Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Ridd affair is a debacle for JCU -- and its council should look into it

Physicist Prof. Ridd blew the whistle on scientific fraud at JCU and the Warmist fraudsters hate him for it. He showed that their statements about the "endangered" Great Barrier Reef depended on very selective evidence.  They had no defence against his accusations so they played the man, not the ball.  The Federal court has just overturned their attempt to fire him. 

They were relying on the taxpayers' deep pockets to ensure that Ridd could not afford to challenge them in court.  But Ridd's treatment was so palpably wrong that many people rallied to his defence by contributing to his fighting fund

The unrepentant academics at JCU have said they will appeal the finding.  They may be encouraged by the fact that judge Vasta has been overturned a few times lately.  They should not get their hopes up. He has been overturned on appeal at least 15 times but he has heard more than 1000 cases.  That's not good odds for them

Thank God for the National Tertiary Education Union. Sacked professor Peter Ridd won his Federal Court action against James Cook University this month ­entirely because the university’s enterprise bargaining agreement, negotiated by the union, included a lengthy and carefully worded protection for intellectual freedom.

And that is the simple fact. Ridd’s win (he was found to have been wrongly dismissed) was a big victory for intellectual freedom in academia, and its legal foundation is in the commitment of the tertiary union to free speech.

Why is last week’s decision, from judge Salvatore Vasta, so important? It helps to look back at the history of this dispute.

First of all, Ridd is a respected scientist. He was head of physics at JCU from 2009 to 2016, and he managed the university’s marine geophysical laboratory for 15 years. He has expertise in studies of the Great Barrier Reef.

But he held concerns about the methodology used by some colleagues who said that coral bleaching on the reef was a recent phenomenon and linked to global warming.

Ridd also questioned the methodology behind findings that sediment in run-off was damaging the reef.

Ridd spoke to journalists and made public statements about these concerns. He questioned the judgments of colleagues and called on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as well as the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies to “check their facts before they spin their story”.

But the point about this is that Ridd was arguing about scientific judgments. His views may be right or wrong. But they are testable in the way all scientific assertions should be tested — by observation and experiment. Scientific controversies are a staple of the history of science and, eventually, truth outs.

But the university, offended by Ridd’s contrarian views and possibly fearing the impact it would have on its relations with other bodies such as the GBRMPA and the ARC Centre of Excellence, went after Ridd personally, saying that he had breached the university’s code of conduct by not upholding “the integrity and good reputation of the university”.

The university also trawled through Ridd’s work emails and came up with things that reflected on the organisation and some of Ridd’s colleagues.

There was this statement by Ridd: “ … our whole university system pretends to value free debate, but in fact it crushes it whenever the ‘wrong’ ideas are spoken. They are truly an Orwellian in nature.” And this, referring to some colleagues: “Needless to say I have certainly offended some sensitive but powerful and ruthless egos.”

Such statements, in the view of the university, were again not upholding the university’s good integrity and good reputation.

Sensibly, [judge] Vasta took the view that Ridd was just exercising his right, contained in the enterprise agreement, to “express opinions about the operations of JCU” and “express disagreement with university decisions and with the processes used to make those decisions”.

Naturally the university doesn’t agree. In a statement last week, issued after the decision, it stood by its view that Ridd “engaged in serious misconduct, including denigrating the university and its employees and breaching confidentiality directions regarding the disciplinary processes”.

“We are a university,” JCU also proclaimed in the statement. “Within our very DNA is the importance of promoting academic views and collegiate debate.”

With respect, it is exactly the lack of commitment to academic and collegiate debate that is the problem.

If the university had taken Ridd’s scientific objections to findings about damage to the Barrier Reef seriously, it’s very unlikely that this debacle — which is highly damaging to the university — would have occurred.

There is another point that needs to be made. The science at issue here is not about whether or not global warming is occurring, or whether or not such warming is caused by humans. What Ridd questioned is whether recent bleaching (which nobody disputes occurred) is itself evidence of warming. Ridd presented evidence — which should have been ­investigated, not summarily dismissed — that bleaching is a recurring phenomenon not specifically linked to warming.

In the court decision, Vasta offered his own defence of intellectual freedom and an implicit rebuke of JCU.

