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Tag Archives: Dick Warburton

Trust, transparency and accountability or gimme gimme gimme?

Buoyed by their success at the 2013 election, the Abbott government has wasted no time in using their power to feather their own nest and to promote, reward and employ their backers. Whilst all governments do this to a degree, Abbott has taken it to a whole new level of blatant nepotism and servitude to his masters at the expense of the public interest.

On the 9th of September 2013, before the count was even finalised, Julie Bishop flexed her muscles by her petty and vindictive decision to revoke the appointment of Steve Bracks as consul-general in New York. He had been appointed in May, long before the caretaker period, and was due to start that week.

It’s not as if Ms Bishop had a better person in mind. The position remained vacant for six months until it was gifted to Nick Minchin, the man who gave Tony Abbott leadership of the Liberal Party in return for his conversion to climate change denial.

And she didn’t stop there. Despite having 18 months of his term left, Mike Rann was booted from the position of High Commissioner to the UK to make way for Alexander Downer. This is the man who, under the guise of providing foreign aid, authorised the bugging of the cabinet offices of the East Timor parliament to further the commercial interest of Woodside Petroleum who coincidentally employed him after he left politics.

Rather than investigate this matter, which is before the International Court of Justice, George Brandis authorised raids to steal the evidence and cancelled the passport of the prime witness.

Brandis also hit the ground running to look after his mates. So appalled was he by the conviction of Andrew Bolt, he immediately set about changing the laws to protect the rights of bigots. To champion the cause, he made the inexplicable decision to sack the Human Rights Commissioner for the Disabled, Graeme Innes, and appoint the IPA’s Tim Wilson (without advertising, application, interview, relevant qualifications or experience), to fight for the repeal of Section 18c of the racial discrimination laws,

After a huge backlash from the public, Brandis was directed to drop his crusade, and there sits Tim Wilson, drawing a salary of $400,000 including perks, with nothing to do.

Mr Wilson’s appointment followed Senator Brandis’ announcement that he had chosen former Howard government minister David Kemp – the son of IPA founder Charles Kemp – to chair the advisory council of Old Parliament House. This position had been given to Barrie Cassidy but Brandis forced him to resign. Along with Kemp, two others were appointed: Heather Henderson, the only daughter of Liberal Party founder Sir Robert Menzies; and Sir David Smith, whose place in history was assured on November 11, 1975, on the steps of Old Parliament House, when as official secretary to governor-general Sir John Kerr he was required to read out the proclamation sacking the Whitlam government.

Brandis, as Minister for the Arts, also appointed Gerard Henderson as chairman of the judging panel for the nonfiction and history category of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, Australia’s richest book prize.

Tony Abbott only took a few hours to begin his Night of the Long Knives. The swearing-in ceremony had barely finished when the Prime Minister’s office issued a press release, announcing three departmental secretaries had had their contracts terminated and the Treasury Secretary would stand down next year.

The head of Infrastructure Australia also quit or was sacked for his criticism of the government’s interference with the independence of his organisation. The head of the NBN, along with the entire board, were also replaced.

All funding for the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples was withdrawn. Countless charities and advisory groups have been defunded.

Climate change and renewable energy bodies have been under constant attack with many disbanded and the rest hanging on temporarily by the grace of the Senate.

To replace all these experienced experts, we have seen an astonishing array of people appointed to high-paying positions as advisers, reviewers, commissioners, consultants, board members, envoys –

Maurice Newman, head of Tony Abbott’s 12-member Business Advisory Council, aged 76, a former head of the stock exchange and the ABC and a founder of another of the right-wing think tanks, the Centre for Independent Studies. Climate sceptic.

Dick Warburton, 72, the former chairman of the petrochemical company Caltex, among other corporate affiliations. Appointed to review Australia’s 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target (RET). Climate sceptic. Also appointed was Brian Fisher. Climate modelling done by his firm has been presented to the review panel by the oil and gas sector, as part of its campaign against the RET.

Tony Shepherd, former head of the Business Council of Australia (BCA), aged 69. Appointed to head the Commission of Audit. Climate sceptic. Former Liberal senator Amanda Vanstone and Liberal staffer and Chicago-school economist Peter Boxall were on the commission’s panel. Peter Crone, director of policy at the BCA, was head of the secretariat.

David Murray, 65, the former CEO of the Commonwealth Bank, appointed head of the government’s Financial System Inquiry. Climate sceptic.

Henry Ergas, 62, regulatory economist and columnist for the Australian. Appointed to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s “expert panel” to assess the costs and benefits of Turnbull’s “copper magic” NBN-lite. Climate sceptic who recently made a video with Christopher Monckton.

