I have a dream …

I heartily agree with Ross Gittins’ assessment of Tony Abbott, and I also tend to agree with Harry Clarke about the respective current merits of Labor and the Coalition, although I’m not quite as scathing about Labor and certainly not a long-time Liberal supporter:

Because of the appalling climate change policies of the Coalition I will probably vote Labor in the next Federal election.  Unfortunately I might be backing a losing team but I won’t vote for the Liberals while people of Tony Abbott’s ilk are leading the party.  It’s a difficult choice for me because I have long supported the Liberal Party and I regard the Labor Party at the Federal level as a poor first choice.  If Malcolm Turnbull led the Liberals my allegiances would switch in a flash back to the Liberals – so too, astonishingly, would those of social democrats like John Quiggin.

Still, it’s an invidious choice.  If only there was a genuine “third force” in Australian politics, a bit like the Lib-Dems in the UK.  Australia’s Dems were essentially a principled centrist grouping when formed by Don Chipp, and largely stayed that way until Meg Lees’ expedient but sensible deal with John Howard over GST caused it to split, lurch to the left and eventually disintegrate.

What chance a new principled but pragmatic centrist  party (liberal democratic with very moderate social democrat overtones) emerging in Australia, given such widespread disillusionment with the two existing major parties?  I imagine at the very least it would require impetus from one or more prominent, credible public figures.  Lindsay Tanner and Malcolm Turnbull, for example.  Of course it won’t happen, but still …

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
This entry was posted in Politics - national. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
102 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andrew Norton
10 years ago

If the polls are a guide, there would be even more widespread disillusionment with the policies of this ‘new principled but pragmatic centrist party’.

Francis
10 years ago

Andrew is right. But it would clearly have the blogosphere vote completely sewn up.

Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
10 years ago

“liberal democratic with very moderate social democrat overtones”

Sounds like the Federal Labor Party to me.

Turnbull joined the wrong party, is all.

Alan
Alan
10 years ago

The labor party is not a liberal democratic party in its present incarnation. They have little to no regard for human rights as seen in the deal with Malaysia, a country with a dreadful human rights record that does not belong to the Refugee Convention, and that has a long history of rejecting international obligations as interference in domestic affairs.

Consider, for instance, the statement of the Malaysian Bar:

It is irresponsible of Australia, as a State Party to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees adopted on 28 July 1951 (“Convention”), and its 1967 Protocol, to abdicate its international obligations under the Convention. Through this deal, Australia is consigning 800 people to a life of uncertainty and probable suffering, given that Malaysia is not a State Party to that Convention. Indeed, Malaysian law does not even recognise the concept of asylum seekers or refugees. Instead, it treats all undocumented persons as “illegal immigrants”, and subjects them to imprisonment and whipping.?

We can only presume that Burma was unavailable as a processing centre.

Internally the labor party maintains an elaborate democratic structure that has almost no influence on the actions of its leaders or anything else. All power to the leader and who cares about the electorate is not a longterm strategy for government.

The only good news is that party systems, despite the fond hopes of labor apparatchiks, do not last forever.

Mr Denmore
Mr Denmore
10 years ago

We’re still in the Howard era as far as our two main political parties are concerned – keep brown people in boats out, ride the commodity boom, ladle out welfare to the middle class and govern from a deckchair – responding occasionally to issues picked up from focus group surveys. It doesn’t really matter which one of them is in. Both will employ policies that pander to by the less educated, most bigoted and unenlightened voters who think governments survive to subsidise their aspirational lifestyles. Both will make noises about the great forgotten working people, while urging them to work ever harder to pay for a retirement that they never will be able to afford.

The Greens are the only party that has any principles at all. I fear a Liberal Democratic centrist party would just be a beige, passionless Ikea-assembled grouping that excites no-one’s imagination.

Our party politics are broken because our problems are global in origin – climate change, sustainability, mass movements of people seeking better lives, virtually bankrupt developed economies and a rising Asia which is using up natural resources faster than we can dig them out of the ground.

So the parties here are inventing and beating up issues to distinguish one from the other – the media is playing along to keep up the pretence that it has any social use any more – and the rest of us are supposed to pretend this means anything.

