Sunday, September 17, 2023

‘Heat waves are the killer’: Australia's very own false prophet warns of deadly risk over summer

Flannery is well-known for prophesying that Perth would become a ghost city for a lack of water. Perth of course continues to thrive

His latest propecy is just as mad. It is COLD weather, not hot weather, when most deaths occur

The long-range weather forecasts have been worrying. Australia faces a long hot summer with an increased risk of drought.

And while there will always be fears of bushfires, especially after the devastating black summer of 2019-2020, Tim Flannery warns that heat waves might be the biggest concern this season.

“All indications are we’re heading for a very hot summer, but we’re still getting some rain,” the Climate Council’s chief councillor said. “The potential for heat waves to have a big impact on human health is really there.

“You don’t need floods or bushfires to impact human health. Heat waves are the number one killer of people among natural phenomena so that’s a big concern.”

Flannery, a long-time advocate for more action to combat climate change, cited the 2009 heat wave in south-east Australia that health authorities have said contributed to the death of more than 370 people in Victoria alone.

“Melbourne saw it very clearly [then] when there was four days above 40 degrees and very little cooling at night,” he said.

Flannery was speaking before the release of a new documentary, Johan Gabrielsson’s Climate Changers, which has him interviewing leaders of the climate movement around the world. It launches in cinemas with a live Q&A session on Sunday.


Huge cost of Australia’s renewable energy dream, according to industry leaders

The race to connect renewable energy to the grid is challenging and costly, industry leaders say, as they urge a focus on affordable electricity.

Alinta Energy chief executive officer Jeff Dimery said his firm was investing $10bn into renewable power, including offshore wind, battery technology and pumped hydro, but cautioned that affordability must remain a key driver.

He cited the giant Snowy 2.0 pumped-hydro project, the cost of which in August was announced as having blown out to $12bn from an original $2bn.

Mr Dimery said this would deliver $100m of monthly revenue once complete, which translated to a capital cost of more than $60 per megawatt hour.

The market paid less than $15 per megawatt hour for pumped hydro less than three years ago – a more than fourfold cost hike.

“We need to clean up our energy supply..... And I guess what I’m saying is that, ultimately, I agree with the Prime Minister, his vision and how we need to get there. Where we’re differing is at the pace at which we might do that,” Mr Dimery said.

Transgrid executive general manager Craig Stallan, whose firm operates and manages the high-voltage transmission network in NSW and the ACT, said infrastructure needed to be built to create a superhighway across the national power grid.


Assumed guilty: Parallels between Bruce Lehrmann and Zachary Rolfe cases are unmistakable and disturbing

The parallels between the investigations and the prosecutions of former political staffer Bruce Lehrmann and former police officer Zach­ary Rolfe are unmistakable and disturbing.

In both cases, a hasty investi­gation and charging of a young man for a serious crime was accompanied by diarised police concerns about lack of evidence.

In both cases, the politicisation of events by politicians and other senior figures occurred against a backdrop of social movements fuelling a febrile environment.

In both cases, a pattern of non-disclosure of material to defence lawyers put at risk their ability to properly defend their clients.

The difference is that the public has now had the benefit of a ­thorough public inquiry into the exercise of state power in the Lehrmann matter.

If we are to trust in all aspects of the criminal justice system, from policing to prosecutors, the issues raised by Rolfe’s lawyers and reported by The Australian’s Kristin Shorten today must be investi­gated. An internal police investigation is not enough.

There should be a transparent and meticulous public inquiry by a skilled and fearless senior judge into the circumstances surrounding the investigation and prosecution of Rolfe.

That the former constable was unanimously found not guilty by 12 jurors within a few hours is not a reason for institutions that wield tremendous power against a citizen to avoid a public inquiry into their behaviour.

The Northern Territory’s new Police Commissioner, Michael Murphy, has an opportunity to start his term in office by encouraging proper and overdue public scrutiny of the most controversial police investigation in the Territory’s history.

In his letter to Murphy on June 16 this year, Rolfe’s lawyer, Luke Officer, laid out serious concerns about the conduct of Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne Newell. They included claims that Newell amended and edited an expert report, that he obtained opinions from a purported expert denying the lethality of the scissors that Walker used to stab Rolfe and threaten his partner, even though that expert said it would be inappropriate for her to give evidence, and that Newell withheld supplementary opinions given by two other experts to him about the leth­ality of the scissors that would have assisted defence but were revealed only during the trial.

The Darwin-based lawyer in his letter says it was only down to “sheer luck” that he became aware of the undisclosed material.

Again, by sheer chance, Rolfe’s lawyers became aware of a series of draft police coronial reports – known as the “Pollock reports” – that police had not given to the DPP, and could therefore not share with Rolfe’s defence team.

When making his order for disclosure of those reports, Supreme Court judge Dean Mildren said: “If the documents are never revealed, it may be that an innocent person has been wrongly convicted. It is to be hoped that this situation will not occur in the future.”

In his final report into the investigation and prosecution of Lehrmann, Walter Sofronoff explained why full disclosure was central to our trust in the criminal justice system by ensuring a fair trial, and addressing the imbalance of power and resources between the state and a citizen. “Criminal litigation is not a poker game in which a prosecutor can hide the cards,” he wrote.

In the Lehrmann case, the former DPP was exposed as failing to disclose material.

In the Rolfe matter, disclosure failures concern police.

Disclosure duties are the same for police and prosecutors because both are instruments of enormous state power, just as the damage to a defendant, and our trust in the criminal justice system, is the same whether non-disclosure is by a prosecutor or by police.

Many other parts of the Rolfe saga echo the Lehrmann case. For example, police diary entries reveal senior police officers expressed concerns at charging Rolfe before sufficient evidence had been amassed.

Just as the Lehrmann saga unfolded against the background of the #metoo movement and nat­ionwide March 4 Justice protests, the arrest, prosecution and trial of Rolfe occurred as the Black Lives Matters movement grew in prominence, alongside “Justice for Walker” protests nationwide.

More concerning than the wild west of social media, which became hunting grounds for Lehrmann and Rolfe, leaders behaved badly. On November 12, three days after the fatal shooting, then-commissioner Jamie Chalker and chief minister Michael Gunner travelled to Yuendumu, where the latter told the community there would be an independent investigation into the shooting and “consequences will flow as a result.”

Recall that former prime minister Scott Morrison delivered an apology in parliament to Brittany Higgins, saying “I’m sorry to Ms Higgins for the terrible things that took place here”.

On the morning after Gunner’s comments – hours before Rolfe was charged – the NT’s then Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Ken Fleming attended a rally at Alice Springs, where thousands gathered to protest after Walker’s death, and said “one of the most important mess­ages today is ‘Black Lives Matter’.

“Anybody who says contrary to that is guilty of corrupt behaviour,” he said.

A promised ICAC investi­gation into the shooting was to be headed by Fleming but after his rally speech, he was forced to remove himself from the probe and soon after retired. The probe never eventuated.

In 2022, after Rolfe was acquitted, ICAC investigated whether his murder charge had been politically influenced by Gunner or anyone else and found the claims were baseless.

If those leading our most powerful institutions do not show respect for this fundamental value, why would other politicians, let alone citizens who serve on a jury?

There are other matters of concern in Operation Charwell – the criminal investigation of the shooting. The police’s mission statement included this: “To provide a brief of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions in support of the offence as alleged against Constable Zachary Rolfe.”

The mission for police should have been to conduct a complete, accurate and reliable investigation of all evidence: that which supported the charge against Rolfe and that which did not.

According to police notes, a report was commissioned from a US criminologist about Rolfe’s use of force after NSW police advised NT police that “They were not keen to put themselves into the firing line if their SME [subject matter expert] offered an opinion that may be adverse.”

Did this mean NSW police didn’t want to express opinions that did not fit charging Rolfe?

The US criminologist, paid almost $100,000 for his 12-page report, was not provided with all the information on the incident but senior police told him via email that “it is important we make sure we have a good fit otherwise I will struggle to be able to convince my bosses of the value in utilising your extensive expertise”.

Given that Rolfe was arrested, did a “good fit” mean a report that fitted the mission statement of “in support of the offence” of murder?

