Wayne Swan, Malcolm Turnbull and the Utegate fall out:

Shirley Colless writes: Re. “Dog days for the Liberal Party of Australia” (yesterday, item 9) There is one aspect of Malcolm Turnbull’s strategy over the so-called ute scandal that needs highlighting: Turnbull has not made the mental or procedural switch from the court room to the parliamentary chamber.

In both the court room and the parliamentary chamber, claims, allegations, accusations, hectoring, bullying, blustering and bombast can and it would seem, from a reluctant exposure to Question Time, be the normal tools of what could not under any circumstance be called debate.

I am not aware that Senior Counsel can be taken to the legal cleaners by affronted defendants because of anything said in the course of a court case, any more than parliamentarians can be subject to legal sanctions for any defamatory comment made in the Chamber.

In a court, Senior Counsel take on witnesses often unskilled in parrying the often brutal thrusts directed at them and who are limited in their responses to “answer the question!”. It would seem that Johnny-come-lately Turnbull made the mistake of taking on, not a poor shivering little witness, but a long-serving, experienced, skilled and, I will admit, ruthless opponent in the Prime Minister who did not even have to answer the question but could use his response to turn a very neat table.

If Turnbull survives this disaster then he needs to do some quick learning about parliamentary tactics while he is licking his wounds. If he needs a bovver boy or an attack dog, he need only turn to Tony Abbott who can do it so much better than Joe Hockey.

Jason Groves writes: Can someone at Crikey please tell me why I am paying to read some tedious ANU academic’s neither witty nor insightful commentary on the Liberal Party? Come to think of it, that seems to be all there is in Crikey these days. When was the last time anyone (except Alex Mitchell) broke an interesting story? Do any of your people who write about federal politics actually know any of the people they write about?

Alan Kennedy writes: Re. “Comitatus: Turnbull enters Downer popularity territory” (yesterday, item 3). After the opinion poll results I think it is no longer an out for pollies to claim the Australian public isn’t interested in the Turnbull Utegate brouhaha. Seems they are fascinated by it and have made a judgment where the dead cat resides. So let’s keep it going.

A question has been niggling for a week about the now infamous fake. It was found last Monday in the Treasury system as a deleted item and the other copy was found in the Grech home computer. Now it seems that on the Friday of the now infamous Steve Lewis Sting which blew up in his face and everyone else’s, Rudd called a press conference and announced, with confidence bordering on arrogance, that the treasury computers had been searched to within an inch of their lives and the email did not exist. So why, as the forensic cleaners were trawling the treasury computers didn’t the deleted dodgy email turn up?

This was the email that Abetz seems to have had on 4 June when Utegate fired up and started backing out of the shed. It is the email Grech is alleged to have throw up on a screen so Turnbull an Abetz could see it.

A simple search of the system using any of the find tools would have thrown up all items with ozcar, Grant Grech and Shipton. Yet we are asked to believe that the email wasn’t found until the Monday by the AFP rozzers who would be hard pressed find their bums with both hands. So, as a man who still thinks Lee Harvey Oswald was set up, I think Rudd knew on Friday of the existence of the fake and that is why he was so buoyant. It must have been spat out of the system during the Friday search. If so, the weekend must have been delicious for Rudd and his cohorts as Malcolm walked into a beautifully baited trap. Shouldn’t happen to a cat.

David Hand writes: Paul Gilchrist (yesterday, comments) makes the point that Wayne Swan helping out a mate of Kevin Rudd is not a big deal. We all agree. Wayne’s problem is that he stood up in Parliament and said he didn’t do it when subsequent evidence shows that he did. The issue is misleading parliament, not doing a favour for a mate and Wayne Swan clearly has a case to answer.

John Kotsopoulos writes: I hope John Goldbaum (yesterday, comments) remembers to refresh the warm lettuce he has used to ‘beat up’ on Swan.

Michael Jackson:

Pattie Tancred writes: Re. “Rundle: Michael Jackson, we can only hope, was just the first” (yesterday, item 10). Yes, indeed, Madonna could shuffle off this mortal coil to the sound of my applause. Kylie, too, although given her recent cancer episode, maybe that’s not in good taste. In fact maybe the whole thing is a bit distasteful and we could just send all these still living but we wish they weren’t folk to a sort of virtual “undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns” a la First Dog’s Shadowy Realm of Failed Opposition Leaders.

Jim Ivins writes: Undoubtedly the most (in fact the only) insightful piece I’ve read regarding Wacko’s death. Good work, Guy. Crikey readers are invited to supply their own nominees. Here’s mine:

The prime candidate has to be HM Queen Lizzie. Her mug shot is etched on my visual cortex in many forms, from coins, banknotes, stamps and even that hideous Silver Jubilee mug at the back of Mum’s crockery cupboard.

As has often been said, her passing will lead to an Australian republic faster than you can say “King Charlie and Queen Camilla.” (A possibility that surely must rival the thought of Madonna at 70.)


Chris Hunter writes: Re. “Time to study Australia’s role in the tragedy of Iraq” (yesterday, item 4). Irrespective of what an enquiry about Australia’s war on Iraq might turn up, one thing is for sure, the war goes on — now mutated into Pakistan and who really knows — Taliban with a nuclear option? The Howard era mantra of fighting terrorism has given rise to even greater terror — on a grand scale, way beyond anything ever imagined. A nice pickle we have ourselves in. I think we should round up all the idiots responsible, strap them into parachutes, and then boot them out over the Hindu Kush. Go sort it out boys!


Andrew Jennings writes: Re. “The Lowy down on why Rudd Labor just loves the round ball code” (June 15, item 10). The 2018 Football World Cup story by Bernard Keane looks fine about the local politics end — but why is every Aus journo now terrified of touching on the one crucial aspect: how to launder the bribes demanded by FIFA kleptomaniacs like Jack Warner — and a few others? Will Lowy pay them? We are talking very big bucks here. It’s all about securing 12 votes. That’s all.

First Dog on the Moon:

Greg Williams writes: Michael Byrne’s observation on First Dog on the Moon (yesterday, comments) don’t worry Michael, I have it on good authority First Dog is no hypocrite. Wait until Eid, when he will reveal himself as being a veritable Man of Steel, and demonstrate he doesn’t just take on the soft targets. Less than three months to go to the end of Ramadan when it is widely anticipated he will stun a cross section of Australian society with his rapier wit — or not!

Social media revolution:

Angus Sharpe writes: Re. “What social media revolution?” (yesterday, item 17). Is Helen Razer saying that poor people are sh-t? Don’t get me wrong, Helen Razer is usually good for an interesting rant. But what does this mean: “The merit of a medium like MySpace is not diminished by an invitation to a party in Narre Warren. But nor is it defined by the valour of Burma’s insurgents”? I have read this five times now and still don’t know.

I hate twitter as much as the next right wing fruitbag, but come on … Apparently, rzr2.0 was on Friendster (is she serious?!), has seen some zombie movies, and is now hip (like the other young people on the electric internet). She can even use intertubes buzzwords! … Social media! … Web 2.0! … Blog! … Flame! … Spamming (flavourless)! … Flickr! … Facebook! … hand-held devices! Based on this expertise, she confirms that twitter (and social media and/or the internet? it’s a bit unclear), is crap (except, maybe, in Burma). Presumably, Helen wants us all to return to newspapers, radio shows, and stone tablets and chisels?


Bill Cushing writes: Re. Doug Clifford (yesterday, comments). I always think of it as a Spoonerism — as in ‘fora and flauna’.

Michael Hidden writes: Did I really hear ABC News tonight describe long retired perennial choker Greg Norman as Australia’s most marketable sporting export? That would be pathetic, but predictable, if it came in one of his own press releases (which, when I think about it, is probably exactly where it did come from) but for Aunty to publish such silly self promotion…. Oh Senator Concetta Fieravanti-Wells, where are you when your country really needs you?


Russell Bevers writes: The non-degree bureaucrat referred (Wednesday, Tips and Rumours) to at RMIT is indeed warming the seat for a permanent appointment of a Dean to take place very soon. RMIT students will soon be guided by a person of significant academic skill and achievement who I am rather confident will have a PhD. The Dean will head a new school that teaches well established programs in the media and communications area.

It’s worth saying that the acting Dean has been the eminently successful head of a similar school for a decade, building a reputation for excellence and viability and who’s graduates fill the best jobs going, around the country and overseas. I would have said that that person had definitely “earned their stripes”.

Its a case of reputation very definitely enhanced NOT diminished.

The Senate and aeroplanes:

Andrew Bartlett writes: Re. “Airlines, the Senate and the transfer of criminal responsibility” Ben Sandiland’s piece yesterday about a new government regulation that he says would “water down the absolute responsibility of airlines for the actions of their employees” was an interesting read. But it does need a few matters regarding the Senate process to be clarified.

Firstly, the change has not yet been blocked in the Senate. A notice of a motion to disallow the Aviation Transport Security Amendment Regulations 2009 (N0. 1), Select Legislative Instrument 2009 No. 24 was given in the Senate by the Chair of the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee on 18 June. This motion needs to be either voted on or withdrawn by 10 September.

It is technically true that this is a “government controlled Committee”, but this Committee does not divide on party lines. The Regs & Ords Committee has been around since 1932, making it the oldest Committee in the Senate. As far as I know, it has never split along party lines on any decision.

As their website notes, “the Committee engages in technical legislative scrutiny. It does not examine the policy merits of delegated legislation.”

The fact the Chair has given notice of a motion to disallow the Instrument does not mean the Committee will proceed with that motion, or that they have accepted the policy concerns of the Australian Federation of Airline Pilots. On most occasions, such Notices of Motion are withdrawn before the final date, once the Committee is satisfied their concerns have been addressed by the relevant Minister.

This doesn’t stop any other Senator — usually non-government — from also moving to disallow the Instrument on policy grounds, but that is separate from the aspects the Senate Committee considers.

The technical non-partisan principles the Committee assesses all Legislative Instruments against is at this link.

As a final clarification, to successfully disallow the Instrument (assuming the Committee withdraws its own objections), the Coalition would need both the Independent Senators, not just one. Assuming the Greens weren’t to support a disallowance, having only one extra Senator in addition to the Coalition would create a tied vote, which means it is resolved in the negative.

One of the quirks about tied votes in the Senate is that a tied vote is enough to defeat government legislation, but it is not enough to disallow government Regulations or Legislative Instruments.

Climate change cage match — now with its own blog:

Tony Barrell writes: Haven’t seen a latte sipper in Crikey for a couple of weeks now, but guess what, the Crikey intern Sophie Tarr has come up with the acceptable new wave alternative: ” Greenies the world over have been, by turns, snorting and smiling into their morning fair-trade rooibos”. These young people, they learn fast.

Ken Lambert writes: This is from Prof Karoly’s review of ‘Heaven + Earth’ ABC Science Show 12 June:

Plimer writes repeatedly that global warming ended in 1998, that the warmth of the last few decades is not unusual, and that satellite measurements show there has been no global warming since 1979. He is correct that on time scales of the last 100 million years, the recent global-scale warmth is not unusual. However, it is unusual over at least the last 1,000 years, including the Medieval warming. Plimer makes the mistake of using local temperatures from proxy evidence rather than considering data from the whole globe at the same time. The report of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2006, cited by Plimer, states ‘Presently available proxy evidence indicates that temperatures at many, but not all individual locations, were higher during the past 25 years than during any period of comparable length since AD 900′.

We do not expect significant warming to always occur for short periods, such as since 1998. Natural climate variations are more important over short periods, with El Nino causing hotter global-average temperatures in 1998 and La Nina cooler global temperatures in 2007 and 2008. Global-average temperature for the current decade from surface observations and from satellite data is warmer than any other decade with reasonable data coverage. Plimer is wrong to write ‘Not one of the IPCC models predicted that there would be cooling after 1998′. Actually, more than one-fifth of climate models show cooling in global average temperatures for the period from 1998 to 2008.

Well the next obvious question is “why was it so warm around AD900 well before any industrial release of CO2?”

But check out the last sentence. “Actually, more than one-fifth of climate models show cooling in global average temperatures for the period from 1998 to 2008”. Prof Karoly is having a a $1 bet on cooling and a $4 bet on warming at the moment — just in case. And how does the average citizen interpret this Karoly bombshell? How about this:

“Well we think it is warming, but one fifth of climate models did predict cooling from 1998 to 2008, so if it is cooling then we have that covered too!”

The perfect unfalsifiable hypothesis — a quinella — $4 on warming for a win – and $1 on cooling for a place.

And a whole ETS policy, magnums of hand wringing, posturing, wailing and gnashing of teeth is hanging on “the science of consensus”; the likes of Prof Karoly’s each way bet!!

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.