Thomas the Tout
Thomas the Tout
10 years ago

A plague on both their houses! I will be quite content for Oliver Cromwell to return, and drive away most of the politicians. And then set up a staunch conservative party of sensible ideas for a cohesive society of individuals (i.e very right wing). Enough of the navel-gazers and societal parasites – they have stayed too long.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
10 years ago

“The Greens are the only party that has any principles at all.” Ah yes. The party that rejected Rudd’s ETS because the polluters needed to be punished more.

Labor Outsider
Labor Outsider
10 years ago

Labor is defnitely NOT a liberal democratic party in its current guise. Small-l liberals’ allegiances are currently spread between the greens (if they care a lot of about climate change and a more humanitarian social policy), Labor and the Liberal party, but few could feel happy within any of those parties because none have a liberal democratic platform. A truly small-l liberal party in Australia could not hope to be the party of government – there just isn’t a large enough proportion of the population that holds those views. However, if one could get off the ground, it could have a shot at being the balance of power party in the Senate and then use that power to shape legislation in a more liberal way. To make it happen I think you need a couple of relatively high profile libs and laborites to jump ship to form a new party – Turnbull, Hockey and perhaps someone like Emerson from Labor. I can’t see it happening though…

Tel
Tel
10 years ago

They have little to no regard for human rights as seen in the deal with Malaysia, a country with a dreadful human rights record that does not belong to the Refugee Convention

We took many times more refugees out of Malaysia than we sent to there, so if refugees in Malaysia are badly treated then overall the situation has been improved. Why is it a problem to make things better?

Corin
Corin
10 years ago

Tony Abbott epitomises everything that liberal Australia should be against. He’s a believer in the dead hand of government in climate policy, in taxing people more by removal of income tax cuts for compensation. He’s also declared he’ll raise corporation tax on the biggest companies and socially he’s an avowed monarchist. Abbott eschews the political edifice that Keating built.

Alan
Alan
10 years ago

Tel

It’s a clever and elegant debating point, and it’s why Labor is in such trouble. Malaysia has a record of disregarding its own limited human rights standards. There is no reason to believe a government that disregards its own laws, and in any case has whipping as a legal sanction for asylum seekers, is going to adhere Australian standards. I doubt even the most passionate pearl-clutching by Australian representatives will do much to change what happens in Malaysia’s camps.

It follows that we are consigning refugees already in our territory and entitled to our protection to a non-convention country where they can be (and on the record most likely will be) subject to severe mistreatment. Both the refouled refugees from Australia and the additional refugees from Malaysia will face the same harsh regime in that country. That is not an appropriate trade-off for taking more refugees.

This is collective punishment plain and simple and its only motive is a terror of the polls.

patrickg
10 years ago

Ken, that’s a somewhat ignorant rewriting of Democrat history. The party didn’t “lurch to the left” as a result of the GST debacle; it had shifted left long before that as the member vote on the GST and other issues demonstrated (very much against). T

he actual reality is that Lees and Murray no longer represented the majority of the Dems voting pool and membership. The difference wasn’t so noticeable until the GST vote, which essentially killed the party, as droves of Dems voters shifted to the Greens, or back to the majors. That in itself is always the risk for a “protest” party, surviving on such a diversity of voters and ideologies. The weight became to much too bear. I personally think we were left much the poorer for it as idiots like Fielding etc had a great few years, as did the Libs.

John J
John J
10 years ago

In about 1980, my conservative sister surprised our family by announcing that she was going to vote for the Democrats. The Fraser Government had done something to annoy her and she was choosing the middle ground. She would not have voted Labor, which still had a whiff of Whitlamite radicalism about it. But during the later 80’s and early 90’s, Labor moved to the right and Democrats were squeezed out of the middle to the left. They went downhill after Kernot defected, and the GST split was the end for most of their supporters. As amateurish as they were, I miss the Democrats. The Greens are too radical, and we could do a sensible party of the left.

Pedro
Pedro
10 years ago

I said before the last election that voting was going to be a hold-your-nose thing. Abbott might be a nice guy, but he doesn’t ever strike me as Liberal PM material. But for everyone who frets about Abbott you just have to consider Wayne Swan! I don’t think much of Julia for that matter.

Still, the basis for the post is CC policy and I still can’t understand how anyone thinks it sensible to spend real money on AGW mitigation of any sort. Even the report the other day and claims since show the pointlessness of preparing for anything but adaptation unless there is a global mitigation scheme that will actually do something. And then I hear this morning about a new report that solar will collapse in generation costs in just 10 years. If true, perfect evidence of common sense in waiting.

Tel’s argument is like those standard puzzles about deliberately killing one person to save five.

FDB
FDB
10 years ago

“Abbott might be a nice guy”

He might? Fuck, he sure hides it well.

Pedro
Pedro
10 years ago

He is over a private beer. I don’t know about anything else. No doubt someone here has spent more time with him than me. Some people I like that know him like him.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

He comes across as a nice guy to me too.

Julia
Julia
10 years ago

Gotta be suspicious of anyone who comes across as two people. Kevin Rudd certainly did. The glad hander who used warm mateship expressions and got on well with the average guy, on the one hand who was a slave driving unsympathetic perfectionist on the other.

Abbott is similarly two people. I have heard him speak in person, where he came across as quite nuanced and thoughtful. This is trumped consistently by the unsympathetic, right wing Catholic, ideologically rigid, pugilist Abbott who rarely speaks in challenging forums because he might not control himself.

The trouble with people who are two people is you never know who they’ll be on the day.

Alan
Alan
10 years ago

I personally do not care whether Abbott or Rudd are ‘nice guys’. Debating the issue puts us on a fast track to the wilder idiocies of celebrity politics in the manner of the US.

Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
10 years ago

Alan,

Agreed. This whole post smacks of celebrity politics. (“Isn’t Malcolm wonderful? I wish he wasn’t in the Liberal party.”) It should be about policies. And, apart from on the Boat People issue, nobody has suggested any policies that this new centrist party would have that would be different to current Labor policy.

Labor has pragmatically (or cynically?) sought to adopt the policy preferences/prejudices of the median voter. Perhaps that isn’t “centrism” but I’m not clear what the difference is. The opposition has cynically (or pragmatically?) decided to rubbish every Labor policy, irrespective of its intrinsic appeal to a liberal/conservative party.

So, where exactly would a new party fit between “median” and “anti-median”?

Alan
Alan
10 years ago

I disagree that Labor is chasing the median voter. Labor people frequently tell you that they ‘own the progressive vote’. What they seem to be chasing is small groups of voters in marginal electorates and if those voters want refugees caned in Malaysia then that is what Labor will give them. They do not seem to grasp that the Greens are a second progressive party and that what pleases the mythical bogan vote in Western Sydney may well deeply offend traditional Labor voters elsewhere in the country.

trackback

[…] of maximising the economic value of their limited skill sets" writes Harry Clarke. At Troppo Ken Parish is also disillusioned: "If only there was a genuine ‘third force’ in Australian politics, a bit like the […]

Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
10 years ago

Alan,

Given our electoral system, swinging voters in marginal constituencies are the median voters.

You are making my point for me. Labor has forsaken its position as a progressive party and is aiming to be a centrist party. They are doing, this, presumably, because they expect all of the progressive votes to return to them somewhere: either through preferences or through alliance with a progressive party MP.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

Alan, are you sure that celebrity politics is so stupid? Granted, it led to the election of Obama, but leaving that aside, isn’t it the case that whether someone is ‘a nice guy’ may actually be more relevant than their policies?

Most voters, even quite intelligent ones, cannot and do not usefully distinguish policies. This is not only because they lack the ability, time and even interest, but also because, notable exceptions such as GST aside, campaign policies bear reasonably scant resemblance to enacted policies (which in turn often bear only tenuous resemblance to their effects). And then there are all the policy dilemmas that are not anticipated at the election.

So my understanding was that most people vote either locally or on their perceptions of the dominant policy figures in the respective party – in Australia, invariably the PM. They effectively vote on who they trust to better govern by their lights, to make decisions that they would agree on.

Sometimes party affiliation is the only factor. Sometimes announced policies play a larger part in that choice, sometimes a smaller part. Personality (although not likeability necessarily, people voted for Rudd) seems to me to often play a large part in that.

MikeM
MikeM
10 years ago

The Economist weighs in with an editorial this week:

[…] Many Australians do not seem to appreciate that they live in an unusually successful country. Accustomed to unbroken economic expansion—many are too young to remember recession—they are inclined to complain about house prices, 5% unemployment or the problems that a high exchange rate causes manufacturing and several other industries. Some Australians talk big but actually think small, and politicians may be the worst offenders. They are often reluctant to get out in front in policymaking—on climate change, for instance—preferring to follow what bigger countries do. In the quest for a carbon policy, both the main parties have chopped and changed their minds, and their leaders, leaving voters divided and bemused. There can be little doubt that if America could come to a decision on the topic, Australia would soon follow suit.