If there is an ICAC investigation underway into these serious issues, the corruption watchdog won’t tell us.

The NT Police Professional Standards Command advised Rolfe’s lawyer that the Office of Ombudsman NT refused to investigate, stating it was “not in the public interest”. In response to Rolfe’s June complaint, the head of the PSC said he did not consider any further action was required.

It is passing strange that when The Australian sent questions to NT police on Monday, they said they were investigating Rolfe’s complaints. What is going on?

Had there not been a full public inquiry in the ACT, we would never have learned about serious wrongdoing by then DPP Shane Drumgold. The Rolfe fiasco raises similarly concerning questions about the conduct of police.

Only a thorough and public inquiry can settle concerns that Rolfe was the victim of brute politics, misguided social movements, a deeply flawed police investigation and serious failures to disclose material his lawyers should have had to properly defend him.


Australia's biased public broadcaster again

Special powers for blacks must not be questioned

Surely it’s no coincidence when addresses to the National Press Club by two of the nation’s most-prominent No campaigners – Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Warren Mundine – are apparently snubbed by ABC TV’s main channel?

Anyone who referred to the national broadcaster’s online TV guide on Thursday morning – just hours before Senator Price was due to give her powerful address in Canberra – could see that the live airing of her 12.30pm speech was not on the ABC main channel’s schedule.

Instead an episode of Hard Quiz was scheduled, and viewers who wanted to watch Senator Price’s speech would have had to switch to the ABC NEWS channel, which draws far fewer viewers.

A check of all the newspaper TV guides said the same thing: Senator Price’s address would not air on the main channel.

3AW broadcaster Neil Mitchell informed his listeners of this on Thursday morning, telling them: “Normally you would expect ABC television to broadcast the speech, well an email from Bernadette points out to me that they are not, they are going to put Hard Quiz on air instead.

“That can’t be right, that’s got to be an oversight, there is no way they would be so blatant to say, ‘Oh Jacinta Price is going to argue no, we will put a quiz show on instead’.”

Diary has been reliably informed it was Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson who took matters into her own hands on Thursday morning when she got wind of the ABC’s eyebrow-raising move.

The former ABC presenter phoned managing director David Anderson and shared some stern words.

Whatever was going on behind the scenes, it appears this call had significant impact because an 11th hour decision was made to air Senator Price’s speech.

Despite this, there was still no mention on the ABC’s online TV guides before the speech began and even the ABC’s helpline was telling callers they should switch to ABC NEWS channel to watch her address.

Diary asked the ABC what was going on and mid morning was told that Senator Price’s speech would be on the main channel due to “particular public interest in this event during the referendum campaign”.

When Senator Price’s spokesman was asked on the weekend what caused the ABC to drastically change its tune, he said: “Our office was alerted to this on Thursday morning, but we understand that when the matter was raised the ABC took action to run Senator Nampijinpa Price’s address on the main ABC channel.

“We believe it’s important that voters have equal opportunity to hear from all sides of the debate, and we’re glad the change in their programming schedule was able to be made.”

Apparently only the Wednesday NPC addresses are routinely aired on both ABC channels, which is fortunate for Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney, voice architect Professor Marcia Langton and Indigenous lawyer Noel Pearson, all planned for that midweek slot.

But what do viewers want to watch? Well, ABC TV’s YouTube channel shows viewers wanted to watch Senator Price in droves.

Her NPC address has drawn 84,000 views so far, compared to Professor Langton’s 17,000 views and Minister Burney’s 10,000 viewers.

Mr Mundine is due to give his NPC address on Tuesday, September 26, so Diary checked the ABC’s online guide to see where viewers could watch it. Not on the ABC.

Instead they were to be treated to an episode of the British series, Call the Midwife.

But after Diary put questions to the ABC, you guessed it, Mr Mundine’s address appeared on the ABC NEWS channel schedule, although not the main channel.

Diary asked Mundine about it on Sunday and he said, “It’s the ABC. They put all the Yes campaigners on the main channel and the No campaigners they drop to second class.

“They are not taking the referendum seriously, they are also picking a side.”

The ABC was asked about this on the weekend but did not respond.




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