Monday, December 12, 2022

‘Woke’: Australia’s London embassy erases history by removing high commissioners’ portraits

Australia’s embassy in London has been accused of cancelling more than 100 years of history with the removal of the portraits of the nation’s high commissioners to the UK.

Staff at Australia House on the Strand have quietly removed the photographs of our top diplomats in London, which previously adorned the walls along the stairs.

They will now be warehoused, with the images put on a website instead.

Sources in London claimed the images were stripped because they were of “white men” who were “symbols of patriarchy”, with the embassy wanting to appear more inclusive.

“This is just another woke erasure of history. Just because someone happened to be of a certain gender or race does not mean their contribution should be hidden,” a political source said.

“It’s entirely against the idea of treating people equally, no matter their race or background.

“It’s also terrible for Australia’s global reputation to be endorsing divisive identity politics, to tell the world that we are backwards and embarrassed about our past. Australia’s diplomats should be aware that Brits do not look kindly on cancel culture these days.”

Lynette Wood, Australia’s acting High Commissioner to the UK, denied there was an agenda behind the removal of the portraits. “This is certainly not true at all,” Ms Wood said.

The High Commission said in a statement the portraits would be put online instead of being returned to the walls of Australia House. “The portraits of former High Commissioners are in the process of being digitised,” a statement said.

“Following digitalisation, the portraits will be archived on the Australian High Commission website, enabling greater access to the important historical information on all Heads of Mission who have served in the UK.”

The disappearance of the portraits has been the talk of London’s diplomatic circles, with their absence noted at a recent function.

“The excuse about ‘digitalisation’ is obviously total nonsense. They should at least have the guts to admit their true motivations,” a source added.

There were 26 portraits honouring each of Australia’s High Commissioners to the UK, honouring those who led the diplomatic mission.

Images of former High Commissioners George Brandis, Alexander Downer, Mike Rann and John Dauth all the way back to the first to take on the role, Sir George Reid and former Australian Prime Minister Andrew Fisher.

Foreign dignitaries walked past the portraits on the way to the High Commissioner’s office on the upper levels of the grand building.

Australia House on The Strand stitches together the fabric of expat society in London. The building hosts receptions, including welcoming Australians who were invited to the Queen’s funeral in September.

Australia’s Ashes teams are also usually welcomed at functions there, while business and political leaders from across the world are regularly wined and dined there.

The building was one of the most expensive in the world when it was built, and has featured in movies including as the set of Gringotts bank in the Harry Potter movies.

The office of Foreign Minister Penny Wong was not told about the move before the portraits were taken down.


On potential energy solutions, too many deny the facts on nuclear

Facts and truth are loose concepts in the climate alarmists’ arsenal. As we pass one “tipping point” declared a decade or two ago, we are warned of new tipping points a decade hence.

It is an endless campaign of urgency, more marketing than science. We muddled our way through the “critical decade” only to be galvanised for the “decisive decade” ahead.

The more you examine science, the more complex the unfolding patterns and policy responses become. The more you interrogate the facts, the more the catastrophist scenarios and simplistic solutions are exposed.

Just because climate scientists predict change does not give licence to journalists and activists to fit up normal weather events as proof of their mooted climate dystopia. Meanwhile the wildest claims of the climate alarmists pass unexamined.

Last Saturday Anthony Albanese visited Renmark, in South Australia’s Riverland, which is experiencing a major Murray River flood that could turn out to be the third worst of the past 100 years, matching 1974 but falling below the 1931 flood, and way short of the 1956 monster. Yet the Prime Minister used the current high river to push his alarmist message.

“Climate change is real,” he said, axiomatically. Then came the hyperventilation: “And I’ve witnessed since I’ve been leader of the Labor Party, I’ve visited areas of tropical rainforests that have never burnt before that have burnt during the bushfires, during the summer of 2019 and 2020, that came after, of course, a period of drought.”

This is a familiar routine of blaming recent natural events on climate change, suggesting this is all worse than it used to be, and boldly ascribing the same causal factor for droughts, floods and bushfires. Most media regurgitates this stuff; like pandemic paranoia, climate alarmism fits into that vortex where media and politicians find mutually beneficial hyperbole.

I asked the Prime Minister’s office which rainforest Albanese claimed had burned for the first time, and it did not answer. Back in that terrible summer there were two prominent references to “unprecedented” burning of rainforests, both of which were quickly debunked when I checked the record.

Guardian Australia ran Australian National University climate academic Joelle Gergis in September 2019. “I never thought I’d see the Australian rainforest burning. What will it take for us to wake up to the climate crisis?” wrote Gergis, a member of the Climate Council. “As a scientist, what I find particularly disturbing about the current conditions is that world heritage rainforest areas such as the Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast hinterland are now burning.”

Soon enough media was alive with the horror of rainforest burning for the first time. Yet in October 1951 The Cairns Post had reported, “A bushfire in Lamington National Park today swept through a grove of 3000-year-old Macrozamia palms … The fire has burnt out about 2000 acres of thick rainforest country.”

So, nearly 70 years earlier, before global warming, rainforest burned in Lamington. Why would media run with fantasy over reality?

Around the same time climate activist and former NSW fire commissioner Greg Mullins told ABC regional radio: “There are fires breaking out in places where they just shouldn’t burn. The west coast of Tasmania, the world heritage areas, subtropical rainforests, it’s all burning. And this is driven by climate change, there’s no other explanation.”

A few minutes of online research put the lie to that. The South Australian Chronicle reported in February 1915 about lives lost in the “most devastating bushfires ever known in Tasmania sweeping over the northwest coast and other districts. The extent of the devastation cannot be over-estimated”. And The Canberra Times in 1982 reported a “huge forest fire” burning out 75,000ha of dense rainforest on the northwest coast.

This fudging in favour of catastrophism is the rule rather than the exception. The lack of curiosity or scepticism from media is astounding, but then even the weather bureau plays along.

In early 2019 when the Bureau of Meteorology proclaimed a new national record for the highest overnight minimum of 35.9C it was dramatic news around the nation. But neither the BOM nor anyone else in the media bothered to reveal that the weather station, at the western NSW location of Noona, had been in place for little more than a year – so all we really knew was that it was the hottest night in Noona for about 18 months.

That same year on January 24 the BOM proclaimed the hottest maximum ever recorded in a capital city – 46.6C in Adelaide. Again, it was big news around the country, but the weather bureau failed to mention the same site had measured a maximum a full degree higher in 1939. The only reason the 2019 record beat the 1939 reading was because the BOM’s temperature “homogenisation” had revised the early record downwards by more than a degree. You do not have to question the BOM’s methodology to wonder why it is not forthcoming with these relevant facts when it announces its new records.

Examples abound. We are constantly told Pacific Islands are about to be swallowed by the ocean when studies show the landmass of islands is growing, both through natural processes and human intervention.

The bracing predictions of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth are conveniently left unexamined – remember sea levels were to rise 6m, hurricanes were going to be more common and snow would retreat from Kilimanjaro – these and other predictions remain stubbornly unfulfilled.

Never mind, because politicians and media leap on every storm, drought, flood and fire as evidence we are experiencing these dire predictions already. This aversion to reality or disdain for truth extends to the energy policies proposed to deal with climate by reducing emissions.

There is a pretence being perpetrated on the public that this nation can power itself, affordably and reliably, on renewable energy plus storage. Worse, it is often insinuated that Australia’s efforts to reduce our 1 per cent share of global emissions can somehow change the weather, even though global emissions continue to rise.

Addressing the energy cost and supply crisis this week, Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said: “This crisis is caused by coal and gas prices, anybody who says it’s caused by renewables is lying, and that needs to be called out, renewables are the solution to this crisis, not the cause.”

He had better tell Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe, who had this to say last month: “It is difficult to make predictions here, but it’s probable that the global capital stock that is used to produce energy will come under recurring pressure in the years ahead. If so, we could expect higher and more volatile energy prices during the transition to a more renewables-based energy supply.”

Sounds a hell of a lot like the transition to renewables is putting upward pressure on prices. This is obvious when you consider the massive investment required in intermittent generation, regulated transmission and storage, all of which need to be funded by taxpayers and consumers.

This was made plain by Alinta Energy chief executive Jeff Dimery last month when he predicted price rises of at least 35 per cent for consumers. “The cost of the transition is going to be for a raft of reasons more expensive than it otherwise would have been a few years ago, and we need to make the public aware of the cost of transition,” he told Ross Greenwood on Sky News.

Are Lowe and Dimery telling lies? I think not. Bowen wants to pretend that a trillion-dollar transition away from fossil fuels to a renewables-plus-storage model will be cheap and painless.

In fact, the evidence suggests it is impossible. The International Energy Agency says almost half the reductions to get to net zero by 2050 globally will have to come through “technologies that are currently at the demonstration or prototype phase” – you only have to look at the energy crises facing every economy going down the renewables path to see this reality playing out.

Yet even on potential energy solutions, too many deny the facts. Bowen, Albanese and even modern Labor’s nuclear energy realist, South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas, argue a domestic nuclear energy industry would be uneconomic – “the most expensive form of energy” – for Australia. This too, flies in the face of verifiable facts. The IEA’s 2020 analysis of electricity generation costs found that “electricity from the long-term operation of nuclear power plants constitutes the least cost option for low-carbon generation”. The politicians cite “most expensive” when the apolitical global experts talk about “least cost” – yet our national debate fails to interrogate these issues.

On current technology the great advantage of nuclear, despite considerable capital costs, is reliability, durability (a new plant will last at least 60 years) and the leveraging of existing transmission infrastructure. By comparison, renewables require massive overbuilds (so capacity triples demand to cover intermittency across different locations), battery storage (which is inadequate and prohibitively expensive), firming generation (probably gas) and at least 28,000km of transmission lines to link generation projects across vast distances. Additionally, solar panels and wind turbines will need to be replaced every 15 to 20 years.

So the initial capital cost of wind generation needs to be multiplied four or five times before it can be compared to nuclear. And nuclear is getting cheaper and easier with the development of small modular reactors.

If we have regard for the facts, and we want to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, no politician ought be able to reject nuclear on cost grounds. But there is far too little focus on reality right across this debate.


Australia's leaders ignoring the reality of our energy problem

Coal-fired power is being withdrawn from the system by woke public companies and gas developments have become almost impossible thanks to activist lawfare which means prices are going to keep on rising, writes Peta Credlin.

While Anthony Albanese peddled the fantasy that Labor policy could cut household power bills by $275 a year, the reality – confirmed by the ACCC on Friday – is that “the median annual bill for residential customers” has increased by $294 (or 23 per cent) since April.

On Friday, a panicked national cabinet promised as-yet-unspecified rebates for consumers, plus price caps on coal and gas. But this is robbing Peter to pay Paul, won’t make much short-term difference to power bills, and is a massive breach in the hitherto accepted principle that governments can’t dictate to businesses the prices they charge.

The Albanese government claims that households will be $230 better off, but the modelling behind the spin says that prices will still rise by 23 per cent over the next financial year, despite the deal, rather than 36 per cent otherwise.

And I am sure it’s not lost on you that the same consumers set to receive these promised energy rebates are in fact the same taxpayers paying for them!

We are in this energy mess because too many people in authority assume that because solar panels and batteries can run a house, renewables can run a whole economy too.

As a result, coal-fired power is being withdrawn from the system by woke public companies. And new gas developments have become almost impossible thanks to activist lawfare. So, prices will continue to skyrocket and widespread blackouts, or forced rationing for heavy industry, are almost inevitable because the only new power coming into the system doesn’t work when the sun won’t shine and the wind won’t blow.

This is the unavoidable result of a power system that’s been run for years to reduce emissions rather than to produce affordable and reliable electricity.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen’s latest green catchcry “dispatchable renewable power” is an oxymoron; a contradiction in terms.

By its very nature, wind and solar power can’t always be available – unless, of course, they’re coupled with something else like batteries, that can’t produce grid-scale power for more than a few minutes; pumped-hydro which is expensive, environmentally fraught and still years away at grid scale; green hydrogen which remains completely unproven; or gas, which has so far sustained the move to renewables, but which is going to be more and more expensive as demand explodes but supply is constricted by yet more eco-extremism.

That’s the reality that Friday’s national cabinet meeting simply refused to face. Instead, it put a Band-Aid on a bullet wound, with its price caps on coal and gas and rebates for consumers.

Capping fossil fuel prices guarantees that there will be less investment and, over time, shortages of coal and gas, even though fossil fuels will for decades continue to be needed to keep the lights on.

And, I repeat again, government-funded rebates on power bills means taxpayers funding consumers. In other words, us funding us.

Once the principle of price control is conceded for gas and coal, what about price control for other “necessities” such as rent and food? This is a massive departure from economic normality and a slippery slope towards a command economy apparently connived at by both sides of politics through the national cabinet.

No one who matters seems to be listening to the few sane voices still in our energy debate.

David Fallu, head of Tomago Aluminium, NSW’s biggest energy consumer, pointed out last week that his business would still need gas to “fill the breach when renewables aren’t generating”.

Trevor St Baker, a big investor both in renewable and in coal-fired power generation, said that the Liddell Power Station, that produces 10 per cent of NSW’s power, would have to be kept operating beyond April next year to ensure that the lights stayed on (yet there are plans to, literally, blow it up with dynamite). Even the Business Council of Australia said that “price caps will send the wrong signal to investors … when we need to be getting new supply into the market”.

And while both shadow treasurer Angus Taylor and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton have made the obvious point that this is policy on the run, the Opposition hasn’t said what, precisely, it would do differently, such as refusing to allow the exit of coal until there’s a reliable dispatchable alternative, presumably because Liberals like NSW Treasurer Matt Kean share Labor’s coal-phobia and emissions obsession.

No one should fall for Labor’s spin that Putin’s war is to blame for higher power bills. The war started in February and in the months that followed until they won the election in May, Labor promised they would cut power bills. It is only after they won, that this promise was dropped and the war emerged as their excuse.

Rather than Putin, the real problem is the massive and accelerating shift from power from fossil fuels that’s available 24/7, to power from the wind and the sun that depends entirely on the weather and that therefore has to be “firmed” with gas. An honest conversation with the Australian public is long overdue about how we can have reliable and affordable power OR much lower emissions but not both, at least in the absence of nuclear.


Covid vaccine mandate revoked for Queensland police

Queensland police will no longer be made to get the Covid vaccine after the direction was revoked this morning.

Queensland police will no longer be made to get a Covid vaccination, after the direction was revoked ton Monday morning.

In a memo to staff today acting Deputy Commissioner Shane Chelepy said public health advice suggested the virus would persist in the community for some time “with the severity and risk presented scaling up and down at various intervals”.

The Courier-Mail has confirmed 16 police officers and six staff members have been sacked for disobeying Covid-19 vaccination directions. A further 100 police have been sent discipline proceedings notices while 50 staff have been sent show cause notices.

It’s unclear what discipline action these officers will now face however Mr Chelepy in his memo to staff said they would still be investigated and “dealt with in line with our discipline processes”.

“While the Covid-19 public health environment continues to remain unpredictable, following the removal of the Public Health Emergency Declaration and changes to the public health risk environment, the QPS has reviewed the current Covid-19 vaccination requirements and it has been determined to revoke Commissioner’s Directions No. 13 and 14 as of Monday 12 December 2022,” Mr Chelepy wrote.

“The Deputy Chief Health Officer of Queensland was consulted as part of the review process conducted by QPS to determine the outcome of the direction.

“Following the revocation of the mandate, any conditions attached to exemptions granted by the Vaccination Exemption Committee (VEC) will no longer apply. Members who had conditions attached to their exemptions will be required to engage with their local management to arrange a return to business as usual.

“Members who were subject to discipline action for failure to comply with the Commissioner’s Directions will still be investigated and dealt with in line with our discipline processes.

“The outcomes for these employees will need to be reviewed on an individual basis, with consideration given to the nature and details of each matter.”

Mr Chelepy said there would still continue to be unknown risks for officers.

“As we transition to a different phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, all members are strongly encouraged to continue to follow all advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and receive Covid-19 vaccines and boosters as recommended according to their age and individual health needs.

“In this new operating environment, there will continue to be unknown risks, as well as an increased risk of potential exposure, so it important to follow health recommendations to reduce the spread of this virus.

“Members should be aware and familiarise themselves with current Queensland Government Covid-19 advice which uses a traffic light system to assist individuals with what they should do to reduce the risk of catching and spreading Covid-19. The traffic light levels – red, amber, green – are based on the current level of risk in the community,” he said.

“The current traffic light level is amber – which means moderate rates of community transmission and Queensland is coming off a wave or may enter a new wave.

“We must be mindful of the virus’s ability to mutate into potentially more transmissible and serious variants. The QPS must maintain the ability to act on these developments and to issue future directions to ensure we maintain a ready workforce to meet our legislative responsibilities.

“The uncertain Covid-19 operating environment requires us all to remain vigilant, and I thank you for your ongoing commitment. Our people have already done the hard yards and should be proud of our collective effort to limit the impact of this virus on our organisation.”

A police spokesman confirmed the service would continue to assess all matters “currently initiated in relation to the Commissioner’s Directions on vaccination requirements, including disciplinary matters and proceedings before the courts and tribunal”.

The spokesman said 16 police officers and six staff members had been dismissed for disobeying the direction and would not be reinstated.




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