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Who do you blame when it all goes wrong?

By Dave Chadwick

A fairly common theme I have heard from a number of conservative and progressive commentators has been to blame Donald Trump’s election on the air of moral superiority taken by Democrats and social rights activists. The exact way this was phrased varies, from the very progressive Jonathon Pie imploring people to have conversations with people with differing opinions; through to the much less progressive Steve Price telling Jamila Rizvi on air that people voted for Trump because, “People like you lecture and heckle them”.

That’s right, all you leftards and bleeding hearts need to start showing greater respect for those with differing opinions. I say that a little facetiously, but I actually agree to some degree. There are some lessons for the left side of politics if it wants to be heard by a broader base who right now seem willing to vote against their own interest.

I do strongly agree with the argument that you don’t change many people’s mind through belittling them and I would recommend listening with as little judgement to the concerns of those with differing opinions. Some of us progressives can be very quick to shout “Bigot” at the first opportunity and try to discredit an opponent instead of understanding them. I have also written previously that I sometimes feel a controversial debate can be side-tracked by the question of was it racist/sexist instead of focusing on was it right? I fully support these type of critiques. However I do have some concerns with the overall argument that it is this heavy-handed approach by progressives that drives people to vote conservative or alt-right out of pique.

Take responsibility for your own vote and its consequences

Firstly it’s a real abrogation of voters’ responsibility. By all means, if you want to vote for Trump, Hanson or Brexit that’s you’re right, but you don’t get to blame me when Trump appoints a creationist head of the nation’s education (as well as most of his family to positions of power they are unqualified for) or when Hanson votes with the government (which she almost always does) to cut welfare, workers’ rights or pensions. That’s not on those of us who tried to warn you this would happen – however we tried – that’s on you for not listening or doing your own research beyond easily disproved memes.

Let me again say that I agree progressives don’t always help our case when we match the vitriol that gets thrown from the right. I have written previously about the dangers of overreaching in your statements and generating pushback, and this is a mistake I think progressives occasionally make. But I am concerned we are beginning to confuse overreach and aggression with basic dialogue. It is still okay (in fact I would argue it is imperative) for progressives to continue to bring facts into a conversation, state a contrary opinion or correct an untruth.

It is not always lecturing

And this is where my second concern with this line of argument comes in. It is being exaggerated and distorted. Some right wing commentators and bloggers are really pushing the idea that anytime someone is called out for racism or corrected for factual inaccuracies they are being lectured, seemingly oblivious to the aggressive dog whistling behaviour of their own champions.

A recent example from my personal experience was in the online response to a recent article I published about Steve Price’s ridiculous assertions around the disempowerment of old white men. As a prominent right wing figure, inevitably there were going to be those who would defend Price and I didn’t mind that. That was no surprise, but the methods of defence were either by attacking Waleed Ali (who wasn’t even mentioned in the article) or celebrating Price’s willingness to start difficult conversations.

I get that there are topics that are tricky to talk about and require a bit of sensitivity, but ‘Starting a conversation’, often seems to be code for making borderline offensive statements under the guise of discussing an issue. Don’t get upset if you start a conversation and I respond. That is how a conversation works. And don’t demand respect for your opinions if you’re not giving it, both to those you converse with and those you speak about. That’s hypocrisy.

And it is hypocrisy

But it seems to be just accepted. It is a clear double standard that some on the left are buying. The right can speak how they like (listen to the aggressive tones of Bolt, Price, Bernardi, Christenson, Hanson, Lambie et al), but progressives have to tiptoe around their opponents’ feelings (I still advocate being as respectful as possible), or they are accused of being overbearing and disrespectful. The flawed arguments about respecting freedom of speech often get recycled, without any admission that freedom of speech gives equal freedom for people to speak their mind and others to criticise them. No one suggests progressive voters are against Peter Dutton because they are spoken down to- no matter how often they are disparagingly referred to as leftards, terrorist sympathisers or SJWs. People want Dutton out of office because he is complicit in the imprisonment, abuse and death of human beings.

When someone tries to correct a factual mistruth you are stating, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are being lectured. Before you moan that you are not being taken seriously, have you considered their points? When someone calls you out because something you said or did was grossly unfair or offensive and affected someone in a way you might not have anticipated, perhaps you should listen too. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but when did we all get this precious? A lot of people pushing this argument are the same who argue for repealing section 18C of the discrimination act, and telling those who disagree to toughen up.

I would suggest those people who get offended by being told they are wrong and use it to justify something as important as who they vote for probably need to toughen up more than those who get offended when they are unfairly singled and stereotyped based on race religion or gender.

So which is it? Do we need to toughen up or get more respectful? Conservatives, you can only choose one.

This article was originally published as Selective Sensitivity on Quietblog.


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  1. Clean livin

    Nah! Wrong! It’s Labor fault!

  2. Miriam English

    Very well put, Dave.

    Those who tell us to toughen up and stop protecting people from racial slurs can be such amazing hypocrites when they then whine about people calling Hanson a stupid racist.

    Even weirder when you notice that racism just doesn’t work (Aboriginals are not stupid sub-humans, Jews are not shifty power-mongers, Muslims are not violent monsters), but Hanson really is stupid and racist.

  3. Keitha Granville

    that seems to be the common theme since the LNP took office Clean livin – they are refusing to accept responsibility for anything .
    when does good government start ?

  4. Terry2

    Then we have the hypocrisy of diplomacy.

    Not sure which position to adopt on the Security Council call for Israel to stop building and inhabiting new dwellings on occupied territories of the West Bank and in Palestinian Jerusalem what do we do ?

    Well, with one eye on Obama we support a two state solution but with a wink and a nod to Trump we say that we would not have supported the Resolution had we had a vote, which we don’t.

    Diplomacy 101 : when in doubt, have two bob each way !

  5. Gangey1959

    It seems to me that everything these days is a toss-up between what is the right thing to do and what is the best thing to do. The two never are the same, and when the consequences of looking after ones self cost us, we turn on those who point out why, or blame those who had no chance of doing anything about it anyway.
    The line above about controversial debate being sidetracked by the detail in the headline/question has been used by both sides for the past several years to stop us mere mortals from asking difficult questions, like what are you doing to protect our employment and and our children’s education standards, and why do the socially insecure have to pay for removal of government income ?
    When students have to attain a certain grade to enter high school, or the ”proper” primary school, or even some kindergartens, and definitely have to reach defined scores in order to study at the ”right” universities in the ”proper” courses, maybe it is time to have a pre-enrollment exam for our political class.
    I wonder how many would make the grade ? Should the bar be set for Melbourne Law ? Or should Chisholm Institute off campus take away food service be high enough ?
    If my opinion was considered it would be a pretty thin Parliament, but they’d be f*cking good.

    Have a great New Year everyone. Stay Safe.

  6. guest

    “Do we need to toughen up or get more respectful?”

    When there is a rowdy crowd spurred on by right-wing politicians and shock-jocks, accompanied by banners of the “Ditch the Witch” kind, do we toughen up or get more respectful?

    When Abbott lectured the Parliament about the “misogyny” of Peter Slipper in private emails he wrote, did we toughen up or get respectful? Remember Julia Gillard’s reply, beginning “I will not be lectured about misogyny by this man. I will not!”, which went viral around the world because women especially knew exactly what she was talking about.

    When Malcolm Roberts talks about a secret conspiracy to take over the world through the promulgation of the Climate Change “scam”, do we get tough or get respectful?

    When Turnbull says the Coalition needs Manus and Nauru to prevent people from drowning, do we toughen up or get respectful?

    When Turnbull says there has never been a better time to be an Australian, do we toughen up or get respectful?

    When Turnbull says we need coal to deliver millions of people from poverty, do we toughen up or get respectful?

    When Turnbull laments the rising cost of electricity, do we toughen up or get respectful? Or could we quietly ask him: What is the cost of cooking the planet?

    My own feeling is that there is too much utter garbage around and we should call it for what it is.

  7. helvityni

    Amen to that, guest.

    Yes, I too believe calling it what is, garbage. You can do it simply, matter-of-factly, just like Gillard did.

  8. Kim Southwood

    The moral high ground is a minefield . Social justice is a sniper’s paradise.

    Progressives call upon us all to examine our personal values, ethical practices and the ‘greatest happiness for the greatest number’ principle. They elicit defensive and retaliatory responses from those who seek to preserve the integrity of their perceived ‘comfort zone’. Shock tactics are likely to destabilise rather than win converts.

    I heartily agree respect is key to progress. But respect falls away when confronted by faulty reasoning. It’s hard to escape the fact that Freedom of Speech gives faulty reasoning free licence to spread its mischief.

    This is nowhere more apparent than in the political arena. In this country everyone on the electoral roll votes whether they care to or not.The field is ripe to exploit faulty reasoning in epic proportions in order to satisfy the lust for personal prestige, if nothing else. Greatest happiness flies out the window.

    Meanwhile our scientists, technologists, engineers and economists make cutting edge progress well away from the public limelight. Their discoveries and recommendations are under-rated, manipulated and often mangled by the collaboration of corporate moguls, politicians and media who have their own agenda.

    Honesty deserves respect. But when it, too, is corrupted the frustration can boil over among the progressives who value it. Trouble is that slanging matches create chaos and confusion. Let’s ask our politicians to stick to the facts with a healthy dose of respect for variations in interpretation from all sides. That’s tough!

  9. kerri

    Do we toughen up or get respectful??
    We analyse and get scientific and factual and REAL!
    Hanson’s cries are mostly false as are Malcolm Roberts!
    We have been far too respectful for far too long when “opinions” get touted as fact.
    These imbeciles need to be shot down with facts and the media needs ro get off it’s arse and stop blindly quoting the BS. Media needs to do it’s job and do some research and report on what has been said and how it measures up to the truth and facts as are well known but rarely quoted!
    The opinions of “old white men” are only valid when they are fact not Steve Price’s uneducated opinion!
    Malcolm Riberts needs to be shot down on a regular basis as was done by Brian Cox on Q&A, but the media were too busy reporting on the sensationalism of the encounter rather than the blatant stupidity of Roberts assertion that he wants “empirical evidence”.

  10. mark delmege

    I have an English FB friend who would often get offended when I criticised British history of wars and conquests. It took him a long time to understand that I wasn’t having a go at him or the English/British people in general. I was having a go at the British ruling class.
    Much the same can be said about my criticism of US politics. Imo Obama simply represents one faction of the American ruling class. He appointed them to high positions and in general followed their policies on domestic and foreign matters and wars. He is not in my opinion a progressive in the Australian Labour sense. Trump too represents US ruling interests but does so from a different perspective. I’m happy that Clinton lost because her faction was an asset to the worst excesses of American imperialism and promised more of the same or worse.
    Trump offers some hope on certain issues but is retrograde on others. And in time I will criticise him with the same passion I criticised the mistakes of Obama.
    These people are not our allies they do not represent progressive interests. Too many people get caught up in the binary debate Lib v Labs or Repubs v Dems and fail to see the bigger picture.

  11. Kim Southwood

    Yes, Kerri, let’s hear from those who’ve done the research and can clearly articulate the facts in their full context.

  12. Ella

    “do we toughen up or get respectful”

    When we have a government and it’s vested interests telling us blatant lies and a media that perpetuates those lies ……
    we as voters would have to be stupid,
    ( which is exactly what the powers that be think we are)
    to use kid gloves of any kind.
    Where is the respect for us when Mr. Morrison without telling us sold about 3 islands around the Barrier Reef to Chinese interests.?
    Where is the respect when our leaders talk rubbish because they don’t know how to be honest.
    Where is the respect and fair treatment when retired politicians still get travel allowance whilst at the same time depriving the disabled and the aged of services.
    Where is the respect when they feel they are entitled to rides in private jets whilst the rest of us suffer service cutbacks?

    COME ON ……. they should be given the respect they deserve …which in NONE !

  13. Christine Farmer

    I have never understood why progressives feel they should need to pussyfoot around the views of conservatives, but over the years I have encountered many instances of this. I consider my views as valid as anyone else’s (and just as informed as those of most people).

    “The ABC is biased”. “Schools don’t teach properly”. “Unions have far too much power” are the sort of sweeping statements made by conservatives. If you ask for examples, “everybody knows” is often the answer. If you disagree, you’re being difficult, childish, you’re uninformed, etc.

    It seems that the conservative viewpoint is to be considered as correct, everything else is an aberration, not worth discussing. I have friends who will change the subject rather than press their own view because “I don’t want to upset her”, or “I’ll never change her mind”.

    Any thoughts on why this seems to happen so often?

  14. Ella

    Christine , Perhaps it is because we have been brought up NOT to discuss politics or religion…look where that has got us!

    We have been so timid …afraid even to talk truth to power.

    It is time for us to realise that we have the right to expect;

    Truth from our leaders

    Fair treatment for all not just the well off (negative gearing comes to mind)

    Most importantly they should drop the attitude which tells us
    “do as I say not as I do”

    ie “the age of entitlement is over” for us but not them.

  15. townsvilleblog

    I find myself agreeing again with Ella, and Christine Farmer, the tories try to instill this attitude that ordinary Australians don’t really matter, so in order to “not” be an ordinary Australian, and to have your opinion matter, you need to vote Liberal. This works very well for those with inferiority complexes or are blessed with apathy, (usually approx 50% of the Australian population) but subjects the rest of us to conservative governments, whose main aim to to rob ordinary Australians of any government benefits we currently enjoy.

    To that end I noticed yesterday that they (LNP) have deleted yet another 24 items from the Medicare claims list, as part of their abolition by stealth of Medicare, which at the last election was supposed to be “Mediscare”. They are deleting benefits in all areas every week they are in office, hard won benefits that the Australian “people” fought hard to get, they want to take us back to cassettes and coal, not forward to renewable energy and prosperity. All I can hope for is that at the end of this current regime, Australians will finally wake up and realize that when they vote LNP they vote against themselves and for Rupert Murdoch and the other 1% of the global population who are wealthy beyond our imaginations on what should be money for “our” services.

  16. kerri

    Townsvilleblog not just benefits we fought hard for but benefits we pay taxes for!
    We do not pay taxes to benefit the likes of Gina Rinehart or Twiggy Forrest yet they get way more in dividends than the pensioners who worked all their lives in the belief their taxes would be returned to them as a pension when they retired!

  17. Terry2

    On pension cuts, which are expected to contribute $2.4 billion government coffers and assist the government in their absolute priority to cut corporate taxes, these comments from the ever helpful Tony Abbott yesterday :

    “Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the pension changes that will come into effect from January 1st will hurt many part-pensioners.

    Mr Abbott told 2GB he doesn’t like the pension changes but accepts responsibility for them given it was his government which compromised with the Greens to lower asset thresholds.

    ‘There will certainly be people on part pensions who will be impacted, some quite substantially,’ he said on Friday.

    ‘I’m not saying it’s not going to hurt, it will hurt, it will absolutely hurt, they will have to dip into their savings and the last thing a centre-right government should want to do is hurt aspirational people, people doing the best they can,’ Mr Abbott said.”

    Thank you Tony !

  18. helvityni

    “Perhaps it is because we have been brought up NOT to discuss politics or religion…look where that has got us!

    We have been so timid …afraid even to talk truth to power.”

    Spot on, Ella. I found it weird that people here in Oz did not talk about politics, I never knew where they stood on issues.

    Where I come from, people used to put big photos of their candidates on walls and fences before elections; we knew who voted whom and were still on friendly terms…

    Here on voting days people pick up ‘how to vote’ pamphlets of every party…keep the politics as the secret men’s business…very strange to me…

  19. Robert G. Shaw

    a very sensible article. Thank you.
    I watched on as you navigated those murky and treacherous waters of political correctness, and the eddies of social manners and political debate, with great interest. To be frank, I thought you may have have gone under once or twice. But you didn’t, and stayed afloat to the very end. Well done.
    Something bothered me though. I wasn’t quite sure what it was till I read the post by ‘guest’. Your final question appears to have been taken as some sort of an either/or challenge – respect or toughen up!
    What I’m reading in ‘guest’s’ post, for example, is the angry burst of self righteousness and indignation. Unfortunately it’s left him/her splashing about in the deep end of some really difficult questions.
    To use one of the examples offered, how do we respond to the very real and profoundly consequential question,
    “When Turnbull says we need coal to deliver millions of people from poverty, do we toughen up or get respectful?”
    My guess is that ‘guest’ would say ‘toughen up’.
    But is that the answer? If it is then the job at hand isn’t about considering the elements in your essay; social or discursive courtesy, or the mechanics of political debate, but about education and critical thinking.

    It seems to me that no finer or more direct example of the benefits of a clear, polite, and sensitive approach toward the ‘education’ of one’s political foes, can be found than in Clinton’s recent and disastrous epithet to tens of millions of Americans, ‘basket of deplorables’.
    Unfortunately for us it seems as though that message and its consequences haven’t quite resonated here and if we’re going to discuss issues like ‘facts’, ‘opinions’, ‘garbage’, ‘faulty reasoning’, ‘respect’ etc, I think a good place to start is a long hard look at our own behaviour.
    For as surely, as relentlessly, as uncritically, as we lambast and abuse the Right, each of our forays is inevitable met with an equal one of theirs.
    A good survey of any serious Right blog or editorial will demonstrate that simple fact. What’s necessary, I think, to avoid this purposeless tit for tat is a far more rigourous and critical examination of our own positions and then to default to your simple, elegant ‘and don’t demand respect for your opinions if you’re not giving it….that’s hypocrisy’.
    I really cannot think of another way out of this impasse.

    Again, a thought provoking read.

    The Pathologies of War: Dual Propaganda Campaigns in Reporting on Syria

    Obama quietly signs Orwelllian Ministry of Truth act into Law: Thank you Stupid Liberals

  20. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Thanks Dave Chadwick.

    I like what guest says. Call out every wrong comment – whether deliberate or unconsciously biased – if you feel you can.

    The level of the intent which a malevolent comment is made, is the level of intensity that the response is made.

    Dutton is sailing smugly right now but it is only a small matter of time before that smugness will be wiped off his spiteful face. I doubt he’ll be so chirpy then.

    (BTW, I’m proud of being a Social Justice Warrior. No matter how much he might try to disparage that, he can’t diminish my pride in putting grassroots people’s and the environment’s needs above everything else.)

  21. Robert G. Shaw

    You say you like what “guest” is saying. OK, let me ask you this one question: you cannot get much more “grassroots” than someone in dire “poverty”, right? You then say your focus is in putting “grassroots people’s and the environment’s needs above everything else”, right?
    That being the case how do you, or guest, address their specific needs against your specific wants? That is, how do you resolve the immeasurable contradictions in that equation?

    This is the problem Jennifer. We cannot have it both ways and sometimes we on the Left love to speak in headlines, in mantra’s, in platitudes, in slogans, in jingles, catchphrases, maxim’s and soundbytes, just as easily as anything the Right can muster.
    But that’s just not good enough, is it?

  22. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Robert G. Shaw,

    simple. I don’t necessarily see myself as different from many of the people who are seduced by the lies of the Hansonsites or Trumps. That’s a salient truth that the Left can come to terms with right now.

    Their needs and wants are generally my needs and wants. I identify with their fears for their futures, their desires for job security and reasonable standards of living.

    I identify with their fears of things they hold dear being replaced by things they may not understand, especially if they don’t feel they have had reasonable and accessible input into the decision-making processes for those changes.

    I am fully aware however, that those needs and wants are often influenced by people’s life experiences and circumstances and there is always room for improvement and education to raise their expectations and sensitivities to our human and natural environments.

  23. Robert G. Shaw

    I’m sorry, but that simply is not good enough. You haven’t addressed the question. What you’ve done is offer a generic, even imagined, parallel between yourself and the kinds of people that “guest” mentioned – those in poverty.
    Clearly that’s not you.

    The question that I was asking was meant to be a difficult one, an extremely difficult one. It was meant to disrupt and derange “guest’s” platitudinous comment. It’s effortless to come up with an indignant catch cry like that, it’s what we just spent the last 3 years attacking Abbott for, isn’t it? It’s much more difficult however to conceive and practically express some sort of solution. That’s the point of my posts, and what I imagine was one of the points of this article. If we mimic the Liberals in this regard, and in many cases it’s clear that we do, where do we draw the lines of demarcation? What’s the difference, for example, between “Stop the Boats” and “When Turnbull says the Coalition needs Manus and Nauru to prevent people from drowning, do we toughen up or get respectful?”
    Because from where I’m sitting it’s sometimes hard, very hard, to tell the difference.

    We must clean house before we grumble and denounce the bedlam and treachery of others.
    Otherwise it’s, as mentioned earlier, simple, garden variety, hypocrisy.

  24. Roswell

    Guest struck a chord with me when he/she said:

    “My own feeling is that there is too much utter garbage around and we should call it for what it is.”

    I agree wholeheartedly.

    A couple of years ago I put up an article on The AIMN in response to an article by Larry Pickering about DSP recipients, in particular Muslim recipients. He had thrown some ‘facts and figures’ around, which by checking the legislation and by checking the data on a number of government sites I was able to show his so-called facts were wrong and that he’d claimed a number of falsehoods.

    You could say that I called it for what it was.

    The pity was that the site was flooded with an army of Pickering lovers willing to defend their hero with threats, abuse, and utter filth. His lies were preferred over the truth.

    It reached the point where Michael or someone else pulled the post down.

    The irony is, that if you’re going to call out bullshit, then sometimes you need to toughen up.

  25. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Robert G. Shaw,

    I think guest puts the topic into clear focus of how to approach ordinary people with the simple equations they and we are all faced with daily.

    Asking those questions are great retorts to stupid or misguided comments that frequently arise in everyday conversations.

    Those simple questions then act as springboards to sensible discussions where everybody learns more than they knew before.

    They can also be the origins for more complex problem-solving discussions and planning.

  26. guest

    Thank you, Robert G. Shaw, for looking a bit more closely at my post.

    You take one example of an issue I raise. That is, the matter of coal to the world. I prefer to splash about in the deep end rather than run through the shallows. In your criticism you you say that I have not considered the “elements” in the essay; viz, “social or discursive courtesy, or the mechanics of political debate” and therefore have employed “education and critical thinking”.

    Let me point out that there is an addendum to my first question about coal and poverty which appears in the next question about the cost of electricity. That is: What is the cost of cooking the planet?

    I point this out because the matter has been discussed widely and deeply. Turnbull claims to be concerned about Climate Change but believes the Coalition plan to reduce emissions is sufficient. He wants to help Adani to develop the Carmichael mine, despite the fact it will lead to the burning of millions of tonnes of coal per year. It is a policy which blows apart the Paris commitment.

    Besides that, the Adani company has its own problems – and one of them is that India is reducing the use of coal and is turning to renewables. Coal is becoming redundant.

    As well, the Adani mine further threatens the Great Barrier Reef and the health of people adjacent to Adani developments.

    All of this and more has been discussed widely and deeply. So I am “angry” and “indignant” – but “self-righteous”? No, there are many, many people who reject the idea of “growth and development” at any cost. And there are those who know far more than I do who agree and who speak up but are drowned in the white noise and static of political discussion.

    I agree with Naomi Klein (“This Changes Everything” p. 459); “During extraordinary historical moments…Activists were, quite simply, everyone.” No pussy-footing around.

    So I invite you politely, Robert, to look at any of the issues I have raised briefly in my post, and to tell me why I should not be indignant and angry about the way they are or have been treated so badly by our political masters.

  27. Robert G. Shaw

    I also agree, broadly, with that particular statement. True, there are a few pesky things to work through first – facts, supporting evidence, argument etc, but once that’s sorted, then go for it!
    What I was specifically referring to were the instances of spouting the easy catchphrase without even bothering with the “how”.

    @Jennifer, I can’t tell if you’re being evasive or whether you genuinely cannot understand my question.
    I’ll try one last time. After this I really don’t know how else to express my question.

    For example, do you remember everyone on the Left criticizing Abbott for his “stop the boats” mantra? I bet you were one of them. We all were. Do you remember everyone asking the “how” question – how will it be done, how will it work, how will it help the refugees, how will it address our own moral and political concerns or agendas?
    Remember those? They were screamed from every blog, editorial, conversation, and argument at the time. Do you recall? I certainly do.

    Well, we’re now full circle – if guest (sorry guest, nothing personal) says
    “When Turnbull says we need coal to deliver millions of people from poverty, do we toughen up or get respectful?”, he had better, WE had better, have some kind of answer to that, otherwise we are no different to Abbott, the Liberal apologists, and anyone else who thinks that these extremely complicated questions can be dismissed with the flick of an insipid catch-cry.

    Millions upon millions of people are dying of poverty – coal and the electricity and the essential services it brings, are the only lifeline they’ve got, not just to survive another day, but to begin to hope for a future beyond the day after.
    “Getting tough” on Turnbull regarding fossil fuel policy and climate change effectively means, and there’s no sugar coating it, that you consign these people to death. Now we can talk about climate change and the death of the planet till that very doomsday, however it doesn’t address the plight of these poor souls one bit.

    So, we’re back were we started – “How do you resolve the immeasurable contradictions in that equation?”
    Can you answer that one question?

    Or is simply talking “tough”, for nothing more than its own sake, the extent of our capabilities?

    Thanks for responding. (I just saw your post after having written responses to Roswell and Jennifer. Some of what I’m about to write will be an re-emphasis).
    Let me say from the outset that my criticism of your approach is not a personal one – it’s just one based on argument and debate.
    I read your post and could see that you too have not understood the source of my criticism (perhaps the fault is with my expression, sorry if it is).
    By all means let rip on every single instance of abuse of privilege and position, rail hard and loud against the endless fictions and deceit, raise your voice against the betrayal of principle, and the insincerity of political policy and sound byte.
    I see this as a fundamental right within our democratic society to do just that – to hold these buggers accountable every day, not just every election cycle, to their every public utterance. It is their job to work in the interests of the public good at every instance.
    So yes, you should be, we all should be, very angry and indignant.

    What we should not be, I believe, is casual with our criticism or flippant, offhanded, or dismissive, with the expression of our anger. By that I mean, if you’re going to attack Turnbull on his fossil fuel policy, and please do, and use emotive rhetorical examples like “millions of people from poverty” and , “cost of cooking the planet?” then you must offer some kind of serious response to the implications of your statement (see my response to Jennifer) otherwise you, we, end up in the place we say we despise – Liberal doublespeak and deceit.

    That’s my criticism of several statements in your initial post, and that’s why I thought to join them with my thoughts on key aspects of the article itself.

    Best wishes for the holiday season to all.

  28. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    anything I say or support in other people’s comments, comes with an expressed or implied expectation that there must be a reasonable and realistic plan to accompany the statement. I agree making nebulous statements is unsatisfactory.

    Therefore in answer to your example of anti-coal sentiment, I accept that we are in a transition period from total dependence on coal and other dirty fossil fuels – and realistically this will be the case for some time yet.

    However, I also am aware that India is actually moving away from fossil fuels and that both India and China are positively encouraging renewable energy industries to formulate because of their accessible resources of wind and sun and the relatively smooth delivery of renewable energies to their peoples in domestic small scales.

    So, I choose to support positive approaches to advocating for raised awareness of how renewable energies are the way of the future that can include the needs of all people of all socio-economic demographics.

    You might want to read a wider selection of my comments of how I seek to find ways to problem-solve on topics that concern me such as my micro-financing advocacy for unemployed and under-employed people in the forms of Micro Finance Grants (MFGs) and Micro Credit Loans (MCLs) which should be fully accessible, affordable and sustainable, so that these vulnerable people can escape the drudgery of unemployment and poverty and develop their own self-employment with their own micro-businesses.

    Such MFGs ($10-15k) and MCLs ($20-30k) must be considerable, government-backed and over and above Newstart for reasonable lengths of time, so people have reasonable opportunity to establish their enterprises while also feeding and housing themselves.

  29. Ella

    Robert G Shaw
    “It’s much more difficult to conceive and practically express some sort of a solution”

    With regards to “Stop the boats”…etc….the solution is simple especially when you ask the question “is what we are doing ethical?”
    If you have no ethical values in your policy stance you are then forced into playing wedge politics. If the party is one of character
    with an ethical basis for their policy then it should either be accepted or rejected on its merrit.

    But that is NOT how politic is played is it?

    I thought that the Labor policies that they put forward at the time of the last election had ‘conceived’ and ‘practically expressed…solutions’
    If what you claim is what happens in the real world…then…why is Labor not the government today?

    How can you explain the victory of Abbott over Labor ?

    My not so educated observation is that there is more than practical solutions… there is an interplay between a parties practical solutions ,
    their presentation, how their solutions are perceived by the people and the all important media that distorts or affirms the solution.
    That being so Labor failed in the presentation aided and abetted by the media.

    There is nothing wrong with talking truth to power… nothing wrong with taking off the kid gloves…..can this become a mirror that reflects the reality of the people that they are supposed to represent? …..especially if the same message is being repeated over and over again?

    Guest ,Jennifer, Roswell I stand with you.

  30. Kaye Lee

    The boats haven’t stopped and nor have the deaths. We have just made them someone else’s problem.

    We have slashed the number of refugees we take and closed applications from Indonesia to come legitimately.

    We have tortured, tormented, neglected and been complicit in the deaths of many asylum seekers if you count the suicides as well.

    So this has been no sort of a solution. It has been a cowardly despicable deliberate abrogation of any responsibility to help.

    Despite being told that the Special Investor Visa is being used by criminals to launder money, the government is announcing far and wide that temporary visas are bringing in terrorists.

    On the lifting people out of poverty/energy question, the majority of the poor in India would not benefit from coal fired power but there are advances being made in off grid solar energy.

    I agree we must offer solutions rather than just aims but truth is important.

  31. guest

    You are right, Roger. I did not understand the source of your criticism.In fact, it appears to me that you actually agree with what I have said, but you seem to accuse me of being “casual” in my criticism, “flippant, offhanded, or dismissive” while at the same time allowing anger and indignation. I see my simple questions as far, far away from “Liberal doublespeak and deceit”.

    I am offended that you think I am heading in that direction. In fact, I set out to explode Coalition doublespeak.

    I thought I was being specific about the issues and allowing readers to make up their own minds about responses. I was not offering solutions. Besides, the issues I have mentioned have been discussed at length by many people in many publications and continue to be.

    As for the phrases “millions of people from poverty” and “cooking the planet”, they are not my words. One is from a mantra of supporters of the fossil fuel industry, the other from their opponents.

    There was no need for me to clutter up my post with attempted solutions to every problem. Other people are doing that. You have your list of sources; I mentioned Naomi Klein as one of mine.

    When I look at your responses to Roswell and Jennifer above, you come up with some strange solutions. For example, Abbott’s “solution” to the refugee problem seems to have your approval because he answered the question “how” – and the result is a hideous nightmare.

    As for the solution to poverty, you seem to think coal is the only solution – yet coal is in decline as an energy source.

    Quite frankly, with apologies, I am confused about what you think – even after your lengthy missives.

  32. Sean Stinson

    I don’t find ‘progressives’ selectively sensitive as much as intellectually dishonest. Putting Trump, Hanson and Brexit in the same basket is a case in point.

  33. Roswell

    Sean, maybe you don’t see Dave’s point. Those three are merely examples. The same question – Who do you blame when it all goes wrong? – could have been asked if Shorten had have won, if Clinton had have won, if Brexit got a ‘No’ vote, if King Joffrey had have married the Stark girl.

    Is it OK to have Brexit and Joffrey in the same sentence?

  34. Miriam English

    Robert, perhaps you were merely trying to illustrate something (I’m sorry, but I don’t exactly understand what) with some poorly picked examples.

    As Kaye mentioned the stopping the boats move was an unmitigated disaster. Not only did it never actually stop the boats, it cruelly, inhumanely swept the problem under the carpet and broke our international human rights promises.

    Also, coal saving the poor is a lie propagated by the crooks in power in order to make it seem that digging the stuff up will benefit more than themselves and their rich mates. In fact the poor generally don’t have access to the electrical grid in India, or anywhere else. They don’t benefit from coal. But they do benefit from programs that spread solar power, such as in Bangladesh and in some countries in Africa, where people who have never had access to electricity are able to do so with the help of low cost solar panels.

    So, I’m sorry I don’t understand what you’re getting at, but i believe digging at actual facts rather than accepting politicians’ statements at their face value tends to yield good results, because politicians are far too inclined to lie.

    So, to ask Dave’s original question again, should we toughen up or be respectful? I say neither. We should stick to the truth and insist our politicians do too. Don’t listen to people who say the truth is relative. It isn’t. It is out there, can be approached, and often be clearly defined. That is what we should be aiming for.

    We should call out lies when we hear them. The are proving to be the great new danger of the 21st Century.

    What about when we face people who are not interested in the truth? I don’t really have any answer there.

  35. silkworm

    Robert G. Shaw says he is of the Left, but then discloses that he thinks that imprisoning people on Nauru and Manus are saving others from drowning, and that selling coal to India will save the starving millions there. He also posts links decrying “political correctness” and “stupid liberals.” Him no Leftie at all. Him a Neoliberal wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  36. Sean Stinson

    Selling coal to India helps the starving in the same way that war creates jobs. Of course the money spent on defence contracts could also be spent to train doctors. Hollow argument really.

  37. Terry2

    Information on boat turnbacks is very difficult to access because it is inconvenient so the government just don’t tell us anything.

    We have to rely on reports mainly from Indonesia – this from November 2015: Sixteen asylum seekers whose boat was pushed back to sea by the Royal Australian Navy last week were found stranded near West Kupang in Indonesia on Thursday night.
    These asylum seekers were evidently en route to New Zealand when they were turned around by Australian officials and had it not been for prompt action by Indonesian officials their lives could have been at risk as they were out of fuel.

    In a functioning democracy all such government authorised actions should be fully transparent, this is where the problem lies ; we are being kept in ignorance of what our government is doing in our name: there is no public accountability.

  38. Sean Stinson

    Nailed it Terry. There is no democracy here. We live under a fascist oligarchy. As for OSB, I’d like to know whose brainchild that was – don’t see Abbott as having the mental acuity. Whatever the case our treatment of asylum seekers is to our eternal shame. More broadly, the problem is not whether we open or close our borders to these desperate souls, but whether we continue to participate in imperialism/colonialism which drives them from their homes in the first place! In the absence of a functioning democracy it seems we have no choice in the matter. The same goes for how we address climate change and global poverty.

  39. Kaye Lee

    Retired General Jim Molan is discredited with being the architect of OSB. He was then gifted the job of Special Envoy during which time he did nothing. They then gifted him a job working on the defence white paper until he had a hissy fit and quit after a few weeks, Then he ran unsuccessfully for the Senate, and now he seems to enjoy the job of warmongering panellist on any tv show who’ll have him.

  40. Sean Stinson

    Ahh yes, used to see his ugly mug on the telly quite a bit. One of the reasons I stopped watching the wretched thing. Cant say I’ve missed it.

  41. Kaye Lee

    Speaking of democracy…..

    The Liberal Party’s failure to get retired major general and popular conservative candidate Jim Molan elected is a “tragedy for our country”, according to former prime minister Tony Abbott.

    Mr Molan was pushed to the unwinnable 7th position on the Coalition’s NSW Senate ticket but received 10,182 first preference votes, the second highest number out of the 12 Liberal and National Party candidates.

    Only Defence Minister Marise Payne, who was number one on the Senate ticket, received a higher number with 39,108 votes.

    Four sitting Coalition MPs — Fiona Nash, Arthur Sinodinos, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and John Williams — received much fewer votes than Mr Molan but were re-elected because of where they sat on the Senate ticket.

    “This is a tragedy for our country and for our party,” Mr Abbott told 2GB radio.

    “There are few better men than Jim Molan. He commanded some quarter of a million soldiers in Iraq, the Americans trusted him to the extent that they made him a senior operational on the ground commander. This guy’s commanded more soldiers than any Australian general since World War II and he wasn’t good enough to be higher up our ticket because he didn’t fit the factional mould.

    “This is just wrong, it’s just wrong.”

  42. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Rabid drools over anything that has occupied a military uniform hence his angst over moron Molan’s failure to gain a senate seat.

  43. Sean Stinson


  44. Sue

    Some keen insights Kim –

    Who do you blame when it all goes wrong?

    If only we could get “our politicians to stick to the facts with a healthy dose of respect for variations in interpretation from all sides”.

    The system is how it is, politicians are assigned a public role to act out after each Election. The power of their position is limited by unelected lobbyists who dictate this or that policy is the way to go. Politicians have no real free will if they wish to remain employed. They’re slaves to their desire to tolerate comprises.

    What to say to someone who has no free will when that person wouldn’t believe such a suggestion?
    Each person must arrive at their own understanding in their own good time. Open learning is the way.

    More intelligent debate will enter Parliament, most likely after the electorate is streets ahead of them.
    One alternative is that there will be a top-down flowering of intelligence from the elite.
    Or maybe both simultaneously.
    Or maybe neither.

    PS, Happy New Year all.

  45. Kim Southwood

    Thanks Sue.

    I do understand the power of the lobbyists and the corporations egging them on with handsome incentives. I agree that intelligent debate will enter Parliament only when the hidden interests manipulating policy makers are called out as enemies of democracy and the public at large are made to understand this.

    It is a vast educational undertaking, but worth the effort… over time. Making the machinations of our political system more transparent is a start.

    I love the ideas that get tossed around in this forum – wish I had more time to engage. But I do suffer from “Big Picture-itis” which can make my contributions seem a bit Utopian or theoretical. What we need most is solutions.

    Happy 2017 to you and all.

  46. mark delmege

    while on the subject
    Asad Salameh …
    2016 was not a good year for Palestinians, according to a new report, issued by the PLO, the israeli occupation forces executed 134 Palestinians, including 33 children, and injured over 3,200 so far this year, most of the murders took place at Israeli military checkpoints, which are designed to restrict the movement of Palestinians and enforce an apartheid system. In addition, israel declared plans to build over 27,000 illegal settlement units on stolen Palestinian land, including more than 19,000 units in Jerusalem, a 57% increase from 2015. The report also alludes to the increase in Jewish settler’s violence, confiscation of Palestinian homes and land, and the demolition of 1023 homes. According to the report, more than 7,000 Palestinians were arrested/kidnaped, including 1,200 children, as well as the uprooting of more than 6,500 olive trees, some over 2,000 years old. In addition to tightening the noose on Gaza, the largest open prison in human history.

  47. Robert G. Shaw

    Perhaps I read a different Chadwick article to the one read by my detractors.
    Or maybe they just need to re-read my posts a little more carefully and try very hard not make the easy assumption.

    My simple point was obviously not so simple.
    I read “guests” first post as a declaration of a double barrelled question – of intent and prescription – respect or toughen up!
    I thought his examples, one of which was about coal/poverty, far too complex to be reduced to a simple mantra of talking tough to Turnbull. That’s why I likened it to that equally dull and reductionist bleat “Stop the Boats”.
    I thought that was simple. Apparently not.

    if you don’t understand why I put up those links up in reference to this article then I can’t help you.
    Put your slurs and assumptions away, they make you appear (even more) foolish.

    Hollow argument?
    Well that depends on your perspective, doesn’t it?,8599,2096602,00.html

    + hundreds more.

    My point – whilst we debate the fossil fuel/climate change issue from the comforts of our heated and air conditioned homes, drinking a cup of just brewed tea or a cold beer from the fridge, while surfing the net from our MacBook, planning an OS holiday or a 4WD escapade through Tasmania or the Daintree, the kids have left the lights on again, and someone left the door open and the air con is on…. whilst some of us vent our righteous indignation at Turnbull’s CC policy from the luxury of a keyboard, how about we spare a thought, maybe even a few lumps of coal and few amps of our fossil fueled lives, to those who may be dead tomorrow without it?

    Hollow argument?
    Not to my mind.

    I’ll support the idea of coal for those who need it till the day arrives that you can furnish something better, immediately. Till that time let’s let them live a day longer, shall we?
    Sounds fair to me.

  48. Miriam English

    Robert, I have a friend who grew up in Zambia. She returns every few years to spend time with family and friends for several months. Whever she comes back to Australia she’s full of stories about how terribly unreliable the mains electricity is and how many people there are using solar power for small devices and their homes. A lot of developing countries are stepping away from mains power for the most poor (and even for the more affluent) and moving over to solar power. Brazil has been distributing solar panels to the poorest people to allow them access to the benefits of electricity previously denied them. The same is true in Bangladesh, which I believe now leads the world in number of solar powered homes. The whole “coal for the poor” mantra is a mislead. People who are caught up in the same old way of thinking excuse coal-powered generators with this rationale. It may have had some relevence a decade or two ago, but the world has changed.

  49. Robert G. Shaw

    Miriam, I take your point.
    However, that’s not what I’m referring to at the moment.
    The question, to me, was the ease with which some of us fossil fueled Westerners seek to determine the livelihoods of others less fortunate than us; those billions less able to make those sorts of determinations for their own lives.

    Your point only makes sense, moral sense, if we do one of two things:
    one, provide them with renewables immediately, as in the next 2 minutes, or two, give them coal so that they may live another day.

    Anything short of that means that we’ve lost both our perspective and our humanity.
    Anything short of that means that we fetishise the dull mantra bleating of (insert your bugbear here).
    Both are incredibly shameful.

  50. Miriam English

    Robert, if there were some poor people whose survival depends upon coal from Australia then that might be the case, but there is a worldwide glut in coal. Nobody, and certainly no poor people, depend upon our coal. Many of the world’s poorest people don’t have access to an electricity grid. Solar panels are solving this problem. There certainly is no need for Australia’s coal.

    By mining our coal we are saying to people in low-lying countries, like Bangladesh and many Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean countries that they matter less than our ability to make a quick buck from coal. Drowning their countries is not as important as making Australia, already one of the wealthiest countries, even wealthier. That is reprehensible.

  51. Terry2

    You’re right Miriam. I have seen remote villages in Papua New Guinea who, with small solar generators are able to power their mobile phones (PNG has an amazing mobile phone network) and charge rechargeable batteries for any number of devices including lighting : these people will never be able to afford or have access to the electricity grid.

    Similar considerations apply to India and other third world countries where coal powered power stations and a poles and wire infrastructure are just not economically viable.

  52. Robert G. Shaw

    again, I understand what you’re saying. But whilst we’re on this trajectory,

    and until you can provide immediate and efficacious alternatives I say let them have coal.

    Ours is a first world concern. Theirs an immediate mortal one. They’re not concerned with the death of the planet on some contested and hypothetically projected time frame, but on their own very real and impending death.
    I really cannot understand the Left’s uncompromising and unethical response to this very simple equation.

  53. Miriam English

    Robert, the only unethical responseis your conflating decreased Australian coal production with killing poor people. Well, there is also your omission of the fact that increased coal use dooms low-lying nations to drowning.

    Did you read the article you linked to? China was previously committed to a massive acceleration of coal-based power production, however they’ve backed off tremendously from that after realising the massive number of deaths it causes by its toxic air pollution. China has moved more strongly than any other country to renewable energy. The brake is firmly on coal use, but because you can’t just switch an industry off overnight it will take some time. This is why China is continuing to use coal.

    The fact that China and USA have cancelled a lot of coal powered generators and are planning no new ones (as far as I know) means there is a world glut of coal. The glut will be even worse in a couple of years when India’s planned ban of coal imports comes into effect. The glut is so bad and difficulties in selling the stuff so great that several of the biggest coal companies in the world went broke in the last couple of years. 2016 was a particularly big year for coal company bankruptcies.

    Let me put it plainly:

    There are no poor people anywhere in the world who would be hurt if Australia miraculously ceased all coal mining and exports tomorrow.

  54. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear Miriam.

  55. Miriam English

    I should remind you also that coal kills large numbers of people right now, every day. It is the cause of the dangerously toxic smog that infamously so often shrouds Beijing. Also we can’t ignore the miners who die every year, not only from cave-ins, but black-lung. Are these people not worth consideration?

    As for your statement that we should mine coal “until you can provide immediate and efficacious alternatives”, then by that account coal use should cease immediately as we have those alternatives. Solar power can be set up on a house in an afternoon. That’s immediate and efficacious and being increasingly adopted by poor communities throughout the world. Large, centralised, solar power plants take some months (as opposed to years for a coal power plant). Wind power plants take some weeks to build. That’s pretty immediate.

    It seems you would twist yourself into knots with specious arguments to justify the coal industry. I’m curious to know why.

  56. LOVO

    India is moving rapidly away from coal and will stop imports soon and will not be building more power plants after 2022. They have also put building on hold at plants that have been approved. They have closed or partially closed power stations across India because of lack of water and this has caused a glut in coal as coal contracts still have to be honoured.
    It is ironic that the closures happen because Climate Change is impacting on the third pole as glaciers dwindle and droughts continue.
    Selling coal to India won’t be happening any time soon and building more coal mines won’t help anyone, especially the poor or the neo-poor ( those that own those increasingly stranded assets).

  57. Robert G. Shaw

    Ahh Miriam, exhibiting the morality of the privileged!
    Look, there are far too many fallacies, assumptions, and general nuisance misdirection’s in your post for me to either deal with, or even to take seriously for that matter. Far too many. I was especially taken by the strawman you saw fit to not only emphasise in bold font, in your 11.51am post, but also to preface it with the stern caveat, “let me put it plainly”.
    I’m not interested in fallacies Miriam, peddle them somewhere else.

    Allow me to redirect back to my point using your own words: “The brake is firmly on coal use, but because you can’t just switch an industry off overnight it will take some time. This is why China is continuing to use coal.”
    Yes Miriam, it certainly does take time, so whilst it’s “taking time” how about we give these poor souls a few lumps of coal so that they may live another day?
    Whaddya say? Surely that’s not too much to ask for from a resident of a first world country enjoying every single fruit of those yucky, pesky, fossil fuels, is it?

    I think you should concentrate less on my alleged “specious arguments” and more on Liberal and progressive ethics, (and comprehension).

    You’ve never seen people suffering in the vice grip of mortal poverty, have you Miriam?
    It is an inconsolable sight. I made my bargain many years ago– yes, I would lose a few years of this earth’s life to spare those living, those suffering, now.
    But you can, by all means, carry on the tough and sacrificial work of blogging over a cup of tea, with your highly consequential and rousing anti-coal, anti-big business, anti-neoliberal, or any other variant of immoral social justice, privileged and self-entitled, fulminating. Those dying for your cause will, no doubt, thank you in their final breath.

  58. corvus boreus

    Robert G Shaw,
    The immediate consequences of the observed shifts in climate and weather (generally warmer and often wilder), with attendant sea rise (both from hydrological thermal expansion and polar/glacial melts) are all too often of immediate and mortal concern for the poorer people of India (and elsewhere).

  59. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Robert G. Shaw,

    perhaps you would like to enlighten me on how you would sensibly fade out filthy coal and CO2 polluting gas in the quickest time while immediately increasing solar, wind and other renewable energy sites to take over the burden of energy provision?

  60. Robert G. Shaw

    @corvus, I understand that. It is not a complex thought that needs iterating at every post.

    I’ll make this is as simple as humanly possible: you worry about the lapping waves that will drown them soon enough and I’ll worry about what will kill them now.
    How’s that?

    Surely the preservation of life now eclipses the dangers of tomorrow.

    If you, Miriam or anyone else for that matter answer “no” to that question, then this debate is not about coal at all; it’s about the ethics of our Left ideology, and how we go about expressing them.

    Now, if you would like to have that conversation then I’m more than happy to oblige. That offer extends to anyone who views my ideas as somehow “specious”, suspect, adrift, or just plain wrong.

  61. Robert G. Shaw

    can I ask you – have you seen extreme poverty up close?
    If you have could you tell me about it?

  62. Miriam English

    Robert, I guess you admit failure of your argument by saying I’m wrong, but being unable to point out why.

    You ask Corvus if he’s seen extreme poverty close up. How on Earth does that relate to knowing that it exists and is urgent? I’ve never seen a nuclear warhead, but I know the terrible and immediate threat of such weapons. You are trying to mislead. Naughty, naughty.

    I reiterate. There is NO person anywhere in the world whose life is threatened by lack of Australian coal.

    There are plenty of people whose lives are lost because of coal (toxic pollution, cave-ins, black-lung). And plenty of people’s livelihoods are threatened by inundation of low-lying cities and countries, as well as their actual lives during storms (the storms, as well as increasing in severity and frequency with global warming also cause worse water rise due to the low-pressure swells).

    The danger of climate change is NOT contested by any knowledgeable person — it is a genuine problem that we must face now or condemn future generations to. They will have to contend with increased wildfires, increased drought, increased storms, increased crop failures… and all the deaths that result. But of course none of that matters to you. Your imaginary person whose life today supposedly hangs on Australian coal-generated electricity overwhelms all that.

  63. corvus boreus

    ‘Robert G Shaw’,
    Having never traveled intercontinentally, I have not personally seen extreme/mortal poverty up close, not like that suffered by refugees from coastal villages when they are washed away by stronger storm surges from rising seas (hyper-hydrology), or from valley communities swept away by increasingly ferocious floods from rapidly melting glaciers, nor seen the starvation caused by droughts from the drying of inland areas.
    I have seen some pretty poor conditions in semi-remote communities, but would not care to share any annecdotes.

  64. Miriam English

    Jennifer, Robert doesn’t want to phase out coal to allow transition to renewable energy. He wants coal. His argument is framed entirely around the idea that some mythical person will die if we don’t mine coal.

  65. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes, Miriam, I gathered that but I just thought I’d exact a detailed explanation out of him while he was revealing that about himself.

  66. Robert G. Shaw

    Thank you corvus, I appreciate your need to remain mute. I thought I’d ask anyway.

    If I can, I have seen it. I saw it first in ’89, ’92, ’95, and on seven occasions since.
    It is a profound sight that calls to severe, and often catastrophic, task each and every single thought on the nature of our very human predicament – politically, socially, philosophically, ideologically, morally.

    So I say to you again – “you worry about the lapping waves that will drown them soon enough and I’ll worry about what will kill them now.
    Surely the preservation of life now eclipses the dangers of tomorrow.

    I can’t really say anything more on this matter. My challenge for a conversation on Left ethics stands.

    Speaking of which,

    @ Miriam,

    I consider your comments an insult. Furthernore I consider your cowardice at refusing my challenge in light of your insults utterly pitiful.

    I have no time, and even less respect, for your particular brand of morality, not to mention your horrific comprehension skills.
    I counted eleven logical/discursive errors in your 3:52 pm & 4:01 pm posts.
    You are, your arguments are, the logical embodiment of nearly everything I see wrong with the Left.

    I despise your clan as much as I do those on the Right. Perhaps even more so, at least those on the Right remain honourable to their ideological ballast.

    Disgraceful logic, disgraceful politics, disgraceful morality.
    “But you can, by all means, carry on the tough and sacrificial work of blogging over a cup of tea, with your highly consequential and rousing anti-coal, anti-big business, anti-neoliberal, or any other variant of immoral social justice, privileged and self-entitled, fulminating. Those dying for your cause will, no doubt, thank you in their final breath.”

  67. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Robert G. Shaw,

    if your political views are identified as from the Left, I’ll bite my bum.

  68. Robert G. Shaw

    would you like fries with that?

  69. Roswell

    Robert, you said you were insulted by Miriam, yet you then handed out more insults than a person would care to count. Is that necessary?

  70. corvus boreus

    ‘Robert G Shaw’,
    Thank you for sharing your own roll call of the years that you spent witnessing extreme poverty, although it lacked any details of place, the environmental or social conditions contributing to the poverty, nor the nature of your own involvement, but there is no need to share any such details.
    Your casual dismissal of the increasing impacts of sea rise and glacial melts upon coastal and riverine communities (happening now, by the way) is duly noted.

  71. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Robert G. Shaw,

    do you think Peter Dutton should go to The Hague for Crimes Against Humanity for his reprehensible treatment of people escaping the devastation of war which incidentally includes starvation and which you allege to care so much about?

    I suspect you won’t bother to answer so I’ll put it to you you’re a dud Dutton apparatchik, or some such sorely misguided person, and you decided to come here to have some fun. Problem is you don’t have any answers to reasonable questions about why filthy coal shouldn’t go immediately and why filthy coal sites like Carmichael should be refused to Adani.

  72. Kaye Lee

    India’s population of 1.24 billion comprises 247 million households, 68% of whom live in rural villages. According to the 2011 Census, 45% of these rural households — 75 million— have no electricity. Of urban households, 6 million remain without electricity, or about 8% of the total.

    These figures have not changed appreciably since 2001, though around 95,000 MW of new largely coal-based electricity generation capacity was added during the intervening decade.

    In other words, the benefits of adding new generation capacity accrued largely to the existing, affluent consumers.

    There are a number of reasons why this is the case.

    In the rural areas, many remote villages are beyond the reach of the electricity grid. There are also many families in electrified villages who cannot pay for expensive electricity. Studies have shown that when a village is more than 5 km from the grid, the cost of supplying electricity from solar and other off-grid solutions is far below the costs of supplying from conventional sources such as coal. This is due to the high cost of building out the poles and wires to provide access to coal electricity and the technical losses involved in transmitting and distributing electricity to the consumers.

    In the urban areas, in addition to affordability, the constraints on the poor accessing coal power include the absence of firm ownership rights to the houses in which the families reside and the unsafe condition of the houses itself.

    It is therefore simplistic and simply inaccurate to assume that new electricity generation capacity added to the grid will automatically reduce electricity deprivation among the poor.

    There is also a growing public opposition to industrial projects, especially large centralised power plants, whether coal-based, hydro or nuclear, as they uproot thousands of families from their lands, pollute their environment and disrupt their lives. Upstream, coal and uranium mining activities are equally destructive.

    Burning coal, whether local or imported, generates large quantities of fly ash containing toxic pollutants like lead, zinc, arsenic, cadmium, sulfur, mercury and radioactive uranium/ thorium isotopes, which adversely affect the health of the people near the power stations, often the rural poor, whose disadvantage is worsened by these health impacts.

    Abbott wrong to say Australian coal will help Indian poor

  73. Miriam English

    Robert, I’m glad you brought up bad logic.

    You present the choice of preserving life today vs preserving life tomorrow. It isn’t a binary choice.

    You suggest that unless someone has immediate experience of extreme poverty then they can’t empathise with those suffering from it. That isn’t so.

    You want us to believe that it is a moral imperative to sell Australian coal because stopping it will supposedly kill impoverished people… somewhere. You are reluctant to give any evidence of this, being satisfied to merely repeat your assertion and sneer at any disagreement, no matter what counter evidence is given.

    You say that some unspecified person or people could die from lack of Australian coal, yet won’t acknowledge the documented deaths of people from pollution from coal power plants and the deaths of miners. And you dismiss concerns about future deaths from coal-driven climate change.

    Lastly, you think you know who I am. Your suggestion that I’m some kind of latte-sipping, comfortable, middle-class, armchair revolutionary is so very wrong, but even if I was, your attempted character assassination still doesn’t invalidate my criticism of your statement. If anything it makes your argument less plausible.

    Robert, it’s entirely understandable that you can be sucked into the propaganda about coal being good for poor people. There’s no shame in that, but for goodness sake, give it up.

  74. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    I’m beginning to think you are too reasonable for Robert to handle since Robert just wants a fight.

  75. Miriam English

    I just went through re-reading the entire conversation.

    As near as I can work out, Robert feels that the Left (and I think he includes the Right in this too) can be criticised for thinking they can hand out moral judgements on what the poor in other countries should do without looking at what they need to do in order to survive. I agree with him in this. It seems to be human nature and we should always be careful to avoid doing it.

    Unfortunately he then picked a terrible example to illustrate it: coal-generated electricity for the poor. This confused the whole point as several people (including me) tried to show him this was wrong. But he futilely stuck to his point, and even became abusive when he felt threatened by it. A pity. (I regret I made matters worse by being rather pointed in my ridicule of his “imaginary” person.)

    Anyway, this is what I think happened. It’s a little hard to tell sometimes exactly what Robert means, and he seems understandably frustrated when others don’t catch his meaning immediately. He may even be correct that my comprehension is a little askew lately — the hot days have shifted my sleep patterns to vampire’s hours, so it’s possible.

  76. Roswell

    I think your comprehension is just fine, Miriam and you articulate your message well.

    Nobody expects a comment to be of the standard of a PhD thesis.

  77. Robert G. Shaw

    I don’t feel any moral obligation toward someone who not only misrepresents my views over the course of a number of posts, but peppers them with insults of her own.

    I had presumed that you would grant me the same courtesy I afforded you over your decision to stay quiet about your experiences. It seems my presumption was mistaken.

    Yes, I absolutely insist that you ‘duly note’ my prioritising lives now, as opposed to lives later.
    In return, I ‘duly note’ your indifference.

    To me this an existential choice of very simple design, either we choose to save them now, or we abandon them. Either way let us make the call and be honourable enough not to equivocate with some petit-bourgeoise moralising. To my mind it’s as simple as that, and no amount of Western rationalising or ethical tap dancing is going to change that.
    These people cannot wait for us to finish playing our immeasurably politicised, debased and poisonous wrangling over coal, climate change, rising sea temperatures, ozone layers, CO2 levels 400,000 years ago, weather patterns, hockey sticks, hotter summers, methane, etc.

    I am well aware, very well aware, of the deleterious nature of continued fossil fuel use. That has never been in discussion nor has it been in doubt.

    @ my detractors,
    may I remind you to go back over my posts and carefully note the crux of my argument. Read the words written and not the ones you imagine to be there.
    That argument is a moral one, not a climate denial one, not one born of ignorance as to either the horrors of continued use, or the science of the efficacy of renewables.
    It is a moral one.

    you’re doing it again. Please stop misrepresenting my views!
    I’ve read just 2 sentences that are accurate and the rest simply are of your own invention. 2 sentences out of how many, 100? You expect me to continue a conversation with those shambolic odds?

    You are arguing with someone, that much is clear, but it certainly isn’t with me.

  78. Roswell

    Robert, are you saying that it’s OK for you to insult someone?

  79. Kaye Lee

    I am well aware, very well aware, of the deleterious nature of continued fossil fuel use. That has never been in discussion nor has it been in doubt.”

    Jolly good.

    Now how about addressing what I wrote about. As various people have been trying to point out, the coal-fired power doesn’t get to the poor people of India.

    What’s more, Adani are being investigated for artificially inflating the price of coal by sending the invoices through Singapore. They are ripping off the government and any of the poor people who happen to live close enough to a power station to actually get on the grid assuming they can afford the inflated bills. What if they don’t own the house? What if it is so ramshackle that connecting electricity is not safe? What if the power station’s pollution ruins their small bit of land or its water supply?

    What of the thousands of people who are displaced when these power stations are built?

    You are usually good at addressing issues raised by others. Your comment to me was a fob off that totally ignored the points from the article I linked to.

    December 20: “India’s new draft National Electricity Plan for the two five year periods to 2027 unambiguously concludes that beyond the half-built plants already under construction, India does not require any new coal-fired power stations.

    India is accelerating an already rapid diversification away from coal-fired power generation.

    The 50GW of coal power currently under construction is already largely stranded, with the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) modeling showing none of these plants are required before 2022 and only possibly before 2027. 11GW of end-of-life thermal power plants will also close.

    The 50GW of coal power under construction will barely operate at 50% capacity, according to the new plan. These stranded assets are only moving forward as the government has opted to retain them as reserve capacity rather than write them off now.”

    No new coal fired power plants for India

    Your morality is not based on reality

  80. corvus boreus

    ‘Robert G Shaw’,
    My own limited experience with Aussie-grade poverty is not very relevant to the posted topic. There was a total paucity of any informational details in your own claims of extensive first-hand observation of mortal poverty. Such details are of much more contextual interest than your own emotional reaction to such experiences.
    As for your false dichotomy of current/future priorities, you continue to disregard the fact that people in India are both dying and being displaced at increasing rates due to both storm surges caused by sea rise and floods caused by glacial melts, both of which are direct and immediate consequences of climate change.
    You fixatedly insist that Australian coal is the only salvation available for India’s poorest, despite others presenting evidence to the contrary and offering alternative solutions, which you have made absolutely no effort to address.
    Perhaps the Indian government should be spending more money on saving it’s people rather than building huge statues. 36 billion rupees would provide a lot of solar panels and windmills for their most desperately needy.

  81. Robert G. Shaw

    you will have to ask that question of Miriam. I believe the first insult was hers. While you’re at it, ask Jennifer also.
    Unless unprovoked slurs like hers are normal here at AIM.

    No, I will not address that question because it is a fallacy. Nowhere in my posts have I made mention of ‘getting the coal to the poor people’. That is an invention of Miriam’s designed to shift the conversation away from the moral principle of my argument.
    By all means bring it up and debate the issue – let’s swap competing links till doomsday – but don’t presume to direct it at me or think that it in anyway has any bearing on my views.
    As I mentioned earlier, I’m not interested in fallacy and should any appear they will be ‘fobbed off’.
    Sound fair?
    Jolly good!

    You really haven’t read a word I’ve written, have you?
    You’ve looked at Miriam’s accusations and misrepresentations and fallacies and have run with them like a rabbit in mating season.
    You declare this to be my view: ‘You fixatedly insist that Australian coal is the only salvation available for India’s poorest…..’.

    I say, highlight for me where I said that.
    If you can’t do that, then have the decency to apologise for your misrepresentation.

    If nothing else this conversation has been a real eye opener into how many of the people who frequent this place argue and operate.
    Very unbecoming, very disturbing, very shameful.

  82. Kaye Lee

    India are putting us to shame.

    “India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) released in September 2015 and submitted for the Paris COP21 Climate Agreement aimed to achieve about 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030.

    The new draft National Electricity Plan calls for 57% of India’s total electricity capacity to come from non-fossil fuels (372GW of the 650GW total) by 2027, indicating a 42% uplift three years ahead of a schedule set only 12 months ago.”

  83. Kaye Lee

    ” how about we give these poor souls a few lumps of coal so that they may live another day?”

    Well what the hell are you proposing then if not getting coal-powered energy to poor Indians? I am so confused right now.

    There are Aboriginal people really struggling right now because they have chosen not to leave their remote communities but the government has cut off services. Some of us have been donating money to get them solar panels. I doubt a few lumps of coal would do them any good. Some bottled water would be more welcome.

  84. corvus boreus

    Robert G Shaw,
    I apologize. You did not explicitly insist that ‘giving these poor souls a few lumps of coal’ was the only way to ‘let them live another day’, you have merely ignored or dismissed any arguments on the dangers of coal power, the limitations of it’s delivery to India’s poorest and all information presented on alternative energy supply strategies.

  85. Kaye Lee

    “You declare this to be my view: ‘You fixatedly insist that Australian coal is the only salvation available for India’s poorest…..’.

    I say, highlight for me where I said that.”

    “Millions upon millions of people are dying of poverty – coal and the electricity and the essential services it brings, are the only lifeline they’ve got, not just to survive another day, but to begin to hope for a future beyond the day after.
    “Getting tough” on Turnbull regarding fossil fuel policy and climate change effectively means, and there’s no sugar coating it, that you consign these people to death.”

    You may not have said India (I haven’t time to reread everything) but the proposed new coal mines are Indian owned and intend to ship the coal to India where millions live (and die) in poverty (though off-shoring of call centres is helping address that).

    I am not trying to be a “detractor” (odd label if you ask me), I am trying to discuss an important issue.

  86. Roswell

    Robert, I was asking you a question in response to your statement. I wasn’t talking to Miriam. You might also recall that Miriam apologised for appearing insulting. You on the other hand justify yours.

  87. Harquebus

    It is already impossible to save everyone as our population is already in overshoot. Some hard decisions are going to have to be made.
    To jeopardize humanity itself to supply a few poor souls with fossil energy is illogical.

    “Add in the development of mass consumerism, planned obsolescence, and the hypnosis of corporate-sponsored TV and you have a passive, malleable population happily marching towards the slaughterhouse.”
    “No conspiracy is needed to exterminate the “useless eaters”, just allow mother nature to take its course and climate change will be killing billions by mid century. Those in military planning know this”
    Extinction is the End Game

    “we are nowhere near making an earth 2.0; the notion itself is preposterous.”
    “The only thing we can do to stop the extinction is for all of us to use a lot less energy. But because energy consumption provides wealth and -more importantly- political power, we will not do that. We instead tell ourselves all we need to do is use different forms of energy. ”
    “We can see ourselves destroying our world, but we can not stop ourselves from continuing the destruction.”

    Mass Extinction and Mass Insanity

  88. Bacchus

    Hmmm – why do the words ‘supercilious’ and ‘condescending’ come to mind? 😉 For some strange reason, ‘Dunning-Kruger’ seems to surface as well. Please explain…

  89. Miriam English

    Robert, you keep saying that I made lots of insults to you. Please point out some. (The worst that I can find is calling your arguments for coal specious. January 3, 2017 at 12:14 pm)

    You also said to Kaye “Nowhere in my posts have I made mention of ‘getting the coal to the poor people’.” You’ve also denied it to others, yet see the following list of quotes from you:

    December 31, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Millions upon millions of people are dying of poverty – coal and the electricity and the essential services it brings, are the only lifeline they’ve got, not just to survive another day, but to begin to hope for a future beyond the day after.

    January 2, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    My point – whilst we debate the fossil fuel/climate change issue from the comforts of our heated and air conditioned homes, drinking a cup of just brewed tea or a cold beer from the fridge, while surfing the net from our MacBook, planning an OS holiday or a 4WD escapade through Tasmania or the Daintree, the kids have left the lights on again, and someone left the door open and the air con is on…. whilst some of us vent our righteous indignation at Turnbull’s CC policy from the luxury of a keyboard, how about we spare a thought, maybe even a few lumps of coal and few amps of our fossil fueled lives, to those who may be dead tomorrow without it?

    I’ll support the idea of coal for those who need it till the day arrives that you can furnish something better, immediately. Till that time let’s let them live a day longer, shall we?

    January 2, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    give them coal so that they may live another day.

    January 3, 2017 at 10:39 am

    until you can provide immediate and efficacious alternatives I say let them have coal

    January 3, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    how about we give these poor souls a few lumps of coal so that they may live another day?

  90. Bacchus

    Interesting what you come across on the intertubes. India is killing our pathetic climate change efforts, it would seem…

    ‘An industrial plant is capturing the CO2 emissions from a coal boiler and using the CO2 to make valuable chemicals. It is a world first…’

    ‘Meanwhile, the nearby giant Kamuthi solar plant offers a marker for India’s ambition for a rapid expansion in renewables.

    The world’s largest solar farm at Kamuthi in southern India
    It is truly enormous; from the tall observation tower, the ranks of black panels stretch almost to the horizon.
    Prime Minister Modi is offering subsidies for a plan to power 60 million homes with solar by 2022 and aims for 40% of its energy from renewables by 2030.

    For large-scale projects, the cost of new solar power in India is now cheaper than coal. But solar doesn’t generate 24/7 on an industrial scale, so India has adopted a “more of everything” approach to energy.’

  91. Miriam English

    Robert, January 3, 2017 at 9:33 pm, you said to me, “you’re doing it again. Please stop misrepresenting my views!”

    That’s puzzling. I was genuinely trying to relate your views accurately. If I was wrong, then please explain how.
    We now have 9 or 10 people here who you say don’t understand what you’re getting at.
    I would be very happy for you to explain it more clearly.

  92. Kaye Lee

    I think Robert started out wanting us, as progressives, to watch our language, to not fall into slogans or hypocritical blustering and thoughtless ideology that would cause harm . A reasonable warning.

    But as the conversation progressed on his example of coal to alleviate poverty, he seemed to not want what he asked for – genuine debate.

    Perhaps tomorrow’s rereading will make us all see something we have missed.

  93. John Brame

    What about donating some of the trillions spent on war mongering to poverty and keep the coal in the ground.

  94. Miriam English

    John, some years ago I calculated that redirecting the world’s military budget for less than a single week out of each year would eliminate the deep poverty that causes 16 million people to die of starvation each year. Imagine what we could achieve by redirecting the weapons budget for 52 weeks of the year.

    We have to change the point of view of people the world over to see war as something akin to eating poop — something any right-minded person would find so disgusting that none would even consider doing.

    As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.
    — Oscar Wilde

    Unfortunately many actually consider war noble. The USA has become a warrior culture where soldiers are held up as the best among them. In USA guns are seen as sexy. Most Hollywood movies say over and over again that big problems must be solved with violence, often deadly violence. In reality, very rarely is anything ever solved with violence, and even when it appears to be fixed, the problem is often merely driven out of sight, to gestate and reappear later in altered form.

    The Western democracies appeared to have defeated the Nazis, but we didn’t; they seeped into our institutions and moulded influential people, and has taken power in USA, has some measure of power in UK and Australia, and appears about to gain power in France and possibly some other European nations.

    The drone assassination program is almost certainly having the reverse effect intended. It horrifies me to imagine the festering hatred of USA, UK, Australia, France, and Germany it must be building. It’s very disturbing that I’ve recently seen a rash of movies attempting to justify the use of drone assassinations.

    Many (most? all?) cases of large-scale famine are actually caused by war. War is incredibly destructive to ecologies. It wastes mind-numbing amounts of resources. War causes great upsurges in death, disease, and uncertainty, resulting in booms in birthrate. War and the military are the main reason we haven’t been able to eliminate dangerous nuclear power reactors. Most recent wars have been fought over fossil fuels. War and the military are the root cause of most of our worst problems.

    How do we redirect something that so many people irrationally consider great and necessary — something with such a massive advertising effort promoting its allure?

  95. Miriam English

    What I meant to say (but got distracted in my long rant) was John, yes, you are exactly right.

  96. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said, John Brame.

    Robert, please point out examples where you accuse me of alleged “slurs”.

  97. John Brame

    That was a good rant Miriam. When I said donating, I meant giving with no expected return. We must share wealth.

  98. Robert G. Shaw

    if you find yourself unable to apologise with decency then you should have just walked away from the thread. What you’ve just done is an insult – to yourself. It’s a terrible thing to see a man demean himself so readily, and so unnecessarily.

    Logic and morality have been quarrelling since man’s first question, his first need, his first desire, his first confusion. Hardly reason for us to dismiss the question outright, or to plunge headlong into your apocalyptic vision.
    Illogical? Perhaps.
    Letting them die whilst we argue over carbon pricing and the cost of renewables with near zero impact on our present first class lives, immoral.
    That’s my view.

    rather than provide you with a list of your misrepresentations, how about I give you the far shorter, far simpler, list of what it was you got right?

    There are a grand total of 4 sentences out of the 100’s written that speak directly to what I’ve written, and that sensibly, faithfully, describe my views. Unfortunately they arrived late in the discussion and were promptly ignored.
    Here are your two sentences – “As near as I can work out, Robert feels that the Left (and I think he includes the Right in this too) can be criticised for thinking they can hand out moral judgements on what the poor in other countries should do without looking at what they need to do in order to survive. I agree with him in this. It seems to be human nature and we should always be careful to avoid doing it.”

    Here are Kaye’s two – “I think Robert started out wanting us, as progressives, to watch our language, to not fall into slogans or hypocritical blustering and thoughtless ideology that would cause harm . A reasonable warning.”

    4 out of 100’s. That’s something to be really proud of, isn’t it?
    See those 4 sentences? That’s my view. Nothing else. Just that. Only that. No additions. No subtractions. Just those four. No added free form interpretation on your part or the part of other commentators is required, no free license to explore my possible or probable meanings, no casual associations, no presumed hidden meanings or sly neoliberal agendas, no climate denial suspicions.
    Nothing, except for those 4 sentences.
    I hope I have now established that to your complete understanding.

    As to my initial and specific moral questions? Well, they’ve gone; lost in the convoluted misrepresentations, the frustrations, the ego’s, the poor comprehension abilities, the insults, and the confusions that have characterized this conversation.

    If you want to explore the literal, the practical, aspects of those moral issues then by all means, explore. But do not, under any circumstances, attempt to either misrepresent my specific view, or hold me accountable to your views.

    To conclude, I am well aware of the problematic nature of energy poverty, energy delivery, and the claims that renewables make on an impoverished community. I’m sure these concerns are understood by everyone here. They are now, and will continue to be, I believe, one of the most serious challenges to our collective worldwide, bipartisan policy making. There are no answers that I’ve found that adequately address the competing demands of energy provision with climate change concerns. There is much talk and bluster of private sector expansion, of government funding and investment, there is policy after policy tabled for the implementation of technologies, there is growing urgency for a swift redress yet there is the full embrace of TISA, TPP, and other global trade deals like TTIP that will guarantee further obstacles to the process.
    Certainly progress has been made and there are very encouraging signs coming out of many countries on the planet – New Zealand, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, and Portugal for example. However, I’m cynical, and here’s one reason why,

    In view of what I see as this deadlock, I feel that we in the West should do as much as is humanly possible to provide some measure of energy relief to those in mortal danger. I see it as our moral duty to provide both life and dignity when we ourselves have been the very specific and gluttonous beneficiaries of those resources. That these situations have undoubtedly altered since our awareness of the very real impact of climate change should not dissuade us from the moral imperative.

    So I return to my prime argument and question, my moral question, long forgotten, but still there, frozen in the amber of a black and white blog entry –

    “The question, to me, was the ease with which some of us fossil fueled Westerners seek to determine the livelihoods of others less fortunate than us; those billions less able to make those sorts of determinations for their own lives” and,
    “Surely the preservation of life now eclipses the dangers of tomorrow” ,

    “Robert, please point out examples where you accuse me of alleged “slurs”.”


    Jennifer Meyer-Smith January 3, 2017 at 5:38 pm
    “Robert G. Shaw,
    do you think Peter Dutton should go to The Hague for Crimes Against Humanity for his reprehensible treatment of people escaping the devastation of war which incidentally includes starvation and which you allege to care so much about?
    I suspect you won’t bother to answer so I’ll put it to you you’re a dud Dutton apparatchik, or some such sorely misguided person, and you decided to come here to have some fun. Problem is you don’t have any answers to reasonable questions about why filthy coal shouldn’t go immediately and why filthy coal sites like Carmichael should be refused to Adani.”

    Don’t waste my time with your silliness.

  99. Robert G. Shaw

    Here are some readings that provide some context to my remarks.

    (Michael, if this is blocked or spammed because of the number of links, could you please see that it goes through, or break them down into acceptable amounts.

  100. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Why expect answers from other contributors, if you won’t answer questions yourself?

  101. Jexpat

    The Bazilian, et al article Oil, Energy Poverty and Resource Dependence in West Africa has some very interest bits and references about the hydrocarbon “resource curse” -something that at first glance might appear to be counterintuitive, considering the amount of revenue that exploitation of oil and gas generates.

  102. Miriam English

    Robert, around 10 people here had great difficulty working out what message you intended. They exhibited a lot of patience for quite a long time before wondering aloud if you were perhaps trolling the site (we do get trolls here from time to time), perhaps you might consider the possibility that much of the impasse was generated by you.

    We all have days where we are not as clear as we’d like to be, but diverting the conversation down the fallacious coal is lifesaver for the poor path and continuing to sustain it led people away your point. You can’t blame people for arguing with you on that, especially when you refused to clarify your main point while doggedly arguing the coal is good thing.

    Over and over again instead of explaining what you meant, you chose instead to sneer at others, which also did nothing to endear you to them. It was probably understandable, given that you must have been feeling very frustrated in not being able to get your message through, however I do wish you’d taken the time to explain yourself more clearly.

    Both Kaye and I have said we agree with what we tentatively deduced you were trying to get at (and you’ve now confirmed). I expect everybody here agrees with it.

    All this could have been avoided. I’m sure it wasn’t fun for you. It wasn’t for me either.

    I am nearly deaf. Many times I’ve been in conversations where I can’t hear what the other person is saying. I’ve noticed that if I politely ask more than a couple of times for the person to repeat themselves because I can’t hear what they’re saying, they often become angry. It is weird. I’m not partially deaf to annoy them, whereas they have the power to make themselves heard.

    It’s similar to what happened here. You became angry when other people couldn’t understand you. You alone hold the power to change this. (Well, both Kaye and I invested a lot of time and energy into trying to work out what you might be trying to get at, so if you’re lucky you can find people to assist.)

  103. Kaye Lee

    I think it is completely unreasonable to think that you can direct the conversation as you are trying to do. If there were only two sentences to which we were supposed to pay attention then only write two sentences. If you write about coal lifting people out of poverty you must expect to be challenged. This challenge did not come in the form of some idealistic aspirations or mindless hand-wringing – your actual point. People backed up what they were saying and also made suggestions. You should be happy. Or do you just want to be able to label progressives, in that jingoistic way, as mindless latte-sippers repeating headlines from the Guardian

  104. Kim Southwood

    Wow! Dave’s original article has been seriously highjacked. Maybe a new article could provide a forum for: Who Do You Blame When the Plot Gets Lost.

    Poverty in the world is an immense issue. Energy poverty clearly comes with significant risks to those experiencing it. The quick, simple solution for everyone has traditionally been coal. After decades of warning by experts on the link between man’s carbon emissions and global warming, the world’s political leaders finally acknowledged the link in the last ten years. There is a worldwide move to renewables.

    It strikes me that energy poverty in India, with its attendant humanitarian evils could have been solved long ago if there had been the humanitarian will. It also strikes me as ironic that Australia has found that humanitarian will at this eleventh hour for the coal industry when the Australian economy is also under considerable strain.

    I am impressed by the speed at which the most unlikely countries are taking up green energy, even those third world countries where energy poverty is an issue.

    I do believe in the current context of world energy production that renewables hold the key to third world poverty issues. Coal is there to meet the interim needs as the transition to efficient renewable energy speeds up. Lets not make this an argument for expanding Australia’s coal export market [and opening the Southern Hemisphere’s largest coalmine].

    I’m also unsure how much of that coal for India is going to end energy poverty and how much is going to increase industrial productivity. Is there any real connection between the two?

    Call me an old grandma cynic, but I haven’t seen increased productivity do much for poverty in this country. But that could be another article.

    Let’s make this more an argument about doing what’s right and dare I say – humanitarian – ‘cos that’s what ending poverty (not just energy poverty) is all about.

  105. Kim Southwood

    Oh whoops! 1st April came very early this year.

  106. Kaye Lee


    “Wow! Dave’s original article has been seriously highjacked.”

    I disagree. I think the ensuing discussion has demonstrated exactly what Dave was getting at when he said:

    “Don’t get upset if you start a conversation and I respond. That is how a conversation works. And don’t demand respect for your opinions if you’re not giving it, both to those you converse with and those you speak about. “

  107. LOVO

    Gosh, Robert and Girls…. I’m out of breath….wow …that was informative, yet peppered with just the right amount of awesome slamdowns and wonderful uplifting snippets to contemplate. phew
    Youse guys should do this again … pick a subject… there are so many.. ?

  108. Michael Taylor

    LOVO, I have a lot of confidence in and admiration for the ‘Girls’. They know their stuff. ?

  109. LOVO

    Yes, I agree, great writers…great thinkers, empathic thinkers, teachers ..and they had a great conversation with Robert…..whom, and I think you may agree, is a Master Debater 😯

  110. Kim Southwood

    Yes, Kaye, I agree Dave’s point was demonstrated. Robert was keen to criticise, distort and demand respect without giving it. And he did belittle others while taking us on a convoluted chase trying to figure out his purpose with his daunting number of citations. I only read a few and also wished he’d been able to explain their relevance.

    I enjoyed the strong, consistent responses which certainly did not lose the plot.

    I felt no need to respond until the on-going coal conversation finally impacted on me.

    Also in agreement with the last three comments after yours.

  111. Michael Taylor

    It ain’t over yet, LOVO. I suspect there will be more to come. Just when you think the conversation has withered away and we’ve all gone onto something else, along comes someone with a point to prove and off we go again. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. It may be several days. Of course they are entitled to, but to everyone else it might seem pointless. And of course they are entitled to think that way.

  112. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    As others previously stated, I want Robert and personas like Robert, to make a clear argument without the pretentious debating skills and to answer any direct questions put to him, and as the case may be, her.

    I like to attempt to differentiate the fools from the false from the friendly.

    Being covert does no so-called ‘left’ minded people any favours.

  113. Roswell

    I think you’ve nailed it, Jennifer.

  114. Robert G. Shaw

    looking over your response, and that of Kaye Lee and now Kim, I can see that even the threadbare hope of understanding has all but disappeared. The fact that you insist on holding me responsible for your misrepresentations and continue to justify those misrepresentations by a most bizarre and faulty logic is almost beyond my powers of patience, inclination, and aptitude.
    I’m not only stumped, I’m stunned.

    Before I put this pen down let me offer this final plea in the form of scenario and question. As a show of good faith you too can ask me anything and I will also do my very best to answer it.
    you wrote:

    ”You can’t blame people for arguing with you on that, especially when you refused to clarify your main point while doggedly arguing the coal is good thing.”

    I clarified my main point at every, or nearly every, post. And yes, for people in dire need of energy, “coal is a good thing”. Miriam, just because we Westerners know coal to be a “bad thing”, doesn’t mean that every sub Saharan mother wondering how to provide warm sterilised milk for her baby does.

    It begs the question, implicit in my every post, and studiously avoided at every turn: what do we do about the people who need energy now?
    Your renewables are coming next week Miriam, 4000 solar panels are arriving next week and will have these 15 villages basking in the radiance of health and hope.

    But what do we do till then Miriam?
    What do we do right now?

    Is your response, never uttered, but nonetheless an implication hovering in the background, this: let them die till the renewables arrive?
    Is that what you would do? Is that what we’re to do? Is that what you’re asking me to do? Is that your rebuttal to my entire argument?
    If you answer yes, then that’s where we part ways, that’s the point where you’ve let politics sideline morality, that’s the point where you allow ideology to surpass humanity.
    If you answer no, then you are in accord with my initial premise delivered some 4 or 5 days ago.
    Quite simple really.

    I made clear arguments. Your inability to understand them is no fault of mine.
    Furthermore, you asked me to provide link for your insults.
    I did that. At which point it is customary to acknowledge that evidence graciously and to offer an apology. It is generally not considered good form to immediately climb onto some new high horse and begin the trolling innuendos about “personas”, “debating skills” and “questions asked”.
    If you recall my initial questions, questions asked well before we all moved into high gear, are still sitting there. Unanswered.
    And you’re chastising me for neglect?

    you’ve presented me with a strange situation – you criticise me for my alleged “distortions”, and “demands for respect”, for presenting a “convoluted” argument and for linking a “daunting number of citations” whose relevance you wished I’d “explained”.
    After all of that I note with a considerable grin that you’ve arrived at my precise point:
    “Coal is there to meet the interim needs as the transition to efficient renewable energy speeds up”.

    @Kaye Lee,

    “I think it is completely unreasonable to think that you can direct the conversation as you are trying to do.”

    Unreasonable? Hardly. We all do it. It’s called following the few general laws of sensible conversation – listening, remaining focused, providing relevant and constructive responses. Anything else is falling victim to the generally purposeless whimsy of every thought bubble that pops into someone’s head. That’s not adult conversation, that’s schoolyard bickering.

    “If there were only two sentences to which we were supposed to pay attention then only write two sentences.”

    I did write two sentences. I spent the next two hundred trying to get you and Miriam, and everyone else, to go back to them. I then spent another two hundred repeating the first two.
    I don’t know what’s worse, your very poor comprehension skills or your hypocrisy. How many times have I read you complain of being misrepresented lately, and how much you hate it?
    But the fault is mine, I should have simply ignored your comment.

    @Michael & Roswell, AIM is quite cliquish. I’d heard that before. However I didn’t expect debate and comprehension to be sacrificed to that cliquishness.
    It’s unfortunate.

    @Miriam, again. Let me make this perfectly clear: you were the architect of the strawman that several other posters blindly followed as it stumbled and crashed its way through most of this thread. It finally fell in a messy heap upon encountering my post of January 4, 2017 at 2:13 pm.
    Yet the remains still kick on, in what some would describe as a “pointless” exercise. Apparently not so pointless, the carcass it seems to me as I read the posts of a few nights ago, refuses to die.

    Chadwick’s article title turned out to be prophetic – “Who do you blame when it all goes wrong?”
    You blame someone else.

    Finally @Jexpat,
    it is indeed a tragic issue. On the one hand we have countries like Liberia sitting at the unbelievably hellish electricity access point of near zero, whilst the natural gas rich Gabon, Nigeria, Cameroon and Angola are flaring (wasting) their gas at unprecedented and world high levels.
    Readings like this offer very sobering insights into the enormous problems of transitioning to renewables. Is my cynicism then a surprise, or is my return to some apparently anachronistic morality all that difficult to comprehend?
    See you on another thread.

  115. Kaye Lee

    An orchid by any other name is just as self-absorbed

  116. corvus boreus

    …but wilts just as quickly when it’s jar is warmed and salted?

  117. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Dave Chadwick’s article highlights how progressives must not let detractors hijack the discussion on any issue big or small that impacts on us all.

    The discussion in the comments also demonstrates how some of us need to be careful not to argue the neo-conservative viewpoint for them in the ‘politically correct’ interests of balance. The ABC has endlessly tried to prove to its detractors that it is balanced ad nauseum so much so that the tipping point is decidely leaning very Right these days.

    So Robert, while I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that your intentions were honourable in arguing for the need of Third World peoples to access fossil fuel energy, what leeways can you suggest to us (presumably your allies on this site) where fossil fuels can be steadfastly fazed out and renewable energy accelerated?

    Please avoid debating technical points and point-scoring. They won’t save our planet from premature devastation due to human-caused Climate Change brought on by prolonged, over-use of filthy fossil fuel.

  118. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I’ll bet my bottom dollar, LOVO,
    the answer is NO

  119. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Robert G. Shaw,

    I’m still waiting on a response to my question in paragraph 3 of my post @ 5.34pm. (Remember to follow my instructions in paragraph 4 when you provide your response.)

  120. Miriam English

    Amazing. After all that I had hoped that if Robert answered he’d make a genuine response instead of issuing more bluster. What a pity.

    I’ll try one last time. Robert, you’re posing a false binary choice. Poor people all around the world are already adopting solar power instead of coal-powered electricity. The choice isn’t being imposed by arrogant leftie Westerners, it is being made by them. They can’t afford coal-powered electricity. Aother aspect of the false choice you set up is that nobody is stopping existing customers for coal-based electricity from continuing to use it. Nobody is going to die today, tomorrow, next week, or even next year for lack of coal. As I said before, if Australia miraculously ceased to mine coal tomorrow the world glut of coal means there would be plenty of coal available anyway.

    Robert, it is extremely difficult to work out exactly what you’re arguing about. Your ability to communicate seems severely compromised. It’s no good getting angry for your inability to explain. It seems nobody has really gotten to the bottom of your problem. I thought Kaye and I did, but here you are, still sneering and blustering. I’m genuinely puzzled.

    Maybe you really are just a troll and I got sucked in, trying hard to be reasonable.

    Or maybe you’re just an angry old white man looking a reason to vent his anger and insisting everybody’s marching out of step except for him. If that’s the case, you should take a careful look at yourself. You may be alienating everybody around you if you carry on like this in real life. That would be a real tragedy.

  121. Kim Southwood

    Yes, Robert, perhaps you may have suggested something like that at some stage in your long sermons which seemed to rail against everyone else’s logic but obviously were not clear in their message.

    There seems a genuine need for humans to show they are keen NOT to contribute to the impetus of climate change. That means phasing out fossil fuels in a planned, economically defensible manner. Hats off to those offering blueprints to zero emissions. BZE springs to mind. Of course they have their detractors but they are offering models of action which might resolve the issue of emissions in a set time frame as a matter of urgency. That appeals very much to me.

    Emotive arguments – on starving people in India who have been sorely neglected for centuries by a succession of governments, from at home and outside over centuries – are a separate issue.

    I am not particularly upset that you despair of those of us who fail to understand what you are trying to say. I think everyone has made a pretty good effort. We have vainly called for clarification.

    I understood the discussion to focus on the choices made in elections and who disillusioned voters blamed when they didn’t get what they wished for. I read with interest and enjoyed the relevant comments.

    Somehow I saw this discussion sidetracked to discuss the need to send coal to India to end energy poverty. Quite simply, that is a different issue and I don’t agree with you for reasons very briefly covered.

    Respectfully, that will be my final word in order to avoid any further misunderstanding.

  122. Miriam English

    Holy cow! I had a sudden realisation this morning in an idle moment while waiting for my computer to complete a backup.

    Remember how Robert Shaw keeps saying that we should sell coal because poor people’s lives depend upon it? Predictably we would all rise to the bait to disagree with him, yet while he keeps harping on about lives of the poor depending on coal, he also keeps maintaining that this isn’t what he’s really arguing about. He seems to be wanting to say that we First Worlders shouldn’t be patronising to those in the developing world and shouldn’t be telling them what they want.

    Well, guess what. I suddenly noticed that the only person who was being patronising to the people in the developing nations is Robert. He is the one saying they should use coal. He is the one characterising them as people who have no choices and whose lives depend upon hand-outs from us. It is he who seems to be insisting that he knows better than the poor themselves what they should have. Let them have cake coal. It is he who insists that we have the power of life or death over these poor miserable bastards who apparently must take what we allow. And nasty renewable energy ideologues would deny them the coal that would allow them one more day to live!

    It’s like a cartoon. Nobody is making any such decision… other than in the mind of Robert G Shaw.

    I and others have been pointing out how those people are themselves actively choosing solar power because it is cheaper and easier and quicker to get than coal-power. We’ve also been saying that nobody is stopping poor people who already use coal-powered electricity from continuing to do so.

    What a weird conversation.

  123. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    ‘Robert G. Shaw’ likes the sound of his own voice, methinks. Sad really that that is the way he gets his thrills.

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