JoNova

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Australian government finally gets slightly serious with CSIRO board

The Abbott government has at least grown enough backbone to not renew the Labor appointees Chairman to the CSIRO board, who have allowed scientific standards to decay so badly. It’s about time. As long as any director of CSIRO claims that “consensus” has any meaning in science, then the board is an unscientific failure.

UPDATE To clarify: There is no official policy to not reinstate people because they were appointed by Labor. But three directors/panelists say they have heard unofficially there is.  I think board members should be sacked if they don’t serve the public, not because of who appointed them. It would be a silly thing for a Minister to say. But in the case of the CSIRO, the Labor appointee appears to be a political assignment rather than a scientific one, and should have been replaced long ago. See my comment #1.1.1 for names and more details.

UPDATE #2: Bolt calls it an anti-Abbott rumour. “And a spokesman for Tony ­Abbott told The Weekend Australian there were more than 50 government agencies with boards where a person was appointed by Labor and reappointed by the current government… “

Not surprisingly, this has angered everyone who wants an unscientific agency that promotes big-government policies ahead of rigorous science. The current Chairman, investment banker Simon McKeon, will be leaving in June. He says public servants do it for the love of it:

“The great majority of people who put up their hands to serve on a federal government agency are really doing it for the nation,” he said. “All I’m saying is we’re missing out on the corporate memory.

So let’s cut the salaries of middle managers and executives at CSIRO by half. They won’t mind, will they? It’s “for the nation”.

Back in its glory days, CSIRO had no almost no administrators and executives brought in from outside. It was run by scientists, and it’s work was far less impeachable. Now, a class of bureaucrats are paid more than the scientists to run everything — how ever did the organization cope without them, back in the day?

I wonder how much it easier it would be to find replacement scientists compared to replacement bureaucrats. Would there be able people willing to do the job of the CSIRO Chairman for half his salary? Yes there would. Would there be able people willing to do the job of any of the scientists in CSIRO for half their salary? You’ve got to be joking!

And why worry about corporate memory, when the corporation is dysfunctional? CSIRO is supposed to be a scientific agency. It has thoroughly compromised itself with releases of highly biased, politicized reports such as State of the Nation, which provide advice that is worse than useless because they are loaded with half-truths, hiding model failures, adjustments, and uncertainty from the paying public. There are good scientists at the CSIRO, but most have stood by and said nothing as the standards collapsed. If CSIRO can allow the nation to waste billions on futile schemes to change the weather, the agency is counterproductive and working against Australian interests. Close it down, split it up,  and set up smaller newer ones.

McKeon was appointed in 2010, and interviewed in 2011 (below). His predetermined opinion on climate science was very clear.He was already a carbon activist in 2008. Do you suppose that was part of why the RGR government appointed him? He was passionate about changing the climate, but what we really needed was a chairman who was passionate about scientific standards:

SM: I never thought I would end up chairing a wonderful organisation like CSIRO. I’m not a trained scientist or a technical person. But I am very passionate about some of the great challenges affecting mankind, such as climate change and reducing global poverty, and how science can assist. In a way, not having a science background is a strength. CSIRO has a vital role in ensuring science is important to all Australians, not just those with science backgrounds.

SM: It is not appropriate for me to comment on the politics of climate change. But I will say that the research I see emanating from organisations such as CSIRO, the Australian Academy of Science and the Bureau of Meteorology continues to demonstrate the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. The science appears to me to be quite clear cut on this point.

Both political parties have shown a willingness to tackle the issue, but there’s little time to wait. And, most importantly, I appreciate the importance for Australia of retaining a strong element of international competitiveness and acknowledge that we’re a tiny polluter globally (although massive on a per capita basis). But as a prosperous country, we must be a leader in this space, not a freeloader.

It would have been better for the nation if Tony Abbott had paid out all their contracts in Sept 2013 and immediately appointed people who understand the scientific method instead. McKeon was lauded as “compassionate”, but we don’t need compassionate research so much as we need effective research that gives accurate predictions.

Back in 2010 McKeon effectively said CSIRO should have more political importance:

”One of the things I’d be very keen to promote using the CSIRO as a platform is to elevate again the proper role of science to being that foundation rock upon which good community decisions are based.”

His first goal should have been to make sure CSIRO had impeccable scientific standards.

Back in 2010 he was already using the mindless “buy insurance at any price” argument:

”But secondly, what do we do about it [climate change]? Well, I think that even if we’re in an era where we’re not really sure whether there is climate change or whether it’s going to be deleterious to the species, to the globe as a whole, we’ve got to take out insurance.”

I’m sure investment bankers don’t get rich by buying house insurance that costs more than the house. It is hard to believe he cannot see through this analogy — perhaps he just didn’t want to?

This is good news. Abbott might finally be getting more serious about appointing people who know what science is. But ultimately it may not make much difference. The whole culture of the CSIRO needs changing, and just as Maurice Newman and Janet Albrechtson could not repair the ABC culture, a whole new board of CSIRO won’t be able to do much either. But it’s a step in the right direction.

What we really need are more science projects that are funded by citizens directly, through donations, business or philanthropy rather than through the stranglehold of monopolistic gatekeepers of big-government interests.

CSIRO budget is $1.2 billion a year.

Posts on the downfall of the CSIRO:

 

 

 

 

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Australian government finally gets slightly serious with CSIRO board, 9.3 out of 10 based on 94 ratings

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85 comments to Australian government finally gets slightly serious with CSIRO board

  • #
    David-of-Cooyal in Oz

    Hi Jo,
    Well caught. Have you seen anything about who will be on a new board?
    Cheers,
    Dave B

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    • #
      David-of-Cooyal in Oz

      I’ve just followed the original pointer through WUWT to the Guardian article, in which McKeon is described as the “chairman of CSIRO whose term ends in June”. He then goes on to describe what he expects to happen, a “maybe” rather than a “has”. Have you any independent verification of a fait accompli?
      Cheers,
      Dave B

      70

      • #

        Very good question David. I will make an extra note in the post above to clarify. This is a “so-called” policy that is not an official policy, though McKeon says has been told that he could not be reappointed because he was a labor appointee. On the other hand, the Abbott govt has reappointed Ian Chubb (and they shouldn’t have, he’s done a dismal job as “Chief Scientist”) and also Kim Beasley, both Labor appointees.

        In my opinion no one should be sacked because Labor appointed them, that would be a silly policy. But anyone who is not serving the public interest first and foremost should go, asap.

        The Australian reports.

        THE Abbott government is hampering the ability of government boards to do their jobs by refusing to reappoint directors installed by Labor, say three of Australia’s most prominent corporate board members.

        AMP and CSIRO chairman Simon McKeon said that since the Coalition was elected it had been effective policy that Labor ­appointees on boards would not be reinstated when their terms were up, no matter what their quality or corporate memory.

        “When you consider that the former Labor government was there for six years, that must account for 90 per cent of directorial appointments,” Mr McKeon told an Australian Institute of Company Directors lunch in Melbourne yesterday.”

        “It’s one of the most important things the AICD promotes, that sensible mix of diversity on boards,” he said. “Many of us simply do not understand this so-called policy that is happening.’’

        Telstra and Orica director Nora Scheinkestel said the Takeovers Panel she sits on had been significantly reduced as director’s terms ended. “Really, you need to be at least 1½ terms serving there before you start to work out what you’re doing,” Ms Scheinkestel, who was also speaking at yesterday’s lunch, said.

        There is no official Abbott government policy of not reinstating board members appointed by the previous Labor government.


        Three company directors
        are named as confirming the unofficial policy: Simon McKeon (CSIRO) Nora Scheinkestel (Telstra and the Takeovers panel) and Graham Kraehe, (chairman of BlueScope Steele, takeovers panel?).

        181

        • #
          Peter C

          On the other hand, the Abbott govt has reappointed Ian Chubb (and they shouldn’t have, he’s done a dismal job as “Chief Scientist”)

          Agree! As far as I have seen he hasn’t done anything except defend ANU scientists who were being criticized for being less than objective about climate change.

          130

        • #
          NoFixedAddress

          Hi Jo,

          Something not right with the quote from Nora Scheinkestel.

          Telstra and Orica director Nora Scheinkestel said the Takeovers Panel she sits on had been significantly reduced as director’s terms ended. “Really, you need to be at least 1½ terms serving there before you start to work out what you’re doing,” Ms Scheinkestel, who was also speaking at yesterday’s lunch, said.

          If anyone takes 1½ terms serving at The Takeover Panel before they start to work out what they are doing then I would suggest they are not suited for the position.

          And to think this was said at an Australian Institute of Company Directors function!

          160

    • #
      Ted O'Brien.

      From csiropaedia: “In 1986 the Hawke Labor Government changed the structure of CSIRO to include a Board of non-executive members plus the Chief Executive to lead CSIRO and the roles changed.”

      “5 Dec 1986 to 4 Dec 1991 The Hon Neville Kenneth Wran, AC, QC, p/t Chairman”

      Neville Wran was at the time National President of the Labor Party.

      With the Howard government doing nothing about it, that makes 26 years and 3 months of partisan management, established to promote the AGW scam.

      140

  • #
    Yonniestone

    Insurance at any price is absolute selfishness on the warmist’s part, massive premiums against a quasi-catastrophe that they expect everyone else to pay for.

    I wonder if they would mind paying my $1 million premium for “Sky falling” insurance?

    161

    • #
      Greg Cavanagh

      $1million, is not an impressive number. If you want to impress somebody, you have to spend $1billion at least. A number like that has a better change to solve the problem, doesn’t it?

      80

      • #
        Yonniestone

        Ok then $1 billion LOL, it doesn’t matter as I was suggesting that premium came out of their own pockets, I’d say that even $1 would make them scream scam and proof please.

        Empathy has never been a warmists strong point.

        120

    • #

      Get real guys. The activists are asking for climate spending with a T in front.

      A trillion here, a trillion there, soon we’ll be talking real money.

      261

    • #
      Ted O'Brien.

      Insurance at any price? “Investment bankers don’t get rich by buying house insurance that costs more than the house”. No, they get rich by selling insurance that costs more than the house.

      From where we stand, if unbiased research is the objective, Simon McKeon’s chairmanship of AMP and the CSIRO present a very big conflict of interests. Reading the reports here of his comments about his appointment that conflict stands out.

      60

  • #
    Dariusz

    I deal with the geological side of csiro on regular basis and sadly not too many outstanding scientists. If they think, they are often prima-donnas responding slowly with v.poor productivity. I see no reason to think that climate side in csiro is any different.
    The good thing is that a lot of them lost their jobs and we the taxpayers don,t have to pay as much as we used to. Now we have an army of unemployed csiro scientist that I would never consider employing in the private industry as they are not good enough.

    341

  • #
    Peter C

    Better late than never.

    The Government seemed unnerved by the shreaks of rage from the ABC and Fairfax after their initial success with the carbon tax. and the boats. Then got depressed by the blocking of the Senate.

