Weekly salon 9/12

1. Leading scientists condemn political inaction on climate change as Australia ‘literally burns’

    Leading scientists have expressed concern about the lack of focus on the climate crisis as bushfires rage across New South Wales and Queensland, saying it should be a “wake-up call” for the government.

    Climate experts who spoke to Guardian Australia said they were “bewildered” the emergency had grabbed little attention during the final parliamentary sitting week for the year, which was instead taken up by the repeal of medevac laws, a restructure of the public service, and energy minister Angus Taylor’s run-in with the American author Naomi Wolf.

The New York Times ran a similar story in Australia Burns Again, and Now Its Biggest City Is Choking.

The New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage has issued health warnings:

    In November, the department recorded 15 days of poor air quality, far beyond the monthly norm. On Monday, the levels of PM2.5, the most harmful form of pollutant, were 22 times the accepted safety level — the equivalent of smoking more than a pack of cigarettes a day. Pollution levels were expected to reach similar heights on Friday.

PM Morrison, they say, has doubled down on his denialism, has suggested that some forms of protest should be outlawed, has refused to meet with retired firefighters who have warned for months that more resources are desperately needed, but on Friday acknowledged that the haze in Sydney “has been very distressing to people” so he recommended downloading an app that tracks the fires.

Mark Howden, the director of the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute and a vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):

    “Yesterday they did a public service reshuffle, or there was medevac, or the ‘union-busting’ bill,” he said.

    “The government chooses the points they want to discuss in the parliament and the fact they haven’t chosen to discuss it sends a message to me.

    “Essentially, it’s a question of priorities, that’s how I interpret it.”

2. Cancelling Medevac was a shocker

Katharine Murphy reminds us why the Medevac Bill had been necessary:

    Medevac wasn’t imposed on the government because of a cheap bit of chamber theatrics. It was imposed on the government because the government was failing the people it put on Nauru and Manus; because there was a humanitarian disaster playing out on our watch.

    That’s why matters were taken out of the government’s hands. That’s why the new system was enacted: because people were ailing, and suffering, and dying, and there was no credible evidence the medevac system was creating significant problems.

Murphy says she understands Senator Jacqui Lambie has a letter from Morrison indicating the government will pursue resettlement with New Zealand after the current deal with the United States is exhausted. If so, it is hard to see why this had to remain secret.

Lambie made clear as soon as she returned to Canberra after the election that her vote was for sale. On this one she has lost all sympathy. It’s not ethical and it’s not democracy. It’s a perversion of the concept of the Senate as a house of review.

3. Folau does a deal

I think I said about all I needed to say about Folau in This is bigger than Folau.

I think the Folau case has demonstrated that it is simply not acceptable in a civilised society for public figures to trot out harmful rubbish in the name of religion and free speech. The coach was going to refuse to coach him, some of the players would refuse to play with him, the sponsors would be upset, and the brand of Rugby Australia would be damaged.

Just as a reminder, this is what he originally posted:

And this is what Folau posted next to it:

Just to remind us that he would never give up he recently suggested that the devastating bushfires ravaging parts of Australia were God’s way of punishing the country for legalising same-sex marriage, as picked up by the BBC.

For Rugby Australia, it was about brand protection and contract law. Folau was suing for $14 million in damages with well-heeled legal backing. Last week the parties settled out of court. RA chief Raeline Castle said the decision was a “commercial” one:

    “We didn’t back down — we needed to give the game some certainty,” she said.

    “This was that. And it is a situation where the settlement is less than the cost of a trial going ahead.

    “Taking this conversation further into a court situation was not in the best interests of the game.”

There were mutual apologies, but on the part of RA I’d suggest these were less than genuine.

I heard commentary suggesting that there is a difference between law and justice, just as there can be a difference between ‘proof’ and ‘truth’.

So nothing of substance was resolved. See also Mary Gearin Rugby union’s called time in its clash with Israel Folau, but bigger scores remain unsettled. Simon Falstaff’s earlier comment The Israel Folau crowdfunding saga is not about freedom of religion is also interesting.

4. Three issues remain

Laura Tingle in her 7.30 wrap of the year found that more had been promised than delivered. Three issues big at the beginning of the year remain – climate change, the economy and China. However, her AFR/ABC column carries the promise of more action to come.

Soon after the election she had a conversation with a “figure at the very centre of the Government”. She suggested that Morrison’s emphasis on service delivery might mean the end of the ideological wars, giving way to a concentration on basic service delivery.

Did this mean the Government might abandon some of its ideological warfare against institutions?

Wrong!

    “Don’t be ridiculous,” this person snorted. “If anything, this Government is more ideologically driven than Abbott. They want to win the culture wars they see in education, in the public service, in all of our institutions, and they’ll come for the ABC too, of course. There will be a big cleanout at the top of the public service, but Morrison will wait for a while to do that. They believe the Left has been winning the war for the last 20 years and are determined to turn the tables. Morrison will just be craftier about the way he goes about it.”

Turnbull had commissioned a review of the public service by former businessman David Thodey in March 2018. The review was delivered in August 2019, when Phillip Coorey reported Morrison’s reaction:


    “The Thodey review is in its final stages, but I have already made it clear in speaking to all the secretaries of all departments – in fact, even before I swore my Ministry in – what my expectations were,” he said.

    “And this is of a very public-facing public service. A public service that is very focused on the delivery of programs.

    “Implementation, implementation, doing.” This was the case whether it was the roll-out of infrastructure programs or those to assist veterans and Indigenous Australians.

Thodey apparently found:

    About 70 per cent of federal public servants work on implementation or service delivery, with 20 per cent developing policies.

    The remaining 10 per cent is split between specialist support and regulation enforcement.

Clearly Morrison doesn’t need any reviews to guide him. I think the Quiet Australia Policy linked elsewhere by Zoot may be close to the bone.

I’m not usually usually big on Annabel Crabb, but her piece For Scott Morrison, electoral triumph has brought a weirdly shrunken field of vision is definitely worth a look.

5. Wolf v Taylor

This is what Angus Taylor said in his maiden speech in parliament, according to Aaron Patrick in the AFR:

    “It was 1991, and a young Naomi Wolf lived a couple of doors down the corridor.

    “Several graduate students, mostly from the north-east of the US, decided we should abandon the Christmas tree in the common room because some people might be offended.

    “I was astounded. A few of us pushed back hard. In the end we won, because we were mainstream. But we must resist the insidious political correctness that would have us discard those core values that have made us great.”

From that anyone would get the impression that young Angus took on the great Naomi Wolf on a matter of political correctness and won. Wolf certainly thought so when a mischievous Labor MP brought the matter to her attention. She said:


    “I was a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford 1985-88,” Wolf has said. “Angus Taylor recalls me in a fever dream at Oxford in 1991 among those warring on Xmas. I was in NYC. Plus I love Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa. Flattered to be on this mythological hate list.”

She was born in 1962, four years before Taylor. She says you have to complete your scholarship before you are 24. She wanted a correction, an admission he was wrong. When she rang up his office, during a Christmas party, got a staffer, who had had a few and was feeling happy. They obviously knew she was on the warpath.

“No no no no no no no no”. Taylor wasn’t implying Wolf was against Christmas. That was an entirely different sentence. But she was indeed in Oxford in 1991, with knowledge superior to Wolf herself about where she was.

Wolf says:


    “I was a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford 1985-88,” Wolf has said. “Angus Taylor recalls me in a fever dream at Oxford in 1991 among those warring on Xmas. I was in NYC. Plus I love Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa. Flattered to be on this mythological hate list.”

That year she was elsewhere promoting her book The Beauty Myth, as a witness who slept on her couch in New York will attest.

Then this from Taylor in parliament:

    Taylor came out swinging in question time at Parliament House on Thursday and demanded she apologise. He was emphatic he met Wolf while he was at university, saying: “Of course I recall seeing and meeting Ms Wolf at New College in Oxford during my time there.” He then called on her to apologise for her “deeply offensive” attack, saying: “Her accusation of antisemitism is wrong and deeply offensive to me and my family. Mr Speaker, my grandmother was Jewish and my belief in Judeo-Christian values is deeply held. I call for her to apologise for these unsubstantiated and outrageous accusations.”

Hard to see what Taylor’s grandmother had to do with whether Wolf was in Oxford in 1991. She was asking for a standard correction of fact.

The man is a clown, but he flew into Madrid yesterday to represent our country on climate change. He’ll make a speech explaining why it’s OK for Australia to use accounting tricks instead of doing anything significant about emissions reduction.

He’s a novice in this forum, where many representatives from other countries have been active for years, have built relationships internationally and know what they are talking about. Taylor, however, will make a speech and then shoot through on Wednesday, leaving matters to a newly appointed public service chief negotiator to make Australia’s pathetic case at the business end of the conference.

44 thoughts on “Weekly salon 9/12”

  1. “Don’t be ridiculous”, this person snorted.

    That’s a quote to keep in mind as the changes begin to be rolled out.

    Implementation sounds such a neutral, can-do, let’s all just roll up our sleeves and get on with it, …. sort of a word.

    Echoes of Mr Howard’s “practical reconciliation”?

    Ambi of the Reindeer and Volcanoes
    Lapping it up.

  2. I didn’t get to mention that the latest Newspoll has the LNP comfortably ahead 52-48. All that has changed in the primary vote is that the Greens have slipped a point, and the LNP gained a point.

    In terms of accuracy and margin of error nothing much has changed, but the bottom line is that the nonsense going on in Canberra has not made any significant difference to the polls.

    Albanese seems to have picked up a bit on personal terms, and scores well on trust, which is good as far as it goes.

  3. I would like to think that the quiet Australian Policy is a joke Zoot. Please quietly reassure me, reassure me……

  4. Essential has Labor ahead at 51.5% 2PP.
    Even more interesting is that on the subject of Angus Taylor and the lord mayor:
    35% said he should be stood down, 19% said he shouldn’t be stood down and 48% said they weren’t following the issue.
    Message to me is that most people are bored by this sort of stuff and seeing as the pursuit of mindless debating points – a point of view that the noisy leader of “quiet Australia” knows how to exploit.

  5. John, do you have a link for Essential? I read a commentary by William Bowe (Poll Bludger) which said Essential were still not asking people about their vote.

  6. Folau seems determined to join Australia’s history of “interesting” people.

    William James Chidley, Bee Miles, Arthur Stace, now Israel Folau. Oh,…. and Anthony Abbott.

  7. John Howard, Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison,… That is three climate criminal graves I intend to urinate upon, even if I have to establish a trust to perform it on hot Summer’s days should I not live long enough.

  8. Anyone interested in an entertaining UK election coverage could do worse than Guerilla Cricket on YouTube.
    Banter, jingles, larfs, the odd swear yet the upper end of low brow.

    Of the 3 commentators, 2 have disclosed voteing Labour and the other conscientiously declined.

  9. Scott Morrison, “I believe in miracles; I always have.”

    Jeremy Corbyn, “I never believed in miracles; I still don’t!”

  10. Can we at least agree that the voters in the UK have again voted resoundingly for Brexit.

    Third time they’ve done that.

  11. Yes, and several prominent Labour figures are saying that many voters resented the UK Labour Party’s hesitancy over carrying out Brexit.

    As I recall, Leader Corbyn scarcely campaigned during the Cameron referendum. Then equivocated (keenly aware that many Labor voters in the North had voted “Leave”); then hesitated; then said “we’ll need to have a second referendum”. And just to put a cherry on top, he then refused to say how he was likely to vote if a second referendum were held. *

    Leadership???

    Reminds me of that old saying:
    I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.

    * making Bill Shorten look like an experienced and forthright statesman. ….

  12. Jumpy:

    Can we at least agree that the voters in the UK have again voted resoundingly for Brexit.

    NOPE: The voters in England may have been silly enough to vote so but the voters in Scotland are unlikely to agree. (Not sure where Ireland and Wales stand.) Could be time for a Scexit.
    Could also be time for Labor to rethink the way it selects leaders.

  13. John, it was a UK ELECTION
    If after this, if Sturgeon gets another Scotland independence referendum, and it gets up ( unlike the 2014 one ), then Scotland puts its big boy pants on and leaves the UK.
    Simple.

    When conservatives are on the loosing side of a vote they accept the will of the majority.
    The left don’t.

  14. It’s strange that the UK LDP is far left but the Australian LDP is the sensible freedom centre.

    Bye, bye Swinson btw, good riddance.

  15. Mr Corbyn says there is no hurry for him to quit; he will be Leader during the forthcoming “period of reflection”.

    At least in the Antipodes we have a healthy tradition that failed leaders push off quick smart after an election loss. Quicker after a landslide.

    What’s that you say? St Gough after his 1975 election loss?? Stayed on as leader, retaining the Leadership by a winning margin of one vote, which presumably included his own vote and that of his son, an MHR? ?

    Surely not? ?!!!

  16. I congratulate Jumpy on the news that his team has won another premiership. Excellent barracking sir, I’m sure they couldn’t have done it without you.

  17. At least in the Antipodes we have a healthy tradition that failed leaders push off quick smart after an election loss.

    Like Abbott A and Rudd K??

  18. Jumpy:

    John, it was a UK ELECTION.

    Scotland is only part of the UK because they lost a war to the English. Ditto Wales and Ireland.
    A majority of Scottish voters voted against Brexit.

  19. John

    Scotland is only part of the UK because they lost a war to the English.

    In the 2014 referendum ?
    Dude, this is why greens get thrashed at every election.

  20. When conservatives are on the loosing losing side of a vote they accept the will of the majority.

    The problem was, Jumpy, that the right were all over the place on Brexit, and no-one could agree on what it meant.

    The UK election was, I suspect, as much about what people did not want as what they wanted.

  21. The podcast I mentioned above makes passing mention of Vladimir Putin’s role in the original Brexit referendum.
    All water under the bridge now.

    I predict Brexit will be a case of ‘careful what you wish for’.

    [Jumpy, screen shot that and torture me with it in a few years if you so wish.]

  22. Jumpy: Scotland’s UK election results deliver another independence mandate, says First Minister.

    Scotland’s First Minister says the United Kingdom’s election results show that Scottish voters should be given another referendum on whether to remain with or leave the union it helped create in 1707.

    Key points:
    Scotland created the United Kingdom with England and Wales in 1707
    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland did not want to leave the EU
    Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has lost her seat to a Scottish nationalist
    The pro-Scottish independence Scottish National Party (SNP) has taken 48 of 59 Scottish seats in the UK parliament’s House of Commons, representing a gain of 12 seats compared to the 2017 general election.
    Speaking in reference to early preliminary exit polls suggesting an SNP landslide, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared the election result another “mandate” for independence.

    Since this is a 2019 vote it is not unreasonable to be considered more important than a 2014 vote where there was no suggestion that the English would impose BREXIT on Scotland Despite Scottish wishes..

  23. John, if the rest of Australia imposed Shorten on QLD it wouldn’t be a trigger for a QLD Independence Referendum.

    Anyway, best the SNP play nice with the Conservatives because they need Westminster’s approval to hold another referendum.

  24. they need Westminster’s approval to hold another referendum.

    Can’t the Scottish Parliament hold one – devolution and all that?
    I defer to your expertise in British Constitutional Law.

  25. Jumpy:

    if the rest of Australia imposed Shorten on QLD it wouldn’t be a trigger for a QLD Independence Referendum.

    I guess Qld would be the same as Scotland if Qld had become part of Australia after an invasion from NSW backed up by massacres of Qld citizens followed by the forced deporting of a significant number of deporting of Scottish citizens to some far away country so traditional agriculture could be replaced by sheep grazing.
    I appreciate that quite a few Qld Aborigines might want to say that that is exactly what happened in Qld or that some other Qld citizens might think of NZ Joh as part of this story of conquest by cunning foreigners but that doesn’t make what happened to Scotland right.
    (The fact that Boris is associated with the far right doesn’t make things right either.)

  26. John.
    (The fact that Boris is associated with the far right doesn’t make things right either.)

    Please don’t insult everyone’s intelligence by playing the supposedly “ associated “ game.
    Corbyn, that the Scots wanted, has a very large circle of terrible folk he’s “ associated “ with.

    Scotland like Australia is only just a place name.
    We’re all just Africans initially aren’t we ?

  27. More rumours of WA wanting to secede than Qld, weren’t there?

    A Federation of (very recent) modern States is somewhat different, I suggest, Lord Jumpy, than nations which were kingdoms for centuries with different royal lines. Let alone differences of language and law and traditions, laddie.

    Aye, and Edinburgh was the leading intellectual centre on the sceptred isle for several generations, laddie.

    Best stick to your “everyone is out of Africa, no differences to get het up about” stuff.

    There’s a wild man in a kilt all set to put you right, laddie. That’s a dagger down his sock.

  28. The main issue north of the Tweed is not that the whole state wants to secede, it’s that provincial parts of Qld have a great difficulty in accepting Brisbane as the seat of state power. Remember this cartoon from the Townsville Bulletin soon after the election:

  29. Apparently a great many branches of my family tree have Scot names.
    Also Irish and English and German and probably hundreds of other place names that go back further.

    Who should I hold a grudge against for actions of a group I never knew against another group I didn’t know ?
    Or should I just take every individual as guilt free till they prove otherwise on whatever particular spot on Earth.

  30. Or should I just take every individual as guilt free till they prove otherwise on whatever particular spot on Earth.

    All except those filthy socialist leftists who are totally deserving of your undying hatred.
    Now, please join me in a few choruses of Kumbaya …

  31. Jumpy:

    “everyone is out of Africa, no differences to get het up about”

    Err: Humans have been fighting each other in Africa for a long, long time and fighting each other outside of Africa for a wee few years too. Get your facts right before insisting that the Scots should meekly put up with stupid crap from south of the border.

  32. John, that wasn’t a quote from me.
    Get your facts right first.

    The fact is, folk that have almost everything in common have been fighting about tiny differences forever.

    You identify as a Scottish victim on Aboriginal land dude, either shit or get off the pot, go back to Scotland or quit assuming some sort of stolen oppression valour.

  33. Jumpy, John can speak for himself, but I perceive him to be speaking about the Scots in Scotland, not about himself.

  34. Brian, you and I both know John has talked about his emotional attachment to some sort of Scottish heritage.
    Genetic heritage nostalgia is corrosive to present day harmony.

    But hey, if the Folk on Scotland now what to be independent from a club they only just 5 years ago said democratically they wanted to be in, fine.

    My guess is, in 24ish months when the UK is rocketing economically, BoJo will let another referendum in Scotland happen.

  35. The fact is, folk that have almost everything in common have been fighting about tiny differences forever.

    Just like you in this thread. You might find life less stressful if you resist commenting while you’re drinking.

  36. Jumpy:

    Brian, you and I both know John has talked about his emotional attachment to some sort of Scottish heritage. Genetic heritage nostalgia is corrosive to present day harmony.

    Hmmmm. And Jumpy rants are all about a peaceful world that is good for everyone?

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