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



Australian Speakers Agency


The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


Turnbull’s crushing loss called a “win?”

Is this the same conference? One newspaper reports a “win” for Turnbull, while another calls it “a slap in the face.”

Below, The Australian reports that our opposition leader won a concession from his party–yet it’s hardly a win. His party (or at least the WA State branch) clearly don’t want him to agree to an Emissions Trading Scheme before Copenhagen. Their “concession” was that he’s allowed to …um, talk about the details of the scheme that he can’t agree too. What Turnbull wanted and desperately needed was a concession that he could pass the ETS legislation in some form, and clearly he hasn’t got that. The real headline should be:

“Malcolm Turnbull wins meaningless concession from WA Liberals.”

[The Australian] (my addition in blue).

“There is a tendency, particularly for new oppositions, to think we are still in government. We are not, we are in opposition.” said Malcolm Turnbull.

47% of the people of Australia did not vote for Liberal members of parliament so they could rubber stamp the policies from the other candidates.

Turnbull is full of truisms that miss the point:

“In politics you can be the man or the woman with a plan, you cannot be the man or the woman with no plan and that is why the amendments are absolutely vital,”

It’s not much use having a plan if it’s the wrong one. The plan we really need is one where we check the science–independently–instead of just relying on an unaudited, unelected committee based in Geneva to do it for us. We checked the economics for ourselves, but we just assumed that political committees who “synthesize” the science are above question.

“Later, Liberal stalwart Chilla Porter accused some backbenchers of using the media as a weapon against their own party. “It’s not the environmental issue that’s causing us pain, it’s the way some have been conducting themselves,” Mr Porter said.”

So the Australian managed to find the only person there who agreed with Turnbull. Thanks to the Age for giving us this bit of info:

“Only one delegate out of an estimated 400 in attendance backed the Turnbull position that it would be “most unwise” to do nothing to amend Labor’s scheme.”

In The Age‘s report of the same event the concession reads like the loss that it was.

“How the West was not won on climate”

[The Age]

“Malcolm Turnbull has been delivered a slap in the face by the West Australian Liberal Party, with near unanimous hostility towards his plan to amend Labor’s emissions trading scheme before the Copenhagen summit. A fiery annual state conference of the West Australian state Liberals last night passed a motion that the federal Liberal Party should “not conclude” negotiations with the Federal Government until after the December summit and, even then, support for an agreement should not be considered a fait accompli.”

A reader, Anne-Kit, was at the Liberal Party (WA) State Conference this weekend and comments:

“I am delighted to report that the motion (to delay the ETS and insist that it be “consistent with the latest available scientific research”) was passed with a massive majority. Note the important last clause (about the science). Many speakers questioned the science, not least the proposer and seconder of the motion who made impassioned statements about the lack of consensus and the growing number of dissenting scientists, not least coming out of Australia.

Thanks to readers Anne-Kit for first hand commentary, and especially to Bruce for pointing out the two different articles.

UPDATE: This morning The Australian’s editorial tells us “MALCOLM Turnbull did not have a bad weekend.” They go on to surmise that “He must convince his colleagues his judgment is sound, that he can unite them behind his policies, especially his commitment to negotiating with the government over its ETS. The first supporters Mr Turnbull must secure are all his colleagues.” Which would be true if there was a need for an ETS. If there is no convincing science behind the scheme though, it will be impossible for Turnbull to secure support through reasoned debate, which only leaves the bullying option. What kind of leader ignores almost everyone in his party?  If Turnbull is so far ahead of his team, he’ll have no trouble explaining why they should switch to his position. But sometimes the mark of a great leader is their ability to listen.


Momentum is picking up for skeptics in Australia. Our government wants an ETS before Copenhagen, and have threatened to dissolve both houses of parliament if  the opposition doesn’t give them the votes they need. So faced with the threat of an election he probably can’t win, our opposition leader has put his job on the line, telling his party members to just agree with him and give this major legislation the go ahead, even though no one on either side can think of a good reason to rush it. His members are rebelling en masse, and this weekend the Western Australian branch held a meeting where the first policy up for vote was passed with almost unanimous support. The policy:

“That the Liberal Party of Australia (WA Division) calls on the Federal Parliamentary Party to delay any negotiation with the Federal Labor Government on the design or introduction of any emissions trading scheme (ETS) until after the climate change conference in Copenhagen. We also ask that any future decision to introduce an ETS be in line with the actions taken by Australia’s major trading partners and consistent with the latest available scientific research.”

10 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

15 comments to Turnbull’s crushing loss called a “win?”

  • #
  • #

    super blog//////
    thanks for the post!


  • #

    UPDATE Australians are seeing through the scam

    ““When Australians were presented with a choice among three options for dealing with global warming, the most popular was still for the most pro-climate position – that ‘we should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs’, but support for this option was down 12 points since 2008 and 20 points since 2006”, Dr Wesley said.

    “This is also the first year that this position has not had majority support”, he said. ”

    That tipping point is coming. 🙂


  • #

    Joanne: That tipping point is coming.

    Hmmmm. Since the global warming crowd talks doublespeak, perhaps THIS is the Human-Caused-CO2-Global-Warming-Climate-Change tipping point that panics them. When it tips, the public will tell them to stuff it and start ignoring them wholesale. The politicians are going to have to do some very fast talking to prevent themselves from being the stuffing. Interestingly, at least this tipping will have been caused by Humans.


  • #

    Joanne, can the Government actually do this??

    Our government wants an ETS before Copenhagen, and have threatened to dissolve both houses of parliament if the opposition doesn’t give them the votes they need.

    I would think it would be ultimately up the the “people”!


  • #
    Anne-Kit Littler

    Denny, I’m going to answer your question to Joanne:

    Yes, the government most certainly can, and have done in the past. It is written into our Constitution. There have been six double dissolutions since the federation of Australia in 1901.

    From the Australian Electoral Commission website:


  • #
    allen mcmahon

    Lionel re your comment:

    ‘The politicians are going to have to do some very fast talking to prevent themselves from being the stuffing.’

    The politicians will be blameless their scientific advisors will be the sacrificial lambs.

    AGW theory will be discredited but I hope that it is later rather than sooner. I think it is inevitable that when the theory is falsified funding for climate science will be severely curtailed.

    Regardless of what we think of Hansen, Mann, Briffa, Jones et. al. their work has led to positive outcomes.
    Without them would our understanding of the factors that drive and influence climate, incomplete as they are, be at the level they are now. I doubt it.

    Galling as it is to put up with the AGW gods I would rather suffer them than than the alternative. While AGW thrives scientists like Lindzen, Pilkie will continue to counter the arguments. Interaction between the pro and anti forces of AGW accelarates the advance of climate science. It is not a level playing field but it is better than nothing.

    It would be ironic if in the longer term the high priests of AGW saved us from the worst ravages of a new ice age. That is an unintended consequence that I would be happy to live with.


  • #


    The politicians won’t be blameless. They will simply try to shift the blame elsewhere. I also don’t view the so called researches seeking/demanding public funding as blameless either. They deserve to be dumped on big time.

    The whole government research enterprise, except for marginal military and police purposes, is a violation of individual rights and is as obscene as slavery itself. In fact that is all it is. The producers of the wealth used for research have the product of their lives extorted from them at point of gun (taxes). They have no choice as to how, why, or when their lives are consumed. A process that is as corrupt as this at its base cannot help but produce corrupt results. We are watching that corrupt tree producing the only kind of fruit it can: still more violation of individual rights.

    I don’t view myself as a subject that exists as a supplicant to a government that is sovereign nor as an indivisible part of any collective. I, as an individual am sovereign over MY domain. I define myself, my life, my purpose, and my goals. I am responsible ONLY for myself. The product of my life is mine to use as I see fit. My government is to be my servant protecting my individual rights and nothing more. This specification applies to each individual. The only restriction on action is that one may not violate the rights of another. THIS is the fundamental meaning of western civilization. Anything less is totally, completely, and absolutely unacceptable. To the extent this does not apply to our current situation is how far from civilization we have drifted.


  • #

    Anne Kit Litter, thank you very much for explaining that…Another question? If the government has such control on its constituents, how can anything get done? These people are voted into the Parliament by the people aren’t they or are they appointed? I guess I’m asking for understanding how your Great Country works…I love the Internet just for this reason…to talk, to learn, to see both sides “hopefully” with accurate representation….I understand this is a “Science Blog” but us “Realists” didn’t ask for this to become “Political” now did we!!!

    What else can the “Australian People” do to to prevent ETS from being approved? Can you vote these “Alarmists” out in time???


  • #

    Lionell Griffith:

    The whole government research enterprise, except for marginal military and police purposes, is a violation of individual rights and is as obscene as slavery itself. In fact that is all it is.

    Wow, it’s good to hear the same opinion from another person other than me….I will go one further, I would strongly suggest that the State that I live in “succeed” from this Government. Not to follow “Socialism” that this present government wants…especially if both Bills are passed!

    Lionell, read this article by Ray Harvey and you should purchase his book “Leave Us Alone”.


  • #
    Anne-Kit Littler

    Denny, our parlamentarians are indeed elected, not appointed, but once a particular government is in they cannot be removed without another election.

    There is no fixed term for our lower house (House of Representatives) although there is a three-year “expiry” date and “earliest” and “latest” dates for elections to be held. The Prime Minister calls elections.

    Our upper house (Senate) sits for a 6-year terms but with 1/2 of the senators up for election every three years.

    Basically, our parliamentary system is modelled on the British “Westminster” system and the voting is direct, not through representatives as in the US. I’m not that familiar with the US system so not sure exactly how it differs.

    Also unlike the US we have minor parties and independents who may hold considerable balance of power through “preferential votes” in an election(e.g. the Green Party may not get enough votes to win outright majority [Phew!] but they can “give” their votes to one of the majority parties, which is what is happening here – they usually pass to the Labor Party)

    … or, once they win seats in Parliament, can choose to vote with or against the Government (as in Family First’s Steve Fielding and Independent Nick Xenophon).

    More info:


  • #

    Anne-Kit Littler:

    Thank you for your conceise description of how your Government works. I will save what you have stated for further reference..I saw an article today about how you “Ausies” are looking more serious towards Nuclear Power…IMO, if it’s modeled after the French’s Nuclear Power Reactors, I’m for it because of hardly any waste is incurred! This is what America should be doing until “Fusion” becomes of age! Our government just spent “billions” for nuclear waste storage facility out in the Western U.S.. Obama shut down the spending for it! We wouldn’t have to “waste” money if people would investigate and learn what technology is up to date and efficient. The French have had this system for years.

    Check out this article:

    It talks about the French Nuclear Power system towards the end of the article!


  • #
    Anne-Kit Littler

    Denny, if the Aussies are getting more serious about nuclear power, they’d better let our Prime Minister know about it – he won’t even discuss it 😉 !


  • #

    There will not be a double dissolution for the simple reason that if we go to another election it will be based on climate change, which means that for the first time in the history of the planet the theory of AGW will be openly debated.

    This is a debate the Labor Gov know they cannot win and therefore cannot win the election. Wong will simply bleat and moan like the moron she is ably supported by that idiot Garrett.

    If copenhagen talks bear fruit then the coalition will have no option but to concede defeat, of course if as expected Copenhagen talks accomplish nothing then it is game on.


  • #

    Also unlike the US we have minor parties and independents who may hold considerable balance of power through “preferential votes” in an election(e.g. the Green Party may not get enough votes to win outright majority [Phew!] but they can “give” their votes to one of the majority parties, which is what is happening here – they usually pass to the Labor Party)

    I think this is a bit misleading. In Australia, the voter chooses their own preference on every vote. The voter is 100% responsible for where their vote goes, and 100% in control of their vote.

    Many voters decide that voting along party lines is easier and they choose to do this as a show of support for their party. It really annoys me when the Australian media talk about parties giving preferences as if the party owned their members.