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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Coal Miner Clive Palmer to host a climate conference for global leaders

Australian politics is pure side-show cabaret.

For Clive Palmer, it’s a smashing winner all the way ’round.  It’s more photo opportunities,  more Palmer-Party headlines, and a chance for him to hobnob with any international names who feel like turning up for a few days of taxpayer funded R&R to his Coolum Resort.

Thus Clive disarms his opponents, networks with the odd VIP, and unnerves the government all at the same time. He can wave the Green flag in future negotiations with Abbott and co, to try to haggle extra bits and pieces in his favour. Plus he distracts people from a messy legal matter with a Chinese firm, and he could certainly use some guests at his 95% empty resort. Which, by the way, is also a legal headache and in the news for all the wrong reasons.

It is a bet that a few politicians wouldn’t mind a Sunshine Coast junket after the G20 on November 17. They get to relax for a few tax-deductible or tax-funded days while they pretend to talk about the insolvable climate problem. Plus it’s a fun way to look compassionate and caring for the third rock from the sun. Everyone earns greenie points, [...]

Get rid of the rogue EPA and pointless “climate” policies. Governments can’t change the weather.

One day people will marvel that turn of the century governments thought they could control the climate, and needed to issue decrees about how much “change” in the weather they would allow.

From different continents come two articles with a similar theme. It’s time to dump the EPA and pointless “Climate” policies.

The US should get rid of the federal EPA

Alan Caruba and Jay Lehr tell us how it is. The EPA is a rogue tool of liberal activitists.

For years now I have been saying that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must be eliminated and its powers given to the fifty states, all of which, have their own departments of environmental protection. Until now, however, there has been no plan put forth to do so.

Dr. Jay Lehr has done just that and his plan no doubt will be sent to the members of Congress and the state governors. Titled “Replacing the Environmental Protection Agency” it should be read by everyone who, like Dr. Lehr, has concluded that the EPA was a good idea when it was introduced in 1971, but has since evolved into a rogue agency threatening the U.S. economy, attacking the fundamental concept of private [...]

Tic-tic-tic: Carbon tax repeal goes to Australian Senate (track that progress)

UPDATE Thursday: DONE Success at 11:15am this morning in Canberra. The Carbon Tax is gone.

UPDATE: Weds — This could take days. The repeal was before the Senate this morning. Labor and the Greens are “dragging the debate out” with speeches. “Filibustering” according to Finance Minister Mathias Corman (The Australian). More debate is due tonight. But the Senate has agreed to extend sitting hours after Friday and keep coming back until this is resolved. They were due to start a 5 week break on Friday. (See Sky News too). This doesn’t look like being resolved today. (SMH)

Sydney Morning Herald:   It [The government] was concerned that while all eight cross-bench senators say they are committed to consigning the carbon tax to history in a final vote, as many as three might baulk at the use of a guillotine to bring an end debate and force that vote.

In a further sign the government had lost exclusive control of the legislative timetable, the Climate Change Authority bill was removed from the list of those to be considered, supposedly at the insistence of the PUP.

Sources said the CCA bill, the purported vehicle for Mr Palmer’s proposed ”dormant” [...]

The Carbon Tax saga goes on: What game is Palmer playing?

Clive Palmer, the coal mining Billionaire and his three (or four) PUP Senators have voted down the Carbon Tax repeal they said they would pass. It was quite the blockbuster day in Australian politics. They supported the government move to bring on the vote at 11:45am today, then decided not to vote for the repeal bill. They hold the balance of power. The carbon tax is still law. It may get voted on again by next Thursday, but if that fails, it won’t be voted on again til August, and millions in carbon tax payments are on the line.

There are at least three version of why the bill failed (the same thing happened the day Palmer met Gore). Sky News suggests PUP wanted to change their amendments. According to, Palmer says the amendments put forward by the Coalition were older ones, and not the newer ones the Coalition agreed to, and he claims the government pulled a “swifty”. In an article in The Australian,  it appears the problem was that the amendments were not circulated at 8.30 this morning. Given that Palmer has been known to feed scurrilous versions to the media, perhaps the confusion here is no [...]

Will Australia get carbon trading? The Palmer and Al Gore paradox goes on…

Palmer is offering to vote for Tony Abbott’s Direct Action Plan as long as he gets “his” Emissions Trading Scheme as well (the one he didn’t want eight weeks ago, to solve a problem he didn’t believe existed).

None of it makes sense on its face. Clive Palmer, the coal miner and die-hard unbeliever, appears to “want” an ETS, the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and direct action to reduce CO2 as well as the RET.  (And some say that Gore lost?)

Is Palmer just playing games with both the Coalition and the media, holding cards for negotiation-sake, and messing with journalist’s heads? It could be.  But until we see the fine print on the legislation (and all the other deals), we can assume the loser of the Gore-Palmer paradox was neither Gore nor Palmer, but the Australian taxpayer.

Abbott will find it hard to knock back a deal to bring in “Direct Action”, after having campaigned for so long to get it working.  Especially if the ETS is sold as a dead duck at zero dollars and only on the condition that Japan, South Korea, China, Australian and the US all start emissions trading. [...]

Color me skeptical – the Gore and Palmer paradox

The Fairfax press say the improbable Gore-Palmer play was a win for alarmists. The Australian calls it for skeptics and says Gore is a fool. I’m not calling anything until I see the fine print. Palmer says he’s met P.M. Abbott and he was ‘encouraged’ by his climate plan.

The only thing I can say for sure is that the science of CO2 is irrelevant to both Gore and Palmer. Everything else is a paradox. We’re not being told everything.

It seems now that Palmer’s amendments to repealing the carbon tax do not include an Emissions Trading Scheme (even the Fairfax press agrees). That makes it look like a skeptic win, but keeping the $10b Clean Energy Finance Corporation is a win for Gore, and so is keeping  the RET (Renewable Energy Target) and the Climate Change Authority — it’s another government funded advertising unit for the carbon scare campaign. The more patrons who are dependent on the  carbon-subsidies, the more pro-carbon lobbyists there are. And they lobby like their livelihood depends on it — because they have nothing if the government policies don’t prop up their pretend free market.

Why would Gore  have any interest in standing next to [...]

Unbelieveable – Palmer to axe the tax, but vote for Carbon trading scheme?

This is not what PUP voters thought they were voting for… but the  Big-Bankers will be happy.

Really? Clive Palmer holds the balance of p0wer in the new Australian Senate, due to start on July 1. He’s the coal magnate who made it clear he would get rid of the carbon tax. Now he’s palling up with Al Gore, and saying he’ll vote the tax down but only if we add a clause for an emissions trading scheme that is conditional on China, the US, the EU, Japan and Korea joining in too. Is this a meaningless dead-duck promise that is unlikely to happen, or is this the long softening up for the UN convention in Paris next year, when weak schemes (like China’s, where lots of permits are free) are used as leverage to call in the sub-clauses? I don’t think Gore would be flying out here if there was no chance this legislation would matter. At the very least he will use it to lean on other countries, as evidence that “Australia wants in”. At the very least this is about keeping the illusion of momentum going.

What is going on behind the scenes for this extraordinary turn-around? [...]

Did Gillard and Milne leave a booby trap in the carbon legislation?

Apparently, on May 31, Australia’s targets for emissions cuts tripled overnight.Who knew? Answer: Christine Milne and Julia Gillard.

Australia was aiming for a 5% cut by 2020, but it’s now become a cut of 18% by 2020. The Clean Energy Act of 2011 set that savage goal as a default target that popped into existence if the current government had not jumped through some arbitrary hoop — in this case by setting an emissions cap.

