Who’s right?


Back in April, Senator Brandis wrote an article (reported on the ABC) in which he claimed that although he believed humans were causing global warming he was ‘really shocked by the sheer authoritarianism of those who would have excluded from the debate the point of view of people who were climate change deniers’. He went on to say that people who think the science is settled are ‘ignorant and medieval’.

Adam Bandt for the Greens responded:

“If someone said ‘two plus two equals five’, would you insist on giving them as much airtime in the media as someone who said ‘two plus two equals four’.

The science community is now essentially speaking with one voice. To say someone without science training can somehow simply on a free speech basis say that they’re all wrong is a very feudal way of thinking.”

These statements raise concerns regarding climate change and free speech. But there is another issue embedded in them which is the one I want to explore: the role of experts in shaping government policy.

Human society has always used experts, even if early on they were identified by experience, status or age. In our modern society technical and scientific expertise has grown exponentially as we have become more dependent on science and the technology arising from it. That has also been reflected in the legislation going through our parliament. The first parliament in 1901 passed 17 acts in total, including matters of post and telegraph services, and distillation, the only two which may have required some expert advice. Between 2008 and 2012 an average of 220 acts per year was passed including on such matters as offshore petroleum, greenhouse gas storage, nuclear terrorism, road safety and higher education, each of which, among many others, would have required expert input.

While expert input may seem essential for some issues, governments, unfortunately, also use experts to avoid responsibility for their decisions. They establish an ‘expert’ committee and then claim their decision is based on the committee’s advice or evidence, thereby implying they essentially had ‘no choice’ in their final decision.

That leads to the crux of the problem: that the use of experts is inherently undemocratic as the expert becomes an ‘authority’ presenting decisions of public policy, whereas democracy is meant to be based on keeping ‘authority’ in check.

The ultimate outcome can be the rise of a ‘technocracy’ — government by technocrats, or experts. Underlying the technocrat approach is the belief that expertise and knowledge will lead to the best rational decision, one that cannot really be questioned because non-experts, including politicians, are not qualified to judge what the experts are saying.

In the 1990s there were fears that the European Union (EU) was going that way largely due to the regulations being made by the European Commission. While the regulations may have been based on the best technical and scientific advice, they were often met by resistance in some nations of the EU, both by politicians and the public. This meant the advice became politicised, but that helped slow the descent towards a technocracy. Despite that, there is a history of experts determining policy in a number of northern European nations, in particular Germany.

A problem for politicians, especially as regards scientific advice, is that scientific results can contain a number of uncertainties. Although this is part of normal scientific enquiry, and promotes further research and refining of theories and models (such as in the current climate change science), it does not necessarily provide a solid basis for decision making. Put simply, politicians often need to act before the science is conclusive.

There is also growing distrust of experts among the populace, for a number of reasons: the political use of experts to justify disputed decisions; the problems that have arisen from following experts previously (that is, the introduction of technology that has initially enhanced our lives but subsequently led to environmental or social problems); fears of the potential rise of a technocracy and the loss of democratic power, and a more educated and informed populace that is better able to question.

On the other hand, the public is reliant on science for risks we face that our normal senses cannot perceive, such as radiation or the detection of the ozone hole in the 1980s. You might say it is a ‘love/hate’ relationship we have with the experts.

Of course, governments and politicians rely on other ‘experts’ outside the technical and scientific areas, such as in economics and education. Neither of these can be called sciences in the sense that it is rare that they can reach irrefutable conclusions, such as two oxygen atoms and a carbon atom making up carbon dioxide. Economics claims to be a science but given its predictive history (an ability of solid science) it can hardly claim that title. We have only to look at economic forecasts and how often they have to be changed, or how often they do not foresee the next recession (when did they ever foresee one?). Why would the public put their faith in such experts?

The other claim the public often rejects is that these ‘experts’ are the sole repository of expertise in their field. Individuals can also be experts, particularly as regards local knowledge. A classic case occurred in England after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. Radiation was detected in Cumbrian sheep fields but the scientists said that this would quickly be ‘immobilised’ in the soil and pose no significant danger. They were wrong on three counts:

1. their advice related primarily to alkaline clay soils but the Cumbrian area was acidic peat;
2. they failed to consider that the radiation could enter the human food chain from sheep grazing on the local grasses; and
3. the farmers also had detailed knowledge of local changes over a number of years and eventually the scientists were forced to concede (and accept the local knowledge) that the radiation came not from Chernobyl but the nearby Sellarfield nuclear reprocessing facility.

This raises another issue, that when expert advice enters the public arena it can be judged not by what it says but by a number of other criteria, including whether or not it concurs with local knowledge which, as shown in Cumbria, can also be a valid source of expertise.

So the question becomes if we can’t live with them and we can’t live without them, what do we do?

One approach is education and awareness, making the public more aware of research and its findings. This requires experts participating in public fora, airing their research in the media and engaging in public debate. The Australian National University (ANU) has a specific policy on this and states that it will support its academics in public debate if the policy is adhered to. The preamble states that:

Academics have an obligation to present their expertise outside the strictly academic context: they are expected to inform public debate from the perspective their scholarly expertise brings to an issue.

But the policy notes:

In public debate, such as opinion pieces or columns in the media, it is generally not possible to provide a detailed scholarly justification of the position adopted, nor to present every possible perspective on an issue: but it is expected that the position adopted should be defensible and that justification for it should be available or able to be given at a level which would be of acceptable standard in the field of scholarship.

The latter statement suggests one difficulty for experts involved in public issues. They cannot necessarily explain all the intricacies, uncertainties or assumptions that underlie their position. Overseas research suggests that academics draw a line between internal discussion (within their discipline) and public discussion of their discipline, feeling, particularly in scientific areas, that the public has limited competence in dealing with their detailed findings.

The ‘public competence’ may actually be a public questioning because many aspects of expertise are contested and it can take time for experts to reach a consensus. In such situations, the scientific or other expertise is not really adding to public understanding but perhaps only confusing it, and it does not provide certainty to the public nor provide the level of guidance necessary for decision making by public officials and politicians.

While governments claim to seek ‘evidence-based’ policy, in my 30 years as a public servant this was just as often ‘policy-based evidence’ — that is finding the evidence that will support the position the government intends to take. That was an approach I had to adopt on a number of occasions (for governments of both persuasions). So divergences in expert opinion can also mean their advice is used to justify pre-existing positions, just by picking which expert agrees.

There are also calls by some for greater public participation in technical and scientific debates and, particularly, in framing the policy arising from such debates. This is relatively new, in the sense that the dominant form of participation has usually been after the policy is decided, in implementing the policy or taking actions arising from it, such as reducing household energy usage as one step to assist in limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

If there is greater involvement, how does the public judge what the experts are saying?

Such judgments will inevitably be coloured by local experience: for example, support for climate action in Australia was at its highest during the drought from 2002 to 2006, a time when it could be said that local experience seemed in accord with what the experts were saying. But as we have seen, that local experience varies over time and with it the judgments the public makes. Local knowledge also does not help in understanding issues that may be relevant on a much wider scale — which is one reason global warming is a difficult concept to grasp when there are no immediate signs of it in one’s own locality.

Politicians face the same problems. A research paper prepared by the Parliamentary Library in October 2013 addresses how lay persons, including politicians, judge technical and scientific knowledge. One means is ‘social expertise’, our general understanding of our own society and the role of the various players in it: it allows us to make judgments about who we agree with rather than scientific judgments on what ought to be believed. In making such judgments the paper goes on to suggest the following questions should be answered:

  • Can I make sense of the arguments?
  • Which expert seems the more credible?
  • Who has the numbers on their side?
  • Are there any relevant interests or biases?
  • What are the experts’ track records?
The paper concedes that even answering these questions can still be problematic but suggests that using them together can improve their strength and reliability. They are questions that can be used by politicians when assessing expert opinion coming before parliamentary committees.

If our politicians actually used this approach there would be no question in Australia regarding anthropogenic global warming.

Even with the best advice and with understanding of the expert knowledge, or at least judgments about it, the decisions to be made often require much broader considerations. There are value or moral judgments to be made in deciding policy. Even if the experts are all pointing in the same direction, will a policy arising from that advice be right, fair and just? Economic and social implications also come into the argument, which is where Abbott won the debate on climate change when in opposition.

Additionally, even when expert advice is accepted that does not mean there is agreement on what should be done. There is often much more debate about what measures should be taken and that depends on many other issues and power relationships.

The politicisation of expert advice, while creating some problems, is as it should be, for without that we would become a technocracy. The outcomes and policies arising from expert advice still need to be debated publicly in the political sphere.

Finding the expert who is right becomes not just a matter of the research they have undertaken, but of their standing and acceptability — both socially and politically; of whether following their advice will produce fair and just outcomes; and of how their advice plays out politically between competing interests. So, no matter how technically or scientifically good the advice, it is likely that differences will remain, not so much regarding the expertise, but in terms of who to believe and what to do about it.

What do you think?

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TPS Team

22/06/2014Once again this week we have one of our regular very talented wordsmiths, Ken Wolff, posing interesting questions for us to ponder. Have a think about Ken's piece, and let us know what you think.

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22/06/2014Ken You have gifted us with another erudite piece, this time about the crucial matter of expert advice, and who to believe. Thank you. Whilst it might seem astonishing that our Attorney General could make such an ill-informed statement about climate change, we ought not be surprised. He has a propensity for putting his foot in his overactive mouth, as he did with his statements about changing the nation’s racial discrimination laws, and about the status of Jerusalem. George Brandis ought to be ignored were it not for the fact that he holds the elevated position he does. Increasingly, even that is not enough for him to escape ridicule, as he makes blunder after blunder in quick succession. You end with: [i]“So, no matter how technically or scientifically good the advice, it is likely that differences will remain, not so much regarding the expertise, but in terms of who to believe and what to do about it.”[/i] What non-scientists fail to understand is that no technical advice can be perfect. Even those who can reasonably be believed cannot give absolute assurances. Long ago, Karl Popper, generally regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century, told us that no theory can be proven absolutely, but it can always be refuted. It follows that anthropogenic global warming cannot be proven absolutely. This allows skeptics and deniers to insist that ‘the science of climate change is not settled’, a mantra George Brandis and his ilk repeat mindlessly. No, the science is not settled, and never will be. But when there is 97% consensus among the many thousands of climate scientists worldwide, who have had access to mountains of accurate climate data gathered over many years, that global warming is occurring and is due to human activity, that is as good as it gets. Those who have respect for science and our planet say: “Who would be foolish enough, reckless enough, to base the need for climate mitigation on the 3% who do not agree with the consensus, and do nothing?’ Even ultra-conservatives Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Regan and Rupert Murdoch said we ‘should give the planet the benefit of the doubt’. And so we should. Returning to your theme of the role of those giving ‘expert advice’ to governments, the veracity of that advice rests upon the extent to which they base their advice on verifiable evidence, argued logically to a reasoned conclusion. Where they are ‘persuaded’ to give the advice their masters seek, that advice will be biased. Where their own biases, preferences and political orientation warps their judgement and thereby the advice they give, that advice will be flawed. The notion of ‘frank and fearless advice’, which is supposed to be the hallmark of the advice a diligent public servant gives, has been perverted by the political process, which too often is partisan, self interested, and contrary to ‘the common good’. Only forthright and honest advisers, who base their advice on evidence and sound reasoning, are worth their salt. Where are they?

Ken

22/06/2014I am jumping in with an early comment on my own piece to give it a slightly different context. It is not the piece I set out to write. When I began, I thought I would be much closer to the Adam Bandt position, and would be putting the boot in to those who argued against the science of climate change or saw no need for immediate action. But as I did a little research and started thinking through what I would say, I realised that, as usual, the issue was not that straightforward. Expert advice is a double-edged sword. While we need such advice, I also realised it is valid for that advice to be argued in the political arena, particularly regarding how we address its ramifications. If we don't allow that, and just blindly follow the expert advice, we may quickly become a technocracy. And I recently read that at our current rate of research and knowledge, "facts" have a half-life of about ten years - in other words, half of what we now consider as "fact" may be shown to be wrong within ten years. It wasn’t as clear cut as I initially thought.

2353

22/06/2014I agree Ken. It's interesting how often I have an idea of how the piece will end and then when I get to the end of writing it, the end is nothing like I anticipated.

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22/06/2014Ken 'Facts' represent the best understanding we have at any point in time. Facts, and our understanding of them, evolve as evidence accumulates. We once believed that an invisible substance called phlogiston was necessary for combustion until Lavoisier showed oxygen was the key to combustion. We cannot suspend debate, argument, and the drawing of conclusions on the grounds that understanding might change over time; otherwise nothing will ever happen, nothing will change. Everything around us is probabilistic. We must act on the best evidence that is available at the time, knowing that it will change and alter our appreciation of the issues involved. Expert evidence, provided it is not biassed, simply gives us the best take on any subject. We do the best we can with it, knowing that it will likely change. Unless we do, we will be paralysed.

Ken

22/06/2014Ad Agree entirely. My main point is that debate about expert advice, and particularly the decisions arising from it, are a necessary part of democracy. Sometimes, even during the debate (as in Cumbria after Chernobyl) the experts can be found to be wrong. As regards climate change, there is no doubt that the advice should be heeded as it is as close to a consensus as one is ever going to get and, as I pointed out, it meets the criteria proposed by the Parliamentary Library for lay people to assess such advice. We then get on with the political debate about what should be done. Unfortunately that debate has dragged on too long with little being done at all. And, as you point out, one reason is that Abbott and his ilk refuse to move past the consensus and focus on the 3%. Even following my piece, that is not the debate that should now be taking place. We have moved past that until such time as new or alternative evidence becomes available. Politicians always need to act, even if there is less than 97% consensus, because that is what they are there for, to make such decisions in the bes interest of the country, based on the best available advice.

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22/06/2014Casablanca Your additional Cache on the last post illustrated how shambolic the co-payment proposal is. The last link spelt this out in detail. It is not just an a grotesque example of poorly thought-through policy, its details have not been communicated well, probably because they have not been worked out, and from experience elsewhere, it seem highly probable that it will not achieve its intended purpose, and will have harmful unintended outcomes. It is a classical example of the ideological imperative swamping reality and common sense. Another Abbott/Hockey misjudgement, allowed to see the light of day by an incompetent Health Minister - I believe his name is Dutton.

Casablanca

23/06/2014Folks, A few articles to read after you have read Ken's thoughtful new piece.. 1. No, Mr Hockey, the Budget is not fair Andrew Hamilton. 18 June 2014 When individuals, banks and businesses are too big to fail, too well resourced to take to the courts, have too many media resources to resist, and form the natural group in which government leaders socialise and choose advisers, they have a privileged access to power denied to others. Governments will have a natural bias to favour their interests without even recognising that they are doing so. Budgets and the regulatory framework will then generate and promote unfairness. Aspects of the Budget do suggest this generative unfairness. The loss of funding, combining, weakening and suppression of many regulatory and monitoring bodies will limit individuals' access to information and to remedies. They will naturally further the concentration of wealth and power and diminish equality of opportunity. http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=41566#.U6RWnLGIiSo 2. Game changer John Hewson. 21st May 2014 According to HL Menken, “the whole aim of politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”. More fool me for not believing in the monsters under the bed. As Shadow Treasurer, and then Opposition Leader, I actually tried to be substantive and constructive, rather than political, attempting to lead the policy agenda in areas like monetary policy, tariff reductions, labour market and microeconomic reform. https://crawford.anu.edu.au/news/4089/game-changer 3. Tony Abbott choked by lack of vision, not ideology Peter Hartcher. June 20, 2014 Tony Abbott did his apprenticeship in national politics as a member of John Hewson’s staff. As the teacher surveys the work of his apprentice today, however, he’s distinctly unimpressed. In fact, the economist and former Liberal leader is emerging as a consistent critic. Some weeks ago Hewson criticised the Abbott government’s first budget as unfair. This week he criticised Abbott's policy on carbon emissions. And when I talked to him on Friday, it turns out that he is critical of pretty much the entire Abbott project so far. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/tony-abbott-choked-by-lack-of-vision-not-ideology-20140620-zsglx.html#ixzz35FxQ1rtB 4. Should we ‘depoliticise’ tax policy? Matt Cowgill. June 17, 2014 It’s compulsory that every big report on tax policy begins with more or less the same set of bland platitudes. Tax policy, we’re always told, should take into account a few foundational principles, like equity, efficiency, simplicity, and motherhood. http://mattcowgill.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/should-we-depoliticise-tax-policy/ 5. Howard's battlers back to bite the Government Emily Millane 20 June 2014 The Howard government's pandering to middle Australia created certain expectations around living standards that are unsustainable. It beggars belief the current Government chooses not to address this. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-20/millane-howards-battlers-back-to-bite-the-government/5537634 6. The budget we should have had Michael Pascoe The whole nation suffers when consumers lose heart. Thus Joe Hockey's spectacularly unpopular first budget is proving economically damaging as well. While the Reserve Bank's verdict is out on the implications of the sharp consumer confidence dive, the budget itself features a sharper fiscal contraction than the central bank expected. For the sake of the nation, I have made some adjustments to Joe Hockey's unpopular budget. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/saving-joe-hockey-the-budget-we-should-have-had-20140619-3aer7.html 7. Hockey's welfare claim confused and ultimately flawed Peter Martin June 20, 2014 ''The average working Australian, be they a cleaner, a plumber or a teacher, is working over one month full time each year just to pay for the welfare of another Australian,'' http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/hockeys-welfare-claim-confused-and-ultimately-flawed-20140619-3ah2y.html 8. Adroit navigation but no destination Jack Waterford June 13, 2014 But the government's big problem is that it has yet to devise a convincing moral, social and economic purpose for being in government. Or a plan into which its current actions and messages are said to fit, or a light on the hill, or some vision of an ideal society, that represents its goal. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/adroit-navigation-but-no-destination-20140613-zs6o9.html#ixzz35AIiVtFi 9. The Ashes of Egalitarian Australia Tim Dunlop 14 May 2014 The fraught relationship between politicians and the electorate is distorted by the media sitting in the middle setting the basis for discussion. Often this isn't outright bias, it is simply a by-product of the professional desire to achieve “balance”. So, as frustrating and dangerous as the avowedly biased media can be, it is often the journalists who claim the high middle ground who are distorting the picture even further. It is all part of why our politics is broken... the mainstream media do not simply report, they create. For all their pretence of objectivity, they are part of a mediation process that filters and chooses and spins information. Then spits it out on daily basis, in what amounts to a blancmange, not just of facts, but of opinions, angles, nuances, views, truths, half-truths, quarter-truths and outright lies from which we, the citizen public, are expected to make sense. http://kingstribune.com/index.php/weekly-email/item/2002-the-ashes-of-egalitarian-australia 10. Ignore what the Coalition says, focus on whom it helps Bernard Keane May 12, 2014 The Coalition’s propensity to say whatever is politically necessary at the time regardless of truth means the best way to assess the budget is to focus on who benefits.Bernard Keane had some interesting things to say along these line on the same day. He argued, for instance, that Tony Abbott is on track to be our first post-modern prime minister, describing him as “a leader unencumbered by any belief in the value of truth or consistency.” on virtually any issue, from climate change to paid parental leave to the economy to taxation to political consistency itself, it is straightforward to find a quote in which Tony Abbott has declared, hand on heart, entirely the opposite to his current position. http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/05/12/ignore-what-the-coalition-says-focus-on-whom-it-helps/ 11. Tu quoque John Quiggin April 19th, 2014 I’ve written many posts and articles making the point that the political right, in most English speaking countries has been taken over by a tribalist post-truth politics in which all propositions, including the conclusions of scientific research, are assessed in terms of their consistency or otherwise with tribal prejudices and shibboleths. Very occasionally, intellectuals affiliated with the political right (conservatives and libertarians) will seek to deny this, arguing that isolated instances are being blown out of proportion, and that the right as a whole is committed to reasoned, fact-based argument and acceptance of “inconvenient truths’ arising from the conclusions of scientific research. http://johnquiggin.com/2014/04/19/tu-quoque/ 12. Give us more dissent in politics: speak your mind and break the party mould Katharine Murphy 22 June 2014 There's a growing weariness among voters, a disenchantment, and they want to be convinced politicians have ideas worth fighting for.... Alienation is an entirely logical response to the specific events of the past few years – Labor’s appallingly self-indulgent civil war while in office, and Tony Abbott’s appallingly cynical start as prime minister... Politics desperately needs more dissent to convince the public that there are ideas worth having, and values worth fighting for, to exhibit that public policy isn’t just a stitch-up by the self-interested that happens at a remove from the community. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/22/give-us-some-dissent-in-politics-speak-your-mind-and-break-the-party-mould?CMP=twt_gu 13. John Hewson urges Joe Hockey to take a breather – at a coal-fired power station Ross Peake June 22, 2014 Dr Hewson said...“I can't imagine Joe hockey driving past a dirty old coal-fired power station and thinking that’s a good look, with the guts spewing out into the air and polluting the atmosphere and not recognising the broader damage they do. “I suggest he drives by a couple of those old ones and has a bit of a smell and a bit of a look and come back and say this is pretty good.” http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/john-hewson-urges-joe-hockey-to-take-a-breather-8211-at-a-coalfired-power-station-20140622-zsi08.html#ixzz35LjHRbVz 14. We Need to Talk About Tony! Rossleigh June 20, 2014 When the people around me give their views on the Abbott Government, I have to admit that I’m definitely one of the undecided. While some people I know are sure that they have a plan to change Australia and adopt the worst aspects of the United States, others argue that they’re a bunch of incompetents and sociopaths who have no idea what they’re doing. And I have to admit – at different points in the conversation – both arguments are quite compelling. http://theaimn.com/need-talk-tony/ 15. Bigotted Buddies Might Be Why Brandis Pushes Silence On 18c Max Chalmers 21 June 2014 George Brandis' suppression of submissions around changes to the Racial Discrimination Act might be about more than just silencing dissent https://newmatilda.com/2014/06/21/bigotted-buddies-might-be-why-brandis-pushes-silence-18c 16. Brandis Blocks Public Airing Of Free Speech Submissions Max Chalmers and Chris Graham 20 Jun 2014 Politics is littered with irony, but blocking the publication of arguments about free speech is about as ironic as it gets. https://newmatilda.com/2014/06/20/brandis-blocks-public-airing-free-speech-submissions 17. Undressing Abbott’s Conservative Alliance Stuart Rees. 20 Jun 2014 Australia's greatest debt is not an economic one. It's a moral one. https://newmatilda.com/2014/06/20/undressing-abbott%E2%80%99s-conservative-alliance 18. The Winner And Losers Of Ashbygate Ben Eltham. 20 Jun 2014 Dignity definitely was not the winner out of the Ashbygate affair. Turns out Mal Brough was.. https://newmatilda.com/2014/06/20/winner-and-losers-ashbygate 19. An Abbott abroad III: What the watching world wrote Alan Austin 18 June 2014 Tragically for Australia, the conduct of the blundering new government and its boorish leader is being observed by other nations — and reported. (This is third part of Alan Austin’s report, prompted by Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent travels. http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/an-abbott-abroad-iii-what-the-watching-world-wrote,6587#.U6ExlIUpsJg.twitter 20. Orwell and the PPL: The mothers who miss out Bob Ellis 21 June 2014 All babies are born equal, but some are more equal than others, writes Bob Ellis. http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/orwell-and-the-ppl-the-mothers-who-miss-out,6595

2353`

23/06/2014Just wondering if Bishop (the younger) should be worried by North Korea threatening to punish her for some comments she made (although why she did it in the first place amazes me). http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-22/an-north-korea-threatens-to-27punish27-julie-bishop-over-kim-/5542230

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23/06/2014Ken I see we are in agreement. The crucial issue is the validity and reliability of 'expert advice', and the capacity and preparedness of individuals to test these attributes. The Fourth Estate, sadly including the ABC, has not been able, or willing, to differentiate between valid and reliable evidence and that which is invalid and unreliable. Too often both types of evidence are presented as equally useful. What the Fourth Estate ought to be doing is making that differentiation and assisting readers to make it too. I suspect that its failure to do so is as much a desire deliberately to mislead, as it is scientific ineptitude. This is where the Fifth Estate should, and often does step in. The climate change debate has been used to illustrate this issue; Adam Brandt's numerical example neatly exposes it. As you emphasize, the quality of evidence is central to informed decision making, even though we recognize that the best available evidence may, and often does, change over time.

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23/06/2014Casablanca Thank you for today's list. I have read only John Hewson's excellent article: 'Game changer'. Everyone interested in Ken's piece will enjoy reading it. To whet your appetite, here are a few paragraphs: "Unfortunately, politics has progressively become even more of a game over the last couple of decades. Indeed, now almost an end in itself, the contest is to win the 24-hour media cycle, at all costs. Policy substance and debate has been almost totally eschewed. The focus has become increasingly short-term, opportunistic, and pragmatic. Political positions and daily messages are driven mostly by polling, especially focus group responses, rather than by evidence-based policy, or even ideology. The game moves almost daily, from one issue to the next, from one location to the next. As it does, the media and other independent commentators mostly get swept along, with little time or incentive to dig into the substance of an issue, or to attempt to insist on transparency and accountability. They are left to focus on the ‘colour and movement’ of it all. The so-called policies taken to the last election were little more than dot points in a Powerpoint presentation – Stop the Boats, Repay the Debt, Build the Infrastructure of the 21 st century, full stop."

Casablanca

23/06/2014 21. Graphs are no longer enough: it's time wonks and experts joined the fight Jason Wilson. 21 June 2014 Thomas Piketty. Neil Degrasse Tyson. Ezra Klein. Celebrity wonks are everywhere. Their popularity coincides with increasing attacks on scientists and experts – here's why...Political deference to experts is disappearing...The rise of celebrity experts might seem to run counter to this. In economics, Krugmania has given way to Piketty-mania. Fact-checks and explainers are everywhere. "Quants” and “wonks”, like Nate Silver and Ezra Klein, are new media rock stars. Pop science communicators like Neil Degrasse Tyson have become pin-ups. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/21/graphs-are-no-longer-enough-its-time-wonks-and-experts-joined-the-fight?CMP=ema_632 22. Unemployment benefit: the view from Germany Imke Henkel. 20 June 2014 If you think jobseeker's allowance in Britain is too generous, brace yourself for how the Germans do it. The contributory principle has always been at the heart of German arrangements for unemployment support. Until 2005, Germans who were out of work and in need would receive 60% of the net salary of their last job (67% if they had children), tax free, then after a year, it would go down to 53%. Former chancellor Gerhard Schröder made it his mission to change this system, a programme known as the Hartz reforms. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/20/unemployment-benefit-germany-jobseekers-allowance

Casablanca

23/06/2014 23. The letter to the editor The Australian wouldn’t run Mike Daube. June 20, 2014 When public health expert Professor Mike Daube wrote to the Oz about their ‘exclusive’ plain packaging yarn, they refused to publish his letter in full [see this article].....The Australian’s plain packaging “exclusive” is a story that just won’t go away. Christian Kerr’s story, which used research funded by Big Tobacco to argue that the number of cigarettes sold in Australia had gone up since plain packaging was introduced, was torn apart on Media Watch.. http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/06/20/the-letter-to-the-editor-the-australian-wouldnt-run/ 24. Plain packaging pushes cigarette sales down Peter Martin. June 23, 2014 The Treasury collects data on sales per stick in order to levy tobacco excise, but has until now withheld it from publication to protect commercially sensitive information. Added to the Health Department's website quietly last week amid debate over the effectiveness of plain packaging, the Treasury data shows 3.4 per cent fewer cigarettes were sold last year than 2012. Plain packaging became mandatory on December 1, 2012. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/plain-packaging-pushes-cigarette-sales-down-20140622-3amd8.html#ixzz35PApNzsw

Ad astra

23/06/2014Casablanca I've just now finished reading your extraordinary collection of links posted this morning. What an informative and internally consistent lot they are. They vividly illustrate the incompetence and gross disingenuousness of the Abbott government. It is noteworthy that middle of the road journalists such as Peter Martin, Michael Pascoe and Bernard Keane come down hard on Abbott, even the previously supportive Peter Hartcher has harsh things to say, and fellow Liberal John Hewson is highly critical of Abbott on several grounds, notably on his attitude to climate change. The article that documents Abbott's overseas 'bloopers' while being on the one hand amusing and stylishly adorned by videos, is embarrassing for this nation. That we have such an inept and laughable PM, let loose abroad to provide fodder for commentators, comedians and cartoonists, is as shameful as it is humiliating. Thank you for compiling such a readable collection.

Ad astra

23/06/2014Casablanca Where do you find them? The Jason Wilson article is so relevant to Ken's piece. It mentions Thomas Piketty, whose book I am reading through now, a book that is having more influence on thinking among economists than any recent tome. He joins others, such as Joseph Stieglitz, who exposes the phenomenon of inequality, but also proposes the historical reasons. While inequality is recognized as an economic reality, there is partisan disagreement about whether it is inevitable, even desirable, or a social impediment that severely harms those at the wrong end of the spectrum. We know where Abbott, Hockey and Cormann stand!

2353`

24/06/2014UNESCO rejects Abbott's bid to remove Tassie forest from World Heritage area. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-24/unesco-rejects-bid-to-delist-world-heritage-forest/5538946 Another breathtaking display of the world telling Abbott he is plainly wrong.

jaycee

24/06/2014This Greste debacle....not to make profit from a dire situation, but I believe some blame can be sheeted home to the Murdoch Media in Fox News and the old NewsOTW. and here where the LNP. has allowed News Corp. to run media campaigns on their behalf...here AND Britain And America...turning their journalists into protagonists...as much as we are seeing the political machinations in Egypt and elsewhere, THEY too are watching the fourth estate manipulating the political process in ours and other countries...particularly the Murdoch media and one would think there would be similar suspicion with Al Jazeera in their neck of the woods. I remember when this thing first blew up and Mr. Greste was just arrested for "manipulating the news"...and I thought..: "Oh yeah!...as if THAT would happen!!"

totaram

24/06/2014Ken's article discusses a very important topic that is fraught with difficulties and complications. We need to be very careful with our terminology in particular, to avoid confusion. Just for a start, I will comment on Ken's observation that these days " facts have a half-life of 10 years". This is the sort of thing that allows various types of anti-science to sprout. I know that "facts" is in quotes so the statement is not intended literally. But the Andrew Bolts of this world are very good at deliberately misquoting something.To counter this, we need to distinguish at least two types of facts: those that are directly observable, and those that are inferred. For example it is possible to observe directly that the the earth is a spheroidal body. The half-life of this fact, (if we want to put it that way) exceeds the estimated lifetime of the solar system. It will never turn out to be wrong. Inferred facts are based on observations, but require some theory for their inference. These are the ones that can turn out to be wrong. That will happen when the theory is replaced by a better one. The original observations on the basis of which the inferences were made remain true (unless they were forged or fraudulent which is a separate issue). Often, such inferred facts are hypotheses for which we believe there is overwhelming evidence. An example of one such is that the energy of the sun comes from nuclear fusion. The point here is that not all "facts" can be questioned - something the anti-science lobby loves to do. Regarding advice from "experts", we do indeed need some sort of democratic control. Witness how the current government finds the "experts" it needs. Such fraudulent use of "expertise" can only be countered by a very well educated populace. This requires better teaching of "scientific reasoning" in schools. In particular formal and informal logic and the use of language to create fallacious reasoning should be emphasised. This would be much more useful than stressing some judeo-christian heritage.

42long

24/06/2014Science and experimentation gradually explained some of what before that was taken as an act of the man in the sky. Is abbott reversing this?. The church frequently opposed such revelations of why things are as they are, in past times. Surely we have advanced a little bit in the last 800 years or so. If I said the sun does nor go around the earth would I get many who disagree?? They tell me there are many who believe the earth is only 6300 years old. How can this be? Never in history has there been so much ready access to FACTS. You would have to be wilfully ignorant to miss out (Or have the world's biggest monkey on your back)

Ken

24/06/2014totaram Thank you for a very pertinent comment. You are right that there are two types of fact. As I said, we do know that when one carbon atom combines with two oxygen atoms we have carbon dioxide, or when sodium and chlorine are combined we get common salt, and those types of fact cannot be refuted, even if our understanding of the mechanism of combination at the sub-atomic level may change over time. The flat earth was a 'fact' for many centuries, but, as you point out, that was largely because it was not observable at the time. And there may be some things we will never observe, such as in the current theoretical debate about whether we are a 'universe' or a 'multiverse'. One other issue, is that, even in science, one tends to find what one is looking for. Some major discoveries have come when something unexpected showed up in the results. But I won't go further into that debate, because, as I said in reply to Ad, the main point of the piece is that it is necessary in a democracy that such advice, and especially the policies that might arise from it, are debated publicly. Determining the policies does (or should) require consideration of many other issues, not just the expert advice - although going in the direction it suggests. Also agree that picking the experts who agree has a long history. As I pointed out, as an ex public servant, I needed to do that a few times. But as I worked primarily on social policy, there usually weren't many clear-cut facts, and there was a lot of divergence in expert advice. The Howard government dismissed most of the academic work on social issues as being promulgated by left-leaning academics.

Ken

24/06/201442long Glad to see you got your computer working again. The believers in the 6300 year old earth are mainly the christian fundamentalists. Some bloke worked it out studying the bible and the ages of people in it. As I recall (without looking it up again), he even had a specific month, day and time when 'creation' took place. It was largely through all the amateur gentleman geologists finding fossils of creatures that no longer existed that the idea of creation occurring at a single point in time came to be questioned. But the fundamentalists dismiss that. If they were consistent, they should also refuse to use televisions, computers, cars, air conditioning, etc all of which have arisen from basic science. But no, they see that as part of the dominion god granted man over the earth and all its creatures. Abbott certainly believes in Dog (to quote TT) and is less comfortable with science. One of the problems is that this appeals to a portion of the population who now question science. As I alluded to in the post, they see many of the problems we now have as a result of earlier science and so doubt where science may be taking us in the future. We might say that science needs to have a couple of winners to win people back, and/or make the argument that most of the technology we now rely on has arisen from basic scientific research.

Ad astra

24/06/2014totaram Thank you for your thoughtful comment. You draw the important distinction between facts that are directly observable and those that are inferred. Climate science, which is based on observations, nevertheless requires a set of theories to enable inferences to be formed and projections to be made. Yet the reality that they are inferences allows them to be questioned, a mechanism sceptics use to support their scepticism. Moreover, the inferences are subject to change as our understanding of the underpinning theories evolve. Sceptics seem either to be ignorant of the way in which scientific theories evolve, or deliberately insist on absolute proof when that is not possible, and use one or the other to shore up their scepticism. Regarding experts, you say: “[i]Witness how the current government finds the "experts" it needs.”[/i] On last night’s [i]Q&A[/i] we saw a classic illustration of how this government selects ‘experts’ that will give it the answers it requires. We saw Tony Shepherd, who headed the Commission of Audit for the Coalition, regurgitating the messages the Coalition wanted in the lead up to the budget and after. Clearly, they picked an ‘expert’ who would give them the PR fodder they needed to promote their unfair budget that discriminates so savagely against middle and lower income earners. Last night he uttered the very mantras Hockey, Abbott and Cormann have been uttering since May. Shepherd may have ‘expertise’, but it is so coloured by his ideological position and his political orientation that it can hardly be considered objective, balanced or fair. This so-called expert opinion is worthless where impartial and evenhanded advice is needed, which was the case in the lead up to this important budget. Because the Commission of Audit lacked these attributes, we got the horror budget we did. Ken’s conclusion is worth repeating: “[i]Finding the expert who is right becomes not just a matter of the research they have undertaken, but of their standing and acceptability — both socially and politically; of whether following their advice will produce fair and just outcomes; and of how their advice plays out politically between competing interests. So, no matter how technically or scientifically good the advice, it is likely that differences will remain, not so much regarding the expertise, but in terms of who to believe and what to do about it.”[/i] Shepherd and his Commission fail on all counts.

Ad astra

24/06/201442long You ask the classic question – how can people entertain beliefs that are unsupported by factual evidence, such as the world being just a little over 6000 years old, when there is a mountain of verifiable evidence that the age of the universe since its beginning at the ‘big bang’ is probably in the order 14 billion years? We know how religious leaders persecuted Galileo because his ideas contradicted the church’s theological beliefs. Similarly, some contemporary fundamentalists believe that the world is around 6000 years old, their evidence being that this is stated in the Bible, which they take to be literally true. When asked how they can support such a belief, they answer that they have ‘faith’ and that’s all that’s needed! There is no scientific counter to this position. For them faith overrides science.

Ken

24/06/2014Ad, also relevant to 42 long and totaram Following this little internal discussion, we should say that the 6,300 year old is actually [u]inferred[/u] from the bible. The 'facts' it was based on are the number of genrations listed in the bible and the ages of people. Whether he counted Methuselah as over 900 I don't know. Perhapos if he did, the date needs to be adjusted, but, on the other hand, the bible says he was over 900 so it must be true. But like modern science, the age of the earth is actually inferred from the 'facts'.

Ad astra

24/06/2014Folks It you are prepared to take a rather unnerving journey through a long article in [i]The New Yorker[/i], read [i]The Absolutist[/i] by Jeffrey Toobin, which carries the byline: [i]Ted Cruz is an unyielding debater – and the far right’s most formidable advocate.[/i] In his early forties, Ted Cruz make his mark last September during a Washington Senate debate about the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare reform otherwise known as ‘Obamacare’, when he staged a twenty-one hour filibuster opposing it. He was one of those who wanted to shut down Washington by blocking funds to keep government running. He is an ultra-right radical. His history makes absorbing reading. A brilliant lawyer and formidable debater, he recently became a Senator and now is lining up for nomination as the Republication candidate in the 2016 Presidential election. He is on the extreme-right, aligned with Tea Party ideology, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, pro-death penalty, pro-gun-owners’ rights, pro-states’ rights, anti-establishment, pro-small government in Washington, and supportive of the right to religious expression in public places. And he is [b]very[/b] popular with his constituents. If his spectacular history of success is any guide, he is likely to become the Republican nomination. Moderate Republicans are likely to be swept aside by his rhetoric and determination. Progressives have much to fear from this man, both in terms of his ideology and beliefs, but even more so because of his powerful personality and skilful politics. A Cruz Presidency would be roughly identical to a Sarah Palin Presidency. One paragraph that jumped out at me was this one: [i][b]“In both law and politics, I think the essential battle is the meta-battle of framing the narrative,” ... “As Sun Tzu said, Every battle is won before it’s fought. It’s won by choosing the terrain on which it will be fought.[/i][/b] Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin knew this; Bill Shorten still has to master the art of framing. I recommend this article to any of you interested in US Federal politics, and how it might evolve over the next two years. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/06/30/140630fa_fact_toobin?currentPage

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24/06/2014Ken If the believers in the 6300 year story were to concede that this duration was inferred, some rational debate might be possible. Regrettably so may believe it absolutely as incontrovertible fact.

Bacchus

25/06/2014Thinking of you and your fellow Victorians this morning Ad. I hope you didn't suffer from the crazy weather!

2353`

25/06/2014The 6000 years seems to be a 'fundamental truth' in the minds of creationists. In my experience those that believe in a 'fundamental truth' will not be convinced of anything that demonstrates the truth to be incorrect - be it Gold Coast Suns winning the AFL Premiership through to the time and date the earth was 'created'. In most other ways people with a 'fundamental truth' have a character flaw - in most things they are rational and will usually make a good decision - but they seem to have the 'blinkers' on in a particular area. What doesn't help is the number of avenues they now have to promote their opinion and when it is difficult if not impossible to prove categorically what will happen in the future - the small level of doubt can be used to bring discredit to the entire argument. The climate change debate is a perfect example, as is evolution (no one documented it - s it didn't happen).

Ad astra

25/06/2014Bacchus The current temperature in Melbourne is 12.5 degrees with a notation that it feels like 7.2 degrees, and it does. Enjoy your warmth up there! 2353 What you write is so true. I have had recent contact with an intelligent man in his sixties who believes that climate science is 'not settled' and fundamentalist in his religious beliefs. Rational argument was not possible about either fields, because his positions were not negotiable.

Bacchus

25/06/2014Yes Ad - local weather says current temp. is 19 degrees, but feels like 23 degrees. :) I was more concerned with the high winds, large amount of rain and damage you got in the south east yesterday. The news here says to expect more of the same this evening, Stay safe!

Ad astra

25/06/2014Bacchus We are in Melbourne at present and will not be back to the south coast until after the weekend. We are wondering what damage the winds and high tides may have done!

TalkTurkey

25/06/2014[Written over the last 48 hours, now past use-by!] [b]Memo to Clive Palmer MHR[/b] Clive You stand at the brink of a razor-edged critical decision for Australia, equally a defining watershed in your own notable career. You are now one of the most powerful people in Australia, and I know that you take the responsibility very seriously, whatever the Media makes of your apparently flippant attitude. What is more, it is clear that you have the nous to recognise the important issues of our times, a faculty not evident in our present Prime Minister nor in his Government. So just as it will be vastly to your credit if you make the long-sighted and wise decisions, so it will be to your eternal discredit should you choose unwisely. And if the latter, I fear greatly for the decency of Australian society. First, a few clarifications: One, I am a self-proclaimed, forever Labor man, (of no particular note.) Two, I would prefer a stand-up knock-down two-party system, but that is gone now anyway, and I do accept minor parties' legitimacy; Three, I admit to a degree of prejudice against the very rich, not that I particularly wish to be wealthy myself (I'm not), but because I can't think why they want to be so rich, can't help thinking about the good it could do certain causes, and can't help wondering about what deals might have been done in the amassing of it. But as to that last, I acknowledge that I have no knowledge of any wrong-doing on your part; I might wonder about your alleged low tax bills, but I have no reason to think you dishonest, or that you have acted outside the law. [In any case I remember Paul Keating quoting Jack Lang, "You may tell the truth creatively, you may say nothing at all, but you must never, never lie." And I think you are quite perspicacious enough to operate on that basis.] But now, [b]STOP PRESS[/b]: [i]The above was written before Palmer's statement today. I never got to finish it.[/i] I was going to appeal to him to sell his coal interests, and take up the cause of renewable energy. We'll just have to see how this pans out now. I don't like it that a bega-rich man has so much political power as well, but he does seem a degree of decency beyond Abborrrrtt ... Well that ain't hard! Sorry I haven't been around much lately, my Muse's lips seem a bit dry au moment. But I'm still here. Set your jaw Comrades. This'll take a while but we will surely prevail. Abborrrtt is a mess. Never doubt it: VENCEREMOS!

Janet (j4gypsy)

25/06/2014One not to miss on the 'where did he come from?' Clive, the ever-surprising Laura Tingle, and well ... who'd a thunk it, Al Gore! [i]... Meanwhile, Clive Palmer has popped up in a place no one was expecting. He has popped up on the left of not just the government but Labor on asylum-seekers and has returned to the climate change debate to the place it was in 2009 when Tony Abbott defeated Malcolm Turnbull.[/i] http://www.afr.com/p/national/politics/tony_abbott_outplayed_by_populist_AHEFiwYllHEcfAvpKf6zlI

TalkTurkey

25/06/2014Ken : Abborrrtt doesn't believe in Dog. He (purports to) believe in something very weird that gives him carte blanche to do anything at all, no matter how awful or hypocritical, for 6.99 days of the week and in the .01 day left to be exonerated and washed white in the blood of a lamb that died a long time ago. Urgh it's creepy isn't it.

Casablanca

26/06/2014 [b]CASABLANCA'S CACHE. 26 June, 2014. 20 items[/b] PALMER DRAMA 1. Clive Palmer does it his way as he pulls rabbit out of the box Mark Kenny June 26, 2014 Clive Palmer certainly knows how to draw a crowd ... even if it's only reporters. And they turned out in droves because this promised to be no ordinary late afternoon press conference. The venue chosen, Parliament House's gargantuan Great Hall is, like the man himself, unorthodox, cavernous, larger than life. Still, it seemed big whatever it was. The word had gone around on Capital Hill that the political equivalent of royalty would be joining the big man for some kind of ''major'' announcement. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/clive-palmer-does-it-his-way-as-he-pulls-rabbit-out-of-the-box-20140625-3atp7.html 2. The strange case of how coal miner Clive turned climate crusader Lenore Taylor 26 June 2014 Clive Palmer brought together an eclectic group to make his 'I'm with Al Gore' policy announcement. It was a very strange dinner in the member’s dining room of parliament house. Former US vice president Al Gore. Mining millionaire Clive Palmer. Former chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry. Former chief of staff to Bob Brown and Christine Milne Ben Oquist. Former adviser to retired independent MP Tony Windsor, John Clements. And Palmer United party senator-elect and former rugby league player Glenn Lazarus. And Gore and Palmer’s staff. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/25/how-coal-miner-clive-turned-climate-crusader 3. Al Gore joins Clive Palmer to back ETS for Australia (Video 6m40s. Transcript) Sarah Ferguson & Sabra Lane 25 June 2014 Clive Palmer has said his party will support the abolition of the carbon tax but not that of the renewable energy target and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and he wants an emissions trading scheme, which he announced with former US Vice President Al Gore by his side. Australian politics has witnessed many strange events, but fewer as gob-smacking as the alliance revealed late this afternoon between maverick politician Clive Palmer and former United States Vice President Al Gore. The billionaire MP and the world's most famous campaigner against global warming have joined forces to turn Tony Abbott's climate policy upside down. http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2014/s4033228.htm 4. Greens leader says Clive Palmer 'having it both ways' on ETS Sarah Ferguson. 25 June 2014 (Video 5m7s & Transcript) Greens leader Christine Milne welcomes Clive Palmer's opposition to abolishing the renewable energy target and the climate change authority but thinks he may be having it 'both ways' on his emissions trading suggestions. http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2014/s4033227.htm 5. Palmer enlightened by Al Gore (Video 19m36s & Transcript) Tony Jones Clive Palmer discusses his new policy on climate change which he announced in a press conference with former US Vice President Al Gore. http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4033303.htm ABBOTT'S REPEAL LEGISLATION 6. The reintroduction of bills to repeal the carbon and mining taxes Tarek Dale. 25/06/2014 On 23 June 2014, the Government re-introduced a package of Bills to repeal the ‘carbon tax’. A separate Bill was also introduced to repeal the minerals resource rent tax (MRRT). On 24 June 2014, the House agreed to several debate management motions that will have the effect of expediting the passage of the Bills through the House so that they are able to be considered by the Senate when it meets on 7 July 2014. The re-introduced Bills are identical to those rejected by the Senate in March 2014. Under section 57 of the Constitution, passage of the same bill more than three months after it is rejected by the Senate is one step in a series of requirements for a double dissolution trigger. There are 11 separate Bills that are part of the carbon tax package. These 11 Bills are:..... http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/FlagPost/2014/June/Reintroduction-repeal-bills TWITTER 7. Craig Emerson ‏@DrCraigEmerson 1h Agree that saving CEFC, RET & CCA much better than nothing. But the way I interpret PUP, no ETS unless Government agrees.Unlikely #lateline 8. Tony Windsor ‏@TonyHWindsor 1h @CliveFPalmer @algore Well done Clive .The RET and climate initiatives keep Aus open for this century's business -watch your arse he's angry 9. Steve Strickland ‏@SteveStricklan6 1h @regnans @DrCraigEmerson Exactly. Abbott gets everything he wants. No carbon tax, no direct action. Dream result for climate change denier. 10. ABC News Intern ‏@ABCnewsIntern 59m "Clive Palmer has seen the… limelight… on climate policy." — PALMER KARMA 11. Tony Abbott outplayed by populist Clive Palmer Laura Tingle. 25 June 2014 Clive Palmer’s stunning wedging of not just Tony Abbott but Labor and the Greens means climate change remains on the table as an issue for the next election. But not in the way the Prime Minister envisaged. The lethal message for Tony Abbott is that an emissions trading scheme can be resuscitated – without the agony of renegotiating an entire carbon scheme – when anyone but Abbott is Prime Minister. The Palmer United Party will repeal the fixed carbon price but seek an amendment to have a floating price emissions trading scheme set at zero until the world comes on board. Further, PUP will vote against the abolition of the renewable energy target (RET), the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. As already foreshadowed, Palmer will insist on a legislative guarantee that prices will fall for consumers with the repeal of the carbon tax. http://www.afr.com/p/national/politics/tony_abbott_outplayed_by_populist_AHEFiwYllHEcfAvpKf6zlI 12. Abbott completely isolated by Palmer's "inconvenient senate" Alexander White. 25 June 2014 Clive Palmer's emissions trading announcement effectively leaves Abbott completely isolated on climate policy. Clive Palmer's shock announcement on Wednesday night next to former vice president Al Gore has been very cautiously welcomed by Australia's environment movement. Palmer's announcement effectively leaves Abbott completely isolated on climate policy, both domestically, and as Al Gore's presence demonstrates, internationally as well. It is remarkable that one of Australia's largest coal barons has firmly declared his support for renewables, taking action on global warming, and introducing an emissions trading scheme. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/southern-crossroads/2014/jun/25/clive-palmer-al-gore-climate-change-renewable-energy-carbon-price?CMP=soc_568 13. PUP senators will vote to repeal carbon price but back emissions trading Lenore Taylor 25 June 2014 Clive Palmer announces new policy at press conference with former US vice president Al Gore. PUP senators will seek amendments to ensure savings for consumers and will legislate for an emissions trading scheme http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/25/pup-senators-will-vote-repeal-carbon-price 14. Clive Palmer will help axe carbon tax but courts Al Gore in push for ETS Emma Griffiths. 26 June 2014 Plans to scrap the carbon tax will be discussed over breakfast on Thursday when Clive Palmer meets with Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the first time in two years. Mr Palmer revealed on Wednesday that his party would back the repeal of the carbon tax only if lower power prices for consumers were guaranteed, but would vote to stop the Government axing key climate change bodies. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-25/palmer-will-help-axe-carbon-tax-but-courts-gore-in-push-for-ets/5549938 15. What Al Gore needs to know about Clive Palmer June 25, 2014 - 5:16PM Michael Pascoe When a key player in the Senate balance of power is primarily interested in embarrassing the government and making life as unpleasant as possible for the Prime Minister, "policy" counts for nought. It's a thought former US vice-president Gore might have done with before accepting any role in the Palmer parliamentary circus. I suppose it's possible that he did, given Abbott's stance on matters climatic, but nobody's credibility is enhanced by a dance with Clive. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/what-al-gore-needs-to-know-about-clive-palmer-20140625-3asku.html#ixzz35fJ2mhJS 16. Hang on, did Clive Palmer just save the planet? Cathy Alexander Jun 25, 2014 Clive Palmer dropped a bombshell on climate policy tonight. He’s a fair bit greener — and Tony Abbott will be fuming. Kingmaker Clive Palmer has just saved the furniture on climate policy, in a bizarre press conference with international enviro-crusader Al Gore. But Gore has had an effect. Palmer has gone partially green — and it’s a very inconvenient truth for Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who will struggle to get any climate-related policy through the Senate without Palmer’s senators. http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/06/25/hang-on-did-clive-palmer-just-save-the-planet/ 17. The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate: It's time to accelerate the shift toward a low-carbon future Al Gore. June 18, 2014 In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-turning-point-new-hope-for-the-climate-20140618#ixzz35fGeYl5U 18. Palmer will repeal carbon tax but rejects other parts of Abbott’s package Michelle Grattan. 25 June 2014 In a spectacular joint appearance with former Vice President Al Gore, Clive Palmer has announced PUP will vote to repeal the carbon tax but seek to set up a shell emissions trading scheme that could be activated in the future. http://theconversation.com/palmer-will-repeal-carbon-tax-but-rejects-other-parts-of-abbotts-package-28457 19. Clive Palmer promises carbon tax repeal in a policy that throws bones in all directions Michelle Grattan. 25 June 2014 What on earth was Al Gore, a zealot on climate change, doing celebrating a Palmer carbon policy that’s worse than what Australia has in place, although not as bad as it could have been? That remains a known unknown because Gore fled, with his new friend, before any journalist could ask. http://theconversation.com/clive-palmer-promises-carbon-tax-repeal-in-a-policy-that-throws-bones-in-all-directions-28475 20. Palmer in carbon tax blow to PM James Massola, Mark Kenny, Heath Aston 26 June 2014 12:06am MP has thrown into chaos Tony Abbott's plan to abolish the carbon tax. Clive Palmer has thrown into chaos Tony Abbott's plan to abolish the carbon tax, demanding the Prime Minister instead create an emissions trading scheme that would swing into action when Australia's major trading partners adopt similar measures. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/clive-palmer-in-carbon-tax-blow-to-pm-tony-abbott-20140625-3atwl.html OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Casablanca

26/06/2014 CASABLANCA'S CACHE. 26 June, 2014.[b] Clive Palmer has seen the… limelight… on climate policy.[/b] Posted above and at: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/CC-2014-06-19.aspx

Janet (j4gypsy)

26/06/2014Brilliant collation on the Palmer, Casablanca. Thank you :-)

Casablanca

26/06/2014Some more for today's Cache 21. Shock and Gore: Clive Palmer shows his hand James Massola, Mark Kenny, Heath Aston. June 26, 2014 Clive Palmer has thrown into chaos Tony Abbott's plan to abolish the carbon tax, demanding the Prime Minister instead create an emissions trading scheme that would swing into action when Australia's major trading partners adopt similar measures. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/shock-and-gore-clive-palmer-shows-his-hand-20140625-3atpd.html 22. Gore blimey! How's that for climate policy? Annabel Crabb. 26 June, 2014 And while the Palmer United Party has proven very good in the past at doing things that annoy Tony Abbott, it is pretty much a technical impossibility to devise anything that would annoy the PM quite so much as bringing the High Priest of the Warmist Alliance along to a policy announcement. Having the whole thing emceed by The Brick With Eyes was just salt in the wound... So what - aside from the fairy dust - is notable from the Palmer announcement? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-26/crabb-gore-blimey-hows-that-for-a-climate-policy-pitch/5551048?WT.mc_id=newsmail 23. Palmer's carbon tax offer tops menu for breakfast meeting with Abbott Emma Griffiths. 26 June 2014. Plans to scrap the carbon tax will be discussed over breakfast this morning when Clive Palmer meets with Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the first time in two years. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-25/palmer-will-help-axe-carbon-tax-but-courts-gore-in-push-for-ets/5549938?WT.mc_id=newsmail 24. Can JFK save Australia from its climate crisis? David Holmes. 25 June 2014 What is little known about coal baron and federal MP Clive Palmer is his interest in world affairs – and his adulation of the great American president John F Kennedy, and interest in US politics in general. http://theconversation.com/can-jfk-save-australia-from-its-climate-crisis-28460 25. Clive Palmer the trickster: The PUP are anti-politics wildcards in Parliament Amanda Lohrey 26 June 2014 Voters in the United States are accustomed to eccentric plutocrats seeking to enter representative politics but in Australia they are scarce. Palmer appears on the public stage as someone who never hesitates to say what’s on his mind, regardless of whether it might contradict what he said yesterday. He is a study in spontaneity, and many voters find this engaging. It’s the very opposite of the increasingly arid rhetoric of politicians from the major parties who present on the nightly news as robots, prepped by PR and marketing flacks to tout their slogan of the day. http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2014/june/1401544800/amanda-lohrey/clive-palmer-trickster

42long

26/06/2014Simplistic fundamentalism is the big problem in the world at the moment and it is showing up all over. Once you have the "ANSWER" your mind is closed. You are then a menace to yourself and depending in the extent of your power and influence, a threat to "thinking people" who are still looking for the answer. You perceive them as a threat to you, as we have believers and apostates. Nothing in between. The human mind does not like indecision which retards the individuals ability to react quickly and take evasive action. We unfortunately live in a far more complex world than this type of retroactive inhibition might be appropriate.

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26/06/2014Folks The transcript of Emma Alberici’s interview with John Edwards on Tuesday night is now available. He was the former chief economist at HSBC and was a senior economics adviser to Paul Keating. He is now serving on the RBA board, and is a non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute. He's the author of [i]Beyond the Boom[/i], a Lowy Institute booklet (to be published this week), about which Emma quizzed him. Here are a couple of excerpts: “[i]EMMA ALBERICI: Having read your book, one gets the distinct impression that the motivation in writing it was to somehow set the record straight, celebrate our success and debunk contrary views on the current state of the Australian economy. JOHN EDWARDS: Well, I think that's exactly right. I'd heard for a while that the mining boom had been a huge event but that we'd wasted it, we were feckless, we were complacent but now the mining boom was over and we're in big trouble. So I wanted to see: are these propositions true? And when I looked at the numbers I was quite surprised. The mining boom was not as big as is widely believed, the income gained not nearly as big as widely believed and of that income gain, we saved the lot.”[/i]… “[i]EMMA ALBERICI: You go to great lengths in the book to explain that the debt and deficit position Australia currently finds itself in is not the result of Labor's profligate spending. If anyone is to blame, it's Peter Costello for putting personal income tax rates down? JOHN EDWARDS: Well, there's no doubt that to the extent we face a Budget crisis or faced a Budget crisis, it's one about revenue and that's apparent in the figures produced by this Government: that of the increase of the return to surplus over the next five or six years, almost the entire amount is provided by increased revenue - mostly by increased income tax.”[/i] And later: “[i] EMMA ALBERICI: Yet the Government's Commission of Audit found that if Federal spending were to remain unchanged, by 2023 revenues would hit 25 per cent of GDP whilst spending would be closer to 27 per cent. JOHN EDWARDS: Well, by 2025. Budgets are always... You know, every year the Government looks at a Budget that far out, it can see that a rising trend in spending, which needs to be controlled. It's one thing to say that if we don't control spending in a decade spending is going to be too big. It's quite another to say that the reason we have a deficit today is because of high spending, if you see the distinction. EMMA ALBERICI: And what you're saying is that the reason we have big deficits now is not as a result of big spending? JOHN EDWARDS: Yeah, that's right. It may be that we would have, you know, if you didn't do anything about spending, you might have a deficit in a decade. But that's a different issue.”[/i] [b]So much for the ‘debt and deficit disaster’! Can you find one rational economist who believes that! To use an old-fashioned phrase, it’s all ‘stuff and nonsense’.[/b] Read the full interview here: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4032413.htm

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26/06/2014Folks Did any of you hear the interview of Joseph Stiglitz by Jon Faine this morning on ABC 774 Melbourne radio? It was simply brilliant. As is his style, Stiglitz had his act together; every question was answered comprehensively and confidently. The Coalition ought to listen to that interview over and again. His views, especially on inequality, are in tune with those of Thomas Piketty. [b]Do any of you know how to find that interview and post the link here? Visitors here would relish hearing what Stiglitz had to say, and how he said it.[/b]

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26/06/2014Casablanca I am salivating at the prospect of reading your Cache today, so rich with Palmerisms. I will have to postpone this feast until I finish some other tasks this afternoon.

Casablanca

26/06/201426. Have Clive Palmer and Al Gore given Turnbull the last laugh? Tristan Edis. 26 June 2014 It is a story truly stranger than fiction and one that has the renewable energy sector celebrating and incumbent electricity suppliers in shock. It could also potentially mean a carbon trading scheme may still yet survive. Yesterday evening Clive Palmer – the man who for a period of time defied paying an overdue $6 million carbon tax bill and hopes to develop one of the world’s biggest coal mines – stood side by side with Al Gore, a Nobel Peace Prize winner for his campaign on global warming aimed at consigning coal to an early grave. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/6/26/carbon-markets/have-clive-palmer-and-al-gore-given-turnbull-last-laugh?utm_source=exact&utm_medium=email&utm_content=803983&utm_campaign=kgb&modapt=

Casablanca

26/06/2014AA Here 'tis: Prof Joseph Stiglitz speaks to Jon Faine on Mornings (Audio:16m) https://soundcloud.com/search?q=Jon%20Faine%20%26%20Joseph%20Stiglitz

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26/06/2014Casablanca You are a genius. Thank you. You must teach me how to find such interviews. Folks [b]Casablanca has provided the link to the Stiglitz interview above. Do listen to it. It runs for 16.27 exciting minutes,[/b]

Casablanca

26/06/2014 27. Carbon tax abolition won't translate into big electricity bill changes: ESAA Amy Bainbridge. 26 June, 2014 Consumers are being told not to expect a big windfall gain in their power bill if the carbon tax is repealed. "The carbon is in the order of cents per day so 20, 30, 50 cents a day is carbon in an electricity bill so that's the kind of numbers you'll see come out the other side." Mr Warren says because many consumers receive their bills monthly, they will not necessarily notice a substantial difference in what they pay. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-26/modest-power-bill-cuts-if-carbon-tax-abolished/5550468 28. Clive Palmer's ETS: What he's saying, what he's thinking, and what he might actually mean Michael Pascoe. June 26, 2014 One of the problems with Clive is working out what he’s saying, what he might think he’s saying and what he actually means. They can all be quite different things. For businesses having to plan and invest around carbon policy, that’s not very helpful... Last night’s Lateline interview with Tony Jones is a case in point. If you’re feeling strong, read the transcript and try to understand exactly what is going to happen to the ETS and other carbon-related legislation in what order. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/clive-palmers-ets-what-hes-saying-what-hes-thinking-and-what-he-might-actually-mean-20140626-zsme5.html

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26/06/2014Folks We have an inveterate collector of quotes in our apartment block. Here are her offerings today – about politics: “[i]Politics is the gentle art of getting votes
from the poor and campaign funds from the rich,
by promising to protect each from the other.
 ~Oscar Am ringer, "the Mark Twain of American Socialism."

 I offered my opponents a deal:
"if they stop telling lies about me,
I will stop telling the truth about them".
 ~Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952..

 A politician is a fellow who will lay down
your life for his country.
 ~Texas Guinan. 19th century American businessman

 I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious
a matter to be left to the politicians.
 ~Charles de Gaulle, French general & politician

 Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city,
it might be better to change the locks.
 ~Doug Larson (English middle-distance runner who won gold medals at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, 1902-1981)

 We hang petty thieves and appoint the bigger thieves to public office.
 ~Aesop, Greek slave & fable author 

 Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.
 ~Plato, ancient Greek Philosopher

 Politicians are the same all over.
They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.
 ~Nikita Khrushchev, Russian Soviet politician

 Politicians are people who,
when they see light at the end of the tunnel, 
go out and buy some more tunnel.
 ~John Quinton, American actor/writer

 What happens if a politician drowns in a river?
That is pollution.
What happens if all of them drown?
That is a solution .....!!! When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become PM;
I'm beginning to believe it.
 ~Quoted in 'Clarence Darrow for the Defense' by Irving Stone.”[/i]
 [b]We know – we have Tony Abbott![/b]

totaram

26/06/2014Since we have got to debt and deficits, as member of the board of RBA this gentleman ( John Edwards)would be in a position to say whether everything in the linked video is true or not. He certainly cannot deny the statements by Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan. Our own Glen Stevens has been quite shifty on this issue, and actually colluded with Joe Hockey to "increase the debt" by "giving" the RBA 8.8 billion to "shore up its reserves" (which is nonsense). The RBA issues our currency. Why does it need reserves? Any way, I commend this video to your attention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khaypwRG5C0

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26/06/2014Casablanca What an enjoyable and informative Cache. It will be intriguing to see how the Palmer initiatives play out. Predictions are difficult, but whaterever the outcome, watching Abbott and Hunt squirm to adapt to the rapidly changing scene will be entertaining. If they read Al Gore's article, they will be dismayed, and their coal digging mates alarmed.

Casablanca

27/06/2014Good News story. I picked up this story through a tweet from Malcolm Fraser: Malcolm Fraser ‏@MalcolmFraser12 22m Great news many congratulations http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/former-vietnamese-refugee-hieu-van-le-to-be-next-governor-of-south-australia/story-fn59niix-1226967544029?nk=3ff8c08a1ea20eca2707263341c741a3 … Former Vietnamese refugee Hieu Van Le to be next governor of South Australia AAP June 26, 2014 3:33PM FORMER refugee Hieu Van Le will be the next governor of South Australia. The Vietnamese-born Mr Le will succeed Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce in September, Premier Jay Weatherill announced today. The Premier said Mr Le, 60, will be the state’s 35th governor and the first Asian migrant to take up the position. He is currently lieutenant governor — a position he has held since 2007. Mr Le, who arrived in Australia in 1977, told reporters he was extremely humbled and honoured. “As a young `boat people’ refugee, I arrived here 36 years ago with nothing but an invisible suitcase filled with dreams,’’ he said. “A dream to live in a peaceful, safe and free country and to live a meaningful and fulfilling life. “But to be bestowed with the greatest honour and the privilege of holding the vice-regal office is absolutely beyond my wildest dream. “This appointment, however, says much more about our society than about me - it sends a powerful message affirming our inclusive and egalitarian society.’’ Mr Le said his new role meant it was inappropriate for him to comment on the refugee situation in Australia. But he did reveal he was a big fan of the Queen. “I think she is a very inspiring and admirable leader, who carries out her duties with great grace and compassion.’’ Mr Le retired from accounting in 2009 and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2010. AAP http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/former-vietnamese-refugee-hieu-van-le-to-be-next-governor-of-south-australia/story-fn59niix-1226967544029?nk=3ff8c08a1ea20eca2707263341c741a3

Casablanca

27/06/2014 Ad Astra, The Clive Palmer initiative seemed more surreal as the day unfolded. Christine Milne has sent out an email saying 'That was weird'. I have posted the text here because Milne suggests that we contact Palmer to let him know that the best way to achieve the aims he spoke of is to keep the price on pollution we already have. Dear....... What a bizarre 24 hours. Yesterday, former US Vice President and world renowned climate change campaigner Al Gore stood side by side with coal mining billionaire turned politician Clive Palmer and announced... something. The news that the Palmer Party Senators will vote with us to keep the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Renewable Energy Target and the Climate Change Authority is fantastic. The CEFC has been making money and reducing emissions for well over a year, financing clean energy projects worth millions while returning a profit for Australian taxpayers. The RET is a vital part of our emissions reduction framework, driving down the wholesale price of power. The CCA provides independent advice to Parliament on the best ways to address climate change and the level of emissions reduction we should aim for. These were the key Greens achievements resulting from the negotiations with the previous government, and it is wonderful to see these institutions that we all worked so hard for will survive Tony Abbott's attacks on climate action. Less clear is Mr Palmer's plan for our Emissions Trading Scheme. We already have an ETS in Australia - our price on pollution is set to link to the European scheme and move to a floating price on July 1 next year. If Mr Palmer is serious about ensuring Australia has a globally connected ETS, he should work with us to strengthen the existing scheme. Will you call Clive Palmer and tell him that we already have an ETS that works and he should support it? The world is moving quickly to strengthen emissions trading. There are several regional schemes in China. The EU is already operating. Many of the largest states in the US have their own schemes. Japan's biggest cities have schemes in place. South Korea's starts on January 1 next year. Australia should not take a step back now. The price on pollution is already working, and the Energy Supply Association of Australia have stated[1] that removing it will not have much effect on consumers' electricity bills at all. Please tell Clive Palmer that meaningful action on climate change is happening already, and it isn't hurting Australian families. It's very difficult to tell just what Mr Palmer's intentions are. Just two months ago he was questioning the global scientific consensus on climate change[2]. It may be that he does not understand the price on pollution we already have yet. [b]Clive Palmer needs to hear that the best way to achieve the aims he spoke of is to keep the price on pollution we already have. (Go to http://greensmps.org.au/call-clive-palmer-ets). You can call his Canberra office on (02) 6277 4372, or his electorate office on (07) 5479 2800.[/b] Mr Palmer says he's persuadable. Let's make sure he hears from as many people as possible. Thanks for all that you do, Christine 1 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-26/modest-power-bill-cuts-if-carbon-tax-abolished/5550468 2 http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s3978099.htm

Casablanca

27/06/2014 CASABLANCA'S CACHE 27 June 2014. 12 items CARBON DATING: CLIVE & AL 1. Al Gore and Clive Palmer: behind the scenes of an unlikely bromance Lenore Taylor. 26 June 2014 The extraordinary Gore-Palmer drama began about 10 weeks ago when the quietly spoken but very effective former Australian Conservation Foundation head, Don Henry, approached a former adviser to Tony Windsor, John Clements, to ask whether he could open a line of communication with Clive Palmer. Henry is an international board member of Gore’s “climate reality project”. Clements and Windsor had struck up a friendly relationship with Palmer during the last parliament. Palmer’s three senators held the key to the future of most of Australia’s existing climate change legislation. It was an unusual, but potentially powerful, mix. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/26/al-gore-and-clive-palmer-behind-the-scenes-of-an-unlikely-bromance 2. Abbott, Palmer and Gore - a play in three acts Simon Cowan 26 June 2014 Clive Palmer's climate policy announcement, flanked by global warming campaigner Al Gore, certainly was high theatre but was this play a tragedy or a farce? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-26/cowan-abbott-palmer-and-gore-a-play-in-three-acts/5552470 3. Palmer Gores Abbott to change Canberra climate Bob Ellis 26 June 2014, Last night in Canberra the unlikely duo of Clive Palmer and Al Gore announced a partnership to battle climate change — and battered Abbott’s spluttering budget.[Palmer] A graceful fat man like Les Murray, Richard Griffiths, Nye Bevan, W.C. Fields and W.G. Grace, he steers each delivery to leg and beams at the bowler and dares you to classify him. And you can’t. http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/palmer-gores-abbott-to-change-canberra-climate,6611 4. Carbon Clive Slices Off A Little Piece Of Oz... and Abbott Ben Eltham 26 Jun 2014 Overnight, the Australian political landscape changed. Tony Abbott had better strap himself in for a rough ride. https://newmatilda.com/2014/06/26/carbon-clive-slices-little-piece-oz-and-abbott 5. Is Clive Palmer the de facto Prime Minister? John Kelly June 26, 2014 It's an odd sounding question but not without foundation. Clive Palmer’s bombshell press conference with Al Gore where he announced his party’s voting intentions in the Senate on Wednesday June 25th gave a pretty clear indication that he was calling the shots on the repeal, or otherwise, of the carbon tax. And, one must say that he delivered the news in an almost prime ministerial-like manner. http://theaimn.com/clive-palmer-de-facto-prime-minister/ 6. AUDIO Q&A: What’s in and out of Palmer’s climate strategy (4m58s) James Whitmore In a surprising announcement last night Clive Palmer promised to abolish Australia’s current carbon price, and block the coalition’s Direct Action policy. But Palmer has said he will vote to retain the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Climate Change Authority, and the Renewable Energy Target in its current form — all currently on the coalition’s chopping block.… Includes a 5min audio Professor Michael Raupach, Director of the Australian National University Climate Change Institute said Palmer’s policy is “step back, and a couple of small steps forward”. http://theconversation.com/audio-qanda-whats-in-and-out-of-palmers-climate-strategy-28497 7. Ross Garnaut praises Clive Palmer's decision to block abolition of Renewable Energy Target Emma Griffiths and Kerry Brewster 27 June 2014 The man who helped design Australia's current carbon pricing scheme has praised Clive Palmer over his decision to block the abolition of the Renewable Energy Target. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-26/garnaut-praises-palmers-defence-of-climate-change-agencies/5553214 8. Flashback: An unreconstructed Clive Palmer and Ross Garnaut. (Video 26m & Transcript) Tony Jones. 03 April, 2014 Mining magnate turned politician, Clive Palmer, debates economist turned climate campaigner, Ross Garnaut on global warming and climate change policy. http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s3978099.htm 9. Conservationist Don Henry confirms he set up climate talks between Clive Palmer and Al Gore The World Today The former chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation has confirmed he was behind the meeting between Clive Palmer and former US vice-president Al Gore. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-26/conservationist-confirms-he-set-up-palmer-gore-talks/5552978 10. A convenient alliance: how does Al Gore gain? Sara Phillips 26 Jun 2014 Has Clive Palmer played Al Gore for a fool with his new climate change stance, or could it be the other way around? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-26/phillips-the-baffling-gore-and-palmer-show/5551980 11. Who are the winners from Clive Palmer's green conversion? Mark Kenny. June 26, 2014 On the question of winners, one also needs to make a distinction between the working assumption inside-the-beltway about Abbott’s private position on climate, and the actual formal policy he took to the people at the last election. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/who-are-the-winners-from-clive-palmers-green-conversion-20140626-zsmxg.html#ixzz35l8C845v 12. A guide to Al Gore and Clive Palmer's cosmic connection Tony Wright. June 26, 2014 As Clive Palmer, a man who plans to dig enough coal to blot out the Chinese sky, stood next to Al Gore in the Great Hall on Wednesday evening, declaring he wanted to save the world, a sort of awful knowledge crept over the assembly. “For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.” ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Al Gore wore the permanently surprised look of a fellow who had lost his way on the stairway to the gentlemen's lavatory outside a botox clinic and had never figured out quite where the exit might be. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/a-guide-to-al-gore-and-clive-palmers-cosmic-connection-20140626-3auzd.html

Casablanca

27/06/2014 CASABLANCA'S CACHE 27 June 2014. 12 items. [b]Tony Abbott Gored by Clive Palmer.[/b] Posted above and at: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/CC-2014-06-19.aspx OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Casablanca

27/06/2014 Jan & AA Hope that you enjoy 'Carbon dating: Clive and Al' as much as yesterday's Cache. Thanks for your encouraging comments.

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27/06/2014Casablanca Than you for 'Carbon dating: Clive and Al', an entertaining collection. Whatever else he has done, Clive Palmer has introduced tantalizing uncertainty into the climate change arena. I wonder how 'black and white' Abbott will cope with that?

Casablanca

27/06/2014[b]Joseph Stiglitz tells Tony Abbott to spend more[/b] Jacob Greber. 27 June 2014 Nobel laureate and Columbia University economics professor Joseph Stiglitz says the Abbott government should be looking to spend more rather than making major budget cuts. http://www.afr.com/p/national/joseph_stiglitz_tells_tony_abbott_C3iphmUSBkpGLTJi21IxqJ [Paywalled article]

Casablanca

27/06/2014 Health ministers vote to reinstate healthy food star rating website Amy Corderoy June 27, 2014 - 11:13AM State and federal ministers will reinstate a healthy food star rating system that was controversially pulled offline by federal Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash and her junk-food lobbyist chief of staff. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/health-ministers-vote-to-reinstate-healthy-food-star-rating-website-20140627-zsnqy.html#ixzz35niHcmwq

2353`

27/06/2014Thanks for the above Casablanca. Abbott is having the week from hell - first Palmer wedges him and then the health ministers reinstate the healthy food website. Hopefully it can get much worse :-)

Casablanca

27/06/20142353 It couldn't happen to a nicer bloke!!

Bacchus

27/06/2014On Joseph Stiglitz - Kay Rollison has a brief book review of his 'The Price of Inequality' over at the AIMN. Swordsters may be interested in this review. http://theaimn.com/book-review-price-inequality-joseph-stiglitz/

Jason

27/06/2014 Insiders ABC @InsidersABC · 4h Joining #insiders this week: @lenoretaylor @PhillipCoorey & @farrm51. @frankellyabc interviews @Bowenchris. @mpbowers talks pics w @davpope

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27/06/2014Bacchus Thanks for the link to Kaye Rollison's informative review of Joseph Stiglitz' book: 'The Price of Inequality'. It was also reviewed on TPS in December 2012: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2012/12/13/Focus-on-political-ideology-Joseph-E-Stiglitz.aspx If only Abbott, Hockey and Cormann would read it and act accordingly.

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27/06/2014Casablanca May there be more weeks like this for our PM. Jason Thanks

Janet (j4gypsy)

28/06/2014 [i]Lance Wiggs ‏@lancewiggs 28m The most insidious thing about trickle-down economics: believing that if the poor get richer it’s bad for the economy http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014.html …[/i] Very worthwhile read.

Ken

28/06/2014Jan thanks for that. A very interesting article.

Casablanca

28/06/2014Jan, AN excellent article. Compare & contrast with the report in the Fairfax Press today. I copied quotable quote after quotable quote from the politico article which I have no time to edit as Last Tango in Halifax is just beginning so here is a lengthy summary of article... In US, over 75 per cent of conservatives say the poor 'have it easy' Christopher Ingraham. June 27, 2014 So much for compassionate conservatism. More than three-quarters of conservative Americans – those in the steadfast conservative, business conservative and young outsider-type groups – agree that "poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything," according to the US Pew Research Centre. Only 7 per cent of conservatives say that the poor "have hard lives". http://www.canberratimes.com.au/world/in-us-over-75-per-cent-of-conservatives-say-the-poor-have-it-easy-20140627-zsnqm.html The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats Nick Hanauer July/August 2014 To: My Fellow Zillionaires. You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor....Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now? I see pitchforks...At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent... And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.... These idiotic trickle-down policies are destroying my customer base. And yours too....Which is why the fundamental law of capitalism must be: If workers have more money, businesses have more customers. Which makes middle-class consumers, not rich businesspeople like us, the true job creators. Which means a thriving middle class is the source of American prosperity, not a consequence of it. The middle class creates us rich people, not the other way around... Because here’s an odd thing. During the past three decades, compensation for CEOs grew 127 times faster than it did for workers. Since 1950, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio has increased 1,000 percent, and that is not a typo. CEOs used to earn 30 times the median wage; now they rake in 500 times. The most insidious thing about trickle-down economics isn’t believing that if the rich get richer, it’s good for the economy. It’s believing that if the poor get richer, it’s bad for the economy. We rich people have been falsely persuaded by our schooling and the affirmation of society, and have convinced ourselves, that we are the main job creators. It’s simply not true. There can never be enough super-rich Americans to power a great economy. I earn about 1,000 times the median American annually, but I don’t buy thousands of times more stuff. My family purchased three cars over the past few years, not 3,000. I buy a few pairs of pants and a few shirts a year, just like most American men. I bought two pairs of the fancy wool pants I am wearing as I write, what my partner Mike calls my “manager pants.” I guess I could have bought 1,000 pairs. But why would I? Instead, I sock my extra money away in savings, where it doesn’t do the country much good. So why not talk about a different kind of New Deal for the American people, one that could appeal to the right as well as left—to libertarians as well as liberals? First, I’d ask my Republican friends to get real about reducing the size of government. Yes, yes and yes, you guys are all correct: The federal government is too big in some ways. But no way can you cut government substantially, not the way things are now. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush each had eight years to do it, and they failed miserably. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014_Page3.html#ixzz35vAjtFCJ Comments irondem RepublicanForHillary • 14 hours ago I just heard Trickle down referred to as Horse and Sparrow economics If you over feed the horse the sparrow can eat some oats in the manure.....That pretty much describes the GOP econ ! Katrina Suzanne Eowyn Hanneman Dey Dey • 16 hours ago capitalism shares the same trait that makes socialism and communism fail...they all rely on humans being at their best and they all require hope, trust, and some naivete. None of them work at their purest form.

Ad astra

28/06/2014Janet (j4 gypsy) That is the best rebuttal of 'trickle down economics' I have read. Thank you. Casablanca Thank you too for your additonal links and comments. Why do conservatives still seem to believe in this discredited economic theory?

Catching up

29/06/2014Abbott booed at football. All day major conference finishes hours early. Seems there was a public brawl between Brandis and Pyne. To rub salt into the wounds, two boats arrive. Ones they cannot turn around. Not from Indonesia. Yes, this is a wonderful government, that delivers disasters each day. Then there is another feeling, that axing that tax might still not be as easy as some thought. Site still going well. Keep up the good work.

Catching up

29/06/2014"that if the poor get richer it’s bad for the economy " This seems to be Abbott's mob's biggest gripe. Too much being given to those at the bottom. Makes them lazy and ungrateful, it seems. This is spite of the fact, that there has been over the last few years transference of the pie from labour to capital. Yes workers getting less, while the boss gets more. While this has been occurring, labour productivity has been rising. Both welfare and taxes as a part of the economy have been going down. Do they want it all?

Catching up

29/06/2014 "If you over feed the horse the sparrow can eat some oats in the manure.....That pretty much describes the GOP econ " Does not the horse then get bloated and become very ill?

Pappinbarra Fox

29/06/2014Catching up And the ill bloated horse takes up smoking fat Cubans

Bacchus

29/06/2014:D :D @ PF 07:51 AM

TalkTurkey

29/06/2014Good Morning Comrades, Yes I'm still here but I haven't been keeping up, it makes me feel guilty because I do feel fierce loyalty to this site, but I either have too little to say or I am so seething with [i]so many[/i] outrages by Abborrrrtt and his thugs that I can't really focus on any one. Yet any one of the many - Ashbygate, the Sinodinos saga, lies lies lies, cutting benefits, closing programs, raising $7's, Drown the Refugees, Bugger the Carbon Price, Cut Down Tassie's Forests, so many things I have trouble remembering a quarter of them, but any [i]one[/i] of them should be enough to be a scandal capable of unseating LNP Members and indeed bring down the Government. Once upon a time such outrages would have been treated with the dismay they deserve. The Petrov Affair. Nancy Prasad, Ad will remember. Now the Abborrrrtt Government throws such issues up nearly daily, and we are unable to respond appropriately due to their very frequency. But at the Marches in March and in May what I'm saying is in every heart and in everybody's utterances. These people are Us. [Oh yes I just saw Bronnie, how's [i]she[/i] for an issue to make your blood boil?!] And the Police of all stamps never investigate the LNP's misdeeds! And the MSM is so sycophantic and biased, never following the real stories with any conviction (eg Ashby should have been hounded 100x more than poor Slipper or Thomson!) Oh and then there's the puffed-up cynical Greens, their opportunistic opposition to *J*U*L*I*A*s Government was critical to its defeat (and along with it all its reforms) and now their Our-shit-don't-stink self-justification - that gets to me too. And then there's Rudd and his nest of tapeworms. Don't get me started! So atm I'm spending too much time on Twitter making acerbic comments (to put it diplomatically) trying to raise the temperature of others' ire, and fuming within myself. Sorry I'm not contributing more here, but I'm sure still here. And unwavering in the conviction in my clench-fisted lifetime vow, lifted from the valiant Sandinistas in Nicaragua: [i]VENCEREMOS![/i] That's why I feel such respect for The Political Sword. Because all true Swordies are just as determined. Your legacy Ad astra. Still our brightest [b]*[/b]

TalkTurkey

29/06/2014 The Sparrow the Splat and the Cat http://homepage.tinet.ie/~nobyrne/happy.html

TalkTurkey

29/06/2014Totaram, Welcome to TPS, if you are a newcomer, apologies if you've been before (maybe?) and I haven't remembered you. OK, all right, forgotten you then. Anyway, Look mon ami I haven't the time nor bandwidth to watch all that video, would you care to précis it for us? It sounds important ... And now, about that Sparrow ... This is the Story of [i]The Sparrow, the Splat, and the Cat [/i] http://homepage.tinet.ie/~nobyrne/happy.html

Ken

29/06/2014TT Your story of the sparrow reminds of some lines from an old Australian song. Bob Hudson, who did the 'Newcastle Song' also did an Australian take of Jonathon Livingston Seagull, called 'Jonathon Livingston Budgerigar'. The relevant lines: Jonathon Livingstone Budgerigar, Who the bloody hell do you think you are? I told you your philosophy wouldn't get you far. To get on this world, you have to be a galah. Or as we used to say in the western suburbs, 'sh*t rises to the top'. Need I say more about our current PM and his cohort.
How many oranges do I have if I have 3 oranges and take ONE away?