Rotary’s membership problem: A framework for analysis



By Tony Thomas, Secretary, RC Central Melbourne-Sunrise and Chris Egger, D9800 Membership Director



Rotary’s continuing good work in the community goes without saying. But internationally and in the Australian region, Rotary as an institution is in worse trouble than most members realize.

This lack of knowledge is because Rotary shrinks from offering publicly any useful time-series data on membership trends – which are adverse in virtually all parameters in the Anglosphere. Rotary is well endowed with data reports and publishing them in management-style format wouldn’t seem difficult. (1)

By contrast, it takes mere minutes to discover rigorous time-series data on key indicators of any government department/body, major charity or public financial corporation. Lions Clubs publish comprehensive data on their membership and trends.

Lions clubs worldwide and in Australia are significantly outperforming Rotary in membership trends. The two groups are of similar size. From mid-2009 to October 2014, Lions worldwide put on 3.5% member growth (Rotary: minus 1.8%) and in Australia, Lions performed relatively even better, losing only 0.5% of members while Rotary Australia lost 9.8%. (See Appendix 1).

If Rotary clubs Australia were better aware of their   serious situation, they may be more open to innovation. Many clubs’ framework and culture are virtually unchanged from 20 years ago – except that the clubs have shrunk and aged.


International Membership

International Rotary membership (1,207,000 as at 30 June 2014) has been static since 1995 (1,207,000) – i.e. 19 years, with membership declines in most developed countries (except for German speaking countries) matched by growth in many developing countries in particular India.



Country data includes:


Members lost, 2003-13

USA 58,481 (-15%)

England 7,743 (-16%)

Japan 23,248 (-21%)

Australia 5,260 (-14%)

Canada 4,167 (-14%).


Members gained, 2003 -13

India 34,068 (38%)

  1. Korea 12,671 (26%)

Germany 11,114 (27%)

Taiwan 7,567 (49%)

Brazil 4,045 (8%).    (2)


In 2011 the RI Board endorsed regional membership growth plans of 3% per annum for fiscal 2012-15. This has been unsuccessful.


Australia /NZ/ S.Pacific

The membership of Zone 7B and 8 (Australasia/S.Pacific) in 2003 was 47,273 and by end-June 2014 was down to 39,413, a fall of 17%. The target for June 2015 is 41,944, which appears a bridge too far as members at Feb 28, 2015 (39,214) were down about 200.

The growth plans for the region will be reviewed later this year in Melbourne, by a team comprising Noel Trevaskis (Zone 8), Jessie Harman (Ballarat), Malcolm Lindquist (Mitcham SA), Philip Archer (Melbourne) and John Prendergast (NZ).

This zone’s members are relatively older than Rotarians generally. At 2012, 83% of zone members were aged 50+, compared with 70% for Rotary worldwide. About 33% were retired, compared with 21% worldwide. There appears a risk of a sharp membership fall in 2022 as a ‘bulge’ of older members passes out of the system.


In Australia Rotary membership in 1992 was 42,559 and seems to have peaked in 1998 when Royce Abbey was world president at over 43,000 members (3). From 1992 to March 2015, membership fell 28% to 30,569 and with club numbers stable, average club size is down from 37.6 members (1992) to 27.

Rotary membership in Australia is about 13 members per 10,000 head of population. This is a far cry from Rotary’s peak in Australia on a per capita basis in the late 1980’s when Australia had around 26 Rotarians per 10,000 head of population.

Zone 8 (Australia/PNG) membership at 2012 was 31,826 and at end-February 2015 had fallen 4% to 30,569.

The shortfall on the 2012-15 member growth plan (3% growth pa) is 11.5%. The planned 34,559 vs actual 30,569 at end-Feb 2015 involve a 3,990 shortfall. (4)

None of the 21 Districts in Australia met growth targets and only one District, at Feb 2015, had improved its membership in 2012-15. That district was D9790 which covers the northern suburbs of greater Melbourne and northeast Victoria, with membership up by 2.0% largely due to the net addition of two clubs.

The budget for the Membership Growth Plan was $US 52,000. This spending doubtless led to a better membership result than would otherwise have occurred.


District 9800 (Part-Melbourne and northwards to Echuca)

For District 9800, member numbers have fallen from 3,133 in 1998 to 2,445 currently, down 22% in 16 years. The best recent year was 2007-08 when a number of large clubs all put on good growth, but this was not sustained. In the past six years the membership fall is 9%. Currently for each club having a good year on membership growth, about two are downsizing. The number of clubs is stable but average club size in the past six years has fallen from 38.3 to 34.4 members.


District 9800

Year        Members        Clubs

2010          2678               70

2011          2591               69

2012          2519               69

2013          2520               71

2014          2441               71

2015^       2445              71

^ At March 12




Rotary in the Anglosphere has been on a long-term decline, despite the best efforts of many Rotarians. This report seeks to provide a framework for analysis. Solutions or adaptation are further issues. One significant question is why Lions are outperforming Rotarians on membership.



(1) RI headquarters obtains comprehensive member data not merely for administrative and billing purposes but for “Tracking membership trends, developing membership characteristics, producing demographic analyses, and supporting membership retention.”

(2) P31.

(3) All data for Australian membership pre-1992 was lost during an RI computer upgrade.

(4) The plan itself, as published, lacked any numerical data or target on membership.


Appendix 1


World Major Service Club Membership trends: Rotary versus Lions

Select Countries & World 30-Jun-09 01-Oct-14    
Member Count Member Count Member Change % Change
Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg


Rotary 67,611 74,120 6,509 9.6%
Lions 65,797 71,378 5,581 8.5%


Rotary 368,145 332,636 -35,509 -9.6%
Lions 371,612 329,523 -42,089 -11.3%
India Rotary 105,661 126,933 21,272 20.1%
Lions 177,754 225,330 47,576 26.8%


Rotary 94,932 88,377 -6,555 -6.9%
Lions 109,274 117,886 8,612 7.9%
Sth Korea


Rotary 61,273 59,692 -1,581 -2.6%
Lions 83,636 78,023 -5,613 -6.7%


Rotary 18,638 31,743 13,105 70.3%
Lions 34,057 43,031 8,974 26.3%


Rotary 33,680 30,392 -3,288 -9.8%
Lions 27,236 27,109 -127 -0.5%


Rotary 130 160 30 23.1%
Lions 2,933 23,562 20,629 703.3%
World Rotary 1,234,527 1,212,436 -22,091 -1.8%
Lions 1,322,683 1,369,608 46,925 3.5%

China’s restriction on Rotary clubs accounts for close to a third of Rotary’s global underperformance versus Lions.

Lions world membership data now includes Lioness and Leo members. At 28 Feb 2015 the total was 1.389m. Rotary worldwide would be almost identical at 1.385m at Feb 28, 2015 if the 165,000 Rotaractors were included.






The Day the Russians Came

Note: I didn’t write this, my tennis partner at the Essendon Retired Men’s Tennis Group wrote it. I discovered  his writings while compiling our tennis group’s quarterly newsletter. Apart from some condensing, my editing was minimal as Leo is a born communicator.

The war was almost over and an anxious Austrian town wondered what the peace would bring. Almost 65 years on, a man who found a new life in Australia recalls a young boy’s delight in joining the victors’ parade

tank smallSoon after I  was born in Vienna in 1934, I was dispatched to the little old town of Allentsteig to be looked after as a ward of the state. My childhood friends would ask, ‘Do you have a father or mother?’ My foster-mother, Frau Edlinger, would say, ‘Oh, we found him  in a basket by the  creek.’

My earliest memory would be the daily walk to the kindergarten. It was at the  lower end of the castle’s defences. Our rooms consisted of solid stone walls with hand-crafted iron doors and bottle glass windows. It used to be the guardhouse to defend the lower parts of the castle wall and was at the end of the longest roofed passage in Lower Austria. We used to sneak along the passage way up the stone steps for a view across the town. If we were caught the penalty was no free lunch the next day.

All this changed quite suddenly as 1938 brought a new regime to our small town. Our country became part of the Thousand Year Reich. The castle became the Germans’ headquarters. A new double-storey building at the other side of town became the new kindergarten — a clinical, tidy, perfect Germanic-replica, something we little Austrian kids did not comprehend. Even the sandpit was perfectly square. The worst possible part was the dismissal of our local teacher, replaced by strange sounding Germans whose accents we Austrians could not understand. We had never heard High German spoken, nor had we been made to line up every morning, march, and salute the flag and the strange new teachers.  ‘Get used to it’ the adults told us, ‘you are all little Germans now and be proud of it’.

Later, we had to join the Jungvolk, the little kids’ version of the Hitler Youth. From the age of ten we  started   training with hand grenades and light machine guns. I was also a choirboy, and between farm work, school, scouts and church, I was run off my  feet.

Late spring is the best time of the year in Lower Austria. By  April, 1945 the last snow had melted and the first  of the early spring flowers were pushing their heads through the soft soil. For we children wars seemed a long way in the distance. That was about to change.

We were situated right on the edge of a huge German Army camp, established at the beginning of the war. To avoid attacks by what were termed the Anglo-American ‘terror bombers’, the Germans built barracks to house thousands of Russian prisoners of war and a contingent of Allied officers. If they bombed us, the logic went, they would be bombing their own.