Most likely this is a non-event — presumably the current government can wipe out the carbon legislation after July 1, which depends on Clive Palmer, a coal magnate. (UPDATE: Last night Palmer said he’ll repeal the carbon tax). But even so, I wonder if there is a sting in the cost? Are there contracts that are tied to the target, so that compensation for removing it automatically tripled as well?

And if the tripling of the target is meaningless, why would anyone advertise their deception in sneaking it in?

Could it be Milne and Gillard see themselves as Gods come to save us (damn those stupid voters!). Milne seems positively pleased she was able to trick Australians. The voters may have voted to remove the [...]

It’s on: Abbott’s message to David Cameron “Join skeptics in Aust, Canada, NZ, and India”

The Australian PM wants Britain to join an anti-carbon pricing alliance with Canada, NZ and India

Tony Abbott, Australian PM, has been shaking hands with Stephen Harper, Canadian PM, saying “it’s like a family”. They are both skeptical of schemes that aim to change the weather through fake markets which don’t do much to reduce emissions, but do enrich financial houses, lawyers and bureaucrats. Harper has applauded Abbott before, now Abbott is returning the favor.

The message is aimed at David Cameron, British PM, who has been quite the friend of the greens — leaving a legacy of  “collectivist, bat killing, bird chomping, property-rights-destroying wind farms”, as James Delingpole would say.  But Cameron got savaged by the UKIP skeptics in the recent elections. Signing up with Obama won’t solve that headache.

Obama, meanwhile, is trying to swing momentum back to costly climate action with his aim to bypass congress and use an executive order to enforce a 30% cut in US emissions by 2030. He’s on his own. Even the Chinese are watering down expectations (see below). New Zealand abandoned Kyoto II and tied themselves to the lowest value carbon credits there are.

Sydney Morning Herald has the video

All five [...]

Australian Budget released — Will it live up to expectations?

UPDATE: The bottom line. Meh.People are calling it “brutal”, and saying it’s a slash and burn budget, but really government spending will only shrunk by 0.5% of GDP.

[The Guardian] “The government is cutting overall spending, but relatively slowly – from 25.3% of GDP to 24.8% next year, 24.7% in 2016-17 and rising to 24.8% again in 2017-18. By comparison Peter Costello’s first budget was much more savage, cutting government spending from 25.1% to 23.9% of GDP.”

The Australian 2014/15 Budget has just been released. It’s the first budget of the Abbott government.  (Catallaxy has the transcript of the speech). Given election cycles there will probably not be a better opportunity to move towards a smaller, less burdensome government. Are the cuts enough? [UPDATE: No].

How much unnecessary tithing is there to the carbon monster?

There are some good signs: 16,500 public service jobs will be cut. And “70 government agencies will be scrapped or merged” including the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Depressingly, while this is useful, it’s not much. There are apparently so many government agencies no one can figure out the exact number. There are estimates it’s close to 1000.

UPDATE: From [...]

Abbott needs to be more pro-science and cut funding to models that don’t work

Look out, Australia might trim a tiny slice from the Tithe to the Gods of Weather (protest coming)

The Australian budget is in dire straits after the Rudd-Gillard years of promised surpluses but exploding arithmetic. The Commission of Audit is here to test public reaction to all the possible ways of paying off the Labor debt. Somehow, it missed the biggest cherry waiting to be plucked. We could save billions if the the Abbott Government become more rigorously scientific. Abbott should cut funding to any scientists who are using models that don’t work, and only fund ones that do.

“Abbott should cut funding to any scientists who are using models that don’t work, and only fund ones that do.”

I expect the Greens will join me in declaring that if the Abbott government cared about the environment it would immediately launch a royal commission, a real audit, or an independent investigation into the effect of carbon dioxide. Only the best science for the planet, right? All funding to environmental programs dependent on unverified research should be frozen until the audit is finished. Easy eh? Let me be PM for a day. :- )

But apparently the sacred carbon cow must not [...]

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 [...]