Brand-New Timeless Traditions

It seems no public event can begin without a Welcome to Country, quite possibly involving an ochre-daubed performer with a smoking bark pot and lots of ethno-gibberish neither star nor audience understand. Let us hope the quest for ‘authenticity’ does not embrace penis-touching and cannibalism

indigenous smokoWelcome to Country and smoking ceremonies involve professional mock-ups of supposed thousand-year Aboriginal traditions. Someone hires a local troupe to dance in body paint and laplaps to didgeridoo and clapstick music. The leader says a few words in the traditional language and self- translates it into New Age platitudes about peace and goodwill. Everyone goes home smug.

Matilda House-Williams, an elder of the Ngambri Clan, went home particularly happy with an undisclosed sum  for a welcome-to-country speech of six minutes for Kevin Rudd at the opening of the 42nd Parliament in 2008.[1]  She was back (as plain Matilda “House”) in 2010 for Gillard’s 43rd Parliament (fee undisclosed), and again for the 44th Parliament, led by Tony Abbott. This time her fee was disclosed: $10,500, for “entertainment services”. With stakes like that, it’s not surprising that the Ngunnawal clan, led by Aunty Agnes Shea , themselves claimed to be Canberra’s traditional owners. Parliament has now squared the circle by naming both clans as owners.[2]

In Melbourne’s inner-city suburb of Abbotsford, the Wurundjeri Tribe Land & Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Inc.   quotes (below) $570  for a Welcome to Country (Community not for profit clients, $470); $300 for a Smoking /Cleansing Ceremony ($300); $820 for a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony ($720); $1700 for Jindyworabak Dancers ($1700) and $250 for didgeridoo player ($250). Travel and parking are included; 10% GST to be added.

welcome rates

Sydney’s Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council quotes Welcome to Country speeches at $385-450, with a 20% surcharge after 5pm and weekends.  Dancers, didgeridoo players and smoking-ceremony handlers are not supplied by this council and come at extra expense. The council warns that its three “uncles” providing welcomes “are in high demand”, unsurprising given that welcomes are becoming mandatory.

Even the CSIRO, an organisation nominally pledged to rational inquiry and scientific rigour (OK, there is that climate-change hysteria), has bought in to the ‘welcome’ business, having issued guidelines for pay rates and accommodations when its laboratories need to be cleansed of “evil spirits” by an ochred contractor waving fiery foliage. Exposed and widely ridiculed, those guidelines were quietly removed for the internet. They remain available via Wayback Machine’s web archive, however, and can be read in full here.

The supposedly ancient ‘welcome’ tradition goes back 30-40 years, whereas the House of Commons goes back  nearly 700 years. Indigenous entertainers Ernie Dingo and Richard Whalley, of the Middar Aboriginal Theatre, claim to have invented the “welcome to country” in 1976 because two pairs of Maori visitors from NZ and the Cook Islands wanted an equivalent of their own traditional ceremony before they would dance at the Perth International Arts Festival.[3]  Another version is that activists shrewdly created the ceremony at about the same time to buttress land-rights claims. And Aboriginal Rhoda Roberts, head of indigenous programming at the Sydney Opera House, says the ceremonies were developed in the 1980s by members of the Aboriginal National Theatre Trustwhich she co-founded. Her speaker-for-hire profile claims she personally invented the term “welcome to country” along with the protocols involved.  She would like welcomes to include marking guests with ochre and Aboriginal sweat. Eccch.

Not to be outdone, current ABC chair and then NSW Chief Justice, Jim Spigelman, said in 2011 that he created first official use of the ceremony for the Court’s 175th anniversary in 1999, and that ceremony inspired the NSW Parliament to take it up too. Spigelman, with all respect, erred. Governor-General Sir William Deane did the deed in his annual Vincent Lingiari Lecture in 1996.[4]

Whatever the motives, the welcome meme fitted perfectly into the zeitgeist. Welcomes To and/or Acknowledgements Of Country  are now mandated by Parliaments, governments, departments,  the military, shires, corporates, educators and right-thinking groups all around the country. The mandating is normally done by Labor powerbrokers, while conservatives drag their feet but are too intimidated to resist.

Anthropologists and early settlers failed to record anything much resembling “welcome to country” ceremonies. Bess Price, CLP Aboriginal member of the Northern Territory Parliament and Minister for Community Services, has described “welcomes” as  “not particularly meaningful to traditional people anyway. We don’t do that in communities. It’s just a recent thing. It’s just people who are trying to grapple at something that they believe should be traditional.”

Tony Thomas’s new book of essays, That’s Debatable, will be launched at 6.30pm Thursday, May 19, at Il Gamberos Restaurant, 166 Lygon St, Carlton.
Order your copy here

Anthropologist Ron Brunton found in WA some evidence for permissions being required to enter neighbouring clans’ land (although more honoured in the breach these days) but saw no evidence of any welcome-to-countries  in the state where the ceremonies were (probably) first invented.

Adelaide archival researcher and geologist Alistair Crooks says,

“During years of geological site inspections, I have never seen or heard of a welcome ceremony being performed when entering tribal land (invited), nor have I seen the ceremony performed when transporting Aborigines into or across various tribal boundaries. Nor is any such ceremony described by any of the early explorers or anthropologists that I am aware of.”

Except, of course, the rather simple penis-touching ceremony around Oodnadatta described by Berndt and Berndt and Roheim.[5]

The Berndts recorded,

“When a man with a subincised penis enters a strange camp, he takes up the hand of each local man in turn, pressing his penis flatly on the palm.[6] This gesture, of offering and acceptance in a close physical contact, signifies the establishment of friendly relations, and is associated with the settling of grievances.”[7]

Explorer Edward John Eyre also describes the permissions of one group wanting to enter the land of a neighbouring group for ceremonial reasons, and what the process involved. There didn’t appear to be any “welcome” ceremony.

Crooks says,

“Central to Eyre’s notes is the aboriginal belief that only the old and young can die of natural causes. All adults only die as the result of contact with sickness country, by the action of malignant spirits, or by the intervention of sorcery by neighboring tribes.

Thus when two tribes meet at one tribal boundary, they first settle accounts for all the tribal deaths attributable to sorcery by each tribe since they last met. After a discussion a group of men would be selected out and would allow themselves to be speared by the other tribe. After this settling of accounts, normal relations were established and they could get on with the business.” [8]

One early observer, a certain Mrs Smith, wife of a Mt Gambier missionary, noted that welcomes don’t always end well: “The tribes, like most savage peoples, were in continual dread of each other; and although they occasionally met up on friendly terms to hold a murapena (corroboree), it usually eventuated in a fight, in which one or two were killed and afterwards eaten.”[9]

A typical modern “welcome” was the 2014 ceremonial year-opening for the Australian Command & Staff College in Canberra.  About 170 middle-ranking officers took part, preparatory to a year’s “intensive course which includes strategic policy, leadership and ethics, joint operations, single service studies and capability development components”. Nearly all officers wore ribbons signifying their valor and active service.

The welcome ceremony was by Canberra’s popular Wiradjuri Echoes Dance Troupe (or “troop”, as the ADF  misprinted it). It comprises Wiradjuri man Duncan Smith and his four teenagers, who’ve performed for Denmark’s Prince Frederik and Princess Mary and three of our Prime Ministers. As Duncan explains his career, “Having five kids, it isn’t easy to raise them, I’ll start a business up in culture. But I had no idea about doing it, I sat in business seminar after seminar [laughs]. ‘Yes, I can do this!’ I got the ABN and stuff and started building a business and reputation.”  His much-awarded Echoes are the go-to group for high-level  performances.

Good luck to the  Echoes as a thriving small business catering to whites’ liking for color, movement and exotica. But it was the reverential behaviour of the 170 military officers that intrigued me.  After the dance, Duncan stood on the pathway into the lecture theatre with a bark holder containing smoking gum leaves. Every one of the officers filed past and mimed pushing the smoke into their faces. Their expressions were as solemn as at church-going. Inside,  Ngunnawal elder Aunty Agnes Shea (Matilda House’s rival claimant to Canberra land) presented the commander, Brigadier Peter Gates, with a nicely-painted message stick. Any officer raising an eyebrow at possible inauthenticity, would kiss his/her career goodbye.[10]

Lisa Phelps, head of the ADF’s Directorate of Indigenous Affairs, joined the speakers. Like those responsible for the  national school curriculum, the ADF wants “a cultural awareness piece in every training package continuum that is developed.” The ADF has also committed to more than double its intake of Indigenous recruits, to 2.7% of the force. This quest is seriously chewing up resources that could otherwise be recruiting more successfully elsewhere to help eventually push back ISIS and other bad guys. I sometimes wonder if the ADF has any inclination for combat after all this cultural correctness. See also here.

These days, Indigenous ceremonies are everyone’s feel-good exercise, but not long ago, with Indigenes more stroppy, there were glitches. The greatest was the Pageant of Australian History organized by the National Trust at Old Government House at Parramatta to celebrate the Federation Centenary in 2001.  The audience included the mayor, state and federal parliamentarians, and local Indigenes.

As recounted by anthropologist Kristina Everett, the Trust’s plan was to round up some local Darug to welcome attendees and display pre-contact Australian life.[11]  White actors were lined up to orate as Governor Philip, the MacArthurs, the Macquaries, Marsden, Greenway, the Rum Corps etc. The Indigenes were to do their picturesque things and then conveniently disappear after  dispersal by Red Coats firing muskets.

The Darugs, embittered by failed attempts to establish land-claim title to the end on which Sydney is built,  played along with the script at rehearsals. But for the performance, they dispersed only temporarily at the musket fire and re-instated themselves in the shrubbery, shouting at the Governor Philip actor in their ersatz Darug tongue and then re-emerging, Everett said, “moaning, groaning, clutching their stomachs, their heads, their hearts, and then ‘dying’ on the lawn of Old Government House.”

 “I became increasingly concerned that the theatrical ‘Governor Philip’ would retaliate by calling the Red Coats. ‘Governor Philip’ began to lose his concentration when delivering his speech concerning his mission to establish a new British colony and to treat Aboriginal inhabitants according to British justice and fairness. His words became labored as dancers began to ‘die’ at his feet.”

The audience, both black and white, got queasy, unused to disrespectful interruptions of theatrical performances. Plus it was obvious that the Darug had a  point.

“Stifled giggles, soft murmurs, and puzzled expressions emanated from the audience as many shifted in their seats.  As ‘Governor Philip’ exited back into Old Government House, I, for one, felt relieved when the Darug performers ‘rose from the dead’ and disappeared into the shrubs followed by spirited applause.”

The actor playing Francis Greenway came out on the portico  clad in powdered wig, velvet knickerbockers, ruffled blouse and buckled shoes, and the painted-up Darug in loin-cloths returned in force to writhe, moan and expire once more “on the grass at his feet.” Each time colonial worthies came out for inspired oratory, the Darug repeated their counterpoint.

“The pageant became for me, almost impossible to watch. It was programmed to take only one hour, but seemed interminable. It was clear from the tension, comments and restlessness of other audience members that I was not alone in my distress. One Aboriginal man near me complained to a woman beside him,  ‘Gawd Lornie, I dunno if I can take much more o’ this. It’s embarrassin’.”

The actors playing   founding white mothers and fathers stuttered awkwardly, whether at being interrupted or feeling their roles had been subverted by the bodies littering the lawn.

One of the female dancers later explained to Everett, “Feelin’ uncomfortable in our own country is what bein’ Aboriginal is all about. It don’t do no harm for whitefellas to get a taste o’ it.” She writes:

“’Dead’ bodies remained on the lawn until some National Trust organisers discreetly escorted them out of sight. The audience did not know how to respond. A few people began to applaud but it was not taken up by everybody.  It was not until a ‘thank you and good night’ speech was made by a National Trust representative that the audience broke into applause.”

Everett in her preamble explains that “the Darug” as a group only emerged in the 1980s after genealogical research by a biologist Dr James Kohen identifying 6000 suburbanites as Darug.  The “vast majority” didn’t identify even as Aboriginal before or after Kohen’s research. But between 200 and 300 took up the cause of being Darug and began creating a Darug identity, putting in three unsuccessful land rights claims to Sydney. She wrote, “The process of becoming an Aboriginal community has not, however, been without its share of sweat, blood and tears. Over the last thirty years Darug people have been experimenting with various ideas about how to be Aboriginal.” Over time they convinced themselves:

“It seems that the expressions of group identity they have developed over some decades have now become such values in themselves that they cannot and will not be relinquished. Welcome to country ceremonies are one of these articulations.” (author’s emphasis).

Facets include learning from academics about original Darug ancestors, “to some people actually behaving in ways that they imagine Darug ancestors behaved.” Those facets include forms of ‘primitive’ dancing, ceremonies and speaking a claimed version of Darug language.

One group leaned towards the academic knowledge, the other group towards “more cultural and behavioral forms of expression”, causing the original group to split, sometimes with acrimony. Notwithstanding, local councils, governments and schools have fallen over themselves to invite Darugs to give welcome to country ceremonies, even to massively-attended shows like the 2000 Olympics, the 2006 Commonwealth Games torch relay and the 2001 Federation shows, along with numerous minor shows, flag-raisings and conferences. About the only group that does not invite Darugs to do welcome-to-country shows are rival Aborigines.

Everett gets particularly interesting on the re-creation of Aboriginal languages for use at such ceremonies. This is symbolically important in claiming pre-contact ancestry — although, at best, only a few vestiges of the language remain in urban settings. Everett says current Darugs have virtually no knowledge of the old Darug spoken language, other than a few words.

“There is no Darug language community. Nor are there any records in full and very little in part of Darug language…The Darug descendants…use what they insist is a version of Darug language that they have developed with the help of word lists from a white supporter in the early days and then by themselves over the last thirty years to conduct welcome to country ceremonies.”

When they use it, “it is not understood either by the audience or the speakers themselves” – since it is  “a recently invented verbal ritual affirming Darug identity…and is hence more of a dramatic ritual performance than a language”.  Everett cites the following example of Darug “language” as spoken by a senior woman in the 2001 Federation pageant:

Tiati murra Daruga pemel,
Koi murra ya pemel ngalaringi bubbuna.
Ban nye yenma wurra nang.
Ney dice gai dyi ya nangami dyarralang.
Ngalaringi tiati nglararingi gai.
Gu-ya willy angara gu-nu-gal dag u-nu-gal
Da la-loey gnia tarimi gi-mi-gal.
Jam ya tiati nglararingi eorah jumna.
Mittigar gurrung burruk gneene da Daruga pemel.[12]

Make of all that what you will. Everett says this speech was received with great audience enthusiasm, spirited applause, head-nodding and warm smiles at this ‘authentic’ display.

Meanwhile, state education departments are handing authority over Aboriginal teaching and curriculum to local Aboriginal groups. This is seen as being culturally sensitive, but in reality endows the Aboriginal lobby with classroom control. As last year’s Victorian official guideline on the courses puts it, “Any education materials produced must be developed directly by or in partnership with Koorie community representatives — at the local level this work must be in consultation with LAECGs [Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Groups].

As Ronald Berndt noted 30 years ago,  “Aboriginality is sought in an Aboriginal past. Not in the reality of traditional Aboriginal life, contemporary or otherwise, but in their idea of what it was (or is) like…in re-creation of what they think Aboriginal life should be…

“A great deal of interesting myth-making is going on.”[13]

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


[1]  She concluded the speech: “With this renewed hope and our pride, our strength is refreshed. Like our ancestors, we can reach new heights soaring on the wings of the eagles. Thank you very much, and welcome to the land of my ancestors.”

[2] The President now says, “I acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples who are the traditional custodians of the Canberra area and pay respect to the elders, past and present, of all Australia’s Indigenous peoples.”

[3] The Middar Theatre was actually founded in 1978, hence the invention date may be 1978 rather than 1976.

[4] “We acknowledge that we are meeting on country for which they and their forbears have been custodians for many centuries and on which Aboriginal people have performed age-old ceremonies of celebration, initiation and renewal. We acknowledge their living culture and unique role in the life of this region”

[5] The author studied under the Berndts in 1961 at UWA

[6] In the Western Desert a boy becomes a man by having an upper central incisor pounded out of his head with a rock, without anaesthetic, without permission to express pain or terror; by having his foreskin cut off in little pieces with a stone knife and seeing it eaten by certain of his male relatives, and as a climax of agony, by having his penis slit through to the urethra from the scrotum to the meatus, like a hot dog… Professor of Anthropology John Greenway, Down Among the Wild Men. Little, Brown, 1972. p3

[7] Berndt R. and Berndt C., The World of the First Australians. Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra 1999. p176

[8] To be whimsical, such ritual spearings   of white leaders by Aboriginal performers at Welcome ceremonies could lend an authentic touch and generate some literal healing of past wounds.

[9]  Mrs. James Smith, 1880. The Booandik Tribe of South Australia. South Australian Government Printer. 1965 facsimile produced by the SA Libraries Board.

[10] To some extent, the ADF was providing some local culture for the 25 or so foreign officers taking the course, as occurs on a reciprocal basis in defence circles. But the ADF is suffusing this culture through its total systems.

[11] Kristina Everett, Welcome to Country…Not. Oceania, Vol 1/79,  March 2009, pp53-64.

[12] Coincidentally, I assisted noted linguist Dr Carl Georg Von Brandenstein on his work translating Pilbara song-poetry from four dialects (Taruru, by Brandenstein and Thomas, Rigby, 1974). To give the flavor of some authentic Aboriginal language, however remote from NSW,  here’s a sample,  “Air Raid on Broome”, Karierra dialect, by Billy Thomas-Wombi:

palanamu jiaanimalgu wajangaarnu
savan nulikadaer jiaanimalgu
palanamu jiaanimalgu wajangaarnu


They’re coming in from the east
– terrifying!
Seven they are – coming in from the east.
Coming in from the east
– terrifying!
Those chaps with the protruding eyes.

(We’re not sure if “protruding eyes” refers to the pilots’ goggles).


[13] In Johns, G. 2011. Aboriginal Self-Determination, The Whiteman’s Dream. Connor Court Publishing.



  1. Tig

    I would have thought the ADF would be much too practical to be blindsided by Left political correctness and falderal but they seem to be out there leading the way of late.

  2. Richard H

    As potent a sign of how degenerate our governing institutions have become is what how happens in our parliaments.

    Since the seventeenth century, parliaments in the Westminster tradition have refused to allow the Sovereign or the Sovereign’s representative to enter the popularly-elected chamber, such as the House of Representatives. The symbolism is stark: even the most mighty power in the land cannot intrude into the solemn precincts of the people’s representatives.

    Now we have an inversion whereby the location of those solemn precincts is deemed to be the traditional home of some tiny band of painted frauds, and our elected representatives allow themselves to be “welcomed” there.

  3. Geoffrey Luck

    The Darug racket has been shrewdly advanced by picking the soft targets. The official website of Macquarie University, built on what were market gardens as recently as the 1950s, acknowledges that the university is on the land of the Darug people. Not – what was once the land of the Darug people, mind you. In a presentational video featuring one Jacinta Tobin, she adopts an arrogantly proprietorial attitude: “Our family has learnt in this country for forty, fifty thousand years. We ask you to come here and learn again.” Tobin concludes with a song which she has cleverly copyrighted – as if many would want to borrow it. It’s not exactly a “Happy Birthday!” Welcome to country and/or smoking ceremonies are now part of all graduation ceremonies and official conferences on the Macquarie campus; the University boasts its own resident “elder”. Uncle Lexodious (Is that poking fun at white man’s law?) Dodd has his own office and telephone (02 9850 8653) and when not welcoming people to his country, “informs our teaching and research practice within the discipline of Indigenous Studies.” In 1974 when the University hosted a high tea for foundation alumni to celebrate its jubilee, Dodd and one of his mates gave not merely a welcome but also a ten minute historical harangue. When I wrote a lettr of protest about this nonsense to the new Vice Chancellor, I received a peremptory rebuke about my cultural insensitivity, with the implication that he would have taken away my MBA if he could have. Sentimentality, guilt and childish fascination with ersatz cultural performances have gripped the nation. Tony has done well to expose what is really a surreptitious part of the campaign to establish a two-nation Australia.

  4. Davidovich

    Given that we are now being forced to accept that white men invaded Australia, it seems incongruous that there would have been any welcome to country ceremonies back then.

  5. Alistair

    Nice article Tony.
    I noticed in your translation in the footnotes “seven they are coming”. This surprised me as I know of no aboriginal language which has a word for a numeral higher than three. The word “seven” though is presumably a translation of that ancient indigenous word “savan”. Perhaps this proves a link between aboriginal languages and proto-indo-european languages. From the time of first settlement they been considered to part of the Caucasian family.

    • padraic

      I just about puke when I am at a function where this patronising “Welcome to Country” is trotted out. To me it is saying we native born Australians of the paler variety are not real citizens of our own country. Well, sorry guys. I’ve got news for you.

Genuflecting Before Savagery

The University of NSW demands a keen reverence for the ways and customs of “pre-invasion” Aborigines — an astonishing admonition in the light of current attention to domestic violence. Were those same standards embraced on campus, few female professors, lecturers or students would go unscarred

indigenous woman beatenOK, the University of NSW wants its students to refer to Australia from 1788 as “invaded, occupied and colonized”. Moreover, students should be reverential towards the, er, invadees. For example, “the word ‘Elders’ should be written with a capital letter as a mark of respect.”

These Elders, say the guidelines, are “men and women in Aboriginal communities who are respected for their wisdom and knowledge of their culture, particularly the Law. Male and female Elders, who have higher levels of knowledge, maintain social order according to the Law.” The guidelines note that the “sophistication of Indigenous Australian social organization (is) starting to be more recognized.”

This is all terrific, but I don’t think it quite gets the flavor of pre-contact, and sometimes post-contact, Aboriginal social customs. Helpfully, the earliest white arrivals jotted down their impressions. Sensitive UNSW students and their lecturers, professors, administrators and campus thought-police, may find the rest of my piece upsetting. So I immediately issue them a ‘trigger warning’ and ‘need for safe space’ alert.

Newly-arrived British and French were shocked at the local misogyny they encountered. First Fleeter Watkin Tench noticed a young woman’s head “covered by contusions, and mangled by scars”. She also had a spear wound above the left knee caused by a man who dragged her from her home to rape her. Tench wrote,

They  (Aboriginal women) are in all respects treated with savage barbarity; condemned not only to carry the children, but all other burthens, they meet in return for submission only with blows, kicks and every other mark of brutality.[1]

He also wrote,

When an Indian [sic] is provoked by a woman, he either spears her, or knocks her down on the spot; on this occasion he always strikes on the head, using indiscriminately a hatchet, a club, or any other weapon, which may chance to be in his hand.

Marine Lt. William Collins wrote, “We have seen some of these unfortunate beings with more scars upon their shorn heads, cut in every direction, than could be well distinguished or counted.”

Governor Phillip’s confidant, Bennelong, in 1790 had taken a woman to Port Jackson to kill her because her relatives were his enemies. He gave her two severe wounds on the head and one on the shoulder, saying this was his rightful vengeance.

Tony Thomas’ new book, That’s Debatable: 60 years in print,
can be ordered here

Phillip was appalled that an Eora mother within a few days of delivery had fresh wounds on her head, where her husband had beaten her with wood.

In 1802 an explorer in the Blue Mountains wrote how, for a trivial reason, an Aboriginal called Gogy “took his club and struck his wife’s head such a blow that she fell to the ground unconscious. After dinner…he got infuriated and again struck his wife on the head with his club, and left her on the ground nearly dying.”

In 1825, French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville wrote “young girls are brutally kidnapped from their families, violently dragged to isolated spots and are ravished after being subjected to a good deal of cruelty.”[2]

George Robinson in Tasmania said in the 1830s that men courted their women by stabbing them with sharp sticks and cutting them with knives prior to rape. The men bartered their women to brutal sealers for dogs and food; in one case, such a woman voluntarily went back to the sealers rather than face further tribal violence.[3]

Also in the 1830s, ex-convict Lingard wrote: “I scarcely ever saw a married woman, but she had got six or seven cuts in her head, given by her husband with a tomahawk, several inches in length and very deep.”[4]

Explorer Edward John Eyre, who was very sympathetic towards Aborigines, nevertheless recorded:

Women are often sadly ill-treated by their husbands and friends…they are frequently beaten about the head, with waddies, in the most dreadful manner, or speared in the limbs for the most trivial offences…

…few women will be found, upon examination, to be free from frightful scars upon the head, or the marks of spear wounds about the body. I have seen a young woman, who, from the number of these marks, appeared to have been almost riddled with spear wounds.[5]

Louis Nowra visited outback communities and found them astonishingly brutal: “Some of the women’s faces ended up looking as though an incompetent butcher had conducted plastic surgery with a hammer and saw. The fear in the women’s eyes reminded me of dogs whipped into cringing submission.”[6]

Bashing of women’s heads appears to have been the custom for millennia. Paleopathologist Stephen Webb in 1995 published his analysis of 4500 individuals’ bones from mainland Australia going back 50,000 years. (Priceless bone collections at the time were being officially handed over to Aboriginal communities for re-burial, which stopped follow-up studies).[7] Webb found highly disproportionate rates of injuries and fractures to women’s skulls, with the injuries suggesting deliberate attack and often attacks from behind, perhaps in domestic squabbles. In the tropics, for example, female head-injury frequency was about 20-33%, versus 6.5-26% for males. The most extreme results were on the south coast, from Swanport and Adelaide, with female cranial trauma rates as high as 40-44% — two to four times the rate of male cranial trauma. In desert and South Coast areas, 5-6% of female skulls had three separate head injuries, and 11-12% had two injuries.

Webb could not rule out women-on-women attacks but thought them less probable. The high rate of injuries to female heads was the reverse of results from studies of other peoples. His findings, according to anthropologist Peter Sutton, confirm that serious armed assaults were common in Australia over thousands of years prior to conquest. Settlers reported that sexual violence, including pack rapes and horrific genital wounding, was inflicted in many groups on girls barely out of the toddler stage.

Solicitor/historian Joan Kimm wrote: “The sexual use of young girls by older men, indeed often much older men, was an intrinsic part of Aboriginal culture, a heritage that cannot easily be denied.”[8]

Nowra quotes Walter Roth (1861-1933) a doctor, anthropologist and Chief Protector of Aborigines in Queensland.[9] Roth described at the turn of the 20th century how, when a Pitta-Pitta girl first showed signs of puberty, “several men would drag her into the bush and forcibly enlarge the vaginal orifice by tearing it downwards with the first three fingers wound round and round with opossum string. Other men come forward from all directions, and the struggling victim has to submit in rotation to promiscuous coition with all the ‘bucks’ present.”

Even worse was his description of practices around Glenormiston:

A group of men, with cooperation from old women, ambush a young woman, and pin her so an old man can slit up the shrieking girl’s perineum with a stone knife, followed by sweeping three fingers round the inside of the virginal orifice. She is next compelled to undergo copulation with all the bucks present; again the same night, and a third time, on the following morning.

In Birdsville, a hardwood stick two feet long with a crude life-sized penis carving at the top, was used to tear the hymen and posterior vaginal wall.

In the Tully area, a very young man would give his betrothed to an old man to sleep with her and train her for him. The idea was that the elder would ‘make the little child’s genitalia develop all the more speedily’. There was no restriction on age or social status at which the bride would be delivered up. As Roth observed, ‘It is of no uncommon occurrence to see an individual carrying on his shoulder his little child-wife who is perhaps too tired to toddle any further.

Accounts from the missionary era are daunting. In 1905, the local telegraph operator at Fitzroy River reported that a five-year-old half-caste girl, Polly, “was out with the old woman, Mary Ann, when a bush black took her away for two nights during which time the blacks here said he made use of her. Such actions as that of Polly and the men are very common among the natives.”[10]
Anglican lay missionary Mary Bennett in 1934 testified,

The practice to which I refer is that of intercision of the girls at the age of puberty. The vagina is cut with glass by the old men, and that involves a great deal of suffering…I remember my old Aboriginal nurse speak with horror of the suffering which she had been made to undergo.

A practice as bad as female genital mutilation is still inflicted on hundreds of boys annually – involuntary sub-incision, the slitting open of the urethra.

In contemporary Australia, polygamy and traditions of promised- brides continue in Arnhem Land and other remote areas. Until recently, the judiciary was lenient in such cases involving forced under-age sex. Jarrett writes,

There are Aboriginal men who still claim these modern young girls as their promised possession, and have cars, guns, outstations and kin to help them secure and punish these resistant girls, well away from public purview … A man’s traditional sense of entitlement, and use of violence to enforce it, can still triumph over the emancipation of a young Aboriginal woman’s mind.[11]

In 2004 , at Yarralin near Katherine, a 55-year-old married man physically and sexually assaulted his 14-year-old promised bride for two days even as she pleaded she was too young for sex. In August, 2005, in an under-the-tree session, Justice Brian Martin noted the cultural context and gave the man a one-month suspended sentence. On appeal the sentence was increased to three years and a defence appeal to the High Court was lost. Justice Martin later admitted he had been too lenient.

In 2002, at Maningrida, Jackie Pascoe Jamilmira, a 50-year-old wife killer, had forced sex on a 15-year-old promised bride, for whom he had given presents to the ‘bride’s’ parents. He then fired a shotgun into the air to warn off the girls’ family members. Justice John Gallop of the NT Supreme Court sentenced him to 24 hours jail for unlawful sex, saying the matter should never have come to court. Pascoe, he said, was exercising his conjugal rights in traditional society and the girl ‘knew what was expected of her. It’s surprising to me [that the defendant] was charged at all’.[12]

The North Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service relied on expert anthropological evidence to argue that promised marriages were common and morally correct under Aboriginal law, and supported his application to the High Court. Nowra cites the case of a middle-aged Aboriginal man who anally raped a 14-year-old promised bride, and who was sentenced merely to detention for the duration of the NT court session.[13]

Tribal warfare and paybacks were endemic. In Journey to Horseshoe Bend, anthropologist T.G.H. Strehlow described a black-on-black massacre in 1875 in the Finke River area of Central Australia, triggered by a perceived sacrilege:

The warriors turned their murderous attention to the women and older children and either clubbed or speared them to death. Finally, according to the grim custom of warriors and avengers they broke the limbs of the infants, leaving them to die ‘natural deaths’. The final number of the dead could well have reached the high figure of 80 to 100 men, women and children.[14]

Revenge killings by the victims’ clan involved more than 60 people, with the two exchanges accounting for about 20% of members of the two clans. When Pauline Hanson, then member for Oxley, quoted this account in 1996, an Aboriginal woman elder  (or “Elder” as UNSW would write it) replied, “Mrs Hanson should receive a traditional Urgarapul punishment: having her hands and feet crippled.”

Escaped convict William Buckley, who lived for three decades with tribes around Port Phillip, recounted constant raids, ambushes and small battles, typically involving one to three fatalities. He noted the Watouronga of Geelong in night raids ‘destroyed without mercy men, women and children.’[15]

Historian Geoff Blainey concluded that annual death rates from North-East Arnhem Land and Port Philip, were comparable with countries involved in the two world wars, although Blainey’s estimate could be somewhat on the high side.[16]

Other black-on-black massacres include accounts from anthropologist Bill Stanner of an entire camp massacre, an Aurukun massacre in the early 20th century, Strehlow’s account of the wiping out of the Plenty River local group of Udebatara in Central Australia, and the killing of a large group of men, women and children near Mt Eba, also in Central Australia.

Strehlow’s wife, Kathleen, wrote:

It would be no exaggeration to say that the system worked as one of sheer terror in the days before the white man came. This terror was instilled from earliest childhood and continued unabated through life until the extremity of old age seemed to guarantee some immunity from the attentions of blood avenger or sorcerer alike for wrongs real or imaginary…children were not exempted from capital punishment for persistent offences against the old tribal code.

The Murngin (now Yolngu) in north-east Arnhem Land during 1920s practiced a deadly warfare that placed it among the world’s most lethal societies. The then-rate for homicides of 330 per 100,000 (which author Stephanie Jarrett suggests could be grossly under-estimated) was 15 times the 2006-07 “very remote national Indigenous rate” of 22, and 300 times the 2006-7 national non-Indigenous rate. That Murngin rate was worse than in Mexico’s present Ciudad Juarez drug capital (300 homicides per 100,000), and more than three times worse than the worst national current rate (Honduras).

Aboriginal practices extant during white settlement were not all that worthy of current required genuflection by academia. Nor, of course, did the settlers effect much, or any net improvement, given the fatal diseases they introduced and the  dispossession and cultural collapse they precipitated. What was, was; what happened, happened. There’s no need for UNSW to smother historical realities in a haze of political correctness.

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




[1] Louis Nowra, Bad Dreaming. Pluto Press, North Melbourne, p10

[2] Joan Kimm, A Fatal Conjunction: Two Laws Two Cultures. Sydney, Federation Press, 2004, p76

[3] Op. cit., Nowra p12

[4] Op. cit., Kimm p46

[5]  Stephanie Jarrett, Liberating Aboriginal People from Violence. Connor Court, Ballan, Vic, 2013, p123

[6] Op. cit., Nowra p6

[7] Stephen Webb, Palaeopathology of Aboriginal Australians. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995, p2

[8] Joan Kimm, A Fatal Conjunction. Feeration Press, Leichardt, 2004, p. 64

[9] Op. cit., Nowra p15-16

[10] Keith Windschuttle, The Fabrication of Aboriginal History: The Stolen Generations. Macleay Press, Sydney, 2009, p. 443.

[11] Op. cit., Jarrett, p329

[12] Hannah McGlade, Our Greatest Challenge. Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2012, p.149.

[13] Op.cit., Nowra p7


[15] John Morgan, The Life and Adventures of William Buckley. Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1980 (1852), p189.

[16] Peter Sutton, The Politics of Suffering. Melbourne University Publishing, 2011,



  1. Real Oz

    Some 60 years ago as a young Engineer in Central Queensland I came across a drover’s camp which had quite a few aboriginal stockmen. There were also a few aboriginal women.
    It was lunchtime and I was asked by the lead Dover to have a cuppa with them – which I gladly accepted.
    I noted that the aboriginals had their own fire a distance form that of the “whites”.
    I somewhat gingerly asked why the separation.
    I was told, somewhat abruptly’, that was because the aboriginals wanted it that way apparently because they had their women with them.
    I couldn’t help but notice that the aboriginal men sat around the fire cooking and eating. Behind them were their dogs whom they fed with scraps.Their women were huddled further back from the fire and being completely ignored.
    I was told that when the men were finished they would wander off and the women moved in to eat whatever scraps were left that the dogs didn’t get to first.
    When I remonstrated that we must give them some food my host made it very clear to me to mind my own business.
    While the aboriginal men were great horsemen they were savage and easily stirred to violence he told me and by not getting involved in their way of doing things was the only way to keep the peace.
    He went on to inform me of other niceties of this culture which are (as best remembered) similar to those revealed in the piece above.
    Every time I see an Aboriginal Woman dressed in pearls and twin suit under a becoming possum skin cloak presiding over an important cultural event (eg a smoking ceremony) being reverentially addressed as “Aunty Whatever” I am reminded of those poor females huddled together waiting for the dogs to leave them their lunch and I am filled with disgust at the lies we are being told of the Noble Savage Culture we white (males) destroyed!

  2. ianl

    > Paleopathologist Stephen Webb in 1995 published his analysis of 4500 individuals’ bones from mainland Australia going back 50,000 years. (Priceless bone collections at the time were being officially handed over to Aboriginal communities for re-burial, which stopped follow-up studies)

    Tony Thomas records that almost as an aside. Yet anthropology when properly done uses quite a few hard scientific disciplines – geology, chemistry, physics, survey, pathology, genetics etc etc. The UNSW (a *University*, FFS !!) has decreed such research as “inappropriate”. This literally leaves me speechless.

    The short answer, and probably the only sensible one, is to ignore that little diktat completely. I do hope the UNSW academics responsible for that childish inanity are reading here.

    • ArthurB

      In my research on the nineteenth century history of Western Australia, I have found that the settlers soon came to be familiar with Aboriginal customs, and often wrote about them. As early as the 1840′s there are reports about the tribal elders prostituting their women to the settlers, in exchange for tobacco and food. There was also a custom, possibly unique to WA, known as revenge or payback killings: when a person died, his relatives believed that his death had been caused by evil spirits, and it was necessary to kill someone from another tribe, which in turn led to more payback killings. As one settler said, many more Aborigines were killed by other Aborigines than were ever killed by the whites. I know a number of independent historians who agree with me about the violence of traditional Aboriginal society, but such things are ignored by academic historians or anyone who has a stake in the Aboriginal industry.

    • Lawrie Ayres

      I can’t imagine them reading here; they already know everything so further study is superfluous. Beside there must be a consensus since the modern academic is not equipped to argue another point of view. Thankfully these educated morons will make themselves irrelevant as their disciplines stagnate in ignorance.


    I have read books and biographies on Governor Phillip other early explorers an settlers and quite a fair proportion of them mentioned the barbaric way aboriginal women were treated. As many were written over half a century ago they were done before the political re-writing of history occurred so I suspect that they had no ‘agenda’ and were undoubtedly accurate.

  4. Alistair

    I think it is instructive to read the actual words written by Full-blooded Aborigines who lived through the actual “invasion” experience to get a complete picture of Aboriginal life at that time. Two books come immediately to mind – “I, The Aboriginal” and “Moon and Rainbow”. It is near to criminal that such books are widely ignorred in favour of the invented fantasies of people a generation or two separated from the events. This quote from Waipuldanya in “I, the Aboriginal” describes the fear implicit in all traditional pre-settlement cultures.

    “All aborigines smile and laugh easily. We are a naturally happy people. … While I lived in the camps this seemed natural, but lately I have realized that it is probably a cloak of bravado for the many fears that every aboriginal lives with throughout their lives. From my earliest youth I have been afraid of the Doctor Blackfellows, the Medicine Men who sing their victims by using hyperphysical powers. During my hunting walkabouts I was afraid of the Burgingin, the immensely strong pygmy people who can crush a man’s bones in a bear-hug. They were our bogymen. Their haunting memory has stayed with me always. I have never lost my inherent fear of the spirits of the Malanugga-nugga, the Stone People who lived near the Ruined City in the Arnhem Land escarpment. Even though they are gone, no Alawa tribesman will gladly visit their country today. I am frightened of the Shades of dead men, and the Mulunguwa executioner. I would commit any sin or pay any price not to incur the wrath of my Kangaroo Dreaming (totem). But there is another fear, common to all my tribesmen, a dire physical threat by one man to another, or by woman to woman: ‘I‘ll have your kidney fat.’ “

    • LBLoveday

      Wouldn’t “emancipation” be a more accurate term than “invasion”. I’d be in agreement with Jan 26 being renamed “Emancipation Day”.

    • Ian MacDougall

      I the Aboriginal is the autobiography of Waipuldanya, a full-blood Aboriginal of the Alawa tribe at Roper River in Australia’s Northern Territory, as told to Douglas Lockwood.
      To my knowledge, ‘full-blood’ Aborigines are not usually found south of the Tropic of Capricorn. This, and the attendant genetic changes, can only have come about by the places of young Aboriginal men in the Aboriginal breeding population, being taken by young white men, or by young men of mixed ancestry: one way or another.

  5. Bran Dee

    The Australian writer and Gallipoli veteran Ion Idriess in his many books on the Outback in the early 1900′s mentions in passing, occasionally with photographs, some of these violent and misogynistic aboriginal practices. That he sometimes without criticism used the phrase ‘the worlds last stone age culture’ may be one of the reasons his books were dropped from elitist circles in the 1960′s.

  6. Bill Martin

    Aborigines, men in particular, are a perfect fit with Islam. In fact, they could teach the Muslims a thing or two. After all, they had some 45000 years to “develop and refine their culture” as against the Muslim’s 1400 years. Their treatment of women, compulsive warring between tribes (think Shia/Sunni) and a raft of superstitions are uncannily similar to “Muslim culture”. Who would have thought ….

  7. Nezysquared

    …and one wonders why the terms of reference of the child abuse royal commission were limited to Catholics…. Perhaps Professor Dodson could be persuaded to speak on behalf of Aboriginal Culture and defend this sort of behaviour.

  8. Wayne

    Given that it was inevitable that the Australian continent was going to be colonised by somebodywe can all celebrate invasion day on the basis that it could have been the Portuguese doing the honours rather than the British.

    • Ian MacDougall

      There were at least three waves of Aboriginal arrivals preceding the first Europeans. The first documented arrival was that of Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon, in 1606. Though the British were not here first, they were first to create a settlement. The Aborigines, with their tools and weapons of wood and stone were still in a ‘stone age’, and when Phillip arrived in 1788, the least technically developed people on Earth came face to face with those most technically advanced.
      I celebrate January 26 (under whatever name) because if it had not occurred, my mother an father would never have met and I would not be here. Nor would any of my descendants.
      Ironically, all of the prominent Aborigines who revile ‘Invasion Day’ are themselves part-European. So they are cursing the arrival of some of their own ancestors: and thus their own individual existences.
      ‘Australia Day’ is good enough for me.

Climateers Come Another Cropper

Grant-gobbling catastropharian fabulist Ed Maibach’s plan to survey TV meteorologists must have seemed a good idea at the time, the object being to pump out fresh PR releases lambasting sceptics. Alas, like the climate itself, the results confound warmist expectations

gingered thermometer IIOf course, as we have so often been assured,  97% of scientists believe in dangerous global warming, mostly caused by human activities’ CO2 emissions. Except that the 97% claim is hokum. A survey of members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) was published last week detailing their support — or rather, lack of it — for the alleged consensus. There were 4092 of 7682 members who responded and of the 4092, only 67% endorsed the consensus.

That is, one-third of the respondents, who include many hundreds of academically credentialed TV weathercasters and other weather communicators, don’t buy the party line on global warming. Twenty-seven percent don’t believe humans are mostly responsible and 6% are don’t-knows.

The scientific community, we’ve been told, is virtually unanimous about CO2-caused warming. That alleged consensus justifies the trillion-dollar spending on windmills and solar farms, as opposed to, say, Third World electrification, clean water, the eradication of malaria and other health scourges now damning billions to poverty and despair.

The reality is that the CO2 emissions dogma is now so shaky – especially given the 21st century’s pause or halt to warming –  that peer-reviewed papers sceptical of the orthodoxy are  flooding into scientific journals. Kenneth Richard has been tabulating these papers and lists more than 660 published in just the past  27 months – including 133 since the start of 2016 and 282 last year. The mainstream media ignores them,  ditto the IPCC whose remit is  to look exclusively for evidence of human-induced, rather than natural, climate change.[1]

Returning to the AMS survey,  its members are well qualified in science generally and weather in particular. Most respondents had a Bachelor (32%) or Masters (30%) science degree, or PhD in meteorology or atmospheric science (33%). More than a third rated themselves ‘expert’ in climate science, whatever either term may mean. The discovery of one-third sceptics in AMS ranks undoubtedly understates the real level of scepticism in the organisation. The key issue concerns the 3592 non-respondents.  In fact 3,364 of them didn’t even open the emails, despite being reminded up to five times.

A plausible reason for a sceptic not to respond was that the survey was run by Dr Ed Maibach, of George Mason University, a communications specialist. Maibach is has been bluntly described in the sceptic blogosphere as a ‘slimebag’ because he was second signatory on the “RICO20” petition to President Obama last September, calling for sceptics to be prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organisations Act. Thus any sceptic AMS member getting an email from Maibach asking, among other things, whether they are sceptics, could suspect that Maibach might misuse such information to threaten, sue and blacklist them.[2]  As Anthony Watts put it,  “The man asking the questions might flag you for criminal prosecution for having an opinion he doesn’t like.”

That RICO petition backfired spectacularly on its authors. The lead signatory was Professor Jagadish Shukla, who was quickly exposed for creaming nearly $US6 million  since 2001 for himself, wife and daughter in salaries from his own purported non-profit climate-research foundation.[3] The foundation, in turn, was bankrolled with more than $US75m in US government research grants. In 2014 alone, the Shukla family’s double-dip generated more than $US1m. Shukla is now under intensive audit and faces possible discipline/prosecution over alleged violations of university salary guidelines.

Among other millions falling from the (taxpayer) skies into the laps of the RICO20 witch-hunters is $US3m for Shukla’s pal, Maibach, a three-year research grant to enhance TV weathercasters education, the thrust being to convert them into climate-change warriors.[4]   The AMS survey is part of this exercise, another reason why sceptic members may well have given it a wide berth.

The survey is full of daft questions, the kind contemplated only by unthinking alarmists. Question 1, for example, is,  “Regardless of the cause, do you think climate change is happening?”

Well duh! Climate change is as old as the planet. Fancy asking whether in 2016 climate change has ceased. So 96% replied “Yes”, and only a rogue 1% said “No” (3% were don’t-knows). Author Maibach was actually engaging in spin: the vacuous term “climate change” is used throughout the survey and the more meaningful, and emotionally loaded, term “global warming” is never used at all.[5]

Another dopey question: “To the best of your knowledge, has the climate in your area changed over the past 50 years?” It so happens that 89% of the respondents were unborn or juveniles 50 years ago. On what basis could they   profess knowledge about their local climate in 1966? Nonetheless, 74% claimed their local climate had indeed changed, and more than 40% claimed they had become more convinced about global warming as a result of witnessing local climate change (what exactly would they “witness” to be relevant to global warming?)

It gets worse. AMS weathercasters were also asked if the local climate changes have been beneficial or harmful, whether the local climate will change in the next 50 years, and whether these hypothesized changes to 2066 will be beneficial or harmful? Answering another question, 60% of respondents thought anti-global warming measures, especially global emissions reductions, would work during the next 50 years. They were further asked, in a ridiculous way, if the anti-warming measures would assist the 50-year future of health, farming, transport, homes and fresh water in the US per se. These answers tended towards yes (65%) and no (25%), proportional to the alarmist/sceptics ratio overall.

An extraordinary 29% of respondents thought that climate change (about half a degree of warming in the past half-century) was 81%-to-100% human-caused, as if there were negligible natural climate-change forces before the human fossil-fuel era.

Maibach became a warming warrior a decade ago, after an education at the hands of the Potsdam Climate Institute people. He parlayed that into a career of grant-getting in the cause of climate propaganda.

For example, he won a $US1.06m grant a few years ago to get TV meteorologists to inject more climate-change information into their broadcasts, and another $US1.25m grant to help weather broadcasters convert “unusual weather events as climate change educational opportunities”. This included fingering “weathercasters still undecided about the reality of anthropogenic climate change, the nature of their indecisions, and opportunities to help them reach a conclusion consistent with scientific consensus”. Moreover, Maibech was funded to “develop a prototype conflict analysis and resolution process between weathercasters who reject the scientific consensus and those who accept it.” He was also funded to pump climate orthodoxy into schools and university courses, and to persuade Hollywood gurus to make their films more climate oriented.

A classic piece of Maibach “research” grew out of having been funded to help health professionals better spruik the alleged health hazards of global warming. He claimed that, from a survey he conducted, 60% of 2296 US public health directors were  convinced that they had seen local harmful effects of warming.[6] The reality was that out of his initial sample of 2296, he received responses from only  217, of whom 133 were concerned about warming. This was 3.5% of the initial sample, not the 60% he claimed. So much for Maibach and his surveys.

The original “97% consensus” about human-caused global warming dates to a 2004 study by science historian Naomi Oreskes, who has been babbling for the past quarter-century that warming sceptics are the same as tobacco lobbyists. She  surveyed the literature from 1993-2003 and found three-quarters of 928 papers agreed with the consensus, and a quarter made no comment on it. (The fallacy is that in the highly-competitive scramble by academics for government research funding, any request suggesting the author is not on board with the ‘consensus’ was certain to be refused funding; thus their output never saw the light of day. This censorship-by-shunning is now crumbling).

Then there was  the Doran/Zimmerman study in 2008. This study was supposed to represent  3146 earth-scientist respondents. In fact, laughably, they culled their list down to a mere 79  suitable respondents, of whom 76 (or 97%) backed the consensus.

In 2013,  University of Queensland Ph.D. student John Cook published yet another 97% study, supposedly involving the rating of 12,464 abstracts. The Cook exercise passed peer review and was accepted by Environmental Research Letters, run by the  UK Institute of Physics (I hadn’t known that physics involved measurements of ‘consensus’).[7] It became the most-cited bit of research that year, with 161,000 downloads (currently 470,000). Sadly, the peer reviewers failed to check the study’s own data. This data showed that the number of studies actually backing the orthodox climate view – that most of the past 50 years’ warming is human-caused – was not 97% but 0.3%.

The 97% claim involved nothing more than agreement that there is some global warming and humans play some part in it. Given that the overwhelming majority of sceptics also believe this, the only surprise is that the figure isn’t  99.9%.

The study’s methodology attained a new low for science, even for climate science. According to time stamps on the work of Cook’s team which rated rating the studies, one rater managed to review 675 abstracts within 72 hours — a superhuman effort, as Richard Tol remarked.

The time stamps also reveal something far more serious. After collecting data for eight weeks, there were four weeks of data analysis, followed by three more weeks of data collection. The same people collected and analysed the data. After more analysis, the paper classification scheme was changed and yet more data ­collected.

Cook thus broke a key rule of scientific data collection: observations should never follow from the conclusions. Medical tests are double-blind for good reason.

You cannot change how to ­collect data, and how much, after having seen the results. If you want to believe climate researchers are incompetent, biased and secretive, Cook’s paper is an excellent case in point.

The study also claimed the raters were independent and had not colluded. In fact the raters were Cook’s intimates on his  Skeptical Science team. In what they supposed were private webchats, they freely admitted colluding on ratings and looking at material they were not supposed to under the study’s guidelines.[8]  For a simple check on Cook’s honesty, go to his own website, where he claims his study was “tweeted by President Obama”, viz. – “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: ‪#climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Not only did Obama make no such tweet (Barack Obama@BarackObama is a third-party tweet shop) but it is also untrue that Cook’s alleged 97% consensus endorsed that warming was “dangerous”.

cook in nazi dragSceptic Brandon Shollenberger discovered that the team had left open cyber doors to the private section of the website, and when he got inside, he found an image of  Cook elaborately Photoshopped by his followers in the Nazi drag of an SS Reichsfuehrer (left), the title held by Heinrich Himmler from 1929-45.[9] Another image showed “Herr John Cook”, in lieu of Hitler, addressing a Nuremburg rally, with the massed ranks of troops hand-labelled “SkS” (i.e. Skeptical Science).[10] For SS logos and swastikas, Cook’s helpers had laboriously substituted Skeptical Science logos.

What this was all about, no-one but Cook and his team knows. (Shollenberger’s e-book on Cook’s oddities, The Climate Wars, can be downloaded for $A1.39.)

Cook was mightily embarrassed that Shollenberger had walked, through open links, into Cook’s inner web sanctum. Next thing, Shollenberger got a ferocious letter from the University of Queensland’s legal team not only threatening to sue but asserting that the ‘We’ll sue!’ letter itself was confidential and copyright and Shollenberger would be doubly sued for disclosing its contents, even, presumably, to his own solicitor.[11] This deserved, and quickly got, a Hitler Downfall parody.

It seems a characteristic of “climate science” that its most vocal practitioners leave an odiferous trail. In the case of the American Meteorological Society survey, the trail includes McCarthyist attacks on “deniers”, a gravy train of funding that branches into multi-million mismanagement, and survey questions of laughable inanity. Earlier attempts to demonstrate a (meaningless) “consensus” about global warming made a mockery of scientific methods and inquiry, and traipsed into a morass involving Nazi portraiture and farcical lawsuit threats by university lawyers.

The only “consensus” demonstrated to date is that the global-warming community is a weird mob.

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





[1] Namely, “…to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”


[2] It is unclear whether responders could be identified personally, as this involves technical detail about the survey software.


[3] Shukla’s huge foundation salary was for 28 hours work per week.

[4] E.g. “Providing participating weathercasters with professional development activities and training on use of Climate Matters materials to help them become confident and competent climate educators”.

[5] The AMS had helpfully defined climate change as change in climate, i.e.  “Any systematic change in the long-term statistics of climate elements (such as temperature, pressure, or winds) sustained over several decades or longer. Climate change may be due to: natural external forcings, such as changes in solar emission or slow changes in the earth’s orbital elements; natural internal processes of the climate system; or anthropogenic forcing.” I assume the AMS  with its sloppy wording in the survey meant “and/or” rather than “or” concerning the causes of climate change.

[6] Members of the National Association of County & City Health Officials

[7] ERL’s executive board includes Peter Gleick, who confessed to fraudulently obtaining confidential information from the Heartland Institute.

[8] Brandon Shollenberger, The Climate Wars, Kindle location 193.

[9] Climate Wars, Kindle location

[10] Climate Wars, Kindle location 46

[11] “The University of Queensland  owns the copyright in this letter and you are advised that any publication by you of this letter , or persons acting in concert with you, will constitute an infringement of The University’s copyright. The University of Queensland reserves its right to take any and all legal action against any person, including you, who publishes this letter.”






The Climate Council’s Memory Hole

Mandrake the Magician has nothing on Tim Flannery & Co when it comes to vanishing acts, from geothermal investors’ equity to those frothing predictions of endless drought and “ghost cities”. But the excision of sceptic Judith Curry from a list of female climate experts takes the cake

curry crossed outWhen a three-year-old tells whoppers it can be cute. It’s not so cute if the whopper-tellers are scientist Tim Flannery, aged 60, and his Climate Council. Flannery is Chief Councillor of the crowd-funded body, which is dedicated to “accurate and authoritative information on all aspects of climate change”.

His Council website has this item:

19 climate champions, who also happen to be women… To celebrate International Women’s Day, here’s a list of nineteen women kicking goals in the climate change debate — from scientists to politicians, diplomats, community organisers and more. (My emphasis).

It begins, “This article originally appeared on the International Council for Science’s Road to Pariswebsite.” Click through to that site (a spin-off from the International Council for Science, ICSU) and you find the original was not about 19 women but was headed, “20 women making waves in the climate change debate”.[i]

20 women facebookEven more mysterious, the Climate Council website has a Facebook prompt (left) headlined:

Kicking goals: 20 climate champions, who also happen to be women…From scientists to politicians, community organisers to diplomats – here are 20 women fighting for climate action around the world.

But click it and the original 20 women suddenly become the Climate Council’s 19. (below right)

So what’s going on? The ICSU’s 20 women were meant to reflect women’s contribution to the “diversities of the climate debate”. The 20 included distinguished scientist Dr Judith Curry, who doesn’t toe the doomsters’ party line on climate. The Climate Council simply couldn’t bear to list her – even though she has a peer-reviewed publication list of 150+,  dwarfing that of the other women cited in the top 20 (or top 19).  So the Climate Council simply clipped her from 20 women minus onethe list, notwithstanding the ICSU’s copyright.

The Climate Council’s tampering was done without public acknowledgement or apology to the original compilers,  namely three editors associated with ICSU and the Stockholm Resilience Centre. The editors in turn had compiled the list by an extra survey  in the wake of their unisex survey about top 15 climate news-makers a year ago. That list of 15 included only three women.[ii] The Road to Paris doesn’t say who exactly was surveyed for nominations for its later “20 women” list, but did name 16 individuals who were both “judges” and respondents for the unisex list of 15.

I googled a few of them. They included, for example, Alice Bows-Larkin,  Professor of Climate Science & Energy Policy, Manchester University; Max Boykoff, of the Centre for Science & Technology Policy Research, Oregon; Simon Buckle, Policy Director, The Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College, and at the far end of the alphabet, Professor James Wilsdon, Director of Impact and Engagement, Sheffield University.

We can assume the ICSU/Stockholm’s “20 women” respondents were of comparable weight and lustre.

The Climate Council’s deletion of Judith Curry from the 20 Women list bears a family resemblance to the revered Soviet practice which saw photos that originally included purged-and-shot apparatchiks doctored, the unwanted amanda mckenzieindividuals’ images made to disappear. At least the Soviets owned the photographs they doctored. The Climate Council doesn’t own the ICSU 20 women list and has no more right to delete  a woman it hates than to insert its own choice into the list. Perhaps we’re lucky the Council didn’t decide to re-make the list into 20 by replacing Curry with its winsome CEO Amanda McKenzie (left), who is more the telegenic cutie. That way, the odd, eye-catching numeral 19 could have been avoided.

The Climate Council’s monkeying with a third party’s survey-based list hardly validates its claim:

We exist to provide independent, authoritative climate change information to the Australian public. Why? Because our response to climate change should be based on the best science available.

The ICSU comprises 122 national science academies and 31 unions of scientists, e.g. the International Mathematical Union. Among the ICSU’s members is our very own Australian Academy of Science. Expect a high-level stoush when the  Australian Academy’s  president Andrew Holmes takes  Flannery and the Climate Council to task for tampering with the ICSU’s list. Oh, wait! Flannery’s a Fellow of the Australian Academy! Should Holmes expel him, or would that be too drastic? Maybe an internal reprimand would be sufficient? Or is the Australian Academy uninterested in one of its Fellows authorising wanton deletions to an ICSU-copyrighted survey-based ranking of women in climate?

The ICSU list has this to say about Dr Curry – words Flannery and the “scientific” Climate Council felt duty-bound to expunge:

Blogger and scientist favoured by sceptics. Judith Curry is fast becoming the go-to scientist favoured by the more sceptical ends of the climate debate, though she is more than capable of making a name for herself in her own right. An established climate scientist, well known for her research on hurricanes and Arctic ice, Curry is currently Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Troubled by the way those who do not fit with scientific consensus are treated by the scientific community and broader environmental discourse, she regularly speaks up for the role of dissent and free speech in climate science. It is fair to say this doesn’t always win her friends in either science or the green movement. Curry is an active blogger, reflecting her commitment to transparency of the debate within science…

mandrakePit Dr Curry against other women on the 20 list, and it would be no-contest.  The only other listee of similar stature (about 140 publications) is Joanna Haigh FRS, a solar expert and ex-president of the Royal Meteorological Society. Among the others, lightweight author Naomi Klein never managed to finish her BA at the University of Toronto.  Sharan Burrow, ex-ACTU boss, makes the list but her credentials stop at “high school teacher”. Listee Naomi Oreskes calls herself a science “historian” and carries on about climate skeptics being the same as tobacco lobbyists. Then there’s US EPA boss Gina McCarthy, who doesn’t know what percentage CO2 comprises in the atmosphere. Annie Leonard is boss of Greenpeace US.

The Climate Council not only solicits donations from the public, but these donations are tax-deductible. Perhaps our gutsy Prime Minister could check whether the Council’s tax-deductibility is still appropriate, given that it appears to have hired a green-tinted Mandrake the Magician to enhance a penchant for putting propaganda ahead of science and stuffing inconvenient sceptics down the memory hole.

Tony Thomas blogs at No B-S Here I Hope


[i] The detail reads, “We hope it shows off some of the quiet – and not so quiet – power women do have on this issue, and the diversity of the debate. Gender aside, this list reflects other diversities of the climate debate, with expertise in financial systems, workers’ rights, science, politics, development, media, diplomacy and more.”

[ii] But quelle surprise! The top-15 does include Rajendra Pachauri 70, for 12 years chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, until his abrupt resignation a year ago because of  charges involving his alleged 14-month sexual pursuit of an unwilling 30-year-old female researcher at his TERI institute. The 1400-page New Delhi police charge sheet covers four counts including sexual assault, harassment and criminal intimidation. The top-15 list also includes leading skeptic Christopher Monckton, illustrating that the original ICSU lists are independent of value-judgements about the news-makers listed.


  1. Peter OBrien


    kudos for noticing this bit of legerdemain. In any normal debate it should occasion red faces all around but not so with climate alarmists. I have an ongoing comments thread duel in my local rag with a died in the wool believer. He scoffed at various commenters for posting comments linked to Jo Nova’s site, on the basis that Jo is not a climate scientist and therefore not qualified to comment on CAGW. He, himself, regularly refers to Sceptical Science and when I pointed out that, this might be a tad two faced because John Cook, who runs the site, is also not a climate scientist, he responded that his position is justified because Cook is a believer. You just can’t win with these folks.

Neutering the Army’s ‘Warrior Culture’

De-gendering society inspires shrieking enthusiasm in womyn’s studies classrooms, where academic notions of equality make minimal contact with the real world. In a foxhole things are different, which explains why the feminist push to “reform” the armed forces is so very worrying

soldiers cheesecakeIn an epochal change in late 2011, Labor’s Defence Minister Stephen Smith announced that virtually all remaining military restrictions on women in combat would be lifted before 2016. Women in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) are now available to kill or be killed at the bleeding edge

This followed the ADF’s own announcement in April, 2011, to the same effect. Those signing off on it were General David Hurley, Chief of the Defence Force; Navy chief Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs; Army chief Lt-Gen David Morrison (current Australian of the Year); Air Force chief Air Marshall Geoff  Brown; and Major-General Gerard Fogarty, Head, People Capability. Hurley began it:

After thirty-five years in the Infantry, I know the rigours of life as an infantryman. My decision to support the opening of combat positions in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to women comes from experience and knowledge … A robust and agile ADF relies on every member having the opportunity to contribute fully and equally to Defence operations and capability. 

We all share the responsibility to work towards a fair, just and inclusive ADF. After all, gender equality is the whole community’s responsibility.

The statement was emphatic that standards would not be lowered for women’s entry. It was accompanied by a “Risk Management Plan” of high formality but  little substance (maybe the nitty-gritty details are for military-eyes only). Meanwhile, Defence got a new employee, a “permanent full-time cultural change manager to assist with implementing cultural change within Army.”

Concurrently, the government tapped  the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, a lawyer, to do annual reports on discrimination against females in Defence. As might be expected from someone of her legal background, she endorsed the brass’ deal in a sentence of two, then swung back to hundreds of pages of public service trivia about gender pay gaps, leave and flexiwork.[1]

Part I: Attack of the Gender Warriors

Broderick’s thoughts on military life began with the complaint that the 86% of males in the Defence Force were evidencing excessive “masculine norms”, thus neglecting their “feminine side”. In an exercise that mixed reverse-sexism with pitiful sarcasm, she wrote

Men should always ‘be a winner’. Men should be ‘tough’ both physically and emotionally. Men should never be seen to be in any way feminine or acknowledge their ‘feminine side’. They should be ‘a man’s man’ – one of the boys.

Such male bastions weren’t “the types of environments in which healthy, respectful attitudes towards women are likely to thrive” and, thus, correctives should come from the top and middle. Thus challenged by a warrior feminist, Hurley folded like a cheap card table, and rushed to begin his forces’ feminization. [2] Broderick  seems unaware that the appropriate environment for warfare training involves encouraging troops to put their lives in danger while grasping that it is their duty to kill those on the other side. This is a horrible job and not everyone is capable of doing it. To instead put soldiers—men or women—in this role to meet a political objective, or to gratify feminists, seems extremely dangerous.[3]

The Gillard Era announcement caused barely a ripple at the time, and to this day the change is treated as just another nod to female equality. The politically correct class, including the Anglicans who’ve draped a huge “Let’s welcome all refugees” sign from the spire of Melbourne’s St Paul’s Cathedral, seem less interested in what happens to women soldiers’ minds and bodies on the literal front line.  Major General Gerard Fogarty, managing the process, boasted 18 months after the announcement,  “We’ve had very little criticism from any segment of the community.”

Once, men went to war while women kept the home fires burning. What was good enough for Odysseus and Penelope is now passé, and the casualty lists are reading differently. US servicewomen who came home to their toddlers in body bags include Lori Ann Piestwa 23, mother of two pre-schoolers, Melissa J. Hobart, 22, mother of a 3-year-old; Jessica L Cawvey 22, single mother of a 6yo; Pamela Osborne 38, mother of three; and Katrina Bell-Johnson, 32, mother of a one-year-old.

Part of the community silence in Australia must surely be because the physical entry standards are so high very few women have managed to pass them. Indeed, the standards were tightened, rather than loosened, concurrent with the announcement, and embodied in the new Physical Employment Standards (PES).[4]  About 30% of women Army recruits were flunking the easier test, ten times the male flunk rate. The PES are supposed to be a  health-and-safety initiative to “ensure that we don’t hurt anyone”, as Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Conroy put it; pity our potential enemies don’t concur.

The policy for equal combat for women evolved python-like from an Australia-ratified UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1983. Originally, we put in get-out clauses exempting women from combat, but those have been progressively abandoned. The UN General Assembly is dominated by corrupt Third World blocs whose style is actually more inclined to burka-enforcing and female genital mutilation than combating discrimination against women.[5] The Gillard announcement came on September 27, 2011, but the nuts and bolts weren’t endorsed by Cabinet until June, 2012. The doors opened to women across the board on January 1, 2013, and those changes are to be fully phased in (technically) from next year, as of June 30.

In the Army, the new categories for women include infantry, tanks, artillery, bomb disposal and combat engineers. In the Navy, women divers are welcome to tackle mines, while Air Force women serve in cockpits, control centres and as airfield guards.

Defence watchdog Australia Defence Association says any weakening of traditional infantry-type standards, and introduction of gender targets and weaponry to suit women, would be deadly, irresponsible and immoral. But if standards were maintained pre and post-transfer, there would be no issue with psychological/emotional/social relating to women in the tough squads and deployments, it said.[6] This contrasts with my reading of numerous US studies emphatically stating the opposite. For example, corrosive jealousies among males in previously well-bonded units can arise whether or not a female comrade is sexually active.

The ADA continues that women should be allowed to opt in or out of fiercely hazardous combat tasks, but confuses itself while simultaneously baffling observers by stating that males can’t opt out. So where’s the gender equality? How can field commanders plan for combat if some soldiers have a choice about whether to become involved? Imagine the resentment among male soldiers if the dirty work always falls to them.

Broderick speaks of modern warfare involving new technological skills “rather than simply manual or physical strength”, as if any front-liner — an artillery trooper, for instance — can be quarantined from huge exertions. She wants the women-friendly squads to be hand-picked to ensure women are treated well, and there should be “no less than two women in each work section of ten or less, with the grouping of women within a category to achieve as close to a critical mass as possible.”[7]   More than that, she also wants to lift more women up the chain of command and achieve this goal by means of quota, not equal treatment (so far, about 5% senior officers are women and 8% of NCOs).Quotas are a common technique of the Left to get their favorites into powerful positions when they cannot get there by ability.

Broderick disparages the front-line “warrior culture” and “war-fighting mission” as barriers to accepting that women can make good combat troops. By her reckoning,  less warrior culture in the Army would be a good thing! [8] Further, the promotion of women should not require combat experience , as “leadership” and “ability” are enough.

Strong ADF leaders should come from a range of ADF occupations not just the combat corps… Though indisputably important, a lack of combat experience is just one of a range of obstacles to women’s career progression…

She concedes combat experience lets ‘real’ (male) soldiers gain the respect and regard of their peers, in turn cementing their authority as leaders. But she countered that line of reasoning by insisting that more than 40% of Australian women veterans reported past exposure to “hostile action”. That could mean anything. To get around combat-bias among promotion board members, she urges “diversity” on promotions boards (women? Indigenes? Muslims?) and even seeks to install non-military members, tasked with helping the original and befuddled board members reach her idea of correct targets for high-ranking women. Says one military critic in correspondence with the author: “I’m buggered if I’d jump out of the trench on the say-so of someone who has spent their life shuffling paper. Orders from a Patton or a Montgomery — they’re different.”

As to Broderick’s specific suggestions, she wants the  Army, Navy and Air Force to start with a model squad involving not less than two women in a unit of ten people “with clustering of women within a category to achieve as close to a critical mass as possible.” In a bizarre example, she laments the lack of women  mine-clearance divers, asserting that frogwomen would inspire many other women to join them. Similarly, they should be appointed to “key roles”, such as army combat officers in infantry and armour.  Alarmingly, she seems to labour under the misconception that “non-combat” officers include those attached to the artillery and engineers.[9] For soeone with such sweeping plans to “reform” the military it seems passing strange that she is unaware of Coral Fire Support Base near Saigon in 1968 being partly over-run by North Vietnamese regulars. One soldier who cracked under pressure had to be handcuffed to a stake behind the gun line to keep him out of the way.[10]

The new, gender-liberated combat roles would never attract more than 4% of female recruits, Broderick theorises. She continues, “But we are doing this because, to sustain the workforce into the future, we want to access our fair share of the talent in the Australian labour market, which is increasingly female.” So women are to fight and die to help the ADF  improve its recruiting, and those recruits may well be slotted into roles they can’t handle, endangering themselves and their comrades, male and female alike.

She has little to say about sexual shenanigans with women among testosterone-fuelled men, but quotes some conservative male officers on the topic. They told her they feared to discipline women because female underlings might retaliate with sexual harassment claims. (This is a serous issue in civilian employment as well). One officer said that when he told a woman she was no good at her job, she went up the line with complaints and left him “shit scared”. “Since then,” he lamented, “I won’t speak to a female one-on-one.” Another suggested why bonding in combat units is necessarily weak in mixed-gender units: males sleep in their own tents separate from women; men are also reluctant to relax with them in case something said is misinterpreted.

In middle ranks, as the US experience has demonstrated, the ban on sexual relations within a unit are often (if not usually) viewed as a challenge to be circumvented. In any year, 10% of US servicewomen have an accidental pregnancy, twice the national average. In the Gulf War, despite an official and total ban on sexual fraternisation, 5% of deployed servicewomen got pregnant. In Australia, policy-makers simply don’t know how much sex goes on during training and operations and what disruptions to unit cohesiveness result.[11]

Anne Summers in a piece on women soldiers in The Monthly, inadvertently made the case against mixed-gender military squads by noting that women are not always acculturated to tough locales, such as misogynist Arab backwaters. She cites Matina Jewell, who a decade ago was a  uniformed Australian officer with UN peacekeepers in Lebanon. Summers writes, “A [Lebanese] civilian leeringly masturbated in front of her … She is critical of the lack of support she received from her superiors.” Her Australian commander “confirmed to (her) that he did not believe that the incidents was significant enough to report”.  (A fortnight earlier she had been grabbed in daylight by two would-be rapists but kicked them off).  Jewell in her  book, Caught in the Crossfire, says the flasher was identified as a local nutter and pervert. Jewell went into distinguished retirement as a major in 2009 after war injuries and, make no mistake, is a credit to our country. Pardon me if I feel a little sympathy for her then-commander, who is still getting stick some ten years later for not having rated her complaint about the pervert as high official priority. Would a male soldier have demanded official follow-up, one wonders, if he had been propositioned by a gay harasser?

A retired military-sector chief  says: ‘Will full integration give us the capability to kill more enemy soldiers?’ Malcolm Turnbull, Lt-General Morrison, and the Human Rights crowd would find that question offensive and disgusting. But what else are infantry for?”

Summing up, Australia’s new policy of killer female soldiers has been launched but is so far having no positive effect, with significant potential for distracting the Defence Force from its primary mission of defending Australia.

The Sisterhood and its Defence acolytes and enablers will, in my view, shortly be campaigning to drop entry standards to elite jobs to make the policy work their way. You read it here first.

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


[1] To the extent that skilled members who quit cost the forces well over $600,000, she has a point that work conditions should be positive.

[2] As changes drive down from the top, the lower Defence bureaucracy has become a seething mass of clerical political correctness, e.g. “The Review has also been advised that the Values, Behaviour and Resolution Branch (formerly Fairness and Resolution Branch) informally considers every new piece of policy from a gender and general diversity perspective, as part of the new formal process by which all Defence Instructions are developed and periodically reviewed.”

Another comment from a Broderick appendix reads that these clerks had formulated an Action Plan for diversity, including social networking and a “Young Female Leaders Network”.  It continued, hilariously, “Although in April 2011 progress against these tasks was reported as ‘good’, in November 2011, the position was that none of these tasks have been completed.”

[3]   A search on the word “combat” in one 72-page Broderick opus turns up virtually nothing except a few anodyne sentences — brain-snaps urging women into combat.


[4] The old tests involved a 2.4km run plus push-ups etc, adjusted according to age and gender. The new tests have no age or gender allowances, for example soldiers must march 5km in full kit in 55 minutes, then carry two 22kg jerry cans of water for 150m as proxy for a stretchered casualty. They also have to do fire-and-movement in 12 sets of 6m rushes, and lift 25kg up 1.5m as if loading sandbags or a truck. Infantry tests are tougher still –   and special forces tests, extreme.


[5] The 2013 UN President John Ashe (Antigua ) is currently indicted on $US1.3m bribe-related charges.

  • [6] “Arguments commonly mounted to oppose female participation on psychological or emotion grounds are invariably incorrect factually or conceptually. Similarly, most social and cultural arguments posed against broadening female participation in combat roles have been disproven by ADF and allied experience gained in existing mixed-gender units.”

[7] After all her fuss about sex harassment in the forces, Broderick had to quote a   survey by a female officer demonstrating that the 25%-of-women rate was the same in the forces as in the general community. As her “urgent priority” she secured installation of a top-level anti-harassment bureaucracy, “reporting directly to the Chief of the Defence Force”

[8] A  Canadian official report she quotes says more cautiously:

“Hyper-masculinity appears to be deeply embedded in combat unit culture and plays an important if unmeasured role. Constructive change in combat units will involve more than ‘tweaking’ current training to strip proscribed ‘masculine’ manifestations and reproducing the mixed culture of support units which is unproven in sustaining close battle. Battles and wars are won by cohesion. The fact that cohesion in mixed support units has proven sufficient for supporting roles is not proof that the same culture will be adequate for those whose job is to kill and maim at close quarters.  If manifestations of hyper-masculinity are simply treated as misogyny and dogmatically prohibited without persuasive explanation and this is allowed to be understood by male soldiers as emasculation of their established combat identity, the consequence may be at odds with intent: resentment, demoralisation and clandestine ostracism of women.”


[9] * “In Army–Combat Officer roles including Infantry Officers and Armoured Officers; non-combat officers including Field Artillery Officers and Engineer Officers.”


[10] Personal communication with ex-Vietnam Major, 13/2/16


  1. Doubting Thomas

    (10) – If this refers to the Gunner O’Neill case, the version we heard during contemporary officer military law training was a lot more complicated than the simple statement that he was hand-cuffed to a stake behind the gun-line. His OC was acquited in his subsequent highly politicised court martial by higher commanders smart enough to have “condoned” his alleged behaviour. No one wins when civilians meddle in military affairs, no matter how well meaning they are. When the civilians are zealots on a mission like Broderick and her band of raging “frightbats”, the outcome will inevitably be disastrous for the defence of this country, not to mention social harmony.

  2. Jody

    Welcome to the world of Gen X and Y and how the world is going to increasingly appear in the near future. It will take all the energy that conservatives from the same generation can muster to turn this horror around. Thank God, I won’t be here.

    • PT

      Jody, Morrison, Smith, Gillard and that “lawyer” aren’t Gen X or Y. The so called “2nd wave feminism” which unleashed this stuff was born in the early ’70′s.

  3. Mayan

    Although it comes from a movie, the line “We’re here to defend democracy, not practice it!” sums up the purpose of the armed forces, and their nature if they are to fulfill that purpose.

  4. Richard H

    Tony, you seem to have assumed that the culture warriors meddling with our Defence Force think that their changes will improve the performance of the ADF. Perhaps you are just being kind to them, but an assumption that their real motive is to degrade our defence capabilities is more consistent with the known facts.

    • Mayan

      I suspect that they are indifferent to the performance of the ADF. They see it as just another business, in yet another industry, onto which their agenda must be imposed.

  5. Tony Thomas

    Comment from Tony Thomas

    I have received the following feedback:
    “General Hurley: ‘After thirty-five years in the Infantry, I know the rigours of life as an infantryman.’

    The issue here is that he spent the first 25 years in “the infantry” during the post-Vietnam period: “the infantry” never actually did anything apart from a brief trip to Somalia (where the only casualty was a KIA accidently shot by a colleague).

    He would certainly know all about the “rigors of life as an infantryman” in a non-operational, peace-time, environment.
    That leads on to the notion of the so-called “three block” war – “block” as in City block.

    In the first “block” the infantry is conducting a peacekeeping activity, keeping the local factions apart.

    In the second “block” the infantry is conducting anti-insurgency operations. Like Vietnam: often a long way from base, crapping in a plastic bag, regular fire-fights, carrying everything, many small independent and self-sufficient units (if you’re not self-sufficient then you die) and living in a swamp just waiting for the bad guys to come along so you can call in an artillery strike (if you allowed to do that these days)

    In the third “block” the infantry is conducting a full-blown combat operation: e.g. the marines in Fallujah: the most intense combat operation by a Western military since the Tet Offensive (Vietnam again). The ADF has not conducted this type of operation since 1943.

    The girls would probably do quite well in the first “block”, but it is the same combat unit that would be tasked with operations in the second and third “blocks”.

    That’s the problem.”

  6. Lawrie Ayres

    I served briefly with David Hurley and he is a dedicated soldier and a good man. He is a victim of the times and getting promoted requires playing the game by the rules set by non-soldiers.

    I have the feeling (my feminine side) that Broderick might actually believe that the enemy, whoever it is, will play by our rules similarly to international corporate law. She hasn’t the faintest idea about the bonds that make a unit effective. Maybe she could convince the AFL or NRL to have mixed football teams. All the players in the scrum would have to be of the one sex so there was no accidental rubbing which could be construed as sexual in nature.

    Broderick is a prime example of a dipstick fruitcake and the military that takes notice of her are little better. The ones who should be court martialled are the politicians who began this ridiculous and dangerous experiment and those who lack the courage to stop it now. Turnbull, are you listening?

  7. Bill Martin

    One is left speechless, dumbstruck after reading this article and the previous essay on the same subject by the same author last Tuesday. Excuse the tautology, but it is mind boggling.

    Elizabeth Broderick, being a woman and a lawyer to boot, is perfectly qualified to pronounce on matters military. It would be misogynist in the extreme to suggest otherwise. Her obvious expertise on the subject is amply demonstrated by her sarcastic criticism of manhood in the defence force:

    “Men should always ‘be a winner’. Men should be ‘tough’ both physically and emotionally. Men should never be seen to be in any way feminine or acknowledge their ‘feminine side’. They should be ‘a man’s man’ – one of the boys.”

    Being an old, white man, sadly out of touch with “progressive morality”, this writer enthusiastically believes that the defence of the country is best served by men derided by Broderick’s supercilious words.

  8. gardner.peter.d

    ‘gender equality’ is an oxymoron. There are two genders. They are distinct from each other. That is why they are not equal. They are different for a good reason: evolution over millions of years has found that genes survive better, usually through heterosexual reproduction, because of this difference. Characterisitcs of the female and male need to be different because a greater capability in one area for one of the sexes can complement other capabilities being greater in the other. No genes have found making both sexes of equal capability in all areas has increased survivabiity of the genes. Just accept it.

How I snubbed Bill Gates (sorry Bill!)


In early 1986 Microsoft’ co-founder Bill Gates got an appointment to see me at the BRW office at 469 Latrobe St. It was not a successful interview, because I forgot he was coming and went out to lunch. I was habituated to a circuit around the block to stretch my legs after a morning at the computer, with a time-consuming stop at JB Hi-Fi on Elizabeth St to browse the cut-price classical CDs.

I returned to the office to find an indignant Pictures Editor, Tom Brentnall, who had to baby-sit Bill Gates to cover my absence.

My lapse was so egregious that it featured in ex-Editor Jeff Penberthy’s 25th anniversary essay on BRW’s history (Issue of August 24, 2006). He wrote:

When Bill Gates walked into the old BRW offices on Little Collins Street in Melbourne [actually we’d moved by then to Latrobe St. TT], there was no-one on hand to greet him. The young Microsoft founder had called to see senior writer Tony Thomas – but Thomas was a busy man. He was out to lunch, and he deserved it. Among the first owners of a personal computer in Australia [Eh? I don’t think so! TT], Thomas was writing a sponsored page that answered questions for the few PC users, but the magazine was ahead of its time.

