The climate denial/groping paradox:

Stephen Luntz writes: Re. “Mirabella’s breast groper was off beam well before Mid Winter ball” (Friday, item 1). Crikey’s revelation on Friday that sacked Sophie Mirabella staffer Antony Scrinis is an obsessive climate change denier isn’t a surprise. We’ll be seeing a lot more of this. Being unhinged from the reality of climate change is not unconnected to being estranged from the reality its unlikely a woman you’ve barely met wants you to fondle her breasts.

It’s been widely noted that Rick Wagoner, the wonderfully named CEO who drove General Motors into nationalisation, is an Anthropogenic Global Warming Denier. This is not entirely a coincidence — someone who accepted the science on Climate Change wouldn’t have been such an enthusiast for the big gas guzzlers that have done so much to bring GM down.

Nevertheless, rising fuel prices played a much bigger part in driving consumers towards the sort of small cars GM doesn’t make. These prices are a product of oil being harder to access, not climate change. Wagoner didn’t see this one coming either, because he probably doesn’t believe in Peak Oil. I’m guessing the same goes for Scrinis, unless he’s excited by the word “peak”.

The scientific evidence on Peak Oil may not be quite as convincing as on Climate Change, but generally speaking you’re only going to reject it if you’re are addicted to the notion of unending growth in resource consumption, really, really hate environmentalists or are in the pay of the fossil fuel industry.

There’s more to it than that though. The thing is, if you’re delusional about AGW, your delusions are likely to range more widely than environmental topics. Holding onto irrational positions is part of what makes us human, not Vulcan, but we do it to different degrees. We’ve all seen people who can be highly rational about most things, and completely lose the plot on one or two == most often the person they are, or hope to be, sleeping with.

Nevertheless, as a general rule, if someone is unable to rationally assess evidence contrary to their preferred position on one topic, there’s a pretty good chance they won’t be able to do it on other topics as well. If you believe NASA faked the Moon landings, you’re more likely to think fluoridated water’s a major cause of cancer than someone who doesn’t.

Which is the real danger for the political parties cosying up to the climate change deniers. In the long run, public opinion will make minced tofu of any with a career denying the human role in climate change. But in the long run we’re all dead, or at least retired. It’s possible Barnaby Joyce, Cory Bernardi and Martin Ferguson will be long gone before denialism is electoral suicide. Some of the people who replace them may also currently be climate change deniers, but if they weren’t prominent enough at to say it on TV that may not matter.

Nevertheless a party recruiting a lot of AGW deniers are getting people who come with a generalised incapacity to face up to inconvenient truths about a lot of other things as well. Such individuals can make very good sales people, but they’re truly awful strategists. What is more, dealing with such people will drive the sane recruits out of an organisation. The Liberals need to be very careful that people like Scrinis are not the future of their party.

Babies and Parliament:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Baby in the chamber: the ugly anti-family face of parliament” (Friday, item 2). All politicians do it but the Greens have lead the pack recently in terms of squeezing every bit of publicity out of failed legal actions and crying children. Bob Brown took legal action and failed, as the loser he is liable for costs to be awarded against him. He knows that, he knew for nearly 18 months that he would have to pay but made sure that he turned it into a huge cause and fundraiser. Incidentally the taxpayers of Tasmania would have been out of pocket otherwise.

As for Sarah Hanson-Young she knows children are not to be taken into the Senate chamber, or anyone that is not elected (officials aside). It is quite straight forward if you are elected you are allowed in, if not elected you are not allowed in. Is the Senator not paid enough already to accommodate the needs of her child? The Senate President John Hogg is quite a reasonable man (and parent), and I look forward to seeing what rules will be devised.

What stunt will next week reveal? Stay tuned!

Shirley Colless writes: I cannot accept the argument that because some parliamentarians “act like children” two-year old toddlers should be allowed to take a seat in the Senate. Two year old toddlers (they are not infants by the way, but given the behaviour of some twenty-five year olds these days, who knows when infancy ends) are renowned for their highly individualistic parent tormenting tantrums. The last thing they need is a demonstration of the even more individualistic and voter tormenting tantrums and dummy spits of parliamentarians.

The President of the Senate was only acting in the best interests of the child by requesting its removal from an environment that could be even more damaging to its eventual development as a polite and considerate acceptor of the rights and needs of other people with whom it might have to negotiate the highs and lows of an adult life.

And please remind me of the long list of organisations where, at high level board or committee decision making meetings, toddlers are encouraged to “play with the President’s gavel” or, perchance, change the noxious nappy on the board table?

