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Tag Archives: Alan Jones

Pauline rushes to rescue farmers while the coalition falls apart.

“I want to put out a call to these farmers; please don’t give up hope,” Senator Pauline Hanson says shortly before breaking down in tears on her old pal, Alan Jones’ 2GB radio show, Friday last week.

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep off microphone. But no longer need you weep alone, Australia. Help is on its way. No. Not Joel Fitzgibbon’s outrageous suggestion of a bipartisan “war cabinet” approach to drought relief. Drought relief is for ScoMo & Co to pork-barrel; grandstand on grief. The government has no drought relief policy. The last thing it wants is Labor to show it up.

ScoMo ridicules Fitzgibbon in Question Time, an institution now entirely corrupted by a government in perpetual campaign. Vitiated by Dorothy Dixers, Labor-bashing and political assassination by quoting News Corps, the nation’s most powerful political party. Monday, ScoMo quotes Troy Bramston of The Australian on Anthony Albanese’s hopeless leadership.

“A Labor frontbencher told me …” is Bramston’s prelude to back-stabbing Albanese. Trump uses ” people tell me…” When no specific authority or evidence is given, the slur may be mere confection or confabulation. But it is also impossible to refute.

“For a guy who wanted to be leader so bad, and couldn’t wait to announce he was running for it less than 24 hours after the election, he does not know what to do with the job.” A Labor frontbencher?

Sure he did, Troy. Sure. Look. It’s uncanny. ScoMo’s cock a hoop with your “scoop”, first up Tuesday.

Labor couldn’t be trusted when it was in power, Mr Speaker, Morrison scoffs. It’s vital to repeat the one big lie of Labor’s hopelessness with money. As experts now, daily, attest to ScoMo and Co’s economic incompetence and the Reserve virtually begs for some serious stimulus measure, it’s especially important to repeat the lie that the GFC didn’t happen here or that we are still paying for Labor’s mess.

As The Guardian Australia’s Greg Jericho notes, Mathias Cormann now claims absurdly that Labor’s GFC stimulus drove up interest rates and the value of our dollar.

“If interest rates went up due to the stimulus then that meant it had helped improve demand in the economy, which was the whole point.”

Hang on. Help is on its way. Good news this week. Dairy farmers struggling to squeeze out $3.00 an hour in an industry milked dry as de-regulation, duopolies and globalisation lead to ruinous farm gate prices – while many suffer drought and ScoMo photo-ops – rejoice to learn that Pauline Hanson has their backs.

“Give me an opportunity to keep fighting. I don’t want these farmers to give up.”

The plucky One Nation leader heroically battles on at Jones’ microphone before it’s all too much and she’s led, sobbing inconsolably, off-air. But not before a word from her sponsor. Pauline’s “upset”, Big Al explains to listeners, “for the farmers” and exhausted as she “fights the bureaucrats” in Canberra.

Pauline is tirelessly fighting up hill and down dale to get our honest, hardworking, dairy farmers a fair price for their milk, a long-lost cause she shows no sign of understanding.

Fairness would involve the dismantling of global price-fixing and regulating the Fonterra-Saputo duopoly that dominates our milk-processing. (Canadian giant Saputo, which enjoys a monopoly in British Columbia bought out a troubled Murray Goulburn, our largest milk processor in April 2018.) Murray Goulburn had contracted with Coles to supply one dollar milk to 2023.

None of this matters to Hanson’s quest for self-aggrandisement. But Pauline’s plan will entail having Canberra bureaucrats very much on side. And supermarkets. Not to mention Saputo and Fonterra.

“It’s hard to say this but it makes no fucking sense,” sweet-talking Saputo boss, Lino Saputo Jnr admits freely. “$1.10 still doesn’t make sense when you can buy water at $3 a litre, when you can buy soda pop at $4 a litre, when you can buy Gatorade at $5 a litre.”  No? Never heard of a loss leader, Lino?

Yet loss-leading supermarkets are not the only bad guys. More than half Australia’s milk is sold overseas. The same neoliberal ideology that has us paying export prices for our own gas works with milk, too.

Even if the price of milk on the supermarket shelf were to double, the extra profit wouldn’t go to farmers directly as the ACCC found in its 18 month report on the dairy industry last year.

Dollar milk is the scapegoat, regardless. Even those who may be expected to understand how farmers contracts are set by producers play along with this. Yet never in Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie’s howls of outrage (or Drought Minister David Littleproud’s) does either stop to recall that Labor’s policy last election was to set a minimum price dairy farmers can be paid for the milk they produce.

Doubly unhappy is Bridget McKenzie, the Nationals’ “flash bit of kit” (as Barnaby once described his party’s deputy leader during a late night senate debate). Ms McKenzie cops flak for letting Hanson grand-stand as the cow cockies’ saviour. It’s not just a turf war; everyone knows that hand-wringing over drought or flood or farmers being robbed blind by multinational middlemen is the Nationals’ pitch.

Below the topsoil, the post Barnaby-era party writhes in existential crisis. It lacks leadership, identity and others are muscling in on its patch. Things quickly go bad – with a little help from New England. Friday, the Nationals split with their Coalition partner by leaking a $1.3 bn drought funding policy without approval from Michael McCormack – aka Mick-Mack. Scott Morrison is gob-smacked; blind-sided.

So much for the tremendous authority which pundits confidently predicted Scott Morrison was sure to wield over the Coalition after his miracle win. Or is that all spent in gagging and finger-wagging? The National backbench policy committee, which includes Barnaby Joyce, is the author of the rogue policy.

Such perfidy will not go unpunished – but, that it occurs at all – indicates how weak is ScoMo’s hold on Coalition reins. Are the Nats paying him back for crowding them out of his drought-porn photo-ops? Or did Pauline Hanson’s calling them weak and ineffective” do the trick? The Oz thinks so. The truth hurts.

Extra funding? It’s part of a ten-point plan. This includes setting up committees to oversee who gets their forks into $10m pork barrels, help with boarding school fees and other thought bubbles which will do less to alleviate drought suffering than improve the Nationals’ political identity. Rivals appear, artfully clad in Collins Street bushman’s kit of RM Williams’ moleskins and boots. Topped with spotless Akubra.

Is it identity politics? The Nats argue that their cash-splash will send a message. Or a vibe. It would “appear as an unambiguous package that is clearly labelled Nationals” they claim. Naturally. Nothing shrieks National Party so clearly and plainly as a barrel clearly labelled “pork”.  But even a simple lack of ambiguity can come back to bite you in the bum, as the trepid party deputy leader discovers.

Adding to the Nationals’ woes, Bridget McKenzie’s brazen pork-barrelling of grants has rejected 618 applications for community sports facilities. Labor’s sports spokesman Don Farrell cuts to the chase;

“The minister, we now know, rejected advice from her own department, Sport Australia, as to who should get these grants, and she imposed her own favourite grants in their place.”

Above all, despite McKenzie’s promising the ACCC’s recommendation, a dairy industry code of conduct by 2020 – hey – presto -to keep Hanson’s vote, the code will miraculously be available later this year.  So far, Hanson seems happy. Early report had her demanding re-regulation of the dairy industry.

Mathias Cormann must be a sweet-talker if Pauline’s being fobbed off with a code of conduct.

How bad are codes? Hopeless -if the PM’s own code for MPs, Morrison’s Statement of Ministerial Standards, tabled last August, is any guide. Gus Taylor just goes ahead and does what he likes. Clearly. Attacking Clover Moore is part of a rational plan?

Oddly, all hell breaks loose. Gus ducks and weaves. Evades all responsibility for the patently false figures in his bizarre letter lecturing Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore on her travel. Tries to claim that the City of Sydney published fake figures on his website. Yep. The old “fake figures made me frame you” defence.

Worse, his PM supports Taylor, a serial offender, yet again, refusing to sanction his Energy Minister. It’s yet another sign of weak leadership and utter lack of integrity.

By his own code of rules, ScoMo should at least sack Taylor from cabinet; report him to the police.

Shadow climate minister, Mark Butler, tells an Adelaide presser Friday,

“Instead of the prime minister actually putting his words into action and putting this into the hands of the New South Wales police, he has shown that there is one rule for one group of Australians – cabinet ministers in the Morrison government – and another rule for everyone else, including the journalists who are currently under threat of prosecution for doing their jobs.”

Gus is helped by The Daily Telegraph, which publishes an article claiming hippy, tree-hugging, bicycle-riding, Clover Moore is not merely a progressive and independent pain in the establishment’s bum, a theme familiar to Telegraph readers, the Lord Mayor has been “told by the federal government to rein in the hundreds of thousands of dollars her council is spending on international and domestic travel if she is serious about lecturing Australia on climate change”. It’s madly untrue, of course, but well-timed.

Trump-like, Taylor uses what seems to be a forged City of Sydney council document to accuse City of Sydney council of spending “$1.7m on international travel and $14.2m on domestic travel” for councillors. The real figures are $1,727.77 on international travel and $4,206.32 on domestic travel.

Taylor’s dead cat on the table, distracts from Morrison’s stuff-up: his upstaging of the Nationals’ announcement of the breakthrough on the dairy code, Thursday. Experts warn that ScoMo’s holy surplus may now never eventuate. Or if it does it may come smack dab in the middle of a recession. Bad look.

But a line has to be drawn in the sand. News surfaces, Sunday, that Scott Morrison told Craig Kelly, chair of the Coalition’s backbench energy and environment committee, not to appear on Q&A with his daft graphs that show that climate change is a hoax. So much for Howard’s broad church Liberal Party.

Gagging Kelly is as much an extension of ScoMo’s naturally despotic leadership style as it is his way of “moderating public perception” to use Michael Koziol’s euphemism for the PM’s hiding an inconvenient truth from voters. ScoMo’s keen to conceal his climate change deniers and cover up the fact that they control the black hole that passes for government policy, a course largely determined by the coal lobby.

Kelly was due to wow ABC audiences with his insights on 16 September. A week prior, the climate denier regaled the multitudes who packed into an Australian Monarchists League function with the amazing news that the South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is “floating, not sinking [due to climate change]”, because it was a coral atoll and “a coral atoll actually floats on the ocean”. Seriously.

It’s not clear that Kelly is aware that coral is acutely sensitive to sea-level changes. Or that Tuvalu is sinking. Already two of its nine islands are on the verge of going underwater swallowed by rising sea-levels and erosion. Scientists predict Tuvalu will become uninhabitable in fifty to a hundred years.

Porous, salty, soil is already useless for planting crops while Tuvalu’s water supply is now contaminated by rising seawater leaving Tuvaluans entirely dependent on rainwater. Even the fish are now toxic. Ciguatera poisoning affects reef fish who have ingested microalgaes expelled by bleached coral.

When fish infected with ciguatera toxins are consumed by humans, it causes an immediate and sometimes severe illness: vomiting, fevers and diarrhoea. Someone should tell Kelly and his committee but communicating scientific information is heresy in a government devoted entirely to spin.

Clearly, Morrison doesn’t talk to Mick-Mack, his pet name for his deputy Prime Minister. Mick-Mack is also in danger of being drowned by a rising tide of nostalgia for the good old days when Barnaby ruled.

For the Nationals, another backward-looking party firmly rooted in the past, Barnaby can do no wrong.

Yet it’s not what the historical record suggest. It’s never perfect with agrarian socialism or any other cult. Never ends well. Investigative journalist Jommy Tee sums up a topical part of Saint Barnaby’s legacy.

As Minister for Water and Agriculture, Barnaby was responsible in 2017 when the government coughed up $80 million in water buybacks to Eastern Australia Agriculture (EAA), the company where Angus Taylor had been a director and consultant. Eastern Australian Agriculture, a company founded by Gus Taylor made a two hundred percent profit out of Australian water and cotton farms.

Barnaby offered Clyde, a cotton-growing property to the LNP QLD government in 2006. Queensland  approached the federal government only to have the sale knocked back by Malcolm Turnbull, then parliamentary secretary to the PM. The federal government deemed the $20m price tag – for both property and water too high, given the water flow’s unreliability and its high price.

Joyce, Taylor and the current federal coalition government have much to explain. This includes:

“Why in 2017, did Barnaby Joyce, as Minister for Water, engineer the purchase of that same water from Clyde at the exorbitant cost of $40 million to taxpayers?”

Doubtless, refreshed after their five week break, our Coalition MPs will rush back to Canberra to clear up the stench of Watergate. Resignations will be tendered. Heads will roll. On the other hand, if Home Affairs top shiny-bum, Mike Pezzullo has his way, people will be jailed for leaking government information to the media.

But at present, it seems, neither partner in the coalition can even synchronise their diaries. Snap! Morrison holds his PM’s presser Thursday, on 2SM Radio.

ScoMo’s broadcast is heard just as the Nats gather at parliament house to simultaneously announce the good news on the code and cheer on the same pitifully small cash grants of $7000 and $13000 to farmers coming off the totally inadequate Farm Household Allowance (FHA) of up to $600 a fortnight.

Centrelink grants FHA to those who can pass its convoluted and protracted application process. Most applicants give up. Of 26,000 eligible households, only 2000 apply.

But of those 2000 who have persevered against all expectation – all will be overjoyed to receive a pittance extra, provided they don’t want to do anything rash like buy feed or replace a set of tractor tyres. See a dentist. Or pay the rates or the electricity bill.

Yet help is on its way. Professional empathy consultants, Futureye, are out in the field, helping ScoMo & Co win hearts and minds; forge its social licence in the bush. It’s not all photo-ops up dry creek-beds and matching green shirts.

Revealed by senate estimates committee questioning, this week, the ever more marvellous Morrison government approach to forging consensus.

Queensland Labor senator Murray Watt asks how Futureye works. Senior Inland Rail project officer Dr Garth Taylor is keen to explain, a rarity in the week’s proceedings where across four committees, ministers and mandarins take hundreds of questions on notice.

“Three key areas come to mind. “One is around empathy, around getting the right tone of voice to deal with landowners along the way … We start with getting the tone of voice right and getting the narrative right, and that leads to empathy. I think that along the way, with the landowners we’ve been dealing with, there has been an appreciation that there has been a more empathic approach taken since the social licence initiative.”

Picking up the $190 million tab to help ScoMo and Co build empathy along the tracks across the backblocks is the Department of Infrastructure’s Train to Nowhere, its Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Project, a $10 billion boondoggle which is battling to establish its credentials, let alone goodwill. Even the government’s own hand-picked experts told it, the inland rail would never pay its way. It went ahead anyway.

The week ends with Matt Canavan being sent out on damage control. Canavan talks all over Fran Kelly on ABC Insiders, Sunday, to demonstrate his party’s superior empathy. Instead he gives a virtuoso display of gaslighting; arguing black is white. It’s his Prime Minister’s if not his government’s favourite tactic.

Instead of an utter disaster, a catastrophic rout by its own incompetence, in brief in spite of all the damning evidence, we are to see the week as the Nationals’ finest hour?

Finest hour? The reality is that the Coalition is unravelling as the going gets tough,with bad news on the economy that is ever harder to explain away and no sign that any of its carefully choreographed show of concern for drought victims is yielding any result.

Fighting over who gets credit for what is at best a band-aid solution or a PR stunt is not an edifying end to a parliamentary term. Nor does it augur well for the next.

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Morrison’s monumental dysfunctional Pacific “family” failure

No matter how much money you put on the table it doesn’t give you the excuse not to do the right thing, which is cutting down your emissions, including not opening your coalmines.”  (Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, 14 August 2019).

“Shove a sock down the throat of Jacinda Ardern” – urges Alan Bedford Jones, 2GB Sydney’s sock-shock jock, another former, failed, Liberal Party candidate and inveterate misogynist,Thursday, as New Zealand’s PM supports Pacific Islanders’ global warming concerns, endorsing the resolutions of all but one of the eighteen countries and territories of this week’s 50th Pacific Islands Forum, (PIF) meeting in Tuvalu’s capital, Funafuti.

Left on its own, promoting global warming is Australia. Ms Ardern says, diplomatically, that our land down-under can answer to the Pacific for itself. New Zealand, or Aotearoa, as its Maori people named it, commonly translated as land of the long white cloud, or, continuously clear light is doing what it can to limit its carbon emissions to 1.5C.

Ms Ardern expects all nations to make a similar commitment but will not lecture others.

Rabid climate change denier Jones turns puce. He rants; spits foam at the microphone. Does ScoMo’s office tell Jones to put the boot in? For Jones and his audience – and, indeed, for much of Morrison’s government, global warming, is a hoax. And an aberration, a perversion of reason. The notion is an unnatural hoax, as is the monstrous regiment of women who dare to demand their fair share of political power from blokes.

“Here she is preaching on global warming and saying that we’ve got to do something about climate change,” Jones harangues listeners from his bully pulpit. His signature outbursts of outrage, his demonising and his scapegoating are his own take on Orwell’s two-minute hate. Jones down low may be heard playing daily in all the best dementia wards in hospitals all over Sydney. Thursday, Jones goes off like a frog in a sock.

Preaching? It’s precisely what the Kiwi PM takes pains to avoid, but Jones rarely lets fact spoil his argument.

New Zealand has cows that burp and fart, he sneers, in a rare, brief, departure into scientific truth.

Jones role has little to do with reporting and even less with respecting fact. In the 1990 cash for comment scandal, where he and John Laws were found to have accepted money from a slew of corporations, QANTA, Optus, Foxtel, Mirvac and big banks, the jocks’ defence was that they were not employed as journalists, but as “entertainers” and thus had no duty of disclosure or of journalistic integrity. Yet Jones hopes the PM is briefed,

“I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat.”

Outraged by Ardern’s audacity – as much as the fact that she’s a Jezebel – a woman brazenly asserting authority, independence and leadership, Jones works up a lather. Arden’s an impudent hypocrite, he squawks. Australia act responsibly or answer to the Pacific on policy? Accountability is heresy in ScoMo’s government. Perhaps Jones hopes that his “sock it to her” will be an Aussie form of “send her back”.

Sending Kiwis home, if Peter Dutton doesn’t like the look of them, is at least one Morrison government policy that’s coherent. Repatriation on “character” grounds saw a thousand forcible deportations between 2016-2018. Under Morrison as Immigration Minister in 2014, the policy was expanded to include all those Kiwi-born residents who’d been sentenced to twelve months or more in prison.

Many of those deported under the “character test” have no family or friends in New Zealand; have extensive family ties in Australia and have spent very little time in New Zealand, having arrived in Australia as children.

It’s another source of friction between Australia, its major trading partner, despite China (NZ$15.3bn) now having eclipsed Australia (NZ$13.9bn) as New Zealand’s biggest export market.

Friday, Jones’ sock-jock mockery continues. “The parrot” ridicules one of New Zealand’s most popular and effective Prime Ministers; alleging Ms Ardern is “a clown” and a “joke” for “preaching about climate change”, claiming, falsely, that New Zealand’s carbon dioxide has increased per capita more than Australia’s since 1990.

The Parrot’s problems with women in power, rival those of the Liberal Party itself. Worrying aloud in 2012 about our Pacific policy and how “women were wrecking the joint” during Gillard’s highly successful minority government, Jones said he was “putting Julia Gillard into a chaff bag and hoisting her into the Tasman Sea”.

Gillard’s government invested $320 million in promoting Pacific Island women’s role in business and politics.

“She said that we know societies only reach their full potential if women are politically participating,” he shrieked in utter disbelief to listeners during an on-air hate update from Barnaby Joyce about the sale of Cubbie Station to a Chinese-led consortium.

“$320 million could have bought the 93,000 hectare Cubbie Station and its water rights, he reckoned. Kept it in Australian hands. There’s no chaff bag big enough for these people.”

“Women are destroying the joint – Christine Nixon in Melbourne, Clover Moore here. Honestly.”

Gillard’s father John a former psychiatric nurse who passed away at 83, “died of shame”, he added in 2012, “To think that he has a daughter who told lies every time she stood for Parliament.”

Also socking it to Jacinda, Jones is joined in combat by another Liberal supporter and climate denialist, One Nation’s resident empiricist, Malcolm Roberts, who knows how much Kiwis love sheep jokes.

“New Zealand has over 60 million sheep. Sheep produce about 30 litres of methane a day. If Ardern was serious about addressing ‘climate change’ shouldn’t she start by culling the entire sheep population of NZ? Or is she just climate gesturing?”

Roberts is wrong in several respects as an AAP fact check demonstrates. He can’t count sheep. New Zealand’s official data agency, Stats NZ, reports the most recent farm census, conducted in 2017, records 27.5 million sheep in the country. A 2018 provisional update reports a drop to 27.3 million.

Nor are sheep the major culprits. New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory for 2017, released in April 2019, shows sheep produced 12.7 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Dairy cattle accounted for 22.5 per cent, while electricity generation created 4.4 per cent.

Above all, this year, New Zealand introduced a bill to reduce emissions of methane by animals to 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030, and between 24 and 47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050.

Fellow climate science denier, Mick-Mack, as Coach ScoMo calls our deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, must grab a headline to delay being deposed by Barnaby Joyce. Mick-Mack chimes in with a killer argument. Lenore Taylor says on ABC Insiders Sunday, that he couldn’t be more “offensive or paternalistic” if he tried. Itinerant Pacific Islander fruit-pickers, he says, should thank their lucky Aussie stars.

“They will continue to survive,” the part-time Elvis impersonator says in his most tone-deaf, judgemental manner. “There’s no question they’ll continue to survive and they’ll continue to survive on large aid assistance from Australia. They’ll continue to survive because many of their workers come here and pick our fruit.”

And our tomatoes – for eight dollars an hour, as reported in the recent settlement of a case on behalf of fifty workers from Vanuatu, who suffered bleeding from the nose and ears after exposure to chemicals at a farm near Shepparton under the government’s seasonal worker programme.

Brisbane based Agri Labour Australia refuses to admit liability, even after being taken to court and even after agreeing to an undisclosed financial settlement. The Fair Work Ombudsman takes separate legal action. This results in nineteen workers being compensated $50,283 for wage theft – a crime rife in our migrant workforce be it in horticulture or in hospitality.  No records were kept of the workers’ labour over six months.

Seasonal worker and father of six ,Silas Aru, worked for six months, yet was paid a mere $150 in total in farms across Queensland – also as part of a government seasonal workers’ or slave labour scheme. Federal Circuit Court Justice, Michael Jarratt​ struggled to imagine a “more egregious” case of worker exploitation.

Exploited to the point of criminal neglect or abuse, men and women from the Pacific Islands are often the slaves in our nation’s overworked, underpaid, casual or part-time workforce. Mick-Mack knows how to pick ’em. Rip off the vulnerable. Trick them. Rob them blind. Then remind them what a favour you are doing them.

As the bullying of the Pacific Island leaders rapidly turns into an unmitigated disaster, something must be done. ScoMo’s staff work long and hard to orchestrate a shit-storm in response. It’s specialised work. Howard allegedly had an operative in his office solely working on “Alan Jones issues” throughout his term in office, former 2UE Jones colleague and big critic Mike Carlton tells The Saturday Paper’s Martin McKenzie-Murray.

Jones’s confected outrage is a tactical dead cat thrown on the table; distracting media from ScoMo & Co’s default policy of bullying and duplicity. Con-man Morrison promises $500 million over five years for “climate and disaster resilience” but it’s an accounting trick; a shonky repackaging of existing aid. No-one falls for it.

Pacific leaders are insulted, alienated by Morrison’s attempt to con them with a fake bribe. Our PM adds injury to insult by adding a bit of emotional blackmail.  Fijian PM, Frank Bainimarama explains.

“The PM … apparently [backed] into a corner by the leaders, came up with how much money Australia have been giving to the Pacific.” He said: “I want that stated. I want that on the record.’ Very insulting.”

Bainimarama is ropeable. By Saturday, he is all over the media after phoning Guardian Australia. ScoMo’s “condescending” diplomacy is as much of a massive fail as his government’s energy or environment policy or overseas aid abroad vacuums. The Fijian PM is clear that by alienating and insulting Pacific Islanders, ScoMo is helping drive the leaders into the arms of the Chinese. In other words, Morrison’s mission is a total failure.

Kick Australia out of the PIF, calls Anote Tong, former president of Kiribati, and veteran advocate for nations battling rising sea-levels caused by global warming. Australia’s membership of the Pacific Island Forum should be “urgently reviewed” for possible sanctions or suspension over the Morrison government’s pro-coal stance, he says. There’s a precedent. Fiji was barred until recently in a move to censure its departure from democracy.

(PIF) … is supposed to be about the well-being of the members,” Tong tells The Sun-Herald and Sunday Age“If one country causes harm to other nations, such as by fuelling climate change, “there should be sanctions”.

“Pacific people see through this facade. We won’t solve the climate crisis by just adapting to it – we solve it by mitigating it, reducing emissions, investing and transitioning to renewables, not shirking our moral duty to fight,” Greenpeace’s Head of Pacific Joseph Moeono-Kolio says. But our federal government just doesn’t get it.

ScoMo started badly by opting for antagonism and insult. Sending junior minister, coal lobby shill, Alex Hawke on ahead to set up talks did not go over well. Hawke recycles denialist garbage. Human influence on global warming is “overblown” he reckons, while in Tuvalu, he peddles the lie that our economy depends on coal.

In reality, the Morrison government’s dance to the tune of the coal barons costs us a fortune. Avoiding climate change reduces our GDP, by $130 billion a year, reports The Australia Institute, citing calculations by government consultant, Brian Fisher. Yet in the reporting of the Forum, our media helpfully relay the government’s re-framing of our global warming crisis into a choice between jobs or a few more emissions.

We are “family” insists Great White Bwana Morrison. A dysfunctional family where a crafty Father Morrison tells the younger fry lies. The Greens Adam Bandt puts his finger on it. Our wretched carry-over Kyoto credits are yet another shonky accounting trick to allow ScoMo to continue his hollow boast that “we’ll meet and beat” our Paris emissions reduction targets. The stunt certainly does not impress beleaguered Pacific leaders.

“At the moment we are not on track to meet the Paris targets. No one in the world is. We are on track to exceed 3.5 degrees of global warming, which will be a catastrophe. The Pacific Island leaders know this.”

Exploiting “a pollution loophole” is how The Australia Institute (TAI) describes Australia’s bad faith. The “pollution loophole” amounts to about eight years of fossil-fuel emissions from the Pacific and New Zealand combined, calculates, TAI, in a research paper it helpfully makes available to leaders before the Forum. The paper pulls no punches from its title onward: How Australia is robbing the Pacific of its climate change efforts.

Worse, it spells out how Islanders are paying for our denialism. Australia intends to use 367 Mt of carbon credits to avoid the majority of emission reductions pledged under its Paris Agreement target. Meanwhile, the entire annual emissions from the Pacific Islands Forum members, excluding Australia, is only about 45 Mt.

The bad faith continues. ScoMo & Co coerce Island leaders into watering down the text of their draft declaration. Or so it seems, unless you are tuned to Radio New Zealand. Local reports have it that after twelve hours, the PIF comes up with a hollow text that mimics the Coalition’s own climate change denialism.

Pacific leaders released a draft declaration in Tuvalu, Tuesday, calling for “an immediate global ban on the construction of new coal-fired power plants and coalmines” and for all countries “to rapidly phase out their use of coal in the power sector”. It echoes the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call last May.

All references to coal go from the forum communique and climate change statement. Expunged also, are any aims to limit warming to less than 1.5C or any commitment to a plan for net zero emissions by 2050.

Naturally, the Pacific leaders have the nous to issue their own separate declaration with targets which echo its draft statement and which follow the lead of the United Nations, sadly, a body increasingly ignored – if not ridiculed – by our own government and that of its great and powerful friend the US, among a host of others.

By Saturday, Morrison’s stunt with grateful fruit-picker and sock back-up is unravelling badly. Promising to be “a good friend, partner and brother of Pacific Island countries” is China’s special envoy to the Pacific, ambassador Wang Xuefeng, who is quick to exploit the rift between Australia and its Pacific neighbours.

Morrison insists the Forum is a “family gathering” and that “when families come together they talk about the stuff that matters, that’s most important to them. Over the next few days that’s exactly what we’ll do.” It’s ScoMo code, Newspeak for insulting, alienating and bullying the leaders; trashing their hopes and aspirations.

Let the Pacific Islanders worry about rising sea levels and increasing salinity which is rapidly making their homes uninhabitable. In Australia, government energy policy is dictated by a powerful coal lobby – with powerful allies in the media. The PM who brings a lump of coal into parliament also has an assistant recruited from Peabody Coal and has his fossil-fuel lobby and a daft hard right with the upper hand in mind all week.

The Prime Minister’s performance at the Pacific Islands Forum is a monumental failure. Even if his bullying, his intransigence, his inhumanity and chicanery do impress a few one-eyed partisans at home it has dealt irreparable damage to our goodwill in the Pacific, which has not really recovered since the Abbott government  cut $11bn from overseas aid in 2015, a cut which the budgie-smuggler insisted was “modest”.

Fears that China will exploit Australia’s neglectful – if not abusive – relationship with its Pacific neighbours are aired all week but the Morrison government isn’t listening. It does everything in its power to offend and alienate Pacific leaders as it clings to its ideological fixation with supporting a moribund coal industry at home.

Above all, enlisting or inspiring the support of Alan Jones, aka The Parrot, has helped the Morrison government shine a light on the unreason, the bullying, the racism and the misogyny which lie at its heart.

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Adam Goodes: Free Speech Vs the Moral Authority to Express a View

Our Constitution does not guarantee free speech. It only implies that we have it. That being said, we assume that anyone has a right to express a view. There are some, like Andrew Bolt, who despite us supposedly living in an enlightened society want to enshrine in law the right to hate each other.

What I am getting at here is that having an opinion about booing Adam Goodes has turned into a national pastime. However, all this week, despite the right to free speech, I have been questioning the moral right of some to do so.

Let me make it absolutely clear: I abhor racism with all the intellectual and moral righteousness that has been bequeathed to me by good people. Something unexplainable within me has its way when I am confronted by nefariousness and I speak out.

Adam Goodes is a victim of racism for two reasons. Firstly, because he was named Australian of the Year which obligated him, or gave him license to speak on issues concerning Aboriginality. Secondly, he confronted a young girl who called him an ape. This is the most rancid racist thing you can call any dark skinned person.

He was no longer a champion footballer. He had crossed the line that former Collingwood Football Club President Alan McAlister so ludicrously expressed so many years ago:

“… as long as they behave like white people, well, off the field, everyone will admire and respect them.”

Yes, people have a right to free speech but when there is an absence of truth, a distortion calculated to inflame or just common bigotry I unleash my right to question their motives. When there is a racist element in what they are saying I feel duty bound to question their moral authority to opine. Often it simply displays their hypocrisy so this is where I shall start.

Shane Warne in my view is the greatest bowler to ever roll his arm over. As an individual, throughout his career he has been involved in scandal after scandal displaying pathetic social behavior. What sort of role model has he been? He even started a charity as a PR exercise at the height of his misconduct. You be the judge. Mine is that his comments show the intellectual depth of a flea. And that’s being kind.

“If the public don’t like a sportsman because of the way they play the game, they boo, if they like them they cheer, nothing to do re racism”.

Last September after a Swans game against Richmond, Warne said he was:

 “shocked” Goodes had been named Australian of the Year.

Adam Goodes points the finger after being called an 'ape' by a young Collingwood supporter (image from theage.com.au)

Adam Goodes points the finger after being called an ‘ape’ by a young Collingwood supporter (image from theage.com.au)

Alan Jones, the sanctimonious self-righteous biased shock jock habitual liar from Sydney accused Goodes of ‘playing the victim’. Jones was once arrested in a London toilet and faced two charges of outrageous public indecency while behaving in an indecent manner, said he was affronted that Goodes would challenge a 13 year old girl. Jones completely ignored the facts of the events that unfolded, overlooked Goodes’ efforts to meet with and counsel the girl, and portrayed the girl as the victim.  As for the girl’s obviously inherited morality from the mother, what can one say other than feel pity. I have two grandsons aged 9 and 11 who think the treatment of Goodes is terrible and fully understand that racism is inherently a bad thing. They have needed little instruction on the subject. Should I go on about Jones incitement of the Cronulla riots or his proven history of prostituting his ‘opinions’ and repeatedly disseminating falsehoods as well as having publicly endorsed the idea of murdering our then PM by drowning at sea?

You be the judge.

Andrew Bolt, convicted ‘racist’ and all round appalling paid for controversial opinion journalist – individual who demanded the PM give him more free speech to vilify without constraint also expressed his horror at Goodes confronting the girl:

“Singling out a girl for public humiliation, like that, I thought was wrong and if Adam Goodes said it was wrong, I think he’d be a superstar; all people from either sides would rush to embrace him.”

In doing so he too gave a completely false account of the events that took place. You be the judge. If it were my daughter I would embrace Goodes and say “thank you”. As for the mother’s contribution I can only say she needs a lesson or two in parenthood.

Tony Abbot, a leader with little capacity for it offers lukewarm “we should show more respect” support but when it suits his political needs displays racist overtones against Muslims.

Ross Greenwood, economics commentator, said about his booing of Goodes: “There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s got nothing to do with his race, it’s got nothing to do with me being racist”. He didn’t stop to consider that by contributing to the booing himself, he was legitimizing the real racists.

Sam Newman, the resident ageing buffoon and perpetual aficionado of crassness on the Footy Show; the man who bared his genitals on television and who has affronted many with his sexism and disgusting behavior. The man who painted his face black after Nicky Winmar didn’t appear on the show in 1999 opined that “People aren’t booing you [Goodes] because you’re Aboriginal, they’re booing you because you’re acting like a jerk”. (Only he would know).

He went on to state that Goodes’ celebration only served to provoke fans and should have been reprimanded by the AFL. Newman further said:

“As Australian of the year, you should know that- you should be trying to unite people instead of trying to divide them”. (Isn’t that what he has been doing by speaking about the problems facing Indigenous people?)

You be the judge but for me Newman and other white men like him who have made fortunes out of thoughtlessness have not the remotest capacity to understand the emotional torment that racial abuse might incur. He is one of those many men who have never really grown up and his antics prove it.

Jason Ackermanis, former champion and perennial bad boy of the Brisbane Lions parroted the remarks of Alan Jones and in doing so showed little empathy or understanding of the broader picture. He said that Goodes was “playing the victim”. Something that Akermanis made a career of doing. In 2010 he said that gay footy players should “stay in the closet”. In 2005 Akermanis sparked racial controversy when he used his radio program (the Aker and Macca Show) on Brisbane’s 98.9 FM to describe his employers as “monkeys”. It was an Aboriginal community owned station run by the legendary Tiga.

You be the judge but have any of these people made the slightest attempt to comprehend emotionally what it must be like to be being booed by thousands of people every time you go near the ball and not comprehend why they are doing it or conversely believe they are doing it because of the colour of your skin? I can feel it as I write but I bet my feelings are unworthy of his. Does he hear in the raised hiss of intolerance the eco of the wounds from the racism he experienced as a child? Or does he hear in the booing crescendo a symphony of humiliation from the white bastards he seeks to befriend.

The problem here is that the people aforementioned have a common thread. They all are paid huge amounts to be controversial. They are all media tarts with dubious moral standards that brings into question their moral authority to make judgement on their fellow humans. Rather they are insisting on the right to tell them how to behave. And do so while theirs goes unquestioned. What two-faced hypocrisy it is.

These people aside the media generally speaking have made some worthwhile contributions to the issue of race in Australia.

As much as it offends my pride of country I have to admit that the tide of racism flows down the streets of our cities, and through the veins of our culture. And it waters the fields of our play.

As a citizen of the state of Queensland said:

“Let me get this straight … If Adam Goodes stands up against racism that makes him a racist? And if someone makes racial slurs towards him and he doesn’t just “cop it” like all the rednecks want him to, then he’s a sook and a troublemaker?”

These are my thoughts. You be the judge.

More by me. Put Andrew Bolt in the Headline and Anyone will read it. John Lord.

 

The Many Faces of the Australian Shock Jock

“Alan Jones, on your radio program, you often abuse, berate and belittle callers with whom you disagree. On Q&A, you are reasoned and respectful of the people asking questions, to the extent that I sometimes think you’re not as bad as you’d like us to think. Is your radio persona pure entertainment and, if so, who is the real Alan Jones, and do you believe that you are using your platform in a responsible way that encourages constructive debate?” Anthony Johnsen, Q&A 20th July

This thorny bugger of a question was thrown to conservative radio shock jock Alan Jones on Monday night’s Q&A, much to the squeamish displeasure of the recipient. Jones was on the offensive, claiming his trademark fiery exchanges which only occur with politicians, not with listeners. That may be true, but having previously said Julia Gillard’s father “died of shame” and she should be taken out in a body bag and dumped in the ocean, there is little doubt that Jones’ 2GB studio is not a place for “reasoned and respectful” discussion. The former Labor PM is not alone in copping Jones’ abuse, with independent MPs Rob Oakeshott, Andrew Wilkie, Liberal leadership challenger Malcolm Turnbull and even Prime Minister Tony Abbott all copping a verbal bashing.

It has been somewhat of a surprise then that Jones’ appearances on Q&A have shown a different side to the infamous orator, far less “angry old man yelling at cloud” and far more at home aside the more measured voices that the show attracts. The issues he champions on Q&A are also more nuanced and interesting than the grand-stand reading of the Coalition’s briefing notes on 2GB. Furthermore, on all platforms, Jones seems to have complicated his political vision since his days heading up the “Juliar” campaign, from his embrace of same-sex marriage to his campaign against coal-seam gas. So why is he suddenly almost reasonable, or has he always been so underneath his conservative blustering?

The more sceptical observer might call Jones an opportunist, a savvy chameleon giving the audience what they want to hear. On talkback radio they want rage, on the ABC they want rational discussion. Such inconsistency is frequently attributed to fellow conservative kingpin Andrew Bolt. Whilst he is generally as stubbornly right-wing on all platforms nowadays, claims of inconsistency plague his past and cast doubt on the uncompromising caricature he now propagates.

In a scathing portrait of Bolt for The Monthly, Anne Summers presented a convincing argument that Bolt refashioned himself in the 1990s to fill what was then a right-wing void in the op-ed pages. Whilst she doesn’t doubt that Bolt was somewhat conservative, she questions the authenticity of his miraculous transformation from unassuming editor to megaphone commentator. And with due course, given News Corp’s chief Gillard-hater used to work for the ALP in several positions. The nation’s great climate denier also once wrote the “Environs” section in The Age.

Summers quotes a former colleague saying “A big part of me admires Bolt for having built all this out of nothing. But it is so cynical because that is not who he is.” “He obviously saw there was reputation and money to be made from being conservative,” said academic Robert Manne. “He was forceful but he was not as right-wing then or we would not have got on so well,” said journalist Shelley Gare.

This touches upon a deeper point about the now popularized far-right provocateur mould – to what extent do they actually believe what they say? There should be nothing beyond comprehension about adopting a conservative worldview, in fact if one cannot even imagine it then perhaps they are too rigid to engage in a diverse contest of ideas. However, the sheer vociferousness, the attack-dog style, the relentless plundering of issues for literally thousands of media segments and the offensiveness of some dialogue invites the cynical to suggest they are making a calculated decision to feed the desires of a niche audience, to deliberately provoke the mass audience and to stay relevant through remaining controversial.

All which makes the faintly shifting stripes of Alan Jones more interesting. He is no lefty and there is no room for him in the centre. He has fashioned himself as a conservative warrior. There is no popularity or money in providing nuance to an argument in the modern media melee. So Jones ought to be commended for not sticking to the tired old trope of the Andrew Bolt right-winger, and occasionally veering off his ideological course, even if only briefly.

Perhaps he should take a second look at wind farms. Yeah never know, he might be surprised by what he sees.

 

Principles, Alan Jones And Why People Named Rossleigh Should Pay No Tax At All!

Every now and then we have some journalist telling us that the current generation is functionally illiterate because some young person mis-spelled “manoeuvre”, while ignoring the vast number of mistakes in the mainstream media. (One of my favourtes was when Channel 10 posted underneath a photo of Brad Haddin, alleging that he was Australia’s “wicked keeper”… Mm, perhaps they may be on to something!)

However, it’s people’s lack of a basic education in legal and economic principles that most concerns me.

For example, yesterday morning, I read this piece of nonsense in “The Age”:

“Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority head Ben McDevitt says he is very confident that Essendon players received banned drugs in an 2012 injection program, despite a tribunal finding to the contrary.”

I wish to emphasise that I’m making no judgement about the guilt or innocence of anyone here, but there was no “finding to the contrary”. The tribunal simply found that there wasn’t enough evidence for a finding of guilty.

And that’s the way the law works. When you’re found “Not guilty”, it doesn’t mean that you’re found innocent or exonerated, it simply means that there is insufficient evidence to condemn you as guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

So when Mr. Smedley is found, naked and drunk, in an illegal brothel and he claims that he was a little confused and he thought he was in the doctor’s office for a medical exam, we may doubt his story, but the job of the prosecution is to prove that his version of events doesn’t stack up. At the end of the trial, he won’t be found “innocent”, it may just be that the court decideds there isn’t enough evidence to convict him. And you can be pretty sure that after the verdict, his wife won’t be saying, “How could I ever have doubted you, I’m so sorry!”

But now that the AFL tribunal has delivered the verdict, the letters section was filled with letters asserting that this proved that people had done “nothing wrong” and that the investigation was completely unnecessary and certain people in the media owed certain people a large apology.

And then, of course, we have Mr Palmer suing his ex-PUPpets. According to the lawyer, they’ll be sued under the principle of promissory estoppel, which I find rather interesting.

Now, let’s for a moment consider what a Senator is elected to do – at least in theory. Senators are elected to represent their state. They make certain statements to the electorate and the various states elect the senators that they feel will best respresent them. While parites may support them, or donors may back them, their first duty is, of course, to the state they represent.

All right, we know that it doesn’t work in practice quite like that, but I think we can all agree that if any politician came out and actually said that they knew that this would hurt their electorate, but one of their biggest donors is for it, so their electorate can get stuffed, they’d receive a backlash at the ballot box.

So what is the principle of “promissory estoppel” under which Palmer intends to sue. Well, basically it works like this: A person makes a promise, the person to whom the promise is made then makes certain decisions based on the reasonable expectation that the promise will be kept, and, when the promise is not kept, the promisee suffers some form of economic loss. In other words, you promise me that you’ll supply me with building materials. I enter into a contract to build a house for someone else and then you tell me that you’ve changed your mind in spite of our handshake deal because you’ve found that you can get a better price, so I sue you for the lost revenue on my building of the house.

It seems to me problematic for Mr Palmer to argue that he has suffered some form of economic loss because the senators left the Palmer United Party. The money spent getting them elected has already been spent. If they suddenly rejoined the Party, then neither Mr Palmer nor his party would receive any of those funds back. So essentially Palmer’s lawyers will be arguing that their first duty is not to the electorate they serve, but to the people who financed their campaigns – in this case, the Palmer United Party – because of their “promise” to be PUPs in the Senate.

If this was successful, the ramifications of anyone making any policital donation could be huge. “I donated twenty dollars to your campaign under the believe that you were going to lower my taxes because of your promise to do that, now I’m joining in a class action because, well, I spent the money at Harvey Norman on interest free terms!”

And, of course, Mr Palmer’s lawyers need to be careful that they don’t suggest that Mr Palmer expected some future economic benefit from having senators from his party in the Senate, because surely he would expect them to make up their mind on the merits of each piece of legislation and how it affected their state, because to have a party telling people to vote against the interests of the people who elected them, well, that’d just be wrong, wouldn’t it?

