Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: November 2012

With the conclusion of the final Question Time for the year we can, in retrospect, see what the Coalition’s strategy was in the endlessly reheated Gillard-AWU scandal (so called).

After three days of monomania from Julie Bishop on whether or not Gillard had corresponded with the WA Commissioner for Corporate Affairs over the bona fides of the magisterially misnamed AWU Workplace Reform Association and three days of Gillard refusing to say one way or another if she had or had not, hard proof emerged on the morning of the last day (surprise surprise) that Gillard had indeed made such correspondence. In 1992.

Tony Abbott greeted this news with a statement that it appeared that Gillard had committed a crime and called for a judicial review into the matter, now 21 years past.

Plainly the materialization of documentary proof of Gillard’s correspondence had been pre-arranged beforehand with Nick Styant-Browne of Slater and Gordon and the three days of direct questioning on the point, (u MUTZ tellz us YESS!! ur NOES!! – anno fuling) were arrayed in hope that Gillard would say NO and therefore mislead the parliament. Since Gillard held her nerve and evasively refused to confirm or deny, the Coalition and its ally then settled for a second-best, producing the horror document on the last day (oh look a miracle and in the morning for best all day effect too), speciously claiming it constituted proof of a crime and then calling for a judicial inquiry on the HOL FING.

Now the beauty of a judicial inquiry is that it will drag on for months ideally up until the next election allowing The Australian to every day print ‘forced to deny’ stories beginning ‘Julia Gillard was today again forced to deny criminality in the matter of…’ and every day Tony Abbott could put on his best concern troll face and mourn the passing of decency in government, pledge a return to wholeness and purity etc. etc.

So that was Abbott’s strategy. Hold the documentary proof as an Ace-in-the-hole, spend all week in the muck, try and force Gillard to mislead, then, come what may, call for a judicial inquiry.

In short: try to parlay the innuendo into a year of dirt, Abbott’s natural habitat.

Foiled

The moment when the LNP knew that Gillard would not be suckered into misleading the house came at 2:39 PM on 28 November when Gillard answered the infamous Ventriloquist’s Doll question (watch vid here) uttered by Julie Bishop while Tony Abbott read along to the question from the very same words on a page on the table in front of him.

From Hansard:

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:39):
Madam Speaker, I ask a supplementary question of the Prime Minister. I refer to her answers in this House. Did the Prime Minister write to the WA commissioner for corporate affairs to vouch for the bona fides of the AWU Workplace Reform Association—yes or no?

Ms GILLARD (Lalor—Prime Minister) (14:39):
Given that the Leader of the Opposition read along with every word of that question from the Deputy Leader: get up and ask it yourself, and then I will answer it.

It is apparent that this particular question is the centrepiece and climax of the Coalition’s strategy for the week. Their whole team is hanging on it and their tension is palpable. Why else does Abbott drop his charade of indifference to proceedings and read along to the question ? Why else does Abbott nod meaningfully at Gillard and stare at her when the question is concluded ? And as you listen here from 38:14 – 38:57 notice how Christopher Pyne is unable to contain his frustration at Gillard’s stonewalling shouting out “Joke! You are a joke! You are a joke! How dare you … indistinguishable and ranting on for a bit longer …”

Gillard didn’t mislead. Tony and team had been foiled. They were spewing.

Your Picnic, My Essential Inquiry

Now conservatives are prone to describe legal protections for, let’s say, asylum seekers) as a lawyer’s picnic e.g Boat people win, lawyers celebrate, taxpayers mourn. An Australian Bill Of Rights was also so described by Bronwyn Bishop. Janet Albrechtson said the same about the forthcoming Royal Commission into predation against children.

So I will be interested to see if the Coalition’s proposal for a judicial inquiry into the long-ago rip-offs of the AWU will be similarly derided as a lawyer’s gorge-fest. I somehow think not.

Legal defence of society’s vulnerable: a complete and utter waste of time and money.

A platoon of lawyers trolling through the minituae of a twenty year old Union scandal: Only right and proper.

But There Will Be No Judicial Inquiry

Because Gillard has not broken any law.

Abbott was given 15 minutes under parliamentary privilege to say what laws Gillard had broken. He could not name any.

And the matter occurred 20 years ago. Before Gillard was an MP let alone PM.

So the Coalition will not get their inquiry.

Who Looks Worse ?

In my view Julie Bishop was the biggest loser this week, having to retract her more egregious overstatements about the matter and spending all week on TV (like Pyne and Credlin) looking anxious and frustrated. Simply Bishop was running an unwinnable line. There was no criminality despite Bishops continuous innuendo. Her willingness to dive deep into the muck has left plenty sticking to her and comparatively little to the PM.

Gillard was embarrassed by the proof of her correspondence but made a forceful counter to Abbott to table his worst. And he couldn’t. All he had, too, was innuendo. Most of the week Gillard looked in control of proceedings. Abbott only has perceptions to work with on this issue in the absence of any actual wrong-doing by Gillard and the pictures mostly showed Gillard looking confident and relaxed.

As for Abbott, well his approval is already in the cellar at 27%. That’s the rusted on, who would approve of the Leader of the Liberal Party if it was a can opener wired with a computer chip that simulated human speech. His public esteem cannot get any lower.

Truth

For me, the actual truth of the issue was best summed up by Craig Emerson, Minister For Trade, who told us this week he has not received a question from Julie Bishop his Shadow for more than two years and the Coalition has not asked him a question on Trade or any policy-related matter for more than three years.

Whatever Julie Bishop and the Coalition are actually doing in Parliament its not policy-related. They could be replaced, at much lower cost to the public, by a tape loop reciting the phrase ‘AWU Workplace Reform Association’.

What Motivates Nick Styant-Browne ?

NSB was the Slater & Gordon partner in charge of the conveyancing file associated with the mortgage on the property in Fitzroy partially purchased with funds from the AWUWRA slush fund.

That mortgage forms a centrepiece of the pseudo-scandal fervently wished for by Abbott, Bishop, and The Australian. Gillard has been directly accused by Bishop of facilitating the robbing of companies by the AWUWRA and personally benefiting from the heist. The so-called proof of this is that her name appears on some papers in the 425 page thick conveyancing file.

But Gillard was not in charge of the conveyancing. Styant-Browne was.

I suspect that NSB’s motivation in assisting the Coalition by revealing and providing internal Slater and Gordon documents proving Gillard’s communication with the WA Commissioner for Corporate Affairs is to distance himself from the whole stink try by trying to dump the lot on Gillard. NSB is not happy he provided conveyancing for a property purchased with ill-gotten gains. His preference is that someone else (Gillard) has to eat that particular cold frog. Abbott and the Coalition are only to eager to assist.

Postscript: Two Weeks later

Latest Newspoll 11-Dec-2012 shows a shift to the Coalition. Gotta hand it to Abbott – he does ‘sleaze and smear’ very well. So much for my belief that Gillard had won the week.

Pell On Climate (Part 2, Part 1)

A little while ago I came across the talk given by Cardinal George Pell for the 2011 Global Warming Policy Foundation Annual Lecture. That talk is entitled One Christian Perspective on Climate Change.

Reading the talk I was shocked at how completely Pell is centred within the AGW denialist camp. His talk encompasses all the major memes of AGW denialism: Climategate, research funding gravy train, central government conspiracy with scientific community knowingly complicit, modern temperature increases are being driven by natural processes (not AGW), CO2 is plant food, climate change community is totalitarian and bullying, only computer models, cannot predict climate with certainty, alarmist school cherry-picks time periods, climate models are deficient, medieval warm period was warmer, CO2 precedes temperature increase and does not lag it, percentage of CO2 miniscule, its El Nino stupid, planet is not warming uniformly and AGW an irrational false religion.

Denialist Insider

In fact, reading through the footnotes to Pell’s talk I think there is evidence that Pell is not merely a fan of the denialist movement but an active principal within it along with other Australian and international notaries such as Bob Carter, Ian Plimer, Christopher Monckton and Bill Kininmouth.

A number of footnotes to Pell’s talk contain the notation ‘(typescript)’. ‘Typescript’ is the academically correct way to cite unpublished manuscripts such as typewritten or word processor documents such as might be presented to an academic journal when submitting for consideration for publication.

Here are the typescript citations from Pell’s talk:

Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, “Is CO2 mitigation cost effective?” Lecture to the Prague School of Economics (typescript), May 2011, 17.

Timothy Curtin, “The Garnaut Review’s Omission of Material Facts” (typescript) 2011, 11.

Carter, Climate: The Counter Consensus, 245-46; & Robert M. Carter, “Climate Change in Natural Context” (typescript, n.d.),4-5.

Pell and Monckton BFFles ?

Pell’s citation of drafts and journal manuscripts from the presses of Monckton, Carter et.al. indicates he is privy to denialist literature before publication or that he receives original typescripts post-publication. This is a clear indication that Pell occupies a privileged position within the denialist community.

I speculate that Pell operates in the role of influencer and mouthpiece for the denialist community receiving insider access to denialist articles for the purposes of disseminating such within his Church, political contacts (e.g Tony Abbott) and the general community under cloak of Pell’s ecclesiastical position, which position is assumed by the general community to operate under and provide impartial moral leadership.

Not Impartial

Pell holds himself out to be impartial and unbiased on the issue of AGW but he is not. In fact, as his talk to the Global Warming Policy Foundation makes clear, Pell’s attitude toward AGW is based on his abhorrence of the ‘Deep Greens’ which he considers command the ecological and environmental movements. Pell states plainly that an important part of his motivation in stating his skeptic position on AGW is to counter the influence of Deep Green ideology which Pell sees as anti-human and a false religion, a modern manifestation of Paganism.

As Pell stated in his talk:

Why might a Catholic Bishop Comment ? I first became interested in the question in the 1990s when studying the anti-human claims of the “deep Greens”, so I had long suspected that those predicting dangerous and increasing anthropogenic global warming were overstating their case.

As to Neo-Pagan, in this article in The Catholic World Report, January 2008, Pell ‘indicated his disappointment’ with the way Australians ‘have embraced even the wilder claims about man-made climate change as if they constituted a new religion.’

some of the more hysterical and extreme claims about global warming appear symptomatic of a pagan emptiness, of a Western fear when confronted with the immense and uncontrollable forces of nature … In the past pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions!’

and from his GWPF talk:

A final point to be noted in this struggle to convince public opinion is that the language used by AGW proponents veers towards that of primitive religious controversy. Some of those campaigning to save the planet are not merely zealous but zealots. To the religionless and spiritually rootless, mythology – whether comforting or discomforting – can be magnetically, even pathologically, attractive.

More on Pell and AGW Paganism here

Pell also worries that AGW Paganism is infecting the Catholic priesthood which is the substance behind his comment that ‘I was speaking out […] to provide some balance to ecclesiastical offerings’,
and that the issue of AGW distracts clergy from their proper duty to attend to Christ’s commission to evangelise the world in His name.

In short, Pell’s denialist attitude to AGW science is based on his pre-existing bias to reject Green propositions because of his fear of the ‘Deep Greens’, in particular their position on population control which is in conflict with Catholic teachings on human fertility. He has second-order fears that the Green movement is distracting Catholic clergy from specifically Catholic pastoral care priorities and that the clergy will neglect Christ’s Gospel as a result of over-weighted concern for environmental issues.

The very title of Pell’s talk ‘One Christian Perspective…’ offers a significant clue that Pell’s rejection of AGW follows from his belief that AGW is rooted in a non-Christian or anti-Christian ideology. That’s why Pell adorns his response with the signifier ‘Christian’.

Holy Green Unholy Insanity

Pell’s specific concerns about anti-human deep greens, climate-driven pagan syncretism in Catholicism and distraction from priestly mission are shared by certain other conservative Catholics and are exemplified in this article ‘Holy Green, Unholy Insanity: Religious Leaders Hoodwinked Into Global Warming Hysteria’ linked on the web site of Catholic Apologetics Information n.b. not an official web site of the Catholic Church.

The Crux

Pell does not oppose AGW because of the science. He opposes it because he fears Climate Change policies will includes limits on human fertility and authenticate abortion, such positions undermining the authority of the Catholic Church. On this one must say that some statements from Green organisations and personages are downright frightening. Pell is justified to be concerned about these remarks:

For example, from David Browser, founder of the Sierra Club:

“Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license. All potential parents should be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.”

Pell has been absolutely explicit about his fears concerning the rise of the anti-human Deep Greens.

He strongly criticized the Medical Journal Of Australia for publishing a letter from Obstetrician Dr. Barry Walters, who proposed an annual Carbon tax on families with more than two children.

As the blog Cafe Theology reported, Pell, speaking in Seoul, where he was awarded the Mysterium Vitae Grand Prix award for his outstanding efforts for the pro-life movement, said

this is a striking illustration of where a minority neo-pagan, anti-human mentality, wants to take us.

But no matter crazy some Green person’s ideas might be, or how different they may be to one’s own ideals, this does not justify denying factual science. I will address Pell’s disconnection with AGW science as demonstrated in his GWPF talk in a subsequent post.