Kevin Donnelly, the IPA-aligned former chief-of-staff to Kevin Andrews and champion of corporal punishment. Appointed to review the National Curriculum. He then appointed Barry Spurr, author of racist sexist ranting emails, to advise on the literature curriculum.

Warren Mundine, son-in-law of Gerard Henderson. Appointed to advise on Indigenous affairs. Has set up a nice new office, 10km away from his department.

Jim Molan, retired general and author of the tow-back policy. Appointed as Special Envoy to fix the asylum seeker problem and to advise on the defence white paper, a position he quit after three weeks citing differences with the Defence Minister.

Janet Albrechtsen, columnist for the Australian, and Neil Brown, former deputy Liberal Party leader. Appointed to the panel overseeing appointments to the boards of the ABC and SBS.

It seems the pool of “experts” nowadays is confined to the IPA, the Australian, the Business Council, and the Howard government, and climate change scepticism is an essential criterion.

Aside from jobs for the boys (and a couple of girls who think feminism is a dirty word), we have also seen the blatant promotion of the coal industry with fast-tracking of approvals. We have seen the repeal of gambling reform laws. We have seen the delay and watering down of food and alcohol labelling laws. We are seeing an attack on the minimum wage and penalty rates. All of these measures are against the best interests of the people and purely designed to reward business donors.

Our Prime Minister personally introduces James Packer to international government and business leaders around the world to promote his quest to build more casinos. This is despite the fact that his company, Crown, has been implicated in bribery to a Chinese official.

In a recent report, the OECD was scathing of Australia’s record, pointing out that Australia “has only one case that has led to foreign bribery prosecutions, out of 28 foreign bribery referrals received by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) … this is of serious concern”.

One of the 28 cases referred to the AFP related to two properties in Chinese Macau part owned by James Packer’s company, Crown.

A former Macau official is currently serving a 289-year sentence for accepting bribes of up to $100 million, with various suspect projects named, including the casinos.

The OECD report notes Australian police did not launch a domestic investigation into any possibility of Crown’s involvement.

In another scandal, former Leighton Holdings construction boss Wal King has denied all knowledge of a $42 million bribe Leighton is accused of having paid in Iraq. Leighton Holdings continue to be awarded lucrative government contracts.

Another of the 28 cases referred to by the OECD relates to payments made by BHP Billiton in China. They note that, unlike Australia, the US has launched two investigations into BHP Billiton

The OECD’s lead examiners expressed concern that the “AFP may have closed foreign bribery cases before thoroughly investigating the allegations”.

The only foreign bribery investigation that has resulted in prosecutions in Australia is the highly publicised case involving the Reserve Bank subsidiaries Securency and Note Printing Australia over which, interestingly, Dick Warburton has been investigated as a former director of Note Printing Australia.

One must wonder about a police force that can spend hundreds of thousands investigating and prosecuting Peter Slipper over $900 worth of cab charges, that can mobilise over 800 police to conduct raids leading to the arrest of one teenager who got a phone call from a bad person and the confiscation of a plastic sword, but who refuse to investigate widespread corruption in industry.

And every day it gets just a little bit worse.

A Sydney restaurant owned by Tourism Minister Andrew Robb and his family is being promoted by a government-funded $40 million, 18-month Tourism Australia campaign that targets 17 key global markets to sell the Australian “foodie” experience to the world.

The Robb family restaurant, Boathouse Palm Beach, is showcased on Tourism Australia’s “Restaurant Australia” website, which was launched in May, as the “ultimate day trip destination” just an hour from Sydney and the “perfect place for a relaxed family outing”.

Perhaps Tony Abbott’s daughters earned their job at the UN and $60,000 scholarship. Perhaps the contract to BMW had nothing to do with them giving an Abbott girl a gig. We will never know.

This is only a sample of how the ruling class are using our nation as their personal plaything, of how they openly flaunt convention and even the law, of how they silence dissent and promote their agenda, of how they bestow rewards.

Until this abuse of power is curtailed, politicians will rightly be reviled as the least trustworthy people in the country.

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The case for a Federal ICAC

On May 15 this year, the Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, unsuccessfully introduced a bill to create a national anti-corruption body. She makes a powerful case, raising many very concerning examples. Every Australian should read what she had to say.

“The federal government is the only jurisdiction without the infrastructure to confront corruption. Every time wrongdoing is exposed, one-off reviews or ad hoc investigations are launched.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the people blockading at Bentley against Metgasco because today the New South Wales government has suspended the licence that was granted because there was no consultation with local people and because, through the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigations, it is pretty obvious that the licences were given wrongly. But it should not take ordinary citizens taking the action that they have to hold governments to account, to make sure that licences are not given as a result of money paid behind the scenes or undue influence or favours in any other way.

And now for the third time the Greens have this bill before the parliament to create this office to crack down on public sector corruption and promote integrity in our public institutions. In fact I cannot see why anybody would oppose setting up a national ICAC, and I will be very interested to hear what excuses are offered. It is pretty obvious that corruption does not end at the border of New South Wales; it does not end at any other state border. When you consider the likelihood of corruption in the federal arena, it is pretty overwhelming. So many major projects are dependent on some federal licence being given, some engagement with a federal agency. Therefore, there is a huge temptation for people, both at the political level and in the bureaucracy, to engage in talking with lobbyists-and who knows where it will end up.

I want to give an example that is on the go right now. You have the financial services industry, which did not like one little bit the fact that in the last government Labor and the Greens moved to change the law to require those people in the financial services industry to act in the best interests of their client. Now what is wrong with someone being required to act in the best interests of their client? You would expect that to be the case. But what has been revealed is that in a whole lot of the managed investment schemes, for example, the financial advisers were not telling the people they were selling the products to of the massive kickbacks that they, the financial advisers, were getting as a result of recommending that product. So what happened? The financial advisers became rich, but the people who bought the product, well those people lost and lost out badly.

When I think of the tragedy of the people who were sucked into buying from Great Southern Plantations, Gunns and the rest, you have to ask the question: how on earth did the financial services industry get to the point where it was able to con the parliament into agreeing that it could sell a product without having to act in the communities’ or its clients’ best interest?

Now we have a situation where the financial services industry has persuaded Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government to change the act back to remove the need for financial advisers to act in the best interests of the client. And we what do we find? We find that the financial services industry is part of the North Sydney Forum, which is a fundraiser for the federal Liberal Party-in particular, Treasurer Joe Hockey. What does that tell you about the influence of lobbyists-the way that lobbying groups get involved in private fundraising engagement with political parties? The delivery is given here in parliament in terms of outcomes. And it is entirely secret. Until this was forced out recently, nobody would have known about that backroom dealing that was going on.

That is why it is critical. The same thing goes with novated leasing and a whole range of things, including the salary packaging industry. That industry is in there with the car industry to set up a situation where you can minimise your taxable income by going through this lurk of novated leases. We got rid of it in the last period of government, and I see that the current Liberal Party is about to restore the rort.

That is the kind of thing that goes on, and that is why the community is getting increasingly frustrated and wants to have some reassurance that there is some way of investigating what they can clearly see is on the verge of corruption, if not corruption.

In this Greens legislation, the National Office of Integrity Commissioner is modelled on the successful New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption. It is based on provisions in the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006. The first part of it is about the National Integrity Commissioner, and that is concerned with corruption in relation to public officials and Commonwealth agencies, and has full investigative powers, including public and private hearings and summoning any person or agency to produce documents and appear before the commissioner.

I think that is fair enough. Why shouldn’t public officials, Commonwealth agencies and parliamentarians be subject to that kind of oversight in the federal parliament? I will give you an example-it happened recently-which many people will have read about. Just in this last month we saw two men-one from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and another working with the National Australia Bank-using unpublished unemployment, retail and trade data at the Bureau of Statistics to trade in foreign exchange derivatives. Somebody working in a government agency was working with someone in the private sector and using that information. That insider trading brought in millions of dollars to the two men, but in this case it has been picked up by our criminal justice system. I am glad it has been picked up by our criminal justice system, but it may not have been. What pathways do members of the community have to put forward matters and have them investigated?

I want to go to another example-the issue of Securency, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank. Mr Warburton has been appointed by Prime Minister Abbott to review Australia’s renewable energy target. We know that he has been the subject of a secret internal investigation into his role as a former director of a firm involved in Australia’s worst foreign bribery scandal. That investigation and those findings by KPMG were sent, in February, to the Reserve Bank Board. They deal not only with Mr Warburton and his fellow former Note Printing Australia directors but go to the knowledge of, and handling by, Note Printing Australia’s sanctions-busting trip to Iraq in 1998. Yet yesterday, when I sought the parliament’s approval to put that document on the table of the parliament so that we can know what exactly went on and what KPMG found out about those directors-in particular, Mr Warburton-the government and the opposition voted together to prevent the Senate order that would have required that report to be tabled in the parliament. I put the question: why shouldn’t the parliament have access to that KPMG report on what has gone on?

I want to give another example. One of my constituents, who I will not name, is a fisherman in Tasmania. He was approached by two Austrade officials in Japan. He was asked to provide fish to this supposedly Japanese businessman who they vouched for. They said he was a credible person and that they had done the due diligence. They said that the government wanted this trade in order to develop the relationship with Japan in high-quality seafood. So this fisherman went ahead and did it, at the request of Austrade. He was quite happy with his own business. He did not need this business but he went ahead with it because they asked him to.

The long and the short of it is that he provided the fish to this place in Japan-to the businessman whose bona fides Austrade vouched for. After a while the fish were collected but no payment was made. Later it was revealed that there was no such businessman. The person that Austrade had vouched for did not exist. Austrade had invited my constituent to get involved with a shonk. Why? In order to justify the Austrade office in Nagoya they had to show that they were turning over a certain amount of business. So they set up this whole thing. The result of it is that my constituent went broke, and the department backed their two officers to the hilt.

There was no natural justice in this. As far as I know, those two officials remain employed in Austrade. I think it is totally wrong. I have pursued it every which way, seeking natural justice for this person. But the bigger question here is: how many other Austrade officials around the world are setting up similar kinds of scams and presenting figures to the federal government on the extent of the business that they are engaged in when, in fact, it has all been set up to secure their postings rather than the business that was supposedly there to be delivered?

I will give you another example, under the Green Loans scheme in the last period of government. It was riddled with incidents of inappropriate behaviour from some public servants, who favoured particular suppliers. They split contracts so that they did not have to go to competitive tender. The audit reports into the scheme make for deeply troubling reading, with systematic breaches of procurement policies and basic financial management regulations. The question is: was it just maladministration or sloppiness? Were they under pressure to get these Green Loans and audits out the door? Did they do this in order to facilitate a government policy, to get it out the door? Or were any kickbacks paid? What actually was done when the audit reports came in and showed there were serious questions to be answered?

The public does not know, and neither does this parliament. Those of us who have constituents bring these things to us have no mechanism to have them investigated. And if we cannot actually give enough evidence for a breach of a criminal kind it goes nowhere. Well, I think that if it is good enough for the states to recognise that there is a high risk of corruption and that they want to actually try to eradicate corruption, then at the very least the federal parliament should go there as well.

It also goes to our international standing. We are a signatory to two important anticorruption conventions: the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which entered into force in December 2005, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. This is another one where Transparency International has previously criticised Australian law for its low and ineffective penalties for corruption. It found, in its 2009 report, that Australia made little or no effort to enforce the OECD Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

I will give you another example: in Zambia, as I stand here, there is an Australian mining company over there trying to get a licence to put a mine in one of their biggest national parks. It was refused by the environment agency in Zambia but then that was overturned by a minister in that country. International NGOs have alleged clearly that money changed hands. And yet you have an Australian state government backing this company to the hilt. What is the arrangement? Who is involved in this?

You have the United States currently investigating BHP in China in relation to corruption. This was one of the things referred to the Australian Federal Police. It was not taken up by the Federal Police, but I raised it at the last estimates and they now have.

Equally, in Macau, where the Chinese took action against a citizen there for bribery in relation to casino developments-in particular, Crown casino developments. The Chinese citizen was jailed there for taking a bribe of $100 million to free-up the land for the casinos and provide the licences. And yet when that was referred to the Federal Police to look at from our end, what was done? Zilch, zero-nothing! Now, why? Why are we allowing this to happen? I would like to have a very considered explanation from my parliamentary colleagues in other political parties here as to what they could possibly have against setting up a national integrity commission-a commission against corruption.

The other thing we need to do is to reassure the public that the entitlements we get are appropriately accessed and spent. That is why as part of this National Integrity Commission, the Greens are saying that we want a new Office of the Independent Parliamentary Adviser, to advise MPs and ministers on entitlement claims and the ethical running of their offices that the public rightly expects. That adviser that would be tasked with developing a legally-binding code of conduct for MPs for the parliament to adopt.

Of course, this goes to the heart of the recent wedding scandal, where people had claimed expenses to go to various weddings, functions and so on, and the question was really: were those really for parliamentary business or were they using an entitlement just because they could get access to it? There was the famous case here, many years ago, of an MP who flew to Perth and back and who did not leave the airport lounge, simply to get the entitlement in relation to frequent flyer points. This was using a public, taxpayer funded fare to fly from the eastern states to Perth, sit in a lounge, have lunch and come back in order to get the frequent flyer points. This is why we have had the awful scandal in the last parliament with the former Speaker, Peter Slipper, and allegations made about him and his use of entitlements. But he is not the only one by any means. There have been a lot of allegations. That is why it is actually to the benefit of parliamentarians that we get this, because it enables people to go and ask the question, ‘Is this an appropriate use of my entitlements or not?’ and actually to have that sorted by someone who is overseeing it.

So I implore the parliament: corruption is serious. It distorts our democracy and it hurts communities, communities who end up like those in the Bentley Blockade, having to take action because governments have colluded with business to get the outcomes that business wants against the community. So, come on: let’s get a national ICAC for Australia and let’s do it in this parliament to restore and maintain our reputation, and to help build trust in the parliament rather than the level of cynicism about the revolving door between big business and politics.”

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Tell me what I want to hear

As it becomes increasingly apparent that households will not be $550 a year better off without the carbon tax we hear the rhetoric change. Andrew Laming said

“It will be $550 lower than it otherwise would be, but if other elements have made prices go up then you won’t see a $550 fall on any bill. But you’ll be $550 better off than you otherwise would have been, and that’s a very important caveat.”

So if I understand him correctly, because prices are going up at a slower rate that is a cut. How come the same does not apply to funding for health, education, and pensions?

Despite cutting $80 billion from State funding for health and education, Abbott assures us that this is not a cut because funding goes up each year, albeit by less than promised. Likewise, Tony repeats over and over that pensions will go up twice a year. The fact that they will be going up by less (CPI rather than AMWE), thus expanding the relative gap in standard of living, is not to be considered a cut.

Having abandoned carbon pricing, and facing criticism of, and opposition to, its Direct Action Plan, the government, at the behest of its masters, has now set its sights on the Renewable Energy Target.

Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia, recently wrote

“We might be able to farewell the carbon tax, but it is just one of a long line of green energy policies which federal and state governments have layered on top of one another that are driving up the cost of electricity.

It is the cumulative impact of these policies that is pushing up the cost of electricity and making our businesses less competitive.

Repeal of the carbon tax therefore must be the beginning of removing shortsighted schemes and programs, and the start of a process to design an integrated approach to climate change and energy policy that supports rather than weighs down our economic competitiveness and jobs.”

Tony Shepherd, the man chosen to lead the “audit” of government expenditure, was also chair of the Business Council of Australia, which threw its weight behind the government’s move to repeal the carbon price. As a previous chairman of Transfield Services, he has long-established ties to the Liberal Party and ex-NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, and was an outspoken critic of the Gillard government. He criticised the carbon tax legislation and warned of the dangers of Australia leading the world on climate change, stating “tails do not wag dogs”.

Shepherd wants nuclear power to be in the energy policy mix, not “excluded on ideological grounds”, which, as Crikey points out, seems to forget that for Australia nuclear power is excluded on simple maths — it’s hideously expensive, compared even with renewables.

In January 2012, Maurice Newman, head of Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council, wrote in the Spectator

“Even before they threatened my property, I was opposed to wind farms. They fail on all counts. They are grossly inefficient, extremely expensive, socially inequitable, a danger to human health, environmentally harmful, divisive for communities, a blot on the landscape, and don’t even achieve the purpose for which they were designed, namely the reliable generation of electricity and the reduction of CO2 emissions.”

In an interview on Lateline, Newman said

“I just look at the evidence. There is no evidence. If people can show there is a correlation between increasing CO2 and global temperature, well then of course that’s something which we would pay attention to. But when you look at the last 17.5 years where we’ve had a multitude of climate models, and this was the basis on which this whole so-called science rests, it’s on models, computer models. And those models have been shown to be 98 per cent inaccurate. CO2 is not a pollutant.”

Newman is calling for the RET to be scrapped saying

“Whether the Coalition will change their policy on the RET is up to them … I believe it should be removed because the basis upon which we accepted in good faith that we needed it is no longer there. When we look at the experience of Germany, they have not been successful in reducing emissions; when we look at the science it no longer supports the global warming theory and when we look at the health and economic effects of windfarms and the obscene wealth transfer from poor to rich we have to ask: why are we persisting with them? I think it is a crime against the people.”

David Murray, a former CEO of the Commonwealth bank of Australia, former head of the $90 billion Future Fund, and the man chosen by Tony Abbott to lead the review of the $5 trillion Australian financial services industry, has also dismissed the threat of climate change, and suggested climate scientists had no integrity.

In an interview on ABC TV’s Lateline Program, Murray said the climate problem is “severely overstated.”

Asked what it would take to change his mind about the climate science, particularly in light of the recent IPCC 5th assessment report, Murray replied: “When I see some evidence of integrity amongst the scientists themselves,” – an interesting comment considering what has come out about shonky practices at the Commonwealth Bank that he led.