And speaking of parties telling people what to do – or just plain wrong – most of you probably read about Alan Jones’ little rant on what Abbott should do:

  • a judicial inquiry into ASADA, the AFL, NRL and the Gillard government
  • a “drought tax”, like the Queensland flood levy introduced by the Labor government, to help farmers in NSW and Queensland;
  • taxing everyone over 65 at only 15 cents in the dollar to encourage older people to stay in the workforce
  • taking away the entitlements of former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard because of their “wrecking of the economy”.

Which gets back to my point about a basic education on how the legal system works. His first point, I could dismiss with “oh no, not another inquiry”, but as I pointed out at the beginning, the fact that the Essendon players weren’t found guilty, doesn’t mean that there was nothing to investigate. And while it may be worthwhile to look at ASADA and its operations, the linking to the Gillard government makes me wonder whether Jones is suggesting to Abbott that another witch hunt is necessary, because none of the other inquiries have damaged Labor enough.

Similarly, his final point about stripping Rudd and Gillard of their entitlements has two probablems. The first is that it’s an oxymoron. If they’re “entitlements”, then people are entitled to them and one can’t strip them away. But, more seriously, where would you stop if you decided to do something like this to ex-PMs? Without entering into the rather spurious argument that Rudd and Gillard wrecked the economy – when I last looked we still had an “economy” so it clearly hasn’t been “wrecked” – could Parliaments start stripping politicians of their entitlements because they introduced legislation that they didn’t like, or didn’t reduce the Budget deficit by as much as promised?

However, it’s the second and third point that reveal most about Alan Jones. Why only to help farmers in NSW and Queensland? Aren’t there farmers in other states suffering hard times? Oh, that’s right. NSW and Queensland are Alan Jones’ audience.

And while I’m wondering about naked self-interest…

Why tax everyone over 65 at only 15 cents in the dollar? Wouldn’t that include people who could clearly afford to pay the tax? People who were earning millions as a radio shock jock for example…

And I’m still to have someone explain to me why, with such high unemployment, we’re trying to encourage older people to stay in the workforce longer. Yes, I understand that we need to plan for the future, and a few years from now, there won’t be enough younger workers to sustain all the older pensioners. But surely we should be trying to get younger people into the workforce now, so that they could earning and building up superannuation, so that they have less need for the pension when they’re older. And, in some cases, when you encourage older people to stay in the workforce, you’re depriving a younger person of a job.

But hey, I’m not an economic genius like the Liberals. The rises in the superannuation guarantee were first stopped by Howard. They’ve been stopped again by the current mob.  Now, we’re hearing that we need to be putting away more for retirement, so that we’re not reliant on the pension. Perhaps, I’m missing something, but it seems to me that increasing the superannuation guarantee would be a way of doing just that.

Still maybe Jones is onto something. He should be paying fifteen cents in the dollar… Just to keep him in the workforce, not to add to his wealth… And I should be paying no tax at all, just because… well, it’d give me more money and I’d spend it and stimulate the economy and provide jobs, and that’s the only reason, I don’t just say it because it’d allow me to buy more stuff…

Ah, as Jack Lang (NSW Premier during the Depression) supposedly said: “Always back the horse named self-interest, son. At least you know it’s trying.”

 

It’s Time for Abbott to Step Down

Surely when Alan Jones, one of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s most fervent supporters, gives him a grilling on radio, it is time to say enough is enough. For whatever reason the talkback radio host found it necessary to take Abbott to task on the issue of the free trade agreement with China, it was enough to ask: if his friends are unhappy, isn’t it time someone tapped him on the shoulder?

On Insiders Sunday November 15th, Malcolm Farr summed up his thoughts: “Tony Abbott is a man who should not be left alone with his own mouth.” The comment was made in reference to Abbott’s opening remarks to the leaders of the G20 on the weekend about the $7 GP co-payment, the carbon tax and stopping the boats.

It was that, and Abbott’s attempts to exclude climate change from the G20 agenda that made him look foolish. Laura Tingle said it well enough in the Australian Financial Review. “Unfortunately for our Prime Minister, however, Barack Obama has delivered a rather humiliating exercise in power politics over the weekend: showing how leadership and power lies in setting and controlling an agenda.”

blew it

Obama expressing disbelief?

If Abbott ever had a golden moment to look every inch the statesman, it was the G20. He blew it in breathtaking fashion. Surely there must be a point where the collective mental health of the nation takes precedence over the choice of a national leader. How much more are we expected to endure?

If ever a supportive media had the chance to make him look worldly, it was at the G20, but even they could not do it. We saw him, warts and all, make an idiot of all those who voted for him and have the rest of us reaching for the Prozac. Then, on Monday night at a dinner to host the Chinese president, he confused China with Tasmania.

The thought of having to endure another two years watching this man stumble from one gaffe to another while continuing to lead our country, is asking too much. We deserve better. Whatever misgivings people may have had about Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard, surely those misgivings must pale into insignificance when placed alongside the recurring examples of ineptitude displayed by this man.

For a moment, let us look beyond the sheer dishonesty that is the trail of broken promises. As unfair as they are, as economically unsound and unlikely to work as they are, his government would not be the first to play that card. Let us look beyond the appalling treatment of asylum seekers, a policy decision based solely on the belief that it gave his party an electoral advantage.

Let us look beyond his extraordinary approach to the issue of climate change. Let us put some of his utterly stupid remarks about coal to one side for the time being. Let us look beyond the possibility that he is, and has been, ineligible to stand for parliament in the first place, because of Section 44 of the Constitution which prohibits those holding dual citizenship from being candidates.

These are all issues we can debate but which are overshadowed by another. The question all LNP members of parliament should be asking is: does this man demonstrate the qualities and mental capacity necessary to lead the nation, or is he simply a figurehead, a puppet attached to, and dangled by, other more powerful interests who take advantage of his inability to articulate a coherent narrative?

bizarreWhen one addresses that question and places all his bizarre comments, his misguided sense of equality, his inability to express an original thought, surely they must scratch their heads and wonder: is he the best they have to offer?

If they cannot nominate an alternative, then they too must all be seen as incompetent and tarred with the same brush.

That then leaves the only alternative: to demand of the Governor General that he be replaced.

It’s not as if he would be the first. As unlikely as that is to happen, however, it is as clear as it is appropriate. If the man himself was willing to put the country ahead of his own personal ambitions, he would step down.

The latest Newspoll would suggest the majority of voters agree.

The Weird World Of Tony Abbott’s Australia

Image from smh.com.au

Image from smh.com.au

While Googling Tony Abbott – now there’s something I wouldn’t have imagined myself doing twenty five years ago – I came across an interesting quote that I thought was refreshingly honest:

“It’s my job between now and polling day to remind the Australian people just what a hopeless, unreliable, untrustworthy, dishonest, deceptive Government this has been. It just doesn’t get democracy.”

Unfortunately, on closer examination, I discovered that the quote was from the Alan Jones program, and it was made in July, 2010. Unfortunate, because I thought this might be the beginning of a more honest approach by the government, where they actually admit that the Budget would be back in surplus if we simply went back to the tax rates of 2007. You know, back when John Howard was in charge, before Labor slashed our taxes.

Still, we are getting rid of that great big tax on everything, so that should help the Budget bottom line. I did hear a couple of Liberal politicians express the view that balancing the Budget would be a lot easier with the Carbon Tax gone. I wonder if they realise that the government doesn’t actually have to pay the Carbon Tax and that it receives the revenue. In fact, according to Liberal pamphlets, it receives an enormous amount of revenue from this source. But hey, let’s abolish this “King Kong” of taxes (to quote Mr Abbott again) and make pensioners pay to visit the doctor.

Yes, I’m being emotive. After all, some of these pensioners would still be working once the pension age goes to seventy. As Mr Abbott said just last week:

“We think this is right and proper and we think older people should be economic contributors, not just social and cultural contributors.”

But back to the Carbon Tax. In reporting Clive Palmer’s decision to back its abolition, the Herald-Sun – in a straight news story, under the Headline “The Weird Al and Clive Show” – began with: “Climate change scaremonger Al Gore and big polluter Clive Palmer combined  in a bizarre press conference as Mr Palmer revealed revealed he would back the Government’s bid to abolish the carbon tax – with conditions.” (Emphasis added.)

For some reason, we were treated to a list of Mr Palmer’s assets, as well as being told that Mr Gore used the phrase “climate crisis” three times in his “3min 30sec speech” (sic).

Mm, I’m waiting for the article that begins “Budget Crisis Scaremonger Joe Hockey” or when the phrase “Big Polluter” is applied to a member of one of Tony Abbott’s advisory groups.

The article went on to suggest that journalists were wondering whether Mr Gore had been paid to attend. However, it left me wondering, whether the writer of the article, Ellen Whinnett, was paid to put such a slant on it, or whether writing such tabloid rubbish is consistent with her principles.

Bolt and Jones achieve full froth in defence of their friend Tony Abbott

Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones are distressed.

Their good friend and hero Tony Abbott is flailing from crisis to crisis, embarrassment to embarrassment. Struggling to develop a cohesive palatable message.

The polls are stubbornly bad for his government and it appears any credibility or integrity he had left in the eyes of the public is all but eliminated. Irreparably it seems.

Bolt and Jones spent years doing all they could to get their man in Canberra into government and it’s gone pear shaped remarkably quickly.

Abbott’s failure is their failure.

The community’s rejection of him is a rejection of them.

They are both, figuratively speaking, firmly in the Abbott Faction of the Liberal Party. The now dominant hard right capital C conservative faction.

They are his media minders, PR department, faciltators and attack dogs.

The last 3 election cycles, particularly since Abbott became leader, has seen a mass exodus of what was left of the small l liberal tradition inside the Liberal Party.

They were out of place and they knew it.

They fled.

This is all an important context to understand the Bolt, Turnbull and Jones affair of the last week.

Tony Abbott is under pressure to turn around his sinking, rudderless ship and his media PR machine in the mainstream media is feeling it too.

The extreme nasty IPA driven budget was supposed to be accepted by the public against their best interests because it was “fixing up Labor’s mess”.

The public weren’t supposed to question it, but they have.

They see it as an assault on the “fair go” and their way of life.

Jones has used his Labor as “fire” and Coalition as “firefighter” analogy innumerable times.

It’s painfully tortured yet he perseveres.

Not surprisingly however it seems Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff Peta Credlin has picked up on it and directed cabinet ministers to use the exact same fear mongering aggressive language to scare people into accepting this shocking budget.

Thankfully it’s not cutting through and people are resenting the broken promises and unfairness of the Abbott plan.

Abbott used fear and division aplenty in opposition but they are finding that it just doesn’t cut it anymore in government.

People want the “adult government” they were promised.

People don’t want to be scared, lectured or lied to by Tony Abbott anymore.

They are sick of the negativity and lack of vision coming from his government.

Enter Malcolm Turnbull.

A popular leader who is well liked in the community but on the fringe of the Coalition caucus.

The dinner Turnbull had with Clive Palmer was all it took to light a fire under the very sensitive and protective Abbott forces in the media. Perhaps at the behest of the Abbott Faction.

Bolt is paid to irritate and rile enemies of Murdoch. That’s his job. He does it well.

Recently however the enemy was a lot closer to home.

Bolt attacked Turnbull for having dinner with Palmer without permission. I wasn’t aware he had to seek permission for who he could socialise with privately?

