The pugilistic politician

Tony Abbott’s recent threat to ‘give the Government the fright of its life’ is code for the new leader’s real metaphor – to give the Government the fight of its life.

Have you noticed how aggressive and combative Abbott has become since his election?  He has always had a reputation as a pugilist – his boxing exploits during his Rhodes scholarship at Queen’s College, Oxford are legend.  But he seems to have kept this tendency under control pretty well while in the Howard Government, except of course when Howard used him as his attack dog, and while relaxing comfortably with a less-than-arduous portfolio of Shadow Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs while in opposition.  Then suddenly, and for most unexpectedly, he became Leader of the Opposition last week, and found himself thrown into the spotlight, with nothing much in the ledger but opposition to almost everything the Government was trying to do, trenchant opposition to the Government’s ETS leading to its defeat, a heap of political baggage, a mediocre team, a disgruntled ex-leader, and very poor popularity ratings in the opinion polls.

So what did he do?  He reverted to what he knows best – pugilism.  For some he may appear like a threatened animal trapped in the hunter’s spotlight, and that his ‘fight to the death’ approach is merely reactionary, merely a strategy for survival.  That may be partly true, but it seems more likely that fighting is his natural response to any challenge.

His assertiveness came out in his Channel Nine interview with Laurie Oakes last Sunday, where, after a calm start,  he bristled at being asked if he believed in creation, insisting that his religious views were private and not relevant to politics.  Of course that statement is not consistent with his behaviour over the years when his religious beliefs have been on open display over several issue – abortion is just one.  In that interview he went on to challenge Oakes to ask Kevin Rudd the same questions, asserting that Rudd has expressed religious views often enough, and has done doorstops in front of his church most Sundays.  He was on the same theme on Lateline when he queried Tony Jones why Kevin Rudd was seldom on his program, and challenged Jones to invite him.  Both interviewers seemed taken aback by Abbott’s demands and his foray into their programming. 

In both interviews Abbott’s aggression lurked just under the surface until some provocation brought it out into the open.  In Oakes interview, Abbott became angry when near the end Oakes accused him of spouting three or four policy ideas a day, (without reference to his colleagues but all the while claiming he would be a consultative leader).  Abbott’s annoyance was obvious, and the look on his face as the interview concluded one of palpable displeasure.  The Jones interview, the day he announced his Shadow Ministry, bordered on overt aggression throughout.  The video is here

Another sign of Abbott’s aggression and combative approach is his Shadow Ministry, resurrecting as it does several back-bench Howard ministers, and including the always combative Barnaby Joyce as Shadow Finance spokesman.  It’s as if he is saying ‘I don’t give a fig for what you think of this lot, this is the group I want to fight the next election.’  In fact he made a point of saying that many were ‘good street fighters’.  He demoted Sharman Stone from Shadow Immigration because she was not tough enough, despite looking pretty tough on the asylum seeker issue to most observers.  So Abbott wants a fight on border protection.  In fact he wants a fight on everything.

Abbott intends to criticise everything the Government does, to fight everything it attempts to do, to refuse to collaborate on anything, and to decline to reveal any policies until the last moment, except his climate change policy which he promised by February when parliament resumes.  He probably regrets this promise now; he will be severely criticized if he misses the deadline he has set himself, but expect something less well developed than the Government’s CPRS; expect fuzzy edges to a policy full of vague promises unsupported by hard evidence, accurate costing and definite timelines.  He will rely on the line: ‘we can do it cheaper, at little cost to the voters, but achieve the same mitigation targets’, which will be hard to counter as the public is so disengaged from the detail.  The Government may have to fall back on the well tried campaign of scare and uncertainty, painting Abbott’s policy as unworkable, untried, costly, full of holes, economically flawed and environmentally unsound. 

So to what can we look forward?  If one can judge from Abbot’s demeanour and performance during the last week, from the look in his eyes, from his aggressive attitude, from his determination to fight in hand to hand combat, we are in for a ruthless, cruel, bare-knuckle fight with no holds barred.  This week Abbott reminded me of the familiar scene before a prize fight when the combatants line up – hairy-chested, jaw-jutting, throwing punches in the air, loud-mouthed, asserting their prowess, and promising to knock their opponent out early in the bout.  The only difference is that the other party to the fight, Kevin Rudd, is not there flexing his muscles, and even Abbott is conceding he may not win: "If we win the election I’ll be regarded as a genius, if we don’t win I’ll probably be political road-kill..."  He’s even calling his team ‘Abbott’s warriors’.  Like many a prize fighter he is signalling that he is throwing caution to the wind and will come out swinging in the first round.

So how should Rudd counter this?  By doing what he’s now doing – ignoring him.  Except for rejecting Abbott’s demand for a debate on the ETS on the grounds that the Coalition had no policy, Rudd has studiously paid little attention to him, something Opposition leaders loathe.  Rudd has simply got on with the business of Prime Ministership, attending to domestic and international responsibilities while Abbott has been thrashing around seeking attention through provocation.  Rudd has left it to a couple of ministers to make some remarks about Abbott’s team, one reincarnated from back-bench former ministers and radical conservatives.

But after the end-of-year break, the Rudd Government will need to marshal its forces and its publicity machine to counter the barrage of negativity that the Opposition will hurl at the public.  It will need particularly to counter the scare campaign about the ETS, one that is already in motion.  Although a clear majority of Australians want action on climate change, they might be conned into believing the Coalition can mitigate carbon pollution easily and without much cost – who is not attracted to a bargain!  Simple, easy-to-understand material is needed, in many formats, via many media.  And there needs to be blanket coverage of the entire population.  Without this the Opposition will rely on the Goebbels truism – ‘tell the people a lie often enough and they will believe it’.

Until the election, which Rudd seems likely to postpone until at least August, we can expect Abbott, the pugilistic politician, to attack Government policies and actions incessantly and relentlessly, to keep Coalition policies under wraps as much as possible to avoid having to defend them, and to exhibit venom, vitriol and vituperativeness the like of which we have not seen in politics in Australia for a long while.  It will be unremittingly ugly.  What a prospect for 2010!

What do you think?


Comments (76) -

  • fred

    12/10/2009 12:00:51 PM |

    The use of aggressive machismo language by Abbott worries the hell out of me.

    I have seen a lot of quotes similar to those you cite above and I presume they are based on actual words spoken by Abbott himself and not taken out of context, although context would seem to be somewhat irrelevant when words such as 'fight' and 'army' appear.

    Add to them the use of the demeaning phrase "loyal [?] girl" when referring to an adult woman and I know for a fact that many professional women operating in the domestic violence and sexual assault spheres are not happy with the juxtaposition of these words that seem to be [and this is an attempt to be diplomatic] evidence of an attitude towards relationships and women that is highly inappropriate for a prominent public figure.
    In case you [or others] think I am drawing a long bow here please note that this is the man who was responsible for the Health ministry and then in opposition as shadow for family affairs.

    I really do strongly, very very strongly, question the suitability of this person to have a major public role in this country.

  • andrew

    12/10/2009 2:58:41 PM |

    Sorry Fred, but the words 'fight' and 'army' are indeed Abbot's own.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/10/2009 3:23:47 PM |

    Abbott’s aggression worries me too.  I can assure you the quotes I’ve used are accurate.  He even uses the word ‘warriors’.

    Couple his aggression with crass ignorance about important matters, such as climate change and carbon pollution mitigation and you have a lethal combination. A few days ago he admitted he had not fully studied climate change and the CPRS legislation, but that he knew enough and ‘as much as most politicians’.  Yet this is the man who has brought down the Government’s legislation – without being fully informed.  Over such a crucial matter, that is criminal negligence.

    Today he loudly insisted that the Government release the Treasury modelling that underpins the cost estimated of the CPRS.  It was released thirteen months ago!  He showed his lack of understanding of the mathematics of the CPRS when he asserted that if the targets were increased by a factor of five, so would the cost increase commensurately.  Wrong.  So his calculation of an astronomic figure of an additional cost of $400 billion was likewise grossly wrong.  Yet he bandied it around to show how grossly expensive the Government scheme was.  It only took the interviewer on The World Today to point out that the modelling had been around for over a year, and a climate economist to show how wrong his maths were.  Yet he’ll probably toss off his errors off as ‘another stuff-up’ – he seems ready to admit to past stuff-ups, but how many more do we have to suffer?

    You can read the transcript of the interview story Abbott accused of climate change scare campaign at
    So far I see nothing about ‘Abbott’s error’ in the MSM.  I wonder if we ever will?

  • Michael

    12/10/2009 3:55:32 PM |

    When Kevin Andrews was in charge of developing the Coalition's basket of policies for the next election, he was quoted as saying seven or eight months ago that nothing had been officially altered since 2007. That Liberal/National Party policies are the same that Howard took to the electorate last time around. I thought then that was both lazy and suicidal. Now, with Tony Abbott, and Peter Dutton also, both saying out loud that their approach is to reapply things the way they were done by the Howard government when returned to government, I understand that Kevin Andrews was simply archiving policy, not working to develop it to advance from those elements of it that the voters had rejected.

    Tony Abbott, calling on his warriors, trying to form an Abbott's Army out of whatever remains of Howard's Battlers, is clearly in full-throttle reverse gear. That he enunciates this with fighting words should come as no great surprise. Appointed Howard's headkicker, as a known Howard acolyte, it is no surprise that he has slipped into a familiar mode of behaviour.

    The problem for Tony Abbott, however, is that Howard always had someone else do the headkicking so that he could reserve for himself the role of 'above the fray' leader. Toss the pit-bull into the ring, watch how the fight played out, see where the dust settled, and then step in, neither sweat-stained nor with hair ruffled, to announce a decision that, due to the mayhem that had preceded it, played to the exhausted audience as measured, sensible, and to the overall benefit of all. A con job, of course, but one with many historical precedents.

    Tony Abbott has no-one to take the sting out of the fights he is looking to spur on, so win them or lose them, he'll look less like a leader and more like the 'biggest bastard in the valley'. Useful in a scrap, but not the sort you want around the house or at the backyard barbecue when all you are looking for is a good meal, a cool drink or two, and convivial companions to share the evening.

    In short, his current stance is ill-considered because ultimately it leads to a sense of someone with no mode but 'attack', no understanding but 'destroy', no insight but triumphalism. A bully.

    I can think of no-one who does not realise that bullies are the way they are because they cannot understand the points of views of others, so have only one response to their failure to comprehend why others may think the way they do - to beat the views out of such contrarians' heads by beating their bodies black and blue.

    It is more likely to be a case of Abbott's Militia than his "army", small gangs of vicious thugs roaming the political landscape, rather than a force established to protect the lives and maintain the freedoms of all within it. Not the idea most people have of anyone they'd trust to lead their country.

  • lyn1

    12/10/2009 4:09:39 PM |

    Hi Ad
    Excellent read again thankyou. You are so right when you say Kevin Rudd needs to ignore Tony Abbott. Your sentence,  hairy-chested, jaw-jutting, throwing punches in the air, loud-mouthed. Tony Abbott does not have one tiny piece of decorum, I really hope Kevin Rudd can change his approach to knock Tony Abbott out. Very interesting article by Inside Story about Abbott throwing wild punches. Link below  

    Tony Abbott New Minister for Stupid as described by
    Ramblings of a political tragic

    Some words from Peter Hartcher's column very apt I thought.  

    cauliflower-eared ex-scrapper words by  Peter Hartcher:-
    He will circle Rudd, throwing jabs from all directions, never presenting a stationary target. He proposes deregulating the job market, for instance, but refuses to be specific: ''I am asking questions here,'' he told Sky News yesterday, ''not making policy.''

    I may lose battles but I win wars."

    where the Abbott Opposition will be sharpening spears.

    while unveiling a front bench he believes will give the government "the fright of its life".

    During the recent leadership battle I kept a dossier of the major Abbott adjectives and cliches used by journalists, and what the journalist really meant: Mad monk (erratic religious fanatic); Howard conservative ("has-been"); arch-conservative (to the right of the press gallery); aggressive conservative (anti women's rights); conviction politician (stubborn); Catholic (Papist. Mick. Rock chopper. A bit weird); captain Catholic (More Catholic i.e weird than any other politician); arrogant (ex-private schoolboy); extremist (electoral threat to Labor); Conservative Catholic (unelectable); unelectable (conservative Catholic); bovver boy (thug); boxer (thug); pugilist (thug); attack dog (vicious thug

    Tony Abbott reckons there's not much difference between being a politician and a parish priest.

    Duds, the lot of them, and yet supposedly these are the types who will provide a killer instinct.

    giving the Government 'The fright of its life'.

    He made his name as a head kicker. Rudd won’t slip up. Abbott will because he is Tony Abbott

    Tony Abbott’s apparent strategy of wildly swinging punches from all directions might sound hard to counter,

    comparing the Copenhagen summit to the 1938 Munich agreement with Hitler, Abbott

    Having already compared himself with Moses, Tony Abbott yesterday handed out this piece of advice for employees.

    Snap on your Speedos. It is going to be that sort of an election.

    Abbott knows no such restraint. Anybody and anything is fair game in what will be a race to the political bottom, and the real question is whether Rudd can make necessary adjustments to his engagement in what is now a very different kind of war and one without rules or scruples of any kind.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/10/2009 6:07:32 PM |

    You’re right and there are many more combative words being bandied around – warriors, army, street fighters, wars, taking the fight up to the Government, killer instinct, head kicker, wild punches, and so on.

    A very astute observation – Abbott is his own head kicker!  Howard was too smart to do that – he used Abbott and stayed in the background so he could be seen as ‘the reasonable man’.  Abbott could probably engage his own head kicker(s), but I suspect he enjoys head kicking so much he will not feel the need to delegate.

    You have added to the ‘combative’ lexicon – bullies, militia, gangs, vicious thugs – isn’t it interesting how this type of language has exploded since Abbott’s election to leader.

    Thank you for a wonderful set of links related to the Abbott saga.  I’ve saved them all to file.

    Again it’s noteworthy how many have picked on Abbott’s combative approach.  All the words of war, fighting and conflict are prominent.  There’s not the slightest mention of collaboration, attending to the national interest, doing the best for the country, only strife, argument, dispute, discord, disagreement and battle.

    What a sad and distressing prospect we face in 2010.

  • Bushfire Bill

    12/10/2009 7:19:18 PM |

    I would say it's likely the public is tired of battles, especially ones that don't seem to have much point other than the glory of it all. And especially political battles.

    There is a great anger out there among a few Liberal stalwarts (mostly seen at Bolt's blog and any other blog, refusing to concede an inch, fighting every word written or implied that says climate change may be a reality). But I said "a few", meaning about 20% of the electorate. They have been wanting a stoush for two years now and they see Abbott as the one who is going to deliver their Armageddon for them. As for the rest, they just want to get on with Christmas, happy in the knowledge that if they need a job there will probably be one out there for them, with Australia's unemployment being about the lowest in the world.

    Poor Abbott, all he has is past glories from this life and (he hopes) a seat at the right hand of God in the next.

  • monica

    12/10/2009 7:33:20 PM |

    Well, he's certainly had a fabulous day today with his combative, take it up to the government, punch Rudd in the face approach.  Produce the Treasury modelling for the ETS he demands - reply, well, it's over there, Tony, been there for over a year.  No, no, I mean the real modelling - er umm, that's it Tone, see the Treasury letterhead.
    Perhaps Tony understands less than one would want in an alternative PM about what's going on around him, hasn't been paying attention, or his tendency to attack without thought, strategy or tactics will render him political roadkill well before the next election.

  • fred

    12/10/2009 9:20:03 PM |

    "TONY ABBOTT: The Federal Government has never released the modelling; never released the modelling. Now if there is modelling that shows the costs of a 15 per cent and a 25 per cent emissions reduction, let's see the modelling. Let's release the figures.

    SAMANTHA HAWLEY: But the Treasury modelling was released 13 months ago and is available for all to see."

    I was just looking at that Monica.
    Really he is a clueless fool isn't he?

  • Rx

    12/11/2009 12:13:09 PM |

    Ad Astra wrote:

    "the Opposition will rely on the Goebbels truism"

    A most fitting observation, given the movement ever to the right of the so-called Liberal Party.

    Heaven help us if this angry bellicose mob got control of the country. Australia would be at hostilities with her neighbours before lunchtime. Wouldn't surprise me to hear cries of Lebensraum! Lebensraum!

  • Ad astra reply

    12/11/2009 1:43:35 PM |

    The new shadow ministry is the living (or should I say in some instances half-dead) manifestation of what you and I have been saying since the Coalition lost the 2007 election – that Abbott’s view has always been that the loss was an aberration, a blunder of a sleepwalking electorate, and that the ‘Howard Government was such a good Government’ it didn’t deserve to lose.  I suppose Abbott is at least consistent with that view, as he has restored several of Howard’s politically moribund ministers.  But since they were among those who brought the Howard Government into disrepute, Abbott should not be surprised if the sleepwalking electorate one again rejects the neo-Howard Coalition he has created.

    I agree that most of the sleepwalking electorate will object to being awoken by a quarrelsome and noisy Coalition.  It is only those who hold the same extreme views as the Abbott group, those for example who believe climate change is a furphy, who will urge them on.  But I wonder will these same urgers be happy about Joyce’s irresponsible statements today about banks, about China and about the US and the Queensland Government perhaps not being able pay their debts?

    monica, fred
    Abbott’s factual ignorance about the ETS, exhibited so flagrantly yesterday, shows not just how unprepared he is for his new role, but how lazy he has been, and still is, about getting up to speed.  He ought to have known what he did not know, but worse than not knowing is that he is seemingly unconcerned and defensive about his ignorance.  An appropriate response would have been to focus on getting the information he lacks, but instead he chose to continue to aggressively shoot from the lip, hoping the average punter would not notice the appalling gaps in his knowledge.

    Today’s utterances, especially from Barnaby Joyce, are indeed frightening.  Apart from being conjectural they are grossly undiplomatic, dangerous and inimical to our national interest.  I wonder how the business community regards them.  For Joyce, Copenhagen is a waste of time; what he believes we should be discussing is a contingency plan for the eventuality that the US cannot pay its debts!!!

    How long will the so-far relatively compliant MSM be prepared to wear this gibberish?

  • Ad astra reply

    12/11/2009 2:38:47 PM |

    You will enjoy reading this delightful piece by Glenn Dyer in today's Crikey: Barney rabble laps up default gaff

  • lyn1

    12/11/2009 5:12:27 PM |

    Hi Ad

    Ad thanks for the link above, you are spot on again, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article.

    (So again, bubble-brain Barney is hopelessly wrong and all at sea).
    ignorant and uninformed,
    Nothing he said yesterday and this morning makes any sense.
    motor mouth
    Barney has never been too fussed about facts.
    raving and ranting
    hick populist from St George
    He wouldn’t be able to grasp any simple idea.
    Only day three of the Barnaby
    words by   Glenn Dyer

    Very well written along with interesting comments
    Posted Friday, 11 December 2009 at 3:29 pm |
    Mike M
    Posted Friday, 11 December 2009 at 4:01 pm

  • fredn

    12/11/2009 5:52:56 PM |

    Abbott will provide Gillard and Tanner with some political entertainment in the new year. If Rudd has any sense he will continue running the country and not get involved in any way sense or form, no matter how tempting.

  • monica

    12/11/2009 7:09:22 PM |

    Ad and others, I've had a thought this evening, after listening to PM, that Tony Abbott will have to put considerable effort into restraining or cleaning up after Barnaby. Even the usual suspects among the supine MSM will find it difficult to ignore Tony having to hose down just about everything Barnaby says, and sooner or later one of their heads are going to explode. It's only day 3 after the re-shuffle, for goodness' sake.
    Rudd and Gillard's cool response to the pumped Abbott and Barnaby will just infuriate them further.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/11/2009 9:44:21 PM |

    lyn1, fredn, monica
    Agree with your comments.  Tony and Barnaby should provide good sport for Julia, Lindsay and Chris Bowen.  Kevin needs only to draw indignant attention to their ridiculous mistakes and let the others do them over.  The Tony - Barnaby performance has been much worse that even the most sceptical could have predicted.  How long before they implode?  If they have any sense at all they will break now for Christmas and not make one more utterance until February in the hope the goodwill of the Festive Season will erase the memory of their initial attempts to be serious senior politicians.  But I wouldn’t bank on that.

  • Harden Up Lefties

    12/11/2009 10:35:09 PM |

    Boo hoo Tony Abbott is using mean and scary words. Harden up you bunch of p*ssies.

    What has the glorious Rudd actually delivered ?  Empty words, bureacratic speak and platitudes.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/12/2009 9:07:52 AM |

    Harden Up Lefties
    Your pseudonym suggests you are one of Abbott’s warriors, ready to knock the ‘pussies’ into shape.  Tony Abbott will be pleased to read your stirring admonition to Labor supporters to ‘harden up’.  That’s what’s needed – tough talk, hard-nosed aggression, bare-knuckle combat.  That will straighten out this soft and ineffectual Government that as you say has delivered nothing but “empty words, bureaucratic speak and platitudes” – nothing at all.

    I hope you will soon return to Planet Earth where lots of things have happened since you last looked.  This ineffectual Government has effectively freed Australia from the threat of recession, more effectively than any other Government in the world.  This ineffectual Government has developed a carbon pollution mitigation scheme that it calls its CPRS.  You may not like it; possibly you think carbon mitigation is unnecessary as climate change is not a reality, and if it is, it certainly isn’t man-made.  Possibly you’re pleased Abbott has effectively stymied all the work done over the last three years – now that’s political effectiveness.  

    Another thing this ineffectual Government has done is to carry out a comprehensive review of Australia’s health care system, as promised, and is now considering how to effect needed reforms.  This ineffectual Government has almost completed the most detailed review of Australia’s tax and transfer system in many decades, the consequences of which will have far reaching effects on our economy.  Despite the inherent difficulties, this ineffectual Government has proceeded with the most profound review of Federal-State relationships which have the potential of reducing bureaucratic waste and torpor.  And that’s just a few of the major things this ineffectual Government has initiated.  None of this is easy, progress is often slow, but progress IS being made.

    In contrast, what has the Opposition contributed to political discourse over the last two years?  What policies has it advanced?  What new ideas has it promoted? How has it assisted in the governance of this nation?  How effectual has it been as an Opposition? Please tell us.   What it has contributed is obstruction to a host of legislation, disingenuous denial of the Government’s role in the amelioration the effects of the GFC on Australia, an attempt to pull down the PM and Treasurer based on a fake email, and now an Abbott-led pugilistic confrontation that promises to do nothing but criticise, obstruct and scrap until inevitably Abbott goes the way of previous leaders, Nelson and Turnbull, into irrelevance.

    We welcome your contribution to this site, but please spare us the tired old cliché ‘all talk, no action’.  It’s way out of date.  Try instead some constructive criticism of the Government, some bright and practical ideas of how it could do better, and of course tell us how the Opposition might do better than its present destructive modus operandi.  

    Slogans are no substitute for ideas and practical suggestions about how we can do better in the governance of this country.

  • Swinging voter

    12/12/2009 9:11:27 AM |

    My two cents worth.  I'm sorry but I don't want another tax aka CPRS.  

    This ineffectual government (your words) has taken us from a situation of national surplus to national debt.  What exactly did we get for all those $900 handouts?

    Detailed reviews of the health system, tax and federal-state relationships .... hmm.  What have those reviews actually delivered? Recommendations.  Which of those recommendations have actually been acted on and measured to assess the improvement.

    Oppositions oppose. Just like when the present government was in Opposition.  Don't complain about it it is  political reality.  What the government should be doing is governing not reviewing.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/12/2009 9:44:42 AM |

    Swinging voter
    I see you’ve changed your name.  I see too that you’ve swallowed the Opposition’s ‘another big tax’ line.  Never mind the need to do something about climate change, never mind the 90% certainty of climate scientists that disastrous effects on our planet will occur if the global temperature rises above 2 degrees C.  Let’s take the risk – we’ll be dead by the time that happens – let’s leave it to our kids to sort that out, so long as we can avoid ‘a big new tax’.

    Of course we are in debt because of the Government’s stimulus – would you have preferred unemployment above 8% instead of less that 6%; would you have preferred hundreds of thousands more out of work with the dire effects that would have on individuals, households, retail activity, and business and consumer confidence?  I suppose you would have preferred all that suffering than to incur a debt, a debt so modest that this country will take it in its stride.  Again you’ve swallowed the ‘debt and deficit’ mantra hook, line and sinker.

    Regarding reviews, would you have preferred the Government to rush to action as did John Howard with his back-of-the-envelope $10 billion water plan, or could it be more prudent to carefully review what’s needed, something the Howard Government was disinclined to do, and proceed, as our PM puts it, methodically and cautiously with regard to the complexity of the issues involved?  Would you prefer a reckless, devil-may care approach?  Give me the former every time.

    The Government has been in power just on two years and has already done much more that the Howard Government did in its first two years.  The next period will be one of profound reform and reshaping of our economy and our whole nation.  If you don’t believe that you might just have to wait and see who is right.

  • janice

    12/12/2009 10:27:15 AM |

    Ad astra, you are only wasting your time trying to talk sense into people who can't be bothered finding out the facts in order to form their very own opinion - these people are just bone lazy in that they rely on slogans and mis-information put out as bait to draw in the ignorant by smart manipulators looking for a following of dumb, unquestioning numbskulls who vote.

    As an example, swinging voter doesn't want another 'tax' because he believes the Mad Monk's propaganda and I'll bet pounds to peanuts he hasn't read, nor listened to, the information Labor has put out there to explain the CPRS.

    Then this uninformed commenter asks what we got from the $900 handout and refers to the coalition rubbish regarding surplus and debt.   I would suggest that if Swinging Voter really needs to ask how the country benefited from the $900 handouts (which, as part of the Govt's stimulus package helped keep this nation out of recession) then it is time he took the time to do some research into newspaper archives to retrieve the myriad of articles written by reputable economists such as Ross Gittens and George Megalogenis.

    As for the reviews, I suspect that Swinging Voter would prefer the Government took no advice, did no research and rushed to implement reforms in a willy nilly fashion or perhaps, sat on its hands and did nothing to keep this nation moving progressively and prosperously into the future.  

    "Oppositions oppose" is a ridiculous broad statement - There is a time when Oppositions should oppose but there are also times when an Opposition should support because it is in the national interest.  Responsible Oppositions should be looking to improve legislation (in the national interest), putting up ideas and offering what they think may have better outcomes.  Opposition for opposition's sake is irresponsible and a slap in the face for the voters who in their wisdom, elects a government to govern according to their wishes and turfs out the one they consider lost the plot.

  • fred

    12/12/2009 10:39:16 AM |

    [allegedly] Swinging Voter.
    Here, gratis for you, an economic analysis of what the govt. achieved by it's timely actions re the GFC.
    A prominent economist describes what happened, the impact, and what could have happened.
    No need to thank me, I'm an ex-teacher and educating those who need it has always been a pleasure for me.

  • Bushfire Bill

    12/12/2009 10:49:33 AM |

    I hope you don't mind, AA, but I've cross posted this from TPB (with corrections available via your excellent Preview function):

    The Abbott Advertiser (a.k.a  The AA, The OO or, for the pedantic among us, The Australian), via Paul Kelly, seems a little worried about Barnarby Joyce:

    TONY Abbott must act swiftly to deny the Rudd government an election-winning gift - the idea the new-look opposition cannot be trusted with the economy.

    This is the real risk with the Abbott-led Coalition and Barnaby Joyce as opposition finance spokesman. It is the unifying theme of Labor's attacks. The risk for Abbott is that populist stances -- threatening Chinese government investment, warning about US debt default and talking up bank divestiture -- create unease, uncertainty and doubt about the Coalition's economic reliability.
    Joyce is a formidable politician. But his words as opposition finance spokesman will be interpreted as statements of Coalition intent or policy.

    The task for Abbott is to ensure the principles of Coalition economic policy are clear and that there is agreement on the lines of economic attack it will mount on the Rudd government.

    "Create unease, uncertainty and doubt about the Coalition's economic reliability"? Surely not! Barnarby is an accountant from the bush. He knows all about finance and the rest of the fiddles bean counters get up to.

    Be Barnarby's qualifications as they may, Kelly sounds worried. You can tell that because they've used the word "must", as in "must act swiftly". That's an order, not a request. Kelly makes it clear: you can frighten the chickens and the pigs, the goats and the sheep, but you must never ever frighten the horses.

    As part of their continuing justification for the clumsy directness of the Abbott Approach to politics ("If you see a head, kick it") the gnomes of Holt St. AA-OO in today's edition also delve into that famous town-hall meeting (well, it was held at a football club reception room, but you get my drift) in the Victorian country town of Beaufort where an over-tired Tony uttered the famous word "crap" to describe the science of Climate Change.

    All the standard AA-OO bootstrapper props are there. Rather than a wholesome young gel who works "in public relations" to tell us what the nation thinks vias the lens of two poorly attended by-elections in safe seats, they have a young, handsome farmer with his dog. David "Rocky" George is described as "a practical environmentalist" without that term being defined, but I guess it means "hasn't cut down all the trees on his property yet."

    Abbott has tried to backpeddle from Crapgate, but the AA-OO isn't letting him off the hook. Says the "young vice-president of the Beaufort branch of the Liberal Party", Joe McCracken,

    "He did say crap; he did say I'm a sceptic and there was big applause," McCracken says.

    The editor of the local newspaper was falling asleep until these words were uttered.

    "I think I was nodding off down at the back of the room when all of a sudden he came out with the comment that the science around climate change was `absolute crap' and I kind of jumped back awake and wrote down his quote," (Craig) Wilson says.

    Wilson describes the meeting as "heated", but others present don't remember it that way.

    In Beaufort, no one remembers the meeting as heated. Branch secretary Margaret Barling describes it as "a very happy night". Former mayor Robert Vance calls it a friendly gathering of like-minded people. Stoneleigh farmer Phil Bennett says Abbott's explanation is "a very difficult interpretation".

    Heated or not, the AA-OO seems determined to make Tony stand by his words. Whatever his "considered opinion" is today (as in "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow") the redoubtable Murdoch rag knows what's best for the Liberal Party. There is a vast untapped well of Denialism out there, and they want to see it come in a gusher. You can appreciate their point. When the Finance Shadow starts on about closing down the banks, suspending trade with China and cherrypicking foreign investment, Climate Denialism in the face of world scientific position seems almost... sane. After all, 130 (count 'em) cheering and clapping Liberal faithful at a footy-club meeting room in rural Beaufort can't be wrong. And Nick Minchin, of course. Nick's never wrong. That's why he has that smarmy smile on his face all the time.

    Full of fire on the morning after the heated (or not, as you will) night before, Tony rang Nick Minchin and offered that there might be something in this Denialism business after all. Nick (never one to let an opportunity go unavailed ) planted the seed in Tony's mind that this could be a Turnbull Killer. If only Tony could get that pesky "loyalty" and "integrity" business out of his mind and come over to the Dark Side.

    "No worries," said Tony with alacrity (and here I must paraphrase), "I've stuffed up so many times people must think I'm either a Conviction Politician or a total drongo." You can almost hear Minchin thinking: "Or both", can't you?

    Nick would have been reassuring, "Don't worry, Shanahan's been under deep cover as a 'rational journalist' since he came back from his holidays in June, but now I think it's ripe to burn him for The Cause. By the time Dennis and his underlings at Holt St. have finished with you nobody'll know what the hell you are. You can be all things to all people, all the time. The voters'll be told they know where you stand, as long as they don't look twice..."

    "Because I'll be gone by then?"


    "What about Phillip, and Bronnie and Kevin?"

    "'Kevin'? KEVIN???"


    "Oh yes, sorry. Sure, they can come for the ride too. I think we should offer Barnarby a job, as well..."


    "... We'll march on Canberra. As long as the punters don't actually look out the window to see for themselves, they'll be convinced that the Mad-As-Hell-And-We-Won't-Take-It-Anymore brigade are storming The Lodge with torches and pitchforks. Rupert's Bootstrapper Dept. will take care of all that. I can see it now: 'winsome young blonde from Chatswood as a bellwether of the nation's heart'... 'honest, good-looking farmer with kelpie dog telling us the Emperor has no clothes'... 'ratbag Opposition Leader who had to be put down for the good of the Party"... that kind of thing."

    "I'm your man, Nick. Can we work the book into it, too?"

    "I'll see to it a second edition is guaranteed. Do we have a deal?"


    On the way, he writes in his new afterword to Battlelines, he had the long phone conservation with Minchin that crystallised his new thinking, after which he had decided that "the politics of this issue really had changed".

    And then along came Barnarby... whose problem is that he's been so long used to spouting any tumbleweed nonsense he feels like saying at the time, that it'd be difficult to shut him up. Which is exactly why Nick would have wanted him in the Shadow Cabinet. "Solidarity" and all that, hence today's editorial advising Conviction-Man-With-A-Book to exercise the aforementioned gag with extreme prejudice.

    Railing against China and free trade is one thing, but bagging foreign investment is another. What next? Newspapers?

    Attilla The Hen, the Whited Sepulchure and The Inquisitor can be relied upon to tow the line, but Barnarby Of The Bush is exactly the kind of loose cannon who can give bootstrapping a bad name.

    Just ask Dennis. And Paul Kelly.

  • Rx

    12/12/2009 10:54:02 AM |

    If that guy is a swinging voter then the Mad Abbott is a progressive pacifist, and Howard an honest humanitarian.

    He's no swinging voter. He's a Liberal from the white hair downwards. A SerfChoices addict, who can't wait for a party to come in to strip his (grand)children of pay, conditions and job security.

    People like that won't be happy till their descendants are working for peanuts in sweatshops.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/12/2009 11:11:10 AM |

    Thank you, as ever, for your sagacious comments.  Your last comment about oppositions is particularly germane.  Simply opposing everything is an insult to those who voted for them in the hope they would to contribute to governance of the country which they can do, and often do from opposition.  So to say that their job is just to oppose is a perversion of what the Westminster system is about.  Why waste all the brainpower of half the parliament on time wasting obstruction and belligerence?

    Your link didn’t come through -  could you post it again please.

    Thank you for another great post, what an interesting read - especially Paul Kelly's comments and Joe NcCracken's rebuttal of Abbott's retreat.

    I’m now off on a long road journey and won’t be back at my computer until tomorrow, so I look forward to reading the links then.

    I think you’re right.

    Keep the posts flowing – I’ll catch up with them tomorrow.

  • Sir Ian Crisp

    12/12/2009 11:12:44 AM |

    C'mon Ad Astra, stay on top of things. We've now progressed from USA real estate and teaching aids to solar panel and legal representation from a US attorney if one is ever needed.

    Lock these boosters out please.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/12/2009 11:20:02 AM |

    Sir Ian
    Thank you for drawing my attention to 'solar panels for your home' and 'massachusetts attorney' - they snuck up on me and have been duly deleted.

    I herby appoint you Chief Monitor of Unwelcome Pesky Commercial Posts on TPS.

    Signing off now until tomorrow.

  • fred

    12/12/2009 12:58:33 PM |

    I pinched it from Possum [I do that a lot for obvious reasons].

    #2 of Dec 10 entry "5 things you need to know this week". Link within.

    Part of Possum's comment [I presume quoting a slab of Possum is kosher protocol?].

    "David Gruen – Ken Henry’s Macroeconomic Sheriff in Treasuryville – gave a speech on Tuesday to the Australian Business Economists Annual Forecasting Conference, titled “The Return of Fiscal Policy”.

    It explains the reality about what happened with the fiscal stimulus packages in Australia, smacks down a few of the more insipid arguments The Australian was running at the time (unfortunately without actually mentioning the guilty) and places what happened to Australia in a larger, global context. It also makes a mockery of the pure horseshit our new retail shadow Finance Minister and all round economic lightweight Barnaby Joyce was carrying on with at the time in Senate Estimates.

    One of the footnotes in the speech stated something that goes to the very heart of what we were banging on here about at the time, yet which wasn’t really mentioned much anywhere else – the fact that the actual point of the schools stimulus package wasn’t really building schools, but getting the right type of money out into the right places in Australia, as quickly as possible. Schools were a vector for fiscal stimulus, not actually a reason for fiscal stimulus."

  • Inconvienient Alternate Point of View

    12/12/2009 2:43:21 PM |

    How disappointing my intellectual friends.  Dismiss my point of view because it is inconveniently different to yours and the theme of this website in general.  Then make assumptions as to my political beliefs and how I have voted in the past or may vote in the future.

    I'm here because I am researching both points of view in this "debate". As stifled as it has become for anyone who has the temerity to question the "settled science & consensus".

    never mind the 90% certainty of climate scientists that disastrous effects on our planet will occur if the global temperature rises above 2 degrees C. Let’s take the risk – we’ll be dead by the time that happens – let’s leave it to our kids to sort that out, so long as we can avoid ‘a big new tax’.

    Not convinced yet, there is an alternate view of the world just because it is different to yours doesn't make it invalid.  I'm sure the name in the link will aggravate you all...have an open mind


  • Austin 3:16

    12/13/2009 11:01:49 AM |

    "Not convinced yet, there is an alternate view of the world just because it is different to yours doesn't make it invalid."

    Yes but just because there is an alternate point of view does not automatically make that point of view valid or worthwhile.
    Health benefits of smoking anyone ?

    Alternate point of view exist for a range of issues, according to some there was no moon landing, chrysotile asbestos poses no health risk, smoking is good for you, HIV does not cause AIDS etc. Alternate does not automatically translate into correct.


  • Michael

    12/13/2009 3:09:19 PM |

    Has anyone seriously considered what the role of Finance Minister, and therefore his shadow is? Oversight and pruning rights over every other portfolio in the government, and for his shadow, its alternative. How many noses can one man put out of Joyce... ah, joint? The Liberals and Nationals will be tearing at each others' entrails well before the next election. Policies have price tags attached, and a bush accountant brings a very narrow history to understanding the big picture of national interest financial management. You 'read' a leader by who he appoints to his team. Abbott has displayed a 'bully in the playground and his sycophants' approach to the setting up of his alternative Cabinet. And that is most definitely not the sort of thinking I would want to see running this country.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/13/2009 4:15:06 PM |

    Back at my computer and have re-read your post and the links.  If Coalition supporters are not apprehensive about the Abbott/Joyce axis, they must still be intoxicated with the confrontational thrill of ‘taking the fight up to the Government’.  Clearly Paul Kelly sees the danger, as do other columnists such as Michelle Grattan today in the Sunday Age in Bump on the head is least of Barnaby's problems  

    I note that Abbott is looking much more circumspect these last couple of days.  He thought he was the one who would go in with arms flailing to beat up the Government, but finds himself in a tag match with Barnaby jumping into the ring and throwing a heap of punches himself, some of which missed the target and hit the Coalition.  He’s beginning to find that being Opposition Leader is not easy, requires a thoughtful and consistent approach, and that he is not served well by anyone shooting from the lip.  

    The more sympathetic in the MSM may cut them both a little slack for a while, and even urge them to ‘take it up to the Government’, but if journalists wish to preserve their credibility they cannot afford to wear the ignominy of supporting too much aberrant behaviour from Abbott and Joyce.  Some have said that the Government has over-reacted to the Abbott/Joyce utterances, and should instead let the Coalition destroy itself unaided.  I regard the Government’s reaction both considered and temperate – it had to say something, but its response was calm and measured, in contrast to that of Abbott and Joyce.  The people will see the difference.

    My guess is that Abbott will take the upcoming break to cool down the Coalition and hope the public will have forgotten its ill-considered utterances before the next opinion poll.  The accidental Opposition Leader needs a long Christmas break to recover.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/13/2009 6:18:58 PM |

    Inconvenient Alternate Point of View, Swinging voter, Harden Up Lefties et al
    Climate deniers/sceptics, and those like yourself who are researching climate change, like to claim that the believers contemptuously disregard their concerns and would have them cast into outer darkness for their disbelief.  I am not in that category, but ask anyone who has doubts about the climate change science and is researching the facts firstly to reveal what evidence might convince them that climate change is occurring and that it is at least in part man-made (or the reverse), and secondly to indicate what sources of information they are researching.  There are thousands of papers in respected peer-reviewed journals that point to the reality of AGW.  There are also many papers and some books that critique and criticize the climate scientists’ papers, and find their conclusions unconvincing or their research flawed.  These critics usually confine their offerings on the subject to critiquing the work of others, but seldom, if ever, carry out their own original research.  As a result we have little complementary work (deniers versus believers) to make valid comparisons.

    Since you are researching both points of view in this ‘debate’, please inform visitors to TPS what sources of information you are using to resolve your doubts about the reality of AGW.

    For my part, I have neither the time nor the expertise to sift through the thousands of relevant papers, and so rely on those with expertise in the field to give me their considered opinion.  The IPCC has done that on several occasions and each time has indicated that the evidence is becoming more and more compelling that climate change is a reality and that much of it is man-made and due to excessive release of greenhouse gases.  Of course others, such as mining geology Professor Ian Plimer from the University of Adelaide, who has written Heaven and Earth. Global warming: the missing science sets out to debunk the global warming story.  His contribution in turn has been debunked as 'nonsense' by his critics.  There are others on both sides.  I am ploughing through Al Gore’s most recent book Our Choice – A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, which is a goldmine of information and suggestions about how to mitigate carbon pollution.  Of course the sceptics usually dismiss anything Al Gore does or says – he’s a billionaire so can’t be trusted.  However, you may enjoy this richly illustrated and well referenced book.

    Karl Popper, one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century, insisted that logically no number of positive outcomes at the level of experimental testing can confirm a scientific theory, but a single counter-example is logically decisive: it shows the theory, from which the implication is derived, to be false.  So the sceptics will not be satisfied by any amount of supporting scientific data, because, according to Popper, there are no absolutes when it comes to proving a scientific theory to be ‘correct’.  This is why climate scientists express their conclusions in probabilistic terms, as mentioned in my last post: that they are 90% certain that disastrous effects on our planet will occur if the global temperature rises above 2 degrees C.   If the sceptics want 100% certainty they will never get it.

    The history of science is littered with instances of how difficult it is to convince people of an alternative to their established way of thinking.  Thomas Kuhn in his seminal book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions gives an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the sociology of scientific knowledge, and popularized the terms paradigm and paradigm shift.  He showed how extraordinarily challenging it is to move people from their preferred paradigm to a new one, illustrating this with reference to how hard it was for Lavoisier who recognized and named oxygen and its involvement in combustion, to overturn the phlogiston theory of combustion that had prevailed for eons, despite a mass of accumulating evidence that showed it to be incorrect.  Finally, the paradigm shift was dramatic and conclusive.  

    There are many other examples.  When Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician discovered that the incidence of puerperal (childbirth) fever could be drastically cut by better hand washing standards in obstetrical clinics he was ostracized by the medical profession and ended his life with mental illness.  He noticed that women delivered by midwives had a much lower incidence of childbirth fever than those delivered by medical students, who went straight from the autopsy room to the delivery room without washing their hands.  Yet when he tried to convince his colleagues that they were the cause of the problem they considered that an insult and rejected his theory.   Of course even a school child now knows the need for hand washing.

    Other examples are the difficulty of convincing some of the public that smoking caused lung cancer, something that was obvious when I was a medical student in the fifties, but denied by many, including of course the tobacco industry who up until not so long ago maintained that no link between tobacco smoking and lung cancer had been established.  Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa until recently insisted that there was no connection between HIV and AIDS, as a result of which medications that might have lengthened the lives of those with HIV were denied them, leading to countless unnecessary deaths.

    I quote these examples simply to illustrate that history is littered with instances of unbelievers hanging onto to their erroneous beliefs until the evidence of their error was overwhelming.  We seem to be seeing this phenomenon all over again with climate change.  Given that we will never have absolute proof of AGW, how much will be needed to convince the sceptics?  Almost every week we hear of more dire indirect pointers, the Arctic cap melting and the North West Passage opening, the Arctic permafrost unfreezing and releasing water, CO2 and methane, the Himalayan glaciers melting faster than ever with all its dire effects downstream, large chunks of West Antarctica falling into the sea, icebergs floating below New Zealand, Tuvalu becoming submerged as sea levels rise.  How much more evidence do we need to accept the 90% certainty the climate scientists have that climate change is real and man-made.  How much risk are we prepared to take that they are wrong and the deniers are right?  To how much hazard are we prepared to subject future generations if the deniers are wrong and the climate scientist right?  Is sitting on our hands worth the risk?  

    What do you think?

  • Ad astra reply

    12/13/2009 6:32:02 PM |

    Austin 3:16
    Thank you for your references, which I have used above in my reply to multiple moniker: Inconvenient Alternate Point of View, Swinging voter, Harden Up Lefties.

    I’m with you.  I see nothing but tears for the Coalition in this new arrangement, unless of course they settle down and begin behaving like a responsible opposition.  I’ve written about this in my reply to BB above.

  • Perhaps You Are Wrong

    12/14/2009 7:59:26 AM |

    Ad Astra et al

    Perhaps you are wrong ...... Ever stopped to consider the arrogance of presumption that your view is the only one that is right.

    Consensus is not science.

  • Sir Ian Crisp

    12/14/2009 9:58:55 AM |

    I went for a Sunday drive yesterday and it turned out to be anything but. I was in a long line of cars that were stuck behind a 1950 Chevrolet. I thought to myself who the hell is the idiot driving an outdated car. When it was my turn to overtake the 'road-hog' I looked across and there was Tony Abbott at the wheel with Barnaby Joyce as his passenger. Joyce was laughing at people who were inconvenienced by their slow moving vehicle.

    Abbott and Joyce are serial pests.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/14/2009 10:41:09 AM |

    Perhaps you are wrong, Inconvenient Alternate Point of View, Swinging voter, Harden Up Lefties

    I’m pleased you are willing to continue our dialogue.

    You say ” Perhaps you are wrong ...... Ever stopped to consider the arrogance of presumption that your view is the only one that is right.”  The very point I was trying to make in my last post was that if one agrees with Popper’s view of science there is no absolute certainty about the correctness of any theory or hypothesis.  This is why climate scientists express their level of certainty in probabilistic terms – they say they are 90% certain about AGW, not 100%.  So neither they, or for that matter anyone else that believes in AGW, such as myself, are arrogantly presuming that our views about AGW are absolutely ‘right’.  So please don’t lay that accusation on us.

    Perhaps I should ask “Are the climate change deniers absolutely certain they are right?”   Are they the only ones who can claim certainty?

    You say ‘Consensus is not science’.  Popper would say ‘Certainty is not compatible with science’.  So where does that leave us?  How can we ever reach a decision about how to proceed?

    It seems to me that the options are to endorse the deniers’ view that AGW is not occurring and that therefore nothing can or should be done; or endorse the climate change scientists’ view that there is a 90% probability that AGW is occurring and do something to contain and eventually reduce the warming of the planet by reducing atmospheric carbon pollution, no matter what the cost.  

    If the deniers are wrong, the planet will become uninhabitable and in the process all manner of conflict and misery will be visited upon us all.  If the believers are wrong and action is taken, we will have spent a lot of money yet achieved no change to the climate, although we will have reduced pollution and in the process cleaned up the planet.

    At an estimated 90% probability the climate scientists are right, are you prepared to take the 10% risk that they are wrong, do nothing, and let the planet take its chances?  I’m not prepared to gamble on that and run the risk of leaving future generations an uninhabitable planet.  What about you?

    Finally, we’re looking forward to seeing what evidence you are using to resolve your uncertainty about AGW.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/14/2009 10:54:58 AM |

    Sir Ian
    A telling metaphor.  And the Abbott story gets no better.  This morning he is out quoting someone at Copenhagen saying that agriculture could contribute to reducing carbon pollution, which he points out is what the Coalition is saying.  Of course it could.  Ross Garnaut said so, and Abbott quoted Garnaut too, but Garnaut went onto say this would be much more costly that a cap and trade ETS.  So once more we have selective quoting by Abbott to support his views, which as your story portrays so elegantly is to go along ever so slowly, no matter what inconvenience or danger that might inflict on others.

  • Sir Ian Crisp

    12/14/2009 2:38:52 PM |

    Go and play with your train set will you. If you want to plug your product/s try the usual avenues like radio, TV, newspapers or perhaps a magazine.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/14/2009 3:32:30 PM |

    Sir Ian
    I know it's irritating and I delete these pests as soon as I realize another one has snuck through.  There seems to be more than ever.  Is this an alien invasion, and if so, who is behind it?

    Possum has a beautiful piece on Pollytics today Data, fiction and politics.. It’s a great read.  Tell us what you conclude after reading it.

  • lyn1

    12/14/2009 6:44:26 PM |

    Hi Ad

    Thankyou for possum's link Ad, he is very clever and always a good read.

    Love this paragraph from Possum's column:-
    Of course we dont – we treat it like the horsefluff it is. Yet, for some reason when it comes to climate change, the mainstream media (including the ABC, an organisation that should know better) regularly include some bonehead in the debate that reckons temperature isn’t increasing – some bonehead that can’t move beyond a first base that reality passed many, many years ago.

    And this:-
    But climate change skepticism isn’t about the data – it’s never been about the data. For most skeptics, especially those that are professionally unqualified in any form of quantitative science or statistics (i.e. most of them), it’s just about the politics.

    Possum has just posted new poll results on Abbott from essential

    Ad your words (Is this an alien invasion, and if so, who is behind it)?
    Could be a dirty tricks campaign from some political party, and we all know which party is good a dirty tricks, as displayed in the 2007 election campaign

    Ad this is a good read by Piping Shrike this morning Self Absorbed and deluded:

  • Ad astra reply

    12/14/2009 9:21:16 PM |

    The polls are certainly giving Abbott no joy.  I wonder if we will get another Newspoll tonight/tomorrow?  If they have done one and it's favourable to Abbott, I'm sure we'll hear all about it.  

    The Piping Shrike is always a good read.  Abbott and Joyce will need to lift their game considerably to gain credence with the Australian public.  Personally I doubt if they are capable of that.

    Let's look forward to an Abbott-free Christmas break.

  • Peter T

    12/14/2009 10:39:31 PM |

    Possum's piece on the stats is great - it would nail the lie about "warming has stopped" dead in its tracks if the liars were interested in facts. But, as he said, they are not.

    Aside from the statistical trend, there's another way to think about the arguments pro and con AGW that I find useful. It's to ask "what would need to be changed in our understanding of the world if AGW were false?". At the bottom of global warming is a bunch of connected understandings of the physical world - about thermodynamics, radiation balances, and molecular physics - that go back around 150 years, and are used in everyday life in jet engines, powerplants, refrigerators and much else. You can find these in any good popular science book (David Deutsch's The Fabric of Reality is one really good read). At bottom are the notions that CO2 and some other gases trap heat, and that if you trap more heat, things warm up until a balance is re-established. In other words, it would be very strange if, in the light of everything else we know, that it was not happening.

    If AGW is wrong, then we need to re-visit some very basic science, and we had better be careful about flying or turning on the lights until we have re-checked Einstein, Dirac, Bohr, Kelvin and many others. This understanding is what has convinced almost all the worlds major scientific bodies to endorse the need for action, and drives a lot of climate scientists to contemptuous despair when the regular denialist drivel is trotted out again and again.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/15/2009 8:41:39 AM |

    Please Be Succint, Perhaps you are wrong, Inconvenient Alternate Point of View, Swinging voter, Harden Up Lefties

    Thank you for forwarding some of the references you are using to make a decision about AGW.  They all fall into the category of refuting the validity of the climate scientists’ view that AGW is 90% certain; indeed many suggest that the scientists are frauds perpetrating a cynical hoax for their own advantage.  That the deniers/sceptics could believe that so many thousands of scientists could be complicit in this global deception is astonishing. None of your links point to the studies that support the case for AGW.  Perhaps you are also taking these into account, but your initial list suggests you are interested only in refutation.  That does not look like a balanced appraisal.

    I am now having doubts, expressed earlier in this blog by some of its visitors, that I will be able to convince you to examine both sides, let alone agree that AGW is a planet-threatening possibility.

    You say the onus is now on the AGW believers to prove their case.  At the risk of once again being accused of verbosity, I repeat that they will never be able to prove AGW with 100% certainty, except perhaps when the planet becomes uninhabitable because of high atmospheric temperatures, when of course it will be too late to reverse.  I suppose the deniers will then say ‘Oops’, although if the history of science is any guide there will still be those who continue to deny even as the planet disintegrates around them.

    BTW, to what ‘generation’ do you belong?  It seems to have a poor attention span if it finds a lengthy exposition too wearisome.  I’m afraid the complexities of climate science are not condensable into a succinct, or as you suggest, ‘pithy’ statement.  That’s just the way it is.

    As Popper maintains that a single counter-example to a theory is logically decisive as it shows it to be false, perhaps you could enlighten us all with your pithy statement of rebuttal of AGW.

    Finally, please read what Peter T has to say in the post following yours.  He asks "...what would need to be changed in our understanding of the world if AGW were false?", and argues “If AGW is wrong, then we need to re-visit some very basic science.”  

    Peter T
    Thank you for your perceptive contribution.  It should raise fundamental questions in the minds of all deniers and sceptics, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for that.

  • janice

    12/15/2009 11:54:45 AM |

    Ad astra, it seems to me that the person contributing under the multiple monikers is one who is incapable of making a decision even on a matter so simple as which moniker to use.  He/she most probably vacilates on everything and therefore opts to do the ostrich thing and bury the head in sand because it is easier than putting the grey cells to work.

    I too have been wondering to which generation Multiple Monikers belongs and I've come to the conclusion it must be a very recent one as lots of children glean a lot of fun out of acting the rebel, showing off and being too immature to be reasonable.  Then, of course, there are some who never learned how to use their grey cells to advantage and are incapable of rational thinking.

    I wonder as well whether Multiple Monikers has actually read the content of those links he/she provided or whether they were just 'googled' up because you asked for the basis he/she is using.  What we do know though is that this person is lazy and not really interested in being better informed because the complexity of the issue is too wearisome.

  • Bushfire Bill

    12/15/2009 12:36:24 PM |

    To me the Climate debate has become a proxy for the Left/Right culture wars. Both sides are to blame (if "blame" is the word for it).

    Few on either side have read all or even a substantial part of the science (and that includes me). We are left with a dearth of knowledge that is supplemented, as is usual in such situations, by faith... faith in the judgements or political stances of participants from whatever side of politics we happen to follow. There is also a kind of negative faith involved - "If X believes in Y, then Y must be wrong, because X is never right". Add these two together and there is a certain blindness we share regarding Climate Change. Faith fills the gap.

    There's nothing shocking about this, or unprecedented. I don't have to travel 100,000 kilometres out into space to believe the Earth is round. I understand the science pretty well and could, if so inclined, logically deduce the roundness of our planet. Space is empty with no down or up, gravity works according to certain laws etc. You could work it out. Instead I took the easier path and just accepted that the Earth was round long before I could work it out for myself. When I became educated the proof was a high-school exercise, not a feat of discovery.

    But there was once a time when it was not readily apparent or accepted that the Earth was round, and not too long ago, either. The assumptions you need to "do the math" and prove it to yourself were just not there, or were prohibited. People died because they claimed the Earth was round and not flat. Science was fighting against a combination of ignorance, mysticism and authoritarianism that caused genuine confusion and fear in those who dared to think.

    Climate science is at the stage where the proposition of Warming is still relatively novel. Pro-Warming politicians, like Rudd, let themselves be fooled into thinking the issue was settled simply because of an 80% "agreement figure" around the time of the election in 2007. My contention is that this was actually two lots of roughly 40% comprising most Coalition and most Labor voters. Now that a good deal of Coalition voters have decided to abandon belief in Warming (or at least doing something about it) as politically inconvenient, we are left with a lesser general belief in Warming of between 50% and 60%.

    Rudd has been somewhat lazy or naive in thinking the issue was settled. Now he's going to have to do some work to get the project back on the rails, especially if Copenhagen fails (won't Abbott be crowing if it does!). Dismissing non-believers as ostriches with their heads buried in the sand will not do the trick. That will only get them more off side. For better or worse Rudd will need to be gentle with Climate Deniers, but nevertheless to make haste.

  • janice

    12/15/2009 2:50:44 PM |

    Touche, Bushfire Bill.  However, I aim my arrows at those who unthinkingly mouth the phrases and cliches of those whose main agenda in denying there is a need for the world to at least make an attempt to slow down the warming is simply to score political points.  Whatever the make-up of the 80% who voiced their concern at the 2007 election matters little in the scheme of things.  Those looking to score political points have zeroed in on the fact that 'doing something' means each and every one of us has to dig into our pockets and have embarked on a scare campaign that the cost will be ruination of us all.

    I don't think Rudd is guilty of being lazy or complacent.  As with every other issue requiring legislation, the Govt has been confronted with a battle from the Opposition parties who are supported by big coverage from a media which is anti a Labor Government, and the CPRS is no exception.  Really, IMO whether Rudd strokes the fur gently and whispers soothing words, the bloody cat will still spit and lash out because it's a feral with hate in its heart.

    For me, I am most disappointed in the Greens with their uncompromising stand regarding the CPRS because of all our politicians, I would have thought that the Greens at least would have concluded that while Labor's targets are low, there is no point taking an all or nothing stand when the 'low' targets can be adjusted later.  Why is it that the Greens are prepared to accept nothing rather than take the first small step to get the ball rolling?

  • Ad astra reply

    12/15/2009 6:28:58 PM |

    janice, BB
    This is turning out to be a deep dialogue that borders on the philosophical.  While I understand what you have said BB, I am not as patient with the deniers as you appear to be.  You are right in saying that in the long run a ‘leap of faith’ is needed when we as individuals cannot develop the ‘proof’ ourselves.  It comes down to who you believe, who has assembled the most convincing evidence, who seems to be drawing the most reasoned conclusions.  In matters as complex as climate, with the thousands of variables that are operating, drawing conclusions is inherently difficult.  Systems theory applies and as anyone familiar with it knows, the more variables, the more profound the complexity.

    Like you BB, I have made no attempt to study the science of climate change and the thousands of papers written on that subject.  I am relying on honest, competent scientists, who collectively, over a period of many years, have deduced that the trend for global temperatures is upwards, with some smaller variations, up and down, superimposed. Their projections predict that this will continue while greenhouse gases are being pumped into the atmosphere, and that human activity has generated these gases.  They further predict that more than 2 degrees C rise in global temperatures will result in serious damage to our planet, which if it continues will be irreversible.  Al Gore’s book describes the potential damage in detail.

    As a counter to the scientists’ opinion, there are sceptics and some deniers who doubt the validity of the science or insist the climate change is not occurring and is not man-made.  They seldom if ever present original research that refutes the climate scientists’ conclusions; instead they attempt to pick holes in the research and to question the competence and even the honesty of the scientists.

    So how do ordinary folk reach a position?  With the exception of those rare individuals who are full bottles on the subject, most of us have to have faith in one group or the other – the scientists or the deniers.  For me the scientists are plausible, their conclusions highly persuasive.  They are way in front of the deniers who in my view have produced no convincing evidence that refutes the reality of AGW.  

    It’s not as if those convinced of AGW are in a tiny minority.  Thousands have travelled to Copenhagen to work out how to counter AGW, over a hundred world leaders are about to join them to seek a political solution.  Are all these people and the governments they represent deluded fools, deceived by the collusion of climate scientists who are either incompetent of guilty of criminal malfeasance, as some deniers insinuate?  Why does a minority of deniers and sceptics deserve so much attention?  My faith is in the climate scientists.

    Finally it’s not as if any disagreement about who is right is inconsequential.  The future of the planet and its inhabitants depends on getting the argument right.  If the climate scientists are right and no action is taken we are all doomed; if the deniers are right, and we take action, the worst aspect would be unnecessary expense and inconvenience.  The right choice looks very obvious.

    Like you janice, I believe that Rudd is neither lazy nor naive about this matter.  Howard found the case for AGW sufficiently convincing as did Turnbull and many of his shadow cabinet, so Rudd was entitled to believe he had bipartisan support for the CPRS.  It was only when the Abbott/Minchin/Joyce forces combined to defeat the legislation that the whole move to carbon mitigation came unstuck.  There has been a plethora of information provided by the Government, although evidently not enough.  It is much easier to run negative scare campaign, especially when it promises to avoid what it describes as ‘a big new tax’, which of course it is not.  But that hasn’t stopped a Coalition desperate to gain some traction, any traction, to reverse its pitiable polling.

    So in summary, I feel little sympathy for the sceptics and none for the deniers.  They are playing Russian roulette with our planet and future generations.  It is hard to imagine anything more reprehensible.  So BB, if pinging their outlandish and unsupportable views upsets them, so be it.  There’s too much at stake.  I’m unconvinced that any amount of logical argument will make any difference to the sceptics/deniers, as dialogue on this blog has demonstrated. So why bother?

  • mick smetafor

    12/15/2009 8:58:42 PM |

    i have thought for some time that the way to get people to pay attention to the threat that faces us is to focus on our kids future.last night tony abbott was shown blathering on making some denialist point while standing at a lectern,in contrast rudd was filmed at a preschool surrounded by happy little kids giving his reply.the symbolism was very powerful and i assume intentional.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/15/2009 9:18:17 PM |

    mick smetafor
    Abbott has a lot to learn about how to use the media.  There was a great article on Crikey by Bernard Keane today Tony — you ain’t gonna win talking to Alan Jones that you would enjoy reading.

  • Finally a Thinking Man

    12/15/2009 11:20:24 PM |

    At the risk of being accused of being prolix myself.

    Finally a thinking man, Bushfire Bill, weighs in and states inter alia

    Pro-Warming politicians, like Rudd, let themselves be fooled into thinking the issue was settled simply because of an 80% "agreement figure"....
    Rudd has been somewhat lazy or naive in thinking the issue was settled. Now he's going to have to do some work to get the project back on the rails, especially if Copenhagen fails (won't Abbott be crowing if it does!). Dismissing non-believers as ostriches with their heads buried in the sand will not do the trick. That will only get them more off side

    Ad Astra you disappoint me with I’m unconvinced that any amount of logical argument will make any difference to the sceptics/deniers, as dialogue on this blog has demonstrated. So why bother? This isn't about engagement for you ... it is faith.  The new religion.

    I believe that this link aptly describes where we find ourselves at this juncture.

    I await with baited breath the next dismissal of me by you and your acolytes. Lets continue the dance ...... Wink

  • Ad astra reply

    12/16/2009 9:16:51 AM |

    Finally a Thinking Man, Please Be Succint, Perhaps you are wrong, Inconvenient Alternate Point of View, Swinging voter, Harden Up Lefties

    Bushfire Bill is a much admired contributor to this blog site.  What he says is always worth reading.  He makes the point that “We are left with a dearth of knowledge that is supplemented, as is usual in such situations, by faith... faith in the judgements or political stances of participants from whatever side of politics we happen to follow.”  For me, the ‘faith’ to which he refers does not indicate political alignment, but instead faith in the documented evidence upon which decisions about climate change is made.  We saw Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull, and before him John Howard, advocating an ETS in order to counter AGW, an ETS very similar to that advocated by Kevin Rudd.  There seemed for a while to be bipartisan agreement on this issue until the Abbott/Minchin/Joyce axis took over the Coalition.  And even this morning Tony Abbott is scrambling to retrieve his climate change credentials by claiming to have always been ‘an environmentalist’.  So I don’t subscribe to the notion, that for thinking people anyway, support or otherwise for the idea of AGW and an ETS is political.  Certainly science is what moves me – I applauded Turnbull’s stand on the CPRS legislation as I applauded the Government’s, because both seemed to be governed by science.