He said if he were in a leadership role, he would “set up some scientific approach to get a community consensus here about what is the truth on this matter.” Rather than listening to every major scientific institution around the world, and the overwhelming scientific consensus, he wants “community consensus”?

Murray’s appointment to head the first full scale review of the financial system in 17 years is problematic given his stance on climate change. The financial services industry is probably the most exposed to risk created by a changing climate, changing policy, and the likelihood of stranded assets as the world accelerates towards a low carbon economy.

A growing number of actuaries, advisors and investor groups are raising concerns that banks and funds managers are “flying blind” on climate risk because they are effectively ignoring the issue.

They argue that systemic reviews, be they in finance or resources of manufacturing, need rigorous attention to how the world is changing. Denying climate change is the wrong way to start.

In 2011, Dick Warburton became the executive chairman of the newly-formed lobby group Manufacturing Australia, whose members included big players like Amcor, BlueScope Steel and Boral and small-to-medium business. Their aim was to urge for a delay to carbon tax legislation.

When Warburton, a self-professed sceptic, was interviewed on the ABC, the following exchange took place:

TICKY FULLERTON: You said earlier today that why should we be doing this when the rest of world is actually pulling out of carbon taxes and the ETS? I’m just wondering what countries you’re thinking about there?

DICK WARBURTON: Canada has announced that they’re not going to go ahead with any carbon tax, so has Korea, so has Japan. They’ve made those announcements they’re not going ahead. And no country has gone ahead with a carbon tax or an ETS since Copenhagen.

TICKY FULLERTON: Can I take you up on that? Because my understanding is that they are – Japan is still going to be putting a carbon tax in place; in Canada the carbon taxes are being put in – going to be scheduled in through different states. And indeed, in Korea, they used their stimulus money into new green initiatives. And so these are very strong moves. They may be shifted back a bit, but everybody’s moving in that direction, aren’t they?

DICK WARBURTON: No, they might be doing moves like Korea – you’re talking about is the moves of mitigation or moves of change. That’s good. I’m very much in favour of that. But they announced that they would not be introducing an ETS (inaudible). Canada announced it straight after the election. They announced that. Japan, I can’t recall when they made the statement, but Canada and Korea definitely have.

Mr Warburton may like to change his sources of information.

South Korea’s only securities exchange, the Korea Exchange, is reported to have won a contract to operate world’s second largest Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from the start of 2015.

Two Japanese regions have operational mandatory ETSs in place: Tokyo and Saitama. Similar schemes, although likely voluntary, are being or have been considered for the Osaka-Kansai Prefecture and the Chiba Prefecture.

In March 2010, the Japanese government introduced the “Basic Act on Global Warming Countermeasures.” An initial feature of the Act was a nation-wide emissions trading system (ETS) that would have begun in April 2013.

While this nation-wide ETS was removed from the Act in December 2010, other cap-and-trade measures, such as the Japanese Voluntary ETS (which began in 2005 and became part of the Experimental ETS in 2008), the Tokyo ETS, and the Experimental ETS (the trial period was for 2008-2012, and the government continues to encourage firms to participate), have been active in the country.

According to Japan’s former National Strategy Minister, Koichiro Gemba, the primary reason that the Japanese ETS was deferred was because fellow nations (particularly the United States and Australia) struggled to develop their own robust climate policies.

With the Government’s recent coal-fired electricity regulations, Canada became the first major coal user to ban the construction of traditional coal-fired electricity generation units.

”Our approach will foster a permanent transition towards lower or non-emitting types of generation such as high-efficiency natural gas and renewable energy.”

The Province of Alberta passed its Specified Gas Emitters Regulation in 2007 establishing an emissions intensity trading scheme.

To achieve its emissions reduction goal, the Quebec government has enacted regulations for an ETS. As with the Californian scheme, it began in 2013.

Warburton said on repeated occasions that climate science was not settled. “On the cause there’s huge debate about whether carbon dioxide is the main cause.”

Last year, Tony Abbott said “We have to accept that in the changed circumstances of today, the renewable energy target is causing pretty significant price pressure in the system and we ought to be an affordable energy superpower … cheap energy ought to be one of our comparative advantages,”

Earlier, the Climate Change Authority’s review of Labor’s renewable energy scheme had concluded that the current targets should be kept. Although it had the statutory obligation to undertake the next review, the government moved quickly to appoint its own inquiry and what better man to appoint to head the RET review panel than Dick Warburton? The other members of the panel are Matt Zema, the CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator, Shirley In’t Veld, the former head of WA government owned generation company Verve Energy, and Brian Fisher, the former long-term head of ABARE who gained notoriety for his positions on climate policies and is a noted free-market hardliner.

Environmentalists’ fears that this inquiry was set up to reach a predetermined conclusion were strengthened by the government’s rapid moves to cut funding in this area. The budget recommended the abolition of the $3.1 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency, or ARENA, an institution formed to help bring new technologies into production and deployment, and to fund Australia’s world-leading solar research. While it retained funding to meet its existing contracts, it had almost no funds to enter into any new agreements.

But what can we expect when we have the Prime Minister who said in a radio interview he understood why people were anxious about windfarms that were “sprouting like mushrooms all over the fields of our country”.

“If you drive down the Federal Highway from Goulburn to Canberra and you look at Lake George, yes there’s an absolute forest of these things on the other side of the lake near Bungendore,” he said.

It must be on the daily song sheet as we heard the Treasurer make similar comments.

“If I can be a little indulgent please, I drive to Canberra to go to Parliament, I drive myself and I must say I find those wind turbines around Lake George to be utterly offensive. I think they’re just a blight on the landscape.”

The government is under pressure from the coal lobby, incumbent utilities, network operators and state governments to either dump, or sharply reduce the renewable energy target.

As Ross Garnaut said

“Whether or not Abbott really does believe in anthropogenic climate change, it is extraordinary that the four business leaders the government has appointed to senior advisory roles – Dick Warburton on the inquiry into renewable energy, David Murray on the financial system inquiry, Maurice Newman to chair the PM’s Business Advisory Council, and Tony Shepherd to head the Commission of Audit – all share a strong view that the science on climate change is wrong.”

ian macfarlane Seeing Senator Cory Bernardi heading the Senate Committee into Direct Action – ”I do not think human activity causes climate change and I haven’t seen anything that changes my view. I remain very sceptical about the alarmists’ claims.” – and Senator Ian Macdonald wearing a high vis “Australians for Coal” vest in the Senate at the behest of the Minerals Council, just underlines what we are dealing with – a bunch of hand-picked flat earthers who get their climate advice from Christopher Monckton and Andrew Bolt.

 

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The omniscient Maurice Newman

Maurice Newman is the head of Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council, a group established to meet three times a year with senior members of the government and “help guide programmes and policies that are sympathetic to the needs of both small and large businesses in Australia”.

maurice-newman-headware

Image courtesy of uknowispeaksense.wordpress.com

The 75-year-old former stockbroker, banker and chair of the ABC and the ASX, has apparently also become a self-appointed expert on climate change regardless of the fact that he has absolutely no scientific qualifications whatsoever.

In 2010, Christopher Monckton and James Hansen both toured Australia. Monckton is a fruitcake with no scientific qualifications at all. He is paid by people like Gina Rinehart to promote climate change denial. Hansen is an American adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. He is best known for his research in the field of climatology, his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in 1988 that helped raise broad awareness of global warming, and his advocacy of action to avoid dangerous climate change.

Maurice Newman was the chairman of the ABC at the time. He believed that climate sceptics and denialists didn’t get a run in the media. Monckton was given extensive national coverage on television, radio and online. Hansen did one interview with Philip Adams. Monckton was discussed 161 times on the ABC while Hansen was only mentioned nine times.

In an interview with the Australian in December last year Mr Newman argued Australia had fallen “hostage to climate change madness”. He said climate change policies have been a major factor in the collapse of Australia’s manufacturing sector. He accused the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of “dishonesty and deceit” as it focuses on “exploiting the masses and extracting more money” in a climate crusade.

“The scientific delusion, the religion behind the climate crusade, is crumbling. Global temperatures have gone nowhere for 17 years. Now, credible German scientists claim that ‘the global temperature will drop until 2100 to a value corresponding to the little ice age of 1870’.”

Firstly, to correct Mr Newman, the period known as the little ice age ran from about 1645 to 1710 – 1870 was a later, lesser period of lower temperatures. Secondly, cherry-picking data from short time periods, or using a very hot year as your base comparison, are sceptics’ tactics that have been exposed and refuted.

He appears to be referencing the work of Horst-Joachim Lüdecke and Carl-Otto Weiss, who say natural processes including solar activity are driving climate change. They are members of an advisory board of the European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE) – a German group of climate change skeptics that argues freedom, not the climate, is at risk. The group lists Lord Christopher Monckton as one of their Advisory Board members and they teamed up with the Heartland Institute to host a combination conference in 2012.

The only way to blame the sun for the current rise in temperatures is by cherry picking the data. This is done by showing only past periods when sun and climate move together and ignoring the last 35 years when the two are moving in opposite directions.

A comparison of sun and climate over the past 1150 years found temperatures closely match solar activity (Usoskin 2005). However, after 1975, temperatures rose while solar activity showed little to no long-term trend. This led the study to conclude, “…during these last 30 years the solar total irradiance, solar UV irradiance and cosmic ray flux has not shown any significant secular trend, so that at least this most recent warming episode must have another source.”

On Tuesday night, Mr Newman chose to share some more of his ‘wisdom’ with us when he said on Lateline that “there is no empirical evidence to show that man-made CO2, man-made emissions are adding to the temperature on earth”.

When Emma Alberici asked why he was so convinced that the IPCC, which collates the science from 195 countries, 97% of climate scientists, and nineteen academies of science across the world were wrong he said

“I just look at the evidence. There is no evidence. If people can show there is a correlation between increasing CO2 and global temperature, well then of course that’s something which we would pay attention to. But when you look at the last 17.5 years where we’ve had a multitude of climate models, and this was the basis on which this whole so-called science rests, it’s on models, computer models. And those models have been shown to be 98 per cent inaccurate.”

Contrary to Mr Newman’s assertion, there is a raft of evidence showing continued warming. Satellite and surface measurements find less energy is escaping to space at CO2 absorption wavelengths. Ocean and surface temperature measurements find the planet continues to accumulate heat.

When pressed to answer the question “who is it that’s influencing you so that is so convincing you otherwise?” he said

“Roy Spencer, who’s carried out a thorough review of all of the models and the empirical data which against both land-based and satellite-based measuring. And they were found to be wrong. There’s a study that came out from NASA in the last few weeks which says that the impact of CO2 on the upper atmosphere brings about a cloud and the result of that is a bit like our own body temperature moderating as a consequence of perspiring. So you get an albino effect which reflects sunlight.”

This transcript came from the Lateline website. As a few commenters pointed out, Mr Newman used the correct phrase ‘albedo’ not ‘albino’. Thanks to those who drew my attention to this.

Roy Spencer is a research scientist at the University of Alabama who believes that the “theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution” because the DNA molecule could not have happened “by chance”. He also told a US Senate Committee that if he was placed in a debate, he would be able to offer more scientific evidence “supporting that life was created” than an opponent could offer that life had evolved.

There are two major questions in climate modeling – can they accurately reproduce the past (hindcasting) and can they successfully predict the future? Models have successfully reproduced temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean but are unable to predict recent warming without taking rising CO2 levels into account. Noone has created a general circulation model that can explain climate’s behaviour over the past century without CO2 warming.

In July 2011, a paper co-authored by Roy Spencer was published in the journal Remote Sensing. His paper looked at a potential connection between clouds and global warming. The paper received significant media attention, and climate change skeptics claimed that it “blow[s] a gaping hole in global warming alarmism.”

Within three days of the publication of Spencer & Braswell’s paper, two climate scientists (Kevin Trenberth & John Fasullo) repeated the analysis and showed that the IPCC models are in agreement with the observations, so refuting Spencer’s claims.

Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist and Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University whose research subject areas are atmospheric chemistry, climate change and climate change policy, said of Spencer’s work

“[This] paper is not really intended for other scientists, since they do not take Roy Spencer seriously anymore (he’s been wrong too many times). Rather, he’s writing his papers for Fox News, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, Congressional staffers, and the blogs. These are his audience and the people for whom this research is actually useful — in stopping policies to reduce GHG emissions — which is what Roy wants.”

In response to the flawed peer review that allowed the publication of the paper, the Editor-in-Chief of Remote Sensing stepped down. He had this to say:

“After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing.

With this step I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements…”

Our Prime Minister is getting his climate change advice from an aging stockbroker who gets his ‘scientific facts’ from some guy in Alabama who doesn’t believe in evolution. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Tony has appointed executive chairman of Manufacturing Australia Dick Warburton, another sceptic who does not believe that man-made emissions are causing global warming, to head up the review of the Renewable Energy Target.

We then hear that the Commission of Audit were unable to assess the Coalition’s $3.2 billion Direct Action Plan because there is no plan yet. Tony Shepherd said

“The Commission of Audit couldn’t really look at it because we didn’t have a policy to look at. If they had a policy and it was out there we would have had a look at it, but in the absence of any detail we couldn’t.”

Clive Palmer declared this week that his Palmer United Party would not back the “hopeless” policy and he threatened to reconsider his position on the carbon and mining taxes if the government does not bring direct action legislation to the Senate for debate.

All I can say is, more strength to your arm Clive. We’ll make you an environmentalist yet!

 

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