Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Government could fund Peter Ridd’s fight against Greenie crooks at James Cook University

Quite aside from anything else the issue of legal costs is big  here.  JCU has already spent $630,00 on denying Dr Ridd justice and once they have to pay Ridd's legal costs that will rise to around one million.  And that is cheap compared to what a High Court appeal would cost.  But that is money that should have been used to fund research and teaching.  It is a fundamentally unjust use of taxpayer funds.  The government has a beef with JCU on those grounds alone.

And a High Court appeal would be sheer vindictiveness.  Once they have lost their case in a lower court, the prospect of a win in the High Court is dim.

The government should impose financial penalties if an appeal goes ahead.  It would be a misuse of funds that were allocated for research and teaching.  JCU will probably claim that the money comes out of administrative funds but if such funds were so flush the surplus could still have been diverted into a research grant, which would have been much more in keeping with the purposes of the university.

And what was Dr Ridd's offence, that has brought down so much rage on his head?  He made a cautious and scholarly comment about the validity of some measurements made by his colleagues.  The normal response to such an observation would be to go back and check the validity concerned.  That such a normal scholarly procedure was not folowed suggests that the measurements really were invalid and known to be invalid, implying that the damage to the Great Barrier Reef was  being exaggerated

In my own research career I was very careful about the validity of my measurements and reported it if a measure did not survive a validity check (e.g. here).  That's light years away from the practices at JCU so I congratulate Peter Ridd for raising the issue there

Attorney-General Christian Porter has told Coalition MPs that the Commonwealth could assist in supporting costs for sacked academic Peter Ridd to help him in his legal fight against James Cook University.

The Australian has been informed by multiple sources that Mr Porter left the door open for the Commonwealth to play a role in supporting Dr Ridd in today’s joint party room meeting and identified a scheme which could be used to assist the academic.

The internal discussion in the party room comes as JCU moves to appeal a Federal Court finding that the university’s sacking of the physics professor was unlawful, with several Coalition MPs voicing their concerns in today’s joint party room meeting at the appeal.

Sources told The Australian that Education Minister Dan Tehan told the joint party room meeting that he was concerned by the decision of JCU to appeal the April decision by judge Salvatore Vasta.

Dr Ridd is seeking financial compensation after he was sacked by JCU for publicly criticising the institution and one of its star scientists over claims about the impact of global warming on the Great Barrier Reef.

Liberal MPs told The Australian that Mr Tehan said that he planned to meet with the JCU Vice Chancellor to raise his concerns directly and that Mr Porter viewed the appeal as significant and argued that it had the potential to change the landscape of academic freedom in a fundamental way.

In the party room meeting, Victorian Senator James Paterson asked Mr Porter whether the Commonwealth could do anything to contribute to Dr Ridd’s costs for the appeal, with the Attorney-General giving a loose commitment to see whether there was scope for the federal government to play a role.

This was confirmed by multiple Liberal MPs in the meeting. The Australian has contacted Mr Porter’s office for comment.

The Australian was also told that several Coalition MPs spoke to the issue including Sydney based MP Craig Kelly who initiated the discussion by saying he was concerned at how much money JCU would spend on the appeal.

The Australian has also been informed that George Christensen also said that, while JCU was important to his electorate of Dawson, he was increasingly concerned at the developments in relation to Dr Ridd.

Liberal sources said that North Queensland MP Warren Entsch raised concerns about the impact of the legal dispute on tourism and attitudes towards the Great Barrier Reef.

The Australian was also informed that new Queensland Senator Paul Scarr also criticised the JCU press release on the judgment, describing it as outrageous.

In April, Justice Vasta ruled JCU had erred in its interpretation of a clause in its enterprise agreement and deprived Dr Ridd of his right to express his academic opinion. Within hours of the judgment being released in April, JCU published a statement on its website criticising the ruling.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General told The Australian that Mr Porter had undertaken “to get a brief from his department on whether these are matters relevant to the Commonwealth Public Interest and Test Cases Scheme.”

The spokesman said that this scheme provided “financial assistance for cases of public importance, that settle an uncertain area or question of Commonwealth law, or that resolve a question of Commonwealth law that affects the rights of a disadvantaged section of the public.”

“It is notable that there has been no application to this Scheme in relation to this matter,” he said.


Victoria Police try to censor TV doco on Lawyer X

Victoria Police are trying to censor a television documentary detailing the story of “Lawyer X”, demanding early access to the ­series set to air tonight and claiming it could “obstruct” the royal commission into the matter.

The Australian can reveal that the Australian Federal Police also demanded details from Sky News late last week about its two-part documentary series exploring the alleged activities of barrister-turned-police-informant Nicola Gobbo and failures at the highest levels of law enforcement in ­Victoria.

Victoria Police contacted Sky News’s lawyers demanding access to the series after seeing “promotional videos” for Lawyer X: The Untold Story .

Police are also seeking access to a book, Lawyer X: The Scandalous Story of How Melbourne’s Gangland War Was Really Won, written by Herald Sun journalists Anthony Dowsley and Patrick Carlyon.

Sky News declined the Victoria Police request. It was then sent a lawyers’ letter on behalf of Victoria Police on July 18 warning the news network against airing the documentary. “Victoria Police is concerned that the contents of the documentary and book may potentially breach existing suppression orders and reveal information concerning human sources and protected witnesses, thereby increasing the risk of serious harm to individuals and their families,” the letter said.

It then claimed that the TV ­series, by journalist Peter Stefanovic, “may hinder or obstruct the proceedings of the royal commission in contravention of s49 of the Inquiries Act.”

“The documentary and book may also traverse, and therefore potentially prejudice, ongoing criminal investigations and matter that have been, or will be, the subject of closed hearings at the royal commission.”

Sky News chief executive Paul Whittaker confirmed yesterday that Victoria Police had contacted Sky a fortnight ago and requested to view the documentary series tapes in advance of tonight’s broadcast of the first episode in the two-part series.

Sky declined to co-operate.

Mr Whittaker said he believed the two-part documentary would play an important role in explaining the extraordinary series of events behind the complex saga that has “rightfully sparked a royal commission into the handling of police informants”.

“Victoria Police spent millions of dollars of state taxpayers’ funds to employ every legal and delaying tactic available all the way to the High Court trying to stop this shameful episode ever becoming public, and as embarrassing as it may be for certain elements of the senior police command, the whole truth must come out if public confidence is to be restored in the system,” Mr Whittaker said.

He confirmed that Victoria Police had written a warning letter to lawyers for Sky News and the Herald Sun last Thursday, on the day of an exclusive sneak peek of the documentary and Q&A session at Old Melbourne Gaol hosted by Stefanovic with Herald Sun journalists Dowsley and Carlyon. Mr Whittaker also confirmed that the AFP had contacted Sky News’s lawyers on Friday seeking information about the documentary series.

The letter on behalf of the police said that “given the impending broadcast of the documentary on 22 and 23 July, 2019, and the preview on 18 July, 2019, Victoria Police has contacted Sky News to request an advance copy of the documentary on the basis of these concerns. Sky News has declined this request.”

The documentary talks to Ms Gobbo’s former friends and ­associates, about her double life as a lawyer for the Melbourne underworld, including gangland boss Carl Williams, and as a ­registered informe­r for Victoria Police.

The Herald Sun was the first to reveal Ms Gobbo’s double life almost five years ago, and Dowsley and Carlyon­ have fought dozens of suppression orders forbidding publication of her identity as Lawyer­ X.

The steady stream of revel­ations rocked Victoria's justice system, and triggered a royal commission, which is looking into cases that may have been affected by Ms Gobbo’s conduct as a police informant between January 1995 and January 2009.

Ms Gobbo is expected to appea­r before the commission.

The demand comes amid increased focus on media freedom following AFP raids on the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and raids on ABC headquarters in Sydney.

The AFP media raids led to widespread condemnation by media organisations as well as a new parliamentary inquiry into press freedom in Australia.

Lawyer X: the untold story will air on Sky News tonight and tomorrow night at 8pm AEST and on Foxtel Encore on July 29


Boatload of Sri Lankan asylum seekers headed for Australia is intercepted in the Indian Ocean - the third vessel to attempt the dangerous journey since the federal election

A boatload of Sri Lankan asylum-seekers headed for Australia has been intercepted in the Indian Ocean in what is the third incident since May. 

Australian Border Force agents seized the vessel, believed to be carrying 20 refugees, off Christmas Island on Sunday night.

The group was then taken ashore before being put on a flight back to Colombo on a government charter plane, The Australian reported. 

The incident marks the third time a group of refugees have attempted to reach Australia by sea since the federal election, bringing the total number of asylum seekers to 80.   

More than 40 had to be rescued after a boat began to sink in the Indian Ocean last month.

An Australian aerial patrol helped save 41 people on board, with the assistance of the Sri Lankan Navy.

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed the illegal immigrants were returned to Sri Lanka. 

The recurring attempts prompted Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to meet with Sri Lankan leaders last month amid warnings more boats were on the way.

He said 'borders were being tested' because people smugglers were expecting a Labor victory and then-opposition leader Bill Shorten had 'walked away from Operation Sovereign Borders.'

'I want people smugglers and those that might be organising syndicates here in Australia to hear the message from me very clearly, that is that we do have a return arrangement with Sri Lanka and with other countries and people will be returned,' he said.


Our carbon sacrifice is pointless

Imagine a librarian sitting in the corner of her library, wishing that her noisy library was quiet. But the only thing she does to make this happen is to be quiet herself.

There might be dozens of people scattered around the library, but she wouldn't try to work out where the noise was coming from. Nor would she ask the noisy patrons to keep it down, perhaps by persuading them of the benefits of a quiet library.

She would simply sit in her corner, quietly telling herself she was doing the right thing and setting a good example.

This recipe for frustration and failure is akin to Australia's approach to greenhouse gas emissions. While we sit in our corner of the world, promising ourselves to reduce our emissions over the decade ahead, the rest of the world increases theirs.

Even using the rosiest projections, just the increase in global emissions will be double Australia's total emissions in the decade ahead. So even if Australia disappeared – twice – global emissions would still rise.

It's as if the librarian sewed her lips together, yet still the noise in the library became deafening.

If we were genuinely concerned about global emissions, a good start would surely be to establish which countries are set to increase their emissions, particularly if those countries are already big emitters.

In Senate Estimates, I have been asking the bureaucrats in Canberra about the projected emissions of big emitters over the coming decade. Anyone who thinks climate change is our greatest moral challenge would have found the replies disappointing.

The bureaucrats didn't know. Many of the world's biggest emitters haven't bothered to advise the rest of the world how much their emissions are expected to rise over the coming decade. And it seems Australia has not only failed to seek an answer to this basic question but has also not made its own projections.

Others estimate that China, whose annual emissions in recent years were nearly 12 gigatonnes, might come close to doubling its emissions over the next decade. India, whose annual emissions have recently exceeded three gigatonnes, might double its emissions too. And countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, each with much bigger annual emissions than Australia's half a gigatonne, also fail to report their likely emission increases.

And it seems, at least from outward appearances, that our governments and bureaucrats don't care.

Pointless going it alone

It's as if our librarian won't even wander the aisles to see who the noisiest patrons are. Or perhaps she secretly thinks the patrons have a right to make as much noise as they want. Yet, if this is the case, the library is destined to be noisy and it is pointless for the librarian to take a vow of silence.

The greenhouse effect is a global phenomenon. We don't have big screens at our borders keeping Australia's emissions in and China or India's emissions out. Emissions from any one country swirl around the globe. If anything is to be done about the greenhouse effect, it has to involve the major emitters. It is quite pointless for Australia to reduce its emissions unless they do too.

It is farcical that Australia is engaged in an acrimonious debate about which side of politics is doing enough to combat climate change. Australia's commitments, no matter what anyone thinks of them, are quite pointless unless they are conditional on action by the world's big emitters. And of course, the big emitters are barely even aware of Australia's efforts, let alone influenced by them.

Nonetheless, the cost of implementing Australia's commitments is far from trivial. We have world-record electricity prices and a precarious supply situation as a result of policies discouraging new fossil-fuels-based generation. Thousands of jobs in energy-intensive industries are heading overseas and even more depend on whether we develop or expand coal mines.

And despite being opposed to a carbon tax, on Monday the Coalition government committed $2 billion of taxpayers' funds to paying emitters to emit less than some hypothetical benchmark. The money, naturally enough, will come from tax revenue.

Debating Australia's emissions policy while ignoring what is happening in the rest of the world is nonsensical. And it is made worse by the fact that our experts in Canberra, who recommend policy to the government, are barely even aware of what else is happening in the world.


ScoMo to dine with Trump

US President Donald Trump will host Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife, Jenny, for an official visit and state dinner on September 20, the White House says.

“The visit will celebrate our two countries’ close friendship and shared history, and reaffirm our common vision for global peace, security, and prosperity,” the White House said in a statement.

Mr Morrison’s office confirmed the state dinner at the White House earlier this month.

At the time the Prime Minister said he would be honoured to represent Australia during the visit.

It will follow the two leaders’ meetings on the sidelines of the D-Day commemorations in the UK and the G20 summit earlier this year. Mr Trump’s invitation is the first by a US president to an Australian prime minister since president George W Bush hosted John Howard in 2006.

It’s only the second state dinner Mr Trump has held since he became President. The first was for France in April 2018.


 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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