NSW:

John Taylor writes: Re. “Premier Keneally: how the deal was done” (Friday). On Thursday I wrote that if you continued to use Joe Sammaras as your reporter on NSW politics you were making fools of yourselves. After Friday’s item, I see no reason to alter my view. Down in your base you obviously know nothing about what’s been happening in the NSW Parliament.

Carmel Tebbutt is Minnie Mouse. If she wasn’t married to Anthony Albanese no one would ever have heard of her. To suggest that she was seriously considered by either the Left or the Right of the NSW ALP as suitable Premier material is to treat this State as a bigger joke than it already appears. But then again, to actually elevate the Yankee Puppet to the job is probably even more absurd.

The real joke is that, regardless of the current polls, the only person with the right touch to turn around the ALP’s fortunes before the tsunami hits them in March 2011, was Nathan Rees.Joe Sammaras suggests Nathan’s career is over. Nathan is the Member for Toongabbie, among the top three safest Labor seats in the State.

I am a voter in the electorate, though never having been of his persuasion and I can tell you that just at the moment, if the mongrels he ripped the balls off on Friday morning want to remove his preselection, he could probably stand as an Independent and win. The feeling is high. But back to the point: ditch Joe. He knows nothing.

Jim O’Brien writes:  Was this the same Joe Sammaras who wrote on 23/11/2009, “The NSW Right is a dead, dead duck“.  I suspect a private agenda here. Are you really that keen for me to not renew my subscription?

Westpac:

Alan Lander  writes: Re. “Westpac can’t be bothered defending the indefensible” (2 December). Is there anyone out there who can explain why banks are crying poor when we have among the highest interest rates in the western world, as we did pre-GFC?

Why would some presumably smart investor sitting in, say the US or UK where official rates are around zero, not say “gee, these Aussie rates are good; I think I’ll throw a bit of cash that way” thereby seeing large money amounts pouring into these fair shores and into our banking system?

Thank you in anticipation of your explanation.

P.S: If you are a retailer, please note the money I had set aside to spend this season is now to be diverted via my building society to Westpac “where bank robbery takes on new meaning” Bank. Sorry.

The Liberal Party:

David Griffin writes:  Re. “It’s getting hot in here: climate change an issue in Higgins and Bradfield?” (Friday). So I cast my early vote in the Bradfield by-election before I left for the USA on the 22nd. And then they go and replace Turnbull* with the Mad Monk! I want my vote back! *hint to the liberals: some of us under 25’s would actually vote for him.

The Greens:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “As climate changes, Greens are the new black” (Friday). Bernard Keane’s view that “As climate changes, Greens are the new black” is worrying.  The Greens have ambitions far beyond planting trees and protecting the environment – they are not happy with the world as they see it and they want to socially re-engineer it.

These items from the Greens’ website policies speak for themselves — all worthy ideals, but concepts such as individuality or freedom of choice are very much secondary to the Orwellian search for social perfection…

Economy

  • ensure that natural monopolies and other essential public services are under public ownership
  • revoke sections of the National Competition Policy that seek to impose market values in public, social and environmental areas of Australian life.
  • reducing tax breaks for high income earners;
  • removing the concessional arrangements for Capital Gains Tax;
  • the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is unfair, regressive and places an unfair burden on individuals and small business.
  • progressive taxes such as income taxes are preferable to regressive forms of taxation such as the GST.
  • international institutions such as the World trade Organisation (WTO) the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank must assist countries to achieve their democratically determined priorities within ecological constraints.

Schools

  • parents and citizens’ organisations, staff, and teacher, academic and student unions have a right to play a significant role in setting directions, priorities, curricula and the running of the public education system.
  • significantly improved remuneration for early childhood educators, in recognition of their role within the community as educational practitioners.
  • invest the money saved from ending public subsidies to the very wealthiest private schools into a national equity funding programme for public schools.
  • work for the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in the school curriculum, and the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in the training and development of all teachers.

Higher education

  • reduced class sizes
  • improved completion rates through increased student/staff time

Women

  • develop and support programs to increase the skills of women as candidates and members of Parliament and to actively promote women to stand as candidates for election.
  • implement the National Maternity Action Plan.

Multiculturalism

  • ensure cross-cultural training is made available for government staff and encourage cross-cultural training for other organisations.

Sport

  • facilitate the televising of top level women’s sport
  • work with stakeholders to ensure ticket prices at sporting events do not unfairly discriminate against people from low socio economic backgrounds.

Immigration

  • house asylum seekers who arrive without a valid visa in publicly owned and managed open reception centres, where entry and exit to these centres are unrestricted except where prohibited for medical or security reasons specified in clause 28.
  • ensure asylum seekers living in the community while their claim is assessed will be granted an AAV which will entitle them to travel, work, income support and access to ongoing educational and medical services anywhere within Australia while their claims for asylum are assessed.

John Mellor writes: Kevin Rudd’s biggest problem is that he now has to fight the next election introducing a completely new and huge tax.

By trying to rush it through the Senate before Copenhagen, he was setting out to avoid putting the ETS to the people (on the moral grounds of saving the planet) because he knew all along that he would be rolled by the electorate if it became an election issue once people found out the real cost to their hip pockets..

The Libs took two elections to get the GST accepted by the electorate and that was a tax REPLACING a tax (Sales Tax).

Can any government ever win an election introducing the brand new tax that dwarfs every other tax in the land?  I don’t think so.

Australians are Green, but not that green.  Especially if it can be established (by Abbott) that the country can make a transition to a lower pollution regime without a tax and a massive bureaucracy standing in between turning every dollar raised into 30 cents.

In addition, Rudd could shed enough of the Labor vote to lose his “base load” electoral power because the people who traditionally turn to Labor to defend their best interests are the ones who cannot afford to see their power and food bills rise on the back of an ETS.

That doubt will prey on their minds as they cast their votes.

Housing:

Mike Beggs writes: Re. “Schwab: Joye brings himself no joy with coloured views” (Friday). There was something else dodgy about Adam Schwab’s housing figures on Wednesday.

He calculates the annual rate of dwelling approvals by multiplying a single month’s (seasonally adjusted) figure by twelve. This would be appropriate if October were an average month. But it was not. It was the second highest such figure in the year to October, beaten only by September.

It is fairly easy to simply add up the monthly figures from the previous year, and I’m not sure why he didn’t do this. Rather than his “more than 150,000” you reach a year-to-October total of 135,407 dwelling approvals. (135,038 if you add up the seasonally adjusted figures, but it is a full year.)

Unfortunately for his argument, that is fewer than the number of necessary dwellings according to his formula. He uses an average of 2.6 people per house, and reports last year’s net immigration of 213,461 and net natural population growth of 152,700, for a total population growth of 366,161. Divide that by 2.6 and you get 140,831 — which is more than 135,407.

Now, even corrected in this way, it’s a pretty simplistic way to look at pressures on the housing market, since there are many other factors at work, and we are comparing last year’s immigration with this year’s approvals for next year’s houses.

The argument that newborn babies are not in a position to buy houses is pretty silly, since the progress of time affects all generations simultaneously and while babies are being born, others are entering the housing market for the first time and parents are seeking larger houses in which to raise their newborn children. He is also mistaken to portray pressure on the housing market as coming only through house purchases, since pressure on rents changes the yield for investors and impacts the market in a different way.

Personally I’m agnostic about what is going to happen to home prices. But maybe a little less snark from the price-crash crowd, a little less treatment of opponents and readers as idiots and/or scoundrels, would be a good thing.

Climate change:

Mark Byrne writes: Ken Lambert (Friday, comments) writes as though he’s found the smoking gun to some great secret, saying that science communicators “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?”

Lambert finishes with the puzzling line: “This is conclusive.”

So conclusive, it seems that Lambert thinks a wink or a dog whistle will do in place of any reasonable or supportable statement of conclusion.

Kevin Trenberth’s email was in the context of his recent paper. In which he discusses problems in tracking where the heat moves to when it moves from the Earth’s surface. He discusses improvements to measuring ocean heat content. He discusses how errors were discovered that until recently were hiding the ocean heat gain.

Trenberth points out data shortcomings and inadequate sampling that may still be contributing to problems quantifying ocean heat. He also points out that ocean heat gain at a depth below 900m would not be well measured with current systems due to high pressure reducing thermal expansion. He is a relevant discussion.

Following the din from the anti-AGW blogosphere, Trenberth recommended this article in nature, which would be useful for those picking up on the dog whistle from the likes of Ken Lambert and Andrew Bolt.

Steve O’Connor writes: No Ken Lambert (Friday, comments), <sigh> there isn’t a global conspiracy. This is the “smoking gun” email that you selectively quote from in full:

Mike

Here are some of the issues as I see them:

Saying it is natural variability is not an explanation. What are the physical processes?

Where did the heat go? We know there is a build up of ocean heat prior to El Nino, and a discharge (and sfc T warming) during late stages of El Nino, but is the observing system sufficient to track it? Quite aside from the changes in the ocean, we know there are major changes in the storm tracks and teleconnections with ENSO, and there is a LOT more rain on land during La Nina (more drought in El Nino), so how does the albedo change overall (changes in cloud)?

At the very least the extra rain on land means a lot more heat goes into evaporation rather than raising temperatures, and so that keeps land temps down: and should generate cloud. But the resulting evaporative cooling means the heat goes into atmosphere and should be radiated to space: so we should be able to track it with CERES data. The CERES data are unfortunately wonting and so too are the cloud data.

The ocean data are also lacking although some of that may be related to the ocean current changes and burying heat at depth where it is not picked up. If it is sequestered at depth then it comes back to haunt us later and so we should know about it.

Kevin

It seems to me that Kevin is speculating where the extra heat in the system is going to, for example, into deep parts of the ocean where they don’t have adequate measuring systems in place. It’s apparent that the scientists involved don’t have all the answers (shock-horror!), but are trying to genuinely work this out with the limited information and data they have available.

I suspect that people who persistently peddle such global warming conspiracies are either being deliberately misleading, or are blessed with an IQ that is barely room-temperature.

Geoff Russell writes: Ken Lambert quotes climate scientist Kevin Trenberth asking where the heat went as if this is evidence of ignorance/cover up/scandal/cooling … take your pick.

Trenberth, like anybody who has been paying attention, knows that plenty more heat has been arriving at the planet than leaving. There is hard data from satellites on this. Like a good scientist, he wants to know where it has gone. He doesn’t hide this desire in a leaked email, he published a detailed paper for all to see  in which he asked the same question. He’s not shy or ashamed about it.

After all, he knows where most of the heat has gone.  Some has melted sea ice, some has melted land ice, some has been heating up the ocean. He has accounted for about two thirds of the heat and is looking for the other third.

Given how hard it is to measure these things, Trenberth’s persistence is laudable. Pity the poor sods trudging along with ice drills when it’s 30 below so that they can refine estimates of ice thickness.

Matt Andrews writes: Ken Lambert appears to be suggesting that the following quote from Dr Kevin Trenberth, a leading climate scientist, is some kind of “smoking gun” against global warming:

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

This is a single line cherry-picked from an email which was in turn cherry-picked from a vast number of emails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit in the UK.

Trenberth here is discussing his article about the need for more accurate measurement of the sub-processes that underlie the natural variability within the global climate system.  For instance, the way that heat is transferred between the ocean and the atmosphere is a major element of the “natural variability” in global atmospheric temperature — that’s the jiggling up and down in the temperature graphs that we see superimposed on the long term warming trend.

The big picture — that the globe is warming — is well understood via empirical satellite measurements at the top of the atmosphere and long term ocean heat measurement. The planet has been in energy imbalance since the 1970s: more heat is entering the planet than leaves it.

This is well understood by Trenberth and colleagues; what’s being discussed here is the details of what is happening within that big picture.

Kieren Diment writes: Much as I am loath to contribute to the noise pollution in your letters page, I must respond to Ken Lambert’s wild claims based on overextending Kevin Trenberth’s leaked comment “Saying it is natural variability is not an explanation. What are the physical processes? Where did the heat go?”This is a scientifically important question, caused by our limited understanding of the mathematics of large complex systems.

However, the magnitude of the missing data is very small, and does not contradict the underlying theory of anthropogenic global warming in any way whatsoever.  Ken is repeating this nonsense because it’s the only argument he’s got left, and as it doesn’t really support his conclusion, it’s a very poor argument indeed.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW