Earth Hour in 3D: Dim, Dark and Dopey

For the past decade legions of the gullible have been signalling their eco-virtue by candles’ glow, turning off the lights for 60 minutes as an offering to poor, overheated Gaia. It makes little sense, but promoters are delighted the faithful can still write cheques in the gloom

earth hourWorld Wide Fund for Nature (Australia) is gearing up for its tenth idiotic Earth Hour at 8.30pm on Saturday, March 25. Once again it will be urging people to turn off lights  (but not fridges, freezers, TVs, dishwashers, computers, aircons and smart-phones). If WWF is aware that satellite data shows no atmospheric warming for the past 18 years, that information figures nowhere in its literature.

Of course, any large-scale lights-off actually increases CO2emissions because generators have to do inefficient ramping-up of power when the lights go on again. Such quibbles have never worried   WWF.

Earth Hour is run by national manager Anna Rose. She is co-founder and former head of the Youth Climate Coalition, and spouse of Simon Sheik, former national director of GetUp, failed Greens candidate and, most recently, promoter of a fossil-fuel-free superfund.[1] Rose claims, on the basis of sample surveys from consultancy AMR, that a quarter (nearly 6m) of the Australian population took part in Earth Hour 2016.[2] That’s a big call. In 2015, she was claiming one in three Australians (7.7m)  took part in 2014.

The media-savvy WWF has been theming its annual Earth Hours. Last year’s theme was “Protect the Aussie places we love” with sub-texts about global warming destroying the Barrier Reef by 2050 and other alarmist mantras (the Reef made it safely through previous eras of strong warming). The 2017 Earth Hour theme is “the voice of the future generation”, taking into overdrive WWF’s propaganda assault in schools.

WWF’s partner in the schools’ Earth Hour exercise is Cool Australia, a green/left outfit founded and run by Jason Kimberley of the  wealthy Just Jeans clan. Cool Australia claims more than 52,000 educators whose lessons reached more than 1,050,000 students in 2016. (It is a national scandal that schools have become such hotbeds of green/left indoctrination).

The Cool Australia material has much in common with the views of the Left Renewal faction of the Greens Party, and its “fight to bring about the end of capitalism”.  Cool’s anti-capitalism curriculum is based on the rantings of far-left Canadian author Naomi Klein and her agitprop book, This Changes Everything.  Klein  views conventional green policies as way too conservative. Her goal is to marshall a green activist horde to subvert Western civilisation at grassroots level.

Cool Australia offers Years 9 and 10 no fewer than ten lesson units based on the Klein book and video. One lesson, for example, is titled,“This changes everything – climate change vs capitalism”. Cool Australia counsels the kiddies, “…an opportunity for a new economic model that accounts for both people and the planet in a just and sustainable way.” The film of the same title has Klein saying, “I’ve spent six years wandering through the wreckage caused by the carbon in the air and the economic system that put it there.” A title comes up, “Capitalism” with a voiceover, “We are going in completely the wrong direction.” It ends with a narrator’s question: “What if global warming is not only a crisis? What if it is the best chance you are ever going to get to build a better world? Change or be changed!”

Cool Australia provides these “thought-starting” keywords for the climate/capitalism lessons:

global warming, floods, drought, carbon dioxide, weather, resource use, coral bleaching, bush fires, carbon tax, humans

In regard to cpitalism, keywords provided are

profit, money, private wealth, rich, poor, winners, loser, consumption, stuff, resources, economic systems, private ownership, humans

Teachers are exhorted thus:

Hot tip: Repeat this activity at the end of the unit to assess students’ understanding.”[3]

There is no reference to capitalism and free trade lifting billions out of poverty in the past half-century.

WWF’s president is another mega-millionaire, Rob Purves of the Purves Environmental Fund. Purves’ fortune derived from Clyde Industries and billion-dollar diagnostics/aged-care group DCA. WWF in turn is a “curriculum partner” of Cool Australia. Purves is also a sponsor of Earth Hour, governor of the Youth Climate Coalition and director of Tim Flannery’s Climate Council. Prominent on the Earth Hour web pages is WWF’s “Donate” menu, donations being tax deductible.

This appeal inspired me to look up WWF’s local 2016 accounts. CEO Dermot O’Gorman, his conservation director Gilly Llewellyn, and their CFO took in $632,000 in combined pay, but WWF doesn’t disclose what each received.WWF employment benefits

WWF fund-raised $22.8 million — but, oh dear, $9.2 million, or 40%, was burned by the costs of fund-raising. (In the past three years, WWF has spent an amazing $29 million on fund-raising costs. That includes about $10 million in the past two years alone for on-going  “supporter acquisition programs”  aimed at an “appropriate return” from its givers over three to five years. Do regular donors understand how much is going to  third-party professional fund-raisers?

Of the $29.5 million in latest income, WWF managed to spend only $16.4 million — 56% on what it calls “conservation”.[4]  [5] Still, WWF Australia with its $30 milion annual revenue is small beer compared with the US-based  World Wildlife Fund Inc. (latest revenue: $US249m). That group’s five-year revenue comfortably tops ten figures, at $US1.1b. The 2016 fund-raising expense ratio is 11%, compared with the 40% for WWF Australia.

Saving the planet is a responsible job andCEO Carter Roberts pulled in $US941,000 last year, up more than 100% compared with his pay in 2009 of $US455,000.  President Obama is paid only $US400,000. Roberts’ chief operating officer, Marcia Marsh, gets $US576,000. Both state their working weeks as 40 hours. Nearly 200 staff are on six-figures, and a dozen on $US300,000 plus.  A couple of PR flacks are on $US260,000 and $US315,000.

WWF in the US is also gearing up for Earth Hour to help save our hapless planet. “Even a tweet can make a difference,” it says, demonstrating near-clinical inability to separate fantasy from the real world.

I had a thought that WWF India might not be promoting Earth Hour, given that 300 million Indian peasants are eking out short and brutish lives in no-electricity squalor. Regardless, WWF India is urging Indians  to “switch off your lights” and invest in solar power.[6]

In Australia, WWF, lacking all sense of the ridiculous, asks students to analyse global warming impacts on their spaghetti bolognaise   (wheat, beef, cheese and tomato) and pavlovas (egg, sugar, rasberries, blueberries).[7]

Last year WWF globally set out six key goals, ranked as: forest conservation; oceans conservation; clean water; protecting important species; doubling net food availability and freezing its footprint; and last-listed, “Creating a climate-resilient and zero-carbon world powered by renewable energy”. WWF Australia seems over-focused on the last item.

I mentioned the annual theming of Earth Hour in Australia. The 2015 theme was of special interest: how global warming imperils Australia’s “fresh healthy home-grown food”, and how we should “make a stand for our food and farmers”. These farmers allegedly had their backs to the wall as they valiantly battled global warming’s adverse impacts.

Anna Rose declaimed, “Aussies are proud of our farmers for feeding the nation but they are on the frontline of global warming and are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more extreme weather.”

Mike Hirst, managing director of long-time Earth Hour sponsor Bendigo Bank, chimed in, “Across this land, thousands of farmers are grappling with the challenge of global warming while producing the food which we and millions of people around the world depend on.”

WWF/Earth Hour figured it could get some traction with this story because many farmers were having a bad season. For 2014-15, by value, wheat was down 11%; cotton down 52%; rice down 16%; veges down 5%; milk static and total crops down 5%. The WWF publicity asserted that “Global warming is challenging our farmers and affecting our supply of good-quality fresh food.” WWF had little trouble getting hard-luck stories from 55 assorted farmers about how climate change was doing them in.

WWF also whistled up its pet catastrophists such as David Karoly at Melbourne University to do a report, Appetite for Change: Global Warming Impacts on Food and Farming Regions in Australia.  Here’s Karoly’s  insights about southern NSW, Victoria and Tasmania:

Continued substantial warming is expected over the rest of this century, from 0.6°C to 1.3°C by 2030  and up to 4°C by 2070 with ongoing high greenhouse-gas emissions. A warming climate will be associated with more hot days and nights, including more summer heat waves, and fewer cold days and nights, including fewer winter frosts. The number of days hotter than 35°C is expected to increase by about 20 per cent by 2030 and possibly more than double by 2070… The reduced rainfall and higher temperatures are expected to lead to more frequent and intense droughts and bushfires, and greater stress on water resources.” (My emphasis).[8]

Other specialists then weighed in with predictions about how 50 food items – from wheat and beef to octopi[9] and zucchini — will be trashed by Karoly’s “expected” global warming. We learn from the  authors that carrots are doomed to tastelessness and poor texture; toast and raspberry jam will be in short supply; avocado and Vegemite will taste worse; beetroots will blush less red; fruit trees will be stunted and heat-struck chickens will have nervous breakdowns.

WWF’s poster woman for the Earth Hour book on how warming will degrade farming was South Gippsland dairy farmer Marian Macdonald. However, her writings a year later rather subvert her message:

The big question still remains for this farmer: how common will this type of season be in the future? The climate modelling is just not detailed or accurate enough. All we know is that it will be drier, warmer and more unpredictable than ever. And that’s nowhere near enough information to make good decisions. To be frank, we don’t even have a worthwhile forecast for the next fortnight or the three months ahead. The Bureau of Meteorology’s oft-reported seasonal outlook is so unreliable here, it is literally the equivalent of tossing a coin – by the Bureau’s own admission.” (My emphasisTo paraphrase, the BOM can’t forecast a fortnight ahead but is great at those 100-year forecasts).

The climate gloom in regard to farming was all early 2015.[10] How about now? Well, I never! Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says agriculture is entering a “golden era” of prosperity and growth that will last at least five years: “We haven’t seen anything like this right across all regions and sectors — beef, lamb, grains, wool, sugar, kangaroo meat, live cattle, chickpeas, even the dairy industry is recovering — for almost a century. The good times are finally here.”

As The Australian’s rural correspondent Sue Neales puts it, “Last year [2016] was an extraordinary one: record farmgate prices for sheep and cattle, rising wool prices, a magnificent season yielding a record 52 million tonne grain and pulse crop.… farming is seen as a profession with a bright, unstoppable future.”

National agricultural production will be a record $60 billion in value this year for the first time and is tipped to go to $100 billion in the next decade. (CSIRO chief Larry Marshall has made the obvious point that to meet Asian food demand, we’ll need to double our water usage. This hardly suits the green agenda of no-dams).

The bumper crops are not just in Australia but global. The Food & Agriculture Organisation late last year raised its forecast for global wheat production to a record 742.4 million tonnes, and global rice output to a record 498m tonnes.

So as Earth Hour nears on March 25, and WWF publicity ramps up, don’t take it too seriously. Maybe even celebrate the joy of electricity by leaving your lights on.

Tony Thomas new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.


 [1] According to the blurbs, she became a climate change campaigner after her grandparent’s farm in North Western NSW was affected by drought, and Anna “connected the dots” to climate change – quite a feat.

[2] One major participant is the Australian Defence Force

[3] Klein’s “solutions” for an allegedly fairer and more humane society are pushed at students by teachers using the Cool Australia social-justice material. The “solutions” include a basic income for all and higher taxes on the affluent; enforcing industry to reduce or cut completely its CO2 emissions; banning deep-water drilling, fracking and tar sands production; “re-localising” production of food and goods (i.e. diminishing trade); and “community-controlled clean energy systems”. The students are exhorted to discuss the “Call to Action” theme of Canada’s March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate, as a creed for a “just transition” to a fairer world.

[4] WWF income included $783,000 in government grants, of which $376,000 was from DFAT. WWF spent $2.7m on what it calls “community education”.

[5] Earth Hour: “Regular donations are critical to our ability to manage our large team of volunteers across the country with certainty around our budget. We do what we can with very little, but it all adds up.”

[6] “What has Earth Hour achieved since the movement began?” The sponsors’ list includes   “Solar-powered lights were installed in three villages without electricity in India.”

[7] When I noticed and wrote about the spagbol talking point last December, some readers insisted I must have been hoaxed.

[8] Karoly in 2009 thought it a great idea for Earth Hour to become permanent:

“We need to repeat Earth Hour every hour of the day, every day of the year, so that these actions are part of our normal lives”.

[9] “Computer modelling projections for pale octopus indicate warming could lead to eventual decline. Increased carbon-dioxide may make octopus more vulnerable to predators, and combined climate factors may have complex effects.” Octopi, don’t say you weren’t warned.

[10] “According to the CSIRO, production from cropping and livestock is projected to decline by 2030 over much of southern Australia due to increased drought and the “fact” that the availability of nutrients will limit productivity in most Australian landscapes…” Professor Richard Eckard, Melbourne University, March 2015.

The Truth of SA’s ‘Stolen Generations’

January 10th 2017 print


Papers rescued from a landfill, painstakingly unearthed archival material, long-forgotten records, diary entries and correspondence put pay to the myth that racist policies saw many Aboriginal children removed from their parents. The reasons were good and the numbers tiny

stolen IIOn May 28, 1997, in Adelaide, South Australian parliamentary leaders vied to apologise to the “Stolen Generations”. That was more than a decade before the Rudd national apology of February 13, 2008. Yet the details of any child-stealing in SA remain elusive.

The SA Department of Human Services on the date of the state’s apology provided a 40-page guide to the previous century’s Aboriginal policy implementation. From this rather perfunctory booklet we learn

  • There were only minuscule numbers of part-Aboriginal children removed for any reason in various years of the early 20th century
  • The authors had no idea about the total number of removals in SA (for whatever reasons),  so they just said there were “many”.
  • Child removals (for any reason) could be effected only after approvals were obtained – usually with difficulty –  from courts and higher levels of the bureaucracy. And even then, there could be “a storm of protest”  from pro-Aborigine lobby groups and the media.
  • The intent of removals was benevolent, designed to rescue children from camp squalor and (in a pre-welfare era) to ensure their future self-supported living.

In the May, 1997, apologies in the SA State Parliament from government and opposition figures, they cite no evidence, other than hearsay, beyond that specially-prepared document. Opposition Leader Michael Rann (Lab.), for example, said, “I am told other mothers at settlements around Australia had to temporarily bury their children in the ground in order to prevent their being taken away, supposedly for their own good.” Legislative Council opposition leader Carolyn Pickles (Lab.) said,  “In some cases they [children] were rounded up like animals and torn away from [their mothers].”

Accessing the  SA archives

There are enormous resources of untouched primary documents on SA Aboriginal affairs lumped in half a dozen warehouse archives around Adelaide. For the past five years, volunteer researchers Joe Lane, 73, and Alistair Crooks, 65, have been intensively re-keying and posting SA archival documents on-line. So far they’ve published at least 15,000  pages from the century to 1940 including more than 13,000 letters in, and 9000 letters out, from the SA Protectors of Aborigines, circa 1840-1912.