Its current political leaders, with notable exceptions, are perhaps the least impressive feature of today’s Australia. Just when their country has the chance to become influential in the world, they appear introverted and unable to see the big picture. Little legislation of consequence has been passed since 2003. A labour-market reform introduced by the Liberals was partly repealed by Labor. A proposed tax on the mining companies was badly mishandled (also by Labor), leading to a much feebler one. All attempts at a climate-change bill have failed. The prime minister, Labor’s Julia Gillard, admits she is unmoved by foreign policy. The leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, takes his cue from America’s tea-party movement, by fighting a carbon tax with a “people’s revolt” in which little is heard apart from personal insults. Instead of pointing to the great benefits of immigration—population growth is responsible for about two-fifths of the increase in real GDP in the past 40 years—the two parties pander shamelessly to xenophobic fears about asylum-seekers washing up in boats.[…]

Alan
Alan
10 years ago

Given our electoral system, swinging voters in marginal constituencies are the median voters.>/i>

Umm, no. By definition the median voter is identified with respect to the policy preferences of the entire electorate. Once you limit the choice to a small number of electoral divisions you are no longer dealing with the same voter. There are a number of other problems with the median voter theorem, such as its total collapse if you arrange policy preferences along more than one axis. The gap between the Australia-wide median voter and the Labor-targeted marginal seats median voter is one reason they are in electoral difficulty.

Catching up
Catching up
10 years ago

“The trouble with people who are two people is you never know who they’ll be on the day.”

The problem is that you do not know who the third person is. I will bet that the third person is the real one.

Mr. Howard was also able to present two persona’s but early in his career, we saw the real one. Anyone that took the time to think knew what to expect with Mr. Howard.e have no idea with Mr. Abbott. Look back in his past and all we see is confusion.

Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
10 years ago

Alan,

Yes, agreed. There is a difference between the conventional idea of the median voter as one with equal numbers of voters to the left and to the right of them and my idea of the median voter as the one that Labor needs to win (together with all voters to the left of them) to win power.

I’m not sure how different these two medians are in practice but, in any case, I don’t think that this is the source of Labor’s ills.

Pedro
Pedro
10 years ago

“Most voters, even quite intelligent ones, cannot and do not usefully distinguish policies. This is not only because they lack the ability, time and even interest, but also because, notable exceptions such as GST aside, campaign policies bear reasonably scant resemblance to enacted policies”

Perhaps the real problem is that all parties have a range of policies and only some will be attractive to the average supporter and they will differ between supporters. Except in cases like the GST election, nobody really knows what the “electorate” was thinking. How could it be otherwise when the electorate does not have one brain.

“They effectively vote on who they trust to better govern by their lights, to make decisions that they would agree on.”

Yes. I think most people have a general feeling about which party most suits them and vote accordingly. Swinging voters are just the people who don’t have really fixed views about that.

“All attempts at a climate-change bill have failed.”

The way the Economist wrote that, you’d think it was a bad thing!

John B
John B
10 years ago

Right idea, wrong party breakup.

Leave the Libs in bed with the Nats. It may be a marriage of convenience, but it has stood the test of time.

Leave Labor with the Greens – they deserve each other.

The problem is… where will the climate deniers go, when the big four parties finally decide to stop arguing IF and move on to questions of WHAT and WHEN and COST for CO2 reduction efforts.

All parties would be so much better without the fact-avoiders. Who knows? We might even see some real action (as against Real Action, Tony A) in response to this truly world-changing and urgent issue.

Vote 1 Climate Denial… or whatever.

Pedro
Pedro
10 years ago

“All parties would be so much better without the fact-avoiders. Who knows? We might even see some real action (as against Real Action, Tony A) in response to this truly world-changing and urgent issue.”

LOL, why exactly should we spend money on pointless mitigation. I never understand the rush to do something NOW!

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-26/solar-may-be-cheaper-than-fossil-power-in-five-years-ge-says.html

John B
John B
10 years ago

Pedro,

Some of us believe very strongly that NOW is the alternative to NEVER, because LATER will be TOO LATE.

Science on this was pretty much in the bag in 1979. Google “Carbon Dioxide and Climate: A scientific Assessment.” It’s a short read – 30 pages, from the US National Academy of Sciences. What was said then is still true now.

So, the scientific basis of my stance is firm. I could present a long list of serious published works which support my gloomy perception of the need for haste. The list would include some very persuasive books which look at the denial movement, its work and its commercial supporters. I won’t, though, because, Pedro, I don’t believe that you have an open mind on this subject. It would be a waste of my time.

So, here’s a test for you:
Read the reference I have cited, then provide a comment on it and I will post another reference or two. When you have read and commented on them, I will post another few, and so on.

Perhaps you would like to provide references for my own reading. I’ll play.

If you don’t want to know why this issue is urgent, for every single one of us, then don’t bother taking the first step.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

The problem is, John B, you don’t believe that at all. I know this because you said the same thing 5 years ago and will be saying the same thing in 5 years…funnily enough, now is always and always will be contemporary and later is always and always will be prospective…

I have a different challenge: when will it really be too late, so that we will be able to relax and get on with our lives knowing that the massive ambiguous threat is now truly imminent (as in will arrive this century, or the next, but certainly one day) and irreversible?

Alan
Alan
10 years ago

Patrick, you cannot argue two contrary propositions at the same time.

If you deny the climate science there is no threat and no action is required. If you accept the climate science, and your argument is about the timing of the threat, that is a different situation. You would need, for example, to cite climate scientists who believe that action should be delayed.

Apparently you believe that snakebite is best addressed by letting yourself get bitten and hoping you get the antivenin in time. Me? I walk away from snakes.

John B
John B
10 years ago

Patrick, you are a confused puppy. I said no such thing 5 years ago and what I might say in 5 minutes’ time, let alone 5 years, is mere conjecture.

So, for you I prescribe a different reading task.

Have a good look at Heat (George Monbiot, Penguin, 2006). It addresses issues of HOW MUCH much and WHEN far better than I could, and it is almost certainly in your local library.

If that isn’t to your liking, try Nonsense On Stilts – How to Tell Science From Bunk (Massimo Pigliucci, University of Chicago Press, 2010). Find out what science is after all, and how to pick your own expert.

Both are good reads, but be careful… they will challenge any misapprehensions and preconceptions you may harbour.

Then read or re-read the brand new report which was released this week by the Australian Climate Commission. You will find it easily via Google without a specific reference.

It appears to me that there is, at most, a window of 10 years, during which serious and permanent reductions in carbon dioxide output must be achieved if the world is to avoid becoming a much poorer and meaner place for all of its inhabitants – mankind and other species. The final crunch may not come for another 50 or 100 years, but the locked-in climate change is what matters, not the current climate, in which you have offered to relax while kidding yourself that the threat of climate change is ambiguous.

The average personal carbon budget from then onwards will need to be no more than 1 tonne per annum. That means a 95% reduction for Aussies and Americans and 90% for the Poms. Think on it… your kids and their kids will live in the world that you and I hand them. Are you relaxed about the thought that the world’s armies may soon be dealing with the consequences of this co-called ambiguous threat, for no better reason than because the politicians didn’t do their jobs? Relaxed and ambiguous is no way to describe being trapped on Planet Earth with a crook climate and collapsing societies, food and energy crises and failing international security.

Another book: Jarred Diamond’s Collapse . A professor, long ago, once told my class that we were not capable of original thought, so everything we said our Master’s theses must be cited. Apparently, original thought is reserved for the PhD typesand for post-docs. Nothing that I have written above is original in any way. Better brains than mine have already done the work.

Personal note: I am still way over my carbon budget, which is something of a worry for us all.

Pedro
Pedro
10 years ago

John B, I should have thought you could be completely convinced we are going to an hell in an AGW hand-basket and still think CO2 mitigation is a pointless activity in this country. The logic is pretty simple:

1 Nothing much is being done to stop the CO2 increase at a world level.

2 Anything little old us did would make a meaningless difference to the actual level of CO2 in the atmosphere while being expensive to us.

3 If our puny efforts are singularly pointless then the only reason to make then is to joint the global effort.

4 See point 1.

I also linked to the GE claim about the future of solar. If cheap solar is right around the corner why are we frothing about the expensive and wasteful stuff now? I don’t know if the claim is true, but I feel pretty confident the Greens’ line about industries of the future is just plain dumb for a range of reasons, including the evidence about first-mover disadvantage.

Alan, your analogy about snakes doesn’t quite work. For a proper comparison to AGW you’d have to include a whole bunch of chinese guys throwing new snakes at you as you try and flee.

John B
John B
10 years ago

Pedro’s tired non-analysis of the situation lacks anything close to rigour.

1. Man-induced climate change was predicted 100 years ago. The scientific foundations were sorted out 40+ years ago. Continuing observations and refinements of climate models have confirmed the predictions made way back then, yet for some reason, people such as Pedro choose to play a nonsense game with the future of the world at stake. I find extraordinary the notion that sentient Aussies would spout such cr_p as we have just read from Pedro, yet many, either blind or foolish or, at least, ill-advised, persist in so doing. It’s sad, really sad.

2. Nothing will happen at world level until the worst polluters, that’s us, indicate willingness to change.

3. Little old us, as world champion carbon emitters, can set the bar highest and make real changes (Take note, Tony A) at least cost. We have resources and a standard of living far above those of, say, Chindia, who we will need to convince to join us as we reduce our CO2 emissions. Our task is not to make all the changes, but to make a meaningful start, use our resources to set the pace and, most of all, to stop being such international spoil sports on this subject.

4. Read Point 1.

As stated above, if Pedro and others would like to review the range of possible avenues for making a change for the better, a good place to start would be Heat, George Monbiot, 2006.

To understand why it is that anti-science such as that spouted by Pedro is so common and why it persists despite being debunked, see Nonsense on Stilts, 2011, cited above, or Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskis & Erik M Conway, Bloomsbury, 2011 or Climate Cover-up, James Hoggan & Richard Littlemore, 2009.

Perhaps numbers are more to your liking, in which case try Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air David C McKay, 2009. NB I found this book a little dense. The others are better reads. It has the advantage available for free as a download.

These authors have already done the hard work. Besides which, they are much smarter than I.

To those who have read this far, I thank you. Simplistic throw-away lines are no answer to real problems and are an insult to the intelligence of both the originator and of the receiver. I commend all the above works highly – four stars out of five or better.

John B
John B
10 years ago

OOPS!

Close italics after “…Hot air”
Close bold after “…McKay”

I didn’t mean to shout.

Alan
Alan
10 years ago

@Pedro

Ummm, no. There are 2 problems with the Chinese snakes theory. The first, of course, is that if every nation must wait for everyone else to act then nothing can ever happen. The second, and more serious, is that Australia made a difference at Bali. We were then the only developed nation apart from the US which had not signed Kyoto and our change of policy added significant diplomatic pressure on the US.

That was not possible at Copenhagen, partly because the previous ETS had set ridiculously low targets that simply excluded us from the conversation, partly because of Chinese intransigence, partly because of Obama’s actions in seeking compromise at any price.

Your argument also suffers the weakness that you are massively overstating the costs of transition to a low carbon future. What, precisely, do you say are the costs of acting now. An actual number would be nice.

Among developed nations the only denialist governments are Canada and the US. The developed economies as a whole are moving, if slowly, into a low carbon future. Australia can be part of that process or it can be a poor little rich country insisting it cannot afford to change. There is actually a precedent to this argument in the tariff reforms of the 1970s and 80s where the opponents of change invariably argued that cutting tariffs would cost too much and we should wait for the rest of the world. Fortunately mindlessness did not triumph then and it should not triumph now.

Tel
Tel
10 years ago

John B, this climate stuff has been discussed massively on other blogs. However, in terms of clarifying your position I have a few questions: how do you feel about the “Climategate” emails? Have you read the emails? Do you believe that it is reasonable practice for scientists to:
* hide their raw data,
* refuse FOI requests,
* delete data points from their presentation graphs,
* lambaste each other with threats of funding cuts,
* rig the peer review process by secretly contacting reviewers,
* threaten to “oust” journal editors?

Do you believe that the investigations into “Climategate” were adequate to discourage such behaviour in future (presuming you think anything needs discouraging)?

With regards to Australians being “the worst polluters” does that include coal and gas exports against our tally? If you are including our exports in that tally, then do you recommend that Australia could “do our bit” by cutting carbon exports?

