Four Corners‘ March-Hare Climatology

Four Corners‘ March-Hare Climatology

The ABC has jumped yet again through the climate alarmists’ looking glass.

The recent Four Corners  episode on global warming, Climate of Change,  reminded me of physicist Wolfgang Pauli. He described a paper as so bad “it was not even wrong.” The ABC’s presenter  was Stephanie March, a veteran ABC reporter and foreign correspondent in India and North America. I’ll first discuss the background of March’s main guest on the program, Dr Bill Hare, then run through some of the Four Corners content.

Dr Hare scored ten appearances — 620 words out of the 8100 — during 45 minutes, plus the final words on the episode. So who’s Dr Bill Hare? Just “the best climate lobbyist in the world”, as cited by Murdoch University.

For starters, and unmentioned by Four Corners, his main 16-year career (1992-2008) was as climate policy director and spokesman for Greenpeace International. To the Greenpeace fanatics, he was a “legend” in global climate politics,[1]  penning fiery Greenpeace polemics such as warning the top 100 US companies to reject President Bush’s climate policies within a week or “face the consequences” globally. He also accused Australia of behaving like “an international selfish brat”.  In 2002, he helped Greenpeace and similar groups start the Exxon Secrets website, described as “a chronicle of ExxonMobil’s efforts to corrupt the debate on global warming.” Greenpeace managed to dredge up $US30.9 million in donations by the company to alleged sceptic groups over 16 years, i.e. $US2m a year. The renewables industry currently involves investments of  $US1.5 trillion a year. 

As a Greenpeace activist, he didn’t seem to fit the specs for the supposedly science-neutral, objective work of the IPCC authors (“humourless people in white coats” was how then PM Kevin Rudd described them). Well, whatever. Greenpeace boss Hare was author/reviewer and/or writer for the IPCC reports of 1995, 2001 and 2007, helping draft the latter’s key Summary for Policymakers. For the 2013 report he wore his hat from Potsdam’s   Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

To add some spice, the IPCC crowd are the “gold standard” for science, as the ex-IPCC chair and now  accused sex-crimes perpetrator Rajendra Pachauri used to say. The Guardian also refers to “Dr Bill Hare” as a “top climate scientist”. So let’s check.  On his bio at his Climate Analytics business website, he’s described as “Dr (h.c.) Bill Hare”. The coy “h.c.” stands for “honoris causa”, and refers to an honorary doctorate  awarded in 2008 from his alma mater Murdoch University in WA. At his Linked In entryhe lists a matriculation and leaving certificate from Kent Street Senior High, Perth, a  Murdoch  Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Physics (Double Major), and an Honors Degree in Physics (1979-82). His B.Sc (Hons) is also cited at his Potsdam site.

For his Climate Analytics a year ago, he  co-authored a paper   called “Western Australia’s Gas Gamble”. He describes himself there as “Dr Bill Hare”.

The UK Carbon Brief warmist information website refers to “Dr Bill Hare” as “bill-hare-hero”. There seems no end to his talents. In the book, The Winning of the Climate War by UK green-energy businessman Jeremy Leggett,[2] he gets a paean as a world-respected economics whizz:

Dr Bill Hare, an old colleague at Greenpeace, is the single most talented technical expert I have met in all my quarter century of climate campaigning. This is because he is both an accomplished atmospheric physicist and also expert enough in economics to engage the world authorities at that strange discipline and earn their respect…

The ABC’s Laura Tingle, like Stephanie March, doesn’t distinguish between honorary and earned Ph.Ds, interviewing Hare on 7.30 last October as “senior scientist Dr Bill Hare”. I suppose, going by the ABC’s “Dr Bill Hare” precedent, we should be more deferential to “Dr Kerry O’Brien”, “Dr Phillip Adams” and “Dr Robyn Williams”, not to mention other floppy-hat wearers such as the disgraced “Dr Rolf Harris”, cartoonist “Dr Michael Leunig” and purported comedian “Dr Yahoo Serious” (Newcastle University, 1996).

Of course, one can be a great modern scientist without a Ph.D. ticket. Physicist/mathematician Freeman Dyson, with his Max Planck Medal, Enrico Fermi Award and showers of honorary doctorates, never earned a Ph.D. But Dyson has never described himself as Dr (h.c.) Freeman Dyson, let alone Dr Freeman Dyson.

Come to think of it, why was this Four Cornersepisode also a 97 per cent male bastion? Five anonymous women accounted for just 100 words out of 8100, plus March cited a thirty-word quote to trash-talk Coalition environment minister Melissa Price. Of twenty-seven named interviewees, Price was the only female. Hasn’t March heard of female climateers Dr Lesley Hughes, Dr Joelle Gergis or the Climate Council’s silver-tongued Amanda McKenzie? So much for ABC diversity policy.[3]

March was astute not to invite the intrepid Judith Sloan, whose smarts, if not edited out, would have punctured the entire episode. The other sceptic on the program, The Australian’s Chris Kenny, was allowed a total ten words and seven seconds. (That’s what I call tight editing). He managed to point out, just, that nothing Australia does will alter the global climate.

Returning now to Bill Hare B.Sc. (Hons), he transitioned in 2009 from Greenpeace to set up and run his non-profit Climate Analytics, which started with funding from the German federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Safety. The same department also funded Hare’s global warming  “PREVENT” lobbying unit at his Climate Analytics and PIK.

Hare is half of a double act with wife Dr Ursula Fuentes-Hutfilter  (Ph.D atmospheric science, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich). She has been a key player for decades within the German Government’s climate negotiations and now-faltering energy-transition to renewables. They met at the Kyoto IPCC meeting in 1997. Her main job has been with the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. She was an author/reviewer for the fifth IPCC report. Currently, they are both adjunct professors[4] at Murdoch University, where she works on Asia-Pacific energy transformation policy. Hare maintains his links as visiting scientist with Potsdam (PIK).

Dr. Fuentes-Hutfilter is also leading a project under the Australian-German Energy Transition Research Hub, which aims to have sixty researchers. It is backed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the German Education Ministry, plus Melbourne University and ANU, PIK and several other institutions. The Hub’s goals are energy market changes, low-carbon investment policies, negative emission technology and new trade and exports. “The global shift to a net-zero emissions economy presents genuine opportunities for Australia and Germany,” it claims.

One can see how entrenched the Potsdam (PIK) group now is in the Australian energy scene. PIK has its share of warming revolutionaries. Its loopy founder/director Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber in 2011 was boasting about his “plan for a  transformation of society” and “a new basis of our coexistence”. He advocated $US135 billion per year climate funding from the West to developing countries, compared with Paris’s modest   current prescription of only $US100 billion p.a. His deputy Ottmar Edenhofer a little earlier got a bit too frank and said that climate policy “has almost nothing to do any more with environmental protection” and “we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.” An economist, Edenhofer says his master plan for 75% renewables globally by 2050 would only cost “a mere twelve thousand billion dollars by 2030”.[5]

As for the content of the Four Corners program, it’s great if you still believe the planet faces by 2100 an existential crisis of scorchiness caused by human-caused CO2. A problem, however, is that in the past 20 years, global temperatures have barely risen[6]while CO2 emissions since 1998 (110b tonnes) were equivalent to nearly a third of all the human-caused CO2 emissions ever. Please explain.

The past 40 years’ warming rate, as measured by satellite, is equivalent to only 1.34degC per century.[7]  And the supposed “proof” of CO2 causation derives from comparisons of unvalidated crude climate models run with and without the purported CO2 impact. Reporter Stephanie March also seems oblivious that the all-important feedback effects from rising CO2 are lately estimated at about 1.7 timesrather than the IPCC’s range of up to 4.5 times and the 31 CMIP5 models’ average of 3.1. If confirmed, the low CO2 sensitivity would scuttle the whole warming scare.

March built her  program around how Australia should meet its (voluntary) Paris pledges to cut emissions. She trots out with a straight face a plan for our 26 million belching cattle to live on low-methane seaweed.  In her innocence, she refers to CO2 throughout as “pollution”. Fact: Added CO2 has greened the planet to an area extent of 2.5 Australias and contributed to unparalleled and on-going agricultural productivity which continues to outpace population growth.

March’s talking head Professor Frank Jotzo (ANU) fretted that “the international community” will look down their noses at us if we don’t meet our Paris pledges, or get there only via Kyoto credits. Let me see: China, responsible for about 30 per cent of  global emissions, intends to keep raising them to 2030. India pledged nothing about its emission levels, only ‘emissions intensity’. Trump has pulled the US out of Paris while the US actually cuts emissions by switching to fracked gas. France relies on nuclear. German and British households are suffering hugely (a la South Australia) from their crazed energy policies and prices.[8] So who’s going to censure us? The Maldives? Gabon?[9] And even if all Paris signatories delivered on their toughest emission pledges costing multi-trillions, what would that do to global temperatures by 2100? According to Bjorn Lomborg, who used the IPCC’s own formulae, the temperature difference would be around 0.05 to 0.17degC cooler. Great!

Much of the episode involved renewable energy investors demanding more secure government targets, incentives and subsidies, i.e. risk-free profit. Climate virtue and bags of money make a heady mix. Steph March also badgered working-class guys at Oberon NSW about their V8 utes. (Why not badger greenies in Double Bay about their SUVs?). But bricklayer Brett was not easily patronised:

March: Do you see yourself ever buying an electric car?
Brett: No, no way in the world 
March: Why not? 
Brett: I couldn’t do it. I like me fuel. It would be weird. I’d have to have long hair and a man bun. I’ll pass. 

Unmentioned by March was any estimate of the cost of Australia’s renewables “transition”. Former government scientist Dr Brian Fisher puts the Coalition’s plan for a 27 per cent emissions cut at a total $293 billion by 2030, and Labor’s 45 per cent cut at $1.2 trillion. Also unmentioned by March was the West’s Paris pledge to a half-trillion handout to the Third World from 2020-25. Such a disclosure would have  switched the audience to more realistic shows like Married at First Sight.

Forcing people to buy electric cars, stuffing cows with seaweed, making Tathra NSW (pop. 1700) 100% renewable-powered by 2030,  electric buses humming around Canberra  (pop, 350,000), warming increasing extreme weather[10]Four Corners went  the full stupid on April Fools Day.

UPDATE: Four Corners’ Sally Neighbour responds to Tony Thomas:

Dear Mr Thomas,
Thank you for your email regarding the recent Four Corners program on climate policy. I apologise for the delay in responding.
I am advised that Bill Hare has an Honorary Doctorate of Science awarded to him in 2008 Murdoch University for his work on climate change science and policy. Murdoch University itself refers to Bill Hare as ‘Dr’ in some of its publications.
It is not uncommon practice to refer to people with Honorary Doctorates as ‘Dr’. I understand this is often qualified with the reference (h.c). For the purpose of our program, we did not feel this was necessary as most viewers or readers would not be familiar with the term. I am happy to take your comments onboard should we interview Bill Hare again on Four Corners. I will also convey your comments to Laura Tingle.
Yours sincerely,
Sally Neighbour

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60s is available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and online here . Hat-tip Dennis Ambler for his unpublished research on Hare.