From the documents inspected, they say that in SA the black-armband view of Aboriginal/white relations, as taught to students, is wrong. [1] They have found no evidence of the systematic taking for racist reasons of part-Aboriginal SA children. Removals of small numbers of children, such as orphans, did occur for welfare reasons – as also occurred with white children. Officialdom often considered that getting part-Aboriginal children out of squalid camps and wurleys was a matter of life and death, whether to protect them from infanticide, disease or abuse.[2] For girls, removal also meant rescue from degradation and prostitution. But such removals were infrequent and treated as incidental to Protectors’ main job of organizing statewide distributions of rations.

Crooks and Lane’s documents are available at The two men have now published an annotated collection of key papers in Voices from the Past: Extracts from the Annual Reports of the South Australian Chief Protectors of Aborigines, 1837 Onwards. 309pp.[3]

The researchers’ background

To declare an interest, I wrote the book’s foreword, largely a biographical sketch of the authors. Joe Lane  was married to a Ngarrindjeri woman, Maria Rigney (1949- 2008), who later became a senior academic in the Aboriginal education sector. Together in the 1970s they hand-made more than 100 of the red, yellow and black Aboriginal flags, enabling this powerful symbol to displace scores of   complex and kitsch designs around the country.

Joe and Maria Lane as activists at first accepted and promoted in the journal Black News the black-armband histories. But over time they recognized that the much of the accounts were based on second/third-hand sources, oral recollections and hearsay. In 1983, Joe  was delighted to come across typewritten paper copies of the journals of  Rev. George Taplin, who ran the McLeay Mission on the SE coast from 1859-79, where Lane’s wife was born. Lane re-keyed the documents in 1997.

Lane says, “I wished that some fool should re-key the material for the internet. As it turned out, I was that fool. But I had discovered a goldmine of information.

“A friend gave me some old letter-books to 1900 from the mission that he rescued from a tip. By then I was hooked on searching out first-hand sources and went on to type up the thousand pages of three early Royal Commissions. More recently, I’ve been typing up the correspondence of the SA Protectors of Aborigines.”

Early in the work he joined with retired geologist Alistair  Crooks who had independently begun a similar exercise re-keying papers from important conferences, such as the 1937 national meeting of all the states’ Protectors.

Counting the “stolen” children

The duo’s first surprise was the miniscule numbers of “half-caste” children that came to SA missions and institutions without a parent.  According to Sir Ronald Wilson’s Stolen Generation report of 1997, 10-30% of all Aboriginal children nationally were forcibly taken (that report’s co-author, Mick Dodson, claimed about 100,000 “stolen” children). The Rudd apology of 2008, without explanation, halved the number of forcible removals, and referred to  “up to 50,000”.

Overall, Crooks and Lane estimate that in the 100 years from first settlement to 1940,  an average two to three  SA Aboriginal children per year were removed into care, usually  orphaned, or given up voluntarily by a parent. Historian Keith Windschuttle’s grand total for SA Aboriginal children taken into care for all reasons  from 1900-1970 was 1100 — about 16 a year.[4]

The Crooks/Lane documents show that in SA from 1911-20, the numbers of “half-caste” SA children (mainly girls) taken from the interior camps averaged only about two per year. And these included children who were neglected, orphaned, destitute, in moral jeopardy or willingly given up by a parent. In the 1920s the numbers taken were even fewer.

Windschuttle arrived at a similar figure for the 1895-1914 period in SA. He found 54 children “taken” during about 20 years, two or three per year.

In the two decades from 1880 to 1900 at Point McLeay settlement, only eight out of 200 children had been brought there officially. In the next 50 years, children brought there officially again hardly totaled double-digits. The McLeay school’s records from 1880-1960 show that only 47 out of 800 enrolled children were ever put into care, and all but one such child (whose mother died) returned within a year to their families. Not one was adopted out.[5]

In 1926-27 the United Aborigines Mission opened the Colebrook Home at Quorn for at-risk “half-caste” SA children, mostly from northern cattle country during droughts. Crooks and Lane estimate from the reports that admissions averaged only about two per year. By 1937-38 Colebrook Home had 31 children. Five were from a single family, the O’Donahues, brought there in 1934 by their white father. The O’Donahues included  Lowitja O’Donahue (later an ATSIC chair) and her four siblings.

Another home used for domestic training of “half-caste” girls (though mainly for white girls) was Fullarton, run by the Salvation Army, in Adelaide. Again, the numbers were miniscule – it was built to cater for a dozen girls. Crooks says the 1944-45 report mentions only two “half-castes” completing training and another being dux of the school. In 1948-49 there were only eight there, still in close contact with their families. Other Aboriginal parents were reportedly keen to place their children at Fullarton.

The 1997 SA apology document similarly cites miniscule numbers. It mentions “several” teenage boys being removed for apprenticeships after an 1844 ordnance and “significantly fewer” girls. Those removals needed consent of parents and of the Governor, it said. There is another reference to “several” removals in 1896 which ignited protests in the press. In 1909-13, the document says the Protector’s tally of removed Aboriginal children was 18, i.e. an average 4-5 a year.[6] The document does not clarify whether such removals were voluntary or forced, or what welfare considerations were involved. But it does say magistrates were initially  reluctant to commit such children.

Legal rationales

In 1911, the Premier produced a draconian and unprecedented Bill for removals, aimed at preventing contact with alcohol, prostitution and other dangers. The ‘apology’ document says, “So far as can be ascertained, it was not used by itself to authorise the removal of children from their parents.”

Amid the bureaucratic reports, glimpses of sad children sometimes emerge. In 1878,  a Mr Marlin reported on a ten-year-old orphan, Joanna,

“She has no-one to look after her or care for her, and she gets her living as best she can by associating with the blacks, and has to content herself with any old rags she can find about the wurlies.” Mr Marlin successfully lobbied for her to be sent to school and cared for. “She is an intelligent little girl, and if now taken in hand and properly cared for, will no doubt be able to go to service and earn her own living in a few years.”

Crooks and Lane also found frequent references to infanticide and health hazards. Some snapshots:

1865: The issuer of rations at Overland Corner reported that in his district in the recent years, “every living child appears to have been destroyed immediately after birth.”

1868:  Sub-Protector Butterfield — “There are in many parts of my district, several half-caste children whose fathers have abandoned [them] to a wurley life , a certain degradation, and, in the case of females, infamy and prostitution. It is a pity something cannot be done to rescue such from their perilous position.”

1874: Point McLeay missionary, Rev. Taplin, wrote, “Savage life is most destructive of infant life.” In the same year, Sub-Protector W.R. Thompson reported that “half-castes”  in camps rarely survived to adulthood.

1908: Protector South wrote, “I think all half-caste children at least should be gathered in, instead of being left in the camps where they are subjected to the brutalizing customs and ceremonial operations still prevalent in outlying districts.”

1911: Protector South mentioned a “quadroon” girl of nine officially taken from Stuart’s Creek after her single mother had gone to Hergott Springs near Marree (700km north of Adelaide). “To have left her to the inevitable fate of all half-caste girls brought up in the blacks’ camps in the interior would have been, to say the least of it, cruel…”

1924: Protector Garnett wrote, “It is generally reported and doubtless true, that aborigines in these parts of Australia often kill children not wanted, and especially ‘half-castes’.”

1948: Aboriginal Protection Board – “One of the principal causes of ill-health, particularly among children, is the irregular and inadequate meals provided by some mothers, who are incompetent and neglectful. No doubt such children would enjoy better health, and be much happier, if placed in institution provided by missionary organisations, and in some cases, action along these lines has been taken. The board desires, however, as far as possible, to preserve family life intact…”

1960s: Infanticide rates around Ernabella Mission were up to a fifth of all births, according to anthropologist Aram A. Yengolen.

Adelaide public backlash

The records show Protectors in their annual reports  – such as Protector South in 1908 – expressing a desire for part-Aboriginal children to be removed and separated until adulthood from their kin and clan. The view was that otherwise, the clan would encourage idleness and dependency. The Protectors’ desire was not translated into reality, given the legal safeguards and political resistance involved from church and philanthropic groups. Those groups, whose audience stretched to London, were eager to condemn any infraction and to publicise complaints about mistreatment.

From 1881 to 1895, the SA Destitute Persons Act allowed neglected children, white or black, to be taken into foster care or an industrial school, but taking an Aboriginal child also needed the consent of the Aborigines Department, i.e. its single employee, the Protector, plus Destitute Board, plus a court. The successor State Children’s Act was just as reluctant to concern itself with Aboriginal children.

Sub-Inspector Besley wrote in 1892:

“If forcefully taken there would be a cry of cruelty but it is cruelly unkind to leave them where they are. The girls become trained for a life of easy virtue, and the men drunken loafers. I have arranged with a Mr and Mrs Schneider at Port Augusta to take three of these children, with their parents’ consent. They are kind and good to them, though they both have to work hard for a living. These children appear to be fond of their adopted parents, and are kept clean and tidy, and attend school regularly…” (My emphasis here and below).

Besley concluded with a wish for an apprenticing, adding, “Before anything can be done Ministerial instructions should be given.”

In a revealing note in 1900, Protector Hamilton urged efforts to protect young female “half-castes” from the camps:

“In some cases they object to leave their tribe and in others the mothers of the girls will not consent to give them up.”

By 1911 state Parliament permitted removals from missions, but only of entire families, with no separation of children, and only with prior consent of two JPs.  Protector South in 1916-17 mentioned several girls being removed from camps in the interior for their own protection, “chiefly at the request of their aboriginal and half-caste parents”.

In 1923 the SA Parliament passed an Aboriginal Children’s Training Act enabling removal of neglected illegitimate aboriginal children to institutions without a court order. But the Act was quickly suspended because Aborigines objected to it. The Protector could then only remove children where the parents were willing.

Protector South’s successor, Francis Garnett, reported in 1924 that about 20 “half-caste” girls from Alice Springs  had been put into domestic placements in SA,  since jobs were scarce in the NT and the girls were at risk from predatory white station hands. But he said such transfers were inhumane and  “should be considered a temporary expedient and stopped as soon as possible.”

The 1997 apology document concedes that Protectors and departmental officials lacked power or ability for arbitrary removals. Such actions not only required the cooperation of  courts but also several  branches of the government, it said. It cites the “storm of protest” when Parliament sought to drop safeguards.

More on the 1997 booklet

In the whole 1997  document, there is only one instance cited of an Aboriginal child being targeted for removal  because of race rather than welfare or neglect. It quotes the Protector in 1912 about

“an illegitimate quadroon girl, aged between 9 and 12 years, called [girl’s name] at Point McLeay Mission Station. Although the girl is fairly well cared for, I consider that she should not be reared amongst the aborigines, and would respectfully suggest that the matter be referred to the State Children’s Council with a view to her being brought under their control.”

The document does not say whether the removal actually occurred. But it notes contemporary testimony that police were reluctant to get involved in removals  — even if a child was “in a really bad state” — because they could suffer violent clan  retaliation. Moreover, magistrates tended to have no objection to children being brought up in a wurley.

Another church home for children was at Koonibba, which had 67 children in 1920. The 1997 document says they were

“hence  separated from their families. Reports of the day claim that ‘many parents voluntarily [gave] up their children’ to be placed in the children’s home. This claim is disputed by many Aboriginal people today.”

This wording is quite dishonest. The reality was that parents worked during the week on local stations, while their children were being schooled and cared for on the mission. Of course, they were re-united for the weekends. This occurred at many missions, well into recent times – for example, at Gerard Mission until 1961, when the government took it over and ceased the service.

The same apology document claimed that from about 1913-63, removed children, shamefully, “were rarely allowed contact, or reunited with their parents.” Crooks and Lane find the opposite.

Children not separated

In 1919, Crooks and Lane cite, Protector South complained that when girls were placed in domestic work (one of the very few occupations for working-class girls at the time) they still had liberty to return to their camps or parents whenever they wished, and to live there in idleness.

At Point McLeay and Point Pearce missions there had been a degree of separation after children were voluntarily placed by parents in a dormitory. When the state took the missions over in 1917 and closed the dormitories, policy became to bring mothers more closely  into the child’s upbringing, with requirements to wash and mend the school clothes, for example.

Aborigines on the missions came and went at will, Crooks and Lane say. Children who wanted to go back to their home districts were supported for the trip. One boy was supported to Oodnadatta and then further to his home country. He was back at the mission a year or so later, when his successful request for a harmonium (a small organ) was recorded. He had saved 15 pounds, half the substantial cost. The Protector paid the other 15 pounds. Lane adds, “No mission was ever fenced to keep people in.”

Far from wanting to herd communities onto missions, the Protectors sought to keep groups self-sufficient. From the 1860s onwards the  Protector provided dozens, perhaps a hundred or more, fifteen-foot boats and smaller canoes, fishing gear and guns for hunting to people on the Murray and Coopers Creek  waterways to help them “stay in their own districts”. Non-workers got the items and repairs free; working Aboriginals paid half costs.

In the 1940s an explicit goal of the Aborigines Protection Board  was to preserve family life intact as far as possible, and it created travelling welfare officers to coach Aboriginal mothers on child-rearing and thus avoid the need for removals because of neglect.

Today’s odd priorities

As for the modern era, more than one in twenty (5.23%) of South Australian Aboriginal children as of  June, 2015, were in out-of-home care, more than nine times the rate of non-Aboriginal children. In Victoria, of the 1511 Aboriginal children in care (up 59% since 2013), close to 90% had experienced family violence and parental alcohol/substance abuse.[7]  There seems more pressing social issues today than painting grim and exaggerated pictures of “stolen generations”.

Tony Thomas’ new book of Quadrant essays, “That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print” is available here.

[1] A typical example: “Tearing drawings. Students make a drawing of their family at home and include valued items such as pets or computers. The teacher then tells the story of stolen children and, while walking around the room, tears away part of each student’s drawing. A student could then talk about how they felt about their valuable work being ripped apart and how they would feel being ripped from their family.”

[2]  Health aspects were mentioned by Point McLeay missionary Rev George Taplin on 5/7/1864:

The practice of the natives in drying their dead is a very horrible one. Fancy a corpse over a slow fire in a state of putrefaction and the juices of the body gradually frying out and dropping into the fire below and making a horrible fetid smoke…I have no doubt that the practice is killing them, and will do so in increasing numbers, for every death causes disease. I have known horrible old men to catch the corruption dropping from a dead body in a pannican, and then besmear their bodies with it to make them strong. Fancy how they smell afterwards. I would fain visit the wurleys more, but am often kept outside by the horrid smell. There will be perhaps 15 or 20 dead bodies all more or less decayed in the wurley or hut, and the stench from them is indescribable.

