The Great Global Warming Swindle:

Host of ABC TV’s Difference of Opinion, Jeff McMullen, writes: Re. “Temperatures rise at ABC ahead of Swindle” (yesterday, item 3). Your “ABC Insider” yesterday wrote that I have been asked to be on standby to handle a discussion following the screening of The Great Global Warming Swindle documentary. This is not true. I have had nothing to do with this production. In my ABC TV series, Difference of Opinion, (which returns Thursday 19 July, 9.30pm) we devoted several programs to various strategies to reduce man made carbon emissions to ease the threat of Global Warming.

Stephen Luntz writes: It’s good to see Crikey getting to the real point about the ABC’s screening of The Great Global Warming Swindle. Screening the film could be justified as a freedom of speech issue – although one that raises all the obvious points about “documentaries” claiming the Earth is flat or the Moon landings didn’t happen. What’s really concerning is the way the ABC seems hell bent on covering up the nature of GGWS. Take a look at their website for example. They say, “According to a group of leading scientists brought together by documentary maker Martin Durkin everything you’ve ever been told about global warming is probably untrue.” Even to call some of the charlatans Durkin interviews “scientists” is a stretch. Yes they have science degrees, but few of them actually conduct anything that could be termed scientific research. To describe them as “leading scientists” is frankly dishonest. There was one leading scientist in the initial film, but he’s been dropped from what will screen on the ABC because he threatened legal action against the film’s producers because they blatantly misrepresented his position. The ABC knows this, but is apparently unwilling to let the public know. Likewise consider quotes like this “Durkin’s documentary slays the whole premise of global warming” and “The Great Global Warming Swindle debunks the myths, and exposes what may well prove to be the darkest chapter in the history of mankind.” Doesn’t exactly look like unbiased reporting does it? On the other hand, nowhere on the ABC’s extensive pages regarding the film can I find any mention that some of the graphs displayed are drastically out of date, while others are deliberately fabricated, or that literally hundreds of peer-reviewed papers have discredited every significant feature of the film. Showing the film is one thing. Pretending it actually has some credibility is fraud.

Michael Shrimpton writes: Denise Eriksen has no fan here, but in her defence, she was sacked by the Director of Television some months ago and had no hand in the global warming fiasco.

Polemic and counter polemic:

Pierce Bragg writes: Re. “Aunty would sell its grandmother to appease the Right” (yesterday, item 2). Andrew Dodd dismisses the The Great Global Warming Swindle as a polemic but then what is his piece if not a counter polemic? I haven’t seen the program yet and wonder if Dodd needs to see it to condemn it or is it simply agin his “religion”? A piece like this is simply a set of assertions which does nothing to further a sensible, informed debate. Crikey’s view of the world is unashamedly left is it not?

James Dunn writes: I would love to see Tony Jones “get on with the job” of questioning Al Gore “with all the rigour this topic demands”. Fat chance. Martin Durkin and Al Gore both produced documentaries that have been heavily criticised for bias and selective use of evidence. Yet one has been turned into a saint, while one has not.

Pointing out the inconvenient truth to Guy Pearse:

Former chief of staff to Robert Hill, Matt Brown, writes: Re. “Guy Pearse: my book’s substance still unchallenged by Howard government” (Tuesday, item 20). Climate change conspiracy theorist Guy Pearse appears to be a bit sensitive about me pointing out the inconvenient truth (I can’t believe I’m using that pun) that he never worked for any Howard Government Minister. Pearce claims others are responsible for the numerous “mischaracterisations” of his role. He should look at the back cover of his book which states he was a “Howard government advisor”. No he wasn’t. He was a public servant not a government adviser. And this point is important because Pearse knows the difference – even though he now deceptively tries to pass one role off as the other. In 1998 Pearse was asked to assist in the writing of the government’s environment election policy document. He refused on the grounds that he was a public servant, not a government adviser. He even threatened to bring in the Secretary of the Department to back up his position. So Pearse was pretty sure in 1998 that he wasn’t a “Howard government adviser”. This goes to Pearse’s credibility. I have contacted as many of Hill’s former advisers as possible – who, for the record, are all global warming true believers, don’t own shares in fossil fuel companies and aren’t looking for Order of Australia honours – and they all confirm that Pearse had no role in policy work in Hill’s office on climate change or any other environment issue. They all had a few uncomplimentary things to say about the quality of Pearse’s speechwriting but, unlike Pearse, I will play the ball not the man. Pearse suggests I’ve forgotten meetings with him. Not so. I recall numerous occasions when Pearse would complain to me about his lack of access to the Minister and how difficult it was to write speeches when he didn’t know what the Minister was thinking. Other former advisers confirm the same. So much for his carefully crafted image of being a Hill office insider. If Pearse was so close to his “mentor” Hill why didn’t he ask the former Minister to assist with his PhD thesis or his book? Finally, Pearse claims the content of his book “remains as yet unchallenged by Brown or the Howard government.” There’s a good reason for that Guy. None of us have bothered reading it. I, for one, prefer works of non-fiction.

Tassie – they’re Gunna do it anyway:

Suzanne Yanko writes: Re. “Lennon’s debut as TV adman for Gunns” (yesterday, item 4). In Hobart last weekend, I found myself again in impotent rage at the hold Gunns has on this beautiful state – including a Premier who is indeed their best PR. Even The Mercury thought the pulp mill farce deserved a wintry blast, with the claim it had met “all but eight” of the standards, including tipping muck into Bass Strait, and despoiling pristine areas with a malodorous sulphur smokestack. The Mercury thundered: “In some exams, 92 out of 100 is a great result but for Tasmania’s proposed pulp mill it is a bitter disappointment. The State Government and developer Gunns Ltd have fallen far short of the extravagant promises made when this project was announced. Premier Paul Lennon always said if the Tamar Valley mill did not meet Tasmania’s environmental standards it would not go ahead. Now it is clear the project cannot live up to those standards but he wants it to go ahead anyway.” Still, it didn’t stop the paper carrying Lennon’s glossy insert praising the project to the (smoky) skies. A new motto: Tassie – they’re Gunna do it anyway!

Peter Lloyd writes: We appreciate Thomas Hunter keeping an eye on the pulp mill debate but readers should be aware that the 21 August vote in the Tasmanian Parliament – to approve the mill – is a foregone conclusion. Perhaps he suggests it will be a “test” of Premier Paul Lennon’s efforts on behalf of Gunns purely as a challenge to the Independent MLAs who have the power to stop the mill. Unfortunately, while there have been outbreaks of principle – notably by the excommunicated Terry Martin who is now feeling the full force of the scorned Tassie ALP mafia – there are simply too many duds who have been bought and bamboozled. But while the mendacity of the ALP-Gunns-CFMEU cabal is predictable, one wonders why the laughable corporate governance and management standards at Gunns that have been exposed through this affair have not attracted comment. In the Federal Court we have heard that Gunns has contracts in place for the mill’s construction to begin in August: any delay in the process will cost it millions. We have also learned that Gunns’ submissions were rejected by the legitimate RPDC assessment process as “deficient”, but Lennon and Gunns kept this secret to maintain the farce that Gunns withdrew due to time constraints- thus securing Tasmanian Parliamentary approval for the fast-track process, which has seen consultant Sweco Pic examine only Gunns’ material. Gunns’ statements to the ASX have contradicted the public line at several points. What do business analysts such as Henry ‘Ayn Rand’ Thornton have to say about that? Where are the fund managers? Will Malcolm Turnbull stand up to the Howard-hugging CFMEU and others and block the mill?

John Hayward writes: Like most locals who value their careers, Tasmanian academic Richard Herr was far more cautious on Radio National in assessing the the Gunns pulp mill project than was journalist for The Australian Matthew Denholm, who termed it a “farce”. Possibly due to his notable inadvertence to things both ethical and tactful, Mr Lennon has taken his always total support for the mill to the realm of the burlesque. It should be borne in mind that Lennon’s support of the mill has never been buttressed by any cost/benefit analysis of it, nor has he shown any apparent knowledge or demonstrated competence in either pulp mills or economics. His promise to consult parliament on the approval process has always been portrayed as foregone, providing no solace to a public which has seen him discard accountability to even his own ministers when embarrassment or perceived illegality is in the offing. Lennon happily pointed out that mill assessor Sweco Pik, was closely allied to the construction process while, ITS Global, the group chosen to promote only the social and economic benefits of the project have experience in PNG. Gilbert and Sullivan should have been engaged.

Dr Haneef’s detention:

Joe Mullett writes: Re. “Haneef’s detention is mental torture” (Tuesday, item 10). I think I have worked out why Dr Haneef is being held for such an unconscionable length of time. The AFP must have assigned to the case the same officer who spent so many months in 2004/5 failing to find out that Downer’s office had leaked the secret ONA document to the Herald Sun‘s Andrew Bolt. Alternatively, the officer assigned may be the attack dog who has been used in the political persecution of Solomon Islands AG Moti. If so, Dr Haneef has reason to be very alarmed, however innocent he may be!

Tony Thompson writes: The Federal government has “requested” the states to provide 10 police officers each as a contribution to the NT Intervention. This implies that there are insufficient federal police to carry out the task. What a surprise to hear AFP Commissioner Keelty on ABC radio’s AM on Tuesday 10th July, that 170 officers were working on the Mohammed Haneef investigation. That is, based on 6 hours work a day, 1020 hours of police time per day to investigate one person who is yet to be charged with any offence. This is in addition to the 50 Queensland police officers working on the case. What work were the AFP officers doing prior to Dr Hanneef being detained? Was it more important than going to aboriginal communities as part of the NT Intervention? It seems clearly not! They could not be reassigned to the NT Intervention but they can be reassigned to work on one investigation of one person who may well have not done anything wrong. Is this a demonstration of paranoia over “terrorism”? Which set of circumstances really warrants additional police resources?

Duncan Beard writes: David Lodge (yesterday, comments) accuses “wet-lefty-civil-liberties-kingpin” Greg Barns of making “baseless accusations”, “without the tiniest shred of evidence mind you,” about the detainment of Mr Haneef. He then goes on to characterise Mr Haneef as one of “these nutcases who are intent of destroying our way of life and our culture … an entirely different enemy that uses our own liberties for its own advantage.” Did I miss something? As far as I’ve heard, no charges have been laid against Mr Haneef. Does being questioned by police automatically make someone an enemy of the state, an enemy of freedom, an enemy of democracy … [superfluous hyperbole ad nauseam]?

Let’s look at the banks:

Michael Peoples writes: Re. “The housing crisis: look closer at big banks’ lending” (yesterday, item 27). I agree totally with Bill Moyle’s observations concerning banks offering larger and less secured loans. Having purchased two modestly priced houses in the last five years (both to live in) I was astounded at the amount that the major banks were prepared to lend us. We had prepared a good family budget and knew very well what we could afford to pay, yet all the major banks were prepared to lend us roughly twice as much as we thought we could afford. Banks lose very little if a mortgagee defaults, and knowing the natural attachment we all have to the family home, it is very likely that we will eat pet food instead of failing to make our loan repayments. And if we can only just afford the minimum repayments, the loan term will extend and more interest will be collected.

Rationality and food prices:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Food prices and the irrational electorate” (yesterday, item 8). Richard Farmer preaches on prices but himself neglects economic principles. Rationally speaking, monopoly pricing and inflation are not the same thing. The fact that the “prices surveillance”, that Rudd supports and he derides, might not affect inflation does not mean that it wouldn’t stop the ordinary person being ripped off.

Love and nurturing is all we need:

Sandy Boulter writes: Re. “NT Aboriginal organisations respond to government plans” (yesterday, item 15). Loving mothering and fathering nurtures babies and children safely. Sadly, many second and third generation mothers and fathers have never experienced the boundaries and love of good parenting. So even if drugs and alcohol are removed from the parents, even if families are housed and protected, the knowledge of how to parent a child has often been lost. Parenting styles differ widely and it seems to me that there is no rule about how to best do this, for every parent and child is so different. As a mother of five children I discovered this quite quickly. For parents to simply love their child unconditionally above all else, and keep the child close and safe, while setting appropriate boundaries, are surely the common denominators? We need to give mothers and fathers every opportunity to do this by showing them these skills where they are lost, while keeping the family unit safe from alcohol, drugs and gambling. The child must be kept close with its parents where possible and the priority in housing should be for group care safe refuges from violence. I work with the Kimberley Toad Busters and we regularly take groups of Aboriginal children and teenagers toadbusting overnight – up to a 450 kms rough and tedious bus trip from home. Some of the children are clearly troubled, unhealthy and know no boundaries. This makes the toadbust quite a challenge. The joy in the faces of these children in being on country way out in the desert toadbusting is worth it. The children feel a sense of achievement and shyly appreciate acknowledgement of a job well done, notwithstanding all their skylarking. Sadly, celebration of a job well done seems to be a unique experience for many of them. To return some of these children home to the circumstances of their chaotic upbringing just tears at me and breaks my mothering heart.

