Weekly salon 14/9

1. Barilaro blows himself up

That was the AFR’s irrepressible cartoonist David Rowe opposite Laura Tingle’s weekly column Crisis spins from COVID-19 to koalas in the premier state also published at ABC Online as The Nationals’ dummy spit over koalas is another sign of their ongoing struggle for relevance.

Barilaro would have us believe it was about an existential threat to farmers’ capacity to manage their land, or more plainly to fell trees inhabited by koalas.

Seems it is more about developers clearing land for housing.

Why would Barilaro raise this now after the laws were passed in March by a government that included the Nationals in Coalition? Laws which were:

    designed to protect endangered koalas by increasing number of tree species which need planning exemptions to show they are not koala habitat, or that development will not adversely affect koala habitat.

Barilaro extracted exactly nothing from Premier Berejiklian. Cabinet will discuss the matter further exactly when originally scheduled.

If the Nationals want a deal like WA had from 2008 – a Liberal minority government with two National cabinet minister, a guarantee of supply, but the right to vote against issues that affected the regions, then the time to negotiate that is when forming a government after an election, not unilaterally at the time of their choosing.

State chairman of the Nationals, Andrew Fraser, wrote to party members on Thursday that “it is now a real make or break situation for our party”.

I know very little about politics in NSW, but I suspect the existential threat is to the National Party itself, and the real worry is Shooters and Fishers and the like.

Barilaro has now been asked by senior Liberals to consider his position.

2. Original sin in politics

Peter Brent in The gloves are off tells us that Team Australia has been disbanded, the notion that all the leaders would put party politics aside and co-operate in the national interest is over.

Brent says:

    long before the pandemic, among committed Liberals, Andrews was the most loathed Labor leader in the country. They see him as the most “left wing” of the lot. In fact Victorian Liberal MPs, state and federal, seem to view his very existence as an affront, and many of them have quite evidently been bristling under the Covid-19 political détente. And parts of News Corp, not just Sky After Dark, have also whipped themselves into a “Dictator Dan” frenzy. Everyone’s spending more time these days on the internet, a place not known for its calming influence.

Then Newspoll showed a dip in the Coalition’s fortunes, so:

    “federal sources” attributed the Newspoll findings to “frustration with the Morrison government being unable to influence border closures and other state government impositions.”

So the gloves are off.

Andrews, Brent says, may not have returned serve and may hope for better days. However:

    it’s hard to see Andrews still being premier at the next election in 2022, not (directly) because of Sunday’s or any other announcement, but due to that original sin — those hotel quarantine blunders — which has led to all these deaths and misery. That will always haunt him. (Emphasis added)

In fact the attacks on Andrews started well before last week by Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt.

3. Has Palaszczuk suffered a king hit?

It certainly looks like it.

As Brent pressed the ‘publish’ button, news came through of what may be seen from a future standpoint as Annastacia Palaszczuk flaming out in her political career. He linked to a Brisbane Times article about Canberra woman Sarah Caisip ‘My dad is dead and you made me fight to see him but it was too late’.

Queensland authorities tried to play according to the rules they had set up, but the rules could not be made to work in the situation we found ourselves in, that is, the real world.

And there is a question of competence.

Of the many articles I’ve seen so far, I’d suggest:

Grattan on Friday: When grief meets politics, it is sad and ugly

Scott Parnell in Is Palaszczuk in danger of keeping everyone safe except herself?

Well, no, not everyone. She had a duty of care to people in Northern New South Wales.

There are many parts to this story, many are worse than could be imagined. I can’t do justice to it in this space, but in political terms I suspect Palaszczuk is toast. Parnell says Labor has built a presidential-style re-election campaign around Palaszczuk. That plan is now in disarray, and probably not recoverable in the space of a few weeks, if ever.

Still, politics in Queensland can offer surprises, so the future is open. The CM says the YouGov poll taken at the end of August shows Palaszczuk’s net support at -5, as against the LNP’s Deb Frecklington’s -21. Party vote was LNP 38, Labor 32, Greens 12, and Other (Katter One Nation etc) 18, giving a TPP of 56-44 to the LNP. Yet on most government functions Labor is favoured over the LNP.

The attacks from Morrison did not start last week, they go back to at least mid-May, supported by others, notably Peter Duncan and Andrew Laming, Member for Bowman, which have been loud and routinely bending the truth.

4. Australians stranded abroad say they’re mentally exhausted trying to get home amid coronavirus

The Government has capped returns at 4000 per week, and a spat has developed whether it is the states or the Feds to blame, with health Minister Greg Hunt saying he is working constructively with the states to get everyone home by Christmas.

This should not be a problem as the figures at the bottom of the first link show the states are taking 3,975 per week (with NSW doing the heavy lifting), so with about 15 weeks to Christmas and 25,000 wanting to return, the states are providing capacity to take close to 60,000.

It is opportunistic and egregious for the Commonwealth to be blaming the states on what is one of their core responsibilities. Many of the people stranded overseas have no jobs, are borrowing money to live, can’t afford the expensive seats available, or find themselves with no travel links at all.

5. Saving the environment

Scott Morrison has a duty of care to the planet, and to the web of life thereupon, that he seems incapable of understanding and appreciating. The simple story is this:

  • The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) 1999 has not protected the environment in Australia. The Federal Government set up an inquiry under former ACCC chief Prof Graeme Samuels to undertake an Independent Review.
  • The interim report published on 20 July recommends legally enforceable “national standards” to stop the decline of Australia’s natural environment, “one-stop shop” or “single-touch approvals” by delegation to the states, and a “strong, independent cop on the beat”, but no new “climate trigger” as argued for by many conservationists.
  • While the report was being prepared, the Auditor General released a report finding 80 per cent of approvals under the laws were non-compliant or contained errors.

Labor claims there had been 510 per cent blowout in environmental approvals made on time because of a 40 per cent cut in funding for the environment department.

In the last Weekly salon at Item 6 I reported on how the Government tried to ram new legislation through the parliament without debate.

Apparently it was a rehash of failed Abbott legislation, with delegation to the states, no standards and no cop on the beat. To me, delegation to the states invites corruption and industry capture.

This legislation was deemed so urgent that it could not wait for the final report, due in October. Fortunately, Labor and the Greens were able to delay the legislation in the recent sitting. Laura Tingle now reports (link above) that Centre Alliance’s Stirling Griff and independents Rex Patrick and Jacqui Lambie have said they won’t vote for the changes when they hit the Senate next month. With One Nation, the Government only needs support from one of that trio to pass legislation.

Adam Morton from The Guardian tells of a study of 220 scientists which shows Australian scientists say logging, mining and climate advice is being suppressed:

    The society found about a third of government and industry-employed ecologists and conservation scientists who responded said they had experienced undue modification of their work. About half the government scientists and nearly 40% of those working for industry said they had been blocked from releasing or discussing what they had found either publicly or internally where they worked.

    Slightly more than half of all respondents (56%) said they felt the constraints on public commentary had become more severe in recent years.

Colleague Lisa Cox writes of the ‘Recipe for extinction’: why Australia’s rush to change environment laws is sparking widespread concern.

An independent watchdog and written standards are the last things this government wants. Underlying their whole approach to government they reveal a disturbing lack of respect for science and truth.

103 thoughts on “Weekly salon 14/9”

  1. Brian: “Has Palaszczuk suffered a king hit?” It will be a good thing if Palaszczuk appears to have suffered by playing the Qld first card a bit too hard.

  2. “Underlying their whole approach to government they reveal a disturbing lack of respect for science and truth.”

    This is becoming a common theme in wannabe Authoritarian themed governments. US Brazil Australia and probably next the UK.

  3. Netherlands’ second Covid wave is well underway as people become complacent and possibly through schools opening . Fortunately deaths haven’t increased at pace, but that might be just a matter of time.

  4. Groetjes bilb2

    They say the infection lasts around 14 days (mean) and of course death would take a while to eventuate….

    The inhumane might say “the death time series lags behind the infections time series.”

    I hope this helps,

    A. Doctor

  5. “Paul Keating tells royal commission HECS-style loans should fund home aged care.” The loans would be repaid from the person’s estate when they die.
    Part of the problem for many old people is that their money is tied up in assets such as houses that are difficult to cash in, particularly when you are old and starting to lose it.
    Expect a lot of opposition from potential heirs.
    What happens to people who simply don’t have enough assets?
    What happens if the price of houses tanks. (Care downgraded?)
    Welfare as a HECS style loan has attractions.

  6. John,

    On old folk whose main asset is the home they live in, a previous Govt approx 2 to 3 years ago, ensured that many families would sell the house.

    1. The Refundable Accommodation Deposit RAD is payable, depending on an assets-and-income test.

    2. A part of the daily fees for staying there, is also subject to an assets-and-income test.

    I think the Govt’s principle was: why should taxpayers who weren’t related to the elderly aged care home resident, subsidise the costs if that resident owns a house they will never again live in??

    Houses these days can be worth, I dunno, $500k? $1 million? More?

    For further information, you might loom at the myagedcare website. They provide an online calculator; anyone can try out some sample estimates.

    Beneficiaries of the elderly person’s will, should familiarise themselves with the fees, and perhaps lower their “great expectations”.

  7. Nice little toy Bilb. It should get me the 50 metres from home where I usually launch my canoe.
    However, never owned a motor bike. Which me to add amphibian capability to narrow track car.

  8. Ambi: “I think the Govt’s principle was: why should taxpayers who weren’t related to the elderly aged care home resident, subsidise the costs if that resident owns a house they will never again live in??”
    I seem to vaguely remember that. The loud opposition came from heirs and rich parents that wanted those heirs not to be robbed of their birthright and the gov backed off.
    I was thinking in the past of welfare as a debt as one way of making welfare more generous when you really need it and get rid of the disincentives to work that are a feature of things like newstart.
    The same argument might be made for old age care. However I don’t want to spend time at the moment thinking about how it would work.
    As Shorten found out the hard way scaring the oldies is not very smart and the most likely outcome is confused opposition. Confusion being fed to the oldies by your opposition.

  9. Amphibious capability is a big issue in the Philippines, John D.

    I love the concept of this and would get very excited about a lighter version.

    I now have 5KwHr battery capacity for my boat, 1 Kw capacity solar panels and a 400 watt very low noise wind turbine (along with the electronics to connect it all together), all in the process of being installed. This won’t make me completely sustainable but with the installation of a log fire early next year I could argue that I was very close. ….and feeling very good about it. I’ve built in the budget for a battery outboard for the tender as they are improving steadily and the new battery chemistries being spoken of will make that the only future choice.

    One of the things consuming my time at the moment is the search for a technology set to eliminate the black and grey water disposal problems in a compact way. There is a UK technology they call Nyex electrically active carbon for grey water, and I think the combination of salt ioniser, UVC and carbon nano particle water separation will solve the black water with residual (ash) solids packed into a disposal cartridge. If I can pull that off I will be coming closer to living harmoniously with my environment. To that end the centre board trunk of the boat, I discovered, has become a fish farm with tens of thousands of fingerlings swimming around in there.

    Yes I do commute in a diesel vehicle, but I was just commenting on a battery and car technology site that if a suitable plug in hybrid vehicle were available (narrow track even) I would consider paying for 2 or 3 kilowatts of solar panels on the roof of my work place to charge my vehicle while at work. As it happens this building has 100 Kw PV capacity to run the business’s some 15 Teslas, but in principle it would be good economics to pay for my own panels, particularly at the low cost they are now. I just paid about $800 for 1Kw Panasonic panels so to run a small hybrid for a commute charged at work would an option. As I was commenting it occurred to me that it would not be at all difficult to create a floating solar panel ownership scheme industry wide, funded by employees offsetting their fuel consumption.

    Distraction aside, back to the topic at hand.

  10. I have three kids, none of whom has a stake in the roof over their heads, so I can’t be objective about this issue.

    I’m trying to die with my boots on, but it seems to keep me alive.

    Only a small percentage of people go into aged care homes. Apparently around 80% of them have some stage of dementia. Not sure the family assets should be sacrificed because of their misfortune, having been kept alive by modern medicine.

    The people making these decisions are usually well-provisioned enough so that both aspects can be covered – aged care, and some left over for the next generation to achieve enough so that they can face their aging phase.

    These figures are 2018-18:

      More than 1.2 million people received aged care services during 2017–18, with most (77%) receiving support in their home or other community-based settings. Putting this in context, of Australians aged 65 and over in 2017–18:

      7% accessed residential aged care
      22% accessed some form of support or care at home
      71% lived at home without accessing government-subsidised aged care services.

  11. John re Palaszczuk, she has been under political attack from the beginning. Did not always handle it well.

    There is more to the story, but meanwhile Dr Young took the weekend off, said she went for a long walk, said she questions every day whether she is doing the right thing and she said we are all learning.

    She is under 24/7 police protection now because of death threats.

    Meanwhile all cases since the two young women came into Logan from their jaunt in Melbourne are related. We’ve had two days of no virus and longer than that of no cases outside of close contacts already in quarantine. So Dr Young says it’s not over yet, but she has an alert on only three suburbs – Redbank, Redbank Plains and Goodna.

    I think she sees Canberra as a hub city and a transmission path, but depending on Ms Caisid’s role there, the chance of transmission at present is likely to be vanishingly small.

    It is said Young handles all concession requests personally. There would be around 90 people dying each day in Qld. With 100 allowed at funerals, a high-risk event with a spread of people attending, I can see that caution may be the default answer.

  12. The trouble with the Hecs Style Loans for aged care is that what starts out as a possibly fair mechanism quickly gets adjusted so that the drain on assets rate is adjusted to expire the asset according to the needs of the “service “provider.

    There is very little difference between this and US style health care where the service rates are highly inflated to consume the health fund rather than provide value for money health care. The externality of this is that the US health service cannot provide value service to uninsured people. The fact that medical tourism is a thriving business highlights the dis[parity.

    The concept is dead on arrival.

    The US solution to retirement value involves a move to Mexico.

    In the Australian context certainly there has to be an accumulation fund and the optimal environment for that is within the compulsory superannuation fund structure which is an additional health insurance companion to medicare (or what ever the health system is called these days) .

    Rich people pre dispose of their assets into family trust funds or creative accounting schemes and so many things one could think of as funding structures won’t work equitably, ie neither poor people nor rich people have identifiable personal assets.

  13. *** A ‘climate policy’ leak or rumour or outright fib ***

    The first section of a story in “The Australian” today by Greg Brown:

    Anthony Albanese has been given the green light to go to the next election without specific climate change targets for 2030, under an ALP draft policy platform that outlines plans to turn Australia into a “renewable energy superpower”.

    The party’s preliminary draft platform — obtained by The Australian — was backed by shadow cabinet this month. The document, a third of the size of the 2018 national platform, makes no mention of a 2030 or 2035 emissions reduction or renewable energy targets. The Labor leader is facing an internal push to drop medium-term targets and focus on a policy of net-zero emissions by 2050.

    The 2018 platform would have committed a Bill ­Shorten-led ­government to an emissions ­reduction target of 45 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030, as well as a 50 per cent renewable energy ­target.

    fitting that the journalist’s family name is Brown, not Green??

    (I suppose Albo has been dropping hints along these lines. It may still lead to a storm, inside and outside the ALP.)

  14. Meanwhile, in news from Plant 2 (Venus) which humans thought uninhabitable due to runaway greenhouse effect, scorching temps and sulphuric acid in its atmosphere…

    news of the gas “phosphine” 50 km up in the atmosphere…

    phosphine is considered by some humans, including astrobiologists to be a “marker” of bacterial life…..

    the plot thickens
    as does the Venusian atmosphere

    Good summary in The Guardian, with a link to pdf of the research paper; telescopes in Hawaii and Chile were used

    • Anthony Albanese has been given the green light to go to the next election without specific climate change targets for 2030, under an ALP draft policy platform that outlines plans to turn Australia into a “renewable energy superpower”.

    I’ve just this morning heard Mark Butler interviewed by Fran Kelly. Butler said three times that Labor will have specific targets for 2030 announced before the election. Fran seemed to be hard of hearing and kept asking.

    My understanding is that the ALP is waiting for the next IPCC report, due next year, and confirmation of policy at the ALP national conference.

    I’ve been thinking they may make the shorter term target 2035.

    Albo and Butler stick together like glue, and I can’t see them being rolled by Joel Fitzgibbon, who may be convenor of the ‘right’ faction, but Tony Burke is ‘right’ and is part of Albo’s inner circle, and is solid with Butler, Albo, Penny Wong et al on climate.

    The question is whether Fitzgibbon will put a sock in it when the policy finally goes specific and firm.

  15. Brian:”The Labor leader is facing an internal push to drop medium-term targets and focus on a policy of net-zero emissions by 2050.”
    What I am interested in is what tangible actions a political party promises to deliver in the next term of government. In terms of climate action I am particularly interested in contracts set up since, unlike carbon prices, are hard for following governments to reverse. (No problem with next term promises being related to longer term results but all we are voting for is the next term.
    My take is that Australia desperately needs is a Shorten government. Hard to get enthusiastic about Albanese.

  16. I have been rabbiting on for a long time about using things like aluminium smelters to help the grid handle more renewable power. This article in REnew Economy says that smelter owners are beginning to take this idea on board and talking about investing to allow smelters to pause for much longer without freezing potlines.
    “Already some smelters generate what Butler describes as “considerable revenue” by supplying energy or energy services – such as Rio Tinto’s Kitimat in Canada and Hydro in Norway, which “view integration of electricity and smelting as critical to manage both aluminium and electricity price volatility.”
    and: “The report also quotes Tomago Aluminium CEO Matt Howell, who acknowledged that this re-imagining is an important part of his thinking in supporting the continuation of the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader scheme.
    “We’ve got a very large load that can come off in a very short space of time to avoid large-scale rolling blackouts, and that has value,” he said, referring to 600MW of capacity which can be switched off within minutes,” Howell said.
    In fact, according to the report, most smelters can provide a very periodic reserve system of demand response, specifically the ability to occasionally reduce electricity demand for up to 3 hours at a time.”https://reneweconomy.com.au/smelters-could-lead-switch-to-renewables-by-acting-as-giant-batteries-89821/

  17. From “The Guardian”, a professor speaks:

    It is “absolute madness” to have the taxpayer fund aged care for those who can afford to pay for their own care through their assets, a professor of health economics has told the aged care royal commission.

    Prof Michael Woods gave evidence on Tuesday as the commission turned its attention to transparency around funding of the aged care sector, and how that money is spent.

    Woods, from the University of Technology’s centre for health economics research and evaluation in Sydney, said taxpayers currently paid most of the cost of subsidised aged care, but this was unsustainable given the ageing population.

    Those elderly who could afford it should be required to pay more for some of the subsidised services that they consumed, he told the commission.

    Isn’t a principle of democratic socialism that means tests be applied to services for persons? RJ Hawke and PJ Keating thought so. See also Medibank levy, Family Benefits, etc.

  18. That is typical Labor, and especially typical Albanese. To now say that our target is 2050, ie 30 years from now…. 7 election cycles away, is as good as saying they will never get to it. The fossil fuel industry has Won. Game over. 30 years,… as I have said any number of times I doubt that Australia will be Australia still in 30 years. This will be the Southern Republic of China, and China will have earned the right to own this land because Australians just don’t care enough. China can honestly say “we did all of the work for you for the last 30 years and your standard of living is entirely on the backs of hard working Chinese people” and “What did you do with that advantage?”. Life has been too easy for too long, people are complacent and too disinterested to educate themselves and understand the issues. “I’m too busy, why do you get involved in all that stuff, all politicians are liars… you can’t believe any of them, the only thing that matters is making a profit, ,,,,” (fill in the blanks). When people are that disinterested in the issues of the management of their country they become prey for scalpers starting with Howard through Abbott and now you have “honest” Scott. ….and America has honest businessman Don T.

    Make sure you watch and think about that Thom Hartmann on the US Fed Printing money to prop up the stock market. Once they get to play that game its very hard to give it up, and next thing you know? Zimbabwe here we come. I missed out on getting a Zimbabwean 4 billion dollar note, but I am going to make the effort to get an American one.

    I’ve just discovered I can buy one on Amazon


    …a Zimbabwean one that is.

  19. JohnD, That is all good stuff, but it takes a national strategic plan for people to have the confidence to restructure their business in that way. Apparently Labor are preparing to kick their strategy into the outfield so all such commitments will go cold.

    There is a steel recycler in Sydney who have an electricity cost meter “on the wall” (as I heard it) and they ramp the arc furnace electricity consumption to maintain a constant production cost for their product.

    What you are talking about is going many stages past that level. Industry says “we can do these things but we need to know that they want us to have that level of commitment. Otherwise wee will invest,they will change their strategy, and we will be left with stranded assets”.

    Labor’s change is all about Coal. They have been bought off.

  20. BilB, on this you are out of your mother loving mind.

    This will be the Southern Republic of China, and China will have earned the right to own this land because Australians just don’t care enough. China can honestly say “we did all of the work for you for the last 30 years and your standard of living is entirely on the backs of hard working Chinese people”

    Have you seen the FF growth and forecast growth for China ?

    But this you are correct,

    Make sure you watch and think about that Thom Hartmann on the US Fed Printing money to prop up the stock market. Once they get to play that game its very hard to give it up, and next thing you know? Zimbabwe here we come.

    Take it up with JD.

  21. Rather than just blurt stuff out Jumpy, justify your exclamation.
    Why do you think that China would not see a sparsely populated dry desert full of minerals as not being a worthwhile asset to acquire?

    Lets look at their options.
    Vietnam? They have already bought most of that land.
    Japan? too much history there and no resources.
    Philippines ? too many people, too little land, no resources.
    Indonesia? way too many people, some resources, but a would require a huge number of people to dominate.
    Siberia? most definitely, but Russia has Nuclear weapons , would create complications with North Korea, but Siberia is on the next stage plan.
    Western Asia? Various options already in play but little to be gained from resources.
    Pacific Islands? domination in progress via various means, fully funded by the accumulation of territorial fishing rights.
    Australia? Not all of it is required, only Western Australia. Population 3 million means minimal political backlash and is strategically militarily safe due to the extreme distances from other Australian military resources. The action would be funded from the cost savings made by owning the resources plus territorial waters fishing rights. Risk of global backlash? Minimal due to turmoil in Europe from Putins action in the Ukraine and the disruption Supreme PresidenteTrump is causing within the US as he expands his fascist control of the country.

    China’s growth rate looks fine. Australia’s looks awful, and will look far worse when they lose their mineral cash cow .

  22. Ambi: “It is “absolute madness” to have the taxpayer fund aged care for those who can afford to pay for their own care through their assets, a professor of health economics has told the aged care royal commission.”
    By and large people who can afford to pay will have paid much more tax (at a higher average tax rate) than those who need subsidized age care. Some of those who need will be people who earned big mobs blown it all. Some of those who have blown big mobs did it after they retired so that they could get the pension or whatever. Then there is the irritation of paying taxes to pay for the system that stops me getting benefits. Then there is the problem of assets where value can change dramatically in a very short time.
    Me I like simple systems that cost very little to run. Happy to pay more tax or death duties in return for benefiting.
    There is a saying that “A health system for the poor is a poor health system.” Our old age system for the poor is a real shocker. Might be better if it was a system for all of us.

  23. Yesterday ScoMo launched his gas strategy.

    The overall situation is very clear. The ship has sailed.

    Any new gas-fired power needs to become a stranded asset not too long hence if the planet is going to have a livable future.

    And they are being willfully ignorant about the comparative costs of renewables.

    It’s rather sad, but there is an interesting back story related to Andrew Liveris, and his strategy for regenerating manufacturing in Oz.

    In short, he has long advocated that we do what the Asian tigers did, use government intervention to build up strategic industries behind tariff barriers, with government intervention, and using all the powers available to government.

    Then open up and compete with the world.

    Morrison, Angus Taylor, Keith Pitt et al have drunk the cool-aid.

    Morrison is using one of his usual strategies – bluster and threats.

    It’s all rather sad when allied with their ignorance and blindness to climate science and other inconvenient knowledge.

  24. Do you mean those Ministers want the closed-economy-Asian-tiger model for Australia, Brian?

    Or is it the gas/coal poison they have supped?

    Or both?

  25. Great Barrier Reef

    Peter Ridd re-enters the fray.

    “The Australian”

    The Senate committee inquiry into the regulation of farm practices impacting water quality on the Great Barrier Reef has yielded some remarkable confessions by science institutions about the state of the reef. It has been the first time many of the scientists have been asked difficult questions and publicly challenged by hard evidence. They have been forced out of their bubble.

    It was revealed by Paul Hardisty, boss of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, that only 3 per cent of the reef, the “inshore reefs”, is affected by farm pesticides and sediment. He also stated that pesticides, are a “low to negligible risk”, even for that 3 per cent.

    The other 97 per cent, the true offshore Great Barrier Reef, mostly 50km to 100km from the coast, is effectively totally unharmed by pesticides and sediment.

    This has been evident in the data for decades but it is nice to see an honest appraisal of the situation.

    then further on Peter Ridd writes:

    Large corals live centuries, and have annual growth rings like trees. They record their own rate of growth. If farming, which started about 100 years ago on the reef coast, was damaging the it, there should be a slowing of the growth rate. The records show no slowing when agriculture started a century ago, or when large-scale use of fertiliser and pesticides began in the 1950s.

    I have written previously that AIMS has been negligent in not updating the GBR-average coral growth data for the past 15 years. We have the scandalous situation that there is data going back centuries – but nothing since 2005. AIMS claimed coral growth rates collapsed between 1990 and 2005, due to climate change; however, there is considerable doubt about this result because AIMS changed the methodology for the data between 1990 and 2005. At the Senate inquiry, under some duress, AIMS agreed it would be a good idea to update this data if the government will fund the project.

    Updating the coral growth rate data will be a major step forward. It will prove or disprove the doubtful decline between 1990 and 2005. It will also give the complete record of how the GBR has fared in the past 15 years, a period when scientists have become more strident in their claims that it is on its last legs.

    So now Mr Ridd is out in the public policy domain.
    Where the ‘rubber’ of science ‘hits the road’ of policy and govt action. And action by farmers, as it happens. And dredging for harbours, ship movements, etc.

    An argument over science.
    Not ‘a little academic storm in a teacup’ where several academics became upset about the nasty things Peter Ridd was writing about their research (on lack of quality, he claimed); and his University sacked him

  26. The problem with Australian politics is that long term planning means thinking about the next election. The problem with Australian elections is that donations make a big difference and the fossil lobby seems to have more capacity to donate than the climate action lobby.
    The good news is that voters are not necessarily going to be impressed by governments that want to invest in a business that for some odd reason banks and other capitalists don’t want to risk their money on.
    Smarter for governments to back something like renewable hydrogen, ammonia or whatever that reduces the need for fossil gas?
    Scott Morrison and his wife will both be 82 yrs old by 2050 (and on a pension that should protect them from the effects of climate change.) So why should he care?

  27. Morrison’s Climate failure would give China another plausible “reason” to take part (or all) of Australia. It is in the interests of the Planet to take control of a climate renegade

    I thought to look at land ownership in Hong Kong. It is a bit complicated and favours developers but the backbone is “Since 1997, the term granted to the lessee has been 50 years from the date of the grant.” as my instinct suggested 50 years down from 99 for mainland China. The same would apply for Australia when annexed. Something to look forward to.

  28. From what I recall reading when Dr Ridd was chalkenging his dismissal by the Barrier Reef University*, he had been a senior physicist who had researched the transport of sediment (‘transport’ meaning movement by water currents, not in trucks) from rivers, mudflats, etc in coastal regions in Qld.

    The questions he raises now are scientific/hydrological/biological (growth of corals etc) and policy on the GBR.

    Questions of politeness amongst academics at Great Barrier Reef University*, pale into insignificance…. compared with the ecology of the Reef. IMO.

    *a purely fictional institution

  29. Ambi: “Income and assets tests for aged care need to be simplified, former federal treasurer Peter Costello tells royal commission.”
    Once you start deciding that support for people needing things like aged care depend on assets, asset mix and income it can all become complex and frightening.
    Keep in mind that people’s minds may be deteriorating by the time they actually need old age care. Bit hard when forms and policies are designed by bureaucrats who have minds trained to be comfortable to complexity (And inclined to be suspicious of simplicity.)
    Look at how much political gain the government made of a proposal to stop double dipping on franking credits. Easy to make us oldies panic.

  30. Not that fictional, Ambi. That is much how James Cook University in Cairns is considered.

    I can’t fully remember what the Peter Ridd thing was all about, but he got very excited applause on the Jo Nova website.

    I just had a look over there and understandably as the public becomes better educated on Climate Matters, Nova’s comment count has sagged to not very many per tediously repetitious thread. The weekend free for all thread is the busiest with the usual endless climate model bashing. A complete waste of reading time.

  31. JohnD, I suggest that a superannuation levy coupled with (what I will call) a property “unstamp” duty would be a fairish solution to recovering the government’s contribution to aged care. The levy would ensure that the wealthy didn’t dodge contributing, and the unstamp duty would ensure that family inheritance was mostly secure for the middle income group.

  32. Ambi, on Liveris, it’s an updated version of what the Asian Tigers did. The main point is that rather than let the markets rip, governments need to intervene, and when he says that he means full spectrum intervention across all government policy areas.

    Liveris grew up in Darwin, became CEO of Dow Chemicals, now has gigs in various boards, notably the Saudi Arabian national oil company.

    He’s a patriot, and a climate activist, but also a gas man. He reckons he helped Obama and Trump grow manufacturing in the US.

    I agree with much of what he says. It’s pretty much the opposite of neoliberalism but still in capitalist mode. It’s just that he’s wrong on a few big things, like the utility of gas as a transition fuel, and that it is not as benign to the climate as he thinks.

    What Morrison, Taylor and co. are doing with his stuff is grotesque. In full authoritarian mode and actively trashing both the economy and the planet.

    I’ve assembled some links which I may use in a post. I heard some of his National Press Club speech.

    There is another big issue in Taylor thinking he runs the whole show on electricity and energy.

    Here are the links:

    Paddy Manning at The Monthly Businessman Andrew Liveris undercuts his own rhetoric by championing fossil fuels

    National Press club speeches

    Liveris at the NPC (It’s the second episode on the page ATM.)

    ABC RN Made in Australia

    InQueensland report of ABC segment Keeping the focus on Australian manufacturing after COVID-19

  33. Ambi, this is my version of the Ridd matter, from memory.

    For many years, whenever threats to the GBR came up, green groups would consistently finger farmers and graziers, and completely ignore climate change.

    Ridd is an engineer, I think, and an expert in turgidity.

    His research has in general shown that runoff from land activities has been a minor issue perhaps marginally affecting the inner reefs.

    However, he had extended his commentary to the reef as a whole, had suggested reef biologists were doing poor or even bogus science. Further he declared that bleaching was not a serious problem because of the reef’s capacity to regenerate.

    At the same time he as associating with people who might generously be described as climate sceptics, but more accurately as climate denialists.

    I don’t think there was a possibility of dispassionate engagement on the science. The reef biologists complained about him.

    Given that the University of Adelaide never restrained Ian Plimer, academic freedom seems to trump bogus science.

    James Cook completely underestimated the support Ridd would get in order to maintain the culture of academic freedom.

    That said, he may have had a point here and there. However, the Oz will take any opportunity to discredit climate science, which can be less than perfect.

  34. Bilb: “the unstamp duty would ensure that family inheritance was mostly secure for the middle income group.”
    I inherited sfa so I am not emotionally supportive of the idea that our kids should inherit when we die or that the children of the rich or middle income groups should be much better of when their parents kark it.
    Perhaps we should tax all inheritance as a capital gain calculated on the assumption that the kids got it for nothing.
    I might have a different attitude if one of my kids really needed support or if we had built up a business that we were leaving to someone we expected to continue the business.
    On the general subject it is worth noting that the government would be better off if we paid all oldies the full old age pension and cut out all the tax cuts associated with super.
    There are times when I think when we should have a flat tax and make the overall tax/welfare system progressive using a UBI. (A UBI would make it a lot more attractive for unemployed Australians to do things like fruit picking. At present, fruit picking is not attractive because of the massive clawback when ever someone on job seeker gets a bit of work.)

  35. Thanks Brian,

    Certainly The Oz strongly supported Dr Ridd.
    Ian Plimer, years earlier, was at Melbourne Uni too I think.

    Unfortunately, politics has dominated the Reef debate.
    I think Ridd may also have been saying, “you can’t extrapolate from a few sites, to make claims about the whole Reef”; which seems to me, just basic scientific caution and humility.

    As soon as PR enters the story, humility is usually discarded. We see it everywhere: “breakthroughs” in headlines; many turn out to be minor – or in the worst cases – untrue.

    I heard a little of Liveris with Fran Kelly (yesterday?) on radio. She seemed also to be questioning the company he keeps.

    Seems to me, setting up “us/them” barriers may not be a good way to make progress on climate policies and practical measures, as rapid as many of us wish for.

    Example: will the current doubts may Aussies feel, about buying Chinese goods, mean they won’t install rooftop solar? Or delay the decision? (Of course, I want to see more Aussie firms making good quality panels, but in the short term… I also want to see solid take-up in every State,)

  36. What?
    A politician lied???

    Heaven forfend!
    Please send an extra packet of smelling salts, post haste.
    We feel unwell.

  37. John D, I inherited very little as well too, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want my kids to be as unfortunate, particularly when my generation has … no actually ..John Howard ….engineered a situation where the wealth of the next two generations has been sucked back to ours in inflated property values and national debt that was used as a conduit to feed inflated incomes to the CEO’s of the day. We need to pass whatever advantage we have gained to our kids or their lives will be hell.

    This is the problem with treating the “now” as if this the way it has always been and building long term policy on the basis of “it”. We all know here, with one exception, that the future from here forward becomes a permanent battle against climate change. For example
    Where my factory is in Emu Plains it is particularly bad in summer.
    Climate change..real climate change… property value change…. income no change (see zoot’s abject failure link) …. now a virus pandemic …… next another global slow down ……. and the looming possibility of another world war ( https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/5-places-world-war-iii-could-start-2020-109011 and I don’t think these people have fully analysed the situation) .

    I don’t take the “well I got nothing so why should my kids” view on this. I want my daughters to be as well prepared as they can be for the horror show coming up. Out of my line of three kids there are only two offspring that are likely to reproduce so I feel we have done our bit for managed depopulation. we don’t have a lot of cash reserves but we do have property so I will be income earning to the last breath to ensure that they do get to inherit something other than my many opinions.

    We have 50 days before the most pivotal election in our life times so no prediction is valid until that event passes , but considering how even at this point Trump’s minion Pompeo is taking action to cover his illegalities and criminalise key prosecutors on the ICC spells out what direction the US future will be should the Republican Cult manage to take the country. If that happens the lid comes off the stability that our generation has enjoyed and the world moves into a new phase. Stability is a product of broad agreement and respect of others. If you quantify the degree of disrespect and lack of agreement at the power level of the world, you would be on the same page that I am on.

  38. Mr A, no, zoot just lied to you.
    Neither Reagan nor Thatcher ever said “ neoliberalism to benefit everyone “

    Unless of course he can show the footage, which he can’t because that never occurred.

    Zoot, apologise to us please!!

  39. Neither Reagan nor Thatcher ever said “ neoliberalism to benefit everyone “

    Are you seriously suggesting that the sainted duo made explicit reference to the people who were going to go backwards (and under) in their brave new world? (ie 99% of the population)
    BTW I didn’t claim they spoke those exact words, I simply paraphrased their message. I could have used your favourite version “A rising tide lifts all boats”.

  40. Even the “rising tide lifts all boats” is a lie, zoot. what it omits is the bit where in the dead of night the Reagans and the Thatchers punched holes in all of the boats by legislating against union collective bargaining, then for good measure made strikes illegal, installed required highly selective individual contracts, and for the ultimate shackling to the torture pole, contracts may include a pay secrecy clause. It is always what is unsaid rather than the headline sales pitch.

    How were we meant to know to ask those questions before we voted for you?

  41. So they never said that, confirmed, got it.

    You know, it’s not the original inaccurate paraphrasing that is damning, it’s the blustering covering up with misdirection.
    Double Down syndrome I think some wag called it.

    National Socialism actually does lift all boats, like a revolutionary wave. Till it inevitably crashes on the reef of economic and social reality. Time after time, again and again.

  42. Bilb: “What the glossy brochures fail to mention is the challenges that come with living in a region where the number of days over 35C—a level dangerous even for the fit and well—is forecast to keep rising as global temperatures increase.”
    An interesting idea for someone who lived, worked and bushwalked in seriously hot places in Aus. Places where the specification for tailings lines laid on the ground included the ability to withstand 80 deg C. Someone who has worked outside when shade temperatures got above 45 deg C.
    Bodies and strategies adapt to high temperatures.

  43. I went and had a quick look for a Margaret Thatcher quote.
    This is long, but considered.

    ““As Prime Minister between 1979 and 1990 I had the opportunity to put these convictions into effect in economic policy. We intended policy in the 1980s to be directed towards fundamentally different goals from those of most of the post-war ear. We believed that since jobs (in a free society) did not depend on government but upon satisfying customers, there was no point in setting targets for ‘full’ employment. Instead, government should create the right framework of sound money, low taxes, light regulation and flexible markets (including labour markets) to allow prosperity and employment to grow.” (The Path To Power)

  44. John D, It is the combination of high temperatures and humidity. Where you are talking about the humidity is very low. Western Sydney the humidity is oppressively high for near 6 months of the year now. Back of Burke the body can cool itself quite well but that takes water And people dehydrate there more quickly.


    According to this article a wet bulb temperature above 35C is deadly.

  45. On paying aged care, I’ve been thinking about this. We should all have access to shelter food and safety, and to medical treatment if we need it.

    Why should the poorer people in society, who need the institutional care, be stripped of all their assets? Especially when the better off folks pay no death duty.

    The other day the premier of Tasmania floated the idea of an inheritance tax/death duty, starting with people with estates worth a million.

    It was to start at that point with a just a few bucks and escalate from there.

    Worth thinking about. So then give everyone with less than that free care, and likewise means test from there.

    Someone pointed out recently that when John Rawls Theory of justice was published in 1971, it was an inflection point in history when the demons of neoliberalism were were about to be promulgated by Reagan and Thatcher.

  46. Brian,

    Two things are means-tested currently.

    1. The so-called RAD (Refundable Accommodation Deposit). This is the one you often hear people talk about. “The widow’s family had to sell her house when she moved into an aged care home.”

    Yes, sometimes. But poorer people pay no such deposit.
    And it’s a deposit: there is a possible refund to the estate, depending on how long the widow is a resident for. This is regulated by the Ferderal Govt: a private residential home can’t just ‘swipe’ what it feels like. Of course, while it holds the deposit, the facility uses any interest it earns from the deposit.
    (Anecdote: some families hide assets so that they avoid paying any RAD.)

    Centrelink requires pensioners to declare their assets & incomes regularly….. after all, the Age Pension is also means-tested. Some full pensioners have very few assets.

    2. There is a component of the daily fee which is also means-tested. (Again, on assets and incomes). The daily fee currently ranges from $0 to $254 on a sliding scale*. If total assets are lower than about $170,000 that component is $0 per day.
    * I think there are also annual and lifetime caps (maximums) on this.

    But another part of that daily fee is set at a rate equivalent to about 80% of the full pension…. so a pensioner retains a little ‘spending money’.

    Many – perhaps most – residents will still be able to leave a little in their wills.

    Details are at the
    myagedcare website.

    By the way, some concessions – outside of aged care homes – are available to “older Australians” who don’t qualify for a full or part pension, but DO hold a ‘Seniors Health Care Card’, or Veterans Affairs card, or a Health Care Card (formerly known as the ‘Low Income Health Care Card’).

  47. You are correct, Brian.

    When you read the neoliberal philosophy a percentage of people are required to be unemployed to apply employment demand pressure in order for there to be a downward influence on wages. So Neoliberalism, the economic mess we have, has a degree of misery structurally built in and this carries all the way through retirement to death. This is not acceptable to the Australian culture. The US through its long history of racial mistreatment sidesteps any responsibility for people who become totally resourceless and therefore rough living beggars. Sadly this is becoming prevalent in the UK too.

    I have long argued that in a nation where everything is “owned” and there is no place for resourceless people to stop without being tresspassers, there is a national responsibility to provide for this “structurally required” “class” to be properly cared for.

    Jumpy? do you have any thoughts ,….on this?

  48. Ambi, thanks for all the detail. I did know what you relate in general terms as I have relations in care, and family that have had cause to interact with Centrelink.

    I think the whole thing could do with a rethink starting from first principles of how we should live and relate in a just and fair society.

  49. Brian

    It was your “stripped of all their assets” which I thought wasn’t quite accurate*. My recent family experience is my dear Mum in her late nineties, going into an aged care home. (Still navigating the outs and ins. Coincidentally we’re moving house after almost 20 years here in West Drayfield – sorry, West Gippsland.)

    Certainly, the Aged Care Royal Commission may lead to recommendations about funding; evidence on that, and the complexity of Centrelink forms, has been heard recently.

    More pressing, I think, are matters of: quality of care; adequacy of staffing; training of staff; medical and nursing care for residents; loneliness; inspections without warning by knowledgeable and highly observant inspectors.

  50. President Reagan provides a good example of “ageing in place” at home in the White House, while his cognitive faculties slowly declined, what’s that you say, Nurse? Nancy?? Is that your name, you look familiar somehow, weren’t you a Hollywood gal way back?? Nicaragua? Never been there. Don’t recall. Contras? Speak more clearly please: you mean ‘contradictions’ don’t you? Get Margaret on the phone, she’ll explain it better. Dear oh dear.

    c.f. Mr Joe Biden.
    It’s not the gaffes Sir. We had verbal stumbles from George Dubya, Sir. It’s the rambling incoherence.
    Tired? Go have a nap while your staff run the country, Sir.

  51. Ambi, I agree that “stripped of all their assets” gave the impression that people who are not wealthy could be stripped of assets.

    My closest experience comes from my Mum, where my present wife and I were the ones on the spot who went around looking at what were then ‘nursing homes’. That was before the Howard 1997 Act which set the current arrangements.

    There was no question of the house being affected, just, from memory, 85% of the aged pension. There is no way I could have persuaded her to relocate to a nursing home without having her own modest home as possible refuge to return to in her mind if things didn’t work out.

    At present my younger sister in in aged care, as well as my first wife, both arranged by their kids.

    I believe that the average stay in aged care is 2.5 years. Many are in a health crisis when they go in, so aren’t there long. Some go on to stay for many years. The longer you stay the less of your assets will remain in your estate, so as your health remains stable the “possible refund to the estate” shrinks and disappears.

    Howard’s 1997 act combined guesthouse accommodation for mostly men, able but poor, and nursing home care, which was health based, into a ‘home away from home’ aged care which was not health-based, hence no standards for staff, medical or otherwise, because the private market was supposed to respond to consumer demand.

    At the same time, home care support for the aged was introduced. The effect of this was to turn institutional care essentially into a health-based residual service, as most people who had any agency chose stay in their own homes.

    Effectively consumer demand was to regulate quality, and there was no accountability as to how money was being spent by providers, because that was commercial in confidence.

    The result was a disaster.

  52. Yes Brian

    I think the “services in your own home” oart has been relatively successful. Means-tested and also based on an independent annyal assessment of needs.

    (I mean, the assessors are not from the company that might provide in-home services; and the resident can switch to a different company if unhappy.)

    These services are Govt subsidised, but cost the taxpayers less than subsidising a nursing home place.

    And you’re right: many people prefer to stay in the home they know and love. They may well have developed the whole garden, or indeed built the house. Friends may be nearby, and family.

  53. This is just anecdotal ok, no evidence will be forthcoming.
    Both my Grandmothers, my Mother in law, two of my Aunties and some of my wife’s older friends have gone into “ aged facilities “ or “ retirement establishments “ and universally stated they should have done it earlier.
    My take from that is they’re not the hell holes that they’ve been portrayed as.

    ( note, none were Men, they had died by then, gender death gap )

  54. Jumpy: “Both my Grandmothers, my Mother in law, two of my Aunties and some of my wife’s older friends have gone into “ aged facilities “ or “ retirement establishments “ and universally stated they should have done it earlier.”
    What you say is a common experience. Both my mother and mother in law went into not for profits where they were well looked after. In the case of my mother in law she resisted for yonks but had an accident that required time in care. She then liked it so much that she told her daughter that she wanted to stay. Fortunately her daughter being what she is was able to arrange it and my mother in law lived there till she died.
    In the case of my mother she collapsed and couldn’t get up of the floor for two days. After that experience she decided that she needed to move, did her homework and moved into an “independent unit” in a retirement village that also offered high intensity care. This retirement village used the intensive care section to provide medical/food assistance when she was recovering from operations. My mother commented that the village kept an eye on the independent unit residents and suggest that they move to more intensive care when appropriate. (If necessary the system can provide intensive support in a independent unit while waiting for an intensive care room.)
    We were impressed enough with how my mother was treated to recently move into and independent unit in the place where my mother was.
    Having said this I also accept that there are some awfully bad places out there and that there is not enough capacity for people to move quickly when they have to. My impression is that it helps to have caring kids who are good at making things happen.
    I also think that “for profit” is not a good idea when the customers are vulnerable and the cost of moving somewhere else can be prohibitive.

  55. Those anecdotes chime with examples I’ve seen or heard of from friends, Jumpy and John.

    A widow near here resisted the urgings of her children and grandkids for years. She lived “out of town” and was fiercely independent. But slowly losing her physical abilities.

    Finally moved, reluctantly, into care. Then she said, “I should have done this years ago!” Cue quietly grinding teeth of overruled family members…..

  56. I too wholeheartedly agree with Jumpy’s comment.
    My parents moved into a retirement village and both expressed the wish they’d moved sooner.
    Now my wife, who is involved with the aged care sector, reports that many people within the well run facilities are feeling very bruised because they are being tarred with the same brush as the shonks.

  57. Zoot: One of the problems at the moment is that, for villages like the one we are in the contracts mean that there is a considerable financial penalty if you decide to move. This means that a retirement village company will actually make more money if they piss people off to the extent that they decide to leave. It also means that oldies are penalized if they want to stay close to kids who keep on moving. (One of the alleged shonks that was in the news a while ago was claimed to be deliberately treating people poorly so that they would leave. (Higher turnover actually=bigger profits!)
    The challenge for private is best governments need to think about how better care=bigger profits.

  58. I did hear today ( IPA podcasts ) that Victorian Health IT system is appalling which adversely affected their ability to contact trace, whereas NSW upgraded their IT system just a while back.

    No sides, just telling it as I heard it.
    Confirmation or rebuttal is fine either way.

  59. John, could you please elaborate on these.
    What clauses were willingly signed that penalise you for vacating?
    We’re there no alternatives?

  60. On anecdotal experience, my mum was in a church home. A bit average, but OK. A long time ago, and probably quite good for the time. I believe my first wife is well-looked after.

    My sister is in a place basically run by local government, in the same campus where they have independent living and a hospital in a smallish country town. About as good as you could get, short of being rich and paying for the best.

    However, in Oz our common standard of experience is about the worst of countries we usually compare ourselves with. I’ve got a couple of instructive links, but would like to set it up in a post.

  61. I got my glasses today. It’s really great to be able to see the back of my hands, to see my food with clarity as well as watch TV, read the paper or see the person I’m sharing with. To see the dashboard in all clarity as well as the road and the trees.

    I can also see the computer screen without leaning forward and straining my back.

    And the colours are just something else!

    I still have underlying glaucoma and a few lesser problems, but feeling confident these eyes will see me out, even if that is a while.

    • I did hear today ( IPA podcasts ) that Victorian Health IT system is appalling which adversely affected their ability to contact trace, whereas NSW upgraded their IT system just a while back.

    Jumpy, I have no idea. However, there was a piece about two weeks ago where Raina McIntyre said that in NSW also they were using paper and white boards until quite recently. I think the ADF may have contributed the digitisation, but I’m not sure.

    Someone should do some investigation, or one of the academics should enlighten us.

    Today Palaszczuk said after national cabinet that Qld was finally going to get hold of the passenger flight manifests for flights coming from overseas, so they could get a head start. Qld has been asking for this since February.

  62. “Qld has been asking for thus since February”

    That by itself is apalling, Brian.

    Over here in Victoria, Chairman Dan has been emphasising his wish that anyone ‘with even the mildest symptoms ‘ should get tested quick smart.

    “Don’t wait until tomorrow.
    Don’t leave it over the weekend, saying I’ll do it on Monday.”

    When the infective phase is typically only a few days, time is of the essence as you point out.

    Getting a “head start” is one faor that can assist.

  63. factor that can assist……

    Jumpy, please note the occasion.
    Mr z has said he wholeheartedly agrees with something Mr J contributed.

    Seize the day.

  64. Jumpy: “What clauses were willingly signed that penalize you for vacating? We’re there no alternatives?”
    The clause re what gets refunded if we leave or die says we only get a fixed % of what we paid no matter how long we stayed and no matter what has happened to the entry fee over time. We could have got a smaller, cheaper villa if were strapped for cash.
    We also appreciated that the mix of charges for the not for profit where we live is designed to provide some money for expansion as well as limiting ongoing fees to something that a pensioner like my mother could afford.
    One way or other we were going to pay enough to pay costs, pay for expansion and keep operating fees affordable for pensioners. But there was the case that got a run in the media a year ago or so that reported that a for profit used encouraging people to leave to boost their profits.

  65. “The Shovel” is a satirical website.
    It’s stories are untrue.

    Following the death of US Justice Ginsburg, “The Shovel” has breaking news on her likely replacement:

    A 16 year-old boy described by some as an ‘academic genius – believe me, he has a tremendous legal mind’, has been confirmed as the next Supreme Court Justice, following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

    The confirmation comes after an extensive search which lasted many, many minutes and spanned the entire President’s family.

    “He is the perfect choice. Very successful. Great guy by the way,” a spokesperson said.

    Republicans say Barron Trump is ‘uniquely qualified for the role’. “What he lacks in legal experience he makes up for in his surname,” one Republican Senator said.

    US President Donald Trump said he had met the new justice many times before and had even spent time with him this year – a claim which some sources say is probably untrue.


  66. Good one, Ambi.

    Sad to see her go, but no surprise. Died with her boots on.

    Obama is saying Trump should leave the appointment to the next president, but we know what Trump will do if he can.

  67. Brian: “Obama is saying Trump should leave the appointment to the next president, but we know what Trump will do if he can.”
    Worth reading “Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead. It’s now up to Donald Trump to pick the justice to replace her.” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-19/ruth-bader-ginsburgs-replacement-will-be-chosen-by-donald-trump/12681162 Replacement with a conservative is not a done deal but highly likely unless more than the current 2 Republican senators decide to support delaying till after the election.

  68. Mr Denmore has a despairing review (“The Bonfire of our Sanity”) of a Marian Wilkinson book,

    over there at The Failed Estate blog.

    * * * *

    BTW, on Supreme Court justices, apparently the late Justice Ginsburg was pointing to precedents: where a new appointment was held over until the next President had been inaugurated. These go back many decades; the kind of legal and Constitutional detail you might expect a Justice to know about.

  69. BTW2

    Don’t confirmation hearings stretch out for weeks?*

    Does Congress stop sitting just before the Election(s)?

    * I cite Kavanaugh, and other controversial confirmations; over quite recent decades. Surely Senator McConnell can’t just have his sneaky way with this Senate?? Where are the Professors of Constitutional Law, to advise the American voters…..?

    A piece I saw last night said Senator McConnell previously delayed a SC appointment for many, many months (an Obama nomination….mebbe) so would be hypocritical if he helped rush one through now.

    An hypocritical politician???
    Pass the smelling salts, please.

  70. Ambi, I believe the average length of appointment is 69 days, but Trump will have his choice up within days.

    Senator McConnell is knowingly, brazenly hypocritical. He doesn’t care about process, only the result. Only an attack of decency on the part of a few Republican senators will change anything, according to what I’ve heard.

  71. From Mr Denmore, The Bonfire of our Sanity:

      In ‘The Carbon Club’ (Allen& Unwin), former ABC Four Corners executive producer Marian Wilkinson has written the definitive account of the long and bloody climate wars – the sabotaged policies, the political coups, the disinformation campaigns and the discrediting of climate science that this fossil fuel rich country has become infamous for globally. Brought together in one volume, the effect of this story is to leave one marveling at how a nation as blessed as Australia could be so willing to destroy itself in service of an extractive industry with no horizon beyond its next earnings result.

    He says the Morrison government is “literally owned and run by the ‘carbon club’ of miners, well-funded think tanks and culture warriors”, and Labor seemingly “incapable of realising that fighting for jobs, justice, equality of opportunity, our commonwealth and the planet are not mutually incompatible concepts.”

    The system is broken, he says.

    Thanks for the heads up, Ambi.

  72. Only an attack of decency on the part of a few Republican senators will change anything, according to what I’ve heard.

    Decency (like shame) is something completely lacking in Republican Senators. Trump will steal the election.
    Time to get accustomed to our new Chinese overlords.

  73. Part of the current problems with the US high court goes back to its decision to make abortion legal. This sort of power leads to “how will they vote” decisions re high court appointments and people deciding who to vote into the senate and presidents on the basis of who they would appoint to a high court vacancy.

  74. Here’s an article from 2018 demonstrating how the Supreme Court no longer reflects the views of the electorate (apparently one of the aims when setting it up).
    Of course, this has been the Republican’s wet dream all along, but I can’t help feeling it could blow up in their faces.

  75. Interesting article zoot.

    Always good to be reminded of historical examples and of the principles of their Supreme Court.

  76. I have a feeling that if a conservative appointed Judge had passed and Chucky ( doll ) Schumer was Senate Majority leader then the sentiment on the left would be quite different on appointment timeframe given the election date.

    Think about it…..

  77. Think about it…..

    I have.
    If the 2016 precedent had been set by McConnell then Schumer would have abided by it. That has been the Democrat’s weakness in the face of the Republican’s refusal to act in good faith. They still have principles, which will sideline them in the face of the Republican’s anything to maintain power scorched earth policy.
    Your team has won Jumpy. Congratulations.

  78. Always happy to have a bit of a think, Mr J.

    In what sense do you use the term “the left”. Do you mean left of centre in the US, which as you may know has quite a different ‘centre’ than many other Western nations.

    Care to comment on Chinese Capitalism?

  79. A NSW Nationals MP has quit the National Party because of the “reckless” actions of Mr Barilaro, and has applied to join the Liberal Party.

    Dear oh dear, what a thing to do to Mr Barilaro when he’s on personal leave for four weeks.

    And where does this leave the koalas??

  80. Jumpy: “I have a feeling that if a conservative appointed Judge had passed and Chucky ( doll ) Schumer was Senate Majority leader then the sentiment on the left would be quite different on appointment timeframe given the election date.”
    The limited reading I have done in the last few days suggests you are right. However the problem is not the relative behaviour of left vs right. The problem is a US system that:
    1. Doesn’t have clear rules re what should happen under the current circumstances.
    2. How a judge fits on the conservative/liberal spectrum really seems to make a difference on the judgements they make.
    3. The US congress and senate used to behave like a house full of independents who wheeled and dealed to reach compromises and deals. Recently it has become more like the Aus system with its deal blocking party discipline. (Even so, there is a real chance that enough Republican senators will block a high court decision till after the election.)
    4. The US high court seems to be making decisions that should be made by their parliamentary system. Which means the politics of the judges really does matter.
    The US badly needs political and judicial reform but it is a bit hard to see it happening.

  81. I think the Republicans have crossed the line of civilised behaviour more than the Democrats, as in Gerrymandering electoral boundaries, voter suppression, and in not approving anything Obama proposed simply because he was Obama.

  82. A side comment on climate policy.

    Here are the first sentences of a story in Nine newspapers:

    A national bet on hydrogen power will be central to a new federal energy road map to move away from fossil fuels, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison promises a plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions.

    The technology road map will be aimed at creating a clean energy industry that can ship hydrogen to customers such as Japan and South Korea and building a new export industry to replace gas.

    Fine for Australia, H2 is a bonzer gas.
    But how does it become an export industry.

    If we can produce the stuff, why wouldn’t the Japanese and South Koreans produce their own H2 ??

    Or does the sun never shine in the Land of the Rising Sun ??

    Yours Sincerely,

  83. Sir Ambi: “If we can produce the stuff, why wouldn’t the Japanese and South Koreans produce their own H2 ??”
    They are both small countries where solar power=loss of agricultural land. We on the on the other hand have lots of sundrenched land of negligible agricultural value. If for example you look at WA there is big mobs of this sort of land stretching away from the ports where we export dirty LNG from.
    (WA 2.65 million km2, St Korea 0.1m km2)

  84. Ambi, my understanding is that hydrogen is high density energy, so while it will probably not become the main way of powering EVs, it can be moved around the planet, and can maybe used to produce steel and move large vehicles.

    As John says, we are particularly blessed with sun. Apart from large scale power plants the country is covering its rooftops with PV at an impressive rates. Already we have more power than is needed at times.

    Producing hydrogen does not require a continuous process, like an aluminium smelter, so excess solar power at virtually no cost can be bled off to make hydrogen as it sporadically becomes available.

    Our fearless leaders appear to want to make it from gas or coal, so dirty, or clean it up with CCS, not cheap.

    All the above is subject to correction by someone who knows what they are talking about.

  85. Brian: The energy density table in this link would help sort things out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density.
    Don’t know how much energy is required to liquify for transport and evaporate for use. (Liquifying uses about 25% of the energy in natural gas to convert it to LNG.)
    There are lots of options for transporting H2 energy and/or using it in Aus t make steel, ammonia or whatever.

  86. The thing is, Jumpy, that the Republicans demanded that the last late term appointment opportunity under Obama should not happen within one year of a presidential election. That led to Neil Gorsuch as a Trump appointee. Now those demanded hard and fast rules don’t matter and Trump is desperate to appoint someone in the last month of his presidency. This says three things. The whole Republican party is corrupt to the core, they don’t think that trump will win, and they are prepared to delegitimise the Supreme court in the interests of power. With such flagrant abuse of precedent the logical next step is to ignore the life appointment precedent and sack judges to correct a power imbalance for the incumbent of the day.

  87. Brian, you got that mostly right. hydrogen is indeed a storable for of energy which is ideal as a companion product of wind energy. It should ideally be produced from surplus energy such as that from heavy weather wind overproduction mainly because it is less efficient as an energy medium to direct energy consumption.
    Produce hydrogen from coal or gas? what a bunch of dunces the LNP are. Proving yet again that the claim that “LNP are better managers” is a total con. They never were, they never will be. They just lie better than other parties.

  88. bilb2, the Democrats if they win could increase the size of the court. I don’t think they would, because they are not ruthless and corrupt as the other lot.

  89. I think the other lot will increase it anyway just to increase the certainty of outcomes they prefer. Dilution.

    The Netherlands and perhaps other EU countries are conducting parachute drop exercises in the Ukraine next week. Just saying.

  90. It seems that it requires legislation to increase the number of Supreme Court Judges, so Republicans have no chance thank goodness.

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