There are a huge number of professional and working women who don’t have the luxury of in-house child care and have to juggle the consequent demands. If Parliament House now has an in-house crèche and if Members of Parliament have staff, then surely adequate provision has been made for the needs of younger members with small children.

Mark Jeanes writes: Re. “Stay at home, Senator, and raise your children” (Friday, item 4). “Do your f*cking job.” “… f*cking stupidest… naive… sh*t…” Really? Does this represent the level of debate that a new-media up-and-comer like Crikey really wants to publish? I had to read this piece three times to try to convince myself she wasn’t just being sarcastic. And to be honest, I’m still not sure it wasn’t a joke.

Surely this was just a temporary lapse of judgement! Helen Razer can’t be blamed for her unstable, irrational, abusive outbursts. She’ll never change. She can’t. Razer has long been discredited as a broadcaster and commentator — even before she was sacked for THAT ABC radio interview.

Really, Crikey, can’t you select your commentators with an eye to building your credibility, not diminishing it? We subscribers want you to succeed.


Michael James writes: Re. “Goodbye exclusivity: Gawenda on the Fairfax Canberra merger” (Friday, item 5). To those Age readers (who are) “incredibly sensitive about the suggestion that their paper was being run out of Sydney.” I say, get over it. For someone in Brisbane, who has the “choice” of The Australian, The Courier Mail and mX which are Murdoch, Murdoch and Murdoch, I couldn’t care less from which city a good newspaper originates, and in this electronic age it is meaningless anyway. The most important thing is the depth of coverage and the quality and independence of the journalism. (Of course I want to read Michelle Grattan AND Peter Hartcher.)

As to it being about jobs and costs. Well of course it is. Haven’t the journalists noticed that newspapers are losing money all over the globe? It is nuts for Fairfax to have duplicate journalists and offices for multiple newspapers. Australia is one third the size of the UK where all the major newspapers are national. It is absurd to imagine that local newspapers can aspire to quality and depth with such small audiences. I hope that the resuscitation of the National Times online is merely the first step towards a fully-fledged true national newspaper. For about three years I have been urging Fairfax to do this. After they establish National Times online (and this is not a given, looking at the lamentable Smage/BrisTimes/WAToday sites) they should then make a print version. Perhaps the outer section could continue to be the localized bit (Age, BrisTimes etc) but all the rest–the national news, world, politics, arts, sports, business– being The National Times. There should be a single website.

At first I thought the BrisTimes site was a good move but when you see the list of most popular stories (soap stars, sports, s-x stories, car accidents, cats up trees…), no thanks. The readers need to be dragged up-market not their worst tastes pandered to (why would they change from the CM or mX for the same dross? I know there are plenty of Brisbane readers desperate for some serious investigative reporting of local matters.). Make a single serious print and online national newspaper that everyone can be proud of and turn to, instead of a News Ltd rag. The newspaper crisis is a blessing in disguise since it seems to be forcing this no-brainer evolution that the Fairfax management otherwise would not do.

The SMH:

Keith Binns writes: Re. “Airbus attack: Sandilands vs. Devine” (Friday, item 17). A word of advice. I subscribe to the Herald and so have the dubious benefit of the wisdom of both the divine Miranda and Gerard Henderson on a regular basis. The pattern is always the same: They make statements and claims that others will claim are factually inaccurate and always biased towards their own ultra-conservative viewpoint.

The next day, half a dozen letters will be published claiming that they are factually inaccurate and biased towards their own ultra-conservative viewpoint, just like your article in Crikey. Nothing changes. They continue on their merry way. Don’t waste your time. Just don’t read them.

I find their articles make excellent fire lighters.


Angus Sharpe writes: I agree with one part of Foxtel CEO Kim Williams’ letter to Crikey (Friday, comments). It would be great if Glenn Dyer also reviewed the top rating shows on the cable box. Perhaps Crikey could buy Glenn a subscription? Or are daily ratings unavailable? If so, maybe Glenn could call Kim’s bluff and ask for daily ratings information on Crikey? Kim is obviously an avid reader…


Brett Taylor writes: Justin Templer (Friday, comments): Perhaps if Gerard Henderson was possessed of Mike Carlton’s so-called “bitchy temperament” his insufferable and unbearably inane columns would prove a tad more interesting for the reader. Perhaps.

Godwin Grech:

John Goldbaum writes:

Have you ever seen so much distress
As lined the face of Godwin Grech,
A man placed under great duress
While trying to be a truthful witness?

Australia’s free and fearless press
Must stand up for this pitiful wretch.
Unburden his chest; let him confess.
The truth must out, and damn the rest!

Our government rules with our consent;
The rules in place should not be bent.
|And taxpayers’ dollars must not be spent
To help your mates inside the tent.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name — we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey