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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On munching onions and climate science

Our former Prime Minister is or has been over in London addressing an unscientific think tank called the Global Warming Policy Foundation . You may read everything he had to say here. This bit hasn’t been highlighted in the media:

Just a few years ago, history was supposed to have ended in the triumph of the Western liberal order. Yet far from becoming universal, Western values are less and less accepted even in the West itself. We still more or less accept that every human being is born with innate dignity; with rights, certainly, but we’re less sure about the corresponding duties.

We still accept the golden rule of human conduct: to treat others as we would have them treat us – or to use the Gospel formula to “love your neighbour as you love yourself” – but we’re running on empty.

In Britain and Australia, scarcely 50 per cent describe themselves as Christian, down from 90 per cent a generation back. For decades, we’ve been losing our religious faith but we’re fast losing our religious knowledge too. We’re less a post-Christian society than a non-Christian, or even an anti- Christian one. It hasn’t left us less susceptible to dogma, though, because we still need things to believe in and causes to fight for; it’s just that believers can now be found for almost anything and everything.

Climate change is by no means the sole or even the most significant symptom of the changing interests and values of the West. Still, only societies with high levels of cultural amnesia – that have forgotten the scriptures about man created “in the image and likeness of God” and charged with “subduing the earth and all its creatures” – could have made such a religion out of it.

Um, there is of course Pope Francis, whose views rather contrast with the onion-muncher:

Pope Francis’s encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si, says that climate change is real and mainly “a result of human activity.”

The problem is urgent. “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.”  We must all change our day-to-day actions to live more sustainably.  “Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility.”  On a larger scale, our leaders must be held to account. “Those who will have to suffer the consequences . . . will not forget this failure of conscience and responsibility.”

Solving climate change means protecting the planet and vulnerable people, and we must hear “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”  Faith can guide us. “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains – everything is, as it were, a caress of God.”  

The problems are big and urgent. But hope remains if we act in honesty and love.  “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home . . . Truly, much can be done!”

I fear that the good word on Mr Abbott lately is pretty much as Eleanor Robertson put it last year:

Not a jot of cosmic humility, religious or otherwise, is detectable in anything I have read or heard Abbott write or say. He doesn’t speak in these terms, even obliquely; I wonder if he fears death. It’s this, I think, that people find weirdest about him: how can you trust the judgement of a man so utterly immune to the animating psychic horrors of the human condition? As the woman from the focus group pointed out, everything he says is tainted, even his experience of something as quotidian as the weather. Abbott contains an absence, a conspicuous and upsetting lack, and as long as he hangs around Australian politics, he’s going to make us all stare straight into the void.

So far as his pronouncements on climate change in London go — and they are crashingly unoriginal — see in rebuttal the Eureka Prize winning site Skeptical Science and on the Sydney Morning Herald site Five charts that show Tony Abbott is the one who has lost sight of the science. This is one of them:

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Reject Chicken Little!

This morning’s Sydney Morning Herald has a Chicken Little from former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose sister, you may recall, wrote an excellent but opposite piece in the same paper recently. She wishes to marry her partner and hopes the law will change to allow that to happen. Be interesting for Tony going to that wedding; indeed I gather brother and sister do in fact get on quite well.

Before saying more about Tony Abbott’s piece, which is absolutely typical of the way the NO case is being run, let’s remind ourselves of the fact that we are being asked in the Postal Survey a very simple question: should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry? The NO case I have called Chicken Little-ism, and we have had case after case of it from the Australian Christian Lobby through ex-PM John Howard to last night on The Drum where we had ponderous journalist Paul Kelly and some Canadian Catholic academic whose name escapes me. Everything short of earthquakes and asteroid strikes it seems will follow if YES gets up!

Tony Abbott seems to have looked at Benjamin Law’s Quarterly Essay, to which I referred in the last post. Or rather, he has mined it for a telling quote: “it might be stating the obvious but same sex marriage is far from the final frontier in the in the battle against homophobia.”

