Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tony Abbott trying to save Australia, nation trying to destroy him

FOR crying out loud, can we give this bloke a break? As an Australian, I am sickened by how over the past two weeks the media, the Liberal Party and any number of “commentators” have piled in on top of the Prime Minister like a bunch of drunken schoolies on a wild rampage through Surfers Paradise.

You can imagine the scene. A dude in red speedos moves into a new apartment on the Gold Coast, only to find that the mob of vandals who were in charge of the joint before him have completely trashed it.

A bloke called Kevin deliberately smashed the apartment block’s security system so that anybody could wander into the apartment from wherever they felt like whenever they wanted.

His bogan mate Wayno who liked to sit around all day playing Bruce Springsteen records then ran up billions of dollars in debt – and even though he kept promising to pay it all back, by the time they got chucked out of the block there was a backlog of bills crammed under the doorway that add up to around a hundred million dollars a day.

So Tony and Joe have now moved in and are determined to try to clean up the mess.

What happens? Rather than helping fix it up, the same mob who were responsible for the destruction stand around jeering from the sidelines, refusing to help.

Then a blustering buffoon called Clive wanders past and although he could easily help, he does the complete opposite – stands in the way to stop anything getting done.

Finally, a crowd of journos gathers round. They laugh, they snigger, they boo at every effort Tony and Joe make to try to sort it all out.

Then the mob move in for the kill, sticking the boot in one after the other, loving every minute of it, determined to make sure that whatever happens Tony and his mate will fail.

OK, it’s not a perfect analogy, but it gets the point across. Certainly Tony Abbott as Prime Minister has made some real clangers, not least of which was the oddball (but totally harmless) decision on Prince Philip’s knighthood. There have been some awkward backflips, too – although again, essentially harmless – on cuts to the ABC and so on.

And yes, there will need to be measures to increase government revenue as well as cut spending. But the bottom line remains inescapable: Government expenditure must be reduced dramatically in order to remain affordable into the future, and the three main areas are welfare, education and health. If we continue spending the same vast sums on those three areas that we have become accustomed to, and keep promising ourselves more and more of, we are robbing the next generation of the standard of living that we
now enjoy.

In fact, all of us today are actually Time Bandits – every single day we are reaching into the future and stealing the lifestyle, jobs, businesses, health, education and opportunities that should belong to our kids and grandkids. And we are actively sabotaging the only bloke in town who is not only trying to come to grips with it, but even admits there is a problem.

Australians pride themselves on giving each other a fair go but there is nothing “fair” in the current media treatment of the Prime Minister.

One respected commentator last week based his widely read column predicting the imminent demise of Abbott on – wait for it – two other columnists in the same newspaper predicting the end of Abbott based on – wait for it – gossip and backroom tattle from a couple of anonymous sources. Hello? Sniffing blood in the water, “experts” from all sides are desperate to predict the end of Abbott in what may well become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Much of the backbench “revolt” was fuelled by individuals panicking not at actual decisions, but at the fact that so-called conservatives were now actively joining in with the ABC/Fairfax lynch mob.

Abbott and Hockey’s survival now depends on two things – both of which appear mutually incompatible.

A sound budget strategy and an uplift in the opinion polls. Almost certainly, as things stand in the current Australian mindset, success in either one of them will only come at the expense of the other.

A responsible, intelligent, carefully constructed reduction in excessive expenditure (yes, that means cuts) in the current frenzied climate will be howled down as “unfair”, “excessive” etc etc.

And the polls will plummet; and with them the best hope we have of avoiding heading down the euro-route to ever higher youth unemployment will disappear for many years (By which time the problem will be a whole lot worse).

The sad irony is that it’s not just Tony Abbott we are desperately trying to consign to oblivion. It is ourselves


Abbott streets ahead on good policy

By Terry McCrann, financial commentator

TONY Abbott has been a very good Prime Minister, leading a competent and indeed effective Government, where it really counts — delivering good policy and good outcomes in the best interests of Australia overall and of individual Australians.

He has been an ordinary and indeed arguably very poor PM in areas where it doesn’t really count, either for the nation or for individuals — the peripheral policy areas and in the winning of popularity contests.

Now obviously, the second of those really does count for the PM, any PM, personally. If you don’t win the key “popularity contest”, the next election, you will cease to be PM. The same goes, as some other recent examples have demonstrated, also for less-exalted premiers.

And as we’ve seen with both Abbott and his two predecessors, you can no longer get away with dismissing “lost” popularity contests — those awful opinion polls and in particular our stablemate The Australian’s Newspoll — with the claim that the only opinion poll that matters is the one on (hopefully, distant) election day.

No, in our hyperventilating 24/7 accelerated social-media world, all the other polls matter very much and brutally for even an incumbent PM who had won a very recent “big one”.

As our old friend Will could better have written for the 21st century: uneasy lies the unpopular head that wears a crown.

It is important to keep stating, because the ABC and the Fairfax media won’t, that PM Abbott, his ministers and his Government, have delivered — fully delivered — on two of the three big and critically important policies taken to the voters at the last election.

They were the promise to abolish Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; thank you PM and environment minister Greg Hunt. And the promise to stop Gillard’s and Kevin Rudd’s boats; thank you Scott Morrison.

There are two very important points to be made about those successes.

The first and obvious one is of a PM and a government delivering on election promises; and not just any old election promises, but absolutely core promises.

Secondly, perhaps less obviously, but far more importantly, they were promises of good policy. The boats went to absolutely core issues of our national sovereignty.

The carbon tax was the single most destructive policy ever visited on our economy.

It is mind-boggling that not just a government, but a supposedly competent Treasury were both so completely unable to understand this.

The PM, Treasurer Joe Hockey and the Government have failed on the third big promise — fixing the Budget.

Hockey was predictably verballed by the Fairfax press last week; he did not tell the party room that we might never get back to surplus, but rather that would be the outcome if steps were not taken to cut the deficit.

That’s the first of a number of important points to be made about this promise. Critically, that government hasn’t “chosen” to not deliver it. It tried to bring the Budget back to surplus — in the process, arguably breaking other, much lesser election promises, but was prevented from delivering by the Senate.

Let me try to explain the difference between a “deliberately broken promise” and an “imposed broken promise” to the logic-challenged journalists at the ABC and Fairfax, by way of Gillard’s infamous “there will be no carbon tax….”

She specifically legislated for the tax. She deliberately broke her promise.

Imagine if instead the three Independents back then in the Lower House had joined with the Coalition Opposition to legislate a carbon tax against the explicit oppositionof the then Gillard government trying to keep its no-tax promise, and this was passed by a Coalition-Green majority in the Senate. That would have been an “imposed broken promise” on Gillard.

The “fixing the Budget” promise was always the least important of the three. It was also debatable in a way the other two weren’t.

How quickly do you seek to cut the deficits? Where do you cut? Revenue or spending? And which revenue and which spending? Do you break specific no-cut promises to deliver on the bigger, overriding promise?

As they say, no other lesser promises had to be or were broken in delivering on the boats and the carbon tax promises; that was never going to be possible with the Budget to fix. On a broader policy level, arguably aggressive fiscal action should have been postponed anyway until the economy was stronger.

Beyond the big three, the Government has been extraordinarily effective across a whole range of policy fronts; in terms of delivering substantive and good outcomes both for the nation and for individual Australians.

Abbott and his trade minister, Andrew Robb, sealed big trade agreements with our three biggest trade partners — China, Japan and South Korea.

It was seriously impressive to see Chinese President Xi Jinping standing patiently in our Parliament House for some hours through signing ceremony after signing ceremony.

Abbott and indeed Hockey had a triumphant G20 (as these things go), despite the sneaky — and failed — attempt by President Obama to impose a “climate agenda” for narrow domestic US party political purposes.

The failures of Abbott, his ministers and his Government, such as they have been, have been broken — more accurately, attempted broken — peripheral promises and gaffes; some real but mostly imagined or created by Fairfax and the ABC, and including such absolutely incidental matters like Prince Philip’s knighthood.

The furore over Abbott’s holocaust reference best captures all this: the deliberately dishonest frenzy that erupted which was at core just plain stupid and showed such a stunning lack of self-awareness on the part of Fairfax and ABC journalists and political opponents.

Abbott did NOT compare job losses to THE Holocaust as Fairfax falsely claimed. Green Senator Scott Ludlum seethed over Abbott’s use of the word which he, Ludlum, had used himself in a very similar context!

Bottom line: by any objective — that is to say non-Fairfax, non-ABC — assessment, this Abbott Government has delivered on its biggest promises. It has also provided effective and competent government.

It and the PM in particular have lost the popularity contest and the “support” of the Fairfax press and the ABC and their leading commentators (sic).

The first is of little real import to ordinary Australians — remember, Kevin Rudd was as great a winner of such popularity contests as he was delivering devastatingly bad governance.

The second is a badge of honour.


Human Rights Commission inquiry’s bias fails detainees

The disgusting old Leftist herself

GILLIAN Triggs says it’s “distressing” that Australia has some children of boat people in detention.  But what should really distress her is that she has just betrayed them.

The best she could now do for them is resign as president of the taxpayer-funded Australian Human Rights Commission and hand over to someone not so obviously an activist.

Thanks to Triggs, the commission’s report she hoped would force the Federal Government to instantly release all children has become impossible to trust.  Any good in it has been destroyed by justified suspicions that it is politically motivated, unfair, inaccurate and one-eyed.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week said Triggs’ commission “should be ashamed of itself”, and no wonder.

The commission last held an inquiry into children in detention in 2004, when — surprise — the Howard government was successfully stopping the boats.  But there was no inquiry when Labor’s Rudd and Gillard governments ruled. There was no inquiry when Labor then destroyed our border defences, lured more than 50,000 boat people and filled detention centres to bursting.

A record 2000 children were in detention under Labor, and scores more drowned. But no inquiry.

True, Triggs says she had “serious concerns” about the children by August of 2012, the year Labor made her the commission’s president.

Indeed, by February 2013 she’d decided to hold her inquiry, yet she waited another year before announcing it. To be specific, she waited until the Abbott Government was voted in.

Triggs said she’d waited because it would have been “very dangerous politically” to have held her inquiry during the 2013 election campaign.

But you can imagine why Abbott suspected from the start Triggs was playing politics.  After all, she didn’t call her inquiry until he’d actually stopped the boats, stopped the drownings and started to empty the detention centres Labor had filled.

Indeed, there are today fewer than 200 detained children, compared to Labor’s 2000.

But only now does the Government realise how much of a setup this inquiry really was.  A real inquiry does not operate like a kangaroo court, deciding its preferred conclusions before it hears a word of evidence.

But the commission in 2013 had a draft plan that assumed “Australia’s immigration system fails to comply with Australia’s obligations”, and which discussed producing a report that by “focusing on children allows the best opportunity to engage the general public” and force “legal changes to the system of mandatory and indefin­ite detention”.

A real inquiry does not have the chairman make false and emotive statements during her inquiry, particularly ones that suggest bias.

But Triggs claimed she’d discovered “almost all the children at Christmas Island were coughing, were sick” and “not being treated”.

In fact, her report last week cited official medical records stating children in detention actually had “a lower rate of respiratory illness ... compared to those in the Australian community” and all “are up to date with their checks and vaccinations”.

A real inquiry does not have its chairman tell the accused they are guilty before they’ve defended themselves.

But when Immigration Minister Scott Morrison fronted Triggs’ inquiry last year, she protested: “How can you justify detaining children in these conditions for more than a year when there is no evidence that this is the policy that is stopping the boats?”

A real inquiry does not have its chairman then verbal the witness to make it seem he agrees with her.

But Triggs’ report last week claims Morrison “agreed on oath ... that holding children in detention does not deter either asylum seekers or people smugglers”.

In fact, Morrison had said the “policy of offshore processing combined with all the others I have mentioned has produced the results collectively” of stopping the boats, and without them “the children get back on the boats, they die again”.

Of course, the commission has been up to this kind of stuff for years.  In 1997 it produced its infamous Bringing Them Home report into the “stolen generations” — the 100,000 children, it claimed, who had been stolen from their parents only because they were Aboriginal.

In fact, no one has been able to identify even 10 such children, and the top “stolen generations” ideologue, Professor Robert Manne, admitted the report “greatly exaggerated the numbers of children involved’’ and its victims’ anecdotes were “unreliable’’.

Enough. We don’t pay the commission $25 million a year to trick us and tell tall tales, even in a supposedly good cause. That eventually shatters trust.

And while Triggs is in charge, the commission will be regarded by many Australians with the deepest scepticism.


Climate of cherry-picking

I pointed out yesterday a fatal flaw in the latest Warmist nonsense from Australia but Garth Paltridge (below) has found some glaring faults too.  He is  a former CSIRO chief research scientist and director of the Antarctic ­ Co-operative Research Centre

THE Australian Academy of Science has released a new document, The Science of Climate Change, aimed at the man and woman in the street. It was prepared on behalf of the academy by leading lights of the global warming establishment. Some day the academy may come to regret the arrangement.

The problem is that, after several decades of refining their story, the international gurus of climate change have become very good at having their cake and eating it too. On the one hand they pay enough lip service to the uncertainties of global warming to justify continued funding for their research. On the other, they peddle a belief — this with religious zeal, and a sort of subconscious blindness to overstatement and the cherry-picking of data — that the science is settled and the world is well on its way to climatic disaster. The academy document fits neatly into the pattern. It is a sophisticated production that tells only one side of the story.

For instance, it does not say, or illustrate with a diagram, that all the mainstream climate models have overestimated the general upward trend of global temperature for the past 30 or more years by a factor (on average) of at least two. Nothing is said about the distinct possibility that the models include feedback processes that amplify far too much the effect of increased atmospheric carbon ­dioxide.

Instead, the document talks about an apparent pause in global warming since 2001. It attributes the pause to some temporary fluctuation in the internal behaviour of the ocean. It does not mention that for many years climate scientists have deliberately played down the contribution of natural oceanic fluctuations to the rise or fall of global temperature. The possibility of naturally induced rises seriously weakens the overall story of human influence.

The document makes much of the belief that climate models can correctly replicate 20th-century global warming only if they include human influences. It fails to make the point that this says very little for the skill of the models or the modellers.

Recent research on the Roman and ­medieval warm periods indicates that both had temperatures and temperature changes very similar to those of the present. Both periods came and went without the benefit of significant human ­emissions of carbon dioxide. The document mentions that ­long-term regional rainfall predictions are uncertain. It doesn’t say that they are probably nonsense. The various model forecasts of the average Australian rainfall for the end of the century range from a doubling to a halving of the ­present 450mm a year. It smacks of cherry-picking to display a map of the output from one particular model that indicates a future ­reduction in rainfall for most of Australia of the order of 20 per cent.

There has been a goodly amount of arbitrary selection (of data, statistical technique and display) in an illustration of the distribution of the change in observed rainfall over Australia in the past 100 years. The southeast and southwest of the continent are shown as a sea of red, suggesting there has been a frightening decrease across the period. No mention is made that a more traditional presentation of the data gives an entirely different picture.

In the southwest, the recent annual average rainfall has simply returned to something close to its value for the 15 or so years before about 1905. In most of the southeast, there has been no statistically significant change at any time.

And so on it goes. Basically the academy has fallen into the trap of being no more than a conduit for a massive international political campaign seeking to persuade a sceptical public of the need for drastic action on climate change. There are more than enough org­anisations already doing that.

Perhaps instead the academy could be persuaded to spend its considerable intellectual capital on problems relevant to the ­general conduct of research — ­problems that the climate issue has brought well into the open. Among them are a peer-review system that is arguably corrupted by groupthink; a deliberate banishment of contrary opinion to the internet; and a publish-or-perish syndrome that is ­completely out of hand.

Maybe the academy could use the resource of its overall fellowship to identify those situations where scientists have too much skin in a political game. US President Dwight Eisenhower foresaw that problem many years ago in his retirement speech to the nation: “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded. Yet … we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could ­itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”


No comments: