August 31, 2015 | Graham

This woman should never be left alone with a public policy

Nichola Hungerford is the Campaign Coordinator for the Queensland Conservation Council, and on the available evidence she is a fringe lunatic.

This morning on 612 ABC Steve Austin asked her a question he’s been asking all environmental campaigners:

Austin: Is there any mine that the QCCC suports in the state?

Hungerford: No…how do you actually say that a mine is good when it is starting to have massive impacts on the environment?…Mining isn’t a good thing for the environment and what we have to do is keep looking for alternatives…

So the biggest threat to human existence isn’t the damage that humans do to the environment, but the environmental campaigners seeking to save us from ourselves. Hungerford seems to have not the slightest understanding of how the world works, or what the consequences for 9 billion people on the planet would be if we tried to go back to using pre-stone age technologies (presumably she’d be opposed to the mining that creates flint arrow and axe heads too).

Recently we learned that the state government has been providing funding to conservation groups. There is no better evidence that this should stop than Hungerford’s comments this morning.

This nonsense is on a par with the anti-vaxxer rubbish, 9/11 conspiracy theories, or alien abduction hysterias. We wouldn’t accept our government funding any of those groups, and neither should they fund a conservation group that spouts similar nonsense.

Mainstream broadcasters should also think twice before giving them equal time with other participants in the debate. Their views simply lack credibility.


Posted by Graham at 9:49 am | Comments Off on This woman should never be left alone with a public policy |
Filed under: Environment

August 30, 2015 | Graham

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the (Labor) party

It is quite clear from the Trade Union Royal Commission that not only are a number of unions riddled with criminality, but those same unions believe they own the Australian Labor Party.

All large organisations will from time to time harbour criminals. That is a given of human affairs. What counts is not whether this happens or not, but how you deal with the criminals once discovered.

Good organisations root them out, but corrupt organisations support them and try to hide their sins.

I know a lot of people who think of themselves as good are involved with the Australian Labor Party. Some of them are friends of mine, and they are people I regard as good.

But a good person would not act to protect the guilty parties, and that is what the Labor Party is doing.

Someone who is a party to that becomes an accomplice to the crime. Unfortunately a lot of Labor Party members have become accomplices.

One who hasn’t is Martin Ferguson, himself a former ACTU president.

Australia needs a decent left of centre party with ambitions to form government. It hasn’t got one at the moment.

It’s time for all of us who care about democracy to form a unity ticket, not matter how we vote, and support reform of the social democratic party.

Out of the last three Labor leaders only one, Kevin Rudd, wasn’t a puppet of the unions and a beneficiary of dodgy practices by union officials or themselves.

If the Labor Party isn’t dedicated to rooting these crooks out, then it doesn’t deserve to continue to exist. Which is a tragedy that should not be allowed to happen.

But can it be avoided?

So many prominent parliamentary members are owned by crooked unions. A clean out would involve removing people like Bill Shorten and Penny Wong federally, and others like Joanne Miller in Queensland.

It’s hard to see that happening. So maybe the solution is to set up a new social democrat party without union ties, and with a real concern for the interests of those the unions are supposed to represent.

Such a party wouldn’t necessarily seek to win election in its own right, but it would seek to give voters in working class electorates an honest party that they could honestly vote for.

And it would provide real pressure on Labor to reform.

The alternative is to allow Australian politics to stray into a twilight zone where government alternates between generally honest centre-right parties, and generally institutionally corrupt centre-left ones.

It’s time for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of the Labor Party and support reformers like Martin Ferguson.

Posted by Graham at 6:59 pm | Comments (5) |

August 29, 2015 | Graham

Canning a bigger test of Shorten than Abbott

Canning is a marginal seat with a deceptively safe Liberal Party majority due almost solely to the former member, Don Randall. If Labor can’t win this in a byelection there is something drastically wrong with them.

Not only are the numbers their way, but the Liberal Campaign looks decidedly bone-headed if this article in The Australian is anything to go by.

Its headline claims “Canning by-election in hands of those who can’t stand either leader.” Another way of reading this is “A decent independent would poll really well in this election.” And there is a slew of independents putting their hands up.

Yet what is the Liberal candidate saying, presumably under direction from central office?

His message to voters is that, with Liberal governments in both Western Australia and Canberra, he is the man who can carry on Randall’s legacy of standing up for their interests.

“I’m in a position as the Liberal candidate for Canning to engage with federal and state ministers to deliver for the people of Canning,” Mr Hastie says.

So let’s get this straight, in an electorate which is in reality a swinging electorate, where electors want none of the above, and given the general tendency of by-elections to deliver anti-incumbent government swings, the Liberal candidate is appealing for votes on the basis he is a member of the machine who can fix things for voters.

Not only does it run against the sentiment of the electorate, but it sounds like they are being threatened – elect someone other than a Liberal and the Liberal governments won’t look after you.

We saw a similar line run in Queensland by the LNP with disastrous results as it reinforced the potential for a protest vote and alienated minor party voters whose preferences were vital to counter the Green/ALP alliance. Seems the Libs are slow learners.

Bill Shorten ought to have this one in the bag, and if he doesn’t win it, then the blow torch ought to be applied to him by his colleagues.

Posted by Graham at 12:56 pm | Comments (1) |
Filed under: Australian Politics

August 22, 2015 | Graham

ACTU case against Heydon boomerangs

As I understand it, the ACTU case against Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon is not that he is biased, but that an average person might think he was biased.

Now I would have thought the only reason a royal commissioner should be stood aside is if there is a reasonable apprehension that he might be biased. The ACTU case explicitly admits that he isn’t biased.

We know that you’re the Honourable Dyson Heydon. When I say we, I mean the lawyers in this room, and we know that you have particular skills as a lawyer and as a judge and for that matter as an academic.

This is then contrasted to what the person without those advantages might think. But as they have already admitted that no reasonable person who knows him could think he was biased, then it would be an unreasonable assumption for that person to think he was biased.

So, one boomerang down.

But there is another. What bias could be said to be exhibited by being the guest speaker at a Liberal Party hosted function (describing this one as a fundraiser is risible given that $80 a head with an audience of 80 or so people would barely cover costs)?

Well, it might be said that you were biased against the ALP, but it could hardly mean that you were biased against anything else.

For example, plenty of union members vote Liberal and attend Liberal Party functions. I’d be pretty sure that there would be the odd one who had addressed Liberal Party functions. Even if Heydon did vote Liberal, and had showed he supported the party by his aborted acceptance of a guest speaking engagement, how does that affect his potential for bias against the union movement? Unionism and the Liberal Party are not inconsistent.

If apprehended bias were this broad, then no one who had ever had a political party involvement at any level could be appointed to any sort of judicial or quasi-judicial position.

Gillian Triggs has been pinged for attending Labor functions as a guest speaker, but what about the Fair Work Australian Commissioners? Many of these have Labor Party backgrounds. Is there a problem of bias here?

What if someone had worked for an employer organisation and had been involved with the Liberal Party, or spoken at a Liberal function, would they be ineligible for appointment to the Fair Work Commission because they were “biased” against the union movement?

That position seems untenable and preposterous.

It could really only be said that Liberal Party involvement probably makes you biased against the ALP. But this commission is not about the ALP, it is about the union movement.

Which is where the boomerang hits the ACTU on the head. This argument can only make sense if it rests on the assumption that the unions are the ALP.

In which case what they are really saying is that the wrongdoing that Heydon is looking at isn’t just union wrongdoing, but Labor wrongdoing.

And we have a real problem in Australia if one of our major political parties is this crooked. And it seems the ACTU thinks it is.

Posted by Graham at 11:34 pm | Comments (5) |

August 11, 2015 | Graham

Chasing our tail on greenhouse emissions

Australia apparently has met its greenhouse targets, but that’s not good enough for the Greens.

So I’ve done some digging to see what our performance on reducing emissions looks like, and it’s no worse than most, and better than some.


But pay special attention to the worst performing countries. They are South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, Brazil, India and Indonesia.

They have in common that they are all emerging economies (with the exception of Japan), and that they are the ones most likely to be manufacturing the stuff that we wear, watch and drive.

Now look at this graph of projected world emissions. You’ll note that the whole is going up at a very fast rate, with only a hint of a pause after 2035.

The format of the graph makes it hard to read individual countries and sectors but while the EU and the US appear to be stable, and China promises to stabilise in 2035, the rest of the world continues to increase.

A good part of what is happening when developed countries reduce their emissions is that they are actually decreasing the emissions that occur in their country, not the emissions that occur as a result of their consumption

As a result, while developed country emissions go down, developing countries’ (the countries where our consumer goods are manufactured) emissions go up and more or less compensate.

In other words, the whole emissions reduction talks are a charade where every country involved pretends that what they agree has a significant effect on world emissions, when they don’t.

We are meeting our targets by redirecting our emissions to developing countries, but short of recessions, nothing of significance changes.

Which makes the case for either adaptation, or nuclear power, or both, compelling. We won’t stop consuming, so we have to get realistic of the possible alternatives, assuming that CO2 emissions pose any serious risk at all.


Here is another graph which makes the point pretty strongly. This is the change in energy mix predicted by the EIA in the US between 2011 and 2040. See how many differences you can spot. 😉 Adaptation is the only way.

Posted by Graham at 4:29 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Environment