Cartel Capers in the Menzies Years

As a conservative, I’m browned off at the growing adulation of Robert Gordon Menzies. It got a kick-along in May on the seventy-fifth anniversary of his 1942 “Forgotten People” speech.

Sure, our four most recent prime ministers, with their cumulative deficits of $400 billion would make a principled Liberal pine for Menzies’s small government, fiscal conservatism and stability. And it seems churlish to disparage a prime minister who presided over 4.1 per cent real annual growth between 1950 to 1965, and a stunning 5.1 per cent real annual growth between 1962 and 1968.[1] But I’ll have a go.

Menzies oversaw the cartelised Australian economy that operated form 1949 to 1966. It continued after Menzies until 1974, when the price-fixers were driven from the temple by Whitlam’s Attorney-General Lionel Murphy. (I’m not of course endorsing Whitlam’s economic management en bloc.)

Menzies praised the thrifty and ambitious family as the driver of progress. But Menzies was complicit in, and actively supported, the price-fixing and market-sharing rings that operated in their multitudes throughout Australia at the expense of that thrifty and ambitious family’s shopping budget.

Menzies fans would say that price-fixing in those days was non-contentious and just part of the long-accepted landscape—what was good for business was good for jobs and progress—and therefore it would therefore be unfair to tar Menzies with the cartel brush. One letter-writer to the Age in the mid-1960s, A.J.E. Gourlay, a fan of the Institute of Public Affairs, put the industry’s case:

Price fixing has come to be an accepted part of our social structure, and is no more morally reprehensible than wage fixing or fixing the price of a hair cut, or the price of electricity.

Some people think it would be very nice for them if there were perpetual cut-throat competition for everything except selling a person’s services; but that is surely a very one-sided proposition.

People who put their life savings into industry are surely entitled to some protection, and a flourishing industry gives secure employment and better conditions to its employees … [2]

Brisbane industry magnate Sir Leon Trout similarly opined that the only sufferers from the price-fixing regime were “a few disgruntled people who wished to buy retail goods at wholesalers’ prices”. [3]

But it’s easy to find moral condemnation of cartels at the time, including from Menzies’s own team such as a future High Court Chief Justice (Garfield Barwick) and a future Liberal Party leader (Billy Snedden). Down near the base of the social pyramid, the June 1957 Victorian State Conference of the Shop Assistants’ Federation passed a motion condemning “the tendency to increase monopoly cartels and price-fixing arrangements as being against the best interests of the working class and in particular the shop assistants”.[4] Low-paid shop workers, who rang up sales for the cartels, were also cartels’ victims. Decades later, in 1971, Labor’s then shadow minister Rex “The Strangler” Connor, not a chap I normally quote approvingly, was describing Australia as “the last frontier for economic banditry” where business was “controlled by every restrictive device known to the ingenuity of man”.[5]

Surprising numbers of otherwise well-informed people—historians included—have no idea how our pre-1974 business sector operated. A credulous reader would (or should) get a jolt to find in Blanche d’Alpuget’s Hawke: The Early Years, on page 247:

The argument that market forces controlled manufacturers was invalid in Australia, for by the 1960s there was a system of monopolies and cartels operating: while free enterprise flourished, free competition was a figment.

She was not exaggerating. In 1967 the competition lawyer J.G. Collinge wrote of restrictive practices and price-fixing that “horizontal agreements directly affect commodities in 52 of the 56 divisions in the Revised Standard International Trade Classification”.[6]

Business’s temptation to price-fix is so strong that even in 2000 to 2004, in the modern era with a $10 million penalty per offence, box-makers Amcor Ltd and Richard Pratt’s Visy, jointly controlling 90 per cent of the market, also production-shared and organised to raise prices. Amcor got immunity by dobbing in Visy, and Visy copped an enormous $36 million fine.

The cartels for price-fixing and restrictive practices originated in the Depression, to ward off price wars generated by over-capacity. During the Second World War the government fixed wages, prices, outputs and zones, and thereafter businesses took over price controls on a private enterprise basis. As the Trade Practices Commissioner, Ron Bannerman’s first annual report put it:

Many companies are as accustomed to identical selling prices as they are to common labour rates and to common or similar prices for the materials they use … Often there is no recent experience of prices competition, occasionally no experience of it at all.

Bannerman told a Perth audience in 1971 that there was more restraint on competition in Australia through restrictive trade practices than in “almost any developed country you can think of”.[7] Even New Zealand brought in anti-cartel measures fifteen years before Australia. Iceland acted sooner than us. So did the UK, Belgium, France, Denmark, Japan, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and West Germany.[8]

Those pre-1