Liberals turn up another dud

Was Tony Abbott the most astonished person after last Tuesday’s ballot for Leader of the Opposition?  If one can judge from his performance over the last few days, he was not only astonished but also seriously unprepared for such high office.

But if you look at what he’s said and done since his ascension to Opposition Leader, nothing should have caused surprise. 

This is the man who from the time Kevin Rudd became leader of the Labor Party and started to show up well in the polls, insisted that the electorate was ‘sleepwalking’, unaware of how hollow Rudd was.  This is the man who after the Coalition’s election defeat, repeated ad nauseam that the Howard Government was ‘such a good government’, and consistently implied it did not deserve to be replaced. This is the man who has done more than any other to defend the Howard legacy. 

This is the man who was prominent in promoting Howard’s WorkChoices legislation, the only concession about which he is willing now to make is that ‘it went a little too far’!  He says that the name ‘WorkChoices’ is dead (for obvious political reasons) but that the nation must have flexible workplace arrangements and that individuals ought to be able to make separate workplace agreements with employers – in other words have AWAs.  He wants to re-introduce full exemptions from Labor’s unfair dismissal laws for small business with fewer than 20 employees.

This is the man who recently told a meeting that climate change was ’absolute crap’, so why should anyone be surprised that he desperately wanted to defeat Rudd’s CPRS legislation. He’s an acknowledged climate sceptic.

In the few days since his election this man, despite trenchantly criticizing Malcolm Turnbull for his unilateral policy declarations and his lack of consultation with colleagues, has been making his own unilateral declaration that he would bring down a policy to mitigate climate change without a tax being imposed.  This despite being confused about his party’s emissions reductions targets.  Already, CEO of the Australian Industry Group, Heather Ridout, has expressed concern about Abbott’s quickly-announced proposals for climate mitigation and the uncertainty it has provoked; others will follow.  Only the most outrageous rent-seeking polluters will applaud.

Abbott has also wandered into the nuclear power issue, saying he would welcome a debate on the use of nuclear energy in this country, and then ventured into the vexed question of selling uranium to India, a sticky diplomatic matter, by saying that he could not see why this was not already being done.  Again, without consultation with colleagues!  Paul Kelly rightly accused Abbott of what Abbott so delights in accusing the Rudd Government of, ‘making policy on the run’.

Somehow he got into a debate about oil and revealed that he had not heard the term ‘peak oil’!  Where has he been?  Such ignorance in a political leader is not just amazing, it is dangerous.

He is now saying that he will raid the unspent stimulus package money to fund his election promises; presumably some schools promised new or upgraded buildings would not get them.  He says he would scrap the NBN to save money.  He would stop the Rudd Government’s home insulation program and the social housing initiative. He is talking of a federal takeover of some functions of the states, particularly the hospitals.  He accuses Rudd of mismanaging federal-state relations, which presumably he will fix with a unilateral takeover.

All these ideas have fallen from his lips in the first three days, even before he has selected his shadow cabinet, before there has been a chance for policy formulation.  So much for his criticism of Turnbull’s lack of consultation!  He says he will be consultative, yet announces policy initiatives every few hours, all in pursuit of differentiating the Abbott Coalition from the Rudd Government.

He has already announced he will include Barnaby Joyce on his front bench, and Joyce has indicated he wants finance.  Although Joyce is more suited to vaudeville than serious politics, he looks like getting an influential position as reward for the support the Nationals have given him in defeating Rudd’s CPRS.  Abbott has indicated that Kevin Andrews will be elevated to the front bench – the resurrection of a failed Howard politician.  Don’t be surprised if more Howardites are elevated.

This is a return to the policies and the personnel of the old, tired, discredited and defeated Howard Government, which Abbott has always insisted was unjustly removed by an ignorant electorate.  The revisionism though promises to be even more extreme than during the Howard years – Howard at least had an ETS, not all that different from Rudd’s – Abbott will not; he will have a no-tax scheme!  Rudd has described his approach as ‘magic pudding’; we’re awaiting the details that Abbott promises will emerge by next February.  What genius will create in just eight weeks what it has taken the Government three years to complete?

Abbott has a reputation for unpredictability and is seen as a maverick.  His first few days do nothing to alter that reputation.  Despite the Coalition cheerleaders such as Dennis Shanahan and Peter van Onselen predicting that Abbott will ‘take the fight up to Rudd’, and ‘provide a real contest’, who but the Coalition’s rusted-on supporters and fellow travellers will take him seriously?

His Rhodes scholarship is touted as a marker of his intelligence, but his inarticulateness makes one wonder.  His umming, aahing and ahahing, and his hesitancy is painful enough, but not as serious an indictment as his willingness to turn turtle on policy, as he did on the ETS, saying only a short time ago that it should be passed into law and got off the agenda, but then saying it must be defeated.

Abbott comes with much baggage, about which no further elaboration is needed.  He is a supremely combative political pugilist who believes an opposition must always oppose, must not help the Government with its legislation, and must make life as difficult as possible.  It seems never to have occurred to him that the Opposition too has a responsibility in the governance of the nation.  ‘Holding the Government to account’ is a phrase oppositions love to mouth, and of course they should, but that does not mean obstructing at every turn, opposing everything, holding up indefinitely legislation vital to the nation, and defeating it whenever possible.  For all his faults, Malcolm Turnbull did collaborate with the Government to fashion a revised ETS, which his party agreed to pass, only to have the extremists force it to Welsh on the deal.  Abbott sees no fault in this.

