the 21st Century… Oh wait, it’s his 1996 election campaign.

Tweet 10 – This just goes to show that they’re not racist and it’s only the lefties that think so!

All those Tweets show the accomplishments of the Liberal Party.

Who says that this is a do nothing government? Ok, none of them were about anything that the current mob have done, but they’ve only been in power a year, if you pretend that time under Turnbull and Abbott doesn’t count because we didn’t have the Miracle Man in charge until 2018.

Still you’ve got to admire his drought policy. Talk about a plan to spend money in the future, give money to councils whether they need it or not and pray for rain. When it eventually does rain, claim the credit because you’ve been praying.

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“I Shout, But Not At The Bar” – The Diary Of ScoMo…

Tuesday

I visited a MacDonalds where I got to tell them that theirs wasn’t as good as the one I visited in the USA because that one was fully automated and that saved money.

I was asked about my trip to the United States and if I invited my bestie to the dinner only to have him turned away. I told them that I don’t comment on gossip. It was such a good line that I’m thinking of repeating it in Question Time. 

Someone pretending to be a reporter (I know that he wasn’t a real one because he asked an impertinent question), wanted to know how all the automation would be dealt with and didn’t that ruin our plan for growth leading to jobs. I told him that he was part of the Canberra bubble and that people outside Canberra just want a fair go and the chance to have a go and if they get a go then they’d find that the best form of welfare was a job and why didn’t he get one instead of acting as a stooge for GetUp!

Finished the day by doing a photo of me drinking a beer to prove that I’m normal. 

Wednesday

Today I had a very important job. I went to the Queensland to announce my government’s concern for all those suffering because of Labor’s drought and I followed this up by announcing our intention to have a drought policy which will involve future-proofing this country against Labor.

When one of the journalists asked exactly when the policy would be announced, I reminded him that we had a long-standing policy of not commenting about on-water matters. He replied that because this was a drought, shouldn’t that be “no-water matter”…Many of his fellow journalists laughed. We have their names and I’ll contact Peter to arrange for Border Security to go through their underwear drawers to search for hidden items. 

Finished the day by doing a photo of me giving two thumbs up to prove that I’m ordinary. 

Thursday

Invited the Australian cricket team to come to my office. Unfortunately only two of them showed. I suggested that we take a photo where they throw the ball to me and I catch it. After the ridiculous first attempt where one of them threw it straight at me and I ducked causing extensive damage, we decided that we could just have a shot where I cupped my hands and we photoshopped the ball in later. 

Finished the day by doing a photo of me drinking a beer with the two players to prove that I’m normal and ordinary. 

Friday

Jen was photographed doing that symbol again. I’ve tried to tell that it’s just a little something we only do at church, but she tried to tell me that the church is everywhere. Poor thing. She doesn’t seem to understand that even though God has made PM, he hasn’t given me control of the godless heathens in the Senate. For some reason -probably to test me – he’s given that to Dutts, who says that he has no reason to arrest them for treason because he’s not PM yet. I put my arm around him and told him that we were on the same side but he just gave me that stare which makes me wonder if he’s angry, confused or actually trying to think. 

Finished the day by doing a photo of me drinking a beer with someone in a pub to prove that I’m very ordinary. 

Saturday 

Went down to the local football club to make an announcement about our plan to have a policy to get young people playing sport. Somebody asked me if I’d like to run water for the young boys. I politely declined because I didn’t have the right shoes. Another person suggested I could run barefoot like I did in Fiji. We all had a good laugh. I took a selfie with him while we shared a beer. I have handed the photo on to ASIO. 

Finished the day by doing a photo of me sharing the selfie on Twitter to prove that I’m normal. 

Sunday

Went to church. As my religion is a private thing, I’m not going to share it here, and I told the waiting media as much. I said that they were welcome to photograph me, but under no circumstances would I reveal that I was praying for rain so that the farmers could gain relief from the drought and that Donald Trump would continue to make such good decisions because prayer is a private matter between a man and God. 

Finished the day by doing a photo of me praying to prove that my religion is a deep and private thing.

Monday

Labor ask why I didn’t return to Parliament last week like everyone else. I grew angry and shouted at them that I’ve been busy cleaning up their mess and paying back their debt and stopping their drownings at sea and I called them a dill like I did a few weeks ago, I’ve been busy running the country, I told them, and one of them interjected, “Into the ground.” We haven’t identified him yet, but Peter assured me that it’s only a matter of time. 

Finished the day by doing a photo of me drinking a beer while giving a thumbs up to the photographer to prove that I’m very, very ordinary. 