“It (intellectual freedom) allows a Charles Darwin to break free of the constraints of creationism. It allows an Albert Einstein to break free of the constraints of Newtonian physics. It allows the human race to question conventional wisdom in the never-ending search for knowledge and truth. And that, at its core, is what higher learning is about. To suggest otherwise is to ignore why universities were created and why critically focused academics remain central to all that university teaching claims to offer,” the judge said.

The Ridd affair should be of major concern to the JCU council — the university’s governing body — and its chancellor, former diplomat Bill Tweddell. If the council doesn’t look into why the university sacked a professor whose honestly held scientific views happened to be unpopular, then it’s failing in its duty.


Fraser Anning speaks following Sri Lankan bombings

What the senator says seems simply factual to me.  What has he said that is not true?  There are fashions about things that must not be said but that is all the more reason to say them, it seems to me

Senator Fraser Anning has claimed he was “right all along” in an  anti-Muslim Twitter rant following the Sri Lankan bombings.

The Sri Lankan Government has blamed the attacks on Islamic extremist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath.

Senator Anning wasted little time using the attacks to announce he was “right all along” about the connection between Islam and violence.

“I was right all along. Islamic populations do indeed create violence.”

The Queensland senator went on to call out New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who was pictured donning a hijab out of respect following the Christchurch mosque shootings last month.

“Where is all the condemnation around the world on extreme radical Islam,” Senator Anning wrote. “Our politicians are quiet. What about the New Zealand PM who is now wearing a hijab, embracing Islam and playing the Islamic call to prayer?”

 Where is the world coming together for Christianity after almost 300 are dead and churches bombed in Sri Lanka?

This is one of the largest Islamic terrorist attacks ever, and yet the mainstream media is far less outraged compared to during the Christchurch shootings.

The media were next in the firing line, with Senator Anning claiming mainstream news outlets have been giving less attention to the Sri Lankan bombings than they gave to the Christchurch massacre.

He then took a swipe at “egg boy”, also known as Will Connolly, who gained the nickname after cracking an egg on Senator Anning’s head in the wake of his controversial comments about Christchurch.

“Almost 300 dead due to Islamic terrorists in Sri Lanka. Where is egg boy now?” the tweet read.

 What I said and has been proven completely true is that Islamic populations when they increase in number will result in an increase in violence.

I also said during Christchurch, that whilst Muslims had been the victims, Muslims are usually the perpetrators in terrorist attacks.

The Islamophobic comments Senator Anning made following the Christchurch shootings were slammed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as “disgusting”.

But the widespread backlash didn’t deter the senator from last night reiterating and standing by what he said.

“I also said during Christchurch, that whilst Muslims had been the victims, Muslims are usually the perpetrators in terrorist attacks,” he tweeted.

Senator Anning finished off his rant by warning Australians there will be more terrorist attacks here if the government continued to allow Muslims to enter the country.

He even went as far as telling people they would “face death” if they didn’t heed his advice.

Senator Anning’s controversial posts have racked up thousands of comments, both from people condemning the senator’s actions and from people praising him.


Labor’s carbon knockout for top companies

Australia’s top companies — including food manufacturers, miners and retailers — will be hit with carbon bills ranging from several millions dollars to up to $1.6 billion each to meet Labor’s emissions-­reduction targets by 2030, according to a government analysis of the policy based on a future inter­national carbon price of $62 a tonne.

Resources giant Chevron is estimated to be facing a $1.6bn liability under a phased-in target, while Alcoa could be forced to buy $867 million in credits if it is unable to reduce its emissions by 2030.

Retail food group Woolworths could be up for $77m in credits, which industry experts have warned could affect the price of food, while BlueScope steel’s liability could be as high as $890m over the 10-year horizon.

The Australian revealed last week that the cost to business to meet Labor’s targets of a 45 per cent reduction in 2005 emission levels could be as high as $25bn based on a future international carbon price of $50 a tonne.

Bill Shorten has disputed the numbers but has not said what Labor’s policy forecasts on costs will be.

The dispute hinges on Labor’s plans to reduce the current safeguard mechanism that imposes penalties on companies that produce more than 100,000 tonnes a year of carbon emissions, to 25,000 tonnes a year.

