Tony Cheshire Cat?

Saw Tony Abbott’s doorstop on ABC News at 9.00 am. The face said it all, as it so often does. The words were calculated as a facsimile of reason. I do find myself rather endorsing this person, who clearly has a bit of a chip on the shoulder though. (Kaye describes herself as a middle-aged woman in jammies. She knew Tony Abbott when they both attended Sydney University where she studied for a Bachelor of Science. After 20 years teaching mathematics, with the introduction of the GST in 2000, she became a ‘feral accountant’ for the small business that she and her husband own. Kaye uses her research skills “to pass on information, to join the dots, to remember what has been said and done and to remind others, and to do the maths.”) But do read her Tony Abbott is responsible for our high energy prices, if only as a counterpoint to the stuff appearing on the groupie/anti-Turnbull media.

When the 2010 election did not produce a clear winner, Gillard negotiated the support of the Greens and Independents to form government by promising to introduce carbon pricing.  The policy was introduced in 2012 with the effect of bringing down emissions and prompting a surge of investment in renewable energy projects.

With old coal-fired power stations reaching the end of their ‘technical’ lives, this investment was crucial to help cover the transition as they closed down.  Gas could have been an option to help during this period except the government had agreed to export it with no compulsion to retain sufficient to cover domestic needs, leading to skyrocketing prices locally which are unlikely to come down any time soon.

Then the wrecker won in 2013 and threw out any certainty the industry thought they had.  Investment in new generation ground to a halt.  No-one was going to invest in coal and the rest of the world were more than happy to accept their investment in renewables.

Emissions started rising again for the first time in a decade and energy prices continued to rise astronomically, much higher than any increases due to the carbon price.

But Tony couldn’t care less about that as his tweet this weekend showed.

“To have a chance of winning the next election, the Coalition must create a policy contest on energy, not a consensus.”…

In Spectator Terry Barnes (senior adviser to Tony Abbott in the Howard government from 2003 to 2007) makes an interesting if rather odd comparison:

Turnbull’s handling of the National Energy Guarantee is a fiasco.

It is perfectly conceivable that Turnbull’s leadership could be on the line very soon, either in the party room or on the floor of the House of Representatives when former PM Tony Abbott and the other the NEG rebels have the chance to park their bums where their mouths are.

So, while Peter Dutton is being touted as the likely challenger, it’s fair to ask whether an Abbott restoration has any real legs. For better or worse Abbott is a known quantity and still the Liberal base’s favourite, while Dutton remains an enigma as a potential leader.

Don’t doubt that Abbott would take it if it comes. He would be just like Marshal Petain in France’s darkest hour in June 1940: when the French government collapsed suddenly, the newly-recalled Petain was asked by his president to form a government, and instantly took a piece of paper out of his pocket listing his ministry. It was always there, just in case….

The first sentence there is, alas, only too true. Hence this, God help us!

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So many issues involved here! I find myself sadly reading the best in-print introduction I know to climate change, The Rough Guide to Climate Change by Robert Henson. My copy is the 2008 edition, so ten years old. Again sadly, it ably and convincingly refutes just about every assumption still made ten years on by the mockers who parade terms like “global warmist” across, for example, the Murdoch tabloids. I note with interest that the American Meteorological Society has more recently published Henson’s The Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change. I am sure it is very good.

Online you should look at Skeptical Science. You will get the latest there from a site that deservedly won a Eureka Prize a few years ago. Alas, the voices against such good science have lately been strengthened by the actions and tweets of you know who: It’s not okay how clueless Donald Trump is about climate change.

Finally, I share two graphics from a still reliable US source: first, Global Climate Report – June 2018 — 2018 year-to-date temperatures versus previous years.

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Second, Year-to-date (January–June).

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So much news about the news

Here I am at City Diggers contemplating the front page of this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald.

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Probably most amazing, when you think about it, is that The Herald, The Age and stablemates still exist! I for one am glad they do. The story is Fairfax and Nine are merging. Here’s what the deal involves and what it will mean for you.

Fairfax journalists will inevitably fear for their future, given the company’s form in retrenching thousands of journalists in recent years and increasing competition from other digital media.

Even if Fairfax’s newspapers continue, for the foreseeable future, many will rightly fear that a pooling of journalists and other staff with Nine will inevitably lead to more job losses.

A loss of journalists will mean fewer people reporting on the important issues facing Australia each day, and many fear will mean a loss of diversity in media coverage.

Former Prime Mnister Paul Keating is withering:

…if in the announced arrangement, Channel Nine has a majority of the stock, Channel Nine will run the editorial policy.

The problem with this is that in terms of news management, Channel Nine, for over half a century, has never, other than displayed the opportunism and ethics of an alley cat.

There has been no commanding ethical or moral basis for the conduct of its news and information policy.

Through various changes of ownership, no one has lanced the carbuncle at the centre of Nine’s approach to news management. And, as sure as night follows day, that pus will inevitably leak into Fairfax.

For the country, this is a great pity.

But probably inevitable. Wonder what will happen to the regional Fairfax papers, such as our own Illawarra Mercury.

And then we hear Lee Lin Chin is departing SBS! Alas, alack, and oh well-a-day!

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Could all these events taken together portend the end of civilisation [correct spelling!] as we know it?

See Lee Lin Chin: Looking back on some of the ‘Queen of Australian TV’s’ memorable moments.

Good news story — sequel

So many bad things happening right now…. So I return, as many have, to that inspiring story out of Thailand.

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See Thai cave rescue: Australian divers and officers who helped free stranded soccer team receive bravery awards.

Here are all of those honoured:

  • Richard Harris (Star of Courage, OAM) [above]
  • Craig Challen (Star of Courage, OAM) [above]
  • Justin John Bateman (Bravery Medal, OAM)
  • Kelly Craig Boers (Bravery Medal, OAM)
  • Benjamin Walter Cox (Bravery Medal, OAM)
  • Troy Matthew Eather (Bravery Medal, OAM)
  • Matthew Peter Fitzgerald (Bravery Medal, OAM)
  • Robert Michael James (Bravery Medal, OAM)
  • Christopher John Markcrow (Bravery Medal, OAM)

Real Australians

In the last post I mentioned that in 1948 (1947 census, to be accurate) only 3% of the non-Aboriginal population of Australia — that is, of 7,637,000 people — were born outside of either Australia or the British Isles. (Aboriginal people were not included in the census until 1971, following the Referendum of 1967.)

I omitted the latest figure from 2016: Census shows 49% of population either first- or second-generation migrants, with the remaining 51% at least third generation.

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Today the Sydney Morning Herald features an interesting international Ipsos Poll. On the question Who is and is not a “Real Australian”, “Real American”, or a “Real Briton”?

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Ipsos reports:

Australia is among the top five countries when it comes to having the most inclusive definition of nationality, an Ipsos Global Advisor survey shows.

Canada and the United States topped the list followed by South Africa, France, and Australia. These countries score highest on an “Inclusiveness Index” reflecting social acceptance of diversity as it applies to religion, immigration, sexual orientation and gender identity, political views, and criminal background.

Further:

Commenting on the findings, David Elliott, Director Ipsos Social Research Institute – NSW, said: When you take into account all the components we covered and look at the Overall Inclusiveness Index, Australia comes out as one of the five most inclusive nations behind Canada, the US, South Africa, and France.  This is not that surprising given our multicultural society as it exposes Australians to a variety of cultures and religions which helps drive acceptance.  It also fits with previous Ipsos studies on immigration and refugees, which highlighted Australia as one of the more positive countries globally in terms of our views on immigration and refugees.

“However, while we are generally accepting of religious diversity and immigrants, we do show much less positive views of naturalised citizens when they aren’t fluent in English or don’t have a job, as well as lifelong immigrants who don’t become citizens and illegal immigrants who have lived here most of their lives.

“Interestingly, where we fall down the list in terms of our inclusiveness versus other nations is in regard to LBGTI people and those convicted of a criminal offence who have served time in prison, with our classification of these people as ‘real’ Australians placing us mid-table. 

Plenty of food for thought there. Personally, I doubt there is such a beast as a “real Australian”. For me anyone who is here is by definition an Australian, end of story. Of course it helps if they speak English, but it is also a great thing to be able to speak two or more languages! Multilingual Australians are a national treasure, in my opinion. I have long since stopped feeling paranoid when I hear people speaking Croatian, Chinese, or whatever at the club, on the bus, or anywhere else.

Do visit my 2011 series Being Australian.

25 million of us

That is the population of Australia as of July 2018.  As the chart below (last revised in 2009)  shows, this has happened faster than was expected. Makes me think of what has happened in my lifetime (1943-) and those of my parents (1911-89/96).

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Here is a gem from 1948, the year before I started kindergarten! Back then we had 7,637,000 people — not counting Indigenous Australians.

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Back then only around 3% were born overseas — that is, not in Australia or the British Isles! That was of course changing. The picture now — or in the 2016 census — is very different.

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That there is some angst arising is not news. See this BTN special:

Did you know that every 104 seconds a baby is born in Australia? Or that in 2017, 169,993 people moved here from all over the world? While that might mean a lot more potential friends in the future. It also means we need to start thinking about how we’re going to prepare for all these extra people.

In just one year, Australia’s population has grown by nearly 400,000 people. That’s like adding an extra Canberra annually. Most of them are moving to our major cities. By 2050 Melbourne’s population, for example, is expected to nearly double to 8 million people. There are some benefits to having more people in the country and it’s not just lots of potential new friends. More people means more businesses; more buildings means more jobs; and more people paying taxes. But it might also mean more issues ahead.

I propose to post again on this. Meanwhile, a kind of related recycle:

Not entirely nostalgic

03 September 2007

Way back in the fifties of the last century I often saw sights like this; though this is Auburn 1952 it could just as easily have been Sutherland 1954.

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The infamous 6 o’clock swill. In our street this led to many a family having their tea (we didn’t say “dinner” in working class Sutherland) ruined as Dad staggered in barely conscious, or in fighting mood enough to give the wife and kids the back of his hand. Not pretty.

Not everything today is worse than it was way back then.

To a child passing nervously, the pub at that time was a frightening, noisy place, and the smell was unbelievable.

The photo is part of an exhibition Sydney’s Pubs: Liquor, Larrikins & the Law.