It was obviously not a “secret meeting”. Canberra’s a small place.

This didn’t stop Bolt saying Turnbull was conspiring against Abbott and being disloyal.

Apparently Abetz and Pyne need to be consulted for Turnbull to have a casual dinner with Palmer.

This is the Bolt/Jones line.

The fact they weren’t told is supposedly the smoking gun.

Turnbull didn’t reject out of hand the idea the Bolt and Jones attacks were coordinated. The idea holds a lot of water.

They are clearly trying to reassert the hard right of the Liberal Party in the face of polls showing Turnbull would be a popular leader.

They want him put in his corner and nervy MPs warned off even considering switching their vote to save their own skin.

The Alan Jones interview with Turnbull was something to behold.

Screeching, heavy breathing, condescending, lecturing and at times hysterical.

Jones is clearly feeling the pinch.

Now he knows what it’s like to be on the wrong end of popular opinion and to have concerted campaigns in the media and public to destroy his preferred leader.

Normally he’s the one dishing it out and dictating what he thinks should be popular opinion.

Not now he’s not.

Turnbull handled a fulminating Jones skillfully, occasionally calming his interviewer down before he erupted uncontrollably and breathlessly again.

The egos of Bolt and Jones are limitless. Their sense of power and self importance renowned.

Turnbull is absolutely correct to stand up to bullies and defend himself if he thinks it’s appropriate.

Was the dinner with Clive more than just casual? My sense is no.

But even if it was it has shown just how close Bolt and Jones are to Tony Abbott.

He relies on these nasty aggressive media characters to convince the masses he’s the saviour.

The masses are ignoring the preachers these days however.

It’s quite clever of Turnbull to push back so strongly against nasty public attacks. He wants to make it clear he won’t put up with it.

It also puts Abbott in a bind.

In a public spat between the three of them, whose side does he take?

His cabinet minister’s or his strong media allies’?

Turnbull is playing them off against each other.

One can’t help but think he’s doing all he can to damage their relationship and the role they will play in the life of the Abbott Government.

Recent articles by Matthew Donovan:

If they don’t know what they’re talking about, how are we supposed to?

Time to end Tony Abbott’s deceitful debt scare campaign

Shock jock fantasy land vs reality

Don’t let the Abbott Government Budget get one over you

With friends like Bolt and Jones, you don’t need enemas OR SNAFU

Photo: www.theland.com.au

Photo: www.theland.com.au

SNAFU – Situation Normal, All Fouled Up! (That’s the polite version anyway.)

“…I just have to say to Mr. Bolt, he proclaims loudly that he is a friend of the government, well with friends like Bolt we don’t need any enemies.”                                            Malcolm Turnbull, earlier this week. 

 

“Alan is a friend of mine, Andrew Bolt is a friend of mine, I think that they are both very significant commentators and they’ve got a lot to say as you know.”                               Tony Abbott, yesterday.

 

“You said I wanted to diminish you. The truth is I don’t. You said I wanted to challenge you in 2016. The truth is I don’t. You said I wanted the presidency for myself. The truth is… I do. What politician hasn’t dreamed of about what it would be like to take the oath of the highest office of our land? I’ve stared at your desk in the Oval and coveted it. The power. The prestige. Those things have a strong pull on someone like me, who came from a small South Carolina town with nothing. But since you assumed office, my only aim has been to fight, for you and alongside you.”

Frank Underwood, “House of Cards”

 

“I’ve coached Australia in rugby, if one of my players was seen on the eve of the rugby test was seen … having dinner, privately inviting to dinner one of the All Blacks, the player would be sent home Malcolm.”                                                                                              Alan Jones.

When the choice is between a conspiracy and stuff-up, always choose the stuff-up and you’ll be right more often, according to conventional wisdom.

All right, must of us heard the loooong pause from Turnbull when asked if this was part of a co-ordinated campaign. The question, of course, is what is the campaign and what does it hope to achieve?

Ok, let’s examine the conspiracy theories for why Bolt and Jones would want to give the story about Turnbull’s leadership ambition so much publicity. The first is that it’s a way to distract from the Budget. The second is that they hate Turnbull and are just using this as a chance to whack him, while boosting their ratings. The third is that they’re part of a conspiracy to help remove Turnbull from the front bench.

Of these, the idea that it’s the Liberals way of taking the focus of the Budget is the only one I’d consider if we were dealing with your average government. However, any government that can appoint Christopher Pyne to anything more than working out the seating plan for meetings with the Premiers, clearly lacks a grip on reality and we can’t just look at the logical.

The second is partly plausible. Bolt and Jones are, after all, first and foremost, reliant on their capacity to generate controversy. But would they really want to hurt the Liberal Party by helping create a re-make of the Rudd/Gillard soap opera? I mean, aren’t they “Friends of Tony Abbott”. (Mm, and it’s the ABC that are supposedly biased.)

Are the Liberals really so stupid as to think removing Turnbull would help them politically? In spite of his dinner with Clive, Malcolm has been a good little boy towing the line on all sorts of things from Direct Action to the NBN. While he may have the odd word about gay marriage or the Republic, he’s basically supported party policy. If he’s quietly biding his time, trying to boost the numbers for a crack at the leadership, this only becomes an issue when it hits the media. Which it does when people like say Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones bring it to public attention. Even the big “Dinner With Clive” event would have run out of legs by now.

But no, thanks to Bolt – Abbott’s “friend” – Turnbull’s alleged disloyalty is a hot topic. Which gives Turnbull the opportunity to deny it, thus keeping the story alive.

So, Abbott, the leader is part of a conspiracy to help put stories about his rivals leadership ambition in the media? Isn’t it usually the other way round? I mean, isn’t it usually the challenger who wants the speculation and the incumbent who wants to pretend that nothing’s happening? Perhaps, Abbott really hasn’t noticed that he’s Leader of the Opposition, let alone PM.*

Which brings us to SNAFU…

According to the polls, the Government is unpopular with the electorate. Turnbull, on the other hand, is preferred leader by a long way. While this may not be a good enough reason for the Liberals to dump Abbott and install Turnbull as PM, it hardly suggests that dumping Turnbull from the Ministry would be something that would boost their standing with the electorate. Could they really be so out of touch with political reality that they don’t see how Turnbull’s sacking would play out?

Let’s ignore the media reaction about the removal of a moderate because he’s a threat and letters to the editor complaining about how far to the Right this government has gone. Let’s just ask ourselves, how would Turnbull react?

Yes, it’s a nice fantasy to think that he’s had enough. That he goes rogue. He tells people exactly what he thinks of the Liberals and – with no hope of ever being PM – spills as many beans as he can. Or maybe he joins PUP. Or the Labor Party.

Or perhaps he, channelling Peter Costello, just gives up his dream of being PM, resigns from Parliament causing a by-election in his seat of Wentworth. Can’t see the Liberal strategists cheering for that one.

But wouldn’t the most likely scenario be for Malcolm to quietly see out his time on the backbench, occasionally having dinner with the odd friend – as Tony pointed out, journalists are sometimes friends of politicians – reminiscing and providing “off the record” comments? And, Keating-like, quietly reminding people that he’s there. While it’s true that many in the Liberal Party don’t like Turnbull, they like losing even less.

Nope, no sane, rational leader would even consider a re-shuffle where Turnbull was removed. Mm, with that in mind, he’ll be gone within the month.

But just because I’m likely to get that wrong, here are some other predictions that I’m more confident about:

  1. The head of a retail change will suggest that the poor are just being selfish by spending their money on rent and food instead of electrical goods.
  2. An advisor to Tony Abbott will say that owing to the fact that unemployment is so high, perhaps people could job share. That is, a group of people all work full time for the same company but share one wage.
  3. If the Medicare co-payment gets through, there’ll be an immediate call to increase it, as it’s not covering its administration costs.
  4. One Liberal Politician will suggest that people suggesting that the rich could pay more tax are indulging in class warfare on the same day that another suggests that people should be happy to contribute to Australia’s future by making sacrifices. A clarification will follow where the Liberals explain that paying tax is not making a sacrifice, and that sacrifices are when one throws a peasant into a volcano to appease the gods.

*In a previous blog, I pointed out the Rafael Epstein suggested to Graham Morris that the weeks after the Budget had been Abbott’s most difficult as Leader of the Opposition.

 

Alan Jones, Heather Pascoe, I am with you

Alan Jones. Photo: The Daily Telegraph

Alan Jones. Photo: The Daily Telegraph

As the silent tentacles of Eddie Obeid were, piece by ugly piece, exposed to public view, we listened in horror.  The party that allowed this to happen was rightly punished at the polls sending NSW Labor into political oblivion, and no doubt influencing the Federal election as well.  Corruption and lies.  Kick them out.

But since then, we have been assaulted by daily revelations of just how sordid politics in this country has become.  Are there none who will emerge unscathed?  Has the greatest office that an Australian can hold been sold to the highest bidder?

Our Prime Minister has suggested that accepting donations to your political party by selling access to Ministers’ offices for those with vested interests and deep pockets is a “time-honoured practice”, and that whilst there may have been some shenanigans by individuals at a state level, we most definitely do not need a federal integrity watchdog like ICAC.  I beg to differ.  Workplace smoking was a time honoured practice too.  It was also wrong.

I never thought I would suggest listening to Alan Jones.  His treatment of Julia Gillard was unconscionable on more levels than I care to revisit.  As an intelligent man he knows this.  He apologised for one of his worst mistakes, after it went public, as seems to be the only moral guide nowadays.  If someone finds out, and worse still, publicises it,  then pay it back or declare it or say sorry.  Are there no personal standards anymore?

Anyway…I digress.  Alan Jones has a large following and this gives him influence.  When he uses that to battle action on climate change and renewable energy, I will always disagree with him and point out the many facts that prove his arguments wrong.

But when he is right, when he uses his influence for good, then I will support him and do what I can to help.  I can hear people saying who are you to judge right and wrong.  Good point.  People who have a public platform have a certain obligation to present facts and allow others to judge.  I try to do this though my personal philosophy no doubt influences my writing and is apparent to readers, as is Alan’s to his listeners.

I have shared this Alan Jones radio program on other threads but it deserves as much attention as can be aroused.  If you have not heard it, and you care about your country, then please take the 20 odd minutes it will take to listen to the whole program.  He, and the woman he interviews, Helen Pascoe/Brown show great courage in relating this story.  As usual, I have looked at other sources to verify the story they are telling.  You can read here and here and here other articles verifying what they are saying.

It is important to remember that Queensland has no upper house so what Campbell’s boys vote for goes.  Add to this the move by Greg Hunt to water down environmental laws and devolve responsibility for decisions to the states which has allowed the Newman government to proceed with developments with no oversight.

I will not tolerate mining companies attempting to intimidate Australian citizens through criminal acts apparently with government sanction.

To Heather, I will volunteer to go and stay in your property with my dog and a lot of cameras.  This will not happen in my country.

To Alan, thank you for making us aware of just how far the corruption has gone.

Freedom to speak badly: one rule for protestors, another for Andrew Bolt?

Andrew Bolt’s racial vilification case and the government’s subsequent hasty threat to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act has placed ‘freedom of speech’ at the forefront of political debate. But its importance is always overlooked, or shunned, when it’s those of the Left side of politics who are exercising it. The media’s response to March in March rallies is an obvious case, writes Jennifer Wilson.

Image: heraldsun.com.au

Image: heraldsun.com.au

Peter van Onselen (pictured) devotes almost an entire page in the Australian this morning (paywalled. sorry) to complaining about the “unedifying” display of bad manners by some protestors who took part in the March in March rallies, comparing them with the infamously abusive banners held aloft by the three hundred or so activists who took part Alan Jones’s 2011 Convoy of no Confidence against Julia Gillard and her Labor government.

I would appreciate someone drawing up a comparison of the two situations, given my impression that the number of participants in the Jones rally carrying offensive placards constituted a far greater percentage of the whole than those in the March in March rallies.

As van Onselen concedes, in the Jones protest virulent expressions of rage and hatred were legitimised by the presence of leading politicians photographed under the placards. No such validation took place of the relatively few offensive banners on display during March in March.

“Calling a conservative a fascist and portraying his image to replicate Hitler is deliberately designed to undermine their ideological positioning in the same way that calling a woman a ‘bitch’ or ‘witch’ carries clear sexist intent,”  van Onselen states, in his comparison of the two situations.

I would not so readily presume an equivalence between sexist intent, and the desire to critique, albeit with a degree of hyperbole, an ideology. Sexism attacks the woman for nothing other than being a woman. Describing Abbott as “fascist” in no way attacks his gender, and is merely commentary on the manner in which he is perceived to enact his conservatism.

Placards claiming that the Abbott government is “illegitimate” are not abusive, offensive or threatening, rather they are simply wrong, and likely being employed as payback for the years of the LNP opposition equally inaccurately describing the Gillard government as “illegitimate.” What is apparent is that there are hot heads and wrong heads on both the conservative and Labor side of politics. This should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Along with Tim Wilson, Human Rights Commissioner for Freedom, (I’m sorry, I don’t know what that title means) van Onselen is disturbed not at the exercise of freedom of speech demonstrated by both rallies, but at the ill-mannered, impolite, potentially violent and “irresponsible” speech used by a small number of participants in their signage. A similar rabid element is guilty of foully derailing many otherwise useful Twitter discussions, claims van Onselen, quite rightly in some instances, though there are sensitive souls renowned for “rage quitting” Twitter when they confuse disagreement with abuse.

Van Onselen and Wilson’s desire to see public speech free from offensive, insulting and at times threatening expression is shared by many people, but quite how to achieve that remains a mystery. Bad speech must be countered by good speech, Wilson has asserted, however, taking the case of Andrew Bolt as an example, it’s difficult to see how someone with a large public platform such as Bolt, or fellow shock jocks Alan Jones, or Ray Hadley can be challenged by the people they offend and insult, who rarely have an equivalent public platform from which to counter their attacker’s bad speech with good. It is for this reason we have legislation intended to protect people from racial vilification, for example, the very legislation Mr Wilson is now intent on seeing repealed, as he believes it interferes with the absolute freedom of speech he appears to favour.

I can see Wilson’s point, however, as long as there are more powerful enunciators of bad speech with large platforms than there are good, perhaps we need other precautionary measures.

I couldn’t help but wonder, as I read the article, what van Onselen and Wilson would make of public demonstrations in other countries, Mexico perhaps, where I witnessed protests in which politicians were represented by enormous papier-mache figures with grossly exaggerated sexual organs, accompanied by banners that claimed they f*cked both dogs and their mothers and ate children. Nobody saw any cause for offence. Compared to such robust expression, the complaints seem rather prim.

Amusingly, van Onselen concludes his article with the reminder that “Protest is as an important part of democracy as are institutions designed to uphold democracy, but only when practised within the spirit of Australia’s well established political structure.” I am completely unable to see how any of the offensive signage fails to fit in with that spirit. Australian politics have, for the last few years and most certainly during Gillard’s entire term of office, been such that one would think twice before taking school children to witness Question Time, and I really don’t know who van Onselen thinks he is kidding.

The ongoing discourse about how we should conduct our discourse is unlikely to change anything. Van Onselen’s piece appears to make the claim that those who offend middle-class sensitivities undermine the more moderate message and concerns of mainstream protestors, and destroy their credibility. This may well be the case, but only because people such as van Onselen make it so, opportunistically denigrating the whole on the basis of the actions of a very few.

It is not possible to eradicate voices some consider undesirable from public expression. Otherwise we would not have to put up with the Bolts. A sign held aloft at a demonstration cannot do one tiny fraction of the harm done by Bolt, Jones and the like. If we are to conduct serious conversations about how public discourse influences attitudes and behaviours, surely we must start by interrogating the enunciations of those with the furthest reach.

This article was first published on Jennifer’s blog No Place For Sheep and has been reproduced with permission.

Fruitcakes of a Feather

Monckton

I have been on an interesting journey through the world of climate change denial and I would like to share some of my travel highlights with you.

I started with my favourite video of well- known climate change denier and world government alarmist, Lord Christopher Monckton (a must watch if you haven’t seen it).  He is the pin-up boy of the mining industry, a man whose “expert” opinion is often quoted by Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt.  The meeting is in the boardroom of the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, a free-market think-tank founded by west Australian mining magnate Ron Manners. Monckton explains how they need to control the media to achieve their goals.   Interestingly, not long after this meeting took place, Gina Rinehart bought $192 million worth of shares in Fairfax (the publisher of Brisbane Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and many regional newspapers and city-based radio stations) to take her share in the company to about 14 per cent.

Monckton applauds the work of Andrew Bolt, and also Joanne Codling who is better known by her stage name, Jo Nova, which she adopted in 1998 when she was preparing to host a children’s television program.  Jo Nova is married to David Evans and she and her husband joined Lord Monckton on a speaking tour in Australia in 2011.  The advertising for the tour describes Nova and Evans as “leading Australian scientists” who will, along with headliner Monckton, explain how “the carbon tax will bankrupt Australia” and show how “the science does not justify it.”

Let’s start with Monckton, the third Viscount of Benchley, a hereditary title in the United Kingdom. Contrary to Monckton’s claims, he is not a member of the House of Lords in the Parliament of Britain. In fact, when Monckton persisted with the lie, the House of Lords took the unprecedented step of publishing an open letter to him, demanding that he cease and desist.

Monckton is not a scientist. He has a degree in classics and a diploma in journalism.  Nevertheless, the Heartland Institute lists him as an expert with their organization, where they publish his posts on climate change. He is also a frequent speaker at the Institute’s annual International Conference on Climate Change.  He is listed as a “scientist” in American Senator Inhofe’s report claiming more than 1,000 scientists disputed there’s a scientific consensus on climate change.   He has TWICE been asked by Republicans to testify about climate change before committees of the U.S. Congress

Monckton is the Chief Policy Advisor to climate change denial lobby group Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI).  His bio on their site stated that:

“His contribution to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report in 2007 – the correction of a table inserted by IPCC bureaucrats that had overstated tenfold the observed contribution of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to sea-level rise – earned him the status of Nobel Peace Laureate. His Nobel prize pin, made of gold recovered from a physics experiment, was presented to him by the Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester, New York, USA”

When Christopher Monckton was challenged about this during a visit to Australia in early 2010 he conceded that “it was a joke, a joke” and “never meant to be taken seriously”. The Sydney Morning Herald noted that despite this, he had made the same claim with a “straight face” on the Alan Jones show one day prior, and the claim remained on the SPPI website until 2012.

He also describes himself as a “chief policy advisor” to former British PM Margaret Thatcher, and frequently introduces himself as her “chief science advisor” when interviewed by the conservative media.

Monckton has been quoted as saying “I gave her advice on science as well as other policy from 1982-1986, two years before the IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was founded”, that he was “the only one who knew any science” and that “it was I who – on the prime minister’s behalf – kept a weather eye on the official science advisers to the government, from the chief scientific adviser downward”.  Bob Ward in the Guardian investigated these claims and found them to be false.

Monckton claimed that he has developed a cure for Graves’ Disease, AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, the flu, and the common cold.  This is no joke–he actually filed an application to patent a “therapeutic treatment” in 2009.

I could go on and on, including when he dressed up in Arabian clothes and pretended to be a delegate from Myanmar at the UN climate change talks (from which he has since been permanently banned), or when he described Professor Ross Garnaut as a fascist and said in a German accent “Heil Hitler! on we go”, or his launch of the fringe political group Rise Up Australia, or when he threatened to sue the University of Tasmania, but I think you already get my drift on the credibility of this “expert”.

Moving on to Jo Nova.  Nova received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Western Australia majoring in micro and molecular biology. She also received a Graduate Certificate in Scientific Communication from the Australian National University in 1989, and went on to host children’s science shows.  She loves to do the denier shuffle on her blog but seems to not care at all about the validity of her sources.

Ms Nova’s husband David Evans “attended the University of Sydney for five years from 1979 where he did science and engineering, and then spent a further five years at Stanford University at Palo Alto in California, doing a PhD in electrical engineering”.  According to his biographical note, Evans rhetorically describes himself as a “Rocket Scientist”.  While Evans use of the term was rhetorical, one article on a website for the conspiracy-minded took it literally and headed an article about Evans claiming “Top Rocket Scientist: No Evidence CO2 Causes Global Warming”.

Evans has made a number of claims about the role of banking institutions throughout history and subscribes to the conspiracy theory that “climate change is merely a cover for a massive power play”.

I fail to see how these two could be described as “leading Australian scientists” or what their qualifications are to join the climate change denial talk circuit as experts.  This excellent article from Watching the Deniers details the claims made by Nova and Evans over the years.  And they call US alarmists! Paranoia anyone?

So who pays these people to present their “expert” views?  That trail leads to people like Gina Rinehart and Ron Manners, and groups like the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC), and the Galileo Movement.

The Galileo Movement was started by two retired men, one was formerly paid by mining companies and the other is a former engineer who owns an air-conditioning company.  They apparently formed with the express intention of stopping the carbon tax.  Alan Jones is their patron and the usual suspects are named as “expert advisers”, a list which until recently included Andrew Bolt. (When Bolt dumps you you KNOW you are out there.)

The Galileo Movement are advertising an upcoming talk by radio talkback personality John MacRae, a regular on Alan Jones show, about how banks and governments are ripping you off, and Malcolm Roberts, their project manager, who “will speak for 20 minutes on government abuse of taxpayer funding through corruption of climate science”.  It seems Roberts is also heavily embroiled in the banking conspiracy theory.

So my tour has really been a circle, revisiting the same places again and again.  Gina Rinehart, Lord Monckton, Andrew Bolt, Jo Nova, David Evans, Alan Jones, the Galileo Movement, Malcolm Roberts.  The resources that are being devoted to this misinformation campaign are formidable. The arguments go “round, like a circle in a spiral and a wheel within a wheel”.  Lies and obfuscation, cherry-picking data and repeating any claim regardless of its credibility or source.

The mad monk even appeared as a speaker with the even madder Monckton in Perth.  If these are the people that our current government goes to for climate change advice, Lord save us.  And I don’t mean the feathered loon variety.