    The new initiative on the CSIRO may have been a response to the many letters from Conservative supporters sent since the Leadership crisis. Of course we would like to see a lot more actions including the BOM and the ABC and the Climate Authority and the Civil Rights Commission.

    A lot of this may be due to the Call to Arms put out by Jo and the response by her readers. If so I hope that the policy makers are reading the blog themselves now.

    Good riddance to Simon McKeown and the rest of the CSIRO board. One small step in the right direction. The popularity of the PM seems to have recovered, which can’t have gone unnoticed.

    A double dissolution of the Parliament would do a lot to help the country. Maybe that could be considered if the Senate needs more persuasioin.

    221

  • #
    George McFly......I'm your density

    “The great majority of people…….are really doing it for the nation”

    And patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel

    171

    • #
      me@home

      George, the quote “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” attributed to Dr. Johnson is one of the most misquoted quotes of all time even making into the The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. The problem is that DR J never wrote that. His biographer records him saying it in the context of talking about pretend patriotism. (see Chris Walder’s article in Quadrant, March 2015)

      10

  • #
    bemused

    I know from personal experience that people in CSIRO and DSTO do work there for the ‘love of it’. Both are like an extension of university where they get paid big dollars to just continue what they did in university. It’s kind of like never leaving school.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of wonderful, intelligent and genuinely dedicated people there, but take away the money and they’d leave immediately. There are also many very frustrated individuals putting up with woeful divisional management, focussed on nothing but finance, grants and the like.

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    • #
      bemused

      For the one that gave me a thumbs down, would you care to elaborate on what you found offensive or wrong with my post. It’s all well and good to just click an icon and think that your opinion has been adequately conveyed; but it takes a tad more spine to express what you actually believe in. Do you have that spine?

      82

      • #
        mike restin

        “I know from personal experience that people in CSIRO and DSTO do work there for the ‘love of it’”…
        “but take away the money and they’d leave immediately.”
        —————–
        Which is it?
        No icon needed.

        20

        • #
          bemused

          The people there love their work; I have often heard many say that they can’t believe that they get paid to do what they do; however, pragmatism still means they won’t work for nothing and complain vociferously when acceptable pay rises aren’t provided or classifications (meaning pay level) are provided in the way they wish.

          Clear now?

          20

  • #

    The issue is not with the CSIRO, or NOAA, or NASA, or HADCRUT. It’s a social problem. Society has been infected with a virus far more dangerous than biological microbes. Those who have been infected speak the most loudly, lie the most audaciously, persecute the most violently.

    If government was the problem, the CSIRO would object. If the CSIRO was the problem, government would object. But we have in our society the equivalent of the rogue wave. But like all waves, it will eventually pass. Even tsunamis do not have everlasting effects.

    One thing I have noticed: we don’t have a great scientist who is both universally respected and unafraid to ruffle feathers when required. We need a Feynman for today. But instead we have mediocre amateurs like Bill Nye, the babies at SkepticalScience, journalists who don’t have a damned clue about fact-checking, an American president who, unbecoming of a statesman, labels undecided politicians as ‘deniers’ and smug condescension from many who are liberally inclined.

    You can split, sell, rebuild, restructure and rebrand the CSIRO as much as you like, but we have a problem that pointless corporate busywork can’t fix.

    And those were MY 4.21071 CENTS*.

    *Adjusted for UHI, TOBS, missing data and non-compliance with model predictions.

    442

  • #
    TdeF

    Do we need a public service CSIRO? No. What good does it actually do or is it just a sleepy science retirement home for lazy science? How could the cloud seeding project run for 50 years? How could the automatic sheep shearing project also run for two generations of failure?

    CSL went private and is booming. We can still get the vaccines and anti toxins and it is a big money spinner for the country, chasing markets world wide.

    Is being a public servant a real disincentive to taking the risks which are necessary in science or research? Of course. Even the BOM could be sold because the weather is big news and people will pay. The infrastructure is valuable.

    Sell the CSIRO, BOM, ABC and SBS and more and let them have a profit motive and be success driven. Do we really need 1,000 public service journalists in the ABC? Absurd. Do we need even one public service journalist?

    Many of the world’s Nobel prize winners in science were not in government. Let private companies be funded with zero real public cost using tax deductions for research. Contrary to what the Greens day, tax deductions are not cash from the public purse. It is simply not taxing wages and costs used to perform research. Tax the results, not the effort.

    Today how much good is being done after 25 years of CRCs or are they just another self justifying public service fantasy? Does a single one of them make a profit, or is that an offensive question?

    Sell them all. Support science research with zero cost tax deductions. If it does not get results, the companies paying for the research will stop. Otherwise public service projects run forever without results.

    Let businesses and needs decide what the next great direction is, not self interested, self serving public servants who never fail because they never take the risks needed to succeed. Good ideas like the Bionic ear will be funded simply because they are good idea with real commercial potential. Real scientists do not do it for love. That is absurd fantasy. Scientists are not nuts. Real scientists want success and bucket loads of money too, just like everyone else.

    370

    • #
      Dariusz

      After selling all of them you still have 2 mln public servants that I would like to fire

      161

      • #
        TdeF

        You could start with all the quangos.