How horrible it is too, to see a mother or father basting with oil and red ochre an infant’s corpse as it is squat up on a sort of bier or stage. And then the mourners will be daubed (that is, the women) with human ordure and consequently stink till you cannot approach them. I have known people to die through the stench of the dead and yet the poor souls keep on the practice. The young men and women would I believe fain to do away with it, and would be glad if the civil power compelled them to bury their dead.  And then, most of their witchcraft depends on the practice.

Elsewhere a horrified Taplin notes breast-feeding mothers smearing their breasts with these body juices and then suckling their children.

[3] Hoplon Press, Adelaide. Available from   $A29 paperback or $A44 hardback, post-free.

[4] Nationally from about 1880 to 1970, Windschuttle found 8250 Aboriginal children taken into care for all reasons, including NSW (2600); WA (2500); NT (1000) and  Victoria (700). That’s about 90 a year, including orphans, the destitute, the neglected and those given up voluntarily by parents. The small numbers leave small scope for any “stolen generation” national genocide involving a total 50,000-100,000 forcible removals.

[5] The schooling appeared to be effective, a contrast to the remote schools today. Protector South commented in 1908, “It is now seldom in the settled districts that one meets a native who cannot read and write.” The Closing The Gap report (2015) said remote attendance rates were as low as 14%, and only 35% of children there met minimum Year 7 reading standards. Overall there was no significant literacy improvement by Aboriginal students generally from 2008-14.

[6]  Confusingly, the 1997 document says a few pages later that removals from 1909 had “gathered pace” and the total of removals from 1909-14 was 58.

[7] The Jackomos report to the Victorian government on neglected Aboriginal children (October, 2016) described “a catalogue of failure and neglect in many areas by the [Victorian] State.”


  1. Jody

    This was always the great lie, catapulting the aboriginal community into a downward spiral of helpless dependency and victimhood; the bigotry of the soft left, described by Pearson. Short of disability, chronic or terminal illness we all have the capability to lift ourselves out of crisis and penury. The aboriginal population is now different, assuming that we are told correctly – all people are equal. That being the case we should demand of them the same as we demand of all people – resilience and independent responsibility. Anything less is abuse. And it’s what the left does oh, so well.

    One of my last tasks in teaching was to show Year 12 English students how they had been comprehensively brainwashed in the film “Rabbit Proof Fence”. As a narrative it’s a good yarn, but it’s essentially propaganda from the black armband brigade. As I have a background in documentary film, and university qualifications in film study, it was as easy as falling off a log to demonstrate to 16/17 y/o how they had been propagandized. I hadn’t seen the film before I had to teach it, but it was so infuriating to me that I stopped the film midway through and said, “oh, wait a minute; this isn’t going to stand”. So, while teaching the kids about “the Journey” for their “Area of Study” I taught them an invaluable lesson about how image and sound are used to propagandize – and they learned all about “agitprop”. Yes, that was very satisfying.

  2. en passant

    There were a number of aboriginal soldiers in units in which I served. I always asked them why they joined the Army. The unfailing answer was: “to get away from the clan and give myself a better life.”

  3. Salome

    minuscule, not miniscule.

  4. Bill Martin

    Reading an article like this brings one’s blood to boiling point. The principal target of one’s rage is not the politically correct progressive left but the educated Aborigines who condemn their less fortunate kin to perpetual misery by vigorously promoting the black armband victimhood narrative while enjoying a lavish lifestyle funded by those despicable, heartless, racist whities. There is no lower form of life than that.

    • Warty

      And that creep Mick Dodson participated in the lie, with his 100, 000 stolen children. He for one wouldn’t want this report to get out: it would be one more nail in the Constitutional Recognition coffin.

    • rosross

      I don’t think it helps to attack people personally. Generally people are acting in what they perceive are their own best interests even if they are misinformed or willingly ill-informed.

  5. Patrick McCauley

    And the historians are in this fraud up to their necks. Entire history departments of most universities are pedalling the Stolen Generations as the height and proof of Australian cruelty and racism – as attempted Genocide. Every student has seen “Rabbit Proof fence’ at least ten times during their school years and no mention of Doris Pilkington’s outrage at having her story so thoroughly mutilated by Phillip Noyce. Nor the images of having children ripped out of their mother’s arms by a policemen. This film has done more harm to Australians than Mein Kampf did to Germans. This lie has been profound, deliberate, extended, celebrated and has fuelled such resentment as to actually manifest itself into further disfunction. It has stopped Aboriginal children attending school. It has served to prevent Aboriginal children from learning to read and write in English. This of all things is what finally drove me out of left wing thinking, and it is the left who have perpetrated and fuelled this lie for over thirty years. What is shameful, is not Australia’s efforts at providing a Christian compassion to Aboriginal children with absent white fathers and vulnerable Aboriginal mothers, but the intellectuals who have driven this lie into a National Apology for something we did not do. Phillip Noyce made Australia bend down in shame before his nasty lie purporting to be a documentary. And don’t forget the parts that Robert Manne and Rai Gaita played in this shameful fiction.

    • Jody

      Nasty individuals, all. You could see from the first 15 minutes of the film what agitprop it was!! These are one and the same that luvvie Meryl Streep are “defending” against Donald trump. The latter is full of faults and will probably fail but I agree with my eldest son; Trump is taking a sledgehammer to the Left.


      In one of Arthur Upfield’s earliest ‘Bony’ novels, published in 1937, Bony has to work undercover on the Rabbit Fence, at Burracoppin, As usual, Upfield goes into fine detail about the job: each man was assigned about seven miles of fence to maintain, fork tumbleweed over, fix rotten posts, etc. So perhaps 150 men were working every day on the Fence, from one end to the other. Is it really possible that none of them spoke to each other, or to their drinking mates in the local pub each night, and that such information wouldn’t get into the local paper, and from there into the West Australian ? There is no reference whatever to such a story on Trove:

      I don’t think that Doris Pilkington (born 1937) lied, but it is highly unlikely that a story can be remembered with perfect accuracy after twenty year, let alone sixty.

      In the 1934 Moseley Commission, set up by the new Labor Government t enquire into Aboriginal issues, there are no references to this story, not by Neville nor by Mrs. Mary Bennett, his perennial thorn in the side. There are refr3ences to girls running away from Moore River settlement, usually sixteen or seventeen years old, but where did they run to, or towards ? Fremantle, the bright lights. So this story directly contradicts not only the truth but the direction in which girls went, and the story and film, in their anti-assimilationist fervour, contradict the intent of those girls to get as much ‘assimilation’ as they could.

      I was born on the Left, I pent twenty years as a Maoist, but I have been disillusioned by so many aspects of the Aboriginal story. Poverty ? I did an income study of community where we had lived for four years, and to my horror, found that the average family income was equal to the Australian average, while rents were a fifth of the Australian average. Deaths in custody ? The proportion of DIC was lower than the proportion of Aboriginal people in the prison system. The Hindmarsh Island Scam ? My wife was from that group: it was clearly a fraud, perhaps dreamt up by Aboriginal people who found out about secret women’s business’ up in the North, and assumed that since all Aboriginal culture is the same across Australia, they must have had it down that way, but whites had kept it from them. Bastards. A little learning is a dangerous thing …..

    • Alistair

      “Evil” is the word (to describe our historians and academics) that comes to my mind – which is why Joe and I wrote the book – Voices from the Past. After reading the Protectors’annual reports we thought they were being misrepresented and denied natural justice. The book allows the Protectors their own voice in the current debate – instead of hearing only distortions by academics, historians and the aborigines themselves.

      • gary@erko

        Many of the links on your First Sources website end up nowhere, or open a page of unreadable characters.

      • rosross

        Evil, defined as that which negates, live spelled backwards perhaps, but not evil in the conventional sense.

        Academics at worst are self-serving do-gooders, seeking to profit from their position in an industry which provides benefits financial, professional, political and in terms of general power.

        The represent the debasement of academia in an age where opinions are considered as important, if not more important, than facts.

  6. rosross

    The heartening thing is that there are voices now, and some coming from within the indigenous community, breaking free of the black-armband lies and distortions and seeking to speak not just truth, but common sense.

Warmism’s Martial Plan

Obama declines to bomb an ISIS convoy because burning trucks will boost CO2 emissions … Australia’s defence wallahs fret about rising seas and drowning air bases …  alarmist ratbaggery distorts strategy and budgets. Military effectiveness has a new enemy: the climate-scam crowd

green fleetThe US military is in flux as President-elect Trump prepares to rid it of Obama’s global-warming overlays. This switch is underway just as the Australian military is starting to adopt Obama-style environmentalism, after a decade’s passive resistance to  climate politics.

The ADF has already capitulated to feminists and inclusiveness mavens, with top brass applauding then-Human Rights Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick for her 2014 report castigating the force’s “masculine norms” and “warrior culture”. The ADF was also told by Assistant Defence Minister Stuart Robert in the Abbott government in March, 2015, to recruit an imam for the benefit of the force’s 100 Muslim recruits. The coming capitulation is to the hyped climate “science” of the ANU Climate Institute and Tim Flannery’s crusading Climate Council.

This essay looks at the status quo with environmentalism in the US military, and the recent flow-ons to Australia.

What happens when the military gets climate-minded played out in Syria a year ago. Russian President Vladimir Putin was annoyed at  Turkey shooting down a Russian SU-24 bomber. So he blew the whistle on America’s  reluctance to attack Syrian ISIS road tankers carting oil into Turkey. Those black-market oil sales generate the main funding for ISIS.[1]

Showing Russian reconnaissance footage, Putin spoke of “vehicles, carrying oil, lined up in a chain going beyond the horizon…a living oil pipe day and night.” US reporters wondered why the Obama administration hadn’t ordered US planes to  blow up the “living oil pipe”. The public explanation from former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell was that Obama did not want “to create environmental damage” or wreck infrastructure that Syrians would need in peace-time.

In an Obama version of shock and awe, A-10s Warthog ground-attack planes and Spectre gunships did start attacking the tankers, but only after leaflet drops to give the ISIS tanker drivers a considerate 45 minutes to “get out of your trucks now and run away from them.”

Concern about CO2 emissions from exploding ISIS oil tankers is just one facet of Obama’s generalship. Since 2009 he has been issuing progressively-tougher Executive Orders to government agencies, including Defence, demanding that global warming issues be raised to top-priority status. Obama has several times publicly declared climate change to  be an equal or greater threat than terrorism, and the Obama/Kerry team recently  moved climate change talks from the Oval Office to the “Situation Room,” for military/security discussion of  active threats to the US.

Dakota Wood, a retired Marine Corps officer and U.S. Central Command planner, says the Pentagon is introducing climate change, right down to military tactics, techniques and procedures level.

China’s military doctrine is less convoluted: “China’s armed forces uphold combat effectiveness as the sole and fundamental standard and work to build themselves into a people’s military that can fight and win.”  Putin, like his Chinese counterparts, has not afflicted the Russian military with climate provisos.

Another serious “threat to national security” posited by Obama is from politicians who deny that various extreme weather events are demonstrations of climate change.  Whatever dissent existed among the top US brass about the Obama campaign went mainly unspoken, while more ambitious officers competed publicly  to burnish their climate credentials. But in mid-2015, General Martin Dempsey, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made his disgust clear by issuing a 14-page policy statement on military doctrine that contains not one mention of climate change.

Trump’s eagerness to drain Obama’s military swamp is evident from his 74 questions to the Department of Energy. He wants to identify all programs tainted by Obama’s junk science, along with the programs’ bureaucratic champions. The specificity of the questions is impressive, and designed to trump any civil-service obfuscation and passive resistance. The Brits take a perverse pride in Yes, Minister bureaucrats who run rings around their politicians. Trump and his realpolitik appointees intend to (and know how to) beat the bureaucrats.

The US Navy’s so-called “Great Green Fleet” reflects Obama’s priorities, and has some direct Australian flow-ons. The background is the Navy target to run 50% on planet-friendly alternative fuels by 2020, along with many conventional energy-saving measures.  In practice, if a fuel stock contains as little as 10% biofuel, it can be fudged into the ‘green’ category.

Obama’s original intent was emissions reductions to slow global warming. During that era of $US120+ for a barrel for oil, producing fuel from chicken fat and old cooking oil didn’t seem wholly irrational. Even so, Navy coffers were depleted by at least a billion dollars in subsidies to biofuel refineries and infrastructure, with leakages to the usual green parasites and scammers.

The three US military-spec biofuel refineries can put out a mere 100 million gallons of biofuel a year, relative to the US military’s total fuel use of 4.6  billion gallons.

The biofuels policy has required constant patches to make it sensible-seeming in the real world. In this era of sub-$US50 per barrel oil, justifying biofuels is not easy. Even to Obama, the program must look like a dead man walking. The flaws, and their patches, include

  • Low energy density: Normal biofuels pack less energy per unit volume, an obvious burden to the military. The suppliers must offer “Third Generation” biofuels which somehow equal the energy-density of petroleum.
  • Extra expense: Suppliers must win orders commercially, which is only made possible by government subsidies to upstream processing.
  • Transition problems: Supplied biofuels must be ‘drop-in’ capable and require no modification to ships’  fuel equipment.
  • No actual saving in emissions: The farm-intensive nature of biofuels means their life-cycle CO2 emissions are normally worse than for fossil fuels. Suppliers are now required to demonstrate life-cycle CO2 savings, or at least go through the motions of doing so.
  • Crop diversions from foodstocks to biofuels: Nearly half US corn production is now diverted to biofuels and the world’s poorest suffer because of more expensive foodstocks. Suppliers must show (somehow) that their cropping is “complementary” to food production.

A Rand report in 2011 for the Secretary of Defence concluded (p83): “There is no direct benefit to the Department of Defense or the services from using alternative fuels rather than petroleum-derived fuels.”

After all that, the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, can muster only two rationales for the biofuel switch. The first is that it benefits growers in Ohio and other corn-producing states. Well, it would. The second is that biofuels improve US fuel security : “It keeps … fuel from being used as a weapon against us,”  he said. This is absurd, given America’s vast new  wealth of  fracked petroleum and  impending energy self-sufficiency.

Back home now, as newsreaders say, and Queensland Premier Anna Palaszczuk last August took a break from the mass-hiring of public servants to sign a “high-level agreement” on  biofuels with the US Navy’s deputy under-secretary for management, Thomas Hicks. Her vision is for the US green navy to be able to refuel at Queensland ports with ‘drop-in’ local biofuels. This would ease the US Pacific fleet’s self-inflicted logistical issue of running on two different but equivalent fuel stocks, one of them virtually unavailable outside the US. Palaszczuk’s plan is to explore how to “make Queensland the biofuel hub of the Asia Pacific”. She sees the signing as “a giant stride” towards a new Queensland industry generating “the next wave of long-term, export-oriented job opportunities”.

She has also “lured” (her word)  Southern Oil Refining from NSW to build a $16 million biofuel pilot plant at Gladstone using sugar-cane waste. If successful, it would be scaled to a $150 million refinery making 200 million litres of military-style biofuel.

Meanwhile, Australian scientists are supposedly close to using eucalyptus trees to develop ‘green’ jet fuel. According to Anthony Bergin of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, this terrific idea could also revegetate arid areas and military training ranges with suitable trees, along with creating jobs for indigenes while ironing out the ups and downs of commercial fuel prices.”[2] This really over-sells some embryonic research.

Obama’s notions of a climate-friendly military are now getting traction with the Australian Defence Force. For example, the ADF is an official supporter of WWF’s Earth Hour. At 8pm next March 25, expect lights at the ADF’s Russell offices to twinkle off (happily, it’s a Saturday night).

The military is seen by Australia’s social-justice set as a trophy agency – capturing it would be a PR coup. A more sinister agenda emanates from the Greens Party, with its policy  for downgrading military capacity to non-offensive roles, with funding to be cut accordingly; ranks having the right to conscientiously object to what they see as illegal military actions; and closure of all foreign bases and joint facilities in Australia.[3] By also  loading up  the ADF with social-justice add-ons, the Greens can effect and enjoy the force’s reduction in combat capability.

Until 2009, the emissions-haters had got nowhere with the ADF, despite Kevin Rudd’s accession and his come-and-go assertion of 2008 that climate is the greatest moral challenge of our time. In a huge embarrassment to the warmist community, the 2009 Defence White Paper had this to say:

4.61  Uncertainty about the effects of climate change and the period of time over which potential impacts may develop makes it difficult to assess its strategic consequences. Large-scale strategic consequences 
of climate change are not likely to be felt before 2030.”  (My emphasis)

Although the White Paper went on to fret about drowning island states etc., along with imagined future droughts, floods and cyclones, the damage was done – who really cares about hypothetical weather 20 years hence? Not the ADF, for starters.

To add to the Greens’ annoyance, the 2009 White Paper also included a bitchy aside that social instabilities and resource pressures, “whether caused by climate change or other dynamics” could create issues.  Heavens, doubt is expressed!

Those 2009 heresies could not be allowed to stand, since military greenies were  clamouring that global warming is already upon us (regardless that atmospheric warming has now been insignificant for the past 18 years, apart from the 2015-16 El Nino spike). So in the 2013 White Paper, the year 2030 disappeared, along with any doubts about global warming . The White Paper continued to gloom about South Pacific islands and added the fashionable memes about myriads of climate refugees.  (The UN  converted this scare to farce by forecasting in 2005 a surge of 50 million refugeesby 2010 . When challenged on it in 2010, the UNEP people furtively shifted the end-date to 2020. A further furtive shift is likely three years’ hence).

The 2016 White Paper, which had its main gestation during the un-green Abbott Prime Ministership,[4] keeps the climate story brief and muddled. It talks, as usual, about the Pacific islands’ instability, but not from 2030 (2009 report) but out to 2035. Quite a difference. With a rush of honesty, it puts the instability down to economic growth, crime, and social problems, with “climate change challenges” cited last on the list. Later it says climate change “will” see big sea rises and more and worse extreme weather events, with more calls on the ADF for neighborly help.

The “increased extreme weather” rationale is a croc. Roger Pielke Jr.,  professor of environmental studies at the  University of Colorado and a specialist in extreme weather’s history, has found  no significant trends in global tropical cyclone and floods frequency over the past 50-to-100 years. Nor has the IPCC. After giving such evidence to Congress in 2013, Pielke was witch-hunted by Democrat politicians falsely claiming he had dishonestly concealed fossil-fuel funding.

There is a new and somewhat comical concern for Australian coastal ADF facilities, because of the feared CO2-driven sea rises. There were further ADF inquiries in 2015 about the peril, putting the RAAF Townsville on the front line of sogginess (the findings are secret). I can assist the ADF by noting tide gauges at Townsville show 130mm of rise since 1959, that’s 5 inches in 57 years — or, put another way,  a bit more than the length of my hand (8in) per 100 years. Also that Queensland sea levels have been flat geologically for 7000 years; and that the current global sea rise is not accelerating.[5] Allowing for the climate models’ wild exaggerations to date, I’d say Townsville RAAF tarmac is safe from global-warming swamping till about 2100 or maybe 2300.  Indeed, a   Nature Climate Change study published in August found via satellites a net global gain of land totaling 58,000 square km. This included 13,500 sq km of coastal land surface, during  a 30 year period of spectacular CO2 emissions.

All-up, the ADF’s most workshopped public statements give global warming a perfunctory run of negative factoids, certainly not in the apocalyptic tone sought by green advocates inside and outside Defence.

The ginger group working to wean the ADF into climateering is led by ADF chief  (1998-02), and now ANU academic Admiral Chris Barrie (Ret.)[6] Barrie, like the HRC’s Gillian Triggs, also virulently criticized the Abbott-led asylum-seeker policy. Despite the degree of operational insight one would assume to be conferred by the title “admiral”, Barrie got it wrong on the tow-back solution, incorrectly predicting tht boats would be burnt and sunk by their undocumented occupants.

On global warming, Barrie is  heavily influenced by the ANU’s Climate Institute boss Will “Death Threats” Steffen. In 2015 they wrote a joint report for Flannery’s Climate Council on why the ADF should elevate global warming to a central place in strategy.

Another ardent climate pusher is Major Michael Thomas (Ret.) He says the politicisation of climate change had been “a huge distraction to defence”, i.e. it had resisted the urgings of the unelected academics and various ex-military. Thomas, who refers without quotes to the “progressive” Rudd-Gillard governments, said a year ago, “There are pockets of interest within the military on the subject, but it’s not something that has captured the attention of our senior leadership…”

Similarly Barrie, who teaches at the Australian National University, said captains and majors “get it” but “we were just not getting it where it really mattered…We do need to get the leadership all signed up in politics and the ADF.” Since Turnbull took over as PM, the brass  are publicly hitching the ADF to the warmist bandwagon.

A particular goal of the lobbyists is the creation of peak bureaucratic councils within the ADF on global warming, to include climate scientists and other activists.  This would give them more power than merely hosting external joint seminars and writing climate tracts for ADF consumption.

Chief of the Army Lt.Gen. Angus Campbell also has been nobbled by the ANU Climate Institute, inserting their apocalyptic factoids into an important speech to the Chief of Army’s Exercise last September 6. The speech drew on three luminaries from the Climate Change Institute –   Steffen, Andrew Glikson[7] and Janette Lindesay.

The speech drew on three luminaries from the Climate Change Institute –   Steffen, Andrew Glikson[7] and Janette Lindesay.

“For the first time in mankind’s history our planet may become unsuitable for habitation in many of the places where large populations presently live,” Campbell fantasised. He quoted the Institute that “changes would be irreversible on the time scale of human civilisation and would dramatically change the planet as we know it.”

Campbell hasn’t noticed that the nearly one degree of global warming to date has promoted massive gains in food output.[8] Nor that CO2’s beneficial effects in the past  30 years include greening the planet’s deserts to an extent equal to 2.5 times the area of Australia. Even the ABC couldn’t ignore that bit of news.[9]

Instead, the Lt-Gen has put his trust in IPCC computer models which, although claiming prescience to year 2100, never foresaw the past two decades’ warming hiatus (as measured by satellites), and on average are now overstating actual warming by a factor of two or three times.

Campbell doubled-down on his Year 2100 soothsaying, quoting that failure to check emissions would lead to a 23% drop in world economic output by 2100. This futurism on stilts derived from a2015 Stanford-based study in Nature. An equivalent would be a cavalry colonel in 1900 forecasting army transport in 2000. A decade ago we had the UK report by Lord Stern, wildly mis-forecasting net benefits of emissions control over the next half-century. Economists mocked his use of an absurd 1.4% future discount rate to ensure that emission reductions came out all good.

Campbell also trotted out the drowning-atolls meme, which has been debunked by tide gauges,  post-war aerial mapping– and Charles Darwin, who provided the theoretical refutation in 1836.   The islands may be uninhabitable by 2050, as Campbell suggests. But that would be from eco-degradation by the fast-breeding  locals, not from  imperceptible sea rises. As mentioned, the 2016 White Paper hinted at the main causations.

All this may become moot when President Trump marches the climate crowd out of the military sphere. With the Turnbull government wedded to spending nine-figure sums on anti-global- warming symbolism, the ADF may continue to be white-anted by global warming accretions. Within the ADF must be thousands of front-line people sickened by their employer’s pivot to political correctness and irrational solutions to non-problems. How it all plays out will be seen in the next federal election. At least the social justice warriors aren’t yet demanding “safe spaces” in the military.

Tony Thomas’ new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.

[1]  Bilal Erdogan, the son of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan,  owns an oil company and Syrian authorities say Bilal is the main buyer.

[2]  ANU researcher Dr  Carston Kulheim suggests: “If we could plant 20 million hectares of eucalyptus species worldwide, which is currently the same amount that is planted for pulp and paper, we would be able to produce enough jet fuel for five per cent of the aviation industry.”

[3] “The deployment of Australian Defence Forces (ADF) must be for defence and peace-keeping, and not for offensive action.”

[4] A discussion paper in 2014 on the impending report made no mention of climate change. Admiral Barrie has claimed Abbott banned use of the words “climate change”.

[5] It’s within the margin of error of the data, and that data has been heavily adjusted in the first place.

[6] Barrie hit the headlines in 2001 when he first endorsed, then disendorsed, a caption to a Navy photo that said asylum seekers of Siev 4 had thrown children overboard. Actually the asylum-seekers wrecked the steering and engine on 7 October, 2001 and next day, unsurprisingly, the ship sank.
Navy people rescued 76 children from the sea.  Distinctions between thrown overboard and dumped in the water are hardly material. One child was thrown overboard (Vessel Siev 7, 24 October, 2001), and another asylum-seeker made such determined efforts to throw a child overboard that he had to be handcuffed (Siev 9, 31 October, 2001).

[7] Glikson: “The unbearable knowledge, that global warming to 3 and 4 degrees C can only spell the demise of numerous species and a collapse of civilisation as we know it under extreme global temperatures, casts a shadow on day-to-day life.”

[8] The study led by Delphine Deryng, an environmental scientist at Columbia University’s Centre for Climate Systems Research, and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies predicted average yields of current rain-fed wheat areas, mostly located in the West’s higher latitudes, might go up by almost 10 per cent, with less water consumption needed. But average yields of irrigated wheat, which account for much of India and China’s production, could decline by four per cent.

[9] Robert Macklin in his 2015 book Warrior Elite  manages to get reality 100% wrong, writing,  “And nowhere is climate change more obvious, as the Sahara advances south at frightening speed.”


  1. Bill Martin

    In the not very distant future children will incredulously ask their grandparents “gran/grandpa, is it true that when you were going to school you were taught that the world was heating up and everybody would die because … (get an endless list of details from any greenie to complete the question.)

    • en passant

      My 7-year old grandson, does not ask me your question.

      Instead he tells me with the experience of life that only pre-youth tots can assert with certainty: we are indeed going to fry & die, by heat, cold, starvation, resource depletion, industrial greed, pollution, mining, over-fishing, drought, drowning and disease et al … Education has changed since my day, but then I missed both the 20th Century’s totalitarian cults and learned to read, to write and became somewhat numerate. Fortunately, he has caught the Third Environmental Wave.

      I have a 50-year association with the military and retain a keen interest in Defence matters. Everything you say is correct, so we are doomed, but it will not be because of climate. Not only are our politicians inept and self-serving, to the point of treason in some cases (hat tip to Richard H for identifying their behaviour for what it is), but some of the numerous Defence related organisations to which I still belong, including the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), have been undermined.

      The stunning Green kumbayah proposal that “The deployment of Australian Defence Forces (ADF) must be for defence and peace-keeping, and not for offensive action” is beyond answering as you cannot debate intellectual microbes. All I can think of is that we need their negotiating skills in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and wherever … because they know of course, that ISIS is just a fiction of the alt-Right imagination. Peace in our time …

      I thought this comment was beyond parody as it had plumbed the Marianas Trench of inanity, but it was easily topped by Admiral Chris Barrie’s fictional description of the current climate situation and our potential future.

      Unfortunately, RUSI has become critically infected with the Climate Whatever blather. I have been carrying the Winter 2016 RUSI magazine (Vol. 67, No. 2) around with me since last July. It contains an appalling Editorial Opinion supporting the ‘climate-change’ hoax as if it was both real and a serious threat. The absolute tosh presented as a threat to Australia (naturally requiring consultants to direct the ADF resources necessary to take action to fight this chimera. I wonder what ‘winning’ looks like – and how we could measure it?) is a disgrace to the lives of the real warriors tasked with defending Australia. That our non-combatant ADF commanders are focused on so many irrelevant shadow boxing climate and sexual preference non-issues, then the core purpose of the military is maligned and its fighting effectiveness is compromised. The Anzac legend is now history that can no longer be taught as students could not relate to their ethos.
      I counted 37 factual and statistical errors in a 4-page article, surely a record {at least until you give the (hopefully) last Australian of the Year some space and high heels in which to make a fool of himself. I would be happy to debate Admiral Barrie on his favourite myth, but I doubt he would accept my offer as debating on real facts and not parroted cliches are apparently not his strong point.

      I offered to write a reasoned and factual rebuttal to the Barrie fairy tale for the RUSI magazine, (without any histrionics, but no prisoners would be taken) but my offer was rejected. I assume an alternative reality does not fit the green-tinted propaganda I have increasingly noticed that RUSI has now subscribed to.

      If the ADF & organisations like RUSI continue to promote fictional analyses of non-problems, then the leadership of our ‘warrior scholars’ in adding value by intellectually contributing to the debate concerning the defence of Australia is severely diminished.

      The excuse given by Bozo Bazza for refusing to allow his military to kill the enemy because it might pollute the atmosphere is incredible in the true sense of the word. I am sure he had more personal reasons …

      I could go on, but then this would no longer be a comment, but an article in itself.

      As a bonus, let me predict that the fossil-fuelled French short-fin Baitfish will NEVER be built in Australia. You heard it here first.”

  2. Richard H

    In a better age, such vile efforts to undermine our armed forces’ fighting capability would be briefly described in one word: treason.

  3. Keith Kennelly


    Yes that required all our ‘authorities’ to have a backbone.

  4. Bushranger71

    The 2 Chiefs of Defence Force (both now Knighted) who followed Barrie had even greater damaging effects on Australia’s military integrity in my view, especially the Air Force member noted for his catastrophic support of many the flawed hardware decisions spawned by the Howard Government from Year 2000 onwards, and still rolling.

    The galling bit is that these guys are exalted by The Establishment. In recent times, just one Admiral chose to retire prematurely, probably because he did not want to be caught up in the snowballing quagmire; but it has been a very long time since there has been an Australian military leader prepared to fall on his sword to defend the undermining of military integrity by the politically correct disease that now infests the nation, and especially Canberra.

    • Bushranger71

      Errata. I meant to say in the last sentence ‘…to defend against the undermining of military integrity…’. Not as sharp now at 79!

      The other key aspect worth mention here is the progressive breakdown of a functional Defence infrastructure and military cultural decay originated with the creation of a thinly-veiled unified ADF resulting from the Tange Reorganization in 1974. Both of the major political parties were complicit.

  5. Davidovich

    Thanks Tony, for this informative and alarming article. This dangerous inanity by Obama and defence leaders in the US and Australia needs to receive broader exposure as, surely, most Australians would be appalled by what is happening to our Defence Forces and thus to the real security of our country and, by Obama’s actions, to the world. On reflection, given en passant’s experience with his 7 year old grandson, perhaps most Australians would not be too concerned.

    • padraic

      I remember reading in 2014 that story of how the ADF was castigated for having “masculine norms” and a “warrior culture” and thinking that such attributes were vital for such an organisation and wondering how they would cope with attributes approved by the feministas – perhaps instead of shooting at the enemy they could “counsel” them about their inappropriate behaviour, using all the unenemployed psychology graduates pumped out by our universities. God, what a mess. The feminisation of the Western male is in full swing. The other thing that Tony correctly highlights is the sale of oil by ISIS to fund their war. At least we now know it was being sold quite openly in Turkey as convoys of trucks crossed the border without too much trouble. So if Sunni Turkey supports ISIS and ships ISIS fighters to Europe masquerading as victims why hasn’t anyone called them out? It’s a little wonder that people in the West are becoming “deplorable” when they are being treated like mushrooms by their politician and media.

  6. Ian MacDougall

    According to the article: “The public explanation from former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell was that Obama did not want ‘to create environmental damage’ or wreck infrastructure that Syrians would need in peace-time. According to the link below, the American orders to spare the controversial convoy were about avoidance of civilian casualties, and NOT military timidity.

    But the agenda underlying this piece appears to be Tony Thomas’ long-established aversion to climatology. By implication, as science is essentially indivisible, he should also be agin the more basic science as well. He should be against Arrhenius, for his discovery of the heat-trapping properties of CO2 gas. Beyond that, he should also denounce the contributions made to chemistry by Antoine Lavoisier (concept of elements) Meyer and Mendeleev (the periodic system) because Arrhenius rested on them, and thus their work has negative implications for climate ‘scepticism’.
    That will leave TT with the theories of the Medieval alchemists, (phlogiston and all that) and precious little else. The physics of Archimedes, hopefully, might just squeak by.

    • Tony Thomas

      Thanks Ian. I’m perfectly comfortable with the theory of heat-trapping gases.
      I’m not happy with the IPCC formulation that more than half the past 60 years warming is due to human-caused CO2 increases. Since the IPCC’s understanding of natural climate forcing factors is poor (as the IPCC conceded in its 2007 report), its quantification of CO2 effects vs natural effects must be guesswork. How important to climate change is the multitude of overlapping oceanic cycles, including cycles of up to 60 years or maybe longer? How important is the sunspot cycle on warming/cooling? Cloudiness levels are known to be highly important to warming/cooling but the IPCC doesn’t even pretend to have a handle on global cloudiness levels and changes. The IPCC’s understanding of the global carbon cycle is also low; many elements of the cycle have previously been grossly miscalculated by the IPCC.
      In this milieu of wobbly climate “science”, far too many “climate scientists” have disgraced themselves by choosing to become political activists. The scandals involved have been legion.

      • Ian MacDougall


        That may well be the case.
        BUT you have committed yourself to the proposition that AGW has to be a ‘scam’ and a total fraud, giving yourself no room to move except deeper into it. Because if you allow the tiniest smidgin of a chance of a possibility that mainstream climatology might just be right, then you are in much the same position as that occupied by the pacifists in the 1930s as the probability of a new world war steadily tightened in the direction of certainty.
        Likewise the 197 scientific organizations that endorse the position that climate change is being caused by human action, including the CSIRO, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Royal Society: they all have to be wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!
        And it gets worse. In order to do that, mainstream climatology has to be presented either as a ship of fools, or as a 100% venality-motivated watertight global scientific conspiracy: one that would put the wackiest ‘9/11 truther’ in the shade. Moreover, any uncertainties in the science (and the systems that govern the climate are pretty chaotic) have to be trumpeted and pointed to as vigorously as possible. As you do.

        I would honestly like you to be right. But I will back the future of my descendants over the ever-diminishing chance that you are, and over the transient needs of the fossil-carbon industry and its shills any day.

        • Tony Thomas

          Thanks again Ian. It may surprise you but I have never referred to CAGW (don’t forget the C-for-Catastrophic is an important part of the package) as a “scam” or “fraud” in general. The system here at QO is that authors write the articles but the editor writes the headlines and opening ‘precede’.
          The 197 science organisations you refer to as endorsing CAGW, with 3-4 exceptions, have never surveyed their members about it. In the case of the Royal Society, its pro-CAGW policy a few years back was strongly disputed by an internal group which forced the leadership to tone down their language in a re-issued policy statement.On the few instances where science-body members have been surveyed, the results (as I recall) are typically only 60-40 in favour.
          Keep in mind that the IPCC’s original remit was and is to study the risks of human-induced climate change, which rather begs the question. Its job is not to study natural climate change per se.

          Next point is that for scientists to secure employment and research funding, they generally need to be ‘on board’ the CAGW bandwagon. For the sake of argument, if funding were directed ONLY to, say, solar influence on climate, you can bet that a vast global research industry on that topic would emerge. I wouldn’t expect many papers to be published saying that solar influences are negligible.
          Finally, despite this monopsonistic funding for CAGW research, the “science” of climate change includes hundreds of peer reviewed papers annually disputing the IPCC CAGW mantras. For some reasons this body of science is almost never acknowledged by the climate warriors. There were 280 such papers in 2015 and 240 in the first half of 2016.

    • PT

      Yawn. Ian, what was going to happen with that exported oil in the trucks Obama wouldn’t bomb for “environmental” concerns? Oh that’s right! Refined into diesel and petrol and burned! I remember the spurious claims made by “experts” about how a war in the Gulf in 1990 would raise global temperatures by 3 to 5degC! The same “experts” who gave us the nuclear winter etc. clearly “the science” was excessively influenced by ideology!

    • en passant

      Jellyfish Ian is back, just as ignorant and repetitive in 2017 as he was in 2016. He is still Ommm, Ommmming his myths and will fight with all his might to achieve his objective.

      Unfortunately, he has no idea what this objective is, so maybe it is just the contrarian fight of being annoying that he seeks to achieve. At least he is good at that badness.

      If there is an objective (or Holy Grail) you seek, what is it?

      1. What is the ideal average global temperature? and
      2. What is the ideal concentration of CO2 all our mitigation efforts are designed to achieve?

      I know you have no idea, as it is the green kool-aid to which you are addicte, but surely if you do not know where you are going then, like the brainless Tinman in Wizard of Oz any road will take you there?

      Sounds about right … and you are keeping embarrassing company, accompanied by many scientifically illiterate politicians.

      Let me spoil the start to everyone’s year. I just paid my QUARTERLY all-electric home bill. It was $50. Then again, this is because I live in Asia, only 30km from a huge coal-oil-gas fired power station. My bill shocked me, until I realised it was only so big because we forgot to turn off the water heater for the two-months we were not living there.

      I have challenged every warmist wonk to list seven benefits of +2°C and in return I will list seven bad effects. I predict (with the help of a computer model) that Ian will obfuscate, but will not accept the challenge.

      In short, Ian will just annoy us realists for 2017, because he can. Like a jellyfish, he does not need a sensible reason for chanting his mantra, because he is just Ian being Ian.

Gaia Can’t Stomach Spagbol

Where would we be without climate science — or, more particularly, what of carbonphobic academics if the global warming scam were ever de-funded? Why, researchers who devote their energies to the planet-despoiling peril of pasta with meat sauce would need to find something productive to do!

spagbolFight global warming by reducing CO2 emissions from your spaghetti bolognaise! This is the recommendation of two  academics associated with Melbourne’s  RMIT University whohave found that the farm-to-fork “Global Warming Potential” (GWP) of pasta with meat sauce can be significantly reduced by eliminating beef and substituting kangaroo. They recommend that for an even greater impact on global heat, rising seas, coral bleaching, tempests, bushfires and ocean acidification, you should dispense with the kangaroo too, and make your spagbol topping with lentils and kidney beans.

The Journal of Cleaner Production study, reprised at The Conversation, is by RMIT Principal Research Fellow Karli Verghese and Stephen Clune, senior lecturer in sustainable design, Lancaster University and formerly an RMIT Research Fellow. The authors say, “We hope that chefs, caterers and everyday foodies will use this information to cook meals without cooking the planet.”

A Conversation commenter, William Hollingsworth, self-identifying as “a Marxist monarchist”, suggests another planet-saving refinement to our favorite family fare. “Reduce the footprint for spaghetti bolognaise even further by cooking it in one pot, not by boiling the spaghetti separately which doubles the amount of energy needed for cooking and adds another pot to be washed up. Tastes just the same,” he says.

The true hero of RMIT’s spaghetti bolognaise-led crusade against global warming is not Skippy the Kangaroo but Oscar the Onion. The carbon footprint of onions, say the researchers, is so low it would take 50 medium onions (5.8kg) to generate 1kg of greenhouse gases. By contrast, a mere 44gm of premium beef spagbol topping generates a similar 1kg carbon footprint.

The authors, who are clearly not silly, stop short of recommending 50 medium onions for dinner. “Due to different culinary and dietary requirements,” they explain, “it is hard to argue that you can replace beef with onions.” (Insert flatulence jokes here.) A commenter, possibly a Scot[i], remarks that he would much rather eat 2.6kg of oats than 5.8kg of onions for the same greenhouse emissions.

From the paper, we discover that the five cloves of garlic in a spagbol recipe generate a mere 10 grams of harmful emissions, and the grated zucchini only 20 grams. There seems no need for either the Turnbull federal or Andrews state government to include garlic and zucchini emissions in their CO2 reduction targets. Nor do garlic and zucchini emissions bulk large in the global annual emissions tally of 42 billion tonnes.

The authors see their rankings of 168 kitchen foods’ footprints and the GWP of 1718 food stuffs’ values as relevant to the concerns of Gaia-loving householders and catering companies. If you’re fretting about your food emission “hot spots” from buffalo milk, eel, brassica, pollock, pepo,  swedes,  carp, hesperidium, true berries and pinto beans, just use their ready reckoner for planet-saving purposes.

But the  researchers lament that the emissions intensity of peanuts, goat, turkey, duck, quinoa, ostrich, emu, and rabbit  are not yet calculated – a task crying out for hefty research grants if ever there was one. Even the carbon footprint – rather,  macropod print – of kangaroos needs re-calculation. “Such information is critical if attempts are made to inform dietary choice for environmental purposes,” the authors say. Perhaps “critical” is over-stating things a bit; I’d rank cancer cures, rice yields and dark matter higher in the “critical” research category.

The academics model climate-friendly Australian weekly shopping lists and find lentil-heavy supermarket baskets can cut family emissions by between 30% and 50%. But their model didn’t cover things like travel to the shop, food storage at home, and the consequent environmental overhead of excretion.

The pair are part of the global academic horde feeding off the myth of catastrophic human-caused warming. The mortar-board mob must number in the scores or even hundreds of thousands, supported by untold billions in taxpayer funding. The spaghetti bolognaise paper alone cites nearly 100 supporting studies.

But not one such academic has noticed that no significant global warming has occurred for the past 20 years, contrary to all the computer models on which their scare depends. If the scare were ever to be scotched, research funding for spaghetti bolognaise and similar climate studies would dry up, and then what would these academics do?

Tony Thomas’s book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.

[i] Dr Samuel Johnson’s dictionary defines oats as ‘a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.’


  1. Bill Martin

    The final sentence of this article raises a concern of considerable importance. What, indeed, would all those avid “climate scientists” do if the scare of CAGW were conclusively debunked? Here is a simple, ready-made solution to that disconcerting scenario: Global Cooling! A considerable volume of work and publicity on the subject is available by just dusting off some of the “research” and spruiking that arose back in the 70s. Admittedly, it was nowhere near as thoroughly developed as is the current alarmism, but “researchers” could quickly overcome that handicap by utilising their vast expertise honed over the past couple of decades of generating unadulterated hogwash.

  2. Don A. Veitch

    Global cooling?
    Back in 1958 I was told by my science teacher that a New Ice Age had begun. I was very scared. How happy I was when I found out years later it was, indeed, global warming that had begun.
    Global warming holds no fears for me.

  3. Lawrie Ayres

    I think it is fair to say that these “scientists” are indeed parasites. Those millions who do real work and who expend real effort in order to earn a quid to feed their families and to even have some over to enjoy themselves should be outraged that there are people with little talent, an unpaid HECs bill and a desire to bludge who want tax dollars to indulge their personal fantasy. If this research was vital there would be a corporation somewhere that would willingly fund it in order to make a future profit. Why do governments believe it is reasonable to take from the productive so the parasitic can live their preferred life? It really is time to rebel.

  4. Davidovich

    If these so- called scientists do not know that a true bolognaise sauce has neither garlic nor zucchini, then how can we possibly take their prognostications seriously?

  5. Dallas Beaufort

    Eating raw oninons saves lives while 300 atmosphers of pressue to produce hydrogen for green cars makes better sense, Noodle nation ahoy.

  6. Keith Kennelly

    Won’t all those farts add to global warming … or don’t the elites fart?

    • padraic

      Keith, you took the lentils right out of my mouth. If we all did as we were told by the veganistas the world would have to cope with dangerous levels of human produced methane. Lentils and kidney beans are among the worst culprits. They contain a certain amount of plant protein but not as much as meat. Protein is essential for the development and replacement of brain cells and hence the pure protein of meat and similar animal protein(skim milk etc)will give a better result minus the gaseous exudates. It may also explain why certain academics smell bad and are a bit dull witted.

  7. Ian MacDougall

    Where would we be without climate science — or, more particularly, what of carbonphobic academics if the global warming scam were ever de-funded? Why, researchers who devote their energies to the planet-despoiling peril of pasta with meat sauce would need to find something productive to do! 

    This is a search for justification here: not one for truth.

    The global warming “scam”, ie the proposition that the Earth is warming, and that anthropogenic CO2 is mostly responsible, is endorsed by 197 scientific organisation world-wide, including the Royal Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and our own CSIRO. But if we are to follow the lead of Tony Thomas, we arrive at the conclusion that the purposes and motives of those scientists are quite base, venal and indeed fraudulent: a ‘scam’. It is a grab for money (ie research grants) and to blazes with any other consideration.

    It also rests on the proposition that all the climatologists and other endorsing scientists are involved in a cynical conspiracy that dwarfs any other in all of human history. Nothing that haunted the mind of a Caligula, Stalin or other paranoid despot even comes close.

    For a start, a conspiracy in order to work has to be 200% watertight. If just one of the conspirators involved succumbs to temptation and blows the whistle on it, it is not just game over for the conspirators: our whistleblower can dine out on it for the rest of his or her life, and enjoy a shower of awards, gongs, knighthoods, ticker-tape parades and such to whatever extent he or she pleases. Said whistleblower would have saved the whole world from the most monstrous fraud of all time.
    Meanwhile, the venal conspirators would deservedly face criminal prosecutions and civil actions galore, and if they were individually lucky, would finish up sharing a cell with a con artiste, cat burglar, bank robber, pickpocket or mere used car dealer.

    • Salome

      Academic conspiracies are more subtle than you think. An orthodoxy emerges, and people toe the line–they know what’ll get published and consequently what’ll get funded. That said, wasn’t there a bundle of leaked emails at one point that were swept under the carpet by an internal inquiry?

    • Rob Brighton

      You ignore is the venal behaviour of AGW proponents. They lie for Gaia constantly. When they will lie about the little things, they will bullshit you mercilessly when there is a quid involved.

      When Flim Flam Flannery states water levels will rise 8 stories and subsequently buys a waterfront, you can understand why people call him a liar and question the validity of all that he says.

      When the ABC talk doom and gloom whilst showing images of water vapour as if it is clouds of CO2 being emitted into the air, you can understand why many will call the proposal into question.

      When Close the Gate mob deliver brochures on the evils of fracking that states “we do not need gas to run our power stations because solar can produce base load power”, you can understand why people think AGW is BS.

      The scams are not the fundamental proposal of the existence of AGW, they are the leeches suckling on the life blood of the proposal.

    • mags of Queensland

      It wasn’t ” 197 scientific organizations” it was 197 scientists. That’s a start. Then the other issue is that those scientists who did not agree with those 197 were shut down and labelled ‘ deniers’.

      Even the IPCC admitted that its data was flawed. So where’s your argument now? There is much more evidence of the scam than there is that it’s not.

      And the last important point is that this is a THEORY, not actual, provable, repeatable fact.


      Ian, it is difficult to get a person to understand something when his salary depends on his/her not understanding it (Upton Sinclair)

    • RayB

      Boring, Ian. 600 years ago, the Pope, all his bihops, priests, & nuns, and every royal family in Europe believed that the Sun orbited the Earth. They used to kill people who made claims that this was not so.
      Guess what, Ian – all those X-spurts were wrong – just like your list of X-spurts.
      You are one of the drips under pressure which combine to make a spurt!

Life is Good at Their ABC

What can taxpayers expect for the billion dollars a year that underwrites the ABC? Not much over the Christmas season, which begins when shows go on hiatus at some point in November and very often doesn’t end until March, when rested leftists return to preach the goat-cheese gospel

paul barryWhy is Media Watch presenter Paul Barry so sad?  He’s sad because he and his ABC mates get a huge paid break over Christmas — but he’d rather be working, of course. Barry signed off on his November  21 episode, “But for now until next year, we’re sad to say that’s all from us. Goodbye.” 

He didn’t say when next year his show would deign to reappear. Such disclosure might be embarrassing.  On recent years’ precedents, we’re talking February 6.[1]

The obvious way to make Paul Barry and his mates happy again is for the ABC to schedule a couple more Media Watch episodes this month or cut short the January furlough. It wouldn’t cost much since salaries are being paid anyway and facilities are lying around unused.

But the ABC prefers to wave an early bye-bye to most of its ABC current affairs gurus and their milling teams of helpers. It then fills the vacated slots with overseas rubbish like the aptly-named UK quiz show Pointless (currently at Series 10, Episode 70. On December 19 Pointless will screen twice – both times as repeats).

ABC people should be doubly happy to forego some of their excessive Christmas break because they’ve just negotiated that wonderful new enterprise agreement. It includes a one-off $500 payment[2] in addition to three annual 2% pay rises (the first back-paid to July 1), seven days paid “domestic violence leave” and an increase in maternity and spousal leave.[3]

There are plenty of other ABC perks too, like 15.4% employer-paid super  or well over 20% for those on the old super scheme.  The norm in the private sector is the obligatory 9.5%. The ABC also has a flexible salary-packaging arrangements   “allowing you to effectively salary sacrifice to suit your individual financial requirements. Options available include superannuation, cars, childcare and laptops.” As with all the public service, ABC enterprise bargains have lots of minor perks too, though even the ABC has nothing to equal the “DECA Day” leave provision at the Defence Department, “to enable an employee to be absent for a non-specified reason”.

A little ABC perk I did notice in the current EBA is that you can get a $20 tax-free meal allowanceafter working eight hours (on 6am or 11am starts. I suspect that 2.01 and 7.01 pm are popular knock-off times at Ultimo and Southbank). In ABC parlance, disappearing for a sixth of a year is called “taking a break”. It used to be self-described as “taking a well-earned break” but this phrase, abbreviated to WEB, attracted undue satire.

On the same November 21 evening, Q&A’s Tony Jones signed off, “Now, this is the final Q&A of 2016.”[4] And on  the website, he says, “Thank you for watching Q&A. We will return in February 2017 and hope you will also come back to ask the questions and join the conversation…” When in February, exactly, Tony? On last year’s precedent, QandA might reappear as early as February 6, but who knows?.

I can’t pretend to be an admirer of Q&A but it’s odd that Jones hasn’t told his fans why he’s deserting them for so long. After all, he’s not underpaid. When ABC stars’ salaries were accidentally leaked by an ABC staffer in 2012, Tony Jones topped the list on $355,789. Guessing that he’s improved his pay by 3% a year, that would put his current taxpayer-funded paypacket at a $412,456.[5]

Jones is also billed as co-host of Lateline. His last appearance there was November 23,  interviewing King Abdullah of Jordan. His contribution to Lateline since November 23 consists of his mugshot at the top of the Lateline web page.

Some ABC TV programs disappear but their presenter soldiers on in a different role. An example is Geraldine Doogue’s Compass. It began its Christmas break on November 6, with Doogue signing off, “Well, I hope you enjoyed that program, and especially so, because it’s the last program for the year. Have a wonderful holiday season when you get to it and we look forward to offering you a brand-new season of Compass in 2017. But goodbye for now.”

She doesn’t tell us when Compass will resume, and its historical track record is erratic, to put it mildly. In 2015, she finished on November 29 and Compass belatedly returned on February 28, 2016. But actually, that program and the next on March 6 were about Pope Francis, syndicated from overseas and already more than a year old. (Compass’s motto could well echo Nellie Melba’s – “Sing ‘em muck; it’s all they can understand”). Doogue herself didn’t run  an interview program  until March 13, 2016.

However, Doogue has her substantial slot on ABC Radio with Saturday Extra at 7.30am. She kept that going through November and also last weekend. I don’t know if it’s on again next Saturday (10/12/16).

It’s not her “breaks” I’m cranky about but how she’s turned Compass into yet another ABC loudspeaker for Leftist elitism and moral superiority. She called her September 4 Compass program, “The Moral Compass – Capitalism Under Pressure”. The website summary opens with  this crushing non-sequitur:

“Are the Brexit vote, the Trump phenomenon and the resurgence of One Nation all signs that democracy and capitalism are under pressure and failing to deliver? If so, what can we do to build a fairer more equitable system?”  

She quizzed her panel,

“Tonight, are our democratic values falling short of our current needs? And if so, how can we redeem our system? … Now, I’d like to ask you all, is the democracy and the capitalism that we have known failing us, really?” (By “we” and “us”, I assume Doogue means “my kind”.)

To paraphrase, she’s saying that if Leftists don’t win a democratic vote, it’s a failure of democracy and democracy should be replaced by a “fairer” political system where only Leftists can win.[6] She hasn’t twigged that the hoi polloi are now  in successful revolt  against her kind.

Doogue also had harsh words to say about the top 1% wealthy Americans, suggesting they should share their money around more.[7] Doogue was on a $182,013 paypacket in 2011-12 (current guestimate, $211,002) and  is well and truly in among Australia’s top 1% wealthiest. If you’d like Doogue to share her money with you, drop her  a line.

Getting back to ABC holidays, I marveled at the final November 20 episode of Foreign Correspondentfor 2016, where “impartial” presenter Emma Alberici ran a mickey-mouse poll proving that Donald Trump was only half as popular as lice, and about as popular as cockroaches and haemorrhoids. Last year Foreign Correspondent closed on December 21 – a good effort – but didn’t resume until March 15 , 2016. Wow, quite a break! The ABC archives page shows that  in 2014, Foreign Correspondentclosed on October 14 and didn’t reappear until April 14, 2015!  The Foreign Correspondent team must have been captured and eventually released by aliens.

Alberici, like Tony Jones, is notionally co-host of Lateline. Since November 20 she’s appeared there three times, on November 28, 29, and 30, interviewing Labor’s Penny Wong and Brendan O’Connor and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. Will she appear again in December? Time will tell, as TV journos put it with gravitas.

Four Corners had its final episode on December 2. Unlike the other programs, it has announced it will resume on February 6, 2017.

ABC Insiders with Barry Cassidy finished up on December 4. On last year’s precedent, it will probably return on February 5, 2017.

Science and climate-alarm show Catalyst finished up on November 15. Presenter Dr Graham Phillips, “sad” like Paul Barry, signed off, “Well, that’s the last Catalyst for this year, so from all the Catalyst team, thank you for watching…Thank you for coming with us on this incredible journey”. Well, Catalyst’s climate doom-mongering was certainly incredible.

Phillips might have added that the brutes like Michelle Guthrie running the ABC have axed Catalystaltogether, along with up to nine staff who will queue at the cashier’s counter for the ABC’s particularly generous redundancy payouts.[8]

In 2015, Catalyst finished on December 9 and re-started on February 2 this year. That was better than its peer programs at the ABC.

It is perfectly possible for resource-intensive ABC current affairs programs to run through the Christmas period almost without a break. ABC-TV 7.30 last year had its final program on December 30, and was back on deck on January 4, 2016. Two years earlier, it did considerably better, finishing on December 30, 2013 and amazingly, re-starting on January 1, 2014.

You may be wondering how the hordes of ABC lower-level people involved with Q&AFour CornersCompassForeign Correspondent etc will occupy themselves during the long hot summer.[9]ABC journos get six weeks paid leave a year, to make up for their working on various public holidays. But the non-journos involved with programs get (theoretically) only four weeks paid holidays.

Those involved in the November 20 episode of Foreign Correspondent included Producer (1 person); Camera (2); Editors (5); Research (2); Archives (2); Titles (1); Graphics (1); Production Managers (2); Associate Producer (1);  and Executive Producer (1). Four Corners has a senior crew of close to 20. Heavens know how many supernumeraries inhabit QandA.

I suppose if these people have got no programs to work on from late November to February, they  just  bustle around, public service-fashion. Happy holiday, one and all!

This Quadrant Online survey has been an “incredible journey”, as ABC people would say, into journalism and holidays as practised by a statutory authority. I’d witter on about it some more, but it’s time to collect my meal allowance from my spouse and then go on a well-earned break (from housework).

Tony Thomas’ book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here


[1] The last time Media Watch started earlier than February was in 2012

[2] The ABC’s EBA 2013-16 also involved a $500 one-off payment.

[3] All the gory details are not yet public.

[4] Jones’ final show ended with a musical skit by three Left “comedians” satirizing Pauline Hanson (“Youse have changed the color of the seats”) the Liberals’ George Brandis, and climate sceptic Malcolm Roberts (“This bloke is perversely ignorant, a climate change denying, unrepresentative flake”). QandA of course saw no reason to satirise any  Green or Labor senator.

[5] Maybe the ABC could give a conservative a turn as QandA presenter. The Australian’s columnist Janet Albrechtsen would be great.

[6]  I have no idea why a non-Left voting result says anything about a “failure of capitalism”.

[7] Doogue: “If we could get that money moving around so that there was more of a sense that it was shared.”

[8] An ABC staffer is entitled under the current enterprise bargaining agreement to four weeks salary for each year’s service up to five years, and three weeks salary for each year thereafter, to a maximum of 24 years service.

[9] Tim Flannery’s Climate Council would describe it as an “angry” summer, the scientific term for above-average heat.

Teach ‘em Green, Raise ‘em Stupid

According to the latest international comparison, Australian kids are falling further behind, despite ever-larger sums of taxpayer cash being poured into the Chalk-Industrial Complex. One reason we’re raising another generation of dolts: propaganda passed off as wisdom

green teacherGreen/Left lobby Cool Australia, backed by Labor’s teacher unions and Bendigo Bank, is achieving massive success in brainwashing school students about the inhumanity of the federal government’s asylum-seeker policies, the evils of capitalism, and our imminent climate peril. The Cool Australia’s teaching templates are now being used by 52,540 teachers in 6,676 primary and high schools (71% of total schools). The courses have  impacted just over a million students via 140,000 lessons downloaded for classes this year alone. Students’ uptake of Cool Australia materials has doubled in the past three years.

Teachers are mostly flummoxed about how to prioritise “sustainability” throughout their primary and secondary school lessons, as required by the national curriculum.[1]  Cool Australia has marshaled a team of 19 professional curriculum writers who offer teachers and pupils easy templates for lessons that  include the sustainability mantra along with green and anti-government propaganda.

Teachers have grasped at the organisation’s labor-saving advantages. As one teacher enthused, “I love the fact they take some of the leg work out of my lessons and allow me to spend more time working on the outdoor gardens etc.” A coordinator (hopefully not of English courses) wrote that the lessons gave her “piece of mind”.

Much of the  Cool material, such as lessons advocating recycling and energy-saving, is largely harmless, even beneficial. But material on hot-button political topics is designed to turn students into green activists and anti-conservative bigots.

Kevin Donnelly: Why Johnny Can’t Count, Spell or Think

On asylum seekers, the basic “text” is the film “Chasing Asylum” by activist Eva Orner, whose intention is to shame Australia and mobilise international pressure against the Pacific solution. At least eleven different lessons for Years 9-10 feature her cinematic agitprop,  billed as a “documentary”. The film hardly conforms to the professed “apolitical” nature of Cool Australia courses.  The film’s descriptor reads:

Chasing Asylum exposes the real impact of Australia’s offshore detention policies and explores how ‘The Lucky Country’ became a country where leaders choose detention over compassion and governments deprive the desperate of their basic human rights. The film features never before seen footage from inside Australia’s offshore detention camps, revealing the personal impact of sending those in search of a safe home to languish in limbo. Chasing Asylum explores the mental, physical and fiscal consequences of Australia’s decision to lock away families in unsanitary conditions hidden from media scrutiny, destroying their lives under the pretext of saving them.

Emphasising that the coalition government is the main target, the film’s trailer plays the Abbott government’s ad featuring Lt-General Angus Campbell and Operation Sovereign Borders.

The title’s introduction says it’s “the film the Australian government doesn’t want you to see” and promises inside inspection to “the places the Australian Government doesn’t want you to go”. The commentary says, “There is sickness, disease, infection. It feels militarized … staff would have to be trained how to use a Hoffman’s knife. The knife would be used to cut people down when they are found hanging.”

A depressed boat person says, “I heard Australia is a safe country, a humane country,  it respects people and refugees”. Another says, “I have to forget my dreams here”  and “Please don’t forget about us, please don’t leave us here”.  A group of boat people chant, “We want our freedom!”. For added music-themed emotional impact, we see children’s drawings of themselves crying behind bars, with commentary: “They are growing up on white phosphate rock in mouldy, damp tents. They have no privacy and no space.”  Director Orner claimed last June that “we are the only people in the world that keeps children in indefinite detention.”

Cool Australia, which boasts that its material is kept up to datedoesn’t enlighten teachers that the number of children detained on Nauru has fallen from 167 in October 2014 to only 45 last October. That sort of data might spoil the narrative. Nor does the lesson explain that the only choice is having the children on Nauru with their parents, or off Nauru without their parents.

Ever politically correct, Cool Australia says teachers should ensure their classes have a safe space before seeing Orner’s confronting propaganda. Teachers should first pre-discuss it with “students, staff, family members and the local community”, and negotiate “classroom agreements” to ensure ownership and agreement that create a safe space for engagement with the learning stimulus and activities.

A whole course for Years 9-10, involving ten lessons,  is devoted to the book “This Changes Everything”, an anti-capitalism, anti-fossil-fuel polemic by Canadian activist Naomi Klein.[2] She advocates populist uprisings – “Blockadia” — against fossil-energy developments, and for gigantic dollar transfers to (mostly corrupt) Third World governments to repay the West’s (mythical) “climate debt”. She attacks even the major green groups such as WWF and Nature Conservancy as sell-outs to the fossil-fuel industry.[3]

One Cool Australia lesson about Klein’s book is titled, Climate Changes vs Capitalism.[4] It decries the impact on the environment of “our economic system’s push for continual growth”  and the “quality of life for all people”.[5] [6] In an unintentionally revealing disclosure, Cool Australia’s Teacher Notes describe the supposed climate crisis as “an opportunity for a new economic modelthat accounts for both people and the planet in a just and sustainable way…  After all, it will be young people who will inherit the world we have created… and who will reinvent a different future.” (My emphasis). This echoes similar sentiments by Christiana Figueres, when a top UN climate official: “This is  probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history.”[7]

It is a shock to realize that 50,000 teachers are taking in their stride this sort of officially-endorsed green loopiness:

“Students will then analyse a proposed plan for wealthy countries to pay Ecuador not to sell its oil, and write arguments to explain their position on the strategy of having wealthy countries compensate poorer countries for not exploiting their oil reserves.”

Worth noting is that Ecuador vainly sought from the West a total $US3.5b to refrain from oil production in the Yasuni basin. Having reneged on various Western loans, Ecuador is now dependent on Chinese aid, to be repaid by stepped-up oil production. Ecuador now risks becoming one of China’s client states. One can only wonder if or how teachers convey such real-world complexities to their 16-year-olds.

To demonstrate the inhumanity of Western capitalism, the course falls back on the Exxon Valdez oil spill of nearly 30 years ago and Shell’s oil exploitation and pollution in the Niger delta.[8] Shell’s worst spill was in fact nearly 50 years ago. The Niger Delta this century has degenerated into civil wars, while most of the oil-spill pollution involves breaking of pipelines to steal oil. The course, however, hectors students with questions like, “How would Australians react if, every year, an Exxon Valdez-worth of oil spilled into waterways in one of their communities? Why do you think so much oil has been allowed to spill in the Niger Delta for more than fifty years?”

Klein, awardee last month of the “tremendous honor” of the lunar-Left’s Sydney Peace Prize, gives Venezuela a big tick for poverty reduction and independence from Western oil barons. Back in the real world, oil-rich but socialist Venezuela is now barely staving off bankruptcy.

Students are served up extracts from the book and tested on how well they have grasped Klein’s message. One case study is Indian villagers’ protests against a new coal-fired power station. Teacher notes include:

Explore alternatives to economic growth that serve human needs and minimise the impact on the environment. Begin by having students read the This Changes Everything book excerpt…List the strategies described in the text.

The notes do not mention that energy poverty – chiefly, the lack of cheap and reliable electricity — is the main force consigning the Third World’s poor to destitution. Instead, teachers provide students with Cool’s inane questions. A typical asininity: “How do you think climate change would be affected if the global economy collapsed?” And here’s another leading question:

“What impacts is (sic) coal having on our environment? (Suggested answer: Coal mining activities are having a devastating effect on the Great Barrier Reef, and is affecting food production, water security and communities across the nation.)”

No material contrary to the dark-Green’s shtick is provided, other than several quotes including a supposedly tainted one from a Western Fuels US spokesman.[9]

Similarly, Cool Australia takes pains, despite its profession to “highest-quality” science, to screen out any peer-reviewed science sceptical of the IPCC conclusion that man-made CO2 has caused more than half the past 60 years’ warming, relative to natural forces. One unit indeed is titled, “Who is a climate sceptic?” This lumps sceptic science output with pro-smoking studies, anti-vaccination, vested fossil-fuel interests, creationism, and alien visitors. By posing the issue as accepters versus  non-accepters of “the climate science” Cool Australia disappears the hundreds of peer-reviewed science studies per annum (more than 250 in 2015 alone) rejecting the IPCC’s line.

To ensure students aren’t influenced by several quoted sceptic statements, the lesson gives students two “resources” to consult, the Skeptical Science blog, and The Consensus Project. Both, despite the first’s misleading title, are entities of John  Cook of Queensland University, who runs “myth-busting” courses on how to  combat what he calls Climate Denialism. Cook knows quite a bit more about promoting myths, as he is the man responsible for siring and propagating the furphy that 97% of scientists believe in man-made global warming.

There is no reference in Cool’s lesson on sceptics about what is now the 20-year absence of significant global warming, contrary to almost all orthodox climate models[10]; the steady downgrading in peer-reviewed work of climate sensitivity to CO2; and importance to climate of natural ocean, cloud and solar effects.

The final Klein-based lesson involves students designing and implementing a “community action” project, such as a public screening of This Changes Everything. Parents may not be aware that the national curriculum now wants “young people to design action that will lead to a more equitable, respectful and sustainable future.”

Cool Australia enjoys tax-deductible donations as a charity. [11] Its schools campaigns launched  in 2008 as the brainchild of Jason Kimberley, one of the Just Jeans’ Kimberley family, which grossed $64m from the group’s sale in 2001.

The sustainability requirement is acting as a Trojan Horse for sly green groups like Cool Australia to brainwash pupils. Why conservative state and federal governments have gone along with the conversion of schoolkids to Tiny Trots is a mystery. With half of parents voting conservative, it’s time for their own uprising against Left/green indoctrination in schools. Keep in mind that Cool Australia is just one of at least half a dozen green lobby groups — the Youth Climate Coalition is another peddler of pernicious propaganda — that have acquired carte blanche to harangue the classrooms.

Tony Thomas’s previous essay on Cool Australia is here. His new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here

[1] Aboriginality and Asian engagement are likewise required as cross-curriculum topics, even in mathematics.

[2] The courses also proffer a film on the topics by Klein’s husband Avi Lewis. The trailer mainly consists of street protests dramas. Nine lessons focus on Tim Flannery’s ridiculous 2006 book, We Are the Weather Makers.

[3] Klein, a Jew, is an avid supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel – a cause she adopted at the height of the Gaza war in 2009. She is now campaigning for international sanctions against the US if Trump dumps the Paris climate accord.

[4] “ Use some of these keywords to initiate conversation (about capitalism): profit, money, private wealth, rich, poor, winners, loser, consumption, stuff, resources, economic systems, private ownership, humans.”

[5] Skeptic blogger Paul Homewood comments on Klein, “In reality, emissions in the West have declined substantially since 1990. Most of the increase she refers to has come from communist China. But it seems that communist emissions are good.”

[6] Klein, asked if one could fight climate change without fighting capitalism, replied, “No, I don’t think there is a way. We’ve been trying that for a long time…So the need for another economic model is urgent, and if the climate justice movement can show that responding to climate change is the best chance for a more just economic system, that creates more and better jobs, greater social equality, more and better social services, public transit, all these things that improve peoples daily lives, people will be ready to fight for those policies.”

[7]  See also,    “Climate policy has almost nothing to do any more with environmental protection. The next world climate summit is actually an economy summit, during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.” Ottmar Edenhofer, IPCC stalwart, 14/11/2010.

[8] “Keywords: Climate debt, climate justice, social inequality, legacy of colonialism, economic development, This Changes Everything.”

[9] Klein has an apocalyptic impression of Australia, writing last June: “In recent months, the world’s gaze has landed again and again on a hellish Australian terrain of climate-related disaster.” She views the Pacific solution as a “monstrous” and as a racist attack on black and brown lives.

[10] The IPCC itself says 111 of 114 model runs over-estimated the warming trend.

[11] Prahran-based Cool Australia last year had revenue of $923,000 ($45,000 from government grants)  and posted a $73,000 loss, leading to a net liability of $282,000. It reported having 11 full and part-time workers. It creates a huge national impact for an under $1m organization.


  1. Bran Dee

    “Why conservative state and federal governments have gone along – – -”. An appropriate question posed by Tony Thomas and it could be asked of Conservatives in government during the last 40 years and on many topics.
    Working back from the present time:
    Why did Malcolm Turnbull appoint a Green as an advisor? Why appoint a progressive judge such as James Edelman to the High Court?
    Why did Tony Abbott appoint the former Democrat, Natasha Stott-Despoya? Why did Abbott allow and fund, the [Notso]Safe Schools program? Why does Mike Baird put up with NSW Education Minister Picoli and his gender bending? Why did we not oppose James Spigelman to become Chair of the ABC board in 2012 as he had been an advisor to Whitlam in 1972 when they purged the ABC board of conservatives. Why was Mark Scott, formerly of Fairfax Press, allowed 2 terms of hands-off management in the worker’s collective? Why did Mike Baird appoint him to NSW Education when he has been proven to be shy of conservative reform [remember he was Fairfax compatible? etc.

    • Warty

      All very good questions Bran. I might ask further: why have a bunch of deplorables voted for Donald Trump to be their president? Why have 1.7 million Australian voters abandoned the major parties in favour of a few minor parties? Why are there moves afoot in Europe to elect yet more conservative presidents and governments? Why is Francois Hollande on the nose, and Sarkozy cast aside along with Alain Juppe, the latter electing to pursue a ‘business as usual’ course with regards to the problem of Islam, and thereby losing pre-selection to the more decisive Francoise Fillon?
      My feeling is that we have not as yet drunk our fill of the Green bucket of fermented swill; nor have we put aside our tendency towards a ‘she’ll be right’ Australian complacency. But the time will come when it will all be too much to stomach, and our own ‘unwashed’ will want their time at the helm. We simply lack the leader with the degree of vision to lead us out of our own swamp.

    • Rob Brighton

      Because we let them.

  2. Bill Martin

    Contemplating the effects of the stupefying nature of the school curricula is more than a little alarming. Will the next generation of Australians consist mainly of largely illiterate/innumerate, far-left green freaks? Besides the fact that my advanced years will save me from having to endure such calamity, I am also heartened by my childhood experience of growing up in Hungary under Soviet communist domination. Most of us kids knew from our elders that what we were taught in schools – apart from the three r’s – was simply not true and most often reality was exactly the opposite. I do suspect, however, that the understanding of reality by the adults in that community was probably more robust than it is here in present day Australia. Still, I do hope that it still counts for something.

    • Warty

      Oh yes, it does count for something. I fact, I think you’ll have to extend your stay at least another 10 – 20 years Monsieur Bill, just so that you can persuade the adults in Australia that some particularly untoward things are going on under their noses. I have read a few accounts, recently, of life in Hungary during Soviet times, and it was quite a different ‘reality’ altogether.

  3. gray_rm

    I can only agree. Last week my daughter had someone come into school and talk to her Year 8 group about how the Barrier Reef is dying because of developments, mining, and man’s impact. Then she had an Aboriginal group talk about how they were dispossessed from their lands, and watched Rabbit Proof Fence to convince them of their guilt.
    It’s brainwashing.
    And the faux-Liberals do not care.
    Where’s our Trump?

  4. Bran Dee

    I am thinking Gray that in Australia’s game of chance our trump is Pauline Hanson and One Nation.

The Discordant Life of Paul Robeson

I’m one of a dwindling band who can say, “I heard Paul Robeson sing.” These days most people under sixty would respond, “Paul who?”

To answer that question briefly, Robeson (1898–1976) was the son of a former slave. He took up the cause of Negro liberation (like most of his race in the US at the time, he referred to himself as a Negro) from the 1930s, while achieving greatness in sport, acting, and especially singing folk and protest songs in his magnificent bass. He was also a militant Stalinist.

I was twenty when Robeson ended his 1960 tour of Australia at Perth. At 2 a.m. on Friday, December 2 he accepted a railways union invitation to sing at the Midland Railway Workshops at lunchtime. By noon, in a remarkable feat of logistics, the unions had mobilised a throng of 2000, including me. Robeson was a big black man wearing a curious black beret, delivering beautiful deep music from the back of a truck outside the workshop gates.

It was just coincidence, but my mother Joan the following year was with an Australian communist delegation to China and Russia, and in Moscow she was lodged at a dacha for the elite outside the city. She discovered that Robeson was secreted away in the same dacha complex. The unlikely explanation she was given was that he was being hidden from potential CIA evil-doers; he was actually hidden to conceal from the world the mental breakdown that began in the wake of his Australian tour.

When my mother died in 2008, my jobs included selecting the funeral music. After batting away numerous well-meant suggestions from third parties, I settled on Robeson singing “Deep River”. (I didn’t know then that “Deep River” had also been among the music for Robeson’s own funeral.) I gave the funeral director a CD including that track, and it played fine. But the funeral director let the CD run on to the next track, which to my horror was Robeson singing “The Killing Song”, from his 1935 movie Sanders of the River. Given that my mother had spent her life as a peace activist and stalwart of the Australian Peace Council, the lyrics were awful:

On, on, into battle, 

Mow them down like cattle! 

Stamp them into the dust! 

Kill, shoot, spear, smash, smite, slash, fight and sla-a-ay!

I flinched as the verses rolled on, but no one was paying attention, they were too busy chatting.

The favourite CD in my collection is Paul Robeson, The Legendary Moscow Concert. It was “legendary” in half a dozen different ways, some to Robeson’s credit, some not. That concert evening encapsulates many of the paradoxes of Robeson as a great man, a great talent, a great fighter, and a great hypocrite.

Angered by the toxic racism of the pre- and post-war US, Robeson made himself a champion for the thousand times more toxic regime of Joseph Stalin. Robeson’s lifelong principle was always to laud and never to criticise the Soviets. This was not the self-delusion of other “political pilgrims”; Robeson knew first-hand of the reality and lied through his teeth about it for the good of the cause.

The story of that concert in Moscow on June 14, 1949, is dramatic enough, but the back-story twists and turns like an over-plotted work of fiction.

Robeson was invited to perform at the Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow, as part of celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the birth of Pushkin. Meanwhile Stalin, in his final spasm of butchery, was working up the “doctors’ plot” as a presage to a holocaust of Russia’s remaining Jews. The “plot” was that Jewish doctors were poisoning high-ranking party patients. The doctors were, unsurprisingly, confessing under torture. When a couple of them held out, Stalin commanded the interrogators to “Beat, beat, and again beat!”—a rare instance of the Lubyanka’s thugs being criticised for half-measures.

Robeson was friends with the Moscow theatre director Solomon Mikhoels and the poet Itzik Feffer, both Jews. He met them, in company with Albert Einstein, when they were fund-raising in the US in 1943 for the Soviet war effort.

In Moscow he was troubled by evidence of anti-Semitic purges, and asked his Soviet minders to arrange for him to meet Mikhoels. Robeson knew Mikhoels had mysteriously died—he had taken part in a memorial service for Mikhoels in New York. His minder said that Mikhoels, sadly, had died of a heart attack. The reality was that eighteen months previously, the MGB in Minsk had set up Mikhoels one evening via an agent, jabbed him with a poisoned needle, then bashed his temple in, shot him, and ran over him with a truck, leaving his body in the snow by the road, along with the body of their own unlucky agent. Stalin’s daughter Svetlana overheard Stalin on the phone directing that “car accident” be cited as the cause of death, although Robeson’s minders cited heart attack.

Robeson then insisted on meeting Feffer, who in fact was in the Lubyanka awaiting execution. Feffer was roused from his cell bed, tidied up, sent home to be dressed, then brought to Robeson’s hotel room. The room was bugged and, in any case, Feffer’s family were hostages for his good behaviour.

Feffer alerted Robeson—who spoke fluent Russian—to the facts by gestures and notes on scraps of paper, while conversing about innocuous matters. On one scrap of paper Feffer wrote, “Mikhoels murdered on Stalin’s order”. As for his own future, he drew his hand across his throat.

Robeson had to work out a discreet way to save his friend’s life. He had a powerful position—his farewell concert the next night was being broadcast live throughout the Soviet Union, and he had untouchable stature as a US friend of the regime.

His solution was to use the concert to send a coded message to Stalin himself, endorsing Mikhoels and Feffer by name, and the Jewish community in general. He could get away with it because the purge had not yet become explicitly anti-Semitic and he couldn’t be expected to know all the secret rules governing public behaviour.

The capacity audience included party bigwigs and Jewish intellectuals, both groups now living in fear of the midnight arrival of MGB vans. (The point of Stalin’s terror was its arbitrariness.)

Late in his concert, Robeson, in Russian, said he would dedicate a special encore, the song of the Vilna Jewish partisans, to his dear friend Solomon Mikhoels, “whose tragic and premature death has saddened me deeply”. He added to the shock by speaking of his pleasure at meeting Feffer, who he said was well and hard at work on his memoirs. There were gasps of astonishment—many there would have known Feffer was on death row. Robeson then said he would sing in Yiddish the song of the Vilna partisans, first translating into Russian a verse, “When leaden skies a bitter future may portend” that ends, “We survive!”

The audience was in an unbearable emotional state. Their very lives were on the line and here was Robeson fearlessly albeit indirectly deploring the purge.

After his unexpected encore, one brave woman stood up and applauded; the whole hall then erupted in waves of frantic applause. People broke down, weeping, or flung themselves tearfully into the arms of strangers.

Stalin waited three years, then executed Feffer anyway. The censors locked away the tape of the concert for half a century; it was released only in 1995, after the demise of the Soviet Union, minus Robeson’s provocative comments. The tape generated the CD, and with the CD I can now read the cover notes about Mikhoels and Feffer written by Paul’s son Paul Jr (1927–2014), and hear Robeson’s Yiddish song. I can also hear the first seconds of the fifteen-minute storm of applause, the rest of it snipped by the original censors.

But this rounded story, which so impressed me initially, unravels. First, Feffer had in fact been an NKVD/MGB informer since 1943, but got caught in the meat-grinder himself. Under interrogation, he falsely accused a hundred other Jews, but at his trial he had the courage to express pride in his Jewish identity.

Second, how was Robeson going to handle his knowledge of Stalin’s murderous ways, while remaining an advocate for the socialist paradise? He chose to lie about it, to deny the undeniable. On his return to the US, he told a reporter from Soviet Russia Today that allegations of Soviet anti-Semitism were wrong: “I met Jewish people all over the place … I heard no word about it.” He said the Soviets “had done everything” for their national minorities. “Everything” in reality included genocides of Cossacks, Ukrainian peasants, Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, Volga Germans and many other minorities.

In his book published in 1950, a year after his Moscow concert, Robeson wrote:

The Soviet Union’s very existence, its example before the world of abolishing all discrimination based on color or nationality, its fight in every arena of world conflict for genuine democracy and for peace, this has given us Negroes the chance of achieving our complete liberation within our own time, within this generation.

He never again publicly mentioned Mikhoels and Feffer, nor criticised Stalin, whom he saw as safeguarding the interests of the downtrodden, especially Robeson’s “own people”.

Shortly after his Moscow concert, Robeson told Paul Jr the truth, but swore him to secrecy about it during his (Paul Sr’s) lifetime. An account of the Moscow hotel meeting with Feffer leaked, via the widow of film director Sergei Eisenstein. Paul Jr vehemently denied the account as “wholly false according to my father’s personal recounting of these events to me”. Paul Jr was also lying, but he recanted and told the truth in 1981.

Robeson viewed the Soviet Union as his “second motherland”, and even thought “first” might be more accurate. He began his visits to Russia in 1934, getting dizzying  veneration and opportunities, contrasting with the America of Jim Crow. He was even inspired to place Paul Jr in a Moscow school.

Paul Jr admitted that his father knew of the Ukrainian famine during his visit, but told him in 1937 that he couldn’t undermine the anti-fascist Soviet Union. Paul Robeson didn’t just ignore the Stalin-created Ukrainian famine, he lied his head off, telling the Daily Worker:

I was not prepared for the happiness I see on every face in Moscow. I was aware that there was no starvation here, but I was not prepared for the bounding life; the feeling of safety and abundance and freedom that I find here, wherever I turn.

Robeson’s position on the purges in the late 1930s was ambiguous. At the height of the terror he sided against the victims of the regime:

I can only say that anybody who lifts his hand against it ought to be shot! It is the government’s duty to put down any opposition to this really free society with a firm hand and I hope they will always do it … It is obvious that there is no terror here …

In 1952, when he’d become a pariah in the US, Robeson received the USSR’s highest honour—the Stalin Prize, worth US$25,000, an enormous sum in those days.

Even after Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin’s crimes in 1956, Robeson never criticised the dead vozhd (boss). When the Soviets invaded Hungary in 1956, Robeson supported them.

Robeson’s pro-Soviet advocacy turned US blacks against him, often in ways harrowing and humiliating for Robeson. In one 1951 incident in a Harlem bar, he told a famous black pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Don Newcombe, that Newcombe was one of his heroes. Newcombe responded, “I joined the army to fight people like you.” They nearly came to blows. One account has Newcombe being led out of the bar by one of Robeson’s quasi-bodyguards with a switchblade.

The nadir of Robeson’s career was his April 1949 speech at the Congress of the World Partisans of Peace in Paris, involving 2000 delegates, Picasso and luminaries such as Nobel-winner Frederic Joliot-Curie. The repercussions included the US government withdrawing his passport, trapping him in America from 1950 to 1958 and encouraging his blacklisting as a concert performer, which cut his income from US$100,000 a year to barely $5000. (Robeson did his 1960 Australian tour because he was offered a fee of US$100,000.)

So what did Robeson say in Paris? Immediately after the speech Associated Press reporter Joseph Dynan filed his report, which was picked up throughout the US press. It had Robeson purporting to speak on behalf of the 14 million US Negroes to the effect that they wouldn’t fight for the US against Russia in the event of a war. Mainstream Negro organisations disowned Robeson and protested their loyalty to the US. Robeson found himself isolated from both black and white America.

Dynan’s report quoted Robeson thus:

I bring you a message from the Negro people of America that they do not want a war which would send them back into a new kind of slavery … It is unthinkable that American Negroes would go to war on behalf of those who have oppressed us for generations against a country which in one generation has raised our people to the full dignity of mankind.

Robeson’s supporters claimed he had been stitched up by Dynan’s false report. They cite other, less damaging versions of his impromptu speech, such as the following, after translation into French and then back again into English:

We shall not put up with any hysterical raving that urges us to make war on anyone. Our will to fight for peace is strong. We shall not make war on anyone. We shall not make war on the Soviet Union.

There were half a dozen reports of the speech, all different. The closest to Dynan’s, in the UK’s Daily Worker, read:

It was unthinkable for himself and for the Negro people at home, that they should go to war in the interests of those who have oppressed them for generations, against a country which had shown there was no such thing as a backward people.

To me, as a reporter who has done hundreds of similar conference reports, the Dynan version is the most plausible. The role of a wire-service reporter is to get an accurate report filed as soon as possible. Dynan went straight from the hall after Robeson spoke, to write and despatch his copy. Dynan was an experienced professional and recent war correspondent in Italy. It’s a silly idea that he would delay to concoct a version to damage Robeson. The phrases in Dynan’s version are authentic Robeson. I’ve heard some of them on a tape of a private speech he gave in Perth eleven years later. Dynan couldn’t invent this Robeson-speak; he must have heard it.

Call it coincidence, but communist leaders elsewhere were expressing similar or more aggressive sentiments than Robeson. In Australia, for example, a month before the Paris conference, CPA general secretary Lance Sharkey said that “if Soviet Forces in pursuit of aggressors entered Australia, Australian workers would welcome them”. Sharkey got a three-year sentence for sedition.

Robeson provided only a muted denial of the AP report, saying that he was referring to Negro people globally as war-averse, not just to US Negroes.

The major controversy for half a century was whether Robeson was a Communist Party member or merely a supporter. He lost his US passport from 1950 to 1958 because he refused on principle to answer the question, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the USA?” Witnesses who testified that he was a member were attacked by Robeson supporters as government shills. Robeson’s sympathetic biographer Martin Duberman concluded in 1988, “On the most obvious level, he was never a member of the CP-USA, never a functionary, never a participant in its daily bureaucratic operation …”

But in reality Robeson was a CP-USA member for decades. The party had decided he would be more effective for the cause if his membership remained secret—disclose the fact and you’d be expelled. When CP-USA general secretary Gus Hall was serving an eight-year sentence in the 1950s on McCarthy-era charges of conspiracy to advocate the violent overthrow of the US government, Robeson campaigned for his release on civil liberties grounds, without of course disclosing his own party membership.

But in 1998, on the hundredth anniversary of Robeson’s birth, Gus Hall announced, “We can now say that Paul Robeson was a member of the Communist Party.” Robeson’s membership was, he said, “an indelible fact of Paul’s life, [in] every way, every day of his adult life”. Robeson’s most precious moment, Hall said, occurred:

when I met with him to accept his dues and renew his yearly membership in the CP-USA. I and other Communist leaders like Henry Winston, the Party’s late, beloved national chair, met with Paul to brief him on politics and Party policies and to discuss his work and struggles.

Paul Jr, himself a CP-USA member from about 1948 to 1962, was a practitioner of dissembling. But when his father was outed—along with himself—he put it succinctly: “If people want a politically correct hero, then Paul Robeson’s not the man.”

Robeson’s reputation has come full circle, from guarded respect up to 1945, vilification for most of the Cold War as a Soviet stooge, and now respect again, especially from the liberal media. A recent profile on America’s PBS television gave him a twenty-one-gun salute, managing to make no mention of either communism or the Soviet Union. I must say the contradictions involved with any assessment of Robeson make him a tough subject to handle.

Forty of Tony Thomas’s Quadrant essays have recently been published by Connor Court as That’s Debatable—60 Years in Print