In almost a year there had only ever been one genuine question come in from a reader. Week after week, Thomas wrestled to pose intriguing questions to himself, typically sourcing them from the reaches of Adelaide or Brisbane, and you could bank on his answers. Incredibly, then, some nark had written in to say he had checked the electoral rolls, and there was no person named Samson living in Willagee, which happened to be Tony Thomas’s old Perth home suburb.

Such is the price of exigencies. God knows what Bill Gates thought of us – Bill probably told Him when they talked that night. Tom Brentnall sat the geek from California down and gave him our latest issue to read while he rustled up a photographer…

Gates was in early 1986 just a 31yo in the geeky personal computer world. Microsoft was then just a private company on the verge of floating on the stockmarket. (The offering raised a modest $US61m from the public).

It took me quite some research even to establish when Gates visit to BRW happened. It was when Gates was doing overseas PR for the float.

Most IBM-style personal computers were still running the clunky MS-DOS operating system. Windows 1.0 involving mouse-pointing and clicking at the screen, was only a few months old. Bill Gates was not then famous, nor a model employer (he used to memorise staff licence plates so he could check who left the carpark early). But anyway, I now apologise to him over my inadvertent snub.

Microsoft, with its 118,000 workers, is now valued at $US400b, while Gates personal wealth is $US75b. BRW in contrast ceased as a printed magazine in 2013 after 32 years. Then on March 4, 2016, the on-line vestige of the magazine also disappeared. It was never the same – perhaps better – after my retirement in 2001.

11 March 2016 #

The Settled Science of Grant Snaffling

Perhaps you read about the recent academic paper which examined glaciers from a feminist perspective, an exercise that cost US taxpayers dearly. Well, the paper itself should prompt not laughter but outrage, not least because Australian “social scientists” are on the same gravy train

ice manFeminist glacier studies, an expanding field of academic climate-science rigor, sometimes needs an R-rating. Like this new feminist glacier researchfrom a team led by Professor Mark Carey at the University of Oregon. Carey  scored a $US413,000 grant in 2013 for his glacier research, with the paper being one output from it.  It is titled  “Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research.”

The epic, 15,000-word monograph cites Sheryl St Germain’s obscure, 2001 novel, To Drink a Glacier, where the author is in the throes of her midlife sexual awakening. She “interprets her experiences with Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier as sexual and intimate.[i] When she drinks the glacier’s water, she reflects:

That drink is like a kiss, a kiss that takes in the entire body of the other … like some wondrous omnipotent liquid tongue, touching our own tongues all over, the roofs and sides of our mouths, then moving in us and through to where it knows … I swallow, trying to make the spiritual, sexual sweetness of it last.

Continuing in the tradition of 50 Shades of Ice, the paper further cites Uzma Aslam Khan’s (2010) short story ‘Ice, Mating’. The story

explores religious, nationalistic, and colonial themes in Pakistan, while also featuring intense sexual symbolism of glaciers acting upon a landscape. Khan writes: ‘It was Farhana who told me that Pakistan has more glaciers than anywhere outside the poles. And I’ve seen them! I’ve even seen them fuck!’ (emphasis in original)

Icy conditions normally inhibit tumescence, but the paper’s four authors (two of them men, but writing through “the feminist lens”) seem to be in a state of sustained arousal. To them, even ice core drilling evokes coital imagery:

Structures of power and domination also stimulated the first large-scale ice core drilling projects – these archetypal masculinist projects to literally penetrate glaciers and extract for measurement and exploitation the ice in Greenland and Antarctica.

The study quotes feminist artists and suggests that satellite and aerial imaging of glaciers, rather than involving scientific credibility and accuracy, is actually a masculine construct and “reminiscent of detached, voyeuristic, ‘pornographic’ images.” It continues, “Such a gaze has been troubled by feminist researchers who argue that the ‘conquering gaze’ makes an implicit claim on who has the power to see and not be seen.”

In passing, the study notes that climate change “can lead to the breakdown of stereotypical gender roles and even ‘gender renegotiation’ (Godden, 2013).” This had me worried as I prefer to stay with my male gender. I looked up Naomi Godden’s tract, and was relieved to find that it merely reported on a Peru village’s fishermen and housewives switching roles when fishing declined (climate change, which halted 19 years ago, being of course the stated culprit for the decline).

The feminist-glaciology lead author of the 15,000-word paper, Mark Carey, is a historian. Of his co-authors,  Jerrilyn M. Jackson is  a geography post-grad student, Alessandro Antonello is an environmental history post-grad, and Ms Jaclyn Rushing (below) has a BA in environmental studies and Romance languages. Worth noting is that Antonello acquired his credentials at the University of Canberra.

By about 7000 words in, readers are subsumed in  an Alice in Wonderland discourse. The Cold War, we learn, was apparently not about the contest with the Communist bloc, but a tussle “pursued by a particular group of men as policy-makers who were products of specific elite masculinities (Dean, 2003), operating in the context of anxieties about American masculinities (Cuordileone, 2005), and with particular discourses of masculinity and male bodies, especially in distant places like the Arctic (Farish, 2010)…”

The study ranges widely, and includes citation of Scottish visual artist Katie Paterson, who made long-playing records out of glacier melt-water. These LPs play glacier whines and other noises  for ten minutes until the ice disks themselves melt. Maybe caution is needed with 240V apparatus.

The paper insists on respect for folk knowledge about glaciers. Yukon indigenous women, for example, say glaciers are easily excited by bad people who cook with smelly grease near glaciers, but glaciers can be placated by the quick-witted, the good and deferential. Cooked food, especially fat, “might grow into a glacier overnight if improperly handled”. Such narratives “demonstrate the capacity of folk glaciologies to diversify the field of glaciology and subvert the hegemony of natural sciences… the goal is to understand that environmental knowledge is always based in systems of power discrepancies and unequal social relations, and overcoming these disparities requires accepting that multiple knowledges exist and are valid within their own contexts.”

Here is the study’s ringing conclusion:

Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions.

Somebody in the National Science Foundation actually approved funding for  this gibberish. The Foundation is a behemoth with a 2016 budget of $US7.5b billion and a workforce of 2100 at its Arlington, Virginia headquarters. The Foundation gushes on its website: “You could say that NSF support goes ‘to the ends of the earth’ to learn more about the planet and its inhabitants, and to produce fundamental discoveries that further the progress of research and lead to products and services that boost the economy and improve general health and well-being.”

Mark  Carey’s successful application for the NSF grant is particularly lame (Carey’s total from three NSF grants is $US708,000).

The project has broad impacts because hundreds of millions of people worldwide live near glaciers…inhabit coastal areas that could be flooded by melting ice sheets, and vacation in glaciated landscapes that hold particular cultural value such as national parks. The US Intelligence Community recognizes that the effects of glacier retreat potentially threaten US national security, and thus generating new knowledge about glaciers and glaciology contributes to policy and social well-being.

Specifically, we learn from the paper that retreating glaciers in the Andes could send millions of hungry and thirsty Andeans piling up on the USA’s southern borders in search of a more temperate climate, thus posing a security risk to the US.

Here are some “fundamental discoveries” from the feminist glaciology paper:

  • “In geophysicist Henry Pollack’s articulation, ‘Ice asks no questions, presents no arguments, reads no newspapers, listens to no debates. It is not burdened by ideology and carries no political baggage as it crosses the threshold from solid to liquid. It just melts’ (Pollack, 2009: 114).”
  • Glaciers are under-studied from a feminist viewpoint ”that focuses on gender (understood here not as a male/female binary, but as a range of personal and social possibilities) and also on power, justice, inequality, and knowledge production in the context of ice, glacier change, and glaciology.”
  • “The feminist lens is crucial given the historical marginalization of women, the importance of gender in glacier-related knowledges, and the ways in which systems of colonialism, imperialism, and patriarchy co-constituted gendered science.”
  • “Glaciology has also been central to earth systems science that often relies on remote sensing from satellite imagery to suggest broader claims of objectivity but is actually akin to the ‘god trick of seeing everything from nowhere’”.

Australia gets a mention in the paper, to do with a program for smashing “stereotypical and masculinist practices of glaciology.” This program involves sending 78 international women to Antarctica in late 2016 via a Homeward Bound initiative, to  ‘explore how women at the leadership table might give us a more sustainable future’ . To cost $30,000 per person, the venture is bankrolled by Fabian Dattner and Jim Grant’s Dattner Grant entity. It is supposed to educate the team on how polar science tells “what is happening to our planet”. The group will be at sea for 20 days and get  briefings from “leading Australian academics”. I have a terrible premonition that the “leading Australian academics” involved might involve Chris Turney and his  UNSW “ship of fools” team, which had to be expensively rescued 15 months ago from the ice pack by helicopters.

The paper, dare I use the metaphor, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to academics earning a living from spurious “climate” studies. The paper  cites well over 100 references to other papers in its arcane  field. The hard-science end of “climate science” is dodgy enough, with its penchant for adjusting real-world data to prop up what would otherwise be the falsified hypotheses that CO2 emissions are the main driver of climate. But the climate-change scare has spawned a vast population of academic parasites in arts and so-called “social sciences”, pretending to do useful work in climate psychology, climate literature, climate “political science”, climate medicine, climate sociology, climate history, climate law … you name it. Melbourne University, for example, is crawling with otherwise unemployable “climate change” spongers, multiplying like fleas on a dying dog. I’m including about 1300 researchers on ‘sustainability and resilience’ who, alone, are costing the country $220m per annum.

CSIRO head Larry Marshall last month announced culling of 300-350 climate-change hangers-on from CSIRO, about $90m per annum’s worth. If federal treasurer Scott Morrison is looking for savings, there’s at least $1b on offer from a clean-out of bogus climate-change academics.

Incidentally, IPCC glacier science is as dodgy as most other fields of climate orthodoxy. There’s about 170,000 glaciers, according to the Fifth IPCC Report (2013) and there’s tracking data on a mere 500 of them. The IPCC authors blame apparent glacier retreats on current and alleged  CO2-linked global warming, ignoring that glaciers have been in general retreat since the Little Ice Age which ended two centuries ago. The first IPCC report (1990) said the rate of glacier recession “appears to have been largest between about 1920 and 1960” – well before any CO2 alleged climate dramas.

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

[i] The melting Medenhall Glacier is exposing ancient tree trunks, proving that 1300 years ago was pretty warm too, no thanks to CO2.


  1. Bill Martin

    One question and one observation in response to this article:

    Do the female “research scientists” contemplating the sexual aspect/nature of glaciers experience genuine orgasms in the process or do they fake it?

    The authors of these papers put to shame the writers of the Monty Python sketches.

  2. en passant

    I gave up reading the first porno part and went straight to the Oz mention. If anything justified cancelling everything with the words climate in it, (including the BoM) that section should prove it.

  3. Patrick McCauley

    Feminism is a false god claiming to be a discipline or a science, when it is in fact just one fantastic tantrum based in jealousy and the hatred of men. It continually attempts a phenomenology of perception only to re-discover its own humanity. Gender obsesses the academic world and the lumpenproletariate has had to suffer its outrageous experiments on its children, now it wishes to genderize the geography of the world – the glaziers … with a juggernaught of women creaming off millions for a holiday in the Antarctic with the sisters… to observe … an orgasm of glaciers. We, the foolish dead white males who pay for this, are somehow silenced, even as we watch the madness descend. How has it come to this ?