After just these few days, I predict a chaotic time ahead for Abbott and the Coalition, and a systematic dismembering by Rudd and his ministers of the adversarial and unsound policies Abbott promotes.  Like all new leaders, he may enjoy the honeymoon period his cheerleaders anticipate, but if it does occur at all, it will be brief.  It’s not as if this man is an untried politician who ‘should be given the benefit of the doubt’ and the traditional Aussie ‘fair go’ as some suggest.  We all know Abbott well.  We know he is unprepared for this new office, we know how much time he spends on bicycles, surfboards and swimming.   If he had paid more attention to contemporary political issues he might have been better equipped. 

We know he is a political thinker and has put in writing his philosophy more than most of his colleagues, but that is no substitute for depth of knowledge across the wide range of national and international issues about which his knowledge is dangerously deficient.  That could be overcome by attention to detail, thoughtful reflection, wide ranging consultation, careful policy formulation and articulate exposition of policies to the public.  If one can judge from the headlong, injudicious and aggressive way Abbott has thrown himself into the fray in the first few days, the prognosis for this occurring, and for resultant political success, seems extraordinarily poor.  And even as he tries to make headway, he can expect no respite from Turnbull who will systematically repay him for his treachery in replacing him.

How the Coalition can again throw up what seems destined to be yet another dud defies comprehension.

What do you think?

 

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Bushfire Bill

5/12/2009All I can say is that I'm glad I'm not Tony Abbott. Reading a piece like yours would put me into a permanent funk, AA. Abbott is a strange mix. As you say: "maverick" is one word. Intelligent, vicious, deceptive, charming in turns, he gives you the feeling that he'd be the hit-man without tears, yet stop to help an old lady across the street immediately after the dirty deed. He has the "lean and hungry look" of the ascetic that Shakespeare sussed out so well. He is good for a laugh and a dash of bonhommie, able to take himself down a peg or two on occasion, one of the boys when necessary, serious when that's appropriate. But this is only a disguise for his abiding passion: Abbott as the Holy Warrior. The "people skills" (what there are of them) are only trotted out so that he can get all the nearer to you when it's time for the knife to be unsheathed and bloodied, or the gallows trapdoor to be set loose. You get the feeling with Abbott (surely the most perfect matching of name and function in politics) that the friendlier he gets, the more human he looks from time to time, the more dangerous he is about to become. He has the fanatic's heart. He will not be deviated from his goals, and hard times are coming to those who think they can dissuade him, or ignore him. He's a sort of sociopath who uses charm, guile and violence in equal measure to get his way. He will cop any humiliation, even join in it at his own expense, as long as it benefits the cause. There is always The Cause, above all. He belongs to a party that claims to be the bastion of proprietry and decency yet can let fly with the "shit eating sandwich" routine, to camera, in public, without hesitation. They say he's kind and works behind the scenes with the disadvantaged, but this doesn't stop him from accusing a great man by any standards, Bernie Banton, literally within days of death from mesothilioma, of being a drama queen for wanting a compensation scheme set up to aid those who were doomed to the same fate. He can live most of a lifetime with the dishonour of abandoning the mother of his son, and then doom others - mothers, sons and their fathers - to the same fate, by opposing the "morning-after" pill when he was Health Minister. And then, as if the Gods were watching, and laughing, we see it all played out on television, with a surprise twist on the final page. He takes his instructions from Pell. He sees his mentor often, and in secret. Tony Jones sprung him on one occasion, before the 2004 election, and the look of hatred on Abbott's face when confronted with the evidence live on TV could have reduced a lesser person than Jones to whimpers. Abbott holds his religion above all other things, probably even above the Liberal Party, but it is supposed to be a private obsession. Oh sure, we know he's a Catholic, and religious, but we don't know (or aren't supposed to know) that this comes before everything and everyone. His leadership of the party is the first big triumph of the Opus Dei faction from NSW, and they'll get as much out of their man as they can. However, in the end, like all soldiers Tony is expendable. He is the Jesuit assassin, hunting down The Heretic, under orders from Rome. He can drink you under the table, whore with the best of them, swear louder and curse stronger than a trooper, run, swim and ride like an athelete, think like a scholar, reason like a Renaissance Man, and charm like a courtesan. But none of these worldly things will divert the holy hunger in Abbott's heart for eliminating the enemy. Tony Abbott is a man on a mission. He intends to carry it out, or die trying. If you are to believe anything about Tony Abbott, believe this: he's not joking.

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5/12/2009BB If you feel that reading my comments would have any chance of putting Tony Abbott into a funk, yours would likely put him into a rage, exposing as they do your assessment of the man behind the words he utters, behind the actions he takes. Thank you for your discerning appraisal of what drives him. It is important that commentators understand this. Your contribution is frightening as it points to the subtle and at times menacing motives that you believe drive Abbott. This morning I hear that John Howard has publically endorsed Abbott’s ascension, applauded his approach, embraced his philosophy and urged him on – more evidence that Abbott is a Howard man and intent on restoring Howard ideals and approaches. If Abbott has his head we will see a return to Howardism, which the public so recently rejected.

Bilko

5/12/2009Abbott is still in total denial mode changing tack better than Horatio Hornblower. Hatcher's piece in the SMH, like a fly on the wall commentary, implies its all a mistake it should have been Shrek elected and now the final nail/stake in the coffin the Rodents full backing. When the festive season passes the chooks will come home to roost. And I for one will watch with glee and much merriment. Hockey is finished no ticker so no one is left unless one counts Turnbull as the last man standing. Oh the irony.

Ebenezer

5/12/2009Well I cant really add anything of substance to Ad's fine post & BB's comment so I will just say this. Labor only have to show the footage of the Bernie Banton incident just before the last election to hammer home how inappropriate he (Abbott) would be as PM. Not to mention the return to "WorkChoices" campaign. The Liberals have issues on trust, and he ain't going to solve them, only exacerbate them. Cheers Eb. :)

Michael

5/12/2009Tony Abbott's only contribution to fashioning 'new' Liberal Party policy is to don his muscle suit and parade around as Captain UnDo - "You want to know what Liberal policy is? Line up all Labor's legislation since their election, and repeal it". But Captain UnDo has a secret identity: Captain ReDo. It's clear he doesn't only want to wipe the slate clean of Labor government legislation, he wants to return the country to Howard-era governance, with all the old elements in place then, back on the books. Captain UnDo is scarily unaware of just why Howard was voted out. Captain ReDo is frighteningly conscious of just what it takes to keep a country under a narcoticising thumb - scare voters, and bribe them in finely tuned and repetitive sequences, making for a calculated waltz of Old Testament paternalism.

Michael Cusack

5/12/2009Barnaby Joyce as Finance Minister, Kevin Andrews indispensible! Whatever the faults and foibles Abbott will have to hide or defend will be as nothing to the output of his shadow Ministry, ably marshalled by "cockroach" Bishop, and surely there will be a welcoming space to add that other much missed Bishop, Bronwyn. My fantasy has long been to see Alby Shultz elevated to a position of prominence, and once thought that the demotion of Wilson Tuckey from Howards Ministry had opened the door but he and I were disappointed. I feel now is his big chance. He would be a suitable ornament to an Abbott Opposition. Wonderful post from you, AA and equally wonderful reply from BB. Great stuff!!

monica

5/12/2009Well said, AA & BB. Next year will be just fabulous for we politics tragics, and Abbott will no doubt be a rich mine.....if he lasts.

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5/12/2009Thank you all for your valuable contributions to the Abbott debate. There has been quite a lot of comment in the MSM and the blogosphere: [i]The Piping Shrike[/i] has a great piece [i]Once more, with feeling[/i] http://www.pipingshrike.com/2009/12/once-more-with-feeling.html The comments too are worth a read. You can see what Abbott will be up against in cyberspace in David Penberthy’s [i]Web women unleash cyber hell on Holy Tony[/i] in [i]The Punch][/i] http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/web-women-unleash-cyber-hell-on-holy-tony/ In yesterday's [i]Business Spectator[/i] http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Tony-Abbott-Malcolm-Turnbull-Kevin-Rudd-Liberal-Pa-pd20091203-YD8AJ?OpenDocument&src=blb Sue Cato comments on Abbott's language in [i]Will Tony eat his own words?[/i] For an appraisal of Abbott’s carbon mitigation plan read [i]In search of the Magic Carbon Pudding by Michael Pascoe[/i] in [i]Business Spectator[/i] http://www.businessday.com.au/business/in-search-of-the-magic-carbon-pudding-20091204-ka1m.html And for an accurate account of the election of Abbott read Peter Hartcher's [i]The accidental leader[/i] in today's [i]SMH[/i] http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/the-accidental-leader-how-abbott-won-20091205-kbc8.html

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5/12/2009Here's the link to [i]Tony Abbott is the new liberal leader. A very bad day for women. A great day for Joe Hockey's family[/i] on the [i]MamaMia[/i] blogsite mentioned in David Penberthy's piece: http://mamamia.com.au/weblog/2009/12/tony-abbott-new-liberal-leader-a-bad-day-for-women-a-great-day-for-joe-hockeys-family.html

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5/12/2009You may enjoy reading Mike Carlton's [i]Santa returns as Mad Monk wins control of the nuthouse[/i] in the [i]SMH[/i] http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/santa-returns-as-mad-monk-wins-control-of-the-nuthouse-20091204-kauh.html

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5/12/2009Another interesting piece is one by Laurie Oakes in [i]The Daily Telegraph, Political attack dog Abbott must bite his tongue[/i] http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/political-attack-dog-abbott-must-bite-his-tongue/story-e6frezz0-1225807094497

lyn1

5/12/2009Hi Ad Just what I needed for my files, your report on Tony Abbott thankyou Ad. Thankyou to Bushfire Bill too,always a very good read. Abbotts new front bench should be a good laugh, that's if he lasts as leader long enough to instalthe fron bench. See Malcolm Turnbull is already thinking up payback. As Bushfire Bill puts it (he's not joking. Seriously though, can anyone imagine Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, can anyone imagine him out polling Kevin Rudd, can anyone imagine what Kevin Rudd and his Ministers dish up to Tony Abbott in the election campaign. Thankyou for the links Ad.

Sir Ian Crisp

5/12/2009I along with many others have succumbed to the human weakness of physiognomy. I look at Rudd and straight away I think of a dentist. I look at Abbott and think of a boxer. Just what are we to make of Abbott, the newly minted opposition leader. He must rank as one of the worst speakers in the parliament. His interviews are peppered with weighty caesurae to such an extent that he gives the impression of a man who forgets what it is he wants to say. His elevation to the leader of the Libs did provide a bit of comedy. One of the first to be interviewed was Bob Hawke. Question: “What sort of leader do you think Mr Abbott will be?” Answer: “A temporary one.” Abbott commented that they had to wheel out Bob Hawke because Mr Rudd was out of the country again. Then when Abbott started to offer his views on how to reduce carbon Rudd said it was a magic pudding policy. All good theatre. Mr Rudd will now have to explain his ETS policy in more detail and that might mean unveiling treasury’s model as well as telling us who will issue carbon certificates; on what will their value be based; by how much will our power bills increase; how much carbon will be sucked out of the atmosphere if we reduce our input markedly; how much will the temperature be reduced; and, will polar bear numbers rebound. We need the government to explain the minutiae of the complex science of our environment and how it will impact our lives. Surely a man with superior knowledge of events in 2050 would know by how much our power bills will increase in 2011. It should be explained to Mr Rudd that our parliament house was built by the winners of a competition that attracted 329 entries. The site covers 32 hectares. About 90% of materials used were Australian. The flag mast is 81 metres high and weighs in at 220 tonnes. Inside the parliament are 4,500 rooms. The total cost was AUD$1.1 billion. A large and expensive building has been provided so that our elected representatives can inform the Australian people so it doesn’t reflect positively on Rudd or the ALP to have that crone Penny Wrong drone on about deniers and skeptics. Tell us Ms Wrong by how many degrees will the temperature reduce if we reduce our carbon emissions. Her lumpen performance and one-eyed ideology mean she is unfit to lead on this issue. Abbott seems to have painted himself into a corner with his simplistic solutions to combat a worsening environment. If his simplistic solutions of tree planting, better land management and improved building codes fail then he has no option but to introduce a tax which he has already said is not needed. Abbott’s plan seems to be a cottage industry approach. So we have Rudd and his interesting bouillabaisse of haughty self-belief, unrestrained narcissism and unassisted genius up against Abbott with his mix of inability to say 10 words without a pause, lack of clarity and a proclivity for the puerile. What an interesting new year awaits us.

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6/12/2009Amery I tried subscribing to the RSS feed of [i]The Political Sword[/i] using [i]Firefox[/i] on my computer and was able to do so in both the 'Bookmarks' and the 'Bookmarks Toolbar'. So that suggests it's not the website of [i]The Political Sword[/i] that is causing the trouble you are having in subscribing to RSS feeds from [i]The Political Sword[/i]. I hope you have success next time you try.

Bushfire Bill

6/12/2009First time I've read a "Sir Ian Crisp" post and thought it was worth reading. Sir Ian, you've suddenly become serious. Abbott is at the moment, in concert with Barnarby Joyce, appealing to the conservative crowd on the hill, awaiting the Messiah and his Kingdom. The two have given them a voice, permission to say the sort of things that usually don't make it much past a shock jock talkback program. It's a very similar demographic to the Hanson crowd, brought forward a decade. Now, instead of Asians and dole bludgers, the boogey men are scientists (what would [i]they[/i] know?), tax-mad Labor bandits raiding our bank accounts and aborigine-loving do-gooders (although isn't it interesting that abused-British-orphan-loving do-gooders seem to be OK?). They've worked hard all their lives and they're not going to let any Greeny tree-hugging nerds in government-funded offices writing papers to each other tell them what to do. Come to think of it, I'll strike out "dole bludgers" from the Hansonite portfolio and trade you "research grant bludgers". Denialism is a pretty natural human condition. I've read scientific articles on the subject that argue that our ability to deny adverse circumstances, or to forget the misery they caused has helped us survive as a species. We look at the weather today and convince ourselves that Climate Change is not real. We go back into the surf a week after someone has been taken by a shark at the same beach. In most cases tragedies don't recur, and the later bathers aren't eaten by sharks. The tribe and hence the species survives to prosper and forget. Denialism is forgetting in advance. The Abbott and Joyce supporters don't want to think they are partly to blame for the coming barbeque, with planet Earth on the griddle. Their parents fought wars so their children could pollute and hold down jobs mining coal. Anyway, we're a small country by population, so what difference can we possibly make to Global Warming? Earth has globally warmed before, millions of years ago, and we're still here, right? No matter that 95% of the planet's species were wiped out at the time, and that there will be 15 billion people trying competing for ever scarcer resources as arable lands turn to deserts and seas flood coastal plains when the next warming episode locks in. CO2 is necesary for life. It isn't a poison, is it? Plants thrive on it, don't they? No matter that CO2 [i]is[/i] actually a poison and that, anyway, whether it is or not is not the argument of climate scientists in describing CO2's influence on global temperatures. How many polar bears will be saved? What will be the temperature drop next year if we have an ETS? The Denier followers have no concept of the long term because it is not part of our genetic makeup. They have forgotten in advance. No matter the grumblings. There are a thousand rationalizations for climate Denialism, but they need a voice. The voice, in the form of the Abbott-Joyce axis, is here to have its day. Rudd has a lot to answer for in that he really [i]is[/i] to many voters, nerdy and, I agree, a little smug in thinking that the science-based argument once settled in the public's mind is settled. Perhaps it is (or is at least as settled as a science argument can be), but Rudd has not [i]prosecuted[/i] the case, or publicised it enough. He has not covered that particular base, not countered that particular threat: the threat that frontier barbarians might latch onto Climate Change as a political weapon and march on Rome with it. To a great extent the Left also uses Climate Change as a political weapon. They are as guilty of politicising Global Warming as the Right is. The visceral, tribal, inherited but inexplicable loathings and fears one side has for the other have found a new battleground. Rudd, believing that the argument for Climate Change action has been long-settled and can therefore be left neatly in the "Confirmed" column of the bullet point list had better re-evalute this attitude. His Stimulus Package didn't save Australia because Australia was already saved by Howard and Costello, and anyway mostly only bludgers got the $900 (excepting those who deserved it, of course, but they were in a victimized minority), so Rudd can't rely on gratitude to save him. Paradoxically the Deniers who point to a cold day in November as evidence of no warming suddenly become overwhelmingly concerned when they think of their grandkids - many generations into the future - paying off Rudd's unnecessary debt. It's nothing personal, or even rational: it's [i]political[/i]. Rudd had better learn the lesson that in politics nothing is written, or decided. It will be re-written and decided, again and again, until the other side gets its way, or dies trying.

