Palaszczuk puts premiership on the line


Annastacia Palaszczuk has put her premiership on the line by sacking Billy Gordon, the Member for Cook, from the ALP and asking him to resign his seat.

The state of the parties now is that the LNP has 42, the ALP 43, the Katter Party has two and there are two independents, Peter Wellington and Billy Gordon. To govern a party needs 45 votes, including the casting vote of the speaker, currently Peter Wellington.

To cut to the chase, Gordon is not legally obliged to resign, and I suspect he won’t. The Katter Party are in talks with Labor, as they “don’t want to be in the business of tearing down governments every six months or every year.”

The Katter Party:

wants Labor’s commitment on improving regional roads, water development, mandating ethanol in fuel and setting up a rural development bank.

This whole matter was raised by Geoff Henderson on the NSW election thread. For posterity I’ll attempt to outline the relevant information here.

The Brisbane Times link contains the full text of Gordon’s statement about his past. His record with the law is summarised at the ABC:

  • Breaking and entering and stealing in 1987 in Innisfail
  • Breaking and entering with intent, attempted breaking and entering and stealing in 1990 in Atherton
  • Breach of probation in 1992 in Atherton
  • Public nuisance in 1996 in Normanton and breach of bail conditions in 1999
  • Driver licence suspended for unlicensed driving in 2004 and 2008
  • Served with an Apprehended Violence Order in 2008 after a complaint by his mother.

I understand he also falsified tax returns to avoid paying child support. Furthermore on Friday Palaszczuk referred Gordon to police amid allegations he abused a former partner a decade ago.

Gordon has deceived the public, the ALP in pre-selection and Palaszczuk said he looked her in the eye and lied to her. He should resign from parliament.

However, his statement published in the Brisbane Times makes much of his underprivileged upbringing and his yearning for a “perfect father figure” when he got into trouble with the law as a teenager. I get the impression that he has forgiven himself much, and will do so again. His latest statement:

Mr Gordon, the member for Cook, said in a statement he was weighing up his options and needed time to seek further legal advice and discuss the matter with his family and supporters.

“I am very concerned that I should be afforded natural justice in any determination that my tenure as the Member for Cook should be terminated because of [the Premier’s] move to see me expelled from the Labor Party and her wish for me to resign as a Member of Parliament,” the statement said.

“The Premier has previously requested that the Police Commissioner investigate whether I have transgressed any law and that process should be allowed to continue its natural course.

“Any other attempt to remove me from the Parliament and force me to resign is a denial of natural justice.”

He said in the statement he had a “serious eye operation” on Monday.

Legally Professor Graeme Orr of Queensland University said Mr Gordon could only be forced to resign from Parliament if he served more than a year in jail.

A question has been raised as to whether Labor should accept Gordon’s vote. Personally I think this would only further disenfranchise the citizens of Cook.

Meanwhile the Katter Party are asking quite a lot of a cash-strapped government. The alternatives then are trying to govern as a minority government, or going to the people. Katter plus LNP does not add up without Wellington, and it is doubtful that he would give the LNP a go.

I understand that the LNP in post-polling analysis believe that dislike of Campbell Newman was worth about 7% to Labor. On that basis they would expect to win in a canter. Graham Young who has also done some polling believes that there was a significant “protest vote element” of people wanting to send the Newman government a message, but not wanting to elect Labor.

Update: Gordon holds Cook on a margin of more that 6%.

Climate clippings 132

1. Accelerating ice loss from Antarctica shelves

Some ice shelves in Antarctica are thickening and some are thinning. The pattern between east and west is obvious from this image:

ice shelves_image-20150326-8713-1fyzwcb_600

When we sum up losses around Antarctica, we find that the change in volume of all the ice shelves was almost zero in the first decade of our record (1994-2003) but, on average, over 300 cubic kilometers per year were lost between 2003 and 2012.

According to the ABC story, some shelves lost almost 20% of their thickness.

Melting ice shelves does not itself cause sea level rise, but the shelves buttress land ice, which then becomes more mobile. The graph in the bottom corner of the image shows that East Antarctica is now also experiencing a net loss of ice from ice shelves.

2. Top polluters to set own limits virtually penalty free

ANU economist Frank Jotzo said the system is designed so no-one gets caught by it – a toothless tiger. Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute said the ideas proposed in the paper simply would not work. They were commenting on a Government consultation paper outlining “safeguards” to ensure the big polluters do not offset emissions saved through the Emission Reduction Fund (ERF), a flagship component of Direct Action.

Australia’s 140 top polluters will set their own limits for future pollution virtually penalty free, according to the Government’s latest Direct Action policy paper.

Companies subject to the safeguards will select a baseline, or limit, for future pollution.

That baseline will be set according to the highest peak of emissions from the past five years.

Just plain stoopid!

3. What’s going on in the North Atlantic?

Stefan Rahmstorf asks the question at RealClimate. There is a large patch in the North Atlantic which has cooled in the last century.


Rahmstorf explains:

Our recent study (Rahmstorf et al. 2015) attributes this to a weakening of the Gulf Stream System, which is apparently unique in the last thousand years.

In fact during last winter, which was the warmest on record for the planet overall, this patch had the coldest temperatures on record.

Chief suspect has to be the increasing freshwater coming off Greenland. There will be consequences.

The consequences of a large reduction in ocean overturning would look nothing like the Hollywood film The Day After Tomorrow. But they would not be harmless either – e.g. for sea level (Levermann et al. 2005) particularly along the US east coast (Yin et al. 2009), marine ecosystems, fisheries and possibly even storminess in Europe (Woollings et al. 2012).

A complete breakdown of the current was given up to a 10% chance this century in the IPCC report. This may have been an underestimate.

4. Rapid Arctic warming is changing the Jetstream and the weather

Another study, also involving Rahmstorf, looks at changing atmospheric circulation patterns due to Arctic warming.

The Arctic is warming faster than lower latitudes. The Jetstream velocity depends on temperature difference, hence it is slowing. It is also more wavy and has a tendency to get stuck, so heat or cold persists over a large area. Ironically, there is less storminess. Storms transport water onto land and break up persistent weather patterns.

The jet stream that circles Earth’s north pole travels west to east. But when the jet stream interacts with a Rossby wave, as shown here, the winds can wander far north and south.

Jet stream_b7acb6bc-724d-4e2e-9078-17bb01ce052b-550

5. Brisbane EV charging technology takes on the world

Brisbane-based electric vehicle infrastructure company, Tritium, has done a deal to supply its award-winning Veefil DC fast charging stations to America’s ChargePoint company. ChargePoint has 21,000 EV chargers around the US.

The Australian-made stations will be installed on major routes across the country, including the express charging corridors on both the east and west coasts of the US that are being built as part of a recent deal between ChargePoint, Volkswagen and BMW.

The 50kW Veefil stations – which in the US will be called DC Fast stations and will be ChargePoint branded – are able to deliver up to 80 miles or 128 kilometers of charge in just 20 minutes, thus removing one of the key barriers to EV uptake: range anxiety.