Indeed Benjamin Law does say that, though hardly as the threat Tony Abbott makes it appear by quoting the line out of context. Go to pages 41-42 of Law’s essay and read on. Let me offer just a sentence extra to clarify:

…in the United States, where same-sex marriage is legal and consistently supported by the majority of Americans, the organisation GLAAD found 29 per cent of Americans are still uncomfortable seeing a same-sex couple holding hands, and 28 per cent would be uncomfortable if they learnt their doctor was lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. It might be stating the obvious, but same-sex marriage is far from the final frontier in the battle against homophobia.

You can see this has no relation at all to what Tony Abbott is suggesting!

I think a point well worth repeating is that the Postal Survey is NOT about Safe Schools, or “gender theory”, or religious freedom, or the possible existence of the thylacine in the 21st century. It is about whether the STATE should recognise those same-sex couples who wish to commit to marriage to a life’s partner. Some will, maybe many won’t. But they will have the option. They do not at this time have that option in this country.

And whatever the outcome of the Postal Survey, refining the way we talk about and understand sexuality and gender will continue. Voting NO will not stop NO RELIGION as being the greatest religious growth area in Australia, nor will it stop people questioning whether “male and female created He them” is any longer an accurate formulation of the facts of human diversity.

What we can be sure of is that voting NO will profoundly affect the lives of quite a few families in our country that are still struggling to gain full dignity in the eyes of the law.

See also Legalise same-sex marriage for the ‘common good’, says Catholic priest Frank Brennan.

And here, courtesy of norrie, are my friends from South Sydney Uniting Church.

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And that reminds me. Tomorrow is R U OK Day. To me that this should be 14 September is particularly poignant. I wonder, were he still alive, what Rob would have had to say about it all, and I reflect on the fact that his mother and her partner were, in 1989, among the first same-sex couples I met – but under such sad circumstances in which homophobia had undoubtedly played a role. In my story Rob is “J”.

Did you know J was bashed last year?
Yes, he told me.
So much hate.
You know he told me a year ago he didn’t think he was going to win.
The most he could hope for was to live with it.
So much love.

When the Reverend Fred Nile and his fundamentalists march into Oxford Street set on a bit of cleansing I am out there with the crowd. I wear my Mardi Gras T-shirt with additions:

FOR JAY

Sept. 1961-Sept. 1989

‘Gone where fierce indignation
can lacerate his heart no more.’

AND FOR LUKE
WHO LOVED HIM

Fred has his thousand, harmless-looking folk pushing strollers, mingled love and fear on their faces as they march up Oxford Street.

But we have five, ten thousand voices chanting NO MORE GUILT! NO MORE GUILT!

Come to think of it, how many same-sex couples do you know/have you known? I can think of at least ten off the top of my head. And you? When I reflect on it, I would say the first couple I met was in the 1940s! They were friends of my aunt.

Update:

I must be careful how I put this, as I have met the person involved and liked him for his eccentricity.  Since writing the post I have read David Flint’s piece in today’s Daily Telegraph. It saddens me. I have also read Miranda Devine’s version of Benjamin Law. I find it, to adapt her characterisation of Law, utterly unhinged.

If that is the best the NO camp can do, God help them! And us, if they succeed.

 

June gone already! And what a time for news!

Just as well you aren’t depending on this blog to keep you up-to-date, as there has been a bit of a break here as I nursed my remaining data allowance. And in that time we’ve had so many things happen, most recently the charging of Cardinal George Pell for alleged historic sex offences against children. He will be fronting court in Melbourne next month. I can’t help wondering what an old internet friend, Father Ken Sinclair, who died in 2005, would have had to say. Back in 2001-2 he was foreshadowing some of this stuff in conversations we had on ICQ. See my post Back to very early days–and the strange immortality of the internet.

Then today we have had Donald Trump showing what a small-minded vindictive arsehole he really is. no great surprise surely. Presidential? Pull the other one… And we’re supposed to trust the judgement of this person on the most important issues in the world? God help us all!

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And here in Oz Tony Abbott is in full feral mode. Rather liked former leader of his party John Hewson on this today.

