Thursday, April 30, 2015
Selective attention to the facts from the Left once again
Another gout of anger just out in the latest edition of Australia's far-Left "New Matilda" webzine. Leftists sure are unhappy people. I'm glad I'm not one of them. There's not much "new" about the webzine that I can see so "Angry Matilda" would be a more fitting name for it.
I rather enjoy reading "New Matilda". It's amusing. In order to give their readers the emotional feed they need, they regularly resort to all sorts of evasions and distortions, if not outright lies. Ask any reader of New Matilda who ended the White Australia policy and he/she will reply like a shot: "Gough Whitlam". It was in fact conservative Prime Minister Harold Holt.
In the screed recycled below they refuse to distinguish between an inadvertent gaffe that was rapidly apologized for and a deliberate and sustained tirade of extreme abuse. Well done!
Regarding the Samantha Armytage matter: I gather that the comment was directed at the problems of fair skin which Armytage shares -- sunburn etc. It's only commenters who saw it as racial. The TV presenter was in fact trying to console the fair girl but did not choose her words with the precision that is required of public figures these days.
We also read: "Mixed race twins Lucy and Maria Aylmer have defended Samantha Armytage's comments about their skin colour on Sunrise last month, which were dubbed 'racist' by some viewers. On Tuesday Lucy, 18, released a statement on Facebook on behalf of her sister and mother, saying, 'we believe she did not meant this as a racial comment and we have taken no personal offence to it (sic)... Lucy and her family believe Armytage's comments were misinterpreted by viewers and what was made as a remark of solidarity has been perceived as racially offensive."
Regarding the Scott McIntyre matter: There is an extensive coverage of the free speech issues involved here but it seems to me that any business is entitled to fire employees who insult its customers -- and in this case the Australian public who pay the broadcaster's bills were very insulted. ANZAC day is Australia's remembrance day for its war dead and is Australia's most solemn day of the year.
Leftists are always trying to disparage ANZAC day but it goes from strength to strength despite them. The anti-Anzac play "The One Day of the Year" by Alan Seymour was written way back in 1958. It was at times set as reading in Australian High Schools -- but with no apparent effect
I note that New Matilda actually has a number of articles on the McIntyre affair. They just can't get enough of that wonderful feeling of being bravely dissident and persecuted. It gives them the feeling that their lives have significance and merit. For more on the psychology of Leftists, see here
White good. Black bad. So says the smiling, congenial host of Channel 7’s Sunrise. And yes, she still has her job.
As most would now know, Scott McIntyre, former journalist for SBS, has been sacrificed to the Gods Of Anzac Myths.
On Saturday, McIntyre, a sports journalist, chose the holiest of Australian days to send a series of tweets opposing war. Some of them were, well, rather brutally honest about his views on the Anzac myth.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull objected, tweeted… and the rest as they say is history. SBS sacked McIntyre immediately, and a media storm has since ensued… most of it attacking McIntyre.
Which begs the question, why does Samantha Armytage, the smiling co-host of Channel 7’s Sunrise program still have her job?
In March this year, Armytage and David Koch (better known as Kochie) were presenting a quirky story about two twins from a mixed race family in England, Lucy and Maria Aylmer.
According to ‘Kochie’, the Alymer twins, due to a “rare genetic quirk” turned out quite different - one of the sisters is “obviously black, the other is white”.
Over to co-host Samantha Armytage, who proceeds to explain why that is a good thing… for one of them.
“Maria has taken after her half Jamaican mum with dark skin and brown eyes and curly dark hair, but Lucy got her dad’s fair skin, good on her, along with straight red hair and blue eyes.”
As she says ‘it’ - replete with a tip of her head and a wink - Kochie turns to Armytage with a look of ‘nervous stunned mullet’. Armytage also appears to have shortly after realized what she’s let slip.
“Now Maria… gulp… Maria….” stumbles Arymtage, with a look on her face that equates to either constipation, or the sudden realization that she’s just ended her career.