Ad astra reply

6/12/2009Lyn1, Sir Ian, BB, William Thank you for your contributions. If I may respond to you collectively, I too enjoyed reading your piece Sir Ian, and your second contribution BB, which added yet another dimension to the Abbott debate. You comment BB that the sceptics paint CO2 as a naturally occurring substance (which it is) and therefore conclude it can’t be poisonous. This is a classic example of the seriously flawed scientific thinking of which they are guilty. There are many naturally occurring substances that in ‘normal’ amounts are not toxic, but in excess are. CO2 happens to be one of them. Normal amounts of CO2 in the blood are harmless, in fact necessary for normal respiration, but excessive amounts (the condition of hypercapnia) can be lethal. It accompanies several terminal lung conditions. I say this as an aside, because in climate science the most profound effect of CO2 is its greenhouse effect, trapping as it does heat in the earth’s atmosphere, thereby warming the planet. This is not because CO2 is poisonous in the atmosphere; just that too much causes the greenhouse effect. It is toxic though when it dissolves to excess in sea water thereby increasing its acidity, a condition that can destroy coral reefs. So the fatuous argument that because CO2 is a naturally occurring substance it can’t be poisonous or dangerous, deserves to be exposed for the deceptive charade it is. Either the perpetrators know no better, which is disgraceful for any politician, or are simply being disingenuous in the extreme. Sir Ian, BB, you mention the ‘failure’ of the Rudd Government, particularly Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong, to explain their CPRS to the public and ‘sell’ it as a desirable policy. That there seems to be a lack of understanding, exacerbated by the catalogue of misinformation spread by the Coalition and climate deniers, is not contested, but for example to expect anyone to indicate by how many degrees C the Government’s CPRS will reduce global temperature, as the likes of Barnaby Joyce and Steve Fielding continually insist Wong should, is just silly. This is simply not discernable. What we need to know and what climate scientists are continually attempting to compute is how much carbon emissions have to be reduced globally to keep the global temperature below 2 degrees in excess of current temperatures. This is a global problem that must have a global solution. But that should not stop Australia, the highest per capita polluter in the world but because of our small population emitting a modest 1.4% of the total, from making OUR contribution, small though it might necessarily be. To simply throw up one’s hands and say we need to do nothing, and that it will make little difference anyway, is to negligently sidestep our responsibilities as a developed mature nation. Coming now specifically to what education the Government has provided, it’s not as if it has provided no information. Successively it has promulgated the Garnaut Draft Report, the Final Report, the Government Green Paper and its White Paper, Treasury modelling, and a number of supplementary documents, all of which I have on file. It has a ‘Department of Climate Change’ website http://www.climatechange.gov.au/default.aspx where there is a plethora of useful information. There is a comprehensive description of the CPRS White Paper at http://www.climatechange.gov.au/publications/cprs/white-paper/cprs-whitepaper.aspx A well written and nicely illustrated Government booklet [i]The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and You[/i] was distributed at the end of last year, but has now been withdrawn for updating with the recent amendments. It was easy to read, understandable and answered questions the public were asking. It had a dozen pages on what costs might rise and the compensation that would be available. So there has been plenty of information provided. But as in one survey it was reported that 80% of respondents wanted more information, we can conclude that the Government’s efforts have not been as successful as it had hoped. There is no point in saying the information is out there in abundance if it has not properly informed the people – that would be like a teacher saying, ‘I taught the class, but they didn’t learn’. What is required is a learning needs assessment – what information does the public believe it needs, and what additional information does the Government wish the public to have? Armed with that, competent educationalists would be able to craft a variety of educational devices – pamphlets, TV pieces, newspaper articles/inserts, DVDs, contributions to the wide variety of electronic communications tools, and so on, to get the Government’s key messages out and answer the important questions troubling the public. These mechanisms will need to be first class to counter the deliberate misinformation being spread by the Coalition and the climate sceptics/deniers. I hope that the end-of-year break will be taken as an opportunity to engage in this exercise, and that 2010 will see the dawning of a better informed public and a more intelligent public debate on this critically important matter.

Bushfire Bill

6/12/2009I received a viral Power Point program the other day from a young bloke I used to work with. He's not dumb, in fact he's highly intelligent (was second dux of his school, had a pilot's licence at 18, dealt in detail with millions of dollars worth of contracts where we worked and so on... no dummy at all). The subject was Climate Denialism (the case for it). The PPS file had, as one of its pages, the "CO2 is not a poison" guff. These were the points it made: [b]* It is odourless, colourless and non toxic * We all drink it in soft drinks and beer * It is necessary for life (photosynthesis converts CO2 into O2 and carbon)[/b] So, according to the author of the piece, it is not only NOT a poison, but it is beneficial. If we can drink it, how can it be a poison? The trap here is that it is a "double-negative Straw Man argument" (to coin a phrase). You find yourself arguing that CO2 IS a poison in excess; that breathing it is how it becomes poisonous, not drinking it etc. etc. Until you realise that winning the particular argument - proving that CO2 can be harmful, even deadly - has [i]has nothing to do with winning the Climate Change argument[/i]. This is beacuse the danger in CO2, as far as CC is concerned, is in its ability to absorb heat, not its propensity to poison you when breathed-in to excess. This is what I mean by a "Double Negative Straw Man" argument: it's a Straw Man argument right enough, but it's not even true in its own terms. Such arguments - first you have to show that CO2 being a poison is irrelevant, then you have to explain exactly why it is dangerous for the climate - can take you hours of convincing to win (if you ever can). The scary thing is that Nick Minchin used this exact same argument on the 4-Corners program of a couple of weeks ago. The even scarier thing is that many people might find themselves nodding in agreement with it and not think things through. Trying to win an argument with people who swallow the "CO2 as poison" guff could be seen as smarty-pants, scientific mumbo-jumbo. This is the kind of easily digestable clap trap that Climate scientists are up against, and it is rife, all over the net. That the person who sent the PPS file to me is otherwise intelligent and well-informed was the most worrisome aspect of the whole situation.

Bushfire Bill

6/12/2009As an addendum to my previous post, these are the contact details of the originator of the Power Point presentation. Some guy from Adelaide, I think. He made his name public. Who am I to deny him the privilege of being contacted by interested parties? [b]Why an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is not necessary[/b] A brief summary compiled by Leon Ashby, President “The Climate Sceptics” Centenary Medal recipient for services to the environment www.climatesceptics.com.au info@climatesceptics.com.au Ph 0887259561

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6/12/2009BB Thanks for the additional contribution to the ‘CO2 is not a poison’ debate, and the link. That this came from an intelligent man of mature age is the really scary thing. It shows how easy it is to convince people, even with substantial intelligence, of the validity of inaccurate and misleading ideas. It’s almost as if the attribute of reasoning is suspended when the individual is convinced, by whatever means, of the veracity of an argument. It occurs particularly, and in its grossest form, in debates about evolution, creationism and creative design. I know no counter; if the individual is convinced, no amount of factual information and reasoning will suffice. Did you see the Laurie Oakes interview of Tony Abbott this morning on Channel Nine. Abbott was well behaved and brief in his responses. He bridled though at Oakes’ question about whether he believed in evolution, and indicated his displeasure about being asked questions about his religious beliefs, which he insisted were ‘private’. Not that that would cut much ice – even when answering a question about nuclear power, he said he had ‘no theological objection to it’. Theology influences his thinking more than he may care to admit. He was so tetchy about this that he challenged Oakes to ask Kevin Rudd the same type of question. Where he did wobble though was at the end when challenged about the many policy statements he had made since Tuesday. He tried to cover his tracks by vaguely indicating that none of these were settled. He also avoided giving a clear answer about how his carbon mitigation scheme could be just as effective as the Government’s but at little or no cost. He’ll need all of the next few weeks to fashion a scheme that will convince the many who will scrutinize it that it can be done, that there is, for example, enough land for the required tree planting, on which he places such store, that farmers will be willing to relinquish their property for this purpose, that biochar will actually provide a benefit, and that his low cost scheme will actually provide a disincentive to pollute. Wait for the backtracking to start.