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Ita Buttrose, Tim Wilson, Peter Dutton And The Water Boy

So, according to the chairperson of the ABC, Ita Buttrose political correctness is killing the Australian larrikin. I guess she’s probably missing old Kerry Packer who was a true larrikin and used to say hilarious things to people as, “Can you fuckers change the media ownership rules so that I can buy Fairfax and sack all those journalists who called me Goanna?” Hilarious. It was almost as funny as Ita when she announced that she was “embracing radical celibacy” in the 80s. Mind you, you had to hear her say it to fully appreciate the humour. Political correctness prevents me from pointing out that it was her lisp that made it so funny, because we can’t make fun of people any more. No longer can we mock the way someone speaks or hide people’s wheelchairs just for fun… Although you can if you’re part of the NDIS and it’s to help with a Budget surplus.

But back to Ita’s recent pronouncement, I think that this is great to hear. For too long, those sticks-in-the-mud at the ABC have censored people. Why? I’m sure you all remember how they apologised after The Chaser photoshopped Chris Kenny to look like he was having sex with a dog. Ok, it was after Kenny had taken legal action but, as he explained, he was doing it to protect free speech. Free speech means that one should be allowed to say what one likes as long as it doesn’t offend certain Australian values like ANZAC day, Australia Day or old, white men in the media.

And young Timmy Wilson did his bit for free speech by going and joining the Hong Kong protest. Some were unkind enough to suggest that this was a wee bit hypocritical, considering he tweeted that the police should use water-cannons on the Occupy Melbourne protest. However, as Timmy explained on Sky his was just a joke and besides Occupy Melbourne were permanently stationed there but the Hong Kong protestors move around. Just further evidence of Australians inability to take a joke… Of course, being a bit of a larrikin, I think the punchline would have been the Hong Kong police using water-cannons on Wilson, but I guess I shouldn’t say that. Ah, political correctness again…

Anyway, I couldn’t help but feel that there was a little bit of inconsistency being shown here. I don’t just mean because Dutton is suggesting that we should be arresting our own protestors, while Wilson is disrupting traffic in another country. I’m talking about our position on China.

Just a few weeks ago, Scott Morrison was telling us that Labor were being racist because they were suggesting that Gladys Liu was a member of a group that pushed Chinese Communist party interests overseas just because she was listed as a member, but when Peter Dutton comes out and says that there are people pushing CCP interests overseas, it’s suddenly no big deal and it’s simply “that there are differences between Australia and the People’s Republic of China, of course, there are”. Morrison went on to warn “against any sort of over-analysis or overreaction to those comments, because I think they just simply reflect the fact we’re two different countries.”

Of course, Scott Morrison can’t really be blamed when he’s just the titular head of the party and it’s Dutton making all the decisions. Morrison is there in much the same capacity as a head of state. He goes to official functions, cuts ribbons, makes speeches, visits Maccas, welcomes people, hands out awards and lets people take selfies with him. All the actual decisions are made by the man with the power to have him arrested under our anti-terrorism laws.

So while he can’t run the country Scott can do such valuable things as run the water for PM’s XIII Rugby team in Fiji, and tell them that they can spread the message about violence against women far better than politicians can. This makes me wonder, given that private industry can supposedly do things much better than politicians, exactly what politicians can actually manage?

Apart from running water to their heroes, of course…

(Before the lawyers get involved, that last statement in no way refers to either Angus or Barnaby!)

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Science And Other Unproven Theories Like Climate Change…

Now let me make it quite clear here: I AM NOT A SCIENTIST.

However, I do have a degree so that makes emiinently qualified to talk about things outside my area of expertise and have other people quote me because I happen to put forward an idea that agrees with their world view.

See, you can tell everyone, Rossleigh agrees that there is a special fairy that steals your other sock and all the biros and hides things for a few days before putting them back in the drawer where you looked about three times. I’m not wrong, Rossleigh backs me up and he has the letters B.Ed Creative Arts after his name.

Of course the fact that we both agree does not make something true. For something to be accepted as true, we need what’s called evidence, which brings me back to a thing called scientific method.

I’m not going to try to expain scientific method in any accurate way here because I’m sure that some know-it-all who actually has a qualification in the area of science will try to point out where I’m wrong just because they happen to have a degree in the topic under discussion. With that out of the way, I’m going to explain in lay terms how science works.

Science is the clash of ideas. What I mean by that is that scientists will develop hypotheses about a particular phenomenon and then perform experiments to see if their hypothesis is disproved. It’s a lot harder to prove a hypothesis, so science usually only moves forward when one is disproven.