Author’s note:  This is one of a series of articles looking at the people who advise Tony Abbott.  Others include AIMN articles, Who do you admire, Has anybody seen Tony’s envoy, Putting our First People last and Tony’s tame expert.

Tony’s tame expert

In 2009, Tony Abbott attacked as ”climate change alarmists” those scientists who worked on the peak UN scientific advisory body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and who were warning about the threat from climate change. Abbott described them on Four Corners as ”the people who will tell you as if it’s as obvious…

Read more

What If Bolt Had Been Given The Job…

Photo by meme generator

Photo by meme generator

Andrew Bolt’s Application to Host Media Watch

TO Mark Scott, ABC managing director:

…Don’t assume I’m not available. Hear that ripping sound? That was my contract for my Network 10 show.

Mark, I want you to know I stand ready to serve when your current host, Jonathan Holmes, stands down by the end of the month, as I read…

From Andrew Bolt’s Blog, 2nd May, 2013

Sources tell me that Andrew Bolt wasn’t actually considered for the job of Media Watch host as there were a few technicalites with his application. The first was that he never actually submitted it – he only shared it via his blog. There’s a longstanding tradition in applying for jobs in this country that one doesn’t do it in via a national newspaper. (The exception to this being when one wishes to take over as leader of a political party. Then one may declare that one is available, that one has no intention of challenging for the leadership or simply tell a journalist that – off the record – there’ll be a challenge within weeks.)

So what if Bolt had actually applied and been successful? I suspect we’d have got something like the following:

Hello I’m Andrew Bolt, welcome to Media Watch. 

After October’s ridiculous attempt by climate alarmists to politicise the NSW fires and to link them to their scare campaign, we now get this from the ABC’s news bulletin:

“HEATWAVE LINKED TO CLIMATE CHANGE”

The bulletin then went on to quote some Professor without pointing out that this person had a vested interest in the topic. He has been studying climate science for the past twenty three years. Hardly what I’d call a disinterested party. Of course, the usual suspects jumped on this story. From a newspaper which I won’t name because of the ABC’s ridiculous no brand names because it contravenes advertising policy, which, by the way, previous hosts of this show used to flout quite regularly, but my freedom of speech was supressed when I  just mentioned in last weeks’s show what a great drink coke was and thanked Mercedes for the great deal they gave me on the car:

“MORE HOT WEATHER TO COME”

This hysterical article then went on to predict another five days of temperatures above thirty degrees, ignoring the evidence that last night cooled to a mere twenty two degrees. Then having softened us up, the opinion page had this letter:

“When is this direct action policy of Abbott’s going to start? This hot weather should get us all thinking”

Since when did weather have anything to do with the climate? This completely overlooks that fact that we’ve had weather going back to the time that Captain Cook first discovered this uninhabited land. And as for the letter writer’s obvious left wing bias in demanding thinking, well, it should be no surprise that the writer of this letter had, in fact, completed his secondary education. These sort of academics are good at twisting arguments, but most of my readers are down to earth folk who intuitively know that I’m right. 

Of course, the ABC has been trying to suggest the world is warming for decades. Such as  this from 1972:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNCM51-mFXI

Admittedly, that was the American ABC, but the point remains. Of course, we’re used to the Bolshevik view coming from the ABC, but now the so called “free press” has joined in. The latest IPCC evidence shows that these ‘warmists’ are just plain wrong.  I call for all journalists at non-Murdoch owned papers to be sacked and the ABC to be privatised immediately. 

Now, unto a rather troubling matter. Again, there have been complaints about Alan Jones getting some minor detail wrong and calls for him to be removed from the air. These sort of politically correct attempts at censorship must be stopped. So what if he’s a few degrees or a couple of hundred percentage points out – this makes no difference to his actual argument that certain people need to take a good hard look at themselves and would benefit from a sound caning. As an ex-private school boarding master, Alan knows all about the benefits of that. Freedom of speech is one of our most important principles. 

Until next time, I’ve been Andrew Bolt and you people listen to the ABC so you must be wrong.

Good Night.

Climate change questions and answers

Anyone who has read Andrew Bolt, The Australian, or listened to any shock jocks such as Alan Jones recently would have been overwhelmed with the number of rabid claims that climate change is a hoax, a left-wing conspiracy theory, or that any change stopped over a decade ago. Sadly, this is the view held by our mainstream media and even more sadly, our new government. Neither seem interested in the facts.

Just over a week ago the the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) published Questions and Answers: climate change where they addressed some of the common questions raised about the changing climate and the science involved in studying it.

The media ignored it. The government ignored it. And as a result, you probably don’t know about it. After all, it was nothing more than a collection of facts: facts that contradicted what the media and government would want us to believe.

Below, I have reproduced a condensed version of the CSIRO’s discussion:

What is climate change? (natural & human-induced)

Human-induced climate change, represents a raft of new challenges for this generation and those to come, through increases in extreme weather events and other changes, such as sea-level rise and ocean acidification.

Climate change will be superimposed on natural climate variability, leading to a change in the frequency, intensity and duration of extreme events.

Climate risk profiles will be altered and adaptation will be necessary to manage these new risks. Adaptation includes new management practices, engineering solutions, improved technologies and behavioural change.

How has climate changed in the past?

In Australia, surface temperatures on the land have been recorded at many sites since the mid to late 19th century.

By 1910, Australia had a reliable network of thermometers and the data they produced have been extensively analysed by the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists at CSIRO, Australian universities and international research institutions.

This reveals that since 1910, Australia’s annual-average daily maximum temperatures have increased by 0.75°C and the overnight minima by more than 1.1°C.

Since the 1950s, each decade has been warmer than the one before. We’ve also experienced an increase in record hot days and a decrease in record cold days across the country.

Why do sea levels change?

Average global sea levels have been rising consistently since 1880 (the earliest available robust estimates) largely in response to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the consequent changes in the global climate.

There are two main processes behind long-term sea-level rises, which are a direct result of a warming climate.

Firstly, as the ocean has warmed the total volume of the ocean has increased through thermal expansion of water.

Secondly, water has been added to the oceans as a result of melting glaciers and ice sheets.

Sea levels began to rise in the 19th century and the rate of sea-level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the average rate during the previous two millennia.

Global-average sea levels are currently (between 1993 and 2010) rising at around 3.2mm per year, faster than during the 20th century as a whole.

How else are the oceans changing?

The heat content of the world’s oceans has increased during recent decades and accounts for more than 90 per cent of the total heat accumulated by the land, air and ocean since the 1970s.

This warming increases the volume of ocean waters and is a major contribution to sea-level rise. Ocean warming is continuing, especially in the top several hundred metres of the ocean.

Sea surface temperatures in the Australian region were very warm during 2010 and 2011, with temperatures in 2010 being the warmest on record. Sea surface temperatures averaged over the decades since 1900 have increased for every decade.

How is the composition of the atmosphere changing?

The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in 2011 was 391 parts per million (ppm) – much higher than the natural range of 170 to 300 ppm during the past 800 000 years.

Global CO2 emissions are mostly from fossil fuels (more than 85 per cent), land use change, mainly associated with tropical deforestation (less than 10 per cent), and cement production and other industrial processes (about 4 per cent).

Energy generation continues to climb and is dominated by fossil fuels – suggesting emissions will grow for some time yet.

How is climate likely to change in the future?

With greenhouse gas emissions continuing to increase, we expect the warming trend of the past century to accelerate throughout this century. We also expect changes to rainfall patterns and to the frequency of extreme weather events like cyclones and droughts.

Average temperatures across Australia are projected to rise by 0.4 to 1.8°C by 2030, compared with the climate of 1990. By 2070, warming is projected to be 1.0 to 2.5°C for a low emissions scenario, and 2.2 to 5.0°C for a high emissions scenario.

Australians will experience this warming through an increase in the number of hot days and warm nights and a decrease in cool days and cold nights.

Climate models show that there may be less rainfall in southern areas of Australia during winter and in southern and eastern areas during spring. Wet years are likely to become less frequent and dry years and droughts more frequent.

Climate models suggest that rainfall near the equator will increase globally, but it’s not clear how rainfall may change in northern Australia.

Australia will also experience climate-related changes to extreme weather events. In most areas of the country, intense rainfall events will become more extreme.

Fire-weather risk is also likely to increase and fire seasons will be longer. And although it is likely that there will be fewer tropical cyclones in the Australian region, the proportion of intense cyclones may increase.

What is extreme weather and how is it changing?

The natural climate variability that underlies all extreme weather events is now influenced and altered by the effect of human-induced warming of the climate system.

Future climate change impacts will be experienced mostly through extreme events rather than gradual changes in mean temperature or rainfall.

Heatwaves, floods, fires and southern Australian droughts are expected to become more intense and more frequent. Frosts, snow and cyclones are expected to occur less often.

Extreme events and natural disasters place a huge burden on individuals, communities, industry and the government and have an enormous impact on Australia’s economy, social fabric and environment.

What are the impacts of climate change?

Australia is expected to experience an increase in extremely high temperatures, extreme fire weather, extreme rainfall events, tropical cyclone intensity, extreme sea levels, and droughts in southern areas.

A decrease in the frequency of extremely cold temperatures is expected, along with fewer tropical cyclones.

These changes will pose significant challenges for disaster risk management, water and food security, ecosystems, forestry, buildings, transport, energy, health and tourism.

For example, many animal and plant species may decline or become extinct, water resources are expected to decline in southern Australia, agricultural zones are likely to shift, coastal erosion and inundation is expected to occur more often, energy demand is likely to increase, snow cover will decline and heat-related deaths may rise.

Is the science settled?

In climate change science, robust findings include:

  • clear evidence for global warming and sea level rise over the past century
  • changes observed in many physical and biological systems are consistent with warming
  • due to the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 since 1750, ocean acidity has increased
  • most of the global average warming over the past 50 years is very likely due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas increases
  • global greenhouse gas emissions will continue to grow over the next few decades, leading to further climate change
  • due to the time scales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries even if greenhouse gas emissions were to be reduced sufficiently for atmospheric concentrations to stabilise
  • increased frequencies and intensities of some extreme weather events are very likely
  • systems and sectors at greatest risk are ecosystems, low-lying coasts, water resources in some regions, tropical agriculture, and health in areas with low adaptive capacity
  • the regions at greatest risk are the Arctic, Africa, small islands and Asian and African mega-deltas. Within other regions (even regions with high incomes) some people, areas and activities can be particularly at risk
  • unmitigated climate change would, in the long term, be likely to exceed the capacity of natural, managed and human systems to adapt
  • many impacts can be reduced, delayed or avoided by mitigation (net emission reductions). Mitigation efforts and investments over the next two to three decades will have a large impact on opportunities to achieve lower greenhouse gas stabilisation levels.

It is incredible that this information has been unreported and I would assume, largely ignored. Instead, we will continue to be inundated with claims that rabid claims that “climate change is a hoax, a left-wing conspiracy theory, or that any change stopped over a decade ago”.

It is an act of gross negligence that our media fails to accurately report the reality of climate change. It is also an act of gross negligence that our new government fails to embrace the challenges.

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