Bilko

6/12/2009Abbott & co still think, "we woz robbed the punters were stupid/mistaken, look at our talented team how could you not vote for us". TOTAL denial after 2 yrs but a rightwing media will still print their rubbish. All these historic utterences will come back to haunt them. Maybe the ETS was flawed I must admit I did not understand it and here the Govt will need to spell it out better for us normal punters. But the flip flop man will have his honeymoon until about Feb then Parl sits just watch the damp squibs, points of order and reverse double pikes with roll etc. Merry christmas to all

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7/12/2009Folks, if you want to see poor old Dennis in full Coalition tub-thumping flight, read [i]Abbott gamble pays off for Libs[/i] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/abbott-gamble-pays-off-for-libs/story-e6frgczf-1225807524519 Yet the TPP is 56/44 (from 57/43 a week ago but the same as the poll before that) PPM 60/23 compared with 65/14 the week before - Turnbull's last and worst poll, and Rudd satisfaction/dissatisfaction 58/32, up from 56/34 the week before. 28% rate Abbott a better Liberal leader than Turnbull, but 62% say he is no better or worse. Read all about it on Mumble http://mumble.com.au/ Only Shanahan could make such a triumph out of that set of figures. The TPP is virtually unchanged, Rudd on 60 is miles ahead of Abbott on 23 on PPM, Rudd's popularity has risen four points, and 62% see Abbott as no better or worse than Turnbull at his lowest ebb. Talk about making a mountain out of a tiny molehill!!! Having shaken the despised Turnbull at long last out of Liberal leadership, dear old Dennis now sees a new dawn as he embraces Abbott. Disappointment will surely follow him as he trudges along that barren track.

Ebenezer

7/12/2009It seems the cheer squad is in full swing.

lyn1

7/12/2009Hi Ad Your words:- (Talk about making a mountain out of a tiny molehill!!! ) I agree with you Ad, poor Dennis (Coalition tub-thumping flight) it's just pitifull. Ebenezer is spot on, and Mumble knows. Seems all the papers have Abbott a winner WOW, he has to be, he won two safe Liberal seats on the weekend you know, and has climbed so far up in the polls. Check this link , tell me what you think Ad, when you get time. http://politicalowl.blogspot.com/2009/12/media-wrap-liberals-win-by-elections-in.html

janice

7/12/2009You're very astute Ad astra in picking up the fact that Abbott never meant to be the fall guy - he & Minchin were setting up Hockey for that so of course he was gob smacked and unprepared when he won the leadership. Unfortunately for the nation, as well as the liberals themselves, we look like having to bear Abbott's umming and aahing through to the election. No doubt Abbott is religiously righteous but he is a despicable character nevertheless. A man who thinks nothing of using blatant mis-information and will resort to underhand, dishonest gutter tactics to attack his opponents. Abbott's political record should preclude him from ever being considered the leader of the alternative government. He does have a great big mouth though so maybe it is only a matter of time before it causes his downfall. Poor old Shanahan will have to find yet another rock to hide under when his latest hero bites the dust.

bilgedigger

7/12/2009Many people will go into the holiday break without the astute analysis seen in a few places today and thinking that Abbott and the Liberal Party have a defensible position which is given credence by the loud voices proclaiming Newspoll results show "what the public really thinks" as one commentator has said. I'm still waiting for some attention to be given to the "secret ballot" and its aftermath, where Julie Bishop was able to identify and retrieve her "secret ballot paper" because she had written down the numbers. From my experience the only reason ballot papers are marked at all is so people and the way they have voted are easily recognisable to those who have initiated the poll, which appears to have been some of those involved in the coup. Similarly the Galaxy poll in Queensland which purportedly showed that 80% agreed with the new Abbott & Co. position has not been subject to any proper scrutiny. This poll supposedly only had 400 respondents which would not have been a credible poll when I studied research statistics. I had a couple of attempts to add to Bushfire Bill's very early comment on 5th Dec. but they disappeared into the nether world. His analysis was spot on, and while we all have sociopathic (or narcissistic) tendencies to various degrees, mostly we learn to restrain them at least in public discourse. Tony Abbott (and his co-plotters) in planning and executing this present coup have played their hand in public at last and it sends a shiver down my spine to think of the months and months of planning that went into the execution and the help they have had in many arenas. Abbott is no "accidental leader", rather is a puppet leader as a result of a cold-blooded plan carried out by extremists and their backers in the mining and other indutries.

Ad astra reply

7/12/2009Lyn1, janice Thank you for the link Lyn. I agree with you both that 'Shanahan is at it again' - sounds like a suitable title for my next piece! He should read Possum's [i]Newspoll Tuesday – No Bounce Edition[/i] http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2009/12/07/newspoll-tuesday-no-bounce-edition/ for a sober and rational analysis of Abbott's triumphal advent to leadership.

lyn1

7/12/2009Hi Ad thanks for Mumble link Ad. (Disappointment will surely follow him as he trudges along that barren track). Your words Ad, Wonder what Dennis said when he found out about Malcolm's blogg. Ebenezer (It seems the cheer squad is in full swing) your words. Eb Malcolm Turnbull's blogg has sabotaged the cheer squad. Fantastic days entertainment today since Malcolm Turnbull's blogg this morning. Andrew Bolt is very upset he says so. Andrew thinks Malcolm Turnbull should be thrown out of politics. Ad quick check it all out, there is so much fun out there today. http://malcolmturnbull.com.au/MalcolmsBlogs/tabid/105/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/702/Time-for-some-straight-talking-on-climate-change.aspx Then this http://www.thepunch.com.au/ Then this http://petermartin.blogspot.com/ Then this http://larvatusprodeo.net/ http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/abbotts-climate-change-policy-is-bullshit-20091207-kdmb.html http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/contributors/turnbull-the-last-sane-lib-on-climate-change-20091207-kdy0.html http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/ http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/turnbull-blasts-abbotts-ets-bullshit/story-e6frgczf-1225807605281 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/turnbull-to-cross-floor-over-abbotts-bullst-ets/story-e6frf7l6-1225807636357 http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/turnbull-launches-attack-against-abbott-20091207-kdya.html http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/12/07/2763938.htm Hope I haven't made too many typing errors, my fingers are dancing.

Ad astra reply

7/12/2009Many thanks Lyn for the great set of interesting links. If Abbott thinks he’s fighting Rudd, he had better look over his shoulder where he will find Turnbull waiting to pounce again and again. Today was episode one - there will be many more to come. Turnbull's approach is to never give up – to keep on punching - and that's what he'll do. He now has two more votes in his favour after the by-elections plus that of Fran Bailey (who could not get to Canberra for the spill), so he could probably roll Abbott now. But he will bide his time, eroding him at every opportunity, until the time to strike comes. Abbott is an accidental leader; he was not expecting to win, nor was Minchin expecting him to do so. Their devious plans to install Hockey as the sacrificial lamb in place of Turnbull have blown up in their faces, and they are now stuck with an unprepared leader, who concedes he has not even read all the relevant climate change papers, urged on by Joyce who would not bother to read them himself because they’re all nonsense, stuck with coming up in eight weeks with a climate mitigation plan that doesn't cost anything much. From now on the target of criticism will be from within as well as from outside his party from well-informed writers. Because he's bitten off much more than he can chew, he will choke. The question is whether he'll choke before the election, leaving Turnbull to take over, or whether Rudd and Turnbull, to borrow a Keating phrase, will opt to just to 'do him slowly'. Whatever happens, Abbott will experience lots of pain.

Ebenezer

7/12/2009More analysis here from Aristotle at ozforums. [quote]"The result is the poorest start for any new mid term Opposition Leader."[/quote] http://www.ozforums.com.au/viewtopic.php?pid=71315#p71315 Thanks for the links Lyn Cheers Eb. :)

lyn1

7/12/2009Hi Ad Thanks for your reply to me, your blogg is just growing and growing, with quality reporting, quality opinion, quality observation, quality topics, true to the facts, quality columns, quality people commenting, Ebenezer,Bilko, Janice, Bushfire Bill, bilgedigger, Sir Ian Crisp ,monica, Michael Cusack , what a good read you all provide. Big thanks to Ebenezer for your comments and link. Bigger thanks to Ad for maintaining this blogg. Thankyou Ad

Ad astra reply

8/12/2009bilgedigger Somehow I missed your comment when last I responded – it must have come out of the 'nether world' afterwards! I agree that the coup has been cold-blooded, but by all accounts the object was to install Hockey as the fall guy, and presumably after his defeat at the next election, install Abbott. But they miscalculated the extent of the adverse affect Hockey’s ‘free-vote’ equivocation on climate change would have, and so he was the first eliminated, leaving Turnbull/Abbott contest. I suppose because the whole idea of the spill was to remove Turnbull, enough felt they had to vote him out, but I imagine when the vote was counted they, like most others, were surprised. The whole sorry episode shows how inept both the conservatives and the liberals in the Liberal Party are at even organizing a leadership coup. The fact that Julie Bishop can identify her vote to prove that she voted for Turnbull is fishy. In valid secret ballots, even if the voting papers are numbered, who voted for whom is not revealed. I wonder if Tony Abbott has had access to this information. I see today he has ‘rewarded’ those who supported him by giving them front bench or more senior shadow portfolios. So much for his assurance he would ‘heal’ the party – he’s as coldblooded in appointing to his shadow ministry as he is about everything else. Galaxy polls are dubious because the sample size is often so small, the questions asked so often poorly framed, and because one suspects the poll sets out to get the answers it wants. Anyway, I see today the banner headline in [i]The Australian[/i] is [i]Abbott fuelling sceptics: UN[/i] that reports what Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC and joint Nobel Peace Prize winner with Al Gore had to say about the affect Abbott’s approach to climate change is having on the world scene. Abbott had better realize that his domestic retail politics is not confined to our shores – he’s in the big league now, and appallingly ill-equipped for it. And with Turnbull now attacking Abbott’s climate policy publically, how long can Abbott survive? Eb Thanks for the Aristotle link – he’s always good value. I’ll use some of that in my next piece. Lyn1 Thank you so much for your encouraging remarks, and your words of praise for the respondents that post on [i]TPS[/i]. I fully agree with you about their contributions. Such appreciative comments make the effort of maintaining [i]TPS[/i] worthwhile. We can look forward to an end-of-year break if only the politics would settle down for a while. But with Copenhagen for the next couple of weeks and Abbott’s new shadow ministry out today, it may not be until Christmas Eve that a recess will be possible.

Bilko

8/12/2009to wrap up we now have a team of duds announced by Abbott to give labor a fright and the blog comments everywhere need compiling into a book it would be a best sellern That break comment may be a tad premature merry christmas one and all

Bilko

8/12/2009oops sellern = seller

Ad astra reply

8/12/2009Bilko What a collection - conservatives, deniers, Howardites, dead people still walking. They are making a laughing stock of the Coalition. And all they seem to aim to do is to fight, oppose, obstruct. Policies can wait! I'm closing this item now - there's a new one up 'Dennis Shanahan is at it again'.
What does two plus 1 equal?