Of politics and dodgy fridge magnets:

Macquarie voter Phil Doyle writes: Oh the joys of moving from a safe seat to one of the most marginal in the country. Sitting NSW Liberal member for Macquarie, Kerry Bartlett, has been bouncing around like mad in the neighbouring seat of Calare, much to the chagrin of the sitting independent, Peter Andren, and those residents in his electorate from the Hawkesbury end who, come this election, leave to the (now) safe northwestern Sydney Liberal seat of Greenway, famous for it’s representative from the Hillsong Church, Loise Markus. Andren has been pointing out what a rort it is Bartlett spending up his electoral allowance in an area where he’s not even technically the member yet – that part of Calare that goes into Macquarie at the next election, primarily the NSW Central Western towns of Bathurst, Lithgow and Oberon. So it brought some light relief to residents of that part of the world when they received that tried and true Australian conservative campaign technique – the fridge magnet. Although Bartlett’s fridge magnet won’t save you from incendary Jihadis, it does provide a listy of “handy numbers” for the local police, emergency services and what not. The problem is Kerry Bartlett doesn’t really seem to be across exactly what goes on in the bailiwick he has declared himself the inheritor of. In the event of a mishap with the electricity or the water, Bartlett’s magnet directs people in Bathurst, Lithgow and Oberon to suppliers from the Sydney end of Bartlett’s electorate. So, if the water main blows in Oberon, or the lights go out in Bathurst, don’t follow Kerry Bartlett’s advice and call Sydney Water or Integral Electricity, they don’t service those areas. Similar to Mr Bartlett I suppose; you can call him if you want to be represented from someone from the next electorate towards Sydney.

More fighter-plane spotting:

Dr Carlo Kopp writes: Rhys Worrall (yesterday, comments) has essentially argued the case which Defence have tried to defend for some years now. It is based on a range of assumptions which are simply invalid. The notion that we should only be concerned with the near region is a product of an era when nobody in Asia had the strategic reach to touch us. Sound strategy is to plan around those regional capabilities which can hurt you, since you cannot predict long term intent – at best you can speculate about it. Aside from the genuine capability to hurt us which near regional nations will acquire as they build up numbers of Sukhois and arm them with cruise missiles (BTW Malaysia recently announced an intent to buy cruise missiles), we are now coming under the footprint of China’s developing capabilities to execute its “second island chain” strategy. China thus gains tremendous power to coerce Australia, in addition to its economic soft power over us. China is currently building a new class of big amphibious ships and outfitting its first aircraft carrier – an air wing of navalised Sukhois is on order. It is also testing turbofan engines in its H-6 cruise missile carrier (bomber) giving it the range to reach the NT from Hainan Do. By 2010 we will be under the footprint of China’s developing power projection capability and have no credible means of discouraging its use. By opting to exclude China’s capabilities – as well as emerging near regional capabilities – from the strategic equation, our Defence bureaucrats are making us into sitting ducks. No differently than in 1940. Making our security dependent on “diplomatic and cultural links” and looking at patently self interested nation states as “pseudo-allies” when nobody else in Asia behaves that way bears a distinct resemblance to Chamberlain’s reasoning in 1938. The US is now becoming very worried about regional growth, especially that of China, since the US is strategically overstretched and in dire budgetary straits. Canberra bureaucrats putting blind faith in ability of the US to act on our behalf is bad alliance politics, and unsound strategy. If we are not prepared to invest properly in our defence, should anybody else bother?

Jim Hart writes: I’m grateful to Crikey’s commentators for enlightenment on many things but as a post-WW2 baby I’m still confused whether it was the P38 or the Wirraway that saved me from having to speak Japanese. Unlike my German friends who of course all had to speak English at home thanks to Mr Churchill and his Spitfires.

