A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).

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Does honesty matter? Labor still supports the Carbon Tax – Nothing has changed: WA Senate election

UPDATE: 50% counted so far, likely result = Lib 2 | Lab 2 | Greens 1 | Pup 1 [ABC tally]  (This page says all 6 seats are “elected” yet only 50% is counted. Can someone explain? – Jo]

The WA re-election of six senators runs tomorrow. The carbon tax lie is still here, the zombie law dead, but living.  The Abbott government can’t get the legislation through the Senate to bury it.

It’s been a novel political strategy by the Labor Party: make a definitive commitment to voters, win by the skin of your teeth, then do the exact opposite. Get caned in the next poll, lose resoundingly. Then stick with the commitment you promised you wouldn’t commit too. Apparently, at the core of the Labor Party philosophy — Truth Is Optional. Changing the weather is more important than being straight with the voters. It’s how you serve them, right?

Ponder the ambition. Gillard declared  “there will be no carbon tax” then chose voluntarily, in full view, and with no gun to her head, to break her commitment. She hoped perhaps the Australian people would a/ forget, b/ say thanks, or c/ be understanding — after all, She Really [...]

Dennis Jensen MP — Calls for audit on the BOM and CSIRO data

Dennis Jensen, M.P. in the Australian Parliament, made a formal parliamentary request for an audit of the BOM and CSIRO data handling processes.

This is an excellent request, something Australia desperately needs. Good data on the climate.

Given how important our climate is, I’m sure Tim Flannery, The Climate Council, The Australian Conversation Foundation, and The Australian Greens will join us in demanding that the BOM and CSIRO datasets are independently audited. Naturally, all of us would want to ensure our climate data is of the highest quality possible and not subject to any kinds of confirmation bias, or inexplicable adjustments. Right? And maybe its even worse than we thought, so they will want to check, yes?

Let’s leave no stone unturned in making sure we understand the threats to the Australian environment, the impact on our farms and homes, and on our National Balance Sheet! How could any Green disagree?

Dennis Jensen talks about the response he got from the BOM and the questions he did not get answered:

” … the BOM state the temperature trend prior to 1910 is unreliable. But the IPCC use data on Australia going back to 1850. So [...]

Australia says “No” to UN wish list of billions – will “not support socialism masquerading as environmentalism”

The UN wants $100 billion from wealthier countries (about $2.4 billion from Australians or $100 a person). The Australian government has produced a position statement for the Warsaw UNFCCC conference. It is unusually brutal. I don’t think I remember seeing the phrase about socialism “masquerading as environmentalism” in an official statement before. (I’m sure readers will correct me). It’s good to see some recognition that the science has become less clear, and that it may become more so. Essentially, the new Australian government ‘s message to the UN is: we are reducing CO2, but we’re not giving you a cent. Furthermore, if the science becomes muddier, we might drop it. We don’t think this UN meeting is remotely important and we have better things to do. And when it comes to wealth transfer through the UN the answer is No. Thank. You. The Australian has seen part of the document and it declares that, while Australia will remain “a good international citizen” and remains “committed to achieving the 5 per cent reduction” by 2020 of the 2000 levels of emissions, it will not sign up to any new agreement that involves spending money or levying taxes. - The Australian

The government’s [...]

Good news: Australians not partying in Poland, chopping committees at home instead, axing the tax.

Not a bad Friday.

Tony Abbott will not be travelling to Warsaw with a hairdresser, photographers, and a chef in an entourage of 114. Nor even is Greg Hunt (the Environment Minister) going. They are too busy back home trying to cut expenses and repeal the carbon tax (though that looks like it will have to wait til the new Senate starts in July).

It breaks the chain of Ministers bowing to the IPCC, though last year the Labor Party only sent a Parliamentary secretary for Climate Change. This year we will be sending a junior (but why send anyone at all?).

Not a good look for the IPCC. Australia’s carbon tax was the main bright spot on their outlook, and now it’s being snatched away from them. Bravo, I say. But can we stop sending the money?

Soon we might be free to speak again

More good news — the Racial Discrimination Act (which was used against Andrew Bolt) is a high priority on the chopping list. It’s the first thing Attorney-General George Brandis will bring to Parliament. Not a day too soon.

If we have to have a human rights commission, then it ought to protect the [...]

Finally a Labor guru gets it right – Bill Kelty says “Carbon tax to blame”

It’s taken a week, but at least one Labor adviser has finally got a better answer as to why the Labor Party suffered a record loss. As long as Labor “spins” its mistakes, not only does it not learn any lessons, but it gives the public no reason to trust that it has changed. Labor suffers so much from not having open ongoing debate. If Kelty (and others) had said this two years ago, they would not be in such a hole now.

The Australian

…the party’s breach of trust with voters over the carbon tax was a bigger cause of its defeat than the disunity cited by senior ALP figures.

Mr Kelty, who is backing Bill Shorten in the mould of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating to become the next ALP leader, said the seeds for last Saturday’s loss could be traced back to the failure of Labor to explain to voters why Kevin Rudd was dumped in favour of Julia Gillard in 2010.

“To be honest, I think they lost the election in two points of history,” Mr Kelty said.

Spin has a price:

“They didn’t ever explain the change of leadership from Rudd to Gillard. Therefore [...]

Three cheers for Senate Micro’s

We have discussed this issue at length on The Senate-Rage! post. I’ve taken those thoughts a bit further in an Op-Ed in The Australian today. There are no comments allowed there so here is a thread for further thoughts and feedback on our new Senate and whether we need to revamp the system. This is my first purely political op-Ed. I find it surprising that almost no one, on any side of politics, is speaking out for the little guys and the disaffected voter. Bob Brown (former Greens senator) calls it a “scandal” of “legally induced frauding”, that “must” change, so I know I am onto something. He thinks Liberal voters don’t know the difference between “liberals” and “liberal dems” and that “Stop The Greens” might fool Green supporters. How stupid are the voters. Really?  — Jo


Three cheers for micros by: Joanne Nova From: The Australian September 13, 2013 12:00AM

UNLEASH the sanctimony! Practically everyone on all sides of mainstream politics is not pleased with the success of the micro-parties in the Senate election. For goodness’ sake, car-loving, sports-crazy Australians may have elected car-loving, sports-mad senators. Is that so bad?

The not-quite-elected souls [...]

Coalition starts axing Australia’s carbon-bureaucrat-machinery

The clean up begins.  I am beaming.

Just enjoy with me the small sweet pleasure of a day when government waste shrinks. There is no joy in axing jobs of workers, albeit ones who should never have been employed in the first place. But there is satisfaction in knowing that hundreds of pointless reports and press releases will not have to be debunked, and millions of dollars in taxes can be put to some other use (or returned to taxpayers – I can dream).

[The Australian]  PUBLIC servants are drawing up plans to collapse 33 climate change schemes run by seven departments and eight agencies into just three bodies run by two departments under a substantial rewrite of the administration of carbon abatement schemes under the Coalition.

Looks like DIICCSRTE the Department of Everything is gone forever. (That’s the  Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education). Now the climate change programs will run under the Department of Environment and the Department of Resources and Energy. We are back to sensible acronyms.

The move is forecast to save the government tens of millions of dollars. The Coalition budgeted for savings of $7 [...]

Senate-rage begins — trashing independent Senators already — blame the media, not 23% of voters

Unleash the Sanctimony! Practically everyone on all sides of mainstream politics is not pleased. For goodness sake, the car loving land of Australia has elected a car-loving Senator, and the sport-crazy nation will have a sports-mad Senator too. Is that so bad?

Wayne Dropulich, possible new Senator

You’d think so. The not-quite-elected-yet souls have barely uttered a word in public, but apparently this is such a disaster we need to remake the Senate voting system. I was amazed at how media commentators were using the term “representative democracy” as if these new members were somehow not representative, and as if only first preferences  count in a preferential voting system where some of us had to write in 110 preferences. How arrogant. Blame the voter.

A guy that rebuilds cars  for a hobby is probably better connected to reality than a Monash graduate in Marx and Pashukanis.

Those with God-like insight say ignorant voters “accidentally” voted them in, assuming those people are too stupid to know how preferences work, and that those voters are not happy with the result. Commentators raved about the mere 0.22% of the vote that one new Senator got in first preferences, but they ignored [...]

Voters crush the carbon tax and corruption — worst Australian government gone — Labor learnt nothing


Tony Abbott announces Australia is open for business again.


Finally Australia steps back from a porkbarrelling party that stood for nothing more than being in power.

They broke promises to anyone and everyone with Olympian success. And it was not just the usual politician broken promise of failing to solve a problem they promised to solve: they brought in The Carbon Tax after dishonestly guaranteeing they would not. Would they have won the 2010 election if they hadn’t made that promise? (It would only have taken 400 voters in Corangamite to rewrite history.) They’ve taken broken promises to an all new level, where nothing they say can be trusted. It was not a question of them trying and failing, it was a question of being elected through deception. Every single Labor member chose to break that promise; any one of them could have stopped it. This is not a “leadership” question. It’s a question of integrity, and it applies to every member of the party.

The Labor Party also told us Tony Abbott was a misogynist, relentlessly negative, and a denier, and in return the Labor Party received one of the lowest primary votes in history.

I wish I could say it [...]

Australian Election Today (Finally!) Rudd-Gillard government to go

Yes I’m having a party. : -)

The total seats in the house of Representatives is 150, so when a party gets 76, they win.

UPDATE:  7:28 pm Eastern Time (5:28pm in the West, polls are still open): ABC giving 42 seats for Labor, 72 to the Liberals.

This election will be called soon. 


UPDATE: 7:41pm Eastern Time. 43 Labor, 73 Liberal.

Treasurer Wayne Swan looks like holding his seat. 30% counted. Swing against him is 2.5%. The Worlds Greatest Treasurer, who proved so adept at spending other people’s money on things like $800,000 tin sheds will keep his seat. Anyone in charge of the national cheque book can accrue $250bn of debt… spending money is the easy part. Paying it back is another thing entirely.


UPDATE: 7:56pm  Labor doing better. Greens get their man.

Labor 48; Liberal 73; Green 1: Other 2

Adam Bandt, sole Green member of the house of Reps elected? again (or as good as) in Melbourne

The ALP / ABC have set expectations so low that Labor will claim anything over 50 seats as a “win”. It helps them put a good spin on a bad loss.


UPDATE 8:20pm: Done deal. Labor [...]

“Climate change” is still tearing Australian politics apart

Don’t think the carbon dioxide wars are over in Australia.

What turmoil lies ahead. The Coalition looks like easily winning the election on Saturday (though Jeff Kennett points out he lost an election people thought he would win). If they win, they’ve promised to wipe out the Labor Party’s carbon tax. (Not a moment too soon.) Abbott was made leader on this issue in December 2009, and has vowed “in blood” to remove it.

But after this election the Senate will still be in the grip of a Labor Green majority until July next year, when the new senators (whoever they may be) take over half the Senate. Yesterday Tony Abbott renewed his pledge that this election is about “the carbon tax”. If he wins, and the Senate won’t pass his climate change legislation, he says he’s determined to pull the ultimate political trigger and call a double dissolution election.

The stakes are high. For the sake of foreign readers, the double dissolution is a rare event that, unlike a normal election, means every senator is suddenly out of a job and up for reelection (not just the usual half a Senate at a time). We could, in theory, have [...]

Compare policies: Labor takes $900 per house to reduce CO2, Coalition $100

There are not many serious comparisons of the ALP vs Coalition policies on “climate change”. Don Young, a statistician and IT consultant in Canberra, with experience at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and in Washington, is now (happily) retired and has had time to take a close look at both. Strangely, The ABC Drum declined to publish this analysis. (Perhaps the details of reducing CO2 is not a high priority?)

The centerpiece of the Labor strategy is the carbon tax/ETS, which will end up raising $7.7b in financial year 2012/13. That’s $900 per household, and judging by the record of the last few years works out at an average cost of at least $640 per tonne of Co2 not emitted. The Coalition propose to spend $800 million per year, or $100 per household, with a cap on the cost per tonne that is likely to be much lower, so a lot more effective per dollar. If it can be done.

The Labor Party want us to buy carbon credits overseas, which is “essentially foreign aid”. The Coalition are considering measures like increasing soil carbon, which might not be either verifiable or permanent. I would argue [...]

Sportsbet call it a Coalition win, *still* taking bets, but pay out $1.5m early

Sportsbet odds reached $11.50 for an ALP win, and as low as $1.03 for a Coalition win. They’ve just called the Australian Election, nine days early.

That’s it! Sorry Sky News, apologies to the ABC, don’t bother We’re calling it first. – Sportsbet

They’re saying the Coalition will win 90 seats, ALP 56, Katter 1, and Wilkie 1, but don’t know about the seats of Lyons and Lingiari.

Shame the Coalition appears to be missing his rare opportunity to give us the small government we so desperately need. They could savagely cut red-tape and spending, and unleash the power of Australian innovation, brains, and creativity. This is not even being discussed. Sigh. They offer $31b in cuts, but as Judith Sloan points out: “Essentially, both parties expect to spend nearly $1700bn in the next four years. ”

Government shouldn’t be trying to “create jobs” any more than they should be “picking winners” in the market. A governments job is to create the conditions that allow the cleverest, hardest working, and luckiest to mobilize the workforce in the most efficient and fairest way.


UPDATE: ! Oops. They are still taking bets, Title and Tweet corrected. Apologies to Sportsbet, I [...]

Both parties trying to be Not-Green in Australian election, Coalition looking better at it.

Stick with us overseas readers. The spectacle goes on…

How times have changed

Back in 2007 both major parties wooed the Green vote. Now Green is so on the nose that Abbott not only declared that he was putting them last on preference swaps*, but felt it was worth egging the Labor party to join him. The ALP did not scoff. Abbott is marking the Greens as worse for the nation than the Labor Party. In response the Labor Party put out a definite “maybe-sorta-kindof”. Rudd ruled out “deals” to form government (though it’s not clear what that means exactly), but he naturally wants to use preference swaps and won’t be bragging about it.

Both major parties are competing to look tough on “irregular maritime migrants”. Though both still pay lip service to the climate-scare. It’s a shame the Liberals are still too afraid of the name-calling bullies to stand up and ask for evidence, or to promise to set up an independent science agency to audit the IPCC claims on behalf of Australian taxpayers.

Where did that bounce go?

The honeymoon is over for Rudd.

Sportsbet have the Conservatives at $1.11. Labor at $6.50. The Labor Party suffered [...]

In the next 37 years, Labor will spend $60,000 per Australian to change the weather

Peter Lang adds up the numbers from the Treasury and leading economic commentators, and finds that decisions the Australian Labor Government has made will cost the equivalent of about $17,000 for every man, woman and child if paid in a lump sum now, or $58,000 if paid bit by bit over the next 37 years to 2050. And that’s just for the ETS, not for the RET and other measures.

By 2019 Alan Moran estimates each year citizens would have to fork out billions for Green Schemes; Labor policies tally to $22b, Coalition policies to $7b, Greens policies to $27b.

If men-in-black-suits turned up at Australian houses forcing citizens to sign cheques for $17,000 per person in order to change the weather on Earth 100 years from now, there would be a revolt in the streets. That’s $68k per household of four. (Is this how you would spend $68 grand?) But if the government disguises those charges in electricity bills, and hidden increases in the cost of every item that has to be moved, heated or cooled, then some 30-40% of the nation sees no reason not to vote for this. [...]

Try to keep up with Australian politics. The zombie Parliament may rise again. Is that a Tax, a Trade or an Army I see?

So, we might have an election next month, we might trade carbon next year, the carbon price might be $24, or $6, or $40. We might have a new government soon, or none of the above.

Hows that stability working out for us now Rob Oakshott and Tony Windsor?

Kevin Rudd announced The Tax would move to become The Trading Scheme. But he still has to get it through Parliament, and it’s not looking easy.

The Greens don’t like it — because free market solutions are only “right” when the price is what the Greens want it to be.

The Coalition don’t like it either, though they are not so good at explaining why (watch Greg Hunt struggle here). The Coalition aren’t brave enough to say they prefer their own “no regrets” policy that could be unwound when the namecalling stops and everyone admits cooling Earth by 0.0C was always a waste of money. The Coalition won’t have to pay billions in compensation to their Green Army, but they can’t say that either. They know the love-media would crucify them if they admitted publicly that it was possible the models might be wrong. The IPCC can say that it is [...]

An Abbott fan offends with a bad joke. Gillard lies, cheats, and burns your life savings. One of these things matters.

Pre-draft Update: I wrote all this before the latest twist came. For foreign readers: gawk, supposedly in March at an Opposition fundraiser, a menu listed an insulting Julia Gillard Kentuky Fried Quail (and worse). It turns out the menu was not even used, it was an inhouse mockup. No one at the Liberal fundraiser saw it, let alone approved it. The reason I wrote at all about it was that it should never have wasted so much airtime. Like Parliament, like blogs. It is almost as if trolls are running our national debate. UPDATE #2: Worse. The resturanteur who wrote the insult turns out to be a Labor man.

How easily people are diverted.

The parody of our “national” conversation is literally reduced to a bad joke. The desperate Julia Gillard is milking a spot of tasteless humor made by a Liberal supporter, wringing all the political mileage she can get out of it. It is everywhere in the news today. A waste of bandwidth. She says a comment that Tony Abbott didn’t make, and doesn’t approve of, tell us something about the culture of the conservatives. “Join the dots” she snidely implies.

Yes, I say, [...]

Labor downgrades “Climate Dept”. Greens slam it as “symbolic retreat”

Dr Craig Emerson, Minister for Science, Weather, Inventions, Factories and Universities.

After the leadership farce last week and the resignations of the more-sensible Labor ministers, Gillard has reshuffled again and the DCC (Department of Climate Change) is disappearing into a “super ministry”. It is a sign of the times.

The P.M. has bundled the Department of Climate Change into a nightmare acronynm:

The Prime Minister used her sixth ministerial reshuffle to merge the Department of Climate Change with the Department of Industry, creating a new Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.


Gillard has made Craig Emerson minister of nearly everything.

Gillard also appointed the former Woodside director, Gary Gray, to cabinet as mines and energy minister. The Climate Spectator is worried. Gray said something skeptical once in 1993: that the evidence linking human activity to climate change was ‘‘pop science”. Years later he apparently said he regretted the comments, but this was not enough to convince the religious that he has discovered the faith.  He made the mistake of saying there needed to be “intellectual challenge and debate”. These plain and sane words marked him as a confirmed skeptic. Only [...]

Who will be Australia’s PM tomorrow? (Answer – Gillard)

UPDATE: Rudd refused to contend. Gillard and Swan “won” uncontested. (The ALP loses.) QLD State Liberal Premier Newman calls for a federal election. “‘The country cannot afford the waste of time; the paralysis we’ve seen.’” ——————————————— It’s on. Finally.

Leadership ballot called for Labor Party at 4.30pm today. [...]

WA State Labor leader has it both ways: Carbon Tax bad but trading good. No. No. No.

Mark McGowan , the West Australian Labor leader hoping to win the election in March and become Premier of WA, announced that he doesn’t like the Carbon Tax. But apparently he does like emissions trading, showing that he’s as keen as anyone to help large financial institutions reap nice profits for little risk, and no benefit.

It’s an industry which deals in paper sales of an atmospheric nullity and thus, by design, prone to fraud. (See the $7b VAT tax fraud where 90% of trades in some markets were criminal). The EU emissions price is collapsing, and the scheme has made no difference to emissions in the EU. The US reduced CO2 more than the EU without a tax or a national trading scheme. In the unlikely event the scheme overcame the fraud and inefficiencies and actually reduced carbon dioxide, stopping the entire output of Australian industry and commerce would make 0.0154 degrees to global temperatures, at best, and that’s assuming the IPCC assumptions turned out to be correct despite all the evidence suggesting they are wrong.

“It’s no coincidence that the only people who argue for a free market solution are those who profit from it, or [...]