Towards the end of April,  the whole world seemed to be travelling past my front window: thousands of Russian prisoners being herded west. We ran out to give them water and bread although the German guards scowled.  ‘Let the children be, the war is nearly over!’ an officer shouted.

School had been cancelled some weeks earlier. Lack of firewood to heat the classrooms seemed to be the reason.

The Hungarian soldiers came past a few days later, but we were told by our elders not to race outside. ‘Those Hungarians are not nice people,’ the grown-ups warned, ‘they might take you away’. My friends sniggered behind my foster-mother’s back; she was looking after us that morning. ‘That would be a real adventure,’ Maria said to her cousin Franz. ‘We could write a story when school starts again.’

One day, the rolling thunder of distant cannons and their flashes of light across the clear night sky suddenly stopped and an eerie silence descended over our town. I decided to visit one of my school friends who lived on the outskirts of the city. I had not seen him for some days, as he was not allowed out by his parents who must have thought it was too dangerous. He sure missed a lot of fun.

I decided to take the long way up Hospital Road to avoid the school — maybe some of the teachers were still around — but the whole place seemed to be deserted.Not even dogs turned out to bother me with their barking and carrying on.

As I passed the side entrance of the hospital I heard the rumbling of heavy machinery, what sounded like tractors,  coming down the way from the direction of the cemetery. Looking up the road, it appeared that German tanks were arriving. The front tank had what looked like officers standing near the turret.

In my excitement I decided to do the right thing, just as we had been taught by our teachers: ‘You must salute an officer of the German Reich by raising you right arm and, in a loud and clear voice, say ‘Heil Hitler’. Having suffered beltings before for not raising my arm high enough I thought to do better this time. “HEIL HITLER!” I shouted.

Those Germans turned out to be Russians and, lucky for me, found it amusing. Perhaps I did not look threatening. My heart seemed to stop when a soldier jumped off the tank, picked me up and lifted me on top for a ride into the centre of the city.

Triumphant, I thought an entrance like that would impress all my friends and make me a local hero. But no, that reaction did not materialise, as the news that the Russians were coming had spread ahead of my entrance. Everyone was inside, not daring to show their faces, and all left for me to do was to tell my story of an amazing ride that lasted all of ten glorious minutes.


Leo Marzi, who plays passable doubles with the Essendon Retired Men’ s Tennis Group, and wife Sally at their Warrandyte home.



A Trotskyite on the Wartime Waterfront

Kenneth Gee (left) was a leading light of the Australian bar, but before that he laboured on the docks, an ardent advocate of the worldwide workers’ revolution. Those who have decried Hal G.P. Colebatch’s account of union sabotage will find the jurist’s memoir very hard to dismiss

geeOne waterfront-worker crime in  World War Two not touched upon in Hal G.P. Colebatch’s prize-winning book Australia’s Secret War is the theft of emergency supplies from ships’ lifeboats, mentioned in my recent piece on Colebatch’s book. My source is Comrade Roberts – Recollections of a Trotskyite, by Kenneth Gee QC (Desert Pea Press, 2006). The book is notable for  recording Leon Trotsky’s directive from Mexico to his Australian followers, that female members of the movement “should be rooted on the workshop floor”. Despite his command of five languages, Trotsky was unfamiliar with Australian idiom.

Gee is more au fait with the argot of the workplace, having spent the critical war years 1941-43 under the nom de guerre Comrade Roberts, working as a boilermaker’s laborer on the waterfront while trying to put into practice Trotsky’s blueprint for the overthrow of capitalism. Gee was originally a conveyancing solicitor from a middle-class background, and  later reverted to the law, becoming a Sydney QC. Like numerous other left proletariat (author, Windschuttle et al), he later moved to the right.  He died in 2008.


Gee, a wartime mate of Governor-General John Kerr and (later) Senator Jim McLelland, was also the father of novelist Kate Grenville (The Secret River, 2005) and Stephen Grenville, a deputy governor of the Reserve Bank (1996-01). His other son, Chris, a QC and judge, won prizes for his marmalade at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show.

For those keen to brush aside Colebatch’s accounts of union wartime mayhem as confabulations of rheumy old men,  Gee’s account is a harder nut to crack. Here’s Gee’s introduction:

“I must confess here that as I kept no diary or other record of events and am relying entirely on a distant memory, there will be faults in this narrative, especially of chronology. All I can say is that in this chronicle of steady disillusionment, all the persons portrayed were very real, only a few of the names have been changed, and that all the events recounted actually did occur.”

The incident of theft from a lifeboat (pages 116-17) is written in a curious style. I’ll extract it here, suggesting readers focus on what happened rather than on Gee’s sentiments.

One day Manpower sent a new man down to join the Neilson Bros [ship repair] crew on the  Ville d’Amiens. He was a rat-faced man, unable to meet your eyes when you spoke to him. All of us, including Big Andy, were sitting on the deck during smoko, when we saw that Cyril (and of course no toiler on the waterfront should ever be called Cyril) had climbed to the top of  one of the ship’s lifeboats, had lifted the tarpaulin cover, and was packing his bag with the canned food that might have stood between the crew and starvation as they floated among the debris of their stricken ship.

Now the waterfront was not a cradle for civic virtue or the home of glowing moral standards, and a little larceny, cleansed by the name ‘scrounging’, was de rigueur,  but the unwritten law was clear – a lifeboat’s victuals were sacred, not to be touched by the lightest of fingers.

The rest of us looked on in silent disapproval, each as in High Noon, with a fine reason for not interveningNot so Big Andy. He unwound himself from the deck, took Cyril by the scruff of the neck, and carried him bodily, as you might carry a naughty puppy, to the thirty-foot drop into the ship’s hold, where he was held squealing for mercy. The lesson taught, Andy took Cyril down to the wharf with a boot in his bottom, throwing his bag after him. We never saw Cyril again.” (my emphasis).

Cyril’s brazen  conduct in full view of a deck gang suggests he got away with such thefts previously.   Gee and his mates, despite their ‘silent disapproval’ , were passive.   Big Andy did intervene, effectively. Big Andy, Gee makes clear in various chapters, was tall and strong  and possessed of old-fashioned scruples against thefts from lifeboats, abuse of women, and bullies who attack his mates.

However, Big Andy had no scruples about bludging off the war effort. As Gee says:

“As far as I could tell, Big Andy did no work, although he was a laborer like myself, to one of the fitters. Even Kelso, the ‘pannikin boss’ (under foreman) a bully of massive build, was circumspect about giving orders to Big Andy. Every night, after we’d washed the coal dust out of our throats at the six o’clock swill at the Woolloomooloo pub, Andy would disappear, turning up next day on the ship’s deck, to disappear again that night. He was obviously Doing A Doubler, or Working a Darkie, waterfront jargon for working 24 hours in two separate jobs.  But even an iron man must have some sleep, so Big Andy had invented for himself a hessian bed on the copper piping inside one of the huge idle  boilers of the ship, from which neither Kelso nor his fitter mate – if he had one – made any attempt to dislodge him…” (pages 69-70)

He would

“…lie stretched out like a contented cat on his hessian bed and sleep until some in-dwelling timepiece woke him in time to join us in the Mad House in the Woolloomoloo pub.” (page 88)

When Big Andy was over-sleeping in the boiler, Gee and his mates would run from pub fights.  Wharfies in a fight would use their cargo hooks, “capable of ripping open a human face with one deadly stroke” (page 90). Gee notes, “We were saving face very literally.”

The stokers on the Ville d’Amiens (a 25,000 ton ex-luxury liner) were Senegalese, with the same ethos as the wharf workers. To keep the ship in port, rather than on seas infested with Japanese submarines, they sabotaged whatever tardy repairs the boilermakers had made:

“Every night in our absence they pumped cold water into the boilers, causing them to squirt jets of water into the stokehold like leaking kettles, and undoing our day’s work.” (page 71).

The aversion to work continued several layers above laborer Gee. On his first day, he asked the foreman Joe for a job.   Joe: “If you want a f***ing job, you can git that bar’er there and shift that f***ing shit to the other side of the f***ing yard.” This, says Gee, was long before the coyest of maidens had added the f-word to her lexicon. (page 66)

So Gee barrowed loads of steel offcuts across the yard all day.

“Next day  I went to Joe again to ask for a job. I was just unaccustomed to idleness. Joe could hardly believe the ears supporting his crumpled bowler.

“Christ! You’re the first c*** that’s ever asked for work instead of f***ing dodging it. You can get f***ing barrer and shift all the shit back again.”

Gee continues:

“It was my first experience of wartime cost-plus as an antidote to the bosses’ insolvency. The more the job cost him, the more money he made.” (page 67).

It seems there is another book to be written on war profiteering, this one about Australian businesses.

Gee at one point caused the entire Sydney waterfront to down tools. A boilermaker’s assistant, he had given his aged boilermaker mate, Little Andy, a rest by taking over with an expander tool. This violation of demarcation was discovered by another boilermaker but the pair refused to conform.   The Boilermakers Union was run by a Stalinist called Hughie Grant, and Grant  ordered the entire workforce of boilermakers on the wharf to down tools. “Every ship, dockyard and workshop had ground to a halt.” p108-11. This was after June, 1941, when Hitler invaded Russia, and the Communists were now supporting the war effort. But demarcation disputes trumped solidarity with Moscow.

Because of rivalry between Boilermaker and Ironworker unions, the latter ordered its own shop stewards to enforce a stopwork. The Amalgamated Engineers stopped work to support the boilermakers and the Painters and Dockers stopped work to support the laborers.

“The French officers [of the Ville d’Amiens] wondered what new madness had entered the heads of these wild Australians, on strike while the Emperor Hirohito was breathing down their necks.” (page 111) Not without reason, they regarded the wharf workers  “ as overfed, overpaid, illiterate colonialists, experts in dodging work.” (page 137)

Gee believes the higher echelons of the Communist Party ordered Hughie Grant back into line:

“[The] Hitler-Stalin Pact era of wildcat strikes was over and the Nazi assault on the Soviet was in full force. The most sacred of union rules had to bow before the siege of Moscow and Leningrad. The AIF were no longer five bob a day murderers…” (page 112)

Gee concludes, whimsically,

“So my own strike, my own small contribution to the Terminal Crisis of Capitalism, came and went in two glorious hours.”

For the Trotskyists, including Gee, there was no letup in policy to sabotage the imperialist war effort, or indeed to start a new war within Australia.

“When patriotic illusions were widespread among the workers, our anti-war policy (‘The Workers Have No Fatherland!’, ‘Turn the Imperialist War Into Civil War’) was not easy to implement…” (page 112)

Nor does Gee mince words about Communist tactics for union control:

“The Stalinist Federal Secretary of the Union, Ernie Thornton, famous for his beetling black eyebrows and the smile of a Bengal Tiger, had decided that the (Trotskyite) Balmain Branch, recalcitrant and defiant, should finally be absorbed into the totality of the union – which meant the total control of himself and the Communist Party. By using the discipline of his Stalinist members, and by chicanery, vote-rigging, fraud, stacking meetings with Party men from other unions, by the ‘adjustment’ (the Party’s own cynical word) of branch ballots, in short by every device born of a ruthless mind, all other branches of the union were now within his prehensile grasp.”

His assault on the leading Trotskyites, Comrades Origlass and Short, misfired. The Trots led a strike not against the bosses but against their own union.

Thornton appealed to the federal government of Ben Chifley for action in support of the union against the strikers. He rested his case on support for the war effort, since the ending of the Hitler-Stalin Pact and the Nazi invasion of the USSR  had reversed the Stalinist line on the war overnight. (page 141)

However, the hard-fought case (during which production for the war effort was suspended) went to the courts and then to conciliation, and then to the creation of two Balmain branches of the Ironworkers, one for each faction, “to live in endless disharmony”.

The Ville d’Amiens did not survive at sea despite all this TLC:

In spite of her renovated boilers, she had been the slowest ship in the convoy, and a Jap submarine had brought her down, just as the lion fells the most laggard wildebeest in the herd. (page 138).

On the next ship in, a British freighter suffering torpedo damage, Gee and his pals had been noticed in the morning “having a blow, reading a newspaper in the engine-room” (page 147).  A British officer, with some justice, denounced them as “f***ing Australian bludgers who read newspapers while people were starving in England because ships weren’t moving”.

Gee writes,

“A few days later tugs arrived and towed the old freighter off to Mort’s Dock to have the hole in her side patched up. We never discovered her fate, whether she joined the Ville d’Amiens in the lightless depths of the Coral Sea, or whether she found haven at last in a port in southern England…” (page 148)

Gee’s career at Neilson Bros ended with the sack:

“My mate Andy’s advice had been sound: ‘Get out of all this shit, Ken. Join the Commos and get yourself a job in the union’. It had been time to move on.” (page 159).

Gee became a trade instructor at a Tech for would-be engineering tradesmen. His class of 20 was all there “to escape the clutches of the Army or Manpower”. They included big-bellied Jewish Sam, who owned and ran a pseudo Bunny Club in the city and showed no interest in the course whatsoever. Sam left at the end of the three months of school. “What will you do with all that engineering wisdom?” Gee asked. “Make f***ing bunny tails,” Sam replied (page 150).

Trotskyites can also be  entrepreneurs. There was black-marketeer Comrade Bradley of the Boot Trades Union, who died a millionaire.  He had milk bars on the Manly Corso and Shelley Beach, and he discovered the recipe for US-style thick milkshakes which the GIs doted on. Bradley had ways of acquiring blackmarket petrol, meat, tea and precious milk. He would drive his ute to Camden and return with plentiful milk and cartons of cream, ‘rare as liquid gold’. (page 125)

“Brad’s nights were haunted by a recurring nightmare that some day a posse of horsemen from the Taxation Department would encircle the kiosk, and his tax-free money would be seized, added to consolidated revenue, and lost to Brad forever.” (page 127)

Bradley later bankrolled the Communist Party, bought and wrecked an ocean-going yacht, and died in a crash in his Daimler en route to Queensland.

Trotskyite apparatchiks, full-time plotting a revolution while the Japanese were heading down the Kokoda Track, never seemed to get called up to the Army with ordinary Australians:

Where there was a danger that comrades such as Comrade Origlass or Comrade Barker, too valuable to the [Trotskyist] Party to be lost to the Army, were about to be called up, the Party had an effective antidote. A fellow traveller named Murphy was in uniform, in Army Records, and for a humble pourboire [tip] was prepared to tuck away the file of any chosen comrade to the bottom of the heap, never to rise again.” (page 114)

Gee describes the petty corruption involved in dodging recruitment. Normally the Manpower official, if paid a fiver, would give you a choice of three jobs. ‘It would be a sad day if a citizen in his crucial position was not able to extract a wee share of wartime affluence.” (page 159). But now Gee found that only two jobs were offered, one outback and one in the islands, in expectation of a tenner as remedy. Gee paid the official and got a job in a local hearse factory instead, converted to trailer production. “My mates in the engineering shop were happy enough with good wartime wages and penalty rates. They’d never had it so good,” Gee says. (page 164)

Sacked, Gee returned to the Manpower official with another tenner and got a job in the Commonwealth Aircraft Factory in Lidcombe, which made fourteen-cylinder  radial engines for Beaufort bombers. It was being converted to make ramjets, with the help of  shiploads of state of the art machine tools of exquisite 1/10,000in accuracy.

It was a closed shop with ten unions involved. The management was cracking down on what it considered excessive toilet usage. “Everyone knew that there were men, especially,  who would creep away from their machines to spend half an hour studying the form guide in The Telegraph,” Gee says.

“I had been able to convince the Stalinist shop steward that there was no  connection between the war effort and the truants studying  form in the Commonwealth Aircraft’s too-comfortable toilets.” It was instead a health issue. A union notice went up on the toilets: “All unionists are instructed to ignore any attempt by management to restrict the time in the toilets required by nature. By order, the Combined Union Shop Committee.”

The management responded by announcing a time-and-motion study of the shop.

The truth was that the Americans had provided shiploads of state-of-the-art machines in the hope of putting some life into the Australian war effort, which was flagging since the US navy sank the last Jap aircraft carrier at Midway Island  [June 1942] and Australia was saved. (pages 176-9)

The American experts arrived:

“A con-rod that had needed four operations on three machines could be done with one operation on one machine with a single miraculously accurate template…they themselves, I discovered, were good blokes, never talking politics, but just eager to beat the goddam Japs and end the war and get home to their Mom and their apple pie…”

Gee was so impressed with these Americans that he realized that Trotskyite dogma was nonsense, and began his retreat from revolutionary ardor. He was spurred on by observing the union getting a nice chap Joe sacked because he would not join the union for religious reasons: “Joe and his large family would face joblessness for a long time.” (page 190)

Gee concludes,

“Three years with Leon Davidovich Trotsky had been enough… Time was, in my own Trotskyite days, when the voices of [Communists] Thornton, Healy, Elliott, Sharkey, Miles and the rest, could cause a whole nation to listen in apprehension – when on Moscow’s command an economy could be brought to a halt. But their own false paradise, Stalin’s Soviet Union, was brought down in ignominy by corruption and terror and is ruled now by a larcenous mafia.” (pages 192-5)

The wartime Trotskyite leader Origlass went on to become Mayor of Leichardt, moving from world revolution to kerbing, guttering and rules about dog droppings.

“In his robes of office, in street processions in support of his decisions, Mayor Origlass resembled an oversized naughty boy arrayed in his mother’s floral dressing gown.” (page 199).

Idly googling, I discovered Leichardt boasts an Origlass Park “in recognition of the contribution given by Councillor Nick Origlass to the community over many years. It has a covered playground and open grass area with Drinks Fountain and picnic area.” Origlass’s top-deck colleague, John Royston Wishart, a lawyer, misused clients’ money and did six months at Long Bay, emerging “to become a minor official in the Builders’ Laborers Federation, although he would not have know one end of a wheelbarrow from the other.” (page 200)

Gee returned to law, became a Crown Prosecutor, took silk and rose to the Bench as one of the Queen’s Judges in the District Court of NSW from 1975-85.

Tony Thomas blogs at No B-S Here, I Hope


  1. Patrick McCauley

    astounding … an army of Trots killing us with bludgery from within . Excellent work TT .. Kenneth Gee seems volume 11 of Australia’s Secret War – Hal G.P. Colebatch has found a hole full of dark matter that quite possibly is still with us.. Remember Albert Langer and the Monash Trots who sent money to the Viet Cong? Wonder where David Hicks got his ideas?

  2. en passant

    Many years ago I spent a short time in the car assembly industry and saw demarcation in spades. I really do think Australia needs a manufacturing industry, but there was simply no way it could be done when I attended so many meaningless meetings discussing how many unionists could dance on the head of a pin. I soon realised that I would either go mad or need a lobotomy if I stayed. I found another job and left. The plant closed 5-years later despite government subsidies as the Pavlovian Shop Stewards would rather destroy their livelihood than agree to reason and improved work practices. Workers of Australia! You are getting what you deserve … The same suicidal self destruction happened in the Scottish shipyards where they refused to adopt new methods and quickly ceased to exist. They thought this would bring a socialist Utopia, but all it brought was 20% unemployment and poverty – and mass immigration. Have you noted the dulcet Scottish accent among Australian Unions and in our parliaments?

  3. DRW

    It’s not the workers but trade unionists who are going to get theirs, how many manufacturing plants have been closed by trade union militancy?

‘Australia’s Secret War’ Marches On

All but ignored by reviewers, Hal G.P. Colebatch’s prize-winning account of unionist treachery during the Second World War continues to rack up sales — a triumph for both the author and Quadrant Books, which took up a topic the left would prefer to have remained unexamined

colebatch head smallSo how’s it going with Hal G.P. Colebatch’s book, Australia’s Secret War? Sub-titled “How unionists sabotaged our troops in World War II”, the book gets no marks for political correctness from the left-leaning literary establishment.

They intended to give it the totschweigen treatment (kill by hushing up or ignoring it, as Shelley Gare explained in Quadrant) but word-of-mouth gave the book a life of its own and Prime Minister Abbott was perverse enough to endorse it as joint winner in the history section of last December’s literary awards.

Colebatch has a problem with one foot and wore a medical boot to the prize presentation at the National Gallery, Melbourne. Tony Abbott noticed him having difficulty, took his arm and helped him climb the steps.

Others were less compassionate. One of the losing short-listed authors for the same prize, onetime radio personality, ex-Fairfax columnist and now serial Tweeter Mike Carlton, immediately complained loudly on social media that the award was due to the conservative political bias of judges Gerard Henderson and Peter Coleman. However, other judges on this panel, in particular Ross Fitzgerald and Ann Moyal, are more left-leaning than conservative, yet their decision was unanimous.

The shared prize, worth $40,000 to Colebatch, led to a ramp-up in Christmas sales of his book, a momentum that kept going through to the new year.

colebatch book cover bigAll up, sales from the 2013 first issue to today total more than 10,000 copies, an excellent result for boutique Quadrant Books and its hardback at the upmarket price of $44.95. Assuming Colebatch gets the usual 10% royalty, that’s another $45,000 for him.

The first print run in October, 2013, was 1000 copies but that sold out within weeks. “Since then we’ve ordered five more reprints at 2000 a time,” says Quadrant publisher Keith Windschuttle. “Its 10,000 copies sold is very good going for a book $10 pricier than the normal novel or gift book.”

Of course, such a figure can’t compare with blockbusters like Richard Flanagan’s Narrow Road to the Deep North (130,000-plus), but still looks pretty good compared with, say, Julia Gillard’s memoir My Story (62,000+), John Howard’s The Menzies Era (13,000+) and Bob Carr’s Diary of a Foreign Minister (11,000+).

Colebatch’s book lifted the lid on sordid behaviour of the wartime union movement, especially in the wharf, coal and transport sectors. These key workers treated the war as an opportunity to elevate their pay packets by industrial blackmail, regardless of damage to Australian troops fighting the enemy and the jungles. Additionally, watersiders were prone to plundering our military’s equipment, armaments, food and even presents sent to soldiers by their families.

As Colebatch’s critics have noted, some of his anecdotes from elderly veterans are misconstrued. On the other hand, I have come across documented anecdotes that Colebatch missed. Could one even imagine, for example, an Australian wharfie stealing emergency canned food from a lifeboat?  In his memoir Comrade Roberts (Desert Pea Press, 2006), the late Kenneth Gee QC recalls this wartime incident during his former political life as an organiser for the Trotskyist Communist League. The ship then joined a convoy travelling north and was sunk by a Japanese sub off Gladstone.

Colebatch’s critics also accuse him of cherry-picking his evidence from isolated incidents. Yet for the statistically minded, Colebatch provides tables of Australian working days lost directly to strikes during the war. These figures exclude indirect effects, such as when a metal shop halts work when a coal strike cuts off its coal. In the seven years from 1939 to the end of 1945, working days lost directly by strikes averaged 1.05 million per year.  By comparison, working days lost directly to strikes in the two years to September 2014 averaged only 106,000 a year (ABS data). Australia’s population during the war was 7.2 million. Australia’s population today is 23.5 million.


In other words, during the Second World War, when our population was less than a third of today’s, strikes were ten times more than the current rate. From this simple sum, Colebatch’s overall thesis is proved: Australia’s wartime experience was riddled with strikes and strikers. And as he says, all Australia’s historians to date have tiptoed around this topic.

Let’s move on from history to the recent history of Colebatch’s book. Quadrant’s Keith Windschuttle says Colebatch first approached him with a manuscript in the late 1990s. “I thought the topic was electrifying but the book needed more work. It didn’t have enough corroboration then,” Windschuttle says. “In the subsequent 15 years, Hal put a lot more work into it.

colebatch long“He came back to me with a manuscript in 2012 and it looked much better. He’d had a tough time with rejections from other potential publishers but Quadrant Books is a boutique publisher with a loyal subscriber base who I knew would like it. The topic appealed to people like me, the offspring of fathers who fought in the Second World War and who had heard anecdotes and rumours about the unions in wartime, but never the full story. My own father fought the Japanese in New Guinea, and I remember him being very angry about the unions, which I later thought was simply due to his innate conservatism.

“But my earliest childhood memories during the war and in the early post-war years are of frequent blackouts at home with my mother in the Sydney suburb of Belmore. Neighbours would say, ‘Oh, the workers at Bunnerong power station have gone out again!’ So everyone was aware something serious was going on.

“Many other returned soldiers gave their children fragments of information about union mayhem during the war, but the leftist preferences of the Australian history profession meant none of them ever examined the overall picture.

“Hal has performed an enormous public service by pulling these accounts together. Readers can now discover the terrible conditions that union strikes, delays and pilfering imposed on soldiers in the front line while they risked their lives to protect those at home.

“In my view, it shows that during the war the labour movement was collectively guilty of sedition. Labor Prime Minister Curtin knew this and, in the end, it killed him. Hal’s chapter on Curtin is convincing in showing that the labour movement’s betrayal of its own country broke its leader’s heart. ”

The book has gone virtually unreviewed, although Quadrant sent copies to all the usual media.* Windschuttle puts this down to the fact that, like people in the publishing business, mainstream literary editors tend to have pro-Labor leanings.

However, Windschuttle says publicity in two media outlets brought the book to a mass readership. Columnist Miranda Devine gave it a full-page write-up in the biggest selling newspaper in New South Wales, the Sunday Telegraph, and on Radio 2GB Alan Jones broadcast an interview with the author, giving it another boost.

The book is distributed to bookshops and online purchasers by Quadrant Books itself, out of its office in Balmain. Soon after the initial publicity in November, 2013, Windschuttle says it was fascinating to see the pattern of orders from bookshops, showing how, after the initial publicity, sales were largely driven by word-of-mouth recommendations from readers to friends and relations.

“Sitting in our office and watching orders come in from bookshops,

you’d see a shop in an outer suburb or country town which had never ordered from us before, ask for one or two copies. Then a couple of weeks later, the same shop would order five or six, then another couple of weeks later it would order twenty copies as word spread through the local community.”

Libraries are useful buyers of Australia’s Secret War but nothing exciting. Librarians seem to share the same political prejudices as book publishers and literary editors. A sampling of Victorian library clusters  (i.e. groups typically of three-to-five libraries) found 23 clusters stocking one copy of the book, two stocking two copies, and two stocking none. The biggest stock I could find was at Nedlands, Colebatch’s own suburb, with six copies.

Colebatch remarks that an air force veteran in his 90s dropped by recently and bought eight copies for his friends or their adult children.

“I got my interviews at the last minute from veterans who are now mostly infirm or dead,” Colebatch says.

Asked how he came to write the book, he says:  “As a small boy I sailed from Perth to Sydney with my mother and my grandfather Sir Frank Gibson to a fireman’s convention. We were on the old Kanimbla and on the stern was a circular platform that I guessed was the base for a four-inch gun. Many years later I was talking to a veteran officer from the Kanimbla and he remembered that platform well. He and fellow-officers mounted the gun there themselves, because the wharfies downed tools wanting danger money. That was the first germ of the story, in my mind.

“I began collecting stuff on wartime strikes as a hobby. I was very surprised to discover how widespread this industrial mayhem was. Eventually my mentor Paddy O’Brien in the politics department at the University of Western Australia urged me to do a book on it.

“I began putting ads in newspapers asking for vet’s stories, but insisting that they include their wartime serial numbers as a first check.”

Colebatch is already thinking about follow-up work on the same topic.

“A second edition of this book would include the union activities during the Korean and Vietnam wars. I’ve had some feedback about those from vets but haven’t yet begun advertising for stories. I should get on with that.”

Since the book won the Prime Minister’s prize for Australian history, Colebatch has been at loggerheads with Peter Stanley of the University of New South Wales, the fiercest critic of the book. Stanley said, among other things, that Colebatch had not cross-checked his informants’ stories against union records. Colebatch replies that unions would hardly have recorded that on such-and-such a day, their members pilfered Red Cross and family parcels destined for troops in the islands.

He did   quote a number of memoirs of unionists. And near-contemporary accounts by men like Vice-Admiral Collins, Australia’s highest-ranking naval officer) Jo Gullet, Australia’s most decorated soldier,   Charles Court (“strikes were a constant background to everything we did”) and Sir Bernard Callinan  are unlikely to be a  pack of lies, Colebatch says.

Colebatch’s current project is a biography of Victorian Premier Sir Stanley Argyle, now about half-finished. It will be his fourth biography, after those on his father, Sir Hal Colebatch, briefly a Western Australian Premier, WA mining magnate Claude de Benales, and Liberal MHR Bert Kelly.

He and his collaborator Jessica Fox (a mathematician who checks his science)   also have two full-length science fiction novels accepted by Baen Books in the US – “Time Machine Troopers” and “Counterstrike”. In the field of science fiction, Colebatch is a writer of world stature. All up, he’s written about 25 books, including eight poetry volumes, a dozen fiction and several institutional histories.

The 2015 four-day Perth Writers’ Festival has just finished, with more than 100 sessions. Despite winning the Prime Minister’s prize, Colebatch was not invited to join the 93 writers presenting there, led by the Green’s Bob Brown. In fact, despite his long history as an author, Colebatch never has been invited once to speak at his home-town writers’ festival. The only time the festival invited him to anything was four years ago, to compete with schoolchildren in an essay-writing competition. “I sent back a snooty reply that with my track record, I wasn’t really tempted,” he says.  “The university was embarrassed and promised to invite me to a grander role, but never did.”

* Rod Moran  reviewed the book in The West Australian.


Did Pachauri Grope 97% of Women?

Actually, only five have complained so far, but why not apply warmist statistical methods to allegations of roving hands, lurid texts and an obsession with ‘voluptuous breasts’ that have seen the world’s premier alarmist resign? One possible defence: climate change makes bureaucrats hot to trot

pachuri handsThis is a message allegedly sent in mid-October, 2013, by the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, to a 29-year-old female staffer at his TERI think-tank: “Here I am sitting and chairing an IPCC meeting and surreptitiously sending you messages. I hope that tells you of my feelings for you.”

The IPCC meeting was the 37th Plenary Session, at the Sheraton in the seaside resort of Batumi, Georgia. It was attended by 229 politicians and officials from 92 countries, plus the usual conservation and activist hangers-on and free-loaders. TERI stands for The Energy and Resources Institute, which has 1200 staff.  Pachauri, 74, has been Teri’s Director General  for 34 years, almost since its inception. He has also led the IPCC for 13 years.

The TERI staffer, 43 years his junior, was so much on Pachauri’s  mind  that he allegedly continued to pursue her until she filed a 33-page harassment case last February 13. He resigned abruptly from the IPCC on February 24.

The emissions-reduction campaign sponsored by the IPCC is currently a $US1 billion-a-day exercise. But obviously Pachauri wasn’t taking it all that seriously in the five-day Georgia talk-fest.

After the event, the IPCC put out a press release saying Pachauri “opened the session on Monday morning noting the need to view climate change in the larger context, including its impacts on future generations and the planet, and emphasizing the IPCC’s role in mobilizing the world’s best scientific talent and bringing climate change to the public’s attention. He stressed that the IPCC’s work is more relevant, robust and reliable than ever to policy makers.”

Let’s hope he was fully focused on that stuff, and not on his text blitz to a reluctant “Classical Indian Beauty”.

The IPCC conference went on to ratify two greenhouse gas inventory protocols, and start “initial discussions on mapping the future of the IPCC”. In other words: Don’t laugh, the IPCC is all seriousness.

Pachauri  in his resignation letter brags that he has led the IPCC for 13 years, almost half the IPCC’s life (he began work for the IPCC as a lead author in 1995). He spoke about IPCC workers’ efforts as “a priceless asset which forms the foundation of its unmatched contributions to global society” as the IPCC “always scaled new heights of excellence”. He says, “It was a blessing and a rare moment of glory for the scientific community and me when I received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC in 2007.” He’d really meant to quit  after the Fifth IPCC  synthesis report was published in late 2014, “but close friends and colleagues advised me against that action…For me, the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma.”

He went on that for reasons not stated, he can no longer give the IPCC his full attention and hence would resign on February 24: “The greatest joy of working as an elected official of the IPCC lies in not receiving any monetary compensation in return, which elevates this mission to a level of sublime satisfaction.”

There is no recognition in this letter of his numerous gaffes such as blasting an Indian glaciologist, Vijay Raina, as a “voodoo” scientist for correctly noting the IPCC’s 2007 melting-Himalaya-glaciers howler; he concedes that he is motivated by religion rather than science; and his humble-brag about working without pay is ridiculous, given the perks and global adulation he enjoyed as chairman. That includes at least 23 honorary doctorates (e.g. from UNSW) and honors like “The Green Crusader  Award” (Mumbai); Aztec Eagle (Mexico); White Rose of Finland;  and Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star (Japan).

Pachauri deposed to the courts this month that after being notified of the harassment complaint, he suddenly realised that his social accounts had been hacked and were used to send objectionable matter to his TERI staffer. He had never authored such texts, Pachauri insisted. Indeed, he had filed complaints with police that very same day about the purported hacking. but the staffer was unmoved. Although he had let her know about the hacking, she still planned to go public in the press. “The effect of the publication would be to give success to the conspiracy which is aimed to destroy the reputation, standing, goodwill and repute of the plaintiff (Pachauri),” he deposed. “The plaintiff (Pachauri) is being targeted by various vested interests.”

He also told the courts: “My computer resources including my email ids, mobile phone and WhatsApp messages have been hacked and that unknown cyber criminals have gone ahead and have unauthorisedly accessed my computer resources and communication devices and further committed various criminal activities.”

This led to a press-gagging order, shortly thereafter lifted by the Delhi High Court. Granted bail, the court also barred him from leaving India or entering his office while police investigate the accusations.

Police have been investigating Pachauri under four sections of the Indian Penal Code. These concern sexual assault, harassment, stalking, and criminal intimidation/threats. If convicted, Pachauri could face maximum prison sentences of two, three, or seven years.

On Monday Feb 22, a New Delhi court granted Pachauri protection from arrest until Thursday. Pachauri’s legal team then said Pachauri had been hospitalised with cardiac issues and a urinary tract infection. But neither in statements by the IPCC that week, nor in Pachauri’s  resignation letter   on Tuesday, were health problems mentioned.

Clearly, this  hacking of his email, phone, Whatsapp and social networking accounts must have been an elaborate and sustained activity since September, 2013, but undetected by Pachauri. It would be a world-record hack in variety and form. And yet the hackers could  think of no more damaging work than inventing love-notes to a junior female staffer. It might have been more damaging to have released his entire email output, a la Climategate.

Pachauri’s hacking allegation must also include the forgery of his handwriting since the staffer has turned in such a note to police. And even assuming the hacking and hand-writing forger succeeded, the staffer’s own testimony of Pachauri propositioning and touching her is outside the scope of any hacking.

The woman’s oral testimony to police took more than 90 minutes.

“On many occasions, Dr Pachauri forcibly grabbed my body, hugged me, held my hands, kissed me and touched my body in an inappropriate manner,” the woman’s statement says.

dirty ol' warmist

The woman started work with TERI on September 1 , 2013. Within a week Pachauri was texting her at 9.22pm and she was telling  him to back off.

He then wrote: “I shall try to suppress my human feelings, and live with a sad restraint on my words and actions. “



The alleged texts include:

Sep  17, 2013 – Pachauri:  “I never want to make you uncomfortable even if it requires curbing my own instincts. “

Sep 17 – complainant:  “I can’t and don’t wish to be just a pretty face in your office. That hurts and is a bit demoralizing. I’m much inexperienced and nowhere near where you are. I will never do anything out of line with my conscience or take advantages…”

Oct 1 – Pachauri: “Just to prove to you how much I love you, I shall go on a fast after the cricket match tomorrow. I will break the fast only when you tell me that you believe I love you with sincerity and unfathamable depth.”

Oct 1 – complainant:  “I do believe you and you know it but I felt a little isolated. Please you are not to grab me and/or kiss me.”

10:21 pm  – Pachauri: All right we have our respective perceptions which differ, and we can live with them and also let live. Perhaps some day you would know how sweet and sublime my feelings for you are! I shall not call off my fast till you fully believe that sacred truth.

10:28 pm – Pachauri: All right! I’ve got the message. I wish you would see the difference between something tender and loving and something crass and vulgar. You obviously don’t! So I shall slink away and withdraw! Farewell my sweet [the complainant’s name]. But I insist on the fast just to hear you say that you believe I really love you !

10:35 pm – Pachauri: Besides I want to punish myself for alienating you!

10:36 pm – Pachauri: And losing the most wonderful girl I’ve ever met!



Oct 2 – Pachauri: “I hope you are cool and far from nerve-wrecked.  If it is any comfort at all I want to assure you that I love you in the most sublime, wholesome and genuine way. Never would I do anything to you or for you that you don’t consider supremely beautiful!”

Oct 2 – complainant: “I am a little less nerve-wrecked now and I hope you eat something now. Have a good trip to Poland Dr Pachauri and I’ll see you next week.”



Oct  10 – Pachauri: “Yes, I would love you physically, only because I love you in all the other aspects. I, there,  would find it difficult to touch you except to kiss your hand.”

Oct  10 –  Pachauri: “I find it now very difficult to hug you. What haunts me are your words from the last time that I ‘grabbed’ your body. That would apply to someone who would want to molest you. I loved you in the soul, mind, heart…”


Nov 14 – Pachauri: “You came to me at the loss of your earlier job as a measure of desperation…In the context of your injury, what faith have you shown in me? You have been going to the gym against my explicit advise…[sic] Even you must know that even if I don’t marry you, I am yours for life. “


Nov 24 –  complainant: “If you have the hots for someone you do. It doesn’t mean you love them. Love is different. Sex is…beautiful and enjoyed only when you are with the right person. I can’t love everyone. You have had two one-night stands. I have only gone to bed with whom I have dated, not just had sex with someone I have had one dinner with…”


Sanjeev Sabhlok, an Indian civil servant now working in Melbourne, has blogged,  “It is frightening that a staggering number of men would have deep faith in a woman’s fear of social stigma and hence assume that they won’t make an ordeal like this public … It is true, reporting sexual violence is traumatic, defeating and tiring and it’s a choice that is very tempting to skip…The young TERI research associate has taken a firm step in the right direction.”

Adding to Pachauri’s woes, a second woman and her lawyers told the Calcutta Telegraph on February 22 that Pachauri at TERI had been a serial harasser of women staff with touchings and contacts they considered loaded with sexual innuendos.  There now appears to be five TERI women complaining, two named and three speaking not-for-attribution.

The second woman’s testimony relates to when she worked at TERI in 2005.

Her  complaint appears below:

A sexual harasser then ten years back, a sexual harasser today. He did it to me and others then. He has done it to her and possibly others, now.

His physical advances and sexual innuendoes and acts, often reduced to as “inappropriate behaviour”, have been common knowledge and corridor gossip.

Of the most common and public sight of such behaviour by him that many of us vividly recall was performed on the floor where his office is located and is home to a manicured roof-top garden and badminton court. These evening sessions would often draw to a close with high-tea, and many a times with him lifting a female employee as if they were little girls. Some would run away seeing him approach them. A few coyly obliged. Some cringed, or muttered cuss words under their breath.

Many of us have heard him talk about how he could run, play cricket and score run seven in his ripe age: the sub-textual allusion was his physical strength or, really, virility.

Privately, many of us had undergone one, some or all of this experience/s: telephone calls at personal mobile number during non-office hours and holidays; inquiries about personal life with “boyfriend”, “husband”; invitations for wine and dinners, and hand holding, hugs or kisses. Sometimes, he would call me by a “nickname”, a derivative of my official name.

Once, he called me to his room to discuss some work but picked up a coffee-table book. He thumbed the pages of what was an architectural design catalogue with designs of swimming pools and gardens. I was still waiting for where he was going with it. What followed was startling: he promised to get me a certain Foundation’s pool membership if I would care to join him for swims on the weekends.

I remember suggesting to some colleagues, including the women who comprised the H.R. team, about doing a joint petition, an internal complaint.  Seeing that the women at H.R. were themselves subjected to such harassment did not instill much confidence in the exercise but it would at least go on record….

Having mustered some courage, I complained to the then administrative head, essentially the side-kick to Big Boss. Side-kick refused to believe me, saying that I may have misread his warmth, that such things had never been reported, requested me to end the matter there and started to show me a meditative, self-help magazine that he subscribed to.

Around that time, I gained admission at a university abroad. Since I quit the organisation, I was relieved that this was the end of this ugly episode.

Not quite. When he saw my resignation letter, he threatened: “From the airport to the University you are headed to, I have friends at every step. Let’s see if you manage to leave the country.”

All this happened ten years back. So why am I speaking up now?  I had little courage then, but it feels like I have more now…

Please read this public testimony as my attempt to reach out to you, anonymous complainant, as well as all women who may have at some point or the other been subjected to similar, or less or more harassment by him.

In solidarity.

Another former employee who did not want to be named said that such inappropriate behaviour was commonplace at the office, and the women working in the director-general’s office — mostly researchers, scientists and academics — were referred to as the “fifth-floor girls” by the office grapevine.

At one point of time or another, the employee claimed, these women would get calls on their personal mobile numbers, enquiries on their personal lives, invitations for wine and dinners, handholding and kisses.

All these women, including the complainant, would have a nickname given to them by him — a derivative of their official name, the testimonial claimed.

A sycophantic piece by journalist Gabrielle Walker in Nature in 2007 gave this vignette of  TERI/IPCC leader Pachauri, about how “his staff love him”:

He doesn’t keep his work ethic to himself. Everyone at TERI is expected to show just as much dedication. Arrive even a few minutes late and you are likely to be greeted with a dry “good afternoon”, whether you clocked off at six or at midnight. Do it several days in a row and you will receive an e-mail from the director-general reminding you of the values of hard work and discipline. And his staff love him for it. He was a hero to his employees long before the rest of the world took note. Although he has begged them to call him by his name, he is always “Sir”, even when he’s not in the room.

Nature itself gushed in an editorial:

“It is easy to miss the energy beneath [Pachauri’s] calm assertiveness — an energy that, although now tied firmly to ‘the cause’, surely predates it. Five years ago both his detractors and those supporting him under a misapprehension missed that passion, and the get-things-done focus that it powers.”

Pachauri in 2010 published a novel Return to Almora in which his alter ego, Dr Sanjay Nath, stars as a randy ecologist.

In the   first chapter, an American woman undresses and slips under the sheets: “It’s cold, Sandy. Come and keep me warm…

“She removed her gown, slipped off her nightie and slid under the quilt on his bed… Sanjay put his arms around her and kissed her, first with quick caresses and then the kisses becoming longer and more passionate.

“May slipped his clothes off one by one, removing her lips from his for no more than a second or two.

“Afterwards she held him close. ‘Sandy, I’ve learned something for the first time today. You are absolutely superb after meditation. Why don’t we make love every time immediately after you have meditated?’ ”

Most chapters include a steamy scene: “He removed his clothes and began to feel Sajni’s body, caressing her voluptuous breasts. He felt very excited, but wanted to enjoy exploring her body before he attempted to enter her. But suddenly, it was all over.”

When Sanjay is teaching women yoga, he enjoys “the sensation of gently pushing Susan’s shoulders back a few inches, an action that served to lift her breasts even higher”.

Sanjay and friends queue when young to have sexual encounters with Sajni, an impoverished but willing local: “Sanjay saw a shapely dark-skinned girl lying on Vinay’s bed. He was overcome by a lust that he had never known before … He removed his clothes and began to feel Sajni’s body, caressing her voluptuous breasts.”


Sadly for Sanjay, writes Dr Pachauri, “the excitement got the better of him, before he could even get started”.

A friend of Susan is taken to a motel by Sanjay but only after he has fondled her breasts – “which he just could not let go of” – inadvertently sounding the car horn at the same time.”

In the absence of women, the author has his protagonist masturbating, stealing a red handkerchief from a passenger on a train for the purpose: “He pulled it out gently, imagined Pooja naked and ready by his side, and got busy with his right hand.”


The IPCC is supposed to be the gold standard for the science of saving the planet. Perhaps it’s become more the red-handkerchief standard. #



*  In 1996 in a civil case involving defendant TERI and a contractor seeking damages, Judge K. Ramamoorthy in the Delhi High Court said Pachauri and his two co-directors “have suppressed material facts and they have sworn to false affidavits”. The judge said that since the three were claiming lack of knowledge of a relevant contract, “I am afraid they demonstrate themselves totally unequal to the task entrusted to them.” He continued, “And I am afraid that the affairs and the efficient management of the Centre are not safe in the hands of officers like Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Dr R.K. Pachauri and Mr Dinesh Mehta and they had ignored that the officers have to function as a public functionaries within the parameters of the Constitution.”

Within a year of this judicial accolade, the Asian group in the UN voted Pachauri in to the IPCC as their vice-chair, and in 2002 the corrupt and dictator-led majority of governments in the UN voted him in as IPCC chair.

The Little Paper That Shames the Dailies

Write a letter to The Age or SMH expressing doubt about global-warming theories and your missive will very soon meet the sharp end of an editor’s spike as a matter of editorial policy. In Geelong, by contrast, a free suburban weekly actually believes in free speech and open debate

spikeTo the ranks of the world’s great newspaper editors — Ben “Watergate” Bradlee  of The Washington Post and my late, respected and feared ex-boss Graham Perkin of The Age spring immediately to mind– we must now add Tony Galpin of the Geelong Independent, the local rag delivered free every week to 80,000 residents of Victoria’s second-largest city.

Galpin is not yet a synonym for editorial guts, but he deserves to be. He’s happy to give a fair go in his news and letters pages to both believers in climate change’s imminent global catastrophe and to sceptics. In rejecting demands from a certain Dr Ray Black, a former environmental teacher at Geelong’s Gordon TAFE, that sceptics be banned from the newspaper’s news and letters pages he has set an example that shames his counterparts at The AgeSydney Morning Herald and ABC.

The global controversy over censoring sceptics in the media (which I’ll get to to in due course) has been playing out in miniature in Geelong (pop 200,000). The distinguishing feature is the Independent‘s refusal to buckle under pressure and toe the warmist line by spiking all other views.

Editor Galpin says,

“I publish Dr Ray Black saying that [local sceptic] Alan Barron should be banned from my pages. I have published others who feel sensitive about suppression of free speech.

“I was away and came back to read personal emails asking that I ban sceptics to help save the planet. My job is not to save the planet, it’s to make the Letters page attractive for our readers. The next day was the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, and that confirmed to me that my policy is right.

“I’ve had floods of letters on all sides of this controversy, way too many to publish. Many claims on both sides have not been borne out by the facts. The debate is far from over. If our local sceptics write in with new observations that defy the theory and models, I’m happy to give them a run, and also give a run to those who can refute the sceptics.

“I mix with ordinary people around here, and some of them say that anyone wanting to shut their opponents up must have poor arguments  or are perhaps closet totalitarians.  I have noticed that some of those wanting bans, also make claims about Murdoch plots and Big Oil conspiracies.”

Galpin ran a half-page news piece in his January 23 edition under the headline, “Free speech our burning issue – Local temperatures flare over calls to silence sceptics” accompanied by a heap of pro and con letters to editor.

There has been long-running ferment in Geelong over global warming claims. In early 2013, Black accepted sceptic Barron’s challenge to debate in the Gordon Institute’s auditorium, which was then  booked and the coming encounter advertised. One day before the scheduled event, on May 1, 2014, the Institute withdrew its permission to use the auditorium, giving no reason.

Black told Quadrant Online he imagined the TAFE had decided it was  unwise and/or politically inexpedient to allow the debate. He and Barron attended the auditorium to apologise to the handful of people unaware of the cancellation who showed up, after which everyone moved to the café  and had a discussion there.

Sceptic Barron, a retired tax official, says that Black told him immediately after the venue was withdrawn that Barron had no right to push anti-science views on impressionable students Black was teaching to be environmentally responsible. Black says he has since decided against having any debate because, whereas he would be explaining the  pure and clear science, the other side would be pushing unscientific and organised denialism.

Quadrant Online emailed the Gordon Institute’s CEO, Lisa Line, as follows:

…A day before the debate was to be held, Dr Black says Gordon Institute withdrew permission for the use of the auditorium, forcing cancellation of the debate, and causing some embarrassment all round.

Is it correct that Gordon did that cancellation?

If so, why?

Ms Line’s spokeswoman came back with a reply so ridiculous that I have no option but to paste it here as a case study in gobbledegook:

Dear Tony,
Thank you for your email.

As a leading vocational education and training provider, The Gordon is focused on providing a broad range of positive and engaging learning experiences to its students through industry excursions, scholarships, access to industry experts and use of the latest industry specific equipment and technology.

On occasion, the Institute may host seminars or workshops of interest to our students and also to the general public.  We have a very strong reputation for supporting community initiatives in the Geelong region over many years.  A relevant example is the Climate Reality Project hosted by the Institute as part of a broader Geelong event in 2012.  It was run by a local business peak body in conjunction with other community-based partners.

In relation to your enquiry, the event did not proceed due to timing issues and careful consideration about the allocation of resources during a time of significant change for the Institute and the VET sector as a whole.

Kind regards
Raelene Woods
Marketing Manager

Black says that the body of climate misinformation is originating from Big Oil and Big Coal and the  Heartland Institute in US. To put that claim in perspective, Heartland in 2011 spent about USD1.5m on sceptic advocacy. WWF’s annual revenue, by contrast, is about USD700m a year.Sceptic Barron claims he has not yet received any funding from major oil or coal companies for his global warming sceptic advocacy in Geelong.

Black’s Melbourne University PhD is in biomedical engineering.

Samples of Black’s former teaching style still on-line include his 2010 video case study of an environmentally-conscious student mother who was requiring her two children to have a lights-off Earth Hour every Saturday. In the course of putting her family on a meat-free diet five days a week, she says they gained health and she lost 20kg.

Black said his student’s on-going Earth Hour on Saturdays was her idea, not his.

For the Independent’s story, Black posed for a picture (below) against the seven-metre cliff fronting Western Beach, which he said would be topped by rising seas over time because of climate change. He was drawing a long bow, as the IPCC’s mid-point estimate for sea level rise by 2100 is in the range of 40-to-75 centimetres.

warmist at the drowning cliffs

The Independent quoted Black saying, perversely, that Barron was “hijacking” the public’s “inalienable right to free speech”.

The story then quoted Barron:  “The Bureau of Meteorology homogenises figures, climate modelling all depends on the parameters you use, and data can be manipulated. There’s been no heating in the stratosphere recently and the idea we should panic about CO2 is complete and utter nonsense.”

Black told Quadrant Online,  “Many in Geelong have written to me agreeing that sceptic letters should not be published. Many would have been horrified at the idea  of a campaign via the newspapers to minimise the health risks of smoking. I put climate denial in the same category.  I am from a democratic country and we value free speech, but this denial is orchestrated.”

Dr Black, asked whether non-consensus scientists such as Dr Judith Curry of Alabama University should also have their critical views banned,  said there would always be outliers. “We have them in this country, people well educated and trained and holding chairs in geology, like Robert Carter and Ian Plimer. I am not sure whether to ban them;  I might be interested in what they have to say.”

Asked about the halt to atmospheric warming of between 14 and 18 years, depending on which set of figures you consult, he said the extra heat was going into the oceans and that it was not possible to explain recent global warming except by CO2 increases. “The modelling is in line with the reality,” he insisted.

Quadrant Online referred him to the 5th IPCC report, which said that 111 of 114 “runs” of the climate models had over-estimated actual warming. He replied that this was just hair-splitting as the planet was now holding more heat.

Asked from where he got his quote that 97% of climate scientists backed the consensus, he said, “In a number of surveys.” He seemed not to be specifically aware of the Cook and Nuccitelli paper — now comprehensively  debunked –  which is the latest cock-and-bull study to present the 97% figure, but said that if the activist researchers had arrived at that figure they must be correct. A man of many catastrophic proccupations, Dr Black went on to alert Quadrant Online to numerous other threats to the planet, from deforestation to ocean acidification and the “potential wholesale collapse of the earth’s ecosystem”.

As I remarked earlier, the Geelong censorship fracas is a microcosm of the global fracas, and in this respect The Geelong Independent’s editor’s stand contrasts with that of Sydney Morning Herald Editor-in-Chief Darren Goodsir, who advised in October, 2013, that (reading between the lines) global warming sceptics needn’t bother writing in.  The SMH took its cue and wording from the Los Angeles Times, which presented a sleazy, straw-man argument that only “factually accurate” letters would be published. Therefore, the two papers said, they wouldn’t publish ‘deniers’ who said humans hadn’t caused any climate change.

Well duh — of course humans have caused SOME climate change. The sceptic case, broadly, is that humans have not caused MOST of the past 50 years’ warming (the IPCC assertion) and that forecasts that human-caused warming  will fry the planet by 2100 (as claimed by official climate models) are based on bad science and bad arithmetic.

In case anyone missed the point, the SMH illustrated its bromide with a Photoshopped depiction of a city enveloped by scorched earth in a sea of orange heat, with the, ahem, factually-accurate (sarcasm alert) caption: “Five degrees hotter… our climate in 90 years.”

Fairfax fact-checking doesn’t extend to NASA claims last month that 2014 was the hottest year on record, which even the space agency belatedly admitted was only 38% likely to be correct.

The Los Angeles Times’ bar against sceptics brought other green totalitarians out of the woodwork, via a petition  addressed to newspapers the world over:

“We do not see letters published asserting that we didn’t land on the moon, or that tobacco smoking is not linked to lung cancer. It’s my hope that soon we will no longer see climate denier letters published in newspapers. Thank you so much for your consideration.”

At least a dozen US newspapers followed the lead of the Los Angeles Times (and SMH), to the delight of journalism academia, as expressed by Columbia University’s Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology:

“I think the policy is healthy — if they tailor it properly, that is, if it’s properly discriminating — I think it should actually be emulated by the other papers.”

(editor’s note: To get a glimpse of how they teach journalism at Columbia, read this piece by Liar’s Poker author Michael Lewis, who sat in on classes and left less than impressed. In Australia, a sheepskin from Columbia J-School figures prominently in the CVs of quite a few newsroom stars, which may well explain why circulations are witnessing Himalayan declines.)

Graham Lloyd, The Australian’s environment writer, has the toughest gig in Australian journalism, as he is fearlessly running both sides of the global warming debate. Bravo, Lloyd.

Meanwhile, in the US a new academic study of environment reporters and their methods has found the practice of ignoring sceptics “was largely supported by their managers and editors. In fact, one reporter’s news organization had recently developed an explicit editorial policy discouraging reporters from quoting climate change deniers in environment or science coverage.”

Similarly, the university- and taxpayer-funded Conversation blog, run by ex-Age editor Andrew Jaspan, warned a year ago that sceptics’ input via comments threads will not be published. The rationale was that in discussing policy responses to predictions of catastrophic global warming, comments saying such predictions are exaggerated are “off-topic”. Again, Jaspan’s people use the straw-man term “denial of climate change”, as if sceptics argue that climate has never changed.

The once-respected BBC, in its campaign to keep sceptics off its airwaves, was caught telling lies of a kind shocking even in the ‘climate science’ arena. In 2007 it announced that, as a result of a “high level” seminar with “some of the best scientific experts”, it had decided the weight of evidence justified blocking sceptics from being given an airing on Britain’s national broadcaster. The Beeb also resolved as policy that the green mantra should be washed through all BBC programming, even comedy and drama.

Challenged about who the ‘best scientific experts’ were, the BBC fought for five years in the courts, at vast taxpayer expense, to avoid naming them. Eventually a sceptic discovered their names via a loose web link, and the 28-strong group turned out to hail mainly from Greenpeace and similar activist fronts, with only three scientists present.

The BBC saga continues. Last July, it paired warmist Brian Hoskins with sceptic Nigel Lawson in discussion on man-made warming and recent UK floods. This drew a barrage of warmist complaints that Lawson should not have been heard — gripes the BBC upheld, responding  bizarrely, that “Lord Lawson’s views are not supported by the evidence from computer modeling…” The same month, the BBC sent 200 of its journos to workshops to train them against ‘false balance’ on global warming.

The ABC handles sceptics as one would funnelwebs. When, in 2007, it ran the sceptics’ Great Global Warming Swindle film, it bracketed the documentary with ‘health warnings’ and hostile interviews. As The Age’s reviewer put it, “Rarely, if ever, has a documentary shown on the ABC been surrounded by such an elaborate buffer zone.”

But it was quite OK for Robyn Williams, compere of Radio National’s Science Show, to liken sceptics to paedophiles and crack pushers.

The ABC last year, in response to an edict from Chairman Jim Spigelman, set up an audit panel to review its science (especially climate) coverage, headed by warming catastrophist Fiona Stanley AC and featuring such science experts as retired Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes, who frequently takes umbrage with Quadrant Online and once explained that his disdain for climate scepticism is based on no greater grasp of the subject than  “the climate scientists I know tell me it is drivel“.

There has been no output so far from the Spigelman-appointed panel. Don’t expect much.

Tony Thomas blogs at


  1. Peter OBrien

    Plaudits also to Carmen McIntosh of the Batemans Bay Post, which is a Fairfax publication, and who has also resisted calls from warmists to ban letters from skeptics. She regularly publishes letters from myself and Neville Hughes.

  2. Jody

    I’ve submitted many letters to the editor of SMH and written many times on the “comments section” under articles. Most of these are knocked back – not because they are offensive, but because they do not tow the party line. These people are about as opposed to free speech as it’s possible to be.

    The other day on “The Drum” a News Limited journalist reminded David Marr that Fairfax only pays 16c in the dollar tax because the paper had criticized other organizations for not paying their fair share. Marr shot back, “that’s rich coming from somebody who works for Rupert Murdoch”! It seems readers are all up to their eyeballs in this conspiracy and I feel to see how an accusation can negate the fact that Fairfax pays on 16c in the dollar tax!!! As always, shoot the messenger and shut them down – the conventional Fairfax/Green left response. Well, it’s sheer hypocrisy.

    • Alistair

      The media have generally done a very bad job of explaining even standard IPCC views of the science, let along allowing for criticisms of it. Most people have never heard that CO2 alone would produce only about 1 degree C of warming for a projected doubling. The scary scenarios come from an assumption of positive feedback from increased atmospheric water vapor as a response to modest CO2 warming. This is a quite legitimately questionable assumption.
      If the public broadcaster was doing it’s job, the media generally would have to be abreast of this fact, and it would be common knowledge by now. Questions would then mainly revolve around the evidence for this enhanced warming feedback. Of course, any other aspect of the science should also be discussable. The idea that the science is settled is propaganda.

Warmists Take the Hardest Hits

Anyone can be a prophet of doom: Pick a spot on the globe, any spot, and state with oracular authority that it will suffer most from runaway climate change. Tim Flannery fancied Perth, for example, which has yet to become his predicted ghost town, but he has plenty of company in the dunce’s corner

dunceWhy can’t the global-warming catastrophe industry convince the public that the scare underwriting its meal ticket is real? Even the CSIRO’s  annual survey last year  showed that 53% of Australians reject the official story. And even on the CSIRO’s figures, Aussies rank climate fourteenth out of sixteen concerns overall, and we rate it only seventh out of eight even among environmental concerns. In Britain, more of the same, with a new survey showing those who describe themselves “very concerned” about climate change falling to 18%, down from 44% in 2005.

Partly to blame is that dratted 18-year halt to global warming, even as man-made CO2 continues to pour into the skies. But my theory is that the global warming industry has made itself so ridiculous over the past 30 years, so hyperventilatingly ludicrous, by predicting ever-more-dire catastrophes by the year 20XX.  But then year 20XX   comes and goes and life continues as normal.

Take the The Guardian ‘s corker of a scoop in 2004, when it obtained a secret and suppressed Pentagon report on ‘climate wars’ intended for an unimpressed President George W Bush. As The Guardian breathlessly reported,

“…major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020 [editor: because the Gulf Stream will have stopped flowing]. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

‘Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,’ concludes the Pentagon analysis. ‘Once again, warfare would define human life…’

An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is ‘plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately’, they conclude. As early as next year [2005] widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.”

The report went on to predict “catastrophic” energy shortages by 2020 (current oil price: about US$45 per barrel). The authors in 2004 thought it was possibly too late even then to prevent such disasters.  “It could start tomorrow and we would not know for another five years [2009],’ they said.

Some sane bloggers, e.g. Anthony Watts of WUWT, have always enjoyed compiling amusing lists of dud warming-catastrophe predictions. But a new blog entrant is specialising in the genre and, by sorting and classifying, turns the scare-a-minute soothsaying into spectacular entertainment.

One sub-genre on the site specialises in which particular countries or places have variously been spruiked as most likely to suffer most when Gaia cranks up the thermostat and takes her revenge. Australia, of course, will be hardest hit by climate change.  If you live in Perth, well, Perth will be hardest hit by climate change, perhaps becoming a ghost metropolis, as climate comedian Tim Flannery puts it.

But Australia is not alone. Pick a country, any country, say Malta or Bulgaria, and you’ll be sure someone has claimed the ‘settled science’ is in no doubt that, yes, Malta or Bulgaria will be hardest hit by climate change. Alternatively, if your country is thought to have a chance of surviving climate change, it will become a lifeboat state flooded by teeming millions of climate refugees. For example, see here and here.

So keep a straight face as you read below, courtesy of

Mr Dunlop, who’s now with the Association for the study of Peak Oil and Gas, says Australia will be one of the hardest hit by a rise in global temperatures.”We’re one of the driest continents on the earth and the effects on Australia will be more severe than elsewhere.” – ABC News, May 2013

Australia’s top intelligence agency believes south-east Asia will be the region worst affected by climate change by 2030, with decreased water flows from the Himalayan glaciers triggering a ‘cascade of economic, social and political consequences’. The dire outlook was provided by the deputy director of the Office of National Assessments, Heather Smith, in a confidential discussion on the national security implications of climate change with US embassy officials. — Sydney Morning Herald, Dec 2010

The effects of climate change will impact more severely on the economy of Papua New Guinea than on any other in the Pacific, according to a new report by the Asian Development Bank. –ABC News, Nov 2013

Research reports that Bangladesh is one of the hardest hit nations by the impacts of climate change. — UK website

There seems to be consensus in the developed world that Africa will be the hardest hit or most affected region, due to anthropogenic climate change. – YouLead Collective, a young generation of climate leaders, Nov 2014

Vietnam is likely to be among the countries hardest hit by climate change, mainly through rising sea levels and changes in rainfall and temperatures. – International Food Policy Research Institute, 2010

Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim stated today that “The Small Island Developing States are among the hardest hit by climate change.”  — as reported by the Norwegian media, Nov 2011

Maldives’ economy hardest hit by climate change: Asian Development Bank. The Maldives is the most at-risk country in South Asia from climate change impacts, said the report titled ‘Assessing the costs of climate change and adaptation in South Asia.’ – Minivan News, Aug 2014

According to the latest data modelling, climate change is likely to have the strongest impact on Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden –

Bulgaria, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece are the countries that would be worst affected by global warming, according to a European Union report. The EC Joint Research Commission (JRC) report, released on Wednesday, takes into account four significantly sensitive factors: agriculture, river flooding, coastal systems and tourism. — Sofia News Agency, Nov 2009

The economies of southern Europe and the Mediterranean, including Malta, are forecast to suffer the most adverse effects of climate change, according to a new report drawn up by the European Environment Agency. —, July 2010

Climate change is faster and more severe in the Arctic than in most of the rest of the world. The Arctic is warming at a rate of almost twice the global average —

China’s Poor Farmers Hit Hardest by Climate Change. Declan Conway, a University of East Anglia researcher who has studied climate change’s affect on China’s farmers, told Reuters that people in remote communities in China’s poorer regions are particularly exposed to climate hazards. — Circle Of Blue, Dec 2012

Report: Middle East, African Countries to Be Hardest Hit by Climate Change —, Dec 2012

Googling “hardest hit by climate change” is endless fun. For example, cuddly koalas, those really-cute Clownfish and pretty staghorn corals are all going to be “hardest hit by climate change”. For some reason, redback spiders, warthogs and piranhas never make the cut as top climate-threatened species.

But that’s an article for another day.

Tony Thomas blogs at