The policy claimed this would capture 250 of Australia’s top companies which would be forced to reduce their emissions or buy offsets, including international carbon credits.

The current 100,000-tonne safeguard covers 140 companies but is rarely, if ever, triggered by the government, which shifts the baseline to avoid having to heavily penalise companies that go over it.

The government has been accused of watering down the safeguard by allowing companies to claim exemptions for a range of reasons, including the expansion of their business.

Labor’s policy will lower the threshold capturing more companies but will more aggressively police the safeguard to ensure compliance.

The Opposition Leader has dismissed suggestions an inter­national carbon price will be above $60 a tonne by 2030 — despite the figure being regarded as a conservative estimate in modelling by former government scientist and contributing author to the International Panel on Climate Change Brian Fisher.

Josh Frydenberg yesterday said analysis done by his policy team confirmed the bill over the decade could be between $13bn and $26bn for businesses’ obligations triggered under Labor’s policy.

The figures for individual companies are based on their annual emissions as recorded by the Clean Energy Regulator and working on an assumption that they would have to purchase international credits to meet their obligations under Labor’s 25,000-tonne safeguard.

Scott Morrison yesterday continued his climate attack on Mr Shorten, warning voters that the Labor leader could not “explain his emissions-reduction policies”.

“There’s the cost he won’t explain on his emissions-reduction policies, particularly up there in Queensland … where GetUp is going around trying to take away people’s jobs,” the Prime Minister said.

“Bill Shorten — who is the godfather of GetUp — needs to explain why he cannot tell people what the cost of his emissions-­reduction policies are,” he said.

Mr Shorten said economist Warwick McKibbin, on whom he was relying to defend his emissions policy, had this week made it clear that the “debate about cost … isn’t the main game”.

“What he said to do is you have got to compare the cost of not taking action on climate change in 2030 with the cost of taking climate action,” Mr Shorten said. “And what he said is have a look at the detailed policies. Labor’s got policies. So let’s once and for all … put a stake into that argument.”

Greens leader Richard Di ­Natale said Labor wasn’t “serious about tackling dangerous climate change”, attacking Mr Shorten’s $1.5bn plan to unlock gas reserves in northern Australia.

“We are in the middle of a climate emergency and we can’t be opening up any more coal, oil or gas fields if we are going to hand over a sustainable environment to our children and grandchildren,” he said.

“Australia’s fastest-growing source of emissions is leaking methane from gas projects.

“Labor’s plan will simply add to Australia’s growing emissions when they need to be going the other way.”


Bill Shorten taking a risk with millennial pitch

The corporate world is watching with fascination the risks Bill Shorten and the ALP are taking in putting a significant portion of their 2019 election campaign eggs in the millennial basket.

The focus on the millennials starts on the positive side, with policies that 18-37years olds find attractive on climate change, lower house prices, and higher wages including higher shift allowances.

Naturally the ALP is hoping to also to attract people in Generation X with these policies.

At the same time, Labor is attacking the baby boomers aged between 58 and 77 (and those aged above 50 thinking of retiring), as well as the older pre-boomers, with a ferocity rarely deployed against one segment of a community in an election.

Early this week I catalogued ten blows that the ALP is landing on the parents and grandparents of the millennials.

If it works, then marketing in Australia will require a very different approach and the concept of marketing to the whole population will be in tatters.

Also writing in The Australian, Bernard Salt set out why the ALP millennial strategy could work. It’s because together, millennials are the biggest single population group in the country, with 7.3 million people or 36. per cent of the total voting population. If all the generations united against them of course they will lose, but that is not likely.

But the danger the ALP faces in this strategy is highlighted by some fascinating findings by Morgan Research. They show that in Sydney and Melbourne — our two most populous cities — close to one in three millennials (31 per cent) were born in Asia. Asian-born people represent a much larger proportion of the 18-37 age group than they do in older age brackets.

Morgan says that Asian born millennials are much more likely to hold socially conservative views and values, despite their youth. They contrast starkly with Australian-born millennials. For example, four in ten Australian born millennials are married (41 per cent) compared to seven in ten Asian born millennials (74 per cent), and that particularly applies to those from India.