…say what he likes, Abbott is still quite bitter and twisted about Turnbull seizing his job, and getting worse with time. His IPA speech this week was a clear example of “disloyalty”. Sure, he dressed it up as a speech of “principle” and “conviction” and true conservative “ideology”, but it was blatantly a direct attack on Turnbull, and his more “centrist” strategy, designed to undermine, and constrain Turnbull.

And a major part of the data from the 2016 Australian Census was released this week. That part concerning religion interested quite a few of us. Here are a couple of graphics from the Daily Mail.

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41CA08B500000578-4641728-image-a-1_1498523288531The Daily Mail and the Sydney Daily Telegraph made much of a “surge in the number of Muslims”. As you might expect these days.  Headline:

Muslim population in Australia soars to 600,000 as religion becomes the nation’s second-biggest – a 77% jump in the past DECADE, according to Census

Soared to 2.6% of the population, of whom “radicals” must constitute… Well, you guess…

The really interesting figure was the rise of “No Religion” — whatever that might actually mean.

But now for the really important stats: in June the most viewed posts on this blog have been:

Home page / Archives   614 views in June 2017
Friday Australian poem: #NS6 – Mary Gilmore “Old Botany Bay”  21
Testing for English competence?   18
A week of multicultural yums   17
On terror — just for the record   15
65 years on I recall Vermont Street  12
Otto Warmbier’s death underlines plight of thousands of North Koreans  12
Tangible link to the convict ship “Isabella” and the immigrant ship “Thames”   11
Going, going… Myers in Wollongong  11
Neil’s Family Specials — a reminder   10
Wollongong High: more on the centenary More stats 10
Flowers and grief: for my mother  9
Tom Thumb Lagoon   9
Some great stories, and some of them new to me…  9

Well, the mad uncle is out of the attic now…

That quote from an Australian government minister refers to the latest self-promotion by former but currently disgruntled Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

Tony Abbott has told Liberal defector Cory Bernardi he hasn’t given up hope of a return to leadership, but would not make a public tilt for Malcolm Turnbull’s job…

Mr Abbott’s supporters are describing the Turnbull government as ‘the Malcolm vanity project’, a reference the former PM alluded to in a speech…

A Liberal minister has told Sky News Mr Abbott has little support in the party room for any challenge.

‘Well, the mad uncle is out of the attic now. But Abbott’s got no support,’ the minister said.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who was a strong supporter of Mr Abbott throughout his prime ministership, told Sky News he was saddened by his decision to provide ‘more and more destructive’ commentary.

‘He’s not helping our cause, he’s not helping our country, he’s not helping himself, much of what he says is either wrong or inconsistent with what he did,’ Senator Cormann said….

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See also Tony Abbott’s five-point plan for the ‘winnable’ next election will infuriate Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott: Coalition in danger of becoming ‘Labor lite’

FORMER Prime Minister Tony Abbott has penned a highly critical analysis of the Turnbull Government, highlighting voter “despair” and concerns “the Coalition has become Labor lite.”

In a stark manifesto, the leader of the Liberal Party’s Right said the next election was winnable and outlined his own plan that would take the Coalition to victory, from “scaled back immigration”, to scrapping the Human Rights Commission and ending the pandering to climate change theology.

Mr Abbott also acknowledged the disappointment in his own Government and said he could understand why support was surging for One Nation….

Suggesting policy changes, Mr Abbott declared: “The next election is winnable.”

Controversially, he suggested the Government “scrap” the Human Rights Commission and refuse to be an ATM for the states, to allow micro-economic reform in schools and hospitals.

“If we stop pandering to climate change theology and freeze the RET, we can take the pressure off power prices,” he said.

But see also Tony Abbott’s spray against Turnbull Government policies dismissed by senior ministers.

Tony Abbott has certainly guaranteed that I will never support him or his approach, but that is hardly surprising. Take his pandering to the denialists with “we stop pandering to climate change theology.” Goes down well with the house columnists at the Telegraph of course. But such phraseology is so quaint in 2017. I commend Skeptical Science again, explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation. And here is one for Catholic Tony:

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