To give you a practical example. Freddie believes that every time he wears his lucky socks, Richmond win. He argues that he can prove this because he bought his lucky socks a few weeks ago and Richmond hasn’t lost a game since. Now, I happen to have an alternative hypothesis which is: “Freddie is an idiot and his socks have nothing to do with whether or not Richmond wins.” Of course, should Richmond win the first six games of next season and lose the seventh when Freddie’s socks are in the wash, it still doesn’t prove his theory, nor does it disprove mine. However, the first time that there’s a loss with Freddie wearing his lucky socks, then my theory is starting to have more validity than his, but given my theory also included the bit about Freddie being an idiot, I have a long way to go before I can get him to accept my hypothesis.

Unlike Freddie and me, scientists don’t often get involved in name-calling just because they disagree. I’m sure that it happens, but Nils Bohr and Albert Einstein didn’t start suggesting that the other one was an idiot incapable of thinking for himself just because they disagreed over quantum physics. Generally, scientists will seek to develop an alternative hypothesis and then test it.

For example, what happens when I wear Freddie’s lucky socks? Possible hypotheses: 1. Richmond win because someone is wearing them; 2. Richmond have an enormous loss because I’m wearing them; 3. There is no relationship whatsoever between the socks and the performance of a football team.

Now given I’m relatively sane. I would try to prove hypothesis 3, but I suspect that were I to wear them and Richmond suffered a loss, Freddie would refuse to behave like a proper scientist and accuse me of actually knowing that hypothesis 2 was correct and that it’s all part of some AFL conspiracy to stop them winning.

I guess you can see where I’m going with this…

I think that it’s fine for average lay person like me to speculate about how climate change is just an AFL conspiracy to get larger crowds at games. Or that it’s the Chinese trying to shut down American manufacturing. Or a group of scientists who decided that, rather than investigate any of the thousands of real problems that the world faces, they’d rather make up something and dedicate their working lives to obtaining funding from governments because that would be so much easier than getting funding for real problems, and much more satisfying emotionally. Or a cartel of Jewish bankers and socialists… Whatever!

However, when a scientist starts to suggest that climate change isn’t real and that it’s just a conspiracy, I have to wonder why they aren’t actually putting forward an alternative hypothesis that challenges the climate scientists. When they start to argue like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt, I can’t but think that they’re sounding about as sane as Freddie who is blaming me for the slump in Richmond’s form is a result of my refusal to give Freddie his socks back.

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Downer, The Spy Who Gave In What He Was Told…

So, let me see if I have this straight:

Alex Downer and Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, meet in a London bar where, according to George, he doesn’t tell Alex that the Russians have damaging material on Hillary Clinton. Then Downer passes on the information that he didn’t receive to George. This led to the Mueller investigation, because there was an announcement by the FBI that they were still investigating Hillary’s emails in the days preceding the 2016 election. This action was evidence that the FBI were part of a global conspiracy to prevent the election of Donald Trump, even though the release of the material actually harmed Clinton…

Now before some of you start jumping up and down and telling me what terrible human beings the Clintons are, I want to make it clear that I have no wish to defend any American presidential candidate, I’m just trying to establish the facts here. Yes, you can tell me how “House Of Cards” is based on the Clintons and not some BBC show from twenty years ago and how they ran a pizza parlour which they disguised as a pedophile ring. Whatever! The Clintons are not the issue here. We have another global conspiracy to stop the election of Donald Trump for reasons I’ve yet to quite understand.

Anyway, according to the current narrative being pushed by Papadopoulos and the other Trumpsters, Alex wasn’t told about the damaging information that the Russians had on Hillary but Downer reported this non-existent information. The investigation into the investigation would like to delve more deeply into this because according to George – the man who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI – Downer recorded their conversation. If there’s one thing worse than a diplomat passing on information they were given after a couple of drinks, then it’s one who records and passes on information that they weren’t given. The Australian government is only too happy to help… We’re not releasing the transcripts of anything written but we’re happy to release Alexander.

Yes, it’s all a bit John Le Carre rather than James Bond. Whatever, Scottie says that there’s nothing wrong with helping an ally with an investigation. Pity, the Ukraine isn’t an ally, I guess.

Then again, Scottie is very helpful these days. When it was discovered that one of the councils being given drought relief was actually experiencing a bumper season, our PM told us that he made no apology for being generous… which would be fine, were it not for the fact that the councils to which he was so generous didn’t seem to be in any Labor electorates. I’m mildly surprised that the metropolitan electorate of Chisholm wasn’t given drought relief, not because it’s a marginal electorate, but because city people have to pay higher food prices thanks to the drought…

And then there’s the NDIS which is so generous that it had more money than people needed. How else do you explain the $4.5 billion in unspent funds this financial year? Incompetence in its administration? Ridiculous. The Coalition is in charge! An obsession with returning the Budget to surplus no matter who suffers? You cynic! As if the government would do such a thing.

Of course, generosity has its limits and you certainly can’t go increasing money to those on NewStart. No, as Minister for Family and Social Services told us, that would just lead to more money going to drug dealers and pubs.

I don’t know what she’s got against pubs. Or drug dealers, for that matter. I mean, the economy needs a boost from somewhere and it’s certainly not going to get one from increases in the NDIS or the dole. If it has to come from some hotel owner or ice dealer buying a new car or adding to his bling, then it’s better than slipping into recession. Besides, can’t the Liberals remember that when Labor suggested putting a limit on pokie machine losses, they banded together with the clubs and pubs and told us how this would lead to massive job losses. Yet now, we can’t have an increase in unemployment benefits because it would help the pubs.

It seems just a few days ago that the Liberals were telling us how good they’ve been at creating jobs. I suppose if you use the word “creating” in the sense of a making up a thing that’s not really there, then one would have to agree.

 

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Shut Up, Greta, We Want To Hear From The Experts!

When I picked up the paper in the coffee shop, I knew what I was doing. I was going to keep it out of the hands of someone who might be easily influenced. I see it as a civic duty to prevent people from reading the Murdoch muck, but I can only do it one paper at a time.

Anyway, I was drawn to an opinion piece by education expert, Kevin Donnelly. Of course, when I say “expert”, I’m using it in the sense that he knows all about education because Kennett employed him to say that it was okay to reduce the number of teachers because   he was educated just fine in large classes and if we just went back to doing everything the way it was in the fifties, then everyone would be able to speak Latin and do calculus by the age of seven. Or something like that. While I’d never suggest that there aren’t many interesting conversations to be had about what’s the best way to organise our school system, Kevin’s ideas on education are a little strange if you’ve actually been in a school in the past fifty years. Donnelly fits into the category of those who think that most of what kids are doing in schools these days is useless, except on days when students miss an afternoon to strike about climate change, when the classes they miss will hamper them forever.

Of course, one of the biggest difficulties that schools have is reconciling the demand to turn kids into the best student possible, while simultaneously preparing them to be a functioning adult capable of succeeding in the world of work. These two things aren’t mutually exclusive all the time, but when people like Donnelly talk about the role of schools, there’s no real acknowledgement that some students will succeed at exams without succeeding in life and others will do badly as students but still shine when they leave the school system. Of course, schools should also be ensuring that they have an understanding of Australian values, have a strong civic pride, confidence, an aversion to drugs and a million other things that get added every time a politician needs a distraction from the latest stuff-up.

Fortunately – or unfortunately – Donnelly wasn’t talking about education. He was writing about Greta Thunberg. Apparently, we shouldn’t be listening to her because well, she’s only sixteen; we should be listening to the experts.

I suppose that I could pause here and reflect on how the very paper in which Kevin is writing has killed several million trees giving us the wisdom of Andrew Bolt who tells us that these experts aren’t worth listening to. Of course, it could be argued that Donnelly isn’t responsible for the editorial decisions and he’d be the first to tell Mr Bolt that he really should listen to the experts.

While Kevin didn’t actually mention Bolt, he did argue that there were people far more expert than that silly girl. No, not the ones talking about climate change. He informed us that there were experts telling us that CO2 is actually a good thing for plants so there’s no problem because there can never be too much of a good thing. Yes, there’s a group of experts – 46 in all – who have formed a group called CO2 Coalition and these experts tell us that, historically, carbon dioxide levels have been much higher and plant and animal life has survived just fine, so we should be trying to put more CO2 into the air, not less.

Now, I just thought I’d leave out the line which was responsible for the coffee shop owner having to come over and clean up the mouthful of coffee that finished mainly on the table and newspaper in order to ensure that none of you spit whatever in disbelief. Ok, empty mouth? By historically, they was referring, Donnelly told us, to the past 500 million years!

Well, yes, lots of species have thrived but there aren’t too many that have survived the past 5 million, let only 500 million.

Whatever, the CO2 Coalition have a nifty website and several of them have degrees in Physics, so that makes them an expert in climate science. Similarly, my degree makes me and expert in brain surgery, so if you need a tumour removed…

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