[1]  Before Greenpeace he was a member of the Campaign Against Nuclear Energy, set up by Friends of the Earth, and  a research director for Australian Conservation Foundation.

[2] Crux Publishing, 2018

[3] Four Corners also gave Dr John Hewson a slot.  I understand it is compulsory to feature Hewson on all ABC programs.

[4] Fuentes is ‘adjunct associate professor’

[5] Such views were no barrier to his role from 2008 to 2015 as co-chair of IPCC Working Group III “Mitigation of Climate Change”.

[6] Notwithstanding two large temperature spikes from natural El Nino warmings

[7] Temperatures have fallen by 0.5degC in the past three years

[8] Last year 5 million Germans were in strife with power bills, with 344,000 households cut off. Germany gets nearly a third of power from wind and sun.

[9] The only countries with  national plans matching their Paris pledges are Algeria, Canada, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Japan, FYR Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Samoa, Singapore and Tonga.

[10] The IPCC says the opposite

  • Blair

    “It is not uncommon (sic) practice to refer to people with Honorary Doctorates as ‘Dr’.”
    So it is a common practice to refer to people with Honorary Doctorates as ‘Dr.?

  • en passant

    Orwell predicted these globalist, warmist, catastrophist people in “1984” & “Animal Farm”, but that was fiction. Orlov recounted the real-life amoral, cruel, anti-human monsters in “The Crimes of Stalin”, which appears to be the future our Greenfools long for as the Climate Con is about hating humans and destroying civilisation – using the excuse that CO2 is a pollutant.
    It is factual reality that most plant species show optimal growth characteristics when CO2 is well above current levels, a proven, repeatable case up to 2,700 ppm. Plant life appears optimized for atmospheric CO2 levels of around 1,200 ppm.
    Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations at the current 410 ppm level are dangerously low for life on Earth. Plants and therefore most life will die if CO2 falls below 180 ppm, but will thrive at 1,200 ppm. Can the catastrophists join the dots, or don’t they care, so long as people die?
    Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have often exceeded 7,000 ppm, yet currently we are barely above the Earth’s record extreme low threshold for survival. At atmospheric CO2 Concentrations below 500 ppm plants struggle for growth, as they are today.
    Watch the following time lapse video over 42 days of growing Cowpea at CO2 concentrations of 450 ppm and 1,270 ppm with the higher CO2 producing a 44 % total biomass gain. What’s not to like if you prefer people having enough food to eat?

    A CO2 level of 150 ppm would result in the death of plants due to CO2 starvation.
    Are Climate Change alarmists ignorant of this or do they just want to create a global depopulation by their hoax alarms. Without CO2, we would all die of starvation because every ecosystem on the planet would almost instantly collapse. If CO2 were dropped to zero, Earth would become a barren global desert of death entirely incapable of supporting human life at all. It is worth noting that Mars has 96% CO2, yet is frigid. Venus with 97% is frying. As the song almost goes: “What a difference a 1% makes …”
    As CO2 levels are raised by 1,000 ppm photosynthesis increases proportionately resulting in more sugars and carbohydrates creating greater plant growth and more food.
    Plant growth requires a tremendous amount of CO2. At the centre of every plant cell is an atom of Carbon, which the plant has absorbed from the surrounding air. When all other growing conditions are kept ideal, Carbon Dioxide becomes the growth limiting factor. This means, as you increase the CO2 in your garden area, you will also increase the plant growth rates – and your food yields.
    Get out of Paris now and send all these pseudo-science priestly charlatans to the scrap heap along with the alchemists, astrologists and phrenologists as this current crop are even more dangerous.

  • Salome

    It is highly bad form to use the doctor title where the doctorate is honorary.

  • Biggles

    en passant

    Another benefit to us by increasing the amount of CO^2 available to plants is that their water requirement decreases.

    “Without CO^2 we would all die of starvation…”. The fact is that if, by some magic we were able to take all the CO^2 out of your body, regardless of the atmospheric content, you would be dead in about 2-3 minutes. CO^2 is not just the gas of life for plants, it is also the gas of life for animals, See the paper on which Dr. Christian Bohr won the 1904 Nobel Prize for Medicine if in doubt.

  • Tezza

    Four Corners is very wearying on this line. When I last complained (futilely, of course) to ABC’s Audience and Consumer Affairs, and then to ACMA (also futilely) about a ridiculous Four Corners climate episode (‘Power to the People’), the ABC’s defence was that no one program was long enough to permit extended treatment of conflicting views, but that the ABC sought to achieve balance ‘over time’.
    The Four Corners on-line archive of its programs give the lie to that proposition. One can tabulate every episode the ABC has ever done on climate-related topics, and find the same line repeated about every 18 months for the last decade.

Useful idiots at the ABC

6 April 2019

9:00 AM

ABC’s Four Corners remains proud of Sarah Ferguson’s three-part nothingburger last June about President Trump’s Russia collusion – its ‘story of the century’. The episodes expire on the ABC website at 8.30pm Sunday June 18, 2033 when I’m 93 and mumbling my rusk.

The ABC boasted, ‘Four Corners investigates the central allegations that members of the Trump team, including possibly the President himself, actively colluded with Russia to subvert American democracy.’ Heedless of grammar, the ABC continued, ‘Months in the making, filmed across the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia, Sarah Ferguson charts the extraordinary allegations, interrogating the evidence and interviewing central characters in this unfolding story that could be lifted from the pages of a blockbuster spy novel.’ Indeed, since the Mueller report has found no Trump collusion after grilling 500 witnesses and documents by the thousand.

Ferguson, now tapped to run ABC’s China office, finished her ‘extraordinary saga’ on a delicious note: ‘News of the infamous meeting [with a Russian woman lawyer] in Trump Tower at the height of the Presidential election campaign, created a firestorm which has yet to be extinguished. [It’s extinguished]. As Trump has come under mounting pressure in the second year of the Mueller investigation his public outbursts have become even more aggressive.” [Trump’s first tweet after Mueller’s report landed was ‘Good Morning, Have A Great Day!’]. The Kremlin’s puppet master now has America dancing to his discordant tune. He couldn’t have planned it better. [Yes he could].’ Lacking action footage, Four Corners treated us to the expense of travelogue shots. I loved Ferguson mooning about Putin at dusk on Westminster Bridge. Luckily no Islamic assassins distracted her reverie. I foresee her being played by Nicole Kidman in Collusion: the Movie.

In common with the ‘progressive’ media, her dog-whistle was that Trump stole the election through collusion with the Kremlin. Hence Trump’s tenure was illegitimate and he would be ousted when his evil-doings are exposed by Mueller.

At least weekly for three long years Hillary’s media shills promoted ‘bombshell’ revelations leaked by anti-Trumpers, typically members/alumni of US intelligence agencies. Ferguson gave James Clapper, director of National Intelligence from 2010 to ‘17, the series’ first, middle and last hyperbolics. (Clapper’s also the darling of Gareth Evans’ leftist ANU). Ferguson omitted that Clapper lied under oath to Congress in 2013, saying that NSA did not illicitly harvest data from multi-million American citizens. Documents leaked by traitor Edward Snowden proved NSA did. Clapper fed his hype to any and all gullible reporters. He told Ferguson that Russia-gate made Watergate pale by comparison.

Ferguson (aghast): ‘So, these are dangerous times?’ Clapper: ‘They are.’ Even after 50 years dealing with spies, he found Putin’s election-meddling ways ‘viscerally disturbing… you know, made me ill.’ Ferguson (aghast): ‘It made you ill?’ Clapper: ‘Yeah.’ Ferguson: ‘Did you share that with your colleagues?’ Clapper: ‘Yes. I think it affected all of you that way.’

So a roomful of US spook-masters goes green-faced if not projectile vomiting on learning that Russia does bad things.  Ferguson harvested ‘allegations’ galore about Trump. He might have pledged favors to Putin to assist his business deals in Moscow. Trump denied it. Ferguson: ‘Questions about collusion with Russia have swirled around Trump ever since.’ Trump’s ‘long winter of discontent [Ferguson majored in English lit] continued through spring with the steady drip of allegations and a widening investigation by the special prosecutor into the business affairs of the Trump organisation. Among the dozens of questions Mueller now wants to put to the President: what dealings did he have about the Moscow project during the campaign?’

Ferguson enjoyed assisting Mueller. ‘For the special prosecutor looking for evidence of collusion this piece of the puzzle could prove to be critical,’ she suggested, interviewing the wife of hapless Downer informant George Papadopolous. Contrary views are pro forma and they flash by in seconds (the series totalled 2 hours 18 minutes). In passing she mentions the notorious Christopher Steele Moscow pee-dossier. ‘The most salacious allegation in Trump’s scandal plagued Presidency’ was ‘put together for the Democrats’, a minor detail. Secretly put together. She didn’t mention the spooks’ corrupt use of it in FISA court to permit them to spy on the Trump campaign.

Her go-to on the pee-dossier was Michael Isikoff, an anti-Trump author, who opined that Trump’s kinks opened him up to Russian blackmail. He admitted the pee-bit was unconfirmed (it still is). Ferguson says the pee-bits ‘have coloured the reception of Steele’s claims of collusion’, whatever that means. She did include a denial by Trump aide Roger Stone. As for Isikoff, he was the Newsweek reporter who co-wrote inaccurately on May 1, 2005 that US guards at Guantanamo prison had flushed a Koran down the toilet. In the predictable anti-American riots by Muslim mobs, at least 17 people died. Isikoff’s boss extended a correction and sympathies to bereaved families and hard-pressed US soldiers.

Ferguson’s ‘extraordinary saga’ never touched the real scandals – deep state agencies spying on Trump’s election campaign and then seeking to depose the elected president. Don’t believe that? The disgraced and fired acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe acknowledged the conspiracy last February on 60 Minutes. As the New York Times headlined, ‘McCabe says Justice Department had discussions about pushing Trump out.’ The media immediately lost interest.

Former CIA director John Brennan accused Trump literally of treason for Russia. He had 22,000 spooks and assistants to informally consult. After Mueller cleared Trump, Brennan told TV off-handedly, ‘Well, I don’t know if I received bad information but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was. I am relieved that it’s been determined there was not a criminal conspiracy with the Russian government over our election.’ Trump responded that ‘To be honest, it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this. It began illegally, and hopefully, somebody is going to look at the other side. This was an illegal take-down that failed.”

