Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Australian public broadcaster under fire for vilifying Christians

We read:
"In the satirical interview, John Clarke poses as a mental health professional - apparently being questioned by Brian Dawe on the psychological damage caused by lengthy processing of asylum seekers.

But in a twist, it is revealed they are actually discussing how long politicians stay in office before they are finally voted out:

Dawe: A lot of them must realise the damage they are doing?

Clarke: Oh, they do. A lot of them are Christians.

Dawe: So there would be a lot of guilt?

Clarke: A lot of guilt. A lot of denial.

Dawe: Look what they are doing to the asylum seekers.


Video at link

Australian law is very sweeping in its provisions about racial vilification. It says: "It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if: (a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and (b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group"

But there is no similar prohibition against religious vilification that I know of. So this complaint is unlikely to go anywhere beyond the bureaucracy.

Even if the Act did apply to religion, it has extensive exemptions. Exempted in Section 18d, for instance, are comments made "in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest".

One would have thought that the above exemption provided a complete defence for conservative columnist Andrew Bolt in the prosecution recently brought against him. That judge Mordechai Bromberg did not accept that defence and proceeded to convict Bolt is thus incomprehensible in terms of what the law says. It can, as far as I can see, be explained only as a political judgement, akin to many of the judgments handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Even some Leftists were disturbed by Bromberg's extremism.

Given the pervasive Leftism of diaspora Jews, however, I suppose judge Bromberg's judgment and the accompanying tortured reasoning were to be expected. Jews are heavily represented in the Australian judiciary so I suppose we have to be glad that not many politically-relevant cases come before them. Leftism and law don't seem to go well together.

Epidemiologists are known for their poor grip on logic but this guy beats the band

The Warmist epidemiologist below is perfectly correct that past natural climate changes have been disastrous but the disastrous ones were episodes of COOLING. Periods of warming -- as in the Roman warm period -- were periods of prosperity and civilizational advance. Yet he is trying to make the case that history shows warming to be bad. He must know that history indicates the opposite so I say without hesitation that he is a lying crook of zero credibility on anything. I could go on to dispute more of his patently false claims but what's the point?

A LEADING Australian disease expert says prompt action on climate change is paramount to our survival on Earth. Australian National University Epidemiologist Tony McMichael has conducted an historical study that suggests natural climate change over thousands of years has destabilised civilisations via food shortages, disease and unrest.

"We haven't really grasped the fact that a change in climate presents a quite fundamental threat to the foundations of population health," Prof McMichael said. "These things have happened before in response to fairly modest changes to climate.

"Let's be aware that we really must take early action if we are going to maintain this planet as a liveable habitat for humans."

In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Prof McMichael argues the world faces extreme climate change "without precedent" over the past 10,000 years.

"With the exception of a few downward spikes of acute cooling due to massive volcanic eruptions, most of the changes have been within a band of about plus or minus three-quarters of a degree centigrade," he said today.

"Yet we are talking about the likelihood this century of going beyond two degrees centigrade and quite probably, on current trajectory, reaching a global average increase of three to four degrees."

Prof McMichael's paper states that the greatest recurring health risk over past millennia has been from food shortages mostly caused by drying and drought.

Warming also leads to an increase in infectious diseases as a result of better growth conditions for bacteria and the proliferation of mosquitoes.

Drought can also result in greater contact with rodents searching for scarce food supplies.

The ANU academic says while societies today are better equipped to defend themselves physically and technologically, they lack the flexibility smaller groups had in the past. That's partly because the world is now "over populated", according to Prof McMichael, so there are fewer areas available to retreat too.

Populations are also increasingly packed into large cities on coastlines which are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events.

Prof McMichael has been examining the impact of climate change on population health for 20 years and says it's not easy to raise awareness of the risk.

"Most of the attention has been of a more limited shorter-term kind relating to things around us like the economy, our property, infrastructure and risks to iconic ecosystems and species."


Backdown on "Green" fuel policy in NSW

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell's decision to dump the ban on regular unleaded petrol from July 1 has no doubt won him plenty of goodwill from the 750,000 NSW motorists who faced paying an extra $150 a year each for more expensive premium fuel as a result.

But there is also a definite and dangerous downside for the Premier — the impression that if he is put under enough pressure he will fold on difficult issues, regardless of whether he believes in the policy being attacked.

The question being asked today is: are we witnessing the emergence of Backdown Barry?

When O'Farrell spectacularly capitulated on his government's plan to slash the rebate paid to existing customers of the troubled solar bonus scheme last year to address a cost blow out, the decision was in large part put down to the inexperience and nervousness of a new government.

A backbench revolt sparked by the phone calls of angry constituents quickly led to a backdown and NSW electricity users wore the cost.

O'Farrell was quick to blame poor advice from the public service for the original cabinet decision in a bid to neuter the accusation that he was being politically populist at the expense of good policy.

This time around, the Premier has no such scapegoat. The cabinet made its decision to proceed with the regular unleaded petrol ban late last year to enforce the 6 per cent ethanol mandate — whereby oil companies must ensure that 6 per cent of all fuel sold is ethanol. The move was a former Labor government environmental initiative that was also designed to lower petrol prices.

The O'Farrell cabinet fully intended to stick with the petrol ban come July 1, despite knowing it would cost motorists more. It appears there has been no new information made available to the government in the meantime.

In fact, only one thing has changed — the public learning about the extra cost, thanks to a massive leak of cabinet documents last week, which revealed the numerous warnings about the cost to motorists and the possibility that the ban would be unconstitutional.

Like any leader faced with such a situation, O'Farrell had two options: argue the merits of the policy he and his cabinet believe in; or panic and run scared from the fight.

Today's decision gives the strong impression that O'Farrell has chosen the latter course. If so, it is a short term political fix that is likely to cause him long term political damage.

At the very least, the decision will give every one of the hundreds of lobby groups out there heart that if they can stir up the public sufficiently the government is susceptible to wilting under pressure.

It also confirms the view that in NSW politics, just like everywhere else, money talks. Manildra, the monopoly ethanol supplier in NSW, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Labor and the Coalition.

Which leads to perhaps the greatest irony of all about this decision — while O'Farrell has extinguished a political brush fire, his determination to enforce the ethanol mandate is about to ignite a much bigger fight.

The oil companies oppose the mandate and the big question is how — given he has just jettisoned his most effective lever for enforcing it — O'Farrell intends to do that.

Presumably the legislation he has flagged to remove the unleaded ban will need to contain a big stick such as large financial penalties for oil companies who do not comply.

So he will need to stick to a policy that benefits a generous political donor and — due to its capacity to support regional jobs — has a lot of support from the Nationals in the face of a campaign from the powerful and influential big oil companies.

Already the oil companies are accusing O'Farrell of sleight of hand in today's decision — they argue that enforcing the ethanol mandate will give them no option but to turn all regular unleaded into E10 in NSW to achieve the 6 per cent target of all fuel sold.

In other words, despite today's decision, regular unleaded fuel will still disappear from the bowser and those 750,000 motorists whose cars are incompatible with ethanol blends will be forced to pay more for premium fuel. Which was of course the catalyst for the original backdown.

It seems the stage is well and truly set. It will be fascinating to watch how Backdown Barry handles the fight.


Behind the Canberra riot

It is often said that oppositions don't win elections. Governments lose them. The federal ALP has yet to come to terms with that -- JR

The unintended riot near the Aboriginal tent embassy in Canberra on Australia Day serves as a reminder that Labor has an obsession with Tony Abbott. Yet an empirical examination of the opinion polls suggests the Opposition Leader is not Labor's essential problem. Rather, the ALP's political difficulties turn on policy - most notably, its action on climate change.

For a glimpse of Labor's state of delusion, look no further than the events at The Lobby restaurant on January 26. On the available evidence, it appears that Tony Hodges, Julia Gillard's press secretary, thought it would be a good idea if some indigenous Australians from the tent embassy confronted Abbott (either verbally or physically) at The Lobby. Why?

As Greg Turnbull, Paul Keating's one-time media adviser, said on ABC News 24 on Sunday, this was a knuckleheaded idea. Abbott would have experienced no political downside had he, alone, been confronted by radical Aborigines from the tent embassy. A smart political judge would have assessed such a scenario as a positive for the Opposition Leader.

Moreover, as is well known, Abbott has a history of supporting indigenous endeavours and has Aboriginal friends and associates. So why did Hodges do what he did? Presumably because he was so obsessed with Abbott that his judgment deserted him. It's much the same with the secretary of Unions ACT, Kim Sattler, who passed the Hodges message to some tent embassy personnel.

Whatever the exact course of the message, it seems that the recipients believed what they wanted to believe.

This is a common psychological phenomenon. The demonstrators, and more besides, thought Abbott was the kind of person who would call for the tent embassy to be demolished. In fact, of course, he did not.

The likes of Hodges and Sattler did not act automatically. For more than two years, members of the inner-city left have been warning that Abbott poses a threat to democracy and civil order. The group consists of educated leftists and social democrats alike and comprises authors, academics, bloggers, commentators, journalists, professionals and public servants.

Their views are evident to anyone who reads the ABC's online publication The Drum or the letters pages of the broadsheet newspapers.

The problem for Labor is that many Australians do not hold this position and support Abbott's social conservatism and economic policies. In August 2010, Abbott scored about as much support as Gillard. Now the Coalition leads Labor by a large margin in the polls. Clearly, the electorate does not regard Abbott as a threat.

And nor do some sensible, left-of-centre commentators who know him. In October last year, publisher Louise Adler wrote that she did not recognise Abbott in Susan Mitchell's attack biography, Tony Abbott: A Man's Man.

Labor's present political discontents stem not primarily from Abbott but, rather, from its commitment to a carbon tax leading to an emissions trading scheme.

Kevin Rudd's problems began when Abbott replaced Malcolm Turnbull and campaigned against the ETS. This was made clear when Herald journalist Lenore Taylor broke the story in late April 2010 that Labor had temporarily junked its ETS policy. She attributed this decision to "a bid to defuse Tony Abbott's 'great big new tax' attack".

On his blog on The Monthly's website, Robert Manne calls for Rudd to replace Gillard. He writes that "for its first nine months the Gillard government polled respectably" but Gillard's support began to fade in April last year.

True. What's missing is any mention of the fact the Gillard government's support began to fall once the Prime Minister announced, in late February last year, in the presence of the Greens, that Labor would introduce a carbon tax. The combination of a "great big new tax" and a broken election promise has made life difficult for Labor ever since.

The evidence suggests many Labor operatives are in denial about the impact of Rudd's and Gillard's climate change policies on the ALP. On Q&A last March, Lachlan Harris described the carbon tax as "the best decision Julia Gillard has made". The opinion polls, for the moment at least, indicate that Harris is deluded.

It appears that Australians are more concerned with the cost of electricity than with the anti-Catholic sectarianism which fires up much of the inner-city criticism of Abbott, or with the stance the Opposition Leader takes on such issues as Aboriginal advancement, asylum seekers and same-sex marriage.

The next federal election will not be decided on anyone's position on the tent embassy. It is only delusion, fired by obsession, which would lead to any other conclusion.

Or, in Greg Turnbull's terminology, the belief of a knucklehead.


Some disturbing negative externalities

Negative externalities are when private activities hurt other people. Many economists believe that they should be taxed or penalized

ON JANUARY 21, 1930, in the middle of the world's busiest city, excavation for New York's Empire State Building began. Fourteen months later, on May 1, 1931, the building was officially opened.

At 102 storeys it was for years the world's tallest building. About 21,000 people work there every day. It has a total floor area of 257,211 sq m. It cost, in today's dollars, about $500 million or $1944 per square metre.

In my quiet suburban street there is a house being built that has been under construction since the beginning of October 2009. For 28 months, six days a week, teams of carpenters, concretors and sundry tradesmen have been building a two-storey, detached house. With a floor area of about 200 sq m, it is not a mega-mansion. However, more than $5 million has already been spent on the construction and its completion is still a long way off.

When the house is finally finished, each square metre of floor area will have cost about $27,500 and each day of its construction will have produced a mere 0.9 sq m of floor space.

The house replaced a perfectly adequate brick bungalow, which was demolished and carted away. Then, before construction could even start in earnest, hundreds of cubic metres of sandstone bedrock were jack-hammered out of the site to join the remains of the old house at the tip.

The house's fashionable designer has called up only the best and most expensive materials and fittings and added to its complexity and expense with demanding and esoteric architectural details. Consequently the environmental footprint of the house is massive. Its profligacy is clearly indicated in its square metre cost.

As well, the impact of the protracted construction on the immediate neighbourhood has been much greater than that of a more moderate development. For almost 2½ years, our narrow street has been crowded with tradies' utes. Large mobile-cranes, skip-trucks, concrete mixers, earth-moving trucks and excavators regularly visit the building site and stay for hours. Street closures are common and there have been a number of accidents. Parking is a nightmare and walking can be dangerous.

All this aggravation and environmental degradation has been caused by one person with more money than sense and a designer who has no regard for the environment. What can be done to curb these antisocial endeavours?

How about a profligacy tax on buildings that exceed a certain cost? And why not include a completion date in the development approval and penalise the building owner for every day the work goes over that date?



Paul said...

I'm starting to think the Canberra riot will be seen as a watershed moment in Australian political history. It certainly demonstrates how dirty political tricks can have unintended consequences, and how blow-back remains a bitch. The biggest question I have is whether a case can be made for there being a dumb leftard political conspiracy that even extends to journalists working for the ABC as the whole thing seems to have turned on a question about the Tent Embassy, irrelevant in context of the event at which it was asked, put to Tony Abbott by an ABC journo. If it was a conspiracy it was pretty stupid, in fact stupidity all round seems the order of the day. Even the smarter Aboriginals (all three of them) at the Tent Embassy have woken up to the fact that they were cynically manipulated. That the Feds don't intend to take this seriously is to be expected from those corrupt bastards. I would however pay lots of money to see Kim Sattler being bundled into the back of a Police truck in handcuffs. I'll be watching this story with greater than usual interest.

Paul said...

I'm also prepared to tip that if the Australia Day riot isn't down the memory hole within 72 hours Gillard's office will relaunch the Gay Marriage issue.

Anonymous said...

No, Councils should charge for the use of the common street. i.e $20,000 a day, + $100,000 a month over the first month.