Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Labor voters revolt over Qatar as senate launches inquiry

The move to block Qatar is clearly designed to protect Qantas from competition

A new poll has shown Labor voters want Qatar Airways to be allowed to expand its Australian services despite the federal government moving to block the expansion.

The news comes at the same time as the Senate narrowly passed an inquiry into the Albanese government’s handling of the issue.

Critics have argued the decision will both reduce the number of seats for sale into Australia, and hinder competition that could bring prices down. It’s also drawn criticism from Virgin Australia, a close codeshare party of the overseas carrier.

On Wednesday, a new poll by RedBridge Group, reported in the Australian Financial Review, showed 59 per cent support of extra Qatar flights among Labor voters surveyed, with 56 per cent of all voters sampled wanting the Middle Eastern flag carrier to be allowed to put on additional services.

RedBridge director Tony Barry told the AFR that Labor was not just tone-deaf but “stone deaf” on the Qatar issue, adding that Transport Minister Catherine King’s decision is hurting the party’s own base.

“For most Australians, particularly those with loved ones overseas, travel isn’t a luxury purchase, it’s a cost-of-living issue,” he said.

Support from Labor voters for Qatar was highest in Queensland at 55 per cent, with 53 per cent support in both NSW and Victoria. Among all voters, 12 per cent were opposed to Qatar’s bid to operate an extra 28 services per week across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, with 32 per cent unsure. 1,001 people were surveyed.

The polling comes as the Senate establishes an inquiry into the reasons for the Government’s decision to block the expansion of Qatar’s air rights, a move which was supported by Qantas but staunchly opposed by Qatar codeshare partner Virgin Australia. Queensland’s state Labor government has also signalled it would approve Qatar’s expansion.


Journalists rebel against Walkley Awards ‘virtue signalling’

Calls to boycott the Walkley Awards because of the event’s links to petroleum company Ampol have met a growing backlash from the nation’s top journalists, with eight-times Walkley winner Hedley Thomas urging colleagues to stand up for the awards “lest our craft be further undermined by knee-jerk ­activism”.

The Australian’s national chief correspondent added his voice to the debate after legendary political correspondent Laurie Oakes branded the boycott – proposed by a group of cartoonists – as “white-anting” that would further undermine public trust in ­journalism.

Other cartoonists, including the Herald Sun’s Mark Knight, The Daily Telegraph’s Warren Brown and The Australian’s Johannes Leak, have slammed the boycott. “The custodians of the journalism awards should not be cowed,” said Thomas, who has twice been a member of the ­Walkley judging board.

“There will be no end to ­demands from activists if they sense weakness in the Walkley Foundation and leadership team.

“Those who are currently ­attacking the Walkley Awards for having been supported by ­‘fossil fuel’ companies deserve, in absentia, a new gong – Most ­Hollow Virtue Signalling – at the 2023 event in Sydney in ­November.

“Our annual celebrations of journalism are always bleary, but I can’t recall seeing a bicycle rack outside the Walkleys, nor any of the current critics pedalling there in past years.


Voice is little more than an elite grab for money and power

Whichever way the voice referendum goes, division and acrimony will surely follow. Like so many government policy initiatives these days, this one is about “the vibe”, consequences be damned. Should the voice be rejected, the people’s verdict is unlikely to be respected. Public protests and unrelenting demands for a treaty, self-determination and reparations will follow. At home and abroad, Australians will be portrayed as racists.

If the proposal is carried, a small racial minority will have constitutional privileges denied the majority of Australians. It will permanently define our system of government as one country, two systems. It will establish a platform for the politics of envy. The very expectation of race-based benefits is no doubt reflected in the latest census, which recorded a 25 per cent jump in those identifying as Indigenous.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart may be well-intended, but its authors are open to the charge that it’s really about more power and money for elites. After all, Indigenous people are anything but voiceless now. Indeed, in the past 15 years, thousands of Indigenous voices have been heard and tens of billions of taxpayer dollars, together with royalties and service payments, invested where the collective voices recommended. It is not clear how an additional voice will improve Indigenous lives.

We are told the voice is about respect. But surely Indigenous people are paid respect daily? Senior Indigenous voices have permanent positions on peak Indigenous bodies, agencies and summits. Land rights have been extended to 55 per cent of the continent. Every day, non-Indigenous Australians demonstrate respect in rituals, acknowledging Indigenous elders past and present, and the traditional custodians of the land on which they stand. Letterheads are adorned with respectful acknowledgments and places are being given Indigenous names. Indigenous flags have become more ubiquitous than the national flag. Most importantly, there are 25 Indigenous members in federal, state and territory parliaments, which, based on population, is an overweight representation. This is surely the ultimate sign of respect.

Former PM Kevin Rudd’s apology in federal parliament for the “Stolen Generation” was hailed at the time as of immense significance in Australia’s journey towards reconciliation and healing. Fifteen years on, it has done little to generate reciprocal respect and goodwill from Indigenous leaders.

Dispassionate analysis of Indigenous conditions points to the greatest concentration of misery being where Indigenous voices are loudest. While reliable statistics are limited, it seems on important metrics such as life expectancy Indigenous people in remote communities die seven to eight years earlier than their peers in the cities.

These communities are also where child neglect and sexual abuse are reaching epidemic proportions. The rate at which Indigenous children were removed from their families increased by 80 per cent between 2008 and 2017, the years following Rudd’s apology. Of the $4.1bn spent on community support and welfare services, the largest proportion (29 per cent) is spent on child protection and out-of-home care (compared with 6.5 per cent for non-Indigenous people). In years to come will they be characterised as another “stolen generation”?

It’s no good blaming British colonialism or endemic racism for these conditions. After decades of widespread community goodwill and tangible support from governments, it’s time for the Indigenous industry to recognise it too is not blameless. It could have addressed these issues through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission back in 1990. ATSIC had a legislative mandate that gave it an increasingly independent voice on policy to government. But ATSIC was beset by incompetence, mismanagement and, allegedly, serious criminal behaviour by its leadership. It was disbanded in 2005. Had it been enshrined in the Constitution, it would still be there.


What is mis-dis in climate change debate?

Speaking in Suva in July 2022, Anthony Albanese declared a climate emergency in the Pacific. This came after joining regional leaders in Fiji to warn Australia’s neighbours face an immediate threat to their security and wellbeing. Pacific islands were sinking under rising sea levels, claimed the islands.

But back in January 2021, ABC News had reported new research that found hundreds of islands in the Pacific are growing in land size. Sticking stubbornly to the climate alarmist playbook like most politicians, the Prime Minister appears to give cover to those agitating for ever more draconian actions through misinformation about climate change.

At last count, a global network of over 1,600 scientists and professionals had signed the CLINTEL Climate Declaration stating there is no climate emergency. Climate Intelligence (CLINTEL) is an independent foundation that operates in the fields of climate change and climate policy. CLINTEL was founded in 2019 by emeritus professor of geophysics Guus Berkhout and science journalist Marcel Crok.

The persistent climate alarmism, now at ‘global boiling’ hysteria level, is one of the most pernicious elements of discussion in the public square. How would fact-checkers in the proposed new world of mis-dis laws deal with the diametrically opposed views within not just politics but science itself? The ruling orthodoxy as espoused by government is based on science that is still largely a science of computer simulations. The reality is, as often emphasised by scientists not captured by the orthodoxy or reliant on it, climate science is full of wicked problems; uncertainty not consensus is the dominant status.

When tech giant Meta suspended its partnership with FactLab at the beginning of September 2023, some took that as a public indication of how risky it is to have fact-checking as a fixture of media oversight. That relationship break-up was over apprehended bias in regards to fact-checking amidst the Voice referendum discussions online. Climate change is a topic ripe for such controversial procedures. The disparaging of and billion dollar funding for climate alarm orthodoxy skews the integrity of fact checking carried out on behalf of the ruling orthodoxy.

What would fact-checkers make, say, of geology Professor Ian Plimer’s observation that, ‘Annual human emissions (3 per cent of the total) of carbon dioxide [in the atmosphere] are meant to drive global warming. This has never been shown. If it could be shown, then it would also have to be shown that natural emissions (97 per cent) don’t drive global warming.’ The 3 per cent of the total of 0.04 per cent of carbon dioxide, 0.0012 per cent, is what climate alarmists tell politicians is frying the planet. (That 97 per cent from natural sources includes outgassing from the ocean, decomposing vegetation and other biomass, venting volcanoes, naturally occurring wildfires, and belches from ruminant animals.)

‘When a society loses the desire to know the truth, that is a precursor to totalitarianism,’ observed author, Holocaust survivor, and political philosopher Hanna Arendt (1906–1975). And the truth is not going to be revealed by mis-dis fact checkers who are powered by authority to enforce the ruling orthodoxy.

It is indeed loudly broadcast disinformation that perpetrated the absurdity of climate alarmism in the first place. The unreliability of global warming enthusiasts was demonstrated long ago when Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, was criticised in October 2007 by a high court judge in Britain who highlighted what he said were ‘nine scientific errors’ in the film. The mistakes identified mainly deal with the predicted impacts of climate change, and include Gore’s claims that a sea-level rise of up to 6 metres would be caused by melting in either west Antarctica or Greenland ‘in the near future’. The judge said: ‘This is distinctly alarmist and part of Mr Gore’s ‘wake-up call’.’ He accepted that melting of the ice would release this amount of water ‘but only after, and over, millennia’.

How would mis-dis fact checkers deal with that part of the story?

The zealotry of climate and energy minister Chris Bowen, for example, helps propel any fact-checker to equal zealotry, ignoring the thousands of scientists who have nothing to gain by challenging the orthodoxy.

Dr Richard Lindzen, former MIT Professor of Atmospheric Science and past IPCC contributor, says: ‘The narrative of climate alarm … is pretty absurd. Many people (though by no means all) have great difficulty entertaining this possibility. They can’t believe that something so absurd could gain such universal acceptance.’




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