Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott:

James McDonald writes: Re. “Liberals will rue the day they lurched right” (Tuesday). Historian Barbara Tuchman wrote in 1967:

When it comes to leaders we have, if anything, a superabundance  — hundreds of Pied Pipers … ready and anxious to lead the population.

They are scurrying around, collecting consensus, gathering as wide an acceptance as possible. But what they are not doing, very notably, is standing still and saying, ‘This is what I believe. This I will do and that I will not do. This is my code of behaviour and that is outside it. This is excellent and that is trash.”

There is an abdication of moral leadership in the sense of a general unwillingness to state standards.

Until recently the Coalition was giving lip service to AGW mitigation, falling in line with John Howard’s reluctant concessions, while for the most part still holding out for “proof” of the theory. (Incidentally, we are still waiting for “proof” of Newton’s conservation of momentum, even after 300 years and billions spent on particle accelerators.)

Malcolm Turnbull has changed that. In the course of passing the Tuchman test, he forced the climate issue into mainstream Coalition acceptance. Because of his efforts, even the Pied Pipers Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, both looking carefully behind them to see which way they should lead, will now come up with a solution. Importantly, this will be achieved without the need for a dangerous Labor hegemony in both houses.

That solution will be better than Kevin Rudd’s “only way”, the sham CPRS which, along with his abortive FuelWatch and GroceryWatch, was the epitome of the pseudo-market-promoting “neoliberalism” he claims to so despise yet understands so little. Like FuelWatch and GroceryWatch, it would have achieved nothing but the usual Labor theme of helping big businesses to kill off small businesses.

Abbott has so far ruled out any market-based solution, but this, like his reversal of his earlier insincere claim that AGW was “crap”, will later be flippantly dismissed as “hyperbole”.

Whether Turnbull starts a new party or not-and I hope he does, there is a gaping hole in the Australian ideas market-he can lay claim to this legacy. His biggest political campaign since the republic will now come to fruition because of his efforts, though it doesn’t bear his name on it.

Will Fettes writes: Martin Gordon (yesterday, comments) rightly reminds those who might be inclined to indulge in smug anti-religious rhetoric against Tony Abbott about Kevin Rudd’s strong Christian faith. However, just because both men have strong religious convictions doesn’t mean there is an equivalency. That surely trivialises the objections to the real authoritarian character of Abbott’s beliefs as demonstrated during his tenure as Health Minister, as compared with Rudd’s more benign approach. Moreover, it also ignores the flack that Rudd has received from similar quarters when he has strayed too far into populist moral panic, such as with Henson.

Rudd’s religion is arguably most apparent in his perfectionist approach to social issues and his communitarian sensibilities about solidarity, family and rights and responsibilities. This methodological holism can look suspiciously like regressive traditionalism to a certain kind of liberal or libertarian, but it’s really nothing you won’t find in modern communitarian political philosophy, such as the works of Michael Sandel or Charles Taylor.

Now, it’s true that Rudd’s convictions about sexual morality issues are probably to the right of most cosmopolitan Labor voters, but the key difference is that he is much less inclined to impose his views outside the caucus than Abbott would be, and he is not implacably hostile to more progressive views on such matters. Indeed, if anything, the Government’s reluctance to move forward on many fronts seems driven far more by calculated risk aversion than religious-based certainties.

John Goldbaum writes: How can any self-respecting Liberal leader propose a command economy solution to climate change?  Sure, you can run from an ETS and run from a carbon tax, but you can’t hide from the cost of CO2 reduction being sheeted home to either companies, customers or taxpayers.

If the Mad Monk has no faith in science and economics, he’ll believe in anything.  Oh, that’s right; he does.

At least Menzies shared his Queen’s faith.  Where will Tony’s true allegiance lie?  His idea of a broad church is one comprising Opus Dei, Jesuits, Christian Brothers and Marist Brothers.  No room for Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, let alone Anglicans.

And if Abbott falls, there’s no obvious successor now that Joe Hockey’s lost his memory stick.  Turnbull repeatedly stated publically that he would stand as a candidate if there was a spill.  How could Joe have been in any doubt?


Marty O’Neill writes: Re. “Arise, Premier Carmel Tebbutt, your hour is now” (yesterday). Progressive thinkers in NSW will NEVER vote for a government led by Kristina Keneally — she is against abortion, against embryonic-stem cell research, she believes in both political and financial patronage, she has no REAL sense of the separation of Church and State.

The NSW trogladyte Right has wasted its time changing leaders and lost the opportunity to consolidate under a leader with broader appeal: all of them have shown disloyalty, an appalling lack of judgement and general treachery.

Labor ministers and members of parliament should enjoy their LAST 15 months in office take very careful note: we, the people, will be looking for any desperate last acts of corruption and “slopping at the trough” by members of the NSW Labor party.

Matthew Auger writes: Joe Sammaras would be a great candidate for the Wankley award today with his contribution to Crikey yesterday.  As a subscriber to Crikey since 2002 I have enjoyed the great “insider” Crikey columnists: Hillary Bray (AKA Christian Kerr), Delia Delegate and Boilermaker Bill. Joe, you are a p-ss poor imitation.  Remember this is Crikey (which we subscribers pay for) not some Green/Left Faction pamphlet handed around your Trot mates.

Here’s a tip Joe, you can afford to be wrong if you are entertaining.  You don’t have to be entertaining if you are right.  You are neither entertaining or right, it reads like some undergraduate rubbish.

John Taylor writes: I know you’re Melbourne-centric but if “NSW Left insider Joe Sammaras” is the best you can do about NSW politics, I suggest you shut up about the subject, because you are making fools of yourself.

The Greens:

Tim Hollo, media adviser for Greens Senator Christine Milne, writes: Re. Ben Aveling (yesterday, comments) who wrote the Greens offered on numerous occasions to negotiate amendments with the Government on the CPRS but were rebuffed each time by Penny Wong who never had the slightest interest in talking to us.

Indeed, the Minister took weeks to even respond to the fully drafted amendments we had given her back in early October, and when she did respond it was to say explicitly that she would not begin to negotiate until we signed on to her 5-25% target range. That is not negotiation in good faith.

We have written once again yesterday offering to negotiate over summer, and will continue to pressure the Government to discuss their legislation with us. If they continue to refuse, it is highly likely that the bill will fail again and it will be on their heads.

Marcus Ogden writes: Ben Aveling is wrong to suggest that the Greens haven’t tried to negotiate amendments to the Government’s failed CPRS bill.

The Greens presented the Government with a number of proposed amendments, including the adoption of Professor Garnaut’s original recommendations to auction all permits, to compensate export industries only to the extent of lost competiveness, and to not compensate electricity generators at all. As Tim Hollo says in Crikey (3/12), we now have the curious situation where the Greens are advocating an undistorted market mechanism for reducing emissions, Labor is pushing for a grossly distorted market, and the Liberals have rejected market solutions altogether.

The Greens also proposed their own Safe Climate Bill, with a target of reducing emissions to at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.

Yesterday the Greens Senators wrote to Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong seeking to renew negotiations on climate change legislation. Crikey readers are surely under no illusions about the fact that the Government has so far used the CPRS as an opportunity to wedge the Coalition, rather than to take effective action to solve our share of the global climate problem. Having achieved the first goal spectacularly this week, I hope the Government will now turn to the second.

Radioactive waste:

Jess Abrahams, Alice Springs, writes: Re. “Tips and rumors” (yesterday). Crikey published:

The Alice Springs Town Council has just passed its controversial bylaws in regards to causing a nuisance in Alice Springs.

Don’t doubt it. By laws or no by laws, there will be huge protests in Alice Springs if approval is given to mine uranium at Angela Pamela, only 25 kilometers from our town. That’s if an application to mine is ever submitted. With the growing chorus of public hostility to a uranium mine, Canadian miner Cameco is now being forced to account for the veracity of this opposition in their mine feasibility study.

In the last week alone there has been extensive media coverage of this opposition. Reports that Doctors at the only Aboriginal health service in town would leave featured in national press and colourful No Alice Uranium Mine! protests outside Parliamentary sittings in Alice Springs were beamed into TV screens across the Territory.

National air play of WIYA! Angela Pamela — a protest song in local Luritja and Western Arranta languages, highlighting the health effects of uranium mining on Aboriginal people and their country, is but latest expression. Listen online here.

Protests in Alice Springs against uranium mining at Angela Pamela will continue. They will simply by pass local by laws.

Natalie Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Alice Springs, writes: Nuclear advocate Senator Judith Troeth has called the current plan to dump radioactive waste on the Northern Territory a ‘viable option’, implying it could also be used to store high level waste from nuclear power plants. The NT plan is highly contested and relies on Howard era laws allowing site selection to occur without consultation or consent from Traditional Owners or impacted communities.

Only one year ago, a Senate Committee Ms Troeth participated in recommended that these laws be overturned in the first federal parliament sittings of 2009. Minister Martin Ferguson has refused to implement this recommendation, or the pre-election promises of the ALP to scrap the laws and initiate a process that is “open, transparent and allows access to appeal mechanisms”.

Targeted communities continue to fight the idea that their homelands are political sacrifice zones and in the face of Liberal nuclear pushes and ALP inaction, national support for their struggle is growing. A lesson? Radioactive waste lasts forever, but politicians, their promises and policies don’t.

Hit and miss humour:

Neil Hunt writes: Re. “‘Hey it’s Tiger’ … the other voicemails” (yesterday). It’s amazing how in one article you can have such a deeply unfunny bashing of a famous sportsman, just because everyone else is doing it, and then about six articles later a brilliant and very funny article (“Slurry: our moral fibre is pushing up daises“) from Mr Slurry.

Crikey, I give you both brickbats and bouquets. Shame on you, and very well done!

Climate change (join the cagematch!):

Ken Lambert writes: Kieren Diment , Adam Rope and Jim Gobert (yesterday, comments) just need to answer this:

The simple shattering fact is that on 14 Oct 09, Dr Kevin Trenberth, lead author of the IPCC on AGW confides to his mates about the current lack of warming:

Saying it is natural variability is not an explanation. What are the physical processes? Where did the heat go?

Which is exactly the same question I been asking through the famous Crikey Climate Change Cage Match.

Dr Trenberth’s mates were Tom Wigley, Stephen H Schneider, Myles Allen, Peter Stott, “Philip D. Jones”, Benjamin Santer, Thomas R Karl, Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, Michael Oppenheimer; the cream of the world community of scientists in the UK and USA promoting the science of AGW.

This is conclusive proof that the “Science is not settled”. Even Tim Flannery now agrees with that.

Brett Gaskin writes: I was watching Australia Network news this morning from Hong Kong and they had on Chief Scientist for Australia’s – Professor Penny Sackett. Prof Sackett was basically asked why there was this continual discussion about whether man made climate change was real. Prof Sackett replied that the best minds in the scientific community with expertise in climate all agreed it was indeed real, and demanding of immediate action.

I couldn’t help but think of our favourite Crikey climate commentator Tamas Calderwood (Wednesday, comments). How was it that thousands of people with thousands of years of experience didn’t have the brains to see things as clearly as Tamas.  So Tamas, I plead with you to give up your day job, and dedicate yourself to becoming a world renowned expert and set things straight.

After all, the future of civilisation as we know it depend on you proving your five selected pieces of data invalidate the other million.  Finally, please don’t be deterred by the fact your comments are utterly disproved by several people on each and every occasion.

Landmark Education:

Art Schreiber, General Counsel, Landmark Education, writes: I am writing regarding the article, “Putting self-help groups under the microscope,” by Greg Barns which appeared on August 20th. This post has just come to our attention, and in reviewing it we have discovered that it has multiple inaccuracies.

The inaccuracies in the article have cast Landmark Education in an extremely negative light and have defamed Landmark Education, our employees, and the approximately 1.2 million people around the world who have taken the Landmark Forum.

As a result, we are writing to you requesting that this post be deleted or, if you decline, that you publish a correction.

The article misrepresents two court cases and implies that the emotional issues of the two people in these cases were caused by Landmark Education programs. However, the fact is that in both cases the decisions of the courts was that there was no proof the Landmark Education programs were the cause. This was never represented in the article and is the most important fact.

The article inaccurately portrays The Landmark Forum as harmful, when in fact top health experts from around the world have personally observed The Landmark Forum and have stated in their professional opinion that the programs are professionally delivered and in no way harmful.

Below are the inaccuracies and facts in each case:

Stephanie Ney

The U.S. District Court originally tried the case and, after a full trial, which included highly-respected forensic experts, the jury found in favor of Landmark Education. The Jury determined Ney failed to show that her injuries were caused by The Forum.

Ms. Ney appealed the decision. The Court of Appeals determined that there was no evidence that The Forum caused her injuries and, therefore, the Court affirmed the original decision.

The article irresponsibly neglected to clearly state that the decisions of both the US District Court and the US Court of Appeals were in favor in of Landmark Education.

Jason Weed

While the quote in the article from the criminal case against Jason Weed is technically accurate and is, in fact, supportive of the fact that Landmark was not at cause, it is incomplete. What is missing in the article is the fact that (a) the aforementioned “US government psychiatrist” is Dr. Alexander Pope, an eminent psychiatrist from Harvard Medical School, (b) in addition to concluding that the Landmark program could not have caused Weed’s psychotic break which led to the shooting, Dr. Pope went on to say that “Mr Weed had a brain defect”; and (c) the Judge agreed with Dr. Pope’s opinion, and Weed was sentenced to a hospital in a Federal prison.

The article irresponsibly neglected to state that Weed had a brain defect and the brain defect was determined to be the cause of this tragic incident.

Since you may not have any facts about Landmark Education, I am including a few below:

Landmark Education is an international training and development company. Landmark Education and its subsidiaries hold memberships in the American Society for Training and Development, the International Society for Performance Improvement and the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). We go to great lengths to ensure that there is nothing in our programs that could be harmful to people. Harris Interactive®, one of the largest and most respected market research firms in the world, conducted an independent survey, on behalf of Landmark Education, of health professionals and educators who have taken Landmark Education programs. The results show that an overwhelming 94% agree that Landmark Education’s programs are professionally conducted and provide great value. To date, over 40,000 health professionals and educators have participated in Landmark Education’s programs.

Here is a representative sampling of the top professionals who have stated that the Landmark Forum is not harmful:

  • Dr. Raymond D. Fowler, PhD, retired CEO of the American Psychological Association, said in an independent report which reflected his personal opinion: “In my opinion, The Landmark Forum is not harmful. The program is designed for reasonably healthy and effectively functioning individuals and participants.”
  • Dr. Charles Watson, Professorial Research Fellow and Former Executive Dean of Health Sciences at Curtin University and former Chief Health Officer of Western Australia, said, “I have personally observed The Landmark Forum and other programs at Landmark Education. Speaking from my expertise and experience as a medical doctor and former Chief Health Officer, my view is that there is absolutely nothing harmful in Landmark Education’s programs. This conclusion is fully aligned with those of numerous independent studies by top experts.”
  • Professor Doctor Norbert Nedopil, the Head of the Department of Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Munich said “On the basis of empirical investigation, it can be said that to the largest extent, Landmark Education does not present risks to the health, free will and legal integrity of its participants. Nor is there any evidence that the Landmark Forum is harmful.”

Finally, the article says, “Landmark Education itself has been a regular initiator of litigation.” Landmark Education has been delivering programs around the world for nearly 20 years with great results. We care greatly for our customers and, as such, we are sensitive to reporting that is inaccurate or misrepresents our Company. The fact is that in the nearly 20 years we have been in business, Landmark has initiated only six lawsuits to protect our reputation, which is a miniscule number in light of the world-wide explosion of litigation during this period.

Given the many inaccuracies and gross misrepresentations regarding Landmark Education in the article, I respectfully request that you delete the post immediately.

In the event you are unwilling to delete the post, I request you at least post the following Correction in a prominent spot:


In the August 20, 2009 post entitled “Putting self-help groups under a microscope,” we misrepresented Landmark Education, an international training and development company whose programs have been independently observed by top experts and determined to be safe and effective. The article reported on two court cases involving people who took Landmark Education programs and later had emotional problems. The article could be interpreted that Landmark Education was the cause of these people’s problems. The fact is that in both cases the courts found that the programs were not the cause. The article also misrepresents Landmark Education as a regular initiator of litigation, when in fact Landmark has only initiated six lawsuits to protect its reputation in its nearly 20-year history, and this is with approximately 1.2 million people having participated in The Landmark Forum. In addition, more than 40,000 health professionals and educators have participated in Landmark’s programs, and independent surveys by Harris Interactive show that of those surveyed 94 percent agree that the programs are professionally conducted and provide great value.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter. If you require more expert statements about the safety and efficacy of Landmark’s programs, please do not hesitate to request them. I look forward to your prompt response to my request on this important matter.

Peter Fray

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