        Who needs a fantasist Human Rights Commission with a budget of $25,000,000? Australian law is based on Common Law not Rights like the US. The UN has a Human Rights body too which is even more useless than the IPCC. They awarded a human rights prize to Muammar Gaddafi and Libya won the chair. Close them down. There are great public servants who dedicate their lives to public service, but you have to wonder the other half. Even the CFA (Country Fire Assocation) is now supposed to appoint two full time Climate Change people in the lastest demand from the firefighters’ union to the Labor Victorian government they helped elect. Victoria tolerated union demands for firemen on diesel trains for fifty years.

        The ABC has to go and the BOM has to get a grip on its future and the CSIRO is another $1Bn sinkhole for public money.

        150

        • #
          TdeF

          Actually, very different types of firemen. One puts out fires, the other starts them with coal, which is hard to find on a diesel train.

          80

    • #
      Peter C

      Scientists are not nuts. Real scientists want success and bucket loads of money too, just like everyone else.

      TdeF,
      I would like to appoint you to a professorial chair of Psychology!

      70

    • #
      Ted O'Brien.

      TdeF.

      In my industry, agriculture, the CSIRO has a marvellous history prior to getting hijacked for the AGW scam. Other industries would have found the same. Hopefully there is still good work being done there somewhere.

      in my industry, agriculture, we have been just about wiped out by the Free Market Theory which you seem to be promoting. TdeF, there is no such thing as a free market. It’s a myth. The Market is not Free if it is not Free For All. It never has been, and it never can be.

      We are getting wiped out because we operate in the world market at world prices, and those prices are corrupted by subsidisation in principally Europe. Our governments, and our own university educated lobby, with their Free Market Theory believe that we should have no protection from that price corruption. They believe that when we cease production Australia will be able to import its food at the subsidised prices. It won’t. Not only will we have to pay the full cost of production, but a profit margin on top.

      Another example, a massive example.

      You may be aware that until 30 years ago wool production was Australia’s biggest industry. In 2015 wool has just about reached the end of the road. All because of the Free Market Theory which is taught in our academies and espoused by the Liberal party in particular, because they believe what they have been taught, and the ALP and Greens, because it is achieving their objective of destroying the capitalist system. Which the Liberals are too dopey to see. (US readers note that our “Liberal party” is the “conservative” side of our politics. What’s in a name?)

      Wool is still an eminently marketable product. The unique physical characteristics which made it so readily marketable 30 years ago are still the same unique physical characteristics, even more marketable today that they were then. But the entire world trade in wool was bankrupted by the Howard government imposing their Free Market Theory. They cited The Law of Supply and Demand, and demonstrated that they had no comprehension of either supply or demand.

      They have this religious belief that The Market is benevolent and will fix everything on its own. It won’t, it doesn’t.

      62

      • #
        Spotted Reptile

        The Free Market Theory only works if every country also buys into it, which they haven’t and won’t. It’s no use having a theory for Australia if the rest of the world simply sticks to what they’ve been doing for hundreds of years: gaining advantage for themselves through tariffs and legislation. We can’t pat ourselves on the back for our purity if we go bankrupt doing it.

        40

      • #
        Dariusz

        What is the alternative? What do we have now? Capitalism is dead since the Great Depression when they discovered government subsidies. Any attempt to make this happen in isolation will be doomed for failure. I have a few ideas to start my own business after I get the sack from the petroleum industry, but the very first thing I think about is:
        1. Competition (dominated by fat cats only) that would not allow me to market the product even if they haven,t got it.,
        2. Government regulations that are prohibitive,
        3. Provisional tax (tax in advance of your profits)
        4. Prohibitive wages that even with a simple job I have to think think twice before I employ anyone.
        5. Seed money comes from me only, not from the bank as they are involved in lending to big business, other banks, stock market, houses, global warming schemers.
        None of these have anything to do with free capitalism.
        It is much better to work for someone else, pay tax that government will easily collect, be dumb, lazy, get drunk on cheap beverage, be a lefty and complain how you being screwed by the rich and capitalism, and not think about the future.
        Modern day slavery paradise.

        80

  • #
    Sceptical Sam

    Let’s hope the Abbott government continues to clean CSIRO out.

    We need to remember that the Gramsciist march through that institution was started by that good old leftist Bob Hawke when he was prime Minister in the 1980s. And, who did he give the Chairman’s position to? Well, none other than his good old left-wing mate Neville Wran – the ex Labor Premier of NSW. The socialists were on the march. Infiltration and subversion. Straight out of the Gramsci operations manual.

    That’s when the Marxist march through the institution started and it’s been on ever since. Politicised through and through.

    It’s easy to do. You just get a politically aligned Board, then a politically aligned senior executive who proceeds to appoint and/or promote politically aligned activists into critical positions. Easy peasy.

    That’s where CSIRO is today. Hence, why would anybody be surprised to see politically correct “science” oozing out of the joint?

    221

    • #
      James Bradley

      Sceptical Sam,

      That’s why Hawke started the push for more students to go to university, primarily to take the pressure off the appalling unemployment figures as a result of his policies and his support of every union except the pilot’s union (funny that), but also to indoctrinate as many students by the rampant left-wing/communist proaganda spouted by student unions through to academic staff.

      One of my best teachers, and still close friend, is a historian by the name of Rowan Cahill (google him) but try as he might he couldn’t change my staunch right wing view of the world.

      161

      • #
        Ted O'Brien.

        James, you must be a young bloke. And your historians need checking.

        It was Whitlam who mass reduced our education system.

        And did you notice that after the “Republic” referendum Kim Beazeley declared that it would take another ten years to get the electorate educated to accept a “republic”?

        10

  • #
    Glen Michel

    The CSIRO should consider a new logo- seriously.

    40

  • #
    Malcolm

    Don’t forget the blatant conflict of interest that arose with Megan Clark’s directorship of Cradle Mountain Carbon.

    50

  • #
    Ross

    Slightly O/T but along similar lines. Steve Goddard on his site predicted a few days ago that the NCDC would adjust USA Jan/Feb figures to make them warmer so they would not be the coldest in recent times.
    Only took a few days for his prediction to be proved correct

    https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/forecast-success/

    So this is how science is done these days in Government funded institutions.

    141

  • #
    Phillip Bratby

    A great move. I wish we could clear out the bureaucratic dinosaurs in the UK and the EU.

    121

  • #
    Tim

    “There are good scientists at the CSIRO, but most have stood by and said nothing as the standards collapsed.”

    It must be difficult to make any comments, release papers or offer criticisms when these must be approved by the powers that be before any public release.

    141

  • #
    Olaf Koenders

    Back in 2008, as a forklift repairman, I was assigned to repair a forklift at a CSIRO branch that shall (but rightfully shouldn’t) remain nameless. Although I was given a contact name, nobody or myself could find him on the first day I arrived, some 30 minutes after the call.

    Next day, I returned but the guy responsible for the call was missing for 2 hours. Besides, the place was practically deserted both days so anyone I came across was as disinterested in helping me as their test rats were in helping them.

    Suffice to say, considering grabbermint were footing the bill for my services ($107 an hour at the time), I was not a priority. I’m glad I never had to go there and suffer the ignominy ever again.

    I had similar problems at an ABC branch. Either nobody knows anything or they hide under their desks when 30 seconds of work walks in the door.

    221

  • #
    Faye

    Is the CSIRO a happy ship? Ditto ABC and BOM? I would imagine the ABC ship wouldn’t be too happy with Chopper Mark wandering around.

    80

  • #
    Richo

    I can’t see the need for directors on government bodies when they are answerable to the relevant minister. It would be better to have a CEO who is directly answerable to the minister. Directors are parasites, a drain on the tax payers and jobs for the boys and girls.

    Even in private companies directors have shown to be ineffective and easily snowed. After all they are the ones that gave us the Global Financial Crisis.

    70

    • #
      Peter C

      The main reason for a board of directors is to distance the Minister from his responsibilities

      70

  • #
    el gordo

    On the other thread I mentioned that the Chief Scientist Ian Chubb has had his position extended until the end of the year.

    The Government press release says they are ‘working to ensure a smooth transition to the next Chief Scientist. We will shortly commence a detailed and thorough international recruitment process for a new appointee to this important role.’

    There are a lot of capable people in Australia who could do the job better than warmist Ian Chubb.

    As Jo said,’the whole culture of the CSIRO needs changing’, and the best way to achieve that is from the top, same goes for the ABC.

    I’m drawing up a short list of possible contenders for the chief scientist job, members of the Klimatariat need not apply.

    61

    • #
      Yonniestone

      I think Dennis Jensen MP should be near the top of that list, I’d like to see it when your done, maybe a few suggestions from others in the know would be interesting?

      81

      • #
        Peter C

        Not a bad idea Yonnie,

        It is a political appointment. As Chief Scientist, he might be able to shake our scientific institutions out of their comfort zone. All of the previous appointments seem to have wanted to Not rock the Boat!

        51

        • #
          el gordo

          Dennis Jensen wanted the Science Minister’s job, which he was entitled to have, but Abbott got cold feet and left the seat empty. Looking at the smile on Jensen’s face over the past couple of weeks, it maybe on the cards.

          The Chief Scientist position is usually filled by an academic or bureaucrat of some kind, presumably with a science background. Anyway I’m going for a rank outsider, an outstanding individual who will put climate change into perspective… Bob Carter.

          110

          • #
            el gordo

            Adding to that, Bob Carter has warned of global cooling and he is joined by Australian intellectual Maurice Newman, who could give up his present position and get the top job on the CSIRO board.

            121

          • #
            Peter C

            Bob Carter! Great suggestion.

            At first I thought that you had written Bob Carr and I thought WTF.

            51

            • #
              el gordo

              Bob Carr had his swan song and presumably will see out his time in the land of the long white cloud.

              Ian Macfarlane is the minister looking after science and this is what Alan Kohler said.

              ‘That chairman had told me he had attempted to get three members of his board re-appointed this year, telling his minister that in each case they were good directors who contributed much to the organisation.

              ‘The minister apparently apologised, but said his hands were tied: they could not be re-appointed because they were Labor appointees…’

              If Macfarlane said that its because he didn’t have the heart to tell the chairman that global warming is a myth and we are clearing the decks of anyone surplus to requirement.

              60

              • #
                Peter C

                McFarlane lacks courage or convictions?

                30

              • #
                el gordo

                You maybe correct, I know nothing of the man. That’s why it would be beneficial to have Dennis Jensen get a new invigorated Science Ministry.

                Its a script made in heaven.

                Also I think it would be a good idea to offer a seat on the board to Murry Salby.

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      Tim

      Don’t worry about a short list – There’s probably someone in Brussels picking a suitable candidate for us right about now.

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    Mikky

    I thought state sponsored R&D was pretty poor in the UK, but we don’t have anything like this:

    http://victimsofcsiro.com/

    though all govt employers and pots of money probably suffer from the same problems.

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    GreenTroll

    A bit of a side topic. But ‘Earth Hour’ is approaching again and I want to tell everyone what total bullsh*t it is. It claims to save XX amount of Co2 and be a reminder to be mindful of the environment by getting people to switch off their lights for one hour. God help us.

    But can someone confirm this for me? It is my understanding that the turbines at coal and gas fired power stations need to run at their rated capacity more or less continuously as the boilers take one day, sometimes two, to fire up to operating temperature.

    So it is the electrical generators at the plants that are switched on a off as required when demand increases or drops, not the boilers. Therefore, a bunch of dopes switching off their lights for one hour won’t stop one ounce of Co2, as not a single power station would be spun down for this tiny drop in demand during earth hour. Amiright? So not that Co2 matters, but even if it did, these numptys wouldn’t save one ounce.

    I want to get stuck into some comments about earth hour, and tell them to do something worthwhile with their fingers, rather than using it turn off the lights.

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      Dariusz

      As usual I will switch all my lights in the house so I can be seen from space.

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      Spotted Reptile

      You are pretty correct. But you miss the point of demonstrations and protests. They are symbolic. They have deep and meaningful significance. It doesn’t matter that you don’t achieve anything concrete or useful: what matters is that you FEEL GOOD and you make other people feel good about themselves. Even if it’s only for an hour. It’s like having concerts for poverty; no poor people were better off as a result, but all the folks who went to the concert felt really great for about a month afterwards. Then they went back to their feeble lives and dreamed up the next love-fest so they could do it all over again.

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      Annie

      GT … we could suggest they use their fingers to pick up some of the litter along the roadsides.

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    benpal

    ““The great majority of people who put up their hands to serve on a federal government agency are really doing it for the nation,”
    The great majority of people who put their hands up to serve have never been elected/selected, because they adhered to the wrong party!
    As for doing it for the “nation” (he forgot to mention the “chiiiildren”: Those who were elected so far didn’t do any service to the nation.

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    bleD

    Some people have suggested Bob Carter as a new head of CSIRO. How about Ian Plimer? He sees things from a geological perspective over eras.

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    Greg Cavanagh

    I do wonder what the next Climate related report will be out of CSIRO. Will it be still pro-CAGW or will they jump trains and start writing anti-CAGW.

    Interesting future ahead.

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    pat

    i still can’t see the story.

    Murdoch’s Australian quotes article in Murdoch’s Business Spectator by Alan Kohler about some hearsay, which involves PM Abbott and/or Peta Credlin. both articles are behind paywalls.

    i do know no evidence has, as yet, been presented to show any “policy” or “rule” exists or has been exercised or will be exercised in the future.

    what i do know is a young Irish woman, living in Sydney, is able to place the following in the UK Daily Mail, long after Joe Hockey’s debunking of the story, with no mention of the Govt’s denial and evidence to the contrary:

    6 March: Daily Mail: Sarah Carty: Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s controversial
    chief of staff has banned all Labor appointments from keeping their jobs
    Updated: 13:19 EST, 6 March 2015
    Peta Credlin has banned Labor appointees from keeping their jobs
    It was confirmed at an Australian Institute of Company Directors lunch
    It has been met with outrage from the Coalition and business community
    Many of the appointees do the job for humanitarian reasons
    Tony Abbott is a staunch supporter of Credlin calling her a ‘political
    warrior’
    Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s chief of staff has come under fire yet again
    for her controversial decision to ban Labor appointments from retaining
    their positions on government boards.
    The move by Peta Credlin has been derided by the business community as
    ‘unrealistic’ because nearly all of the directors on government boards were
    employed during Labor’s six-years in government.
    Speaking at an Australian Institute of Company Directors lunch, chairman of
    CSIRO, Simon McKeon confirmed the ban on Labor appointees to government
    boards, claiming he will lose his position when his contract expires in
    June…
    ‘Labor was in power for six years. Virtually everybody currently serving on
    the boards of government bodies was either appointed or reappointed while
    Labor was in power,’ Mr McKeon said.
    ‘If Abbott persists with his policy, there will be a full clean out of
    directorships.’
    ‘The reality is that, yes, there is a rule that no one on the board of a
    federal government agency has been reappointed,’ Mr McKeon said.
    ‘It’s an issue that many people are finding worrying.’…
    ‘I haven’t come across anyone actually in government, let alone in private
    enterprise, who says `oh this is a wonderfully good initiative’.’
    Takeovers Panel member and Telstra director Dr Nora Scheinkestel said the
    panel’s size had been significantly reduced as members had not been
    reappointed when their terms came up.
    ‘The reality is we lost a lot of people who brought great expertise, major
    institutional investors, investment bankers etc, and I think it’s to the
    detriment of how the panel functions.’…
    Dr Nora Scheinkestel, a director of Telstra, said she was strongly against
    the rule, as was chairman of BlueScope Steel Graham Kraehe.
    McKeon is a former Australian of the Year and is coming up for reappointment
    in following months, like many of his colleagues.
    Many of them are part of the boards for humanitarian or charitable reasons.
    ‘My understanding is that there are many people like me who are disappointed
    with this quite brutal rule,’ he said…
    But Abbott’s devotion to Credlin is unmoving. The prime minister has
    defended her time and time again, calling her ‘the fiercest political
    warrior I’ve ever worked with’.
    He is known to have told associates that raised complaints against her: ‘you
    wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Peta’.
    ***Meanwhile, Tony Abbott’s future remains uncertain with some disgruntled MPs
    claiming it is only a matter of time before the leadership issue comes to a
    head.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2981918/Prime-Minister-Tony-Abbott-s-controversial-chief-staff-banned-Labor-appointments-keeping-jobs.html

    ***for me, that was the purpose of the entire story.

    Sarah’s previous Daily Mail story: “‘He’s like a dog about to walk up on a tree’: Karl Stefanovic dons
    Birkenstocks with socks and tiny shorts to complete a workout live on
    breakfast television”

    Malcolm/ABC turned it into another Captain’s Call:

    6 March: Guardian: Daniel Hurst: Malcolm Turnbull says ‘refreshing’ government boards PM’s ‘preference’
    6 March 2015 15.07 AEDT
    Communications minister says it has been Tony Abbott’s preference not to reappoint board members selected by former Labor government…
    When asked whether the directive was issued by Abbott or the prime minister’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, Turnbull said: “The prime minister has had the view that we should refresh the membership of government boards and, generally, that is what we have done.”…
    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/mar/06/malcolm-turnbull-says-refreshing-government-boards-pms-preference

    nonetheless, here’s one Board Member who should be replaced, along with McKeon:

    Ms Shirley In’t Veld: CSIRO Board Member
    She is Chairperson of the Sustainability Committee of Asciano, and is a Council member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (WA) and the SMART Infrastructure Facility (University of Wollongong).
    She is also a member of the CSIRO Energy Strategic Advisory Committee, Member of the Board of Perth Airport and a Panel Member of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) Review.
    Ms In’t Veld was the Managing Director of Verve Energy for five years, relinquishing her position in April 2012. Verve Energy is the biggest generator of electricity in Western Australia, and is a leader in the development of sustainable energy generation…
    Ms In’t Veld was appointed to the CSIRO Board in June 2012.

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    pat

    meanwhile, a couple of “intimate” CAGW stories found on Tim Blair’s blog:

    4 March: National Geographic: Jason Bittel: Yaks May Be Climbing Higher Due to Climate Change
    A lack of snow on the Tibetan Plateau may be pushing thirsty yak females into steeper habitat.
    “Many people who are interested in climate change focus on how species will be redistributed in space and in time, where they’ll go, but very few have studied potential mechanisms for change,” said Joel Berger, lead author of the study and a senior scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society…
    It’s still unclear why only the females seem to live the high life. However, it’s possible that at one time males were also more likely to be found on steep slopes, but that they’ve somehow returned to their historic behavior more quickly…
    This research could also lead scientists to new insights for other endangered species, Berger noted.
    After all, if male and female yaks respond differently to environmental stressors, then other animals might, too.
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/03/150304-yaks-tibet-climate-change-science-animals-global-warming/?now=2015-03-04-00:01

    upcoming event at UNISA:

    10 March: UNI of South Australia: Practices of Intimacy, Futures, Social Change and Climate Change
    LECTURE BY PROFESSOR LYNN JAMIESON
    ‘Practices of intimacy’, means practices by which we build close personal relationships, including forms of knowing and sharing, practical acts of care for and expressions of care about others. The focus on practices of intimacy is not to accept that we can solve global problems simply by being kinder or nicer in our personal life.
    In this lecture, Professor Jamieson will refer to evidence about the future of intimacy in projected practices of intimacy in couple relationships, parent-child relationship, kinship, friendship and sexual relationships. She looks for evidence of possibilities of environmentally-positive future directions for social change in discussions that largely focus more directly on issues of gender equality and balances of power in intergenerational relationships.
    Lynn Jamieson is Professor of Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, and Co-Director of the Scottish based Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR). She was elected President of the British Sociological Association in 2014.
    Presented by the Hawke Research Institute in partnership with UniSA’s School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy.
    http://www.unisa.edu.au/practicesofintimacy

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    el gordo

    The marriage between the CSIRO and BoM should be ended for the good of the nation, a pox on both their houses.

    ‘CSIRO and Bureau researchers have confirmed that most of the changes observed over recent decades will continue into the future.

    “There is very high confidence* that hot days will become more frequent and hotter”, CSIRO principal research scientist, Kevin Hennessy said.

    “We also have very high confidence that sea levels will rise, oceans will become more acidic, and snow depths will decline”.

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  • #

    You need more than a shake-up. You need a smash-up. Science and research will only be stronger without some sacred cow institution which has rigidified into a little Byzantium. Make new. And when the new institutions start to creak after a few decades, smash them up too.

    A real national leader gets up every morning and, before doing anything else, abolishes a QANGO. Only then does he go for a number one and make coffee.

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    manalive

    I’m sure investment bankers don’t get rich by buying house insurance that costs more than the house. It is hard to believe he cannot see through this analogy — perhaps he just didn’t want to?

    Yes, but the popular insurance analogy is nonsense also because one doesn’t buy insurance to stop something untoward from happening but to receive compensation if it does.
    The appropriate parallel is to prepare for climate-caused events along the lines advocated by Professor Carter.

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      Greg Cavanagh

      So very true.
      I’ve missed this point myself over the years. The world needs reminding of this little factoid.

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    Dennis

    How Labor governments manage the public service is explained in the link below and it is worth reading. Partisan appointments to the public service, media management etc;

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/scott-prasser-rudds-ruthless-style-entrenched-labor/story-e6frg6zo-1111112811319

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    handjive

    CSIRO set sail for Fail …

    January 17, 2004, SMH/age:

    “The IPCC (and CSIRO) relied heavily on the Mann paper in coming to their global warming conclusions.
    The paper’s climate curve was nicknamed the “hockey stick”: relatively flat from 1550 to 1900, with a sharp rise as
    greenhouse warming lifted global average temperatures.”

    31 March 2006, csiro.au:
    Climate Change Impacts on Australia and the Benefits of Early Action to Reduce Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions
    6.1 Constrained Global Warming
    “The initial benefit of GHG mitigation would be reductions in the upper limit for future global warming, and subsequently regional climate change.”

    TheAustralian, April 4, 2011:
    The CSIRO has meanwhile today called for a carbon price to be a key part of the nation’s overall climate action.

    SMH, November 13, 2011; Carbon tax hit small: CSIRO
    . . .
    Advocation of a carbon(sic) tax is not science.

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      handjive

      Climate change a CSIRO priority as new chief looks to secure funding (guardian.com)

      Larry Marshall says global warming is high on the public’s agenda because ‘the science is so compelling

      But Marshall, a physicist from Sydney, told Guardian Australia he would focus on those three particular areas he hopes will receive more substantial backing from government.

      The organisation’s well-regarded climate science work fared particularly badly in the budget, losing more than $20m in funding.
      Work on marine biology is also being cut back.”
      . . .

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    nfw

    Why shouldn’t the Libs/Nats replace Lie-bor Party appointees. After alll, that’s what Lie-bor does. Double standards and hypocrisy yet again from the “progressives”.

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    Mark D.

    That CSIRO logo, is that for real? Because it looks like AU being sliced into parts like bread ready to be toasted.

    I hope not.

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    Robert of Ottawa

    Hallelujah!

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    Robert of Ottawa

    The bureaucrat is the defensive line between politician and reality and populace.

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    Robert of Ottawa

    I’m sure investment bankers don’t get rich by buying house insurance that costs more than the house. It is hard to believe he cannot see through this analogy — perhaps he just didn’t want to?

    He didn’t care; he was roo-shitting for his paymasters.

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    DonS

    “What we really need are more science projects that are funded by citizens directly, through donations, business or philanthropy rather than through the stranglehold of monopolistic gatekeepers of big-government interests.”

    Agreed Jo, more private funding of scientific research would be a great thing. The reality is however that in country the size of Australia government funding of basic research has to be part of the mix.

    In the last reporting season non-mining sector companies reported an average of 9% profits of which they gave almost all back to shareholders in the form of dividends. If these people can not see the value of reinvesting profit back into their own businesses how in the world would you get them to invest in basic research? Apart from a few high profile, celebrity backed, medical charities, research in Australia would be finished.

    Money is money no matter who gives it out. What we need is a grants system that is far more efficient at identifying prospective research proposals. As I understand it scientists working in universities spend most of their time applying for grants, sucking up to grants board members and jumping through politically correct hoops when they would rather be doing research. That’s alright for the bureaucrat scientist with the scientific insight and achievement of a ant, but for the passionate researcher working at the cutting edge of their field it is an annual nightmare.

    As for institutions like CSIRO they need to be constantly prodded and stirred up otherwise entropy leads them to settle into a comfortable pattern of behaviour which produces far less than the value of funds invested in it.

    I would like to see all employees of government institutions like CSIRO, ABC etc. on 2 year fixed term contracts at the end of which they would need to reapply for their positions. If they could not demonstrate practical achievements in the past 2 years and outline what they hope to achieve in the next 2 then out the door they go. An excellent way to shift the deadwood out and refresh the place by bringing in new ideas.

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    el gordo

    The CSIRO should look into this, it has legs.

    ‘The alleged radiative forcing from all man-made CO2 generated since 1750 is claimed by the IPCC to be 1.68 W/m2. By way of comparison, the up to 30 W/m2 of “spurious variations” from incorrect calculation of solar zenith angle discovered by the authors is up to 18 times larger than the total alleged CO2 forcing since 1750.

    ‘Why wasn’t this astonishing, large error of basic astrophysical calculations caught billions of dollars ago, and how much has this error affected the results of all modeling studies in the past?’

    The Hockey Schtick

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    Terry Day

    Question to the gurus here, how much money would McKeon and his mate Turnbull stand to make from trillion dollar carbon trading transactions, no doubt via merchant banks, considering both of their backgrounds include the money factory (MacQuarie Merchant Bank and Goldman Sachs and I’m sure they still have connections)? Why else do they both promote GW so hard? Why else would business people of their ability promote leftist causes so stridently?

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    Richard X

    I used to know Simon McKeon pretty well in the 1970s and 80s. He was an obviously intelligent, friendly young guy and easy to get along with. He was also very competitive with an immense drive to win (my opinion). Just look at his success in sailing. He became a ferociously effective negotiator and persuader and his abilities took him to the top of Macquarie Bank. They weren’t known as the “millionaires factory” because they paid low wages to their top people and Simon was one of their top earners. He‘s not doing it for the money.

    The thing to remember is that he’s a lawyer. Can you remember those people from school who went on to become lawyers? How did they go in advanced physics and maths? My recollection is that they were totally incapable of understanding the basic concepts and were totally incapable of understanding that they they didn’t get it. Their minds weren’t wired that way. This, of course, makes them the ideal person to head a scientific organisation such as the CSIRO. He’s no more (scientifically) qualified to be chairman of the CSIRO than, say, Gillian Triggs or even Sarah Sea-Patrol. What he is eminently qualified to do is steer the CSIRO into reaching conclusions that “prove” that AGW is true.

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    Mervyn

    Only Labor could appoint a non scientist to be chairman of a scientific organisation. Insane!

    Simon McKeon’s appointment as CSIRO chairman was as inappropriate as Dr Pauchauri’s appointment as the IPCC’s chairman (another non scientist).

    It was time for the new broom to sweep clean.

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