One in five millennials born in China own their own homes outright, compared one in eight Australian-born millennials. Religion is more prominent to Asian born millennials with one in four regularly attending a place of worship compared to 14 per cent of their Australian-born peers. Just how these Asian born millennials will view the attack on their parents and grandparents is of course completely unknown. It is possible they will not know the extent of the attacks.

However millennials, whether they be Asian or Australian born, have a number of features in common in particular they are very tech savvy and very big users of social media which is how they get much of their information. Many of their parents do not speak English well and again may not be aware of how the ALP is preparing to attack them, although they will be aware of the negative gearing measures which will adversely affect many in the Chinese community.

But they certainly would not have read Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech, where the ALP set out is aim with great clarity. Shorten declared: “We are going to stop intergenerational unfairness in our tax system”.

That is shorthand for declaring that the parents and grandparents of the millennials are going to be a lot poorer. The ALP crafted its 10-pronged attack to minimise the blows on the rich and poor, although some pensioners get caught up in hits delivered to the baby boomers.

However against that, the ALP is very skilled in the way it uses social media and relates to tech savvy people. And in particular it is likely that the views of the Asian-born millennials on climate change and wages will be very similar to their Australian-born peers.

But the fact that the segment of the community to whom the ALP is looking to win is in fact divided into two very separate groups increases the risk of the ALP strategy. As for the Coalition, it needs to bring around it younger people from migrant communities who know how to relate to the young people in their group. In particular, the Coalition must emphasise the ten taxation blows being directed at their parents and grandparents.

At the same time many in the migrant community run small businesses. As I described on Tuesday, both parties are coming together with small business policies but all small businesses employing low cost labour will not be pleased at Bill Shorten’s plan to increase shift allowances.

But of course their children may have a different view.


March and a quiet beer in store for VC hero Ben Roberts-Smith

The accusation of war crimes against one of our bravest and most distinguished soldiers is just the usual attempt by little people to tear down men better than themselves

It’s hard to keep Anzac Day low key when you’re a 2m tall former SAS trooper with a bronze Victoria Cross pinned to your chest, but this year Ben Roberts-Smith is going to give it a go.

Since leaving the army in 2013, the 40-year-old has been on a ­carousel of public and corporate obligations: chairman of the Australia Day Council, Father of the Year, general manager of Seven Queensland.

This year, he is hoping to keep it simple. “The Canberra RSL has asked me to lead the march, which is a great honour,’’ he said. “After that, I’ll catch up with my friends and colleagues and we’ll probably have a beer.’’

It’s no secret Mr Roberts-Smith has had a torrid year. He is embroiled in a defamation action against Nine over a series of articles that he says portrayed him as a war criminal, a bully and a domestic abuser. A long-running inquiry into possible war crimes committed by the SASR and the commandos will soon hand down its findings.

Mr Roberts-Smith is reluctant to talk about the events of the past year. Not, he said, because he had anything to hide — he fiercely maintains his innocence — but on a day given over to the service of all veterans, he is loath to focus on his own woes.

“My family and I have been under a lot of undue and unfair scrutiny of late,’’ he said. “My opinion is that I won’t let any media outlet dictate when and where I support veterans. This Anzac Day, I’ll do what I can to ensure all veterans are recognised, the ones that have gone before me and the contemporary ones.’’

The ACT RSL’s decision to tap Mr Roberts-Smith to lead out the march represents something of a generational shift for an ­organisation founded in 1916, at a time when support services for ­returning veterans were non-existent. “They’re trying to connect with younger veterans, so this is a good opportunity to help them do that,’’ Mr Roberts-Smith said.

Some of those younger veterans are doing it pretty tough. A 2017 study by the National Mental Health Commission found the suicide rate for serving members of the Australian Defence Force is lower than the nat­ional average but higher for those who’ve left.

The danger zone seems to be in the period of transition when veterans must learn to live with the burdens of their service without the support services laid on by the military.

Mr Roberts-Smith doesn’t think his generation of veterans is doing it any tougher than previous ones — in fact, he’s full of praise for the way Australians have embraced newer veterans — but he worries that as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, there is a danger we could lose focus.

“We shouldn’t forget that some of these guys are just in their 20s,” he said. “They can’t just be thrown back into society and told to deal with it.’’


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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