Ozato writes: Peter Ball’s comments on the M16/F88 rifles (yesterday, comments) somewhat beggar the facts concerning the weapon selection process. It might appear strange but it is not the rifle or gun that is usually the determinate of an Army’s choice of weapon system but ammunition type and availability. With the formation of NATO, western nations standardised on a 7.62 x 52mm round for army rifles and medium or general purpose machine guns. This simplified logistics amongst allies and helped to ensure interchangeability of ammunition between weapon systems. Australia and America went to Vietnam using the 7.62 system. The Australians used it in the FN derived SLR and its heavy barrelled automatic derivative, the BREN light machine gun and the M60 general purpose MG. The US used it with the M14 rifle, the M60 and later the helicopter mounted minigun. Then the US deemed the M14 rifle unsuitable for infantry involved in jungle and counter insurgency warfare and replaced it, for reasons I am not going into here, with the M16/M16A1 rifle and the 5.56 x 45mm range of ammunition. It was a rushed introduction into service and it took many years to overcome many of the inherent problems with both the rifle and the ammunition. The weapon was on issue to Australians in theatre and contrary to post war mythology, it was not that popular with our infantry, most of whom when given their druthers preferred the “elephant killing” power of the 7.62mm SLR. After the Vietnam conflict, the force of American military logistics prevailed over NATO and the standardised NATO ammunition changed to 5.56mm. NATO nations were not prepared to accept the inferior US ammunition design and eventually an approved design out of Belgium was agreed by all. The US then had to change the design of its rifle to the M16A2 to use this new ammunition. Australia also decided to change to the 5.56mm infantry weapons system with the new ammunition and the search for a new rifle began. The UK, France, US, Germany, Austria etc were producing suitable rifles and after some analysis and trials; German, Austrian and US weapons were the final contenders. The German model was too expensive and field trials were conducted with the remaining pair, the US M16A2 and the Austrian Steyr. Little real performance difference was found between the two and the trialling soldiers preferred the Steyr. Whether this was because they were familiar with the M16 from Vietnam and the Steyr was new and had a “raygun” appearance is a question for the psychologists. The M16A2 could be fitted with the in-service M203 grenade discharger which the Steyr couldn’t but this was discounted which lead to some problems a few wars later. The US then pulled the plug and wouldn’t allow Australia to manufacture the M16A2 as they had given the regional supply capability to Singapore. That left Steyr in the box seat and we know the rest of the story. The 5.56mm weapon system was never the popular success that the Eastern block and its allies (as well as the world’s current crop of terrorists and associated ratbags) achieved with the Russian AK47 and its 7.62 x 39mm ammunition. Australian infantrymen returned from Vietnam, Somalia or the war against terror will testify to the efficiency of that system. Many familiar with the superseded 7.62mm SLR mourn its passing and many more would be happy to use the AK47 instead of the current 5.56mm system.

You flopped, Andrew:

Warwick Sauer writes: Re. “WSOP update: Crikey crashes out” (yesterday, item 21). Andrew Scott can cry all he likes about his “bad beat” at WSOP, but it doesn’t make his “all-in” play the right one. Why go all-in for near on $20k to pick up a pot of $1900, when you’re facing a flop of all the same suit? An overpair plus flush draw is a lovely thing to have, but the only time anyone would call your bet is if you’re beat. The right play is to bet $3k or $4k. If your opponent is on a flush draw, he isn’t getting the right odds to call. If he does call he either has you beat, or is making a huge mistake, which a player of Flack’s calibre is unlikely to do. Also, if Flack had check raised (ie. raised after your $3k or $4k bet) then, again, you should know you’re beaten and get away from the hand. AND, seeing as though Scott had position on Flack, if Flack called then checked the turn, Scott could have taken the free card and seen the river. Regardless, there’s no way he should have busted on that hand, no way at all.

Peter Gregory writes: Thanks for the riveting commentary on the WSOP – cured my insomnia. Much cheaper than Stillnox.

Oops:

Yesterday’s typos (house pedant Charles Richardson casts an eye over the howlers in the last edition of Crikey): Item 8: “… nor its abolition in 1995 after John Howard became Prime Minister …”. Try 1996.

Answers to today’s editorial:

(Answers: A: Hitler, B: Howard, C: Hitler D: Hitler, E: Hitler, F: Howard. G: Howard.)

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