Hey Four Corners, that’s a ‘story of the century’ for you to investigate. Ferguson dubbed an episode ‘Secrets, spies and useful idiots.’ Were there extra ‘Useful Idiots’ in that tawdry ABC mis-hit job?

A Nice Little Traditional Earner Invented Yesterday

A Nice Little Traditional Earner Invented Yesterday

What price a Welcome to Country ceremony, and how fast is the price rising? Sydney’s Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC) notified sharp increases from last July of around eleven per cent for corporate clients. Its day fee rose from $450 to $500, and night/weekend fee from $540 to $600.[i]

Non-government organisations (NGOs) saw their day rate rise 4 per cent, from $385 to $400, and night/weekend rate rise from $462 to $480. Rates for government bodies rose 10 per cent, from $400 to $440 (day) and $480 to $528 (night/weekend).

“Please note requests for Welcome to Country are in high demand and should be booked in advance,” the council says. “NAIDOC, Sorry Day, Reconciliation Week are our busiest times.” Other rush times for  Welcome providers include Survival Day (known to some as Australia Day), Apology Day Anniversary, Harmony Day,  ANZAC Day, National Sorry Day, Children’s Day and World’s Indigenous Day.

A spokesperson for the NSW Aboriginal Affairs Department says there is no  official fee schedule for ceremonies, as they vary in complexity and audience. She believes $400-450 for a 15-20 minute Welcome is typical and dismisses as “rubbish” a report of $1200. “I’ve never seen a fee like that in my whole career,” she says.

The  Australian record for a Welcome is held by activist Matilda Williams House, who was paid $10,500 to perform a welcome at the opening of Abbott’s 44th Parliament in 2013.

While many Aboriginal groups now claim “welcomes” are part of their ancient traditions, the ceremony was invented ad hoc in 1976 at the Perth International Arts Festival by Ernie Dingo and Richard Walley of the Middar Aborginal Theatre. Four dancers from NZ and Cook Islands requested a reciprocal “welcome” before they would perform and Dingo and Whalley created one for them on the spot. Other Aborigines, such as opera administrator Rhoda Roberts, have laid claim to inventing the “welcome” in the 1980s.

In the era of early contact, ceremonies between the local and visiting group could involve thigh spearings to avenge deaths from sorceries, visitors offering their women in friendship or penis-holding among male groups. Today’s Welcome performers have substituted less confronting acts.

It’s hard to escape the ceremonies and rituals. At the recent Writers’ Week at WA University, every one of the scores of speakers’ sessions started with the acknowledgement. I went to a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concert and it began with one official doing an acknowledgement, immediately followed by two more.

In Victoria the Wurundjeri Land & Compensation Cultural Heritage Council, based in inner-Melbourne’s Abbotsford, claims traditional ownership of Greater Melbourne. Its current fees for cultural events are set out below, with its fees at April 2016 in brackets.

Welcome to Country: $590 ($570). Not For Profits, $490 ($470).

Smoking Ceremony: $450 ($300). NFPs, $450 ($300).

Welcome plus Smoking: $920 ($820). NFPs, $820  ($720).

Didgeridoo: $400 ($250). NFPs, $400 ($250).

The inflation rate seems variable. The increase for Wurundjeri’s Welcomes  is a negligible 3.5 per cent, but for Smoking Ceremonies, it’s a 50 per cent increase and for Didgeridoo, a whopping 60 per cent.

Performers are entitled to be rewarded for their time, talent and intellectual property. The difference with other groups is that Welcomes are now mandated by top-down directives for federal, state and local government agencies. Non-government organisations, non-profits and corporates are following suit. Long-standing NSW government guidelines specify Welcomes at commemorations and festivals, policy and program launches, owned or sponsored conferences, citizenship ceremonies and big sporting events.

For top-tier ceremonies, Koomurri Aboriginal Incursions offers an “Ultimate Dreamtime Spectacular” concert starting at $6000. It  includes Welcome, didgeridoo, smoking ceremony and half a dozen dancers. This show goes down well with international and other high-end corporates and agencies. Koomurri services all capitals through interstate affiliates. Koomurri’s simple Welcome to Country or Smoking Ceremony of 2-10 minutes by an Elder start at $800.

 #  A single-person expert didgeridoo show of 1-30 minutes including commentary starts at $800.

# A combined Welcome, didgeridoo and smoking ceremony ( two performers, 10-40 minutes) starts at $2000, or a cut-down version is $1500.

# A 10-40 minute Corroboree with six performers is from $4500,  and a Mini-Corroboree of 5-30 minutes with three or four performers starts at $3200.

Koomurri offers customized quotes for songman and dancer add-ons, “for maximum spiritual impact”.

The business is popular with primary schools and a member can deliver primary schoolers an “outback experience” or face-painting for rates around $400 an hour. Boomerang painting sessions involve a minimum $2000 worth of boomerangs. Bega Valley Shire Council’s pricing guide has smoking ceremonies at $530, didgeridoo $360, basic dancer $430, professional dancers $450-1800 (depending on number), and guest lecturer $110-500.

Another indication of prices is on the Victorian GLaWAC (Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation ) website. Its Welcome to Country costs $500 and a Smoking Ceremony adds another $500. Apart from special occasions, GLaWAC will provide a member to do a cultural talk of 30 minutes for $500. A talk-plus-field trip is $2000 for ten visitors, $2500 for twenty and $3000 for more than that. GLaWAC’s meshes with the Victorian Government mandating Welcomes at “all major official events within the Agreement Area”, with coverage similar to the above-mentioned NSW guidelines,  unless GlaWAC decides otherwise. Eastern Marr Aboriginal Corporation in south-west Victoria lists fees for cultural consulting.  Its field representatives charge at $1000 a day, and normally two are specified. A meeting attendance involves a $400 fee per person.

Funds washing around land councils are prodigious. Last October WA’s South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council obtained registration of six Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) between Noongars and the State Government in exchange for the Noongar people agreeing to settle claims under the Native Title Act. In what is described as a ‘virtual treaty’ and a deal worth $1.3b, the State will return up to 320,000 hectares of development and cultural land to Noongars via the Noongar Boodja Trust. There will be 12 payments of $50m a year into a perpetual trust and 12 payments of $10m a year to set up and run seven Noongar services corporations. The implementation is still subject to court rulings.

With high stakes involved and tensions between contending families, councils have faced delicate and complex conflicts. Some traditional owners become experts in the most arcane aspects of corporate law.

Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Corporation (GMTOAC) in south-west Victoria, for example, in its annual report referred to 2017-18 as “an extremely challenging year” and “a time of frustration”. That was  after a special independent audit of irregularities in April 2017, following disputes among directors and members. Three months later it was ordered to be placed under special administration. Days later the order was successfully challenged but in the event it went into special administration from September 2017 to January 2018, when a new rule book and board came in.

Hints of ructions can also be seen at Taungurung Land and Waters Council, near Seymour in Victoria. It  reported

members will now be required by the Rulebook to treat staff and directors with respect. A new clause in the Rulebook will require the approval of the members, as well as the approval of the Board, for accessing investment moneys above a certain percentage of the organisation’s total financial resources.

Councils are keen to keep weak claimants out of membership. Gunditj Mirring Council, for example, requires applicants to tick a box referring to any of nineteen “apical” (apex) ancestors, e.g “Jenny Green, William and Hannah King, Bill & Mary Gorrie”. The corporation is then entitled to validate the claimed genealogy, involving ancestors out to mother’s  and father’s great-grandparents. The full group then needs to accept the claims.

Victoria’s Labor government legislated last year for a treaty with traditional owners. The bureaucratic spadework pops up in surprising contexts. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services invited Aboriginal youths, aged 18-25, to a “Yarning Session” for the Voice of the Child Projectlast month. To fill the venue at the Melbourne Museum the department offered youths a gift card of $100 and lunch. It says, We hope to create a new relationship between Aboriginal children and young people and government to achieve long-term generational change, improved outcomes and brings us one step closer to Aboriginal self-determination.”

Not all Aboriginals take the Welcomes seriously. Here’s extracts from a 2016 episode of Black Comedyon the ABC:

(Aunty Mary, in possum fur, emu feather hat and high heels, arrives at a café for a showdown with Aunty Joyce over Welcomes.)

Uncle: The Welcomes income stream has been a lucrative venture for the Elders. With all this fighting we will be running ourselves out of business. Sabotaging welcomes, water logging gum leaves – it has to stop!

Aunty Joyce: Thank you and I just want to say, “Welcome from the tops of the trees [to the bottom of the seas]…

Aunty Mary: Joyce, knock it off. You know very well you stole that line from me.

Joyce: Oh, Mary, why would I want anything of yours?

Mary: Because you are a sneaky bitch.

Uncle: If we are to get anywhere today there will be no name-calling.

Mary: She wants the AFL Grand Final and the Australian Open. That is spring and summer, she wants it all, what’s left for me?

Joyce: Mary, they all want me.

Mary: Because you under-cut me.

Uncle: NAIDOC week events need elders. We have decided for two separate territories  [pulls out map] divided by the native border of Punt Road.

Mary: She gets the sports precinct! What and who the f-k am I supposed to welcome to the east side of Punt Road? There is f—all there and you know that. F-k this and f-k that and f-k the both of you. You sneaky gin, this ain’t over, I’m watching you.

Ceremonial events do not always go according to plan. I obtained this account last week of the funeral of a prominent Catholic identity at Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth in 2015:

It is not easy at any price to arrange for the necessary element of reliability when it comes to providing the ritual. When my old friend died, I thought there should be some appropriate acknowledgement of her long-time support for Aboriginal causes and with some difficulty managed to locate a local purveyor to provide a show for the cameras.  A smoking ceremony and his two grandsons on didgeridoos were negotiated for $300 to open the procedures. The crowd came in behind the coffin and waited — no sign of the ceremony providers — nothing for it but to go into the formal and personal speeches. Anxiously haunting the car park, I missed most of it. “Very belatedly, the performers turned up – a puncture apparently.  The cash  passed over, the DTO (Designated Traditional Owner, with hat and hat-band) and the grandsons (head-bands, bit of paint) proceeded to the site to set up their amplifiers and find a suitable mix of green and dry leaves. During the lengthy delay  another burial began in the same area.

Another problem: no matches or lighter could be located – none of my friend’s religious and academic friends was able to help out. While the DTO went back to his car, the amplifiers were turned up to the max and the didgeridoos were tentatively, then robustly blown. Mourners from the other funeral were clearly put out by the racket – requiring my intervention.  

Once lit, the leaves burned readily but failed to start  smoking – at which point some ‘authority’ arrived and asked if I had sought permission to set the cemetery on fire. It was the first time the ceremony had been performed at Karrakatta and the officials had not worked out how they stood on accepting it. (He backed off when I explained the ancient traditional meaning behind it.)

The coffin was lowered to an Aboriginal chant, smoke rose in the vicinity and a background drone drowned out the noise of passing traffic. The nuns came forward to shake the hands of the performers – full of kindly gratitude – and it was just lucky I heard the DTO hitting them for the $300 bucks already paid. Worth it? My late religious friend would have loved every minute of it. 

Despite the above, my informant still sees the Welcome ceremony as an example of a positive tide of public goodwill to Aboriginal people. “It was invented because there was nothing else available – and there was the mood for it,” she says. “The prices listed for the various rituals on offer suggest a professional approach to ‘a nice little earner’.”

Welcomes and Acknowledgements are now set in Australian sociology. Strangely, the more that authentic Aboriginal culture fades into the remote past, the more vigorous becomes modern-day practice of contrived rituals. At least they’re a commercial success for the practitioners.

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60s is available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and online here


[i] Fees cited throughout exclude GST

A Green-Letter Day for Corrections at Their ABC

I get along great with Reena Rihan, of ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs. She handles my complaints about ABCTV News’ green-Left bias and stuff-ups, and she deals with them quite promptly. I win some. I lose some. For Quadrant Online readers, this must sound like heresy. But I insist; the ABC complaints process is not all bad. Try this shapshot of the past month.

I was watching the Victorian 7pm flagship TV news on February 16, when it ran an item about President Donald Trump declaring a state of emergency to fund his border wall. The two-line opening graphic by the ABC comprised the words, “Border Wall – Abuse of Power”. OK, so the taxpayer-funded impartial ABCTV News claims Trump is abusing his powers. I wrote to the ABC on February 18,

The item included Democratic claims of an abuse of power by Trump over his wall emergency measures.

The ABC graphic must mean that the ABC endorses that  Trump is involved in an “Abuse of Power”. This cannot be correct as US courts are yet to rule on the issue. The graphic is  a violation of ABC  impartiality guidelines.

Normal practice would be to put quote marks on, as per “Abuse of Power” Claims. Or “Alleged Abuse of Power”.

Can ABC TV please put a correction on its website about this?

In the remarkably efficient turnaround time of two days, Ms Rihan wrote back: 

Audience and Consumer Affairs have (sic) reviewed the segment and assessed the contents against the ABC’s editorial standards for impartiality which states, relevantly, in part 4.1: Gather and present news and information with due impartiality…

The standards are underpinned by the principles which states that assessments of impartiality due in given circumstances requires consideration in context of relevant factors including the nature of the content, the circumstances the content is presented, and the likely audience expectations.

As such we have considered the introductory graphic within the context of the full report.

Having reviewed the report, Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied that the full context was provided in the report. In fact, the introduction explicitly stated:

“Donald Trump has been accused of abusing his presidential powers after declaring a national emergency to fund his border wall. Mr Trump says the barrier is needed to stop crime by illegal immigrants, but the Democrats have vowed to fight it, all the way to the Supreme Court.”

The report also featured comments from the Democratic Leadership statement and comments from the California Attorney General Xavier Becerra [Democrat] regarding Donald Trump’s actions.

Audience and Consumer Affairs consider (sic) that viewers would be aware that the background graphic would only provide a very limited summary of the report and would be aware that the graphic cannot contain the full detail of the report or all the nuance contained in the full report. Audience and Consumer Affairs further consider (sic) that audience expectations for the graphic in isolation would not be as high for the report and in this circumstance where the report fully explains the story, we are satisfied that the single graphic which was visible only for the brief introduction to the story was not a breach of the ABC’s impartiality standards.

So I lost that one. Maybe ABC journos and producers are unfamiliar with the word “alleged”. Or maybe they don’t consider “alleged” to be necessary when Trump is accused of any crime, such as colluding with Russia to steal the 2016 election (or torturing puppies). I did look up the ABC charter, which includes,

The ABC has a statutory duty to ensure that the gathering and presentation of news and information is impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism.

Aiming to equip audiences to make up their own minds is consistent with the public service character of the ABC.

Fast forward to lunchtime today, and Ms Rihan’s response to my next complaint hits my inbox. Wow! Only seven days’ turnaround. And wow again … a humiliating backdown, corrections and grovel by Their ABC.

On March 17, flagship Victorian 7pm News had one of those mini-features designed to show off its reporters’ story-telling skills, in this instance Victorian political reporter Stephanie Anderson did a piece about  Yarra Valley Water running a plant at Wollert to convert 33,000 tonnes a year of food waste to energy for water treatment and electricity for the grid. All well and good, I mused, settling back with dog Natasha on my lap. But then Ms Anderson had me bolt upright and Natasha sprawling. This plant, she alleged, “creates enough energy to power nearly 750,000 homes.”

My first check with Dr Google showed that 750,000 homes is about a third of all Victorian households, of which there were 2.2 million at last census. So to solve our electricity woes, Victorians would seem to need just two more plants munching food scraps from Victoria Market.

So here’s my grouch to Ms Rihan, after googling for Yarra Valley Water’s own figures:

Wrong data: The figure is wrong by orders of magnitude… Making such claims exaggerates the impact of renewable energy and requires correction. See below 

“Yarra Valley Water is also looking at investing in another generator at its existing Wollert facility, in order to scale up its current operation, which currently produces 8000 megawatts of energy per annum, enough to power about 2000 homes. 


The facility can produce one megawatt per hour, which according to manager Damien Bassett is enough power for 1500 homes.

Here’s Ms Rihan’s response:

ABC News have advised (sic) that unfortunately, as you have noted, an error was made in the report. As soon as this error came to the attention of ABC News the associated ABC News Digital article was amended and an Editor’s Note was appended to clarify this change:

A correction has also been added to the ABC’s Corrections and Clarifications page to correct the error as it aired on the 7pm News report:

On 17 March ABC News Victoria reported that the number of homes that could be powered by a waste-to-energy plant at Wollert was nearly 750,000. That figure is not correct and has been amended to the correct figure of about 2,000.

Please accept our apologies for the error and any concern caused. Please also be assured this matter has been brought to the attention of the staff involved by ABC News management who have taken this opportunity to remind staff of the need to thoroughly check information before publication.

My heart went out (as they say) to reporter Anderson for getting that 750,000 number wrong by a factor of nearly 400. At a similar stage in my career, I suffered for publishing a few howlers myself. Anderson did BA majors in French and German, and started with the ABC as a cadet in 2012. I ran a check of her print and tweet output in the past few months and didn’t notice any bias.

On the other hand, the ABC is not short of managers and supervisors. None of them, before the piece aired, saw anything odd about a small recycling plant powering up those lucky 750,000 homes. If that figure went unquestioned, how much other data in the ABC’s green propaganda pieces is also rubbish?

Ah well, it’s all been thoroughly corrected. Who says the ABC never admits an error?

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60s is available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and on-line here

The propaganda is settled


30 March 2019

Aussie school children are getting another barrage of third-party climate catastrophism, only  a fortnight since the kids’ climate strike.

March 29 is WWF’s ‘Earth Hour Schools Day’ designed to gee children up for that silly Earth Hour lights-off at 8.30pm the following night.

Kids are important to WWF. It themed Earth Hour 2017 as ‘The voice of the future generation’. Its poll of 500 kids from seven to twelve years old showed that they were more concerned about the environment than terrorism, friends and family, and careers. Good job, WWF.

Kids brainwash easily and furnish a prolonged donation stream. Professional fund-raisers creamed close to $8m last year from WWF’s $22m gross donations, so the kids’ altruism is worth grabbing.

WWF says, ‘Ready to save the planet? Many schools all across Australia are passionate supporters of Earth Hour. Teachers can download our free, curriculum-aligned lessons to teach students about environmental sustainability. Get hyped with posters, social media kits and more.’

Hyped? You bet. Here’s WWF’s main video minute’s worth:

Female voice-over: ‘Australia, it’s time to protect this place we call home!  Our oceans, our forests, our wildlife, our future. [Shows pristine reef, fluffy chick, baby turtles, bird calls on soundtrack]. Climate change is putting our planet at risk. [Fires rage, menacing a koala]. And it is happening now here and around the world. [Dead corals, polar bear flummoxed on ice floe].

David Attenborough speaks: ‘What we do now and in the next few years will profoundly affect the next few thousand years.’ [Happy kids, happy koalas and shot of solar panel arrays]. This Earth Hour, switch off and join millions of Australians who want to see action on climate change. [Triumphant orchestra, planet seen from space with lights switching off]. Together we can save our world, our only home.’

WWF as usual has partnered for 2019 with green anti-capitalist Cool Australia to generate a suite of ‘classroom-ready’ climate lessons. Cool’s reach is impressive, or horrifying. The brainchild of the Kimberley ‘Just Jeans’ tycoons, it claims a 2017 base of more than 75,000 teachers dealing with 1.7 million engaged kids in 6,676 schools.

To fill today’s classroom longueurs, teachers are downloading Cool’s climate lessons to engage kids to ‘take action to make a difference’.

Cool supplies a video of real-life primary teachers and kids aged eight to ten in action on the topic ‘Sea Ice’ – a glimpse of kids’ being coached in right-think.

Female teacher 1 shows a diagram of Arctic sea ice extent falling from 1979 to 2008 [actually it’s plateaued 2006-19] and asks, ‘What is causing the loss?’

Boy aged about eight: ‘Fossil fuels release carbon dioxide when they burn that goes into the ozone and clogs it up. Ice can’t reflect heat back into space so it stays in the atmosphere and melts the ice.’

Kids and teacher interview each other:

Girl 1 aged eight: ‘If we lose the sea ice, animals will lose their homes and fish that they live on, it will be very difficult for them to find a new home.’ [In fact, polar bears are thriving].

Girl 2 : ‘What can we do to stop the ice from melting?’

Girl 3: ‘We can spread the news, have articles in the newsletter… write letters to places like oil and coal companies.’

Female Teacher 2, to kids: ‘Antarctic krill stocks have dropped by 80 per cent since the 1970s because of global warming and over-fishing.’ She explains: ‘I have adapted it down for use in Grade 2’. (Suspicious, I tracked down the relevant  paper, by Dr Jay Willis, of Oxford …Marine Ecology Progress Science, 10/2014.

He concludes, ‘In general, climate change cannot yet be implicated as a major cause of krill abundance changes since the end of whaling.’)

Tom aged about ten: ‘Me and Annie are working together. We want to raise awareness about sea ice and the effects it has on the environment.’

Annie: ‘So now we are brainstorming ideas for a letter we will use for other things too.’

Tom: ‘I will be trying to use the letter to get on to the student radio network.’

Annie: ‘And I am using the letter to write to the state and federal government, to the resource minister and the energy minister.’

Tom: ‘What do we hope to achieve from sending the letter and going to the radio station?’

Annie: ‘It is for people to cut down on their use of fossil fuel, driving their cars around and using lots of electricity.’

Tom: ‘We hope that people should start using renewables energy such as wind turbines and solar panels.’

Two girls sing, clapping hands after each line: ‘…Melting ice, I wonder how they sleep at night (clap clap clap). Global warming is so sad. The ice is melting real bad. People want to mine the ice. Oil and gas has a price.’

Older kids get Cool’s climate-change ‘Fact Sheets’ and diatribes against sceptics from the likes of denier-smiting psych Stephan Lewandowsky. They date back to 2011. They include, ‘At a time when Greenland is losing around 9,000 tonnes of ice every second it is time to hold accountable those who invert common standards of science, decency, and ethics in pursuit of their agenda to delay action on climate change.’

Kids are also treated to the 1992 speech at the Rio climate jamboree by Severn the twelve year-old daughter of environmental weirdo David Suzuki (shades of Sweden’s Greta Thunberg aged 16 at Davos, 2019):

‘I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don’t know what chemicals are in it… In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid to tell the world how I feel…Well, what you do makes me cry at night.  (etc.).’

Cool’s ‘facts’ include dud stuff contradicting the IPCC such as:

– We can expect an increase in the intensity, frequency and duration of extreme weather events. [IPCC 2014: No trend in cyclones, droughts and floods].

– Sea-levels are expected to rise approximately 2.3 metres for each degree Celsius of temperature rise. [IPCC 2014: Sea rise of 52-98 cm by 2100 on the high emissions scenario].

Face it, folks. Today’s schools are indoctrination hubs to turn kids into anti-CO2 activists.

Madness stalks the land.

Quizzing our Queen of Catastrophism

KEVIN Rudd once insisted that climate scientists scrutinise and evaluate climate papers purely on the studies’ scientific merit and, therefore, must be considered impartial and above reproach. That’s only half-true at best, considering the IPCC was established to investigate “the risk of human-induced climate change”, pre-judging the case at the outset.

The International Panel (sic) of climate change scientists is made up of four thousand scientists around the world, humourless guys and girls in white coats, okay. These are not politicians. These are scientists. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd , January 29, 2010

To repeat Rudd, IPCC authors are to behave like objective scientists. I paid $15 to hear Melbourne University climate scientist Dr Joelle Gergis at Writers’ Week at the WA University last month, where I learnt she had been appointed one of the 17 IPCC ‘lead authors” on the water cycle chapter for the IPCC’s 2021 report on the Physical Science. She’s also a new councillor in Tim Flannery’s catastrophist Climate Council.

Fresh from an IPCC confab in Vancouver and not long into her talk, Gergis announced, “Climate change is with us right now. Climate change is not a scientific issue, it is  a moral and ethical challenge.” And when wrapping up, she repeated,  “It’s important to understand that this  is  an ethical and moral issue, no longer a scientific issue.”

Fancy that! To be charitable, she’s surely not thrown science out the window, but she does seem to mean that her moral and ethical concerns are pervasive. If she’s required to assess the merit of a peer reviewed paper that rejects CO2-based climate alarmism  (and there were more than 500 such papers published last year), I  hope she would readily jettison those “morals and ethics” and give that paper a fair input into her report to the IPCC.

Gergis’s activism dates back to at least 2007, when she was running a blog brimming with hostility to PM John Howard – “This is a beauty!” she lauded a cartoon of Howard as a stegosaur. On a Wentworth science leaders’ grant and mentored by Tim Flannery, she blogged, “Saturday 24 November 2007 marked the dawn of a new era in Australian politics. Kevin Rudd, leader of the Australian Labor Party, was elected as Prime Minister of Australia. The sigh of relief was audible across the country.”

Her UWA talk was of the revivalist’s hellfire kind. Global climate models predict a roasty fate for Australia as temperatures soar by 4degC (or 7degC in capitals) by 2100. The horrors are starting to happen right now. All too soon our big cities will be enduring 50degC days. Alice Springs will be uninhabitable, along with much of the outback – as vouched for by her CSIRO pals, she said. “I can assure you it will not be pretty.”

She praised the schoolkids for  their climate strikes (next up: March 15): “I am pleased to see the groundswell coming through here in the younger generation. The older generation understand to a degree but young people will be living through it.” She said, “This is a federal election year. One of the most purposeful things you can do is vote and get out and back the people who ‘get’ this.” We didn’t feel she was urging a vote for conservatives.[1]

IPCC people seem to love sympathy. As one fan-piece in the Sydney Morning Herald put it last December, IPCC authors like Gergis “will write thousands of words in careful reports, despite the fact that many of them realise they are working in politically hostile environments.” Well, try being apolitical.

At question time I asked Gergis about the IPCC 2014 report’s finding that 111 of 114 climate-model runs had exaggerated the warming from 1998-2012.[2] I intended to also ask about Dr John Christy’s UAH satellite-based global temperature series showing that the model forecasts have exaggerated actual warming since 1979 by a factor of two.[3]

She immediately disputed my premise from the IPCC about the 111 out of 114 too-hot model results, as though the IPCC had never said so or if it had, the text didn’t mean what I’d claimed.

The audience was 99% with Gergis in IPCC-denial and when I asked if I could continue my question, they roared “No!” The other 1% comprised a perplexed grape farmer who sought me out later to ask, “Why were those people so hostile?”

Gergis in her speech explained that the conviction that CO2 is driving global warming arises from running climate models with and without greenhouse gas inputs. Only models with the gases match the temperature record. [The IPCC itself in its third report  said: “In climate research and modelling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.” (Chapter 14, Section My emphasis)]

Gergis’s claim matches the Academy of Science’s 2015 unscientific claim that output from models is “compelling evidence” for CO2 causation. Among the models’ countless fudges about unknowns like cloudiness, they assume a high sensitivity of temperature to CO2 doubling (1.5-4.5degC, average about 3), whereas empirical studies have continuously lowered the range. The latest by Lewis and Curry in Journal of Climate  (2018) found sensitivity to be only 1.66degC, about half of what is assumed in the average of IPCC models.

Other Gergis riffs:

# Tackling global warming is like having a loved one with pre-cancer or cancer. Without early medical diagnosis and preventive measures, your loved one will remain in a dire situation.

 # “We are witnessing large-scale system change on our watch that wasn’t expected until mid-21stcentury.” She had witnessed Cyclone Debbie in SE Queensland in 2017, with catastrophic flooding and people having to empty out their mud and silt-covered possessions on the sidewalk to be thrown away.  “Seeing families going through that, climate change is with us right now.”

# Australia must decarbonise rapidly. It makes no sense to be generating only 3% of electricity from solar when we are the sunniest place on the planet. [The International Energy Agency’s study last month comparing full costs of solar vs coal-fired electricity in India showed coal becomes relatively cheaper as the solar share grows beyond 10% – resulting in $US65 per MWh in 2040 for solar vs $US49 for coal].

# Renewables employ double the numbers in the Australian coal industry. [That doesn’t say much for renewable workers’ productivity].

Gergis was at Writers’ Week because she published a book Sunburnt Country last year. To my ear, there was a defensive tone to her talk because she and her team came a gutser in 2012 when their $340,000-funded and peer-reviewed study of Australasia’s 1000-year past climate turned out to have an error that forced her to retract the paper. Amazingly, she won a further $352,000 from the Australian Research Council to do further work on the project in 2013-16. Typically only  15-20% of such grant applications succeed. Did the ARC assessors know the paper was retracted and awarded the extra $350,000 anyway, or did they not know and Gergis got a lucky break? How would either outcome look to unsuccessful grant applicants whose papers didn’t need retracting?

The paper’s claim that the latest thirty-year period was the warmest for 1000 years  was mocked by sceptics. The paper was meant to show unprecedented  warming from CO2 in the Southern Hemisphere, matching the notoriously-suspect ‘hockey stick’ reconstruction for the northern hemisphere by a team led by Michael Mann.[4]  As with Mann’s work, Gergis’ Southern Hemisphere reconstruction also claimed to find no significant Medieval Warming Period. Gergis and her boss David Karoly saw that as demonstrating present climate is outside the range of natural variability. Well OK, the study found Australasia is supposedly warmer now by 0.09degC compared with 1238-1267, but with a massive margin of error of  0.19degC.[5] A tenth of a degree isn’t much for warmists to hang their hats on.

Incidentally, the temperature record for 1000 years ago for Australasia and surrounding oceans was based on growth rings from a tree in NZ and another in Tasmania. One of Australia’s top-ranked researchers, plant photosynthesis specialist Graham Farquhar, said at the time that the Gergis team’s tree-ring temperature reconstructions were “problematic”   and not definitive. He’s a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science 2015, a leading Australian Citation Laureate (300-plus papers), winner of the Nobel-equivalent Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences (Biology) in 2017, and Macfarlane Burnett Medal winner (2016).

The coding flaw in Gergis’ 2012 study was first spotted by a blogger “Jean S” on May 31, 2012 at the sceptic website Climate Audit, run by Canadian statistician Stephen McIntyre. When McIntyre asked Gergis for her study’s archived data for further scrutiny, Gergis told him to go get the data from the data’s original authors. She ended sarcastically, “This is commonly referred to as ‘research’. We will not be entertaining any further correspondence on the matter.” (It was a bit rich for her to complain later in The Conversation about “deniers” being “people who do not display the basic principles of common courtesy”).

Karoly, however, replied politely to McIntyre: “We would like to thank you and the participants at the ClimateAudit blog for your scrutiny of our study, which also identified this data processing issue.”

This left as somewhat ambiguous whether McIntyre’s team or Karoly’s found the error first. The priority issue is important in terms of scientific credits and protocols. From the Gergis team’s, emails obtained via FOI, McIntyre claims to have proven his priority. Curiously, Gergis’ paper was not the only controversial one. Karoly’s review of a Michael Mann book was published on-line in Australian Book Review in early July 2012. In it Karoly described McIntyre as a commentator on Mann’s work with “no scientific expertise” who had “repeatedly promulgated misinformation”. McIntyre complained to Karoly that the words were untrue and defamatory, and said that his critique of Mann’s work had been published in the same peer reviewed journal that hosted Mann’s study. McIntyre asked for an apology plus proper acknowledgement of Climate Audit’s role in discovering the Gergis error. Karoly didn’t apologise or acknowledge, and later wrongly claimed that McIntyre had threated legal action.

Gergis, to knock her paper back into shape, had to put it through nine rounds of revision, 21 individual reviews, and two editors. As McIntyre wrote, the exercise took longer than the American involvement in World War II. According to McIntyre, the 2016 revision involved little that is new plus some statistical approaches he considers highly objectionable.

Gergis in last month’s UWA talk bemoaned her victimhood, including having to deal with FOI requests: “I have had hostility and abuse and death threats and rest of it which is not nice. [Murmur of sympathy and indignation from audience]. There are very strong [hostile]  voices out there.  As scientists we are just collating and analyzing data, and putting it out there  before we say anything.  Our work has been through so many sets of eyes. It is easy to blog online, but for us it takes years of work.”

She said her retracted paper led to years of harassment and FOI filings  to see if her team was colluding to bias the results. “It [FOI requests] was quite disgraceful really, disgraceful. Being a climate scientist at that time was very difficult, but now people are more respectful and seeking us out … We need rational and respectful engagement and not just start shooting people down for bearing bad news. You [sceptics] are arguing with scientists who have been working a long time on this, since the 19thcentury. People with no qualifications can take a scientific idea and misconstrue it, and try to tell us how to do our job which I found quite arrogant.”

For some background, ‘Death threats’ were a mantra of Australian warmist celebrities around 2011 and got a more recent run from then-President Andrew Holmes of the Academy of Science in 2015. The reality is farcical. Climate catastrophe guru Will Steffen at the ANU mistook an overheard conversation by shooter John Coochey about culling Canberra’s pestiferous kangaroos as a warning of a sniper attack on Steffen’s people.  The Canberra Privacy Commissioner checked claims of multiple death threats to six ANU climate people, and finally published 11 emails in question, 10 of which involved no physical threat and one described “perhaps” a  possible threat made verbally at an off-campus event (this seems to be the “kangaroo cull” farce).[6]

Anna-Maria Arabia, now chief executive of the Academy of Science, reported a death threat to herself in June 2012, [7] which was nothing more than a serial pest in Seattle spraying templated threats and abuse world-wide. The real death threats are those from Islamists, forcing author Salman Rushdie, Dutch politician Geert Wilders and the late cartoonist for The Australian, Bill Leak, to seek protection and take their families into hiding. I didn’t notice any bodyguards trailling Joelle Gergis.

In Gergis’s Sunburnt Country book, there seems no upper limit to her advocacy. For a female vegan cyclist and one-time girl-band drummer, she seems quite a WW11 buff. She suggests we move to a WW11-style footing to decarbonise:

In reality, moving towards a low carbon economy represents the greatest business opportunity we have ever seen. The economic and social transformation urgently needed over the coming years is possible if the world goes into an emergency response, as it did during World War 11. During that conflict, countries dedicated more than a third of their economies to the war effort and innovation flourished…Perhaps the historic  Paris Agreement is the sign that humanity is now witnessing the dawn of this global fight for an environmentally sustainable future on earth.

She also describes Churchill’s warnings about Hitler in 1939 as a “chillingly accurate description of the climate change crisis we face today.” (By coincidence, in January 2019, the Democrats’ fresh face, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was also invoking the WW11 precedent as a way to pay for her multi-trillion “Green New Deal”).

Gergis likes the World Bank-recommended carbon price of $US40-80 by 2020, rising to $US50-100 by 2030, consistent with the Paris Agreement.   I hope couples in Sydney’s Blacktown or Melbourne’s Tarneit don ‘t mind such a hit to their family budgets. She shows only a faint recognition that if Australian capitals are to get 50degC summers as forecast by the models, there will be a desperate need for air conditioning. How would that demand be met with expensive unreliable renewables?

Running the tired and never-fulfilled meme about climate refugees, Gergis writes,“Our region’s vulnerability to humanitarian crises resulting from climate change is so high that Asia-Pacific, which includes Australia, has recently been dubbed ‘Disaster Alley’ by experts in the field.” I was intrigued by anyone comparing the Asia-Pacific region to an alley, and discovered these experts were Ian Dunlop (company director and ex-emissions trading adviser) and David Spratt, a lay blogger and author much like myself but less astute.  I last tangled with him in 2014 at a Moonee Valley Council evening session on energy savings. He was advising his audience on tactics for getting rid of Victoria’s Liberal  government in the impending election.[8]

Her book mentions,  “Some of the brightest climate scientists of our time began contemplating suicide  and developed a need for medication to cope with the anxiety of the vicious scrutiny.” She’s obviously referring to Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia, who disgraced himself as author of numerous Climategate emails. Those lapses involved not just destruction of emails subject to FOI[9] but contempt for scientific mores. For example, when Australian scientist Warwick Hughes sought important temperature data from Jones’ publicly-funded research, Jones replied, “We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.”

She paints a picture of what she calls our “apocalyptic future” (based on those models) resembling depictions of Hell by medieval painters. “Maybe future Australians will look back at our government’s inadequate action on climate change as an intergenerational crime against humanity,” she writes.

# “If the high-emissions trajectory continues, we are headed for a mass extinction event equivalent to that which wiped out the dinosaurs, along with 80 per cent of all other life on Earth, around 66 million years ago.”

# The West Antarctic ice sheet could collapse and pump up sea levels by 2.7m by 2100, putting  bits of our cities, suburbs and infrastructure under water.

# Tropical diseases like dengue could menace 5-8m Australians by 2100, including Sydney-siders

# Countless Australians, battered by weather extremes, will suffer mental health issues, chronic anxiety and hyper-vigilantism “undermining the social fabric of our society.”

# Darwin gets too hot to live in, “unleashing a wave of climate refugees”. (Maybe we could park those fleeing Darwineans in Tasmania somewhere, though there could be culture clashes with the local greenies).

She says she’s found her 18-20-year-old students at Melbourne University to be quite despondent  about the future (I’m hardly surprised). Among  other horrors she deals out to them are abrupt and irreversible tipping points. She told the UWA crowd that she and her co-authors at the IPCC will be focusing on these hypotheticals.

She singled out Guardian Australia to praise its climate coverage. The obverse is some Rupert Murdoch derangement syndrome: “[Carbon pricing in 2012] was met by a very negative media campaign by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which called for a change of government. This eventually took place in September 2013…”

After her 2012 debacle, she had her draft book fact-checked by eight scrutineers, at least one using the legendary “fine-tooth comb”. Well, checked it may have been, but the published text still  fearures a trillion-dollar understatement: parasitic Third World dictators are not demanding a mere $US100b in climate compensation for 2020, as Gergis claims. Rather, they want $US100b per annum through the 2020s.[10]

Gergis book is remarkable for what it omits, namely everything casting doubt on her climate Armageddon. The book fails the test of famed physicist Richard Feynman that scientists when communicating their hypothesis should also put down all the facts that disagree with it. As he put it, “I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity … bending over backwards to show how you’re maybe wrong, that you ought to do when acting as a scientist.  And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.”

To take a few examples, Gergis lauds protests against nuclear power, but doesn’t say what’s wrong with this greenest, safest power source. Her text makes no mention of that great emitter, modern China, a crucial part of the climate projection story. She doesn’t mention the landmark 2016 study by an international team including her CSIRO colleague at the IPCC, Pep Canadell, demonstrating that CO2 has greened the planet and rolled back deserts by an area equivalent to  two and a half Australia’s.[11] She doesn’t mention the huge agricultural benefits of global warming to the boreal forest zones of Canada and Siberia.[12] And never mind the holes in her model-based CO2 causation story.

As in her UWA speech, Gergis’ book says Australia’s future “depends on every person in this country voting for governments … genuinely committed to implementing climate change policy that meaningfully addresses the largest intergenerational ethical challenge in human history…Can we live with ourselves knowing that we are passing on an unsafe and unstable future to our young ones? The good news is that Australia has a long history of communities taking a stand for environmental protection and social justice.”

The nadir of the IPCC was its 2007 Fourth Report, with its Himalayan glacier-melt howler and much other slipshod work. As a result of a swingeing audit by the InterAcademy Council,[13] the 5th report of 2013-14 was reasonably balanced and mindful of the uncertainties. But last October the IPCC was back into politicised and hyped “science” with its 1.5deg warming report. (The plenary delegates left hugging each other and bawling about it). Let’s hope the 2021 Sixth Report doesn’t lose its credibility before we’ve even read it.

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ‘60s is available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and on-line here


[1]  Her Sunburnt Country book lauds the 2017 March for Science rally, “calling on political leaders to restore respect for the critical role that science plays in forming decisions that protect the public good.”

[2]  “… an analysis of the full suite of CMIP5 historical simulations [computer models]   reveals that 111 out of 114 realisations show a [temperature] trend over 1998–2012 that is higher than the entire HadCRUT4 trend [actual temperatures] ensemble. This difference between simulated and observed trends could be caused by some combination of (a) internal climate variability, (b) missing or incorrect radiative forcing, and (c) model response error.”   [chapter 9, text box 9.2, page 769]

[3] Spencer, Roy, Global Warming Scepticism for Busy People. 2018. Kindle 319/1855

[4]  Canadian Mark Steyn, who is fighting a long-running defence against defamation claims by Mann, published a 320-page book “A Disgrace to the Profession” in 2015 comprising only critiques of Mann’s work by orthodox climate scientists, not by sceptics.

[5] “The average reconstructed temperature anomaly in Australasia during A.D. 1238–1267, the warmest 30-year pre-instrumental period, is 0.09°C (±0.19°C) below 1961–1990 levels.”

[6] One email read, rather harmlessly, “We have had enough! Sometime in the future your days of leeching off the taxpayers of Australia will end and you will be looking for work in the employment office where you might find a real job and contribute to society in a positive way.”

[7] She was then CEO of Science and Technology Australia

[8] They write for the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, a Melbourne think tank promoting “actions to re-instate natural climate processes that generate global  average temperatures and ocean acidity that are safe for all species and civilisation – i.e. preindustrial temperatures and acidity.”

[9] Mike [Mann], Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise… Can you also email Gene [Wahl] and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar [Ammann] to do likewise. – Cheers, Phil

[10] Her text: “The US was also expected to provide a considerable portion of the US$100 billion in aid to developing nations by 2020 to help them cut emissions…”

[11] Both Gergis and Canadell were delegates to the IPCC lead author meeting in Vancouver in January.

[12] “By 2099, roughly 76% of the boreal regionmight reach crop feasible GDD [growing degree days] conditions, compared to the current 32%. The leading edge of the feasible GDD will shift northwards up to 1200 km by 2099”

[13] The IAC report found “significant shortcomings in each [i.e. every] major step of IPCC’s assessment process”.

  • Doubting Thomas

    I read Steve McIntyre’s savage demolition of her paper on his Climate Audit site at the time. He does not suffer fools gladly.

  • Bwana Neusi

    And now they are trying to claim that the solar minimum is attributing to global warming (sorry climate change).

  • Ilajd

    What’s missing from this coterie of alarmists is a passion for science and an appreciation of the scientific method. If we could harness the energy given off by Richard Feynman spinning in his grave the energy crisis would be solved.

  • pgang

    Did anybody see Kudelka’s infantile anti-coal ‘cartoon’ in the Australian today? (Cartoon? His scratchings make any 5 year old a cartoonist).

    Why does The Australian publish him? Good cartoons used to be a newspaper’s greatest asset, but now they don’t seem to even look at the copy before it’s published.

  • ianl

    Gergis’ 2012 paper was skewered by Jean S on Steve McIntyre’s website. The essential “error” (and not really an error so much as hubris) was that the paper claimed to have demonstrated unequivocal anthropogenicall-caused warming without cherry picking the data using an objective data pre-screen technique. Jean S found that core claim was completely untrue – the data was indeed a cherry pick.

    The lesser of the paper’s authors examined Jean S’ comment and realised it was perfectly true. He (lesser author) then actually emailed Gergis et al saying so and suggesting an urgent review. Since this core issue fundamentally destroyed the paper, requiring its’ withdrawal (denied by Karoly even as it was occurring), the “review and rewrite” took some considerable time and deniability. Even then, it was nor republished but referred to in the IPCC Pages 2k as a reference without acknowledgement of its’ leprositic provenance.

    I expect the term “black start” will become understood in its’ true awfulness over the next few years. gergil has helped this to become inevitable.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    “People with no qualifications can take a scientific idea and misconstrue it, and try to tell us how to do our job which I found quite arrogant.”

    Yet so much of the real mischief here comes from people with qualifications who take a scientific hypothesis and misconstrue it to further their alarmist careers. Quite arrogant, don’t you think?

    One only has to look (carefully) at the stuff produced by the experts to see what I mean. Two examples below.

    How many scientists does it take to change a planet’s climate? Judging from this paper published online on June 19, 2017 – “Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates” – by Benjamin Santer, Matthew England, Michael Mann and others – at least sixteen, being the number of authors.

    This Santer et al. paper is revealing, both in content and timing. It tries to explain (in six pages) the divergence between actual global temperatures and those projected by climate models during the past two decades. A stunning admission, one confirming what sceptics had been suggesting for years: the models are not infallible.

    The divergence arose, the paper concluded, because they could not predict correctly the magnitude of certain so-called natural forcings, including solar intensity, volcanic activity and internal variability. As for model “sensitivity” to atmospheric carbon dioxide, it was assumed to be correct.

    “We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early twenty-first century is partly due to systematic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in the model simulations.”

    IMO a cheeky, fallacious argument. For if model projections (aka “predictions”) could be explained away on this occasion by evoking “systematic deficiencies”, nebulous phenomena such as “internal variability”, or the poor quality of real-world data, presumably they could be explained away at any time in the future by the gatekeepers of climate-truth and their masters. In other words, the hypotheses hard-wired into the models were/are unfalsifiable, i.e. pseudoscience.


    Secondly, here’s another dark secret in the alarmist attic. The experts apparently have yet to agree on a definition for the word “cause”. Not a good look.

    “Among other lacking items [in the event attribution framework], perhaps the most important one regards the absence of definition for the word cause. Several recurrent controversial arguments in the realm of event attribution may possibly be related to this lacking definition of causality: for instance, an argument often made (Trenberth, 2012) is that any single event has multiple causes, so one can never assert that CO2 emissions, nor any other factors, have actually caused the event. (A. Hannart et al, American Meteorological Society, January 2016, p. 100)

    For the unhinged alarmist, of course, every nasty event on the planet has only one cause: “climate change”.

  • padraic

    If climate scientists need drugs to cope with the coming Armageddon no wonder they come out with such garbage with their addled brains. Let’s assume they get their way and all electricity is produced by Gaia’s sun and wind (they love getting things for free – like the dole, research grants etc). The next step will be to create some other catastropharian vision that needs some sort of social flagellation and repentance – suffering will set you free should be their motto.

    Nothing has changed. I came across some old family letters the other day and this is what my father said in a letter to me when I was overseas. At the time he was living in what is now called an “inner-west” suburb of Sydney:- “Saturday 6 March 1965 – Today (11.30 am) it is already 97 degF in the City and up to 10-15 degrees hotter in the suburbs. The horizon is a pall of smoke from bush fires which are raging all around Sydney. Drought or near drought conditions prevail over most of NSW, which is described as a “tinderbox”. Bad as it is here, Victoria is worse. 2,000 people, including troops are fighting huge fires in East Gippsland where homes have been wiped out and a couple of firefighters have lost their lives. As I write, another two are missing, thought to have been cut off by a sudden change in the wind. Marulan and Towrang (near Goulburn) are both threatened by huge fires and are appealing for firefighters. Nearer home, the Galston Gorge and the Manly reservoir area are both ablaze. Nearer home, the scrub out at the Sutherland-Menai-Georges River area is blazing. The gusty hot nor-easterly would not help and in fact just dries you right out when you step out the door. It is too hot to run the kids down to the beach. We tried the other day, but the paths and sand were so hot that even the dog jibbed at walking on the paths or beach. The kitten, which we took along for the ride, ended up a case of heat prostration.”

    My Note: These were the days when homes were not generally air-conditioned nor were cars, when people used to drive with the driver’s window down with a small wind deflector attached to the front of the driver’s window. So why do these delicate flowers of today think anything is different. It has always been thus in Australia.

  • Bushranger71

    Herewith some clear thinking (sanity) from Patrick Moore, the co-founder and former President of ‘Greenpeace’:

    ‘Fear has been used all through history to gain control of people’s minds and wallets and all else, and the climate catastrophe is strictly a fear campaign — well, fear and guilt — you’re afraid you’re killing your children because you’re driving them in your SUV and emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and you feel guilty for doing that. There’s no stronger motivation than those two.

    And so you’ve got the green movement creating stories that instill fear in the public. You’ve got the media echo chamber — fake news — repeating it over and over and over again to everybody that they’re killing their children, and then you’ve got the green politicians who are buying scientists with government money to produce fear for them in the form of scientific-looking materials, and then you’ve got the green businesses, the rent-seekers and the crony capitalists who are taking advantage of massive subsidies, huge tax write-offs, and government mandates requiring their technologies to make a fortune on this, and then of course you’ve got the scientists who are willingly, they’re basically hooked on government grants.

    When they talk about the 99 percent consensus [among scientists] on climate change, that’s a completely ridiculous and false numbers, but most of the scientists — put it in quotes, scientists — who are pushing this catastrophic theory are getting paid by public money. They are not being paid by General Electric or Dupont or 3M to do this research, where private companies expect to get something useful from their research that might produce a better product and make them a profit in the end because people want it — build a better mousetrap type of idea — but most of what these so-called scientists are doing is simply producing more fear so that politicians can use it control people’s mind and get their votes because some of the people are convinced, ‘Oh, this politician can save my kid from certain doom.’

    It is the biggest lie since people thought the Earth was at the center of the universe. This is Galileo-type stuff. If you remember, Galileo discovered that the sun was at the center of the solar system and the Earth revolved around it. He was sentenced to death by the Catholic Church, and only because he recanted was he allowed to live in house arrest for the rest of his life.

    So this was around the beginning of what we call the Enlightenment, when science became the way in which we gained knowledge instead of using superstition and instead of using invisible demons and whatever else, we started to understand that you have to have observation of actual events and then you have to repeat those observations over and over again, and that is basically the scientific method.

    It’s taking over science with superstition and a kind of toxic combination of religion and political ideology. There is no truth to this. It is a complete hoax and scam.’

    Australia is a vast land subject of course to regional climatic variations with huge oceans on 3 sides of the continent generating seasonal changes due to sea temperature effects since time began. Droughts, flooding rains, lightning initiated bushfires, etcetera are just part of our natural tapestry.

    A good thing began happening in 2008 with progressive compilation of spatial mapping of groundwater and surface water throughout the catchments of the continent. This should enable better appreciation of crucial hydrology within all of the basins.

    Although the multiple government agencies involved are infested with many brainwashed ‘warmistas’, the raw scientific data should be invaluable, if objectively interpreted.

  • johanna

    “People with no qualifications can take a scientific idea and misconstrue it, and try to tell us how to do our job which I found quite arrogant.”

    This is utterly dishonest. People like Steve McIntyre and Jean Sibelius are highly qualified in their field. It is so-called climate ‘scientists’ who either do not understand or deliberately misuse statistics who misconstrue data. That is why so many of their papers got shot down in flames at McIntyre’s blog.

    As for the accusation of arrogance – arrogance is treating legitimate requests for the data and methodology underlying your conclusions as a form of persecution, instead of the embodiment of the scientific method.

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Germaine Greer Between the Covers

GERMAINE Greer at age 30 burnt the Australian flag outside Australia House, London and chanted ‘We are all Viet Cong. We are all Viet Cong!’ That’s as described by fellow expat Richard Neville, who was with her.  The Viet Cong at the time were competing with their opponents for worst atrocities, as Max Hastings delineates in his recent book Vietnam.

Being a Left feminist, Greer gets a free pass for just about anything, although she’s pushed the envelope lately by dissing trans people and today’s feminist Zeitgeist.

She gets a few free passes in the new biography Germaine by Elizabeth Kleinhenz, the first to benefit from Greer’s 487-box archive. Greer, who turned 80 last month, sold it to Melbourne University in 2013 for $3 million, less cataloguing and other costs. But Kleinhenz also grits her teeth and spares us little about Greer’s escapades, many or most from Greer’s own pen. Some she found “nauseating”.

During the Gillard government, Greer graced a postage stamp as an “Australian legend”. That was  for allegedly making a significant contribution to the Australian way of life, shaping society for the better, and advancing the equality of women, as Australia Post put it.

Her biggest-selling work was The Female Eunuch, a year after the flag-burning. I went along to her National Press Club appearance in Canberra in 1972, intending to query her about the text, but squibbed it – after all we were having lunch. The tract reads [Apologies! Trigger Warning, No Safe Space],

“Women desirous of coming to terms with themselves…might consider their own reaction to the suggestion that they taste their own vaginal secretions on their fingers, or that they taste themselves fresh on the mouth of a lover. Despite my own proselytising attitude, I must confess to a thrill of shock when one of the ladies to whom this book is dedicated told me she had tasted her own menstrual blood on the penis of her lover…”

There are five women dedicatees in Eunuch. Of the first, journalist Lillian Roxon, Greer wrote that she “lives with nobody but a colony of New York [cock]roaches”. That lady was highly offended, maybe doubly so. Greer blamed the lady’s Fairfax New York Bureau’s boss, young Derryn Hinch  – “the biggest f***wit of them all” – for paying the journo a starvation wage for his “punishing deadlines” while the SMH “worked her quite literally to death”. But after the funeral Hinch found more than $US60,000 at her bank, half a million in modern money.

Kleinhenz wonders if Greer might be a bit dotty. “Not uncommon in a genius. Like Virginia Woolf and Vincent van Gogh, Germaine Greer is often accused of being at least batty, if not actually barking mad. She evens admits it to herself.” The over-the-top comparison with van Gogh is followed by Kleinhenz’s “Like an eagle, she flies high and free”.

Author Tom Wolfe wrote of a dinner with Greer at London’s toffee Alexander’s in 1969, she with “a tremendous curly electric hairdo”. Greer got bored and set fire to her hair with a match. The waiters had to put out the fire with napkins, making a noise like ‘pigeons taking off in the park’, Wolfe wrote. I think she was lucky to escape the fate of Michael Jackson who was on painkillers for life after sparks on the set ignited his hair.

From that year Greer was on the editorial board and a writer with Amsterdam porn mag Suck. Kleinhenz, despite her strong stomach for Greer-isms, was nauseated reading Suck in the archive. “Almost nothing appears to be off limits,” she writes, including “graphic descriptions of bestiality, incest and abuse of children”.

Suck organised a stage festival at an Amsterdam meditation centre. Greer was a spectator in high-heeled boots and a fur coat bought with early profits from The Female Eunuch. Performer Otto Muehl arrived with a goose. He flourished a glinting knife to cut off its head. His act, as previously, would be to put a condom over the goose’s severed neck and use it as a dildo on a woman previously featuring in a lesbian act. One horrified spectator screamed, “If you kill that goose, we’ll f***ing kill you!” People rushed to attack Muehl, who fell off the stage. They rescued the wildly flapping goose and ran away with it. There was fighting and weeping on all sides. Greer swept to the side of the goose rescuer, “her face radiating gratitude, compassion, even love”, according to witness Richard Neville. Muehl later enjoyed a more conventional art career. The goose lived out its days on an Amsterdam canal barge, Kleinhenz writes.

Greer’s previous biographer Christine Wallace (Untamed Shrew)  endorsed a third-party view that Greer is “brilliant, mad, wonderful, poisonous…” and less plausibly, “a great spirit of the age who deserves to be vastly honoured by us and not more than very mildly singed by any of us”.

One who was more than mildly “singed” by Greer, according to Kleinhenz, was Salman Rushdie, from 1989 hiding for his life from Ayatollah Khomenei’s assassins. Two of Rushdie’s collaborators were wounded and one murdered. Staff of his publisher Penguin had to resort to bomb-sniffing dogs and the CEO got death threats on blood-spattered paper.

Greer, says Kleinhenz, had a choice between supporting Rushdie or supporting “the sacred beliefs of our Muslim friends”, and chose the latter. Greer wrote that Rushdie’s book was just about his own troubles, and that he was a dark-skinned English megalomaniac. Rushdie later described Greer as barking mad, an idiot whose “determination to be out of step leads her into batty positions”.

After Rushdie delivered a blast at fans of cultural relativism (who backed the right of “despotic parents to mutilate their daughters”), Greer took the line that female genital mutilation was a facet of other cultures being “perfectly capable of making their own rules to suit their own circumstances”, as Kleinhenz puts it.

She also writes of Greer’s acceptance of some societies’ culling of disabled babies at birth: “Some tribal mothers, Greer noted, ‘bashed their new-borns’ brains out with a rock’ when social and other circumstances warranted.”

Kleinhenz tracks Greer’s celebrity lovers, such as a “wild affair” half a century ago with TV icon Mike Willesee , whose infuriated wife, a Miss Australia, cited Greer as co-respondent. Kleinhenz mentioned this at an author talk last week at my local library, and a gasp arose from the many women present of a certain age. They love Greer, they love Willesee and they couldn’t bear to hear about the nexus, however far in the past. At the time, Greer described Willesee as “a marvellous madman who has Australia conned into thinking that he’s a solid current affairs commentator”.

Greer also occasionally bonked Hollywood star Warren Beatty, but gave him some space when she noticed her pubic lice. “She feared he might not appreciate her in her infested state,” Kleinhenz says, reasonably.

She was staying at the luxury Beverly Wilshire, also favoured by ‘dear Woody Allen’ and Elizabeth Taylor. Kleinhenz: “Having identified the crabs, with the help of a large magnifying mirror, in her eyebrows ‘and goodness knows where else’, she spent the rest of the evening in her sumptuous bathroom, hunting for more until she had discovered ‘two adults, a teenager and assorted eggs’, which she methodically placed in an ashtray.”

She then drove with rocker Frank Zappa and wife Gail in their black Rolls Royce to nearby Schwabs Drugstore, where Zappa commanded the assistant loudly, “Blue lotion, please, for the crabs!’” Kleinhenz suggests, from Greer’s letters, that Greer may have had the crabs earlier and even passed them on to one of her true loves, famed author Martin Amis, to whom she dedicated an unsent 30,000 word love letter, nearly half the length favoured by publishers these days for a novel. The only epigram in it must have been its title, “Long letter to a short love …” since she was nearly six feet tall and Amis was five-foot-four.

What I admire Greer most for is her come-backs. When a disc jockey in 2000 bragged to the BBC that he’d been seduced by Greer in the 1960s, London’s Daily Telegraph asked Greer to respond. She said the sex was so unmemorable she’d forgotten it, but she did remember enjoying a concert with him until he told her he had gonorrhoea. That required her “to run the gauntlet of the ‘Clap Clinic’ the next morning and make some embarrassing phone calls to people she had recently had sex with”. With typical panache she invited any doubters to inspect the blue-card from the Clap Clinic (which showed negative) and a photo of herself and her brief paramour at Albert Hall.

Her biggest-name lover was none other than the filmster Federico Fellini.  What he called the ‘insatiable dragon’ in his pants was roused while he checked her out for a role as the giantess in his Casanova. He visited her farmhouse “Pianelli” in his chauffeured blue Mercedes, dismissed the driver and came in carrying an overnight bag with his brown silk pyjamas with cream piping. He had a phobia about bats and one interrupted their cavorting. Greer said his pulse jumped around ‘like a frog in a bucket’. She wondered what she would tell the press if he ‘carked it’ in her bed. She told the Guardian that Fellini during this tryst often phoned his wife, Giulietta, to touch base. Kleinhenz says that was a nice touch but the house had oil lamps and no electricity, let alone a phone.

Greer rejects that she’s lesbian. A feminist friend Jill Johnston reported that Greer had remarked in 1971 that “a black lesbian she knows sometimes gets it off on her”. Greer  later acknowledged lesbian relationships but nothing strong and enduring.  “What has happened is that on several occasions women have made strong advances to me and I’ve been compelled to respond,” she is quoted in an academic paper.

At 64, she sailed close to the wind with her book The Beautiful Boy about boys in art, from Cupid to Boy George. She took accusations of paedophilia in her stride, says Kleinhenz. Greer said she wanted women to reclaim the right to appreciate the short-lived beauty of “ravishing pubescent boys” with hairless chests, wide-apart legs and slim waists. Asked on Canadian television to explain the attraction, she replied, “Sperm that runs like tap-water will do.”

Greer’s heartfelt quest in the 1970s to become a mother makes for sad reading. She has written publicly that her reproductive system had been damaged in student days by use of a Graefenberg ring contraceptive. She managed two pregnancies, both unsuccessful. Not long after, she invited a poor and distressed pregnant student of hers at Warwick University to stay at her flat. She adored the baby girl and became a long-term surrogate mother.

In a second episode, she took in to her farmhouse, The Mills, Australian actress Kate Fitzpatrick, who was seven months pregnant, Kleinhenz writes. But the house was unheated and as with other guests, Greer expected Fitzpatrick to earn her keep. This involved tending a frozen cabbage-patch garden, torture for the heavily-pregnant woman. “Most bizarrely of all, Germaine was insisting that the baby be born in her own bedroom at The Mills, rather than in a hospital or in its mother’s room. Without a car, Kate was trapped and Greer refused to let her go. It was only with the aid of sympathetic friends that the frantic actress eventually managed to smuggle herself out.” In case readers are wondering, Kleinhenz draws this from Fitzpatrick’s own memoir.

I’d like to go into her thesis in Whitefella Jump Up (2003) that we should get Aborigines to teach us how to all become Aboriginal in an Aboriginal Australia, but my piece would then resemble her 30,000-word draft to Martin Amis.  I did enjoy this bit: in the 1980s, Kulin women in inner-Melbourne Fitzroy offered to adopt her. “She was taken aback,” says Kleinhenz. “Would she be expected to isolate herself in some remote spot for a month or more and ‘be painted, smoked or cut about?’ she asked herself.  But her fears were groundless. ‘That’s it,’ said the Kulin women. ‘It’s done, we’ve adopted you!’” I was surprised they didn’t include a tax invoice.

Greer, for all her Leftist pieties, is considered by some to be a political innocent. When she offered her brand to the Labor Party to help Whitlam’s 1977 re-election campaign, the party mandarins gave her a hasty ‘thanks but no thanks’. Her feminist pal Beatrice Faust once said Greer didn’t have a political bone in her body, except maybe between her ears.

Kleinhenz got no cooperation from Greer for the biography and a bit of trash talk came back. Greer had called prior biographer Christine Wallace a ‘parasite’, ‘dung beetle’ and ‘brain-dead hack’ and threatened to ‘kneecap’ her if she talked to Greer’s mother. Would-be biographer Hazel Rowley was frightened off altogether. Once at Melbourne University library Kleinhenz found herself in the lift with Greer but was too nervous even to say hello.

For comprehensive revelations, this biography will be hard to beat, especially as the worst are from Greer’s own pen. Good job, Liz.

Tony Thomas’s new book The West: An Insider’s Tales – a romping  reporter in Perth’s innocent 60s is available from the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, Boffin Books Perth and on-line here.

  • Alistair

    Thanks Tony for providing such a positive role model for the modern young ladies.

  • whitelaughter

    Alistair – ouch. Scarily, what’ve we got locally that is better?

  • Jody

    I’ve always admired GG; though I didn’t ever read her books, I’ve always thought she’d be a great dinner party guest. Dr. Greer must have alienated more people than Kevin Rudd – and that’s saying something.

    After all, she just needed love and attention and it becomes painfully obvious she never got it!! Not everybody’s seeming success is a happy story.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Whatever her peccadilloes, Germaine Greer has redeemed herself in my opinion by her current strong stance against the idiocy of militant transgenderism.

  • Jody

    DT; to some degree I share your comment on redemption, but she’s obviously emotionally unstable – as are a lot of clever people. Putting it in a psychological frame; she has always behaved as though she assumed log ago that nobody liked her.

    And that awful, awful Kate Fitzpatrick….I was glad to read she had been locked up in Germaine’s house; somebody had to!!!!!!!!!


    The stamp wasn’t worth a lick!