Cue the tumbleweeds blowing through the Channel 7 studio. And cue the ensuing media outrage.
Oh wait… no outrage. Guess the rules are different if you only insult black people, and not Anzacs.
So move along people, nothing to see here… unless you want to watch the video repeatedly, and share it. Which we hope you do.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Why The Fate Of The World's Climate Is Largely In Australia's Hands (?)
I fairly regularly read the Australian far-Left publication, "New Matilda". Not being a Leftist, I like to see the opposite point of view. The opposite point of view gives them the horrors, judging by the way they try to suppress it.
The rave excerpted below is one of their latest. Their argument is as usual very long-winded but is nonetheless a brilliant example of Leftist over-simplification. They seem to think that a torrent of words will disguise the shallowness of the thinking. Their argument could be condensed into just one sentence as follows:
"Australian mines supply a significant fraction of the world's coal so Australia should stop doing that to prevent global warming".
That there has been no statistically significant global warming for the last 18 years somehow goes unmentioned. I would be rather surprised if the writer knew what "statistically significant" meant. But you don't need knowledge to be a Warmist. You just have to have faith in your prophets
Be that as it may, what the article overlooks is that Australia is only the world's fourth-largest coal producer, after China, the United States, and India. And there are also in Africa and elsewhere mines from which production could easily be ramped up. And Britain almost floats on coal, though it is rarely mined there these days. And lignite ("brown coal") substitutes readily for thermal coal -- and Germany has masses of that, which it is already making extensive use of. The list of alternatives goes on .... Coal is superabundant. Even such unlikely places as Japan and New Zealand mine some coal. So if Australia impoverished itself by stopping coal exports, other countries would rapidly take up the slack -- meaning that coal usage would continue much as before.
One really does wonder what Thom Mitchell and his American friend use for brains. I suspect they just like sounding dramatic. Leftists are big on ill-founded drama. It seems to give them a desperately-needed feeling of importance
We're told Australia's contribution to global warning is minimal. A report out today proves that's a dangerous lie. Thom Mitchell explains. As American academic Bob Massey put it, “Australia now holds the fate of the world’s climate in its hands”.
In its pursuit of a solution to the ‘budget emergency’ Australia is using up the ‘carbon budget’ at a rate incompatible with the global goal of limiting temperature rises to below two degrees, a Climate Council report out today has demonstrated.
While Australia is under increasing pressure to announce an ambitious target to limit emissions at home, the report makes clear that it is our reliance on fossil fuel exports that is doing the real damage.
By actively seeking to prolong the dying revenue stream, which has buoyed the economy through the past decade, the Australian government is doing massive damage to the remaining ‘carbon budget’.
At a recent talk in Sydney, Massey was blunt. “If your government and mining companies decide to develop all of the coal and gas currently planned, already on the books, our children will be forced to endure a world very different from what we know,” he said.
To avoid such a world, scientists have developed the ‘carbon budget’ which, put simply, is the amount of carbon dioxide humans can emit into the atmosphere before temperature rises reach two degrees above pre-industrial levels.
On that basis, if all of Australia’s coal were burnt, it would use up two thirds of the ‘carbon budget’. Effectively, 90 per cent of the continent’s coal must stay in the ground.
Not all of that coal is technologically and economically viable now, but even if we burnt only the nation’s ‘reserves’, a 19 per cent bite would be taken out of the carbon budget.
If we burnt the total ‘resources’ - coal known to exist but not necessarily recoverable at this point - it would constitute a whopping 67.7 per cent of the carbon budget.
Yet despite the increasingly gloomy outlook for the commodity – the price of which has collapsed by around 60 per cent in the last five years - mining companies continue to explore for it and develop new mines. Australian governments are not only approving them, they’re promoting them.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
The Abbott government has put Australia's renewable energy industry into limbo -- and almost no-one seems to care
Well done! The writer below is a Warmist but his facts are pretty right
18 months after the election of a government supposedly "open for business”, the renewables industry in this country is in ruins.