Alan
Alan
10 years ago

Tel

The so-called Climategate matter had been extensively investigated by both parliamentary and scientific committees on both sides of the Atlantic. Every inquiry exonerated the scientists involved. None substantiated the claims you make here or that are so often repeated on other blogs. Naturally those who question the science had no trouble at all questioning the inquiries but it’s a bit rich repeating your allegations as though they were established facts.

Tel
Tel
10 years ago

Ah yes, the good old inquiries. Like the “House of Commons Science and Technology Committee” report for example, the one where they put a token skeptic
(Graham Stringer) into the mix and then on every point he wanted to make they just out voted him, until finally he gave up and released his own minority report.

Have you read that report? Let me post a few highlights from it:

We cannot reach a firm conclusion on the basis of the evidence we took but we must put on record our concern about the manner in which UEA allowed CRU to handle FOIA requests. Further, we found prima facie evidence to suggest that the UEA found ways to support the culture at CRU of resisting disclosure of information to climate change sceptics. The failure of UEA to grasp fully the potential damage to CRU and UEA by the non-disclosure of FOIA requests was regrettable. UEA needs to review its policy towards FOIA and re-assess how it can support academics whose expertise in this area is limited.

Note that “failure to grasp” phrase, as if it was just a bit of a misunderstanding, could have happened to anyone. But here is a quote from Phil Jones takes out of that same report:

… we are longing to publish it because what science needs is the most openness.

That’s what he said to the inquiry, demonstrating that he obviously knew perfectly well what the correct and proper behaviour would be, but this is what he said in reply to a request for data:

Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.

A little two-faced? Here is what he says in his email:

I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.

… and …

Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis. Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.

That’s solidly two-faced compared to, “what science needs is the most openness” which is the face he shows for public purposes.

So what conclusion does the report come to?

In the context of the sharing of data and methodologies, we consider that Professor Jones’s actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community.

So the inquiry knew it was wrong, Jones knew it was wrong, but everyone does it, so that’s really OK. Great! I’m so relieved about that.

They try to convince me that the following is not deceptive:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

Apparently I’m supposed to believe that “trick” just means a clever statistical methodology, and it’s a well used colloquialism. Pardon me, but I have read a lot of context and explanations about that they did, and I still find it deceptive. Trying to convince me that I am too stupid to read English words and assign meaning to those words is not in my book a valid approach to debate.

The inquiry decided:

In our view, it was shorthand for the practice of discarding data known to be erroneous.

Yet the only basis for deciding this data was erroneous was that it did not fit where they wanted it to fit. Essentially they were just deleting the data points that didn’t fit. Worse actually, they were melding in the data that they did like and smoothing over the cracks with a bit of filtering. That sort of thing is acceptable which doing studio production, not so good for science (that’s my view of science at any rate, the House of Commons has other ideas).

Now of course, I get, “None substantiated the claims you make here”, to which I must say, did you read the report? Really?

I’d say the inquiry completely substantiated the claims, then shrugged and ignored the problem. I find that not only dissatisfying, but deeply disturbing. Even more so when I see so many others happy to just wave hands and similarly ignore the problem, as if sufficient weight of ignorance would fix something.

John B
John B
10 years ago

Tel,

I have said all that I am about to say on the subject of climate change.

However, I am extremely disappointed that unsubstantiated and fraudulent opinions such as yours are still circulating.

Disappointed that you are only one of many who uncritically swallow this tripe.
Disappointed that there are public spokespersons for the falsehoods which you are spreading.
Disappointed by media who give highly public yet unqualified fudgers such as Bob Carter, “Lord” Bigmouth Monkton and so forth pulpits from which to preach their horrid nonsense. The journalists who present these well paid charlatans as though they are able to be trusted are themselves not worthy of our trust.

So, Tel, the answers to your final three questions are Yes, No and No.

Alan
Alan
10 years ago

Tel

The relevant parts of the House of Commons inquiry are its conclusions at Para 22 and 23. they specifically reject the ‘hide the decline’ allegation. They find no evidence of dishonesty. You are welcome to quote selectively as much as you like but you cannot escape the conclusions.

For the record I do not propose to follow you through each of the other inquiries wheb you try to escape the conclusions by quoting selectively from the body of the report.

derrida derider
derrida derider
10 years ago

No-one gets near the top of the greasy pole in politics unless they have considerable face-to-face charm – you don’t get there unless you’re personally persuasive. There are actually few senior politicians I’ve met who would not be interesting company for a quiet ale in the bar. The quality of their company, IME, has little correspondence with either their public persona, their idealism or lack thereof, or their ideology. I’d love to sink a pint with Tony, for instance.

Tel, give it away. Clearly Club Troppo, like all except a handful of brave patriots (US of course, and funded by altruistic energy companies), has been brainwashed en masse by a hateful conspiracy of climate scientists pursuing Machiavellian plots to make their fortunes in research grants.

Tel
Tel
10 years ago

The relevant parts of the House of Commons inquiry are its conclusions at Para 22 and 23. they specifically reject the ‘hide the decline’ allegation.

Given that the paragraphs are numbered, I take it you mean this:

22. In this Chapter we discuss some aspects of this process.

… and …

23. There are three main international climate datasets, which have been built up from direct temperature measurements on land and sea at weather stations all around the world:

a) the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Asheville, North Carolina, USA;

b) the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS), part of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) in New York, USA; and

c) CRUTEM3, at CRU, UEA.32

Hopefully you can guess by now that I don’t much like people stringing me along, but at least I made the tiny bit of effort to pull out something moderately relevant from the report rather than picking two random paragraphs and expecting me not to bother following up.

Tel
Tel
10 years ago

Sorry, I note that the conclusions are numbered separately to the paragraphs.

From 22:

The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’s refusal to share raw data and computer codes, we consider that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community. We have suggested that the community consider becoming more transparent by publishing raw data and detailed methodologies. On accusations relating to Freedom of Information, we consider that much of the responsibility should lie with UEA, not CRU. (Paragraph 136)

That is the “we knew it was wrong but everyone was doing it” answer, I’ve already stated that I don’t accept this. My idea of science is that it be done right.

Tel
Tel
10 years ago

From 23:

23. In addition, insofar as we have been able to consider accusations of dishonesty–for example, Professor Jones’s alleged attempt to “hide the decline”–we consider that there is no case to answer. Within our limited inquiry and the evidence we took, the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact. We have found no reason in this unfortunate episode to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity”. It was not our purpose to examine, nor did we seek evidence on, the science produced by CRU. It will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel to look in detail into all the evidence to determine whether or not the consensus view remains valid. (Paragraph 137)

They are entitled to their opinion, and I’m entitled to mine. I don’t believe that a culture of secrecy delivers good science. I personally read the background context and the various explanations of the “hide the decline” episode and I found it to be what I would consider deceptive. I don’t believe that science is done by consensus, my idea of the scientific method does not have a place for a democratic system of votes. Science is an activity that seeks to understand the observable evidence and if that evidence is hidden, muddled, tampered with or tainted in any way then science cannot operate as a process.

In my opinion Jones does have a case to answer, if we are trying to do science here. The fact that other people are willing to wave this past convinces me that they have a different idea of what science is than what’s in my mind.

Tel, give it away. Clearly Club Troppo, like all except a handful of brave patriots (US of course, and funded by altruistic energy companies), has been brainwashed en masse by a hateful conspiracy of climate scientists pursuing Machiavellian plots to make their fortunes in research grants.

Ha ha, they got caught screwing with their data, now hand waving can’t make it go away. People largely cling to what they dearly want to believe, but that’s not science either. Just because a lot of people believe something, doesn’t produce a scientific fact.

desipis
10 years ago

They weren’t doing it the ‘wrong’ way. They were doing it the ‘scientific’ way, rather than the ‘convince the idiots’ way. The point the report was making is that given the significance of the issue, the ‘convince the idiots’ part of it might just be as important as the actual science.

Alan
Alan
10 years ago

Tel, umm, no.

Conclusion 2:

Conclusion 2 In addition, insofar as we have been able to consider accusations of dishonesty—for example, Professor Jones’s alleged attempt to “hide the decline”—we consider that there is no case to answer. Within our limited inquiry and the evidence we took, the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact. We have found no reason in this unfortunate episode to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity”.[184] It was not our purpose to examine, nor did we seek evidence on, the science produced by CRU. It will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel to look in detail into all the evidence to determine whether or not the consensus view remains valid.

The exoneration by this inquiry was more thoroughgoing than your selective quote shows. Just for the record, the scientific inquiry’s results were no different so let’s not go through the whole record with you attempting to misrepresent what they found.

My idea of quotation is that it be done right.