Malaysia, Gillard and Labor’s woes:

Ken Lambert writes: Re. “Asylum seekers … just two long-term options available” (Friday, item 2). Amidst all the clamour about the High Court decision, we have Jenny Norvick proposing that we basically just let in anybody who can self-select and pay a people smuggler for a passage to Australia.

The ordinary citizen knows instinctively that we are being gamed by the smugglers and their clients. Australia is a country that, by and large, follows the rules and procedures set down in its laws. Clients of the smugglers can range from the $50,000 deluxe trip (false passport, papers and all the bling you can carry) to the $7000 steerage trip where the client arrives with no papers and is well coached to know that “processing” will generally result in the Australian authorities having to accept the seeker’s story simply because it is impossible to check an identity from war ravaged places like Iraq, Afghanistan or Sri Lanka.  The smugglers know that we are constrained by the predictable rules and can game us accordingly.

There is a solution — a morally defensible one at that. Those who have the money to pay people smugglers are automatically deported back to Indonesia on the grounds that refugees in camps around the region (the Burmese in Malaysia, for example) who do not have a razoo are more in need or resettlement and have a moral and legal right to be resettled ahead of a smugglee. Of course David Manne (he of the taxpayer-funded refugee legal service) will object that such deportation breaches the UN convention and Indonesia would not allow them back in any case.

And as for breaking the UN Convention — Australia made its laws to proscribe paying a smuggler and that prima facie any boat originating from Indonesia or other nominated places is a smuggled transit.  If that won’t stand a High Court challenge — then we simply withdraw from the UN Convention and enact our version into law.  This would bring us into line with most of the countries in our region.

David Hardie writes: It is one thing for the Prime Minster to bemoan about how the High Court Ruling was a “missed opportunity” but the missed opportunity may actually be her own.

Considering the moral and ethical concerns of her own party in pursuing a solution to a problem that was at odds with their ideals in favour of a solution that was more appealing to other elements in the Australian population.

This High Court decision actually gives the federal government the opportunity to go back to the people with a response that is legal and consistent with the moral and ethical sentiment of her own party.

Jenny Batesman writes: Re. “Won’t someone think of their honours?! ‘Lashing’ the High Court” (Friday, item 1). Bernard Keane’s article is right. Look at the language used for the prime minister. Lashed out … verbal abuse to the High Court et al. Socio-linguistics would indicate there are s-xist undertones in a vendetta within elements of the fourth estate.

Christine Nixon’s book is a great insight when an orchestrated agenda by the media and their self interest to pursue a prominent woman in power such as herself. Australia was not ready for a woman in a prominent job and we are seeing ramifications of it now.

I wonder if Margaret Thatcher would be called “bossy” in today’s political climate as she was back then or be subjected to the same derogatory vitriol that we are seeing now.

James Burke writes: There’s not a lot to be said about the federal government’s troubles. As a New South Welsher, I am hardened to such tragedies. (Though I am struck that it appears to be an inversion of the UK Labour experience, where the glib, pointless spin zombie was succeeded by the grumpy, unlikeable, egotistical wonk.)

One thing that is clear is that the ALP’s mistakes have been driven primarily by cowardice and an attempt to second-guess criticism by its opponents. In that light we should be heartened by some signs of bravery within federal ALP ranks. The Left faction is calling time on stupid bigot tricks, led in style by the voice of the wahr’kurrs, Doug Cameron. Finally, an ALP Barnaby! (As in: tolerated loose cannon. I won’t draw a direct comparison, since Cameron has a brain in the space where Joyce stores his blanky.)

And Albo’s confrontation of the rabble of feral wackos outside his Marrickville office won him a special place in my heart. If it hadn’t been for the Malayse, this could have been the major political story of the latter half of the week — a Labor MP with brain, guts and spine, standing up to a lynch mob of paranoid freaks trying for an Australian Tea Party.

By the way, has anyone noticed that those dedicated monarchists Abbott and Mirabella have been hanging out an awful lot with the Citizen’s Electoral Councils? And doesn’t said CEC consider Queen Elizabeth to be an evil arch-villain orchestrating the world’s heroin traffic? Has any actual journalist made this connection, or are they too busy trying to come up with puns to match Tony’s latest fishmonger stunt?

Jumps racing:

John Thompson writes: Re. “Why jumps racing keeps hitting hurdle after hurdle” (Friday, item 15). Bill King writes emotionally, but not very logically, about observing a death in a hurdle race. Anyone who has observed a horse death, in any setting, knows how upsetting that can be, but it doesn’t necessarily warrant leaping to the conclusion that jumps racing should be banned.

It’s a shame that almost all the “look at the lovely horsey” brigade don’t think things through. There is no “plan B” from the anti-jumps lobby, they want to ban jumps racing, but they seem to think the now idle horses will just go home and laze around a paddock. All horses, just like all of us, die eventually; however, horses that are too slow for flat racing may well have another career, and several more years of life, if they enjoy jumps racing. I use “enjoy” advisedly; if a horse does not enjoy jumping, you cannot make him into a hurdler or steeplechaser. Further, there are some horses that won’t make it as hurdlers, but have sufficient strength to succeed over steeple jumps.

I’ll declare my interest, I breed and race thoroughbreds. I race/have raced about 40 different horses. Only one of those has raced over jumps — and he didn’t like it, so we stopped. I’m a sook and avoid sending horses to the doggers at all costs. Occasionally, there is no alternative, when there is no one who is able to tend to a particular horse, but I have spent tens of thousands of dollars keeping unproductive, injured horses alive. I object strenuously to those people who suggest we are money hungry and uncaring.

Bill King cried (or was sick) when the horse died; try comforting the strapper or stablehand when their horse (which they may have had to sleep with on occasion) has died, quite often in their arms, after going through a fence or a gate, or taking a fall. Also, time for a bit of honesty from the anti-jumps brigade. Several of them have made it very clear that if they manage to ban jumps racing, they intend to protest against flat racing. I don’t fancy their chances, after all, the government makes a fortune from gambling, but there are many more flat racing horses who die, either in paddock accidents or racing accidents, than jumps racing horses that die.

If the anti-jumps lobby is “successful”, the vast majority of jumps horses will be destroyed, there is just nowhere to engage them productively. Many more horses, over the ensuing years, will go to the doggers many years earlier than currently happens.

In total, hundreds of trainers, jockeys, strappers, stablehands, trackwork riders and other allied workers will lose their full-time or part-time employment. So many more horses dead before their time, so many people leaving the racing industry for an indeterminate future — for what end benefit?

Climate change:

Matt Saxon writes: The horror. Tamas Calderwood (Friday, comments)  is correct, I did make a mistake. However in calling me on it he proceeds to compound all of his own, many, earlier mistakes. You get 1.2C if you sum the periods 1880 to 1975. Clearly that is not the past 150 years.

Indeed I estimate 1975 to be about 35 years ago. The sum of the entire period is around 1.35C (I thought I was clearly implying that adding trends together was a futile activity in any case, since they are trends not actual numbers, but apparently not), but this is immaterial: His argument is still one of comparing his actual “net warming” number against a summed trend (to 1975! Where, presumably, he is currently located) which is not a valid approach (real numbers to real numbers, trends to trends).

As to his “what I can’t explain” rubbish, that is a straw man argument. No climate scientist has ever claimed that warming occurring before about 1950 could be linked to increased CO2 concentrations since the forcing was indistinguishable from statistical noise. I would therefore ascribe any such trend, as I am sure climate scientists do, to natural variability that does occur, continues to occur and upon which any trend of rising temperatures caused by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations is superimposed. (Declaration of (lack of) qualifications: I am not a climate scientist. I do, however, have a science degree (!) that involved completing units on atmospheric physics, statistics and science of the greenhouse effect as it was then more popularly known.)

Also on a point of order, Mr Chairperson; could Tamas 1) produce or point us to this UAH satellite data he is using so we can all do a “linear regression”. 2) I would appreciate his view of how he thinks the natural greenhouse effect operates.

Peter Fray

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