It has become increasingly apparent that this government exists in an echo chamber deliberately choosing who they consult, confident in advance that they will agree with party policy so they won’t be told anything they don’t want to hear.
They formed an advisory panel which has just recommended taking 25 per cent of the ‘no-take’ area away from our marine reserves allowing extractive industries to come in.
The panel included 11 fishing stakeholders, two scientists, one or two Indigenous members and one local council member.
The chair of the advisory panel, Prof Colin Buxton, had already said in July 2013, that all fresh fish for sale in Australia is sustainable and people shouldn’t worry about fish guides or [sustainability] cards produced by the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) which he said promoted an “anti-fishing agenda” based on “ridiculous emotive arguments.”
He particularly ridiculed them for criticisms against the salmon aquaculture industry in Tasmania. I wonder if he saw last night’s Four Corners program where one of the largest salmon farmers in Tasmania said there are real problems in the industry which are causing intolerable stress on the environment.
Another example of choosing your “independent” reviewer was the appointment of Henry Ergas, an open Liberal supporter and one of the most strident critics of Labor’s National Broadband Network policy, to conduct a cost/benefit analysis and review of the NBN.
Ergas had previously made a submission to the NBN Senate Select Committee in October 2009, arguing that the costs of building the NBN exceeded its benefits by somewhere between $14 billion and $20 billion.
In October 2013, he wrote an article in the Australian stating that “the greatest disasters” in government bore “Labor’s mark”. In the article, Ergas compared the NBN to the problematic Collins-class submarine project, and questioned many of the bases for its existence.
“Deploying fibre-optic cable should be one way among others of providing very high-speed broadband, not an objective in itself but … in Conroy’s theatre of the absurd, the tail completely swallowed the dog, leaving the farce of the big yellow button as the only action that mattered.”
It seems to me that Henry had made up his mind long before any review was even begun, which is no doubt why Malcolm chose him for the job.
It is worth noting from the IPA’s 75 point wish list:
69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
When Christopher Pyne wanted the National Curriculum reviewed to “remove partisan bias”, he appointed the IPA’s Kevin Donelly to the job. (IPA wish number 12 Repeal the National Curriculum)
Donnelly was on record criticising modern school curriculums for enforcing ”a politically correct, black-armband view”, arguing that schools are places where ”feminists and left-wing advocates of the gender agenda argue for the rights of women, gays, lesbians and transgender people”.
His personal think tank, the Education Standards Institute, instead favours ”a commitment to Christian beliefs and values”.
Donnelly claimed in 2000 that the Queensland curriculum focused ”on such issues as the environment, multiculturalism and social justice; all with a future perspective to ensure that students were ready to embrace the brave new world of the politically correct.”
He also felt the history curriculum ”undervalues Western civilisation and the significance of Judeo-Christian values to our institutions and way of life.”
In 2006 the federal minister for education, Julie Bishop, argued that a ”back-to-basics uniform national curriculum” was necessary because left-wing ”ideologues” had ”hijacked” the curriculum and school students were subjected to ”trendy educational fads.”
Conservatives don’t like how the curriculum has expanded, encouraging students to question non-egalitarian structure, business values and impacts on community and environment. They don’t like activism and don’t want teachers giving their students ideas that might cause them to question the status quo.
Their review, unsurprisingly, put together all their previously expressed views. No wonder it only took them a few months.
Another shining example of picking the man for the job was the appointment of Dyson Heydon to preside over the Trade Union Royal Commission.
In 1989, Justice Heydon conducted an inquiry for the NSW Liberal Government into the “Duties and Fiduciary Obligations of Officials of Industrial Unions of Employers and Employees.”
Heydon’s 1989 report called for improvements in the governance of trade unions, and for union officials to be equated with company directors, and overseen by the corporate regulator.
Sometimes, the evidence is so overwhelming that even the hand-picked reviewer can’t distort it in which case it just gets ignored as happened with the review into renewable energy by climate sceptic Dick Warburton.
We are now in the situation where the government has given up any pretence of listening to, or even seeking, independent advice, sacking department heads with whom they disagree, restricting terms of reference and refusing to release reports they don’t like, abandoning even doing modelling of the impact of their policies. Anyone who speaks out has their personal credibility attacked as we have seen with Gillian Triggs, Justin Gleeson, the Save the Children staff, Sarah Hanson-Young, all unions and many others. The gutter attacks are appalling.
If you genuinely want the best outcome for the most people, you don’t just consult with big business and the Christian churches, you don’t just consult with people who agree with your preconceived layman’s opinion. Politicians are not experts. They should not be distorting, disregarding and dismissing information or seeking it in the strict confines of an echo chamber.
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