Investment has fallen off a cliff – down a stunning 90 per cent since early 2013. More than 2000 jobs have disappeared. Almost no new large-scale renewable energy is being built in Australia, so hostile has the environment become. Banco Santander, the world's third-largest clean energy lender, packed up and left in March.
The reason? The government has sabotaged the industry. According to international energy consultants Bloomberg New Energy Finance, "the Australian large-scale clean energy industry has become practically uninvestable due to ongoing uncertainty caused by the government's review of the Renewable Energy Target.”
As we’ve chronicled here at New Matilda, the Renewable Energy Target was once the tripartisan policy of the Coalition, Labor and the Greens. The law, which was passed under the Howard government, mandates that there must be 41,000 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity fed into the grid by 2020.
Before the 2013 election, the Coalition promised many times to keep the RET. "We have no plans to change the renewable energy target,” Tony Abbott said in September 2011. "We will be keeping the renewable energy target,” Environment Minister Greg Hunt said in February 2013. "The Coalition supports the current system, including the 41,000 gigawatt hours target,” Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham said in July 2013.
The promise was broken in early 2014, when the government announced that former Caltex boss, noted climate change denier Dick Warbuton, would head up a review. Surprise, surprise: the review recommended abolishing the RET altogether. Energy Minister Ian Macfarlane then used the report as political cover to attempt to slash the RET, to 26,000 hours.
But the RET is a law which requires amendment, and Macfarlane has been unable to get any cross-bench support for his changes. He instead said he would "negotiate” with Labor over a revised target. After first refusing any kind of compromise, Labor eventually came all the way down to 33,500 hours. Macfarlane is holding out for 32,000. In the meantime, renewables investment tanked, and has never recovered.
You get the impression the Coalition is quite happy that negotiations have stalled. No deal on the RET means the renewables industry stays in limbo, killing investment and destroying the medium-term prospects of the sector. Meanwhile, carbon permit-free coal makes windfall profits. And Macfarlane doesn’t even have to do anything. He can just fiddle while the renewables sector burns.
If this wasn’t the Abbott government, and we weren’t talking about renewable energy, it would be difficult to believe. Imagine a government that set out, quite openly, to destroy an entire sector of business activity, for purely ideological reasons – breaking an iron-clad election promise in the process.
But that’s precisely what’s happened in renewable energy, which depends upon the RET to leverage new investment into the Australian grid. It might be the biggest scandal in economic policy in recent history – and almost no-one seems to care.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Where the right to speak is howled down
By Peter Baldwin, minister for higher education (1990-93) in the Hawke-Keating government
The University of Sydney is one of Australia’s most venerable higher education institutions. It should be a place where controversial issues are debated freely and openly with the contending sides able to present their cases without intimidation and harassment.
It should be governed by an administration that strongly affirms the importance of free debate and acts swiftly and decisively to protect it if it comes under threat. It should definitely not be a place where mob rule is allowed to prevail or where activist groups get to decide which viewpoints can be expressed.
Can that be said of Sydney University today? Based on an experience I had there recently, it would appear not.
On March 11 I attended a public meeting on the campus addressed by Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. His talk was about the ethical dilemmas that faced military forces opposed by non-state groups.
Kemp was in Israel during the Gaza conflict in July-August last year, and he gave the Israel Defence Forces credit for their measures to minimise civilian casualties during their operations. He found it difficult to envisage what more they could have done given the need to counter attacks deliberately launched from within densely populated areas. In saying this, he did not deny there were serious errors and abuses by some IDF forces, including possible war crimes.
This, it seems, is sufficient to make him a pariah to some of Israel’s more extreme critics. Enough of a pariah to warrant silencing him wherever possible; and sad to say, today’s universities are places where this is possible.
Kemp was able to speak unimpeded for about 20 minutes, at which point 15 to 20 people pushed past a security guard and began loudly chanting "Richard Kemp you can’t hide, you support genocide”, led by a young woman with a megaphone set to maximum volume.
Kemp described the experience in these pages on March 17, so I won’t detail it all again. But at one point the lights went out, leaving some — including me — wondering what was to come next. It was a genuinely frightening experience; a systematic, planned attempt to wreck the meeting. The attempt to suppress speakers perceived as pro-Israeli on campus is part of a wider pattern at Australian universities and internationally spearheaded by supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.
The young woman with the megaphone shouting down Kemp went on to defend the speech rights of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an extremist Islamist organisation that gained notoriety last year when its Australian spokesman pointedly and repeatedly refused during an ABC Lateline interview to condemn the tactics used by Islamic State (mass beheadings, crucifixions, selling women into slavery, and so on).
The clueless young woman with the megaphone shouted about Hibz ut-Tahrir’s opposition to US policy, but this group has a few other ideas such as the following reported in The Australian recently: "The top Australian cleric of extremist Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir has ramped up his hate speech in a rant referring to Jews as ‘the most evil creature of Allah’ who have ‘corrupted the world’ and will ‘pay for blood with blood’.”
In the latest tirade to surface, cleric Ismail al-Wahwah — representing an organisation whose stated aim is to take over the world — said recognising Jews constituted the "epitome of evil” because that would "strengthen the cancerous entity”.
The disrupters ludicrously charged Kemp with supporting genocide while they and the rest of the BDS brigade have nothing to say about the open and explicit support of genocide by Hamas, now part of a unity government with Fatah. The Hamas charter adopted in 1988 looks forward (in article seven) to exterminating every last Jew on earth and incorporating "every inch” of Palestine in an Islamic state. Hamas refuses to rescind this foul, evil document despite repeated calls to do so and, on the contrary, relentlessly promotes its genocidal goals in its propaganda and schools.
As someone affiliated with the Labor Left throughout my active political career I find this growing affinity between the far Left and the Islamists one of the strangest and most disconcerting developments of recent times.
The naivety is quite astounding. A quick Google search turned up an article by the megaphone woman on the website of the Trotskyist group Solidarity in which she extols workers’ control in, of all places, post-revolutionary Iran, where all the leftist groups instrumental in overthrowing the shah ruthlessly were crushed by the Khomeneists once they had fulfilled their "useful idiot” role. Some of the people she is defending would gladly stick her head and those of her Marxist colleagues on the end of a pike if they were ever to take over.
Two well-known pro-BDS academics were present: Jake Lynch, director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Centre; and Nick Riemer, a senior lecturer in the English department. Both denied involvement in the disruption but loudly supported it once it began.
How do they justify this stance? They have both gone on the record.
Columnist Gerard Henderson raised the following question with Lynch: "Since you support disrupting the Kemp lecture, do you also think it would be acceptable to disrupt speakers hosted by your centre such as John Pilger and Hanan Ashrawi? If not, how do you justify the double standard?”
Lynch replied: "I would dispute the parallel with John Pilger or Hanan Ashrawi. I have never heard either of them deliver a speech that was disingenuous or deceitful in the way of the remarks by Colonel Kemp.”
Riemer gives a detailed defence of the disruption in a long article in the online journal New Matilda. This piece of casuistic nonsense is worth reading in full as it says volumes about the mentality that defenders of free speech on campus have to contend with these days.
Here is a sample of his "reasoning”: "Many left-wing people, I believe, would defend the proposition that protesters have the right to disrupt any kind of public speaker, but that only disruptions of certain public speakers are right.”
Applied to the present case, this means anyone has the right to disrupt a pro or an anti-IDF speaker, but only interruptions of pro-IDF speakers are actually justified.
In the first paragraph Riemer asserts a general "right to disrupt” any speaker. This cannot be squared with any reasonable understanding of the right to free speech, the whole point and effect of disruption being to prevent the effective exercise of the latter. Bear in mind that we are not talking about the kind of interjection familiar from parliamentary debates but the systematic drowning out of a speaker with a megaphone and sustained chanting. There was specific provision in the meeting format for questions and critique, but the goal of the disrupters was to censor, not challenge, what Kemp had to say.
Note the second paragraph where Riemer, like Lynch, justifies disrupting the expression of one side of the debate. How does he rationalise this? He asserts the rightness of disrupting speech that is "extreme” or "hateful” or, in an Aristotelian touch, "fails to promote human flourishing”.
To label Kemp’s lucid and well-reasoned presentation as hateful or extreme is just bizarre. As for the stuff about failing to promote human flourishing, perhaps Riemer should consider that by turning Gaza into an armed camp, launching thousands of projectiles into Israel and pouring huge amounts of cement provided under aid programs into building a subterranean network of attack tunnels, Hamas and its supporters and apologists are failing to "promote human flourishing”.
Riemer goes on: "As such, his (Kemp’s) speech aims at the dismantling of the very democratic freedoms among Palestinians which commitment to the principle of free speech is supposed to embody.”
What "democratic freedoms” would those be? Is he familiar with the increasingly brutal crackdown on dissenters in the territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority, with dissidents jailed for long periods for "extending the tongue” against the authority? Or the vicious persecution of Christians, most of whom have now fled the territories? Or the far worse situation in Gaza where dissenters can expect a bullet in the head, where the death sentence is prescribed for homosexuality?
The only country in the region where any semblance of democratic freedoms exist is Israel, where the Arab-aligned parties emerged as the third largest force in the recent elections, where people of all faiths — and none — are safe, and where homosexuals can live free from fear.
Tel Aviv was named as the most popular gay tourist destination in the world recently. This was labelled "pinkwashing” by the BDS brigade, just a cunning Israeli plot to disguise their oppression of the Palestinians.
The intellectual arrogance of the campus BDS supporters, articulated by Lynch and Riemer, is quite astounding. No postmodern questioning of objective truth here; not only is the truth "out there” but Lynch and Riemer are in possession of it and are able to distinguish it from lies and deceit. No need to allow people to actually hear the contending cases presented fully and effectively, even in contexts such as the Kemp lecture where they can be challenged. Defend Israel in any respect and you are a warmonger, callously indifferent to the fate of oppressed people. You need to be silenced.
This is a truly sinister development, and one not confined to Australian universities. Jewish students at Sydney University with whom I corresponded report feeling increasingly insecure and fearful on campus. My sense is that increasingly anti-Zionism is a mask for occulted anti-Semitism.
Will the university administration, led by vice-chancellor Michael Spence, act decisively to defend free speech on campus in response to this outrage? Time will tell, but at this stage the portents are not encouraging.
The university has engaged a firm of workplace lawyers to investigate the incident and the responsibility of individual staff and students and consider all "allegations and counter-allegations”. It is profoundly disappointing, however, that so far the vice-chancellor has not gone on the public record to say that what happened was completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in future.
There is absolutely no reason a clear statement of principle could not have been made right away. Does the vice-chancellor really need advice from a firm of workplace lawyers before doing this much? Of course decisions about individual culpability should be handled carefully, with those accused given an opportunity to respond to allegations.
Finally, I note a certain inconsistency in the university’s attention to procedural fairness.
In October last year Barry Spurr, a distinguished academic with a long association with the university, was suspended from his position and barred from the campus within a day following the disclosure of offensive language in some hacked private emails. He was subjected to this terrible public humiliation before being given any opportunity to give his defence that he was speaking in a joking or ironic voice.
No workplace lawyers to consider all sides before taking action in that case.
The common factor in these two incidents was the presence of chanting mobs of demonstrators, in one case silencing someone with whom they disagree, in the other demanding the peremptory sacking of an academic. In one case a panicked rush to action by the vice-chancellor, in the other a drawn-out process with all involved bound by strict confidentiality provisions — a procedural black hole.
It is hard to avoid the depressing conclusion that at Sydney University today mob rule works.