    You provide a link that proposes that global warming is religion not science.  For some that may be so.  It seems to me that denial of climate warming is just as prone to religious fervour as is belief, if not more so.

    So my ‘faith’ is not political or religious, only scientific.  I have immeasurably more faith in what the climate scientists are telling us that I have faith in what the deniers are saying.  So I endorse the views of the former, because like Bushfire Bill, and I suspect most others in the community, I have no base of knowledge independently derived on which to base a conclusion.

    Last night on Lateline climate change denier Professor Ian Plimer and The Guardian's science journalist George Monbiot had a debate on this issue.  If you missed it you can see the video here - It starkly illustrated the problem those who base their views on scientific evidence have in getting scientific answers from deniers.  Plimer refused to answer almost every question asked by Monbiot and instead wandered into other areas that more suited his position.  Monbiot accused Plimer of scientific fraud, an accusation that Plimer did not rationally address.  Monbiot’s frustration in achieving a rational dialogue with Plimer was palpable.  I can identify with that frustration since despite my attempts to engage with you in scientifically sound discourse, I feel I have failed – after many exchanges with you in which I referred to the scientific evidence on which I based my views, I feel that you remain as sceptical as ever.  That is why I ended up my last post saying, why bother?

    Please persuade me that your invitation to ‘dance’, to continue our discourse, would be worthwhile

  • Rx

    12/16/2009 11:26:30 AM |

    They maintain that belief in climate change is a product of religious zealotry; I maintain that denial of climate change is the product of political zealotry.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/16/2009 2:12:20 PM |

    In contemplating another’s views on climate change it is necessary to dissect away religious zealotry, political zealotry, bias, ignorance, and stubbornness to get down to a well-reasoned position based on verifiable facts, if indeed there is one.  For me the latter is all that counts, but in arguing the validity of this approach, one is up against all the other factors that influence the formation of opinion, some of which seem to be not amenable to reason.  

    Sometimes I guess we just have to concede that some folk will not be convinced no matter how many verifiable facts are assembled, no matter how persuasive the reasoning from them happens to be.  It’s the brick wall syndrome, and the question is – how long does one bash one’s head against it.

  • lyn1

    12/16/2009 2:50:07 PM |

    Hi Ad
    I am absolutely amazed at Janet Albrechtsen's piece this morning, it is being described as a love letter to Tony Abbott.

    Janet heaps lots of praise on her hero, more praise than I have ever seen in a column of a mainstream newspaper in my life. This sentence ( Abbott was the Rhodes scholar to Oxford who won boxing championships).  Abbotts Army, Head Kicker, swinging punches, champion boxer, hairy chested lifesaver, fire fighter it's sickening isn't it.

    Ad can you or any of the other readers on here, tell me when these boxing championships took place, how many Australian Boxing titles has Abbott held.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/16/2009 5:46:44 PM |

    What an obsequious, sickening piece Janet has penned.  I suppose it’s understandable that such a prominent Liberal cheerleader would be looking for a saviour, and as Tony Abbott is all they’ve got, she has to talk him up, and to talk down what has become a reputation for being anathema to women, even suggesting that they might find his macho image quite attractive.  

    We can expect more of this, more of his fighting spirit, more of his frankness and ‘openness’, more of the raw unreconstructed Abbott following his multiple sporting pursuits, more of his boxing prowess and his capacity to take the fight up to his adversaries, more of the Abbott past and his courage and grace in coping with adversity, more of the ‘born-again’ politician uneasily wrenched from his original ecclesiastical path to serve mankind in a different way.  His halo might have slipped a little but writers like Janet will shove it back in place, forgiving all his past transgressions, looking longingly for the saviour, the messiah, for which they have waited so long.

    I could write such a piece myself.

    As for his boxing accomplishments, they have been talked about for years, and accounts of his performance in the ring are legend.  I cannot remember the details, but expect them to filter out from the MSM cheerleaders to reinforce what a sterling fighter this man is.

  • Bushfire Bill

    12/16/2009 9:38:10 PM |

    Apparently a new Morgan poll lends weight to my gut feeling that desertion from the climate "Believers" ranks is aligned with political persuasion. From Lavartus Prodeo, which discussed the matter:

    "...the growth in public “scepticism” about global warming consists almost entirely of the growth of such opinion amongst Coalition voters. This is not what one would expect if public opinion was shifting in response to new information about, or reconsideration of, the science of the issue. If this were the case we would expect to find a growth in “sceptical” opinion across the party-political spectrum.

    I would suggest that the shift in opinion reflects a shift in the partisan cues coming from the Coalition parties and Coalition politicians since 2006. Remember that in 2006-2007, the introduction of an emissions trading scheme was official Coalition government policy, the public position of the Coalition was that climate change was a real problem which required attention, Malcolm Turnbull as Environment Minister was actively promoting this view, and public denialism by Coalition figures was confined to backbench mavericks like Dennis Jensen."

    When Howard and his government were in favour of an ETS (or at least mimed support for one), a good rough half of the near universal support for such a scheme came from Coalition supporters. Now that Coalition policy has changed, so has nett public opinion, although Labor supporters are still firmly in the "Believer" camp.

    In my opinion support for Climate Change (and action to combat it) is very much a political proxy, just another outbreak of the old Left-Right culture war that has been being fought force since the 19th century. It's either GST, or asylum seekers, or Stimpac, or Socialists v. Capitalists... anything will do. as long as one side believes in X, the other will believe in Y. When hardly anyone has read "The Science" what else could we expect but that Climate Change would become political?

    Whatever-His-Name-Is-Today above thought he'd found an ally in me for some reason. I'd like to put that straight right away. He has not.

    The point I was making was that each side accuses each other of being irrational, while I think it is that BOTH sides that are being irrational. If "Believers" are displaying signs of religiosity, so are those on the Right, just as forcefully. I think that the balance must fall to those on the Left of politics, as The Science seems pretty uniform in its acceptance of Global Warming and if they are wrong, or unsure, then proposed methods of dealing with our environment should at least give the benefit of the doubt to the environment. The right just wants a blanket ban on any action. This is definitely not my position at all and Whatever-His-Name-Is-Today is wrong to use my words to support his own stance.

    Be that as it may, to just dismiss the Denialist camp as not being in tune with "The Science" is somewhat pointless, if those doing the dismissing have not read enough of The Science to make up their own minds from first principles. By the same token, those reading "The pseudo-Science" have no case either. The Denialist positions are full of Straw Men arguments (e.g. that CO2 is not a poison... it is a poison, and in fairly small concentrations, but that is not the reason why CO2 is looked upon as a threat by climate scientists), falsification or misrepresentation of figures (Bolt and his acolytes' continual misstatements that the unusually warm el Nino year of 1998 should be the sole benchmark for subsequent warming or otherwise) and outright bastardry (Abbott's statement that - first, when it is a Howard policy - he believes in Climate Change, then it is "crap", then he believes in it again etc. are wicked and cynical in the extreme). The loopy "Rudd wants to head up a Global Government of science Nazis" brigade are too stupid for words, yet in the ABC's world of arithmetic "balance" they get equal time compared to Nobel laureates and other learned people of science who don't give a fig about world government and are only concerned with the planet frying to a crisp (and all the attendant problems implied by that. If, as seems likely, 2009 - this year - ends up being the hottest year in the history of the human race, what chance is there that the Bolts and the Minchins of this world will repent their lies? Very little I'd say.

    And as for Tony Abbott, who (like a good Catholic) attends public confession every week, pleading with us, "The People" to write off the past and specifically his latest outrage (whatever it may be), thinking only of what he's going to come up with as his next crazy flagpole exercise, I hold especial contempt. A Tony abbott confession, based as it is in the erroneous Catholic idea that schoolboys learn to reject at age 11... that confession makes it OK to go out and sin again... is not worth the hot air used to exhale it.

  • Ad Astra You Empty Vessel

    12/16/2009 10:08:55 PM |

    Ad Astra,

    After careful review of what you claim to be scientifically sound discoursewith me, I have noted some startling freudian slips in your discourse(all though at times I wonder if it is the ramblings of impending dementia.

    Let me highlight these admissions hidden within your lengthy sermons. I have made no attempt to study the science of climate change That is clearly obvious to me.
    and anyone with an enquiring mind.

    I have neither the time nor the expertise to sift through the thousands of relevant papersFair enough, we are all busy ... don't preach if you are not across your brief.

    I have no base of knowledge independently derived on which to base a conclusion Again that is sadly obvious.

    You are an empty vessel and a noisy one.

  • Bushfire Bill

    12/17/2009 12:40:23 AM |

    You're a drongo mate. This is not a megaphone site. People come here to read reasonable views, well-expressed, not abusive diatribes like yours, directed at other posters or AA.

    He's provided this blog  so that anyone who wants to, including YOU can express their points of view. He's been polite and non abusive, inviting you to put your case in a manner that doesn't include incitement and slagging-off. The least you could do is to return the favour and act like an adult.

  • janice

    12/17/2009 7:21:02 AM |

    Ditto Bushfire Bill.  He/she of the multiple monikers is apparently using this site to express his abusive and delusional personality.  Ad astra has shown extreme patience with this person to no avail but maybe it is time to tell him to move on and try his luck elsewhere.

  • The Painful Truth

    12/17/2009 8:04:07 AM |

    BB thats not abuse but rather the painful truth.  AA makes much noise but his own words condemn him as a hollowman.

    J are you suggesting that my right to free speech be censored? Are you in the employ of Stephen Conroy ?

    What is it with you people? You only want to hear an opinion that is in lock step with your own.  If an alternate is proferred it is howled down.

    Green Fascism

  • Ad astra reply

    12/17/2009 8:31:13 AM |

    Thank you for yet another thoughtful post.  You make a compelling case for your assertion that the climate change debate has taken on a partisan political slant, something which may have been covert among Coalition members until the Abbott/Minchin/Joyce axis made it overt.  In my view this issue is one that ought not to be party political, but based instead on the science.  But I guess there’s no gainsaying the power of party politics to push science and reason into the background.  

    Since this has happened, perhaps the time for rational debate among people of different political persuasions has passed us by, and if so we’re left once more with a tiresome debate, characteristically disingenuous on both sides, that has little to do with facts and reason.  Yet in Copenhagen, apart from those at the deniers’ sideshow, there seems to be no debate about the reality of AGW.  Indeed the protestors seem not to be denying AGW, but insisting that the conference does more to combat it.  It’s curious that in Australia we seem to have such a large groundswell of denial.  I guess that strengthens your case that at least here, the debate has become party political.

    BB, janice
    Thank you for your supportive comments about this site and its modus operandi.  Multiple Moniker seems to enjoy disagreement and stirring the possum, but appears unwilling to engage in polite and rational debate.  That’s a pity because we would like to know about the factual basis for his views; all we have had so far is a set of links to denialist sources, but none to contrary views.

    After this morning’s post I wonder if sensible dialogue with Multiple Moniker is possible.  I’ll try once more; wish me luck.

    Multiple Moniker
    Having reverted to insulting comments, a common way out for those who feel they are losing the argument, you have set yourself against the style that visitors to the site have followed since its inception.  You are welcome to use the site, but please be conscious of what its users expect and prefer.

    I had hoped you would have applauded my willingness to acknowledge the fact that neither I, nor for that matter almost everyone else, has studied in the necessary detail all the facts, figures and reasoning surrounding the AGW debate, leaving us to reach a decision based on the arguments advanced by both the climate scientists and the deniers/sceptics.  In other words we have to decide which side has the most credible and persuasive argument.  I for one have confidence in the case the scientists have presented and none in that of the deniers.

    Since you are so caustic about my offering an opinion without having personally studied all the facts, figures and reasoning, please tell all of us who use this site the evidentiary base from which you have reached your views.  Have you studied the climate change issue in the detail you expect of me and other users of this site?  We will breathlessly await your exposition.

    No one is 'howling you down'.  We just want to know how you've reached your position on climate change.  It's your wealth of evidence that we eagerly seek.

  • Bushfire Bill

    12/17/2009 9:02:59 AM |

    "The Painful Truth" (I'll just call him "Painful") reminds me of "The Truth Hurts" a recent pest at Poll Bludger. Same methods, same shit-stirring attitude. The perpetual Angry Person (who's not going to have his "rights" to free speech trampled upon anymore).

    What is it with these right wing hit men? They're always depicting themselves as downtrodden, deprived of a voice. Painful follows the predictable course: he gets angry, allows it to build up, then explodes in a stream of abuse and insults. This simmers him down for a while until he builds up his next head of steam and we get another serve. The refractory period seems to be about 24 hours.

    Painful claims his right to free speech is being violated. As far as I can see all his posts have been published (even though they have lately become insulting to the host of the site). A simple request that he provides his bibliography - for and against - so that we can read and be enlightened is ignored. All we get are dodgy Denialist sites and more rants about how he is a victim. Next he'll be telling us he voted Labor at the last election, but that Abbott has lifted the scales from his eyes, as Rudd has betrayed his trust.

    It's all so predictable. This year is likely going to be the hottest year on record. I wonder what the Deniers are going to say to that. But it's only an idle thought.

  • janice

    12/17/2009 10:55:31 AM |

    Multiple Moniker, I have had far more reasonable 'debates' with my 10 year old grandson who knows little but enough to think he knows it all - a typical child trying to rebel against those pesky adults who refuse to give more than an inch and expect he maintain his cool, listen, learn and respect those who have his best interests at heart.

    As with my grandson I don't, and never would, deny his right to freedom of speech but I make it plain that his input to any argument can only be relevant if he keeps an open mind, questions the views and not the person, is ready to consider opposing views and make an attempt to understand the reasons behind his parents' household rules.

    You never did answer the question as to which generation you belong and therefore I still suspect you are very young and still in the process of reaching maturity.  You see, you have not offered an 'alternative' point of view.  You have offered no insight as to how you have reached your opposing stand regarding climate change except to post links to denialist articles, and you use the same cliches and language you hear used by the sceptics and deniers.  

  • Ebenezer

    12/17/2009 11:22:19 AM |

    Another good read Ad.
    This must be close to the longest thread you have had Ad.
    With that in mind is it possible to have the posts numbered? No pressure at all just asking. It would make it easier to follow the posts.

    Merry Christmas and Happy new year to all here and thanks Ad for your brilliant site.

    Cheers Eb. Smile

  • lyn1

    12/17/2009 12:13:15 PM |

    Hi Ad

    Political sword is the best blogg on the web, quality columns by you Ad, quality commenters, quality conversations, quality points of view. As Ebenezer said brilliant site.

    ( I wonder if sensible dialogue with Multiple Moniker is possible. I’ll try once more; wish me luck).

    Don't try Ad this person does not deserve your kind approach or patience.

    Would  Multiple Moniker go for A visit to Bota's blogg and stay there, I am sure he or she would be very very welcome and would undoubtably enjoy the posts there.

    Thankyou Bushfire Bill for your interesting and excellent information as always.  

    Thankyou Janice

    Thankyou Ebenezer

    Thankyou Peter T

    Thankyou Michael

    Ad after Janet's love letter yesterday, this morning we have for goodness sake  Arthur Sinodinos naming Abbott spartacus.

  • Sir Ian Crisp

    12/17/2009 12:47:54 PM |

    As if the news isn’t hard to digest at the moment (Tiger Woods; mini series flop of 2009 “Nobody loves Malcolm; etc) we now find out that Time magazine has just named Ben Bernanke as "Person of the Year" for 2009. Mr Rudd must be feeling desperately unlucky. Can it get any worse?

  • mick smetafor

    12/17/2009 1:07:42 PM |

    "What is it with you people? You only want to hear an opinion that is in lock step with your own. If an alternate is proferred it is howled down. "
    painful,"us people"would like to hear something more substantial than an opinion,we would like to hear the evidence that makes you so sure of your opinion.if the rest of "us people"are anything like me they are desperately worried about all our futures on this planet.we see this issue as more important than something to help our side win the next election or to give us bragging rights if we win,on the contrary,i live in hope that the scientist are wrong .

  • Ad astra reply

    12/17/2009 1:59:28 PM |

    BB, janice, Ebenezer, Lyn1, Sir Ian, mick
    Many thanks for your supportive remarks and kind comments about TPS.  If the regular visitors to this site find it useful and interesting, that is sufficient reward for me.  You, the visitors, make the site what it is with your thoughtful comments, your informative links, your enduring courtesy, your good humour, and your inscrutable observations.  Thank you all.

    You’re right Eb, this is the longest thread ever on TPS.  I suppose it shows how much interest there is in recent political events and especially climate change.  I’ll leave the thread open until Copenhagen is concluded in the hope that concern for the future of the planet will override political considerations, the self-interest that has contaminated the process, and the posturing that has characterized the behaviour of some of the participants at that event.

    I’ll check with my IT son-in-law whether numbering of posts is possible.  As TPS uses an off-the-shelf programme, that might not be possible.

    There may be time for one more subject to be posted on TPS early next week, but that would be the last for 2009.  The politicians must be due for ‘a well-earned break’, and we political bloggers too need a spell from what been a politically hectic and intriguing year.  Next year will be even more frantic as Tony Abbott hankers for a fight.  ‘Bring it on’ was his call yesterday; he is sounding more pugilistic by the day.

  • Bushfire Bill

    12/18/2009 8:16:11 AM |

    AA, I think you're going to need one of those "secret number" code systems to stop the spammers.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/18/2009 9:10:59 AM |

    There seems to have been a lot more spammers lately.  I delete them as soon as I see them, and I now close off comments of the previous thread when I post a new one to avoid spam collecting there.

    Over the end-of-year break I'll investigate what I can do to overcome the spam problem.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/18/2009 1:32:06 PM |

    A regular visitor to TPS has kindly sent me a website address for some free software that counters automatic spamming, so hopefully the spamming problem can be fixed over the end-of-year break.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/20/2009 11:19:34 AM |

    Copenhagen has come and gone.  It has disappointed many, especially those with the most radical views about what should be done about climate change.  But it does illustrate just how difficult it is to reach consensus, and still more difficult for the international community to accept binding agreements, even in the face of universal acceptance in Copenhagen of the reality of AGW and its devastating potential.  The next piece on TPS: The Rudd years, posted today, addresses, among other things, the issue of complexity, which bedevils political discourse, and distorts attempts at consensus and agreement at every level of political activity.

    Penny Wong and Kevin Rudd have made a supreme effort, much of it behind the scenes, to achieve a more effective outcome, but were thwarted by all the factors that militated against it, primarily the self interest of the participating nations.  They would be disappointed that more was not achieved but thankful at least a statement of intent emerged, however weak that might be.

    On the local political scene Tony Abbott, Greg Hunt and Bob Brown have already declared Copenhagen a failure, and have laid at least some of this failure at the feet of Rudd, insisting that he has been ‘rebuffed’, and must now re-think his ETS and debate it with Abbott, the Greens and the Australian people.  As anticipated, Abbott and Hunt have used the outcome to reinforce their view that Rudd had no need to take an ETS to Copenhagen and should have waited to see what the rest of the world was willing to do.  Now that the rest of the world seems unwilling to commit itself to anything binding, where does that leave the political debate in Australia?  Will Rudd still insist that in pursuit of our commitment consequent on signing Kyoto that in good faith we should take the next step and introduce an ETS (however modest its targets), even as the rest of the world drags its feet?  Will any store be placed on showing such leadership, on the influence it might have on other nations, a factor never acknowledged as a cogent reason for taking an agreed ETS to Copenhagen?  

    What will Abbott do now?  Will he use Copenhagen to justify continued inaction on AGW?  Will he even acknowledge that there was at least universal agreement in Copenhagen about the reality of AGW?  Will he now move further away from his ‘absolute crap’ assessment of AGW?  Or will his underlying denial remain?  Will he come up with his own plan for carbon mitigation?  Whatever else he does we can expect him to try to make political capital out of the Copenhagen outcome, and to lampoon Rudd and Wong for their efforts, which he will paint as misguided.  He might be wise to tread carefully in this regard as the public might not prepared to go along with harsh condemnation of Rudd or Wong, whose monumental efforts to achieve an acceptable response to climate change are recognized even by those who don’t necessarily agree with their approach.  Aussies still reward effort even when the outcome is less than hoped-for.

    I’ll leave this thread open for comment until tomorrow, but will close it then to minimize the spam we seem to be attracting currently.

    Here is the link toThe Rudd years

    Finally, heartfelt thanks to the many visitors who have contributed so thoughtfully to this thread, the longest in TPS’s history.

  • Ad astra reply

    12/20/2009 3:53:34 PM |

    Multiple Moniker
    The questions for those who diagnose failure at Copenhagen, and there are many, are: Who failed?  Who should be held responsible?  What failed?  Why did failure occur?   How can failure be averted next time?  

    One aspect was not a failure however – no one at the Copenhagen conference (except the odd denier who may have sneaked in) failed to accept the reality of AGW.  So at least there was consensus about that.  That will be the starting point for the next UN climate change conference.

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