Thursday, January 27, 2022

Why young women aren’t smiling for you any more

Yasmin Poole, below, is a rather furious feminist who falls into the common error of thinking that her coven of loud feminists speak for all women. I wonder how she squares that with the fact that a majority of white women voted for Donald Trump in 2016?

And as for women smiling at me, I am at the moment fielding a marriage proposal from a youthful lady with whom I have a lot in common. And I am 78, not a highly marriagable age.

So all women are NOT as Jasmin fancies them. Men should ignore her. There are plenty of women with old fashioned values about. And the challenge from young Chinese ladies is formidable. My son once had a Chinese lady in his orbit who told him "Let me be your girfriend and I will do anything for you". He married a blue-eyed girl, as it happens, but it was a pretty good offer. Unless you are as good-looking as Grace Tame, feminist females should be aware of that competition

The immediate backlash from conservative men in power in response to Grace Tame’s photos with the Prime Minister has exposed how they are the gatekeepers of Parliament’s sexist culture.

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Grace Tame’s unforgiving expression next to the Prime Minister became iconic the moment the image was shared.

It also drew swift criticism that can be put straight in the sexist folder. Queensland Liberal Senator James McGrath wrote a Facebook post that criticised Tame as “childish” – an infantilising, belittling word for a courageous Australian of the Year.

Journalist Peter van Onselen offered in his opinion piece for The Australian the tone-deaf, yet telling advice, “If your disdain for [Scott Morrison] is so great ... then just don’t go.”

It’s the same argument from a worn-out misogynists’ playbook. If women’s “disdain” for the political boys club is so great, why should they run for politics? If women “disdain” the system that entrenches our disadvantage, why should we sit at the table and challenge it?

Their criticisms carry a thinly veiled message: women who refuse to obey do not belong in spaces where decisions are made.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australian of the Year Grace Tame have greeted this year’s nominees for a morning tea at The Lodge in Canberra ahead of Australia Day.

This argument has benefited men in power for generations upon generations. Women are expected to nod, smile, be silent and complicit. Women are expected to shoulder the burden of masking our emotions for the comfort of the other.

No one should be expected to smile at a Prime Minister – a servant of the people – who has fallen at every hurdle when it comes to supporting women’s rights. Especially Tame, a survivor of sexual abuse.

It’s not just a few cockroaches in the backyard. It’s a blatant indicator that the whole house is rotten. The critics who have come out publicly swinging against Tame reveal a deeper and more sinister culture of misogyny within Parliament House.

If these individuals have the audacity to publicly smear a woman for refusing to smile, imagine what it is like for a woman intending to speak her mind in the party room?

No need to imagine. The stories from Parliament paint a horrific picture. Former Liberal MP Julia Banks’ experience of sexual harassment and bullying reveals the ongoing culture of silencing women who dare to say “no”. Brittany Higgins’ alleged rape in Parliament House exposed politician after politician who could have done something but turned away.

Tame’s appearance with the Prime Minister ought to remind us that formalities are no longer the concern of women.

We abandoned formalities during the March4Justice last year too. Together, women across generations screamed for justice at Parliament House until our lungs hurt. In Melbourne’s protest, girls as young as 12 took to the stage in their school uniforms sharing their experiences of sexual assault. We did not nod and politely smile. We listened and we cried.

Yet, like clockwork, the predictable male critics across politics and journalism came out of the woodwork. Men in Parliament can always look to these voices whenever they need a reassuring pat on the back, turning their heads from the hundreds of thousands of women who demanded action.

The vocal boys’ club are mercenaries of the sexist culture that harms our democracy and threatens women’s very lives.

There is hope that the misogynistic cycle can be broken. As a young woman, I see how my generation is willing to resist formalities to speak truth to power. Now, more than ever, we need young women in Parliament to give a voice to our experiences in a way that other generations could not capture.

Young women will also remember. We will remember the inaction of the Prime Minister when he could have acted for us but didn’t. We will remember the gatekeepers who have used their influence to protect their power and undermine women who come forward.

Our demands to address sexual assault is clear. The onus is on decision-makers to listen.

The burden weighs heavy on our shoulders. We need you to make gender equality a defining issue for this federal election in the name of safety and respect. We need you to remember the politicians who tried to undermine and throw stones when we said that our lives matter too.

It is time that we dismantle the vicious boys’ club in Parliament. Because, as Tame demonstrates, respect is earned.


Demand for special rights based on race is offensive

The activist campaign to make Indigenous issues the focus of Australia Day, rather than issues affecting us all, has been largely successful. While middle Australia will agree that Indigenous issues are important and must be addressed, nonetheless many might question why almost nothing else gets discussed on Australia Day. Can we please have some balance here?

Similarly with the call for a constitutionally entrenched Indigenous voice to parliament. It would be great to skip the ugly and divisive campaign for an all-or-nothing, extremist voice model and go straight to a discussion of a sensible mid-course that has the best prospect of winning acceptance. There is hope on the horizon. After a long, dishonest and manipulative debate, the critical question for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians finally hove into view just before Christmas. It turned out to be a surprisingly simple and blunt question. It is also now the only outstanding issue between constitutional recognition of our Indigenous people and failure of the whole project. It will get more airplay in 2022 and, for some, will become an election issue.

The question is this: does parliament remain sovereign in Australia, or will there be a co-equal voice that is immune from abolition by parliament? In other words, if the voice becomes corrupt or ineffective like its predecessor, ATSIC, or if it is simply no longer necessary or appropriate, can parliament get rid of it? Not just modify, improve or suspend – but to abolish it and possibly without replacing the voice?

This question emerged from the Indigenous Voice Co-Design final report released by the Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt, on behalf of the Morrison government on December 17. The final report recommended, and the government seems to have accepted, a framework for 35 local and regional voices, which, although still in need of considerable work, is heading in the right direction.

Those local and regional voices would, according to the final report, be integrated with and feed into the national voice, which would have the role of advising both the federal government and parliament on Indigenous issues.

Again, there is much detail to be settled on key elements such as the consultation standards that would govern when and to what extent the parliament and/or government would consult the national voice. However, the early signs about the national voice are, save for the elephant in the room described earlier, promisingly moderate and sensible. For example, there seems to be an acceptance that consultation standards would be “non-justiciable”, meaning activists could not drown the courts with complaints about issues around consultation.

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The voice has been plagued with self-serving, even bogus, assertions about what Australians do and don’t want. The activists have stubbornly ignored, or sneered at, those Australians who favour a voice, or similar recognition mechanism, for Indigenous Australians created and supervised by, and subject to, the same sovereign body governing us all, namely federal parliament.

Australians might even happily live with the insertion of a facilitative power in the Constitution that authorises the parliament to legislate for the voice and enables it to amend or abolish the voice, with or without a replacement. That seems an elegant compromise. It gives the voice constitutional recognition while not compromising parliamentary sovereignty or establishing a two-tier society divided on racial lines. Sadly, however, the simplicity illustrates the likely battle lines. Many activists want special race-based rights entrenched in the Constitution and protected from abolition by parliament. They remember ATSIC, the Indigenous body abolished with bipartisan support by parliament in 2004 because it was besieged by claims of mal-administration and corruption.

That this is the last remaining battlefield is explicitly recognised by the final report. In the foreword to the final report, its authors, professors Marcia Langton and Tom Calma, say “while consideration of legal form was outside our co-design responsibility, we were not surprised by the growing support for constitutional enshrinement (of an Indigenous voice in the Australian Constitution) … (for) many practical and principled reasons … including that it would be the best way to protect an Indigenous voice against abolition”.

We should be grateful we have clarity, at long last, about this question. While Australians of goodwill might eagerly support recognition and respect for Indigenous Australians, the demand for special rights based on race and a special exemption from parliamentary sovereignty is spectacular overreach and, frankly, a massive own goal. Asking for special rights in special cases might be something Australians can live with for limited periods and purposes, and subject to the overriding constraints of the three-yearly visit to the ballot box that governs us all. But the demand that special rights be made permanent, especially ones based on race, is something many Australians will surely find offensive.

Perhaps most worrying is that the history of the voice debate gives no reason to be confident activists will not try to push this through with a campaign of trickery and deception. This debate has been marked by attempts to confect a consensus based on ignorance. For example, 18 months ago a number of large Australian corporates and professional services firms endorsed an advertising campaign demanding a constitutionally entrenched voice even before any design work had been done. Are they idiots or tricksters?

That our great enterprises have been reduced by their marketing and ESG departments to such infantile emoting as promoting a change to the Constitution without knowing the change proposed was bad enough. Worse was to come when activists and their supporters used this sort of feeble-minded, Pollyanna-behaviour as evidence of overwhelming consensus. If BHP, Commonwealth Bank and their corporate peers want it, everybody must. What utter nonsense.

This kind of campaign is likely to backfire, just as a similarly crafted campaign in favour of the republic did. Australians are astute when it comes to constitutional change. Chances of permanently entrenching in the Constitution a divisive, race-based set of special rights for some Australians only, which overrides parliamentary sovereignty, must be vanishingly small.

There is a good compromise here. Insert a provision in the Constitution that enables parliament to legislate for a voice, and to amend or even abolish it, with or without a replacement.

This recognises the need for a voice but does not overturn parliamentary sovereignty. It really is that simple.


Australia's wind leader is actually running on gas and coal

Approaching breakfast-time SA is importing half of its power from Victoria and 94% of the local generation is gas. The turbines are running at 2% of capacity and providing 5% of demand.

Victoria is generating a small excess of power but not enough to prop up SA without help from Tasmania and NSW. The Victorian windmills are running at 12%, just above wind drought level, and providing 8% of local generation, with coal delivering three quarters of the supply and gas 5%.

Across the NEM the wind is delivering 3.7% of consumption, running at 8% capacity and the fossils are giving 83% (coal 75%).

RE enthusiasts need to realise that SA is the leader in demonstrating that we will never run on wind and solar power until the storage issue is resolved and that is nowhere in sight, certainly not in the next decade or three.

The International Energy Agency (a green organization) is projecting record coal consumption this year with coal consumption holding up past 2040. The fossil fuel contribution to worldwide energy use has declined all of 2% from about 87% to 85% over recent years despite the tens of billions that have been spent to make power more expensive and less reliable


Truth is we were lucky it was the British

The proposal that January 26 should be a day of truth telling should not be dismissed lightly, especially by conservatives.

As Martin Luther King said, nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. It is hard to have serious discussion about the meaning of European settlement unless we first can agree on the facts. Yet fewer than four out of 10 Australians know which event they are supposed to be celebrating or mourning on Wednesday, according to a survey last week by Compass Polling.

Twenty-six per cent believe it to be the anniversary of the establishment of Federation, while 20 per cent think it marks the discovery of Australia by James Cook. Only 39 per cent correctly identified Australia Day as the date of the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788.

Popular understanding of Australian history has not been assisted by our incurious professional historians who have been slow to establish the basic facts of settlement. Worse still is the conscious invention of false history, notably in recent times by Bruce Pascoe, whose attempt to portray pre-settlement Australia as a land of sophisticated farming and established towns is pure whimsy.

It is enough that Indigenous hunter-gatherers were able to survive and thrive on this unforgiving continent, largely isolated from the outside world. Pascoe’s denialism dishonours a people and their culture.

A new account of the founding of modern Australia by Margaret Cameron-Ash exposes how much of our understanding of the events of 1788 have been clouded by prejudice and how much we have still to discover. Tellingly, Cameron-Ash trained as a lawyer rather than a historian.

Her book Beating France to Botany Bay: The Race to Found Australia debunks the myth that Australia was purely a dumping ground for Britain’s criminal class, the explanation for settlement that was considered unquestionably true by Manning Clark, one of Australia’s most influ­ential historians. In his four-volume A History of Australia, Clark makes no mention of French voyager Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de Laperouse, whose expedition to the Pacific stirred the British into action. He makes no mention of the 1799 Bunbury inquiry commissioned by the British government that ruled out sending convicts to Botany Bay because of the expense. Britain at that time was in the middle of a rare but refreshing period of fiscal consolidation in the aftermath of an expensive war with France.

Yet, as Cameron-Ash documents, intelligence that Laperouse was on course for Australia with two vessels laden with trees, plants and seeds, manufactured goods, tools and unwrought iron convinced prime minister William Pitt the Younger that French settlement was imminent. The intelligence was the catalyst for a snap decision at a cabinet meeting on August 17, 1786, to commission a fleet carrying convict settlers under the com­mand of Captain Arthur Phillip.

The closeness of the finish to the race 17 months later, in which the 11 vessels in the First Fleet anchored in Botany Bay five days before the arrival of Laperouse, is a story that has been little explored. It has the makings of an epic movie in the tradition of Peter Weir’s Master and Commander were any film company prepared to challenge the zeitgeist and take on such a project.

Cameron-Ash sticks to telling the story rather than lecturing readers on the morality of arriving uninvited to settle in land occup­ied by an indigenous popu­la­tion. Nonetheless, by placing the settlement of Australia in the context of strategic rivalry between European powers, she points to the inevitability of settlement by one or more European powers in the globalised world of the late 18th century.

The Pacific was becoming strategically important, largely because of the fur trade and the settlement of the American west coast. The romantic notion that the Indigenous population could live undisturbed on the great southern con­tinent hermetically sealed from modernity is patently absurd.

It is unfashionable these days to speak of Australia’s good fortune in being settled by the British in the period of the Enlightenment. Yet, with the benefit of hindsight, settlement by the French, a year before the outbreak of the French Revolution would have been a fate far worse.

It was a colony founded on high ideals of the power of scientific discovery and respect for the equal worth of every human being. Those who influenced the nature of Australian settlement, people such as Joseph Banks, Pitt and the wrongly maligned King George III, were insistent that there should be no slavery. Phillip’s instructions, and indeed his instincts, were to treat the Indigenous population with respect and seek peaceful coexistence.

Crucially, NSW would be in the hands of a civil administration rather than under military command, ensuring that the law would be applied equally in principle. The greatest failing of Australia’s founders was naivety, their failure to foresee the size of the challenge in reconciling people from such different cultures.

Andrew Roberts’s definitive new biography of George III cites the king’s instructions to Phillip on the eve of the First Fleet’s departure from Britain in April 1787. He was told to establish good relations with the Eora tribe and to “endeavour by every means possible to open an intercourse with the natives and to con­ciliate their affections” and was directed to punish anyone who sought to “wantonly destroy them”.

George’s liberal values were clearly established. His desire to make peace with Native American tribes and to prevent the spread of colonial settlement beyond the Atlantic coastal fringe had put him at odds with George Washington and the American colonial government. Together with the issue of taxation, his instincts towards Native Americans helped to precipitate the American War of Independence.

Calibrating modern Australia’s foundational story with these facts is not to downplay the ugliness of the conflict between settlers and Aboriginal Australians or to underestimate the moral complexity of European settlement. It does, however, allow us to avoid the divisive reasoning of racial essentialism, weaponised by the Black Lives Matter movement aided and abetted by critical race theory. History as a pursuit of truth is our only hope of establishing a foundational story that unites every Australian.


An Australian perspective on sea levels

Jennifer Marohasy

Australia is a good place to study sea level change. Unlike Britain, Australia wasn’t covered in an ice sheet during the last ice age. Ice sheets complicate things because when all the ice melts – as Scotland’s ice sheet did a little over 9,000 years ago – part of the landmass may gradually rebound dragging its bottom half under. So, the north of the British Isles is rising, while the south has been sinking up to 0.6mm per year for the last 1,000 years – about 60 centimetres in total since the time of William the Conqueror. The sinking of this landmass is sometimes confused with rising sea levels, and it is claimed that this is occurring due to rising carbon dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution.

Where I live, about halfway down the east coast of Australia, sea levels began to rise about 16,000 years ago with the melting of Antarctica. By 9,000 years ago, sea levels around the world had risen by 12,000 centimetres, or 120 metres, the equivalent of a 25-storey building! The extent of this rise dwarfs the 36-centimetre rise that occurred over the last 150 years and the subsidence in places like Lincolnshire which adds up to just a few centimetres over the same period, both of which are worrying the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Indeed, it is uncontroversial, at least in peer-reviewed journals, that global sea level rise at the end of the last ice age occurred at a rate 10 times faster than the modern rate of about 3mm per year – which is about how much Scotland is rising due to isostatic rebound.

After being buried under several kilometres of ice, much of Europe and North America is experiencing uplift. For example, the ice retreated from Sweden 9,900 to 10,300 years ago and large-scale uplift is still occurring to the extent that the tidal gauge in Stockholm shows sea levels have fallen by about 50 cm over the last 129 years — an average annual rate of fall of 3.9mm per year. The uplift at Juneau, in Alaska, is even more extreme: in just 80 years sea levels have fallen by 120cm at a steady rate of minus 15mm per year. This reality jars with the notion of catastrophic sea level rise, so the IPCC ‘detrends’ the measurements from these tidal gauges, until they show sea level rise.

These numbers don’t make easy reading and may seem extraordinary, but sea levels really did rise globally by 120 metres at the end of the last ice age. Yet this inconvenient fact tends to be excluded from political summaries on climate change that rely on remodelled data.

According to the latest IPCC report on climate change – Assessment Report 6, published just before the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow late last year – global temperatures are the warmest they have been for at least the last 125,000 years. There is no mention that in between it got quite cold, and Scotland (where that meeting was held) was covered in a lot of ice.

Given the landmass of Australia has not sunk or risen much over this time period, if the IPCC report is correct the waves should cover my favourite 125,000-year-old platform each high tide and I should be washed away.

The highest tide for this year was forecast for Monday 3 January at 8.27am. A four-metre-high swell was also forecast because ex-tropical Seth was lingering just off-shore. That morning, I wondered: am I finally going to be washed away?

I scrambled down from the lookout and put my drone up. It captured footage of the huge swells, which did make it to the very bottom of the cliff face and washed over the very wide platform I usually stand on.

But I wasn’t washed away. I had positioned myself up a ledge. There are ledges at three different heights in Noosa National Park – and along the coastline all the way to Sydney. This is evidence etched in stone that there have been times in the past when sea levels were even higher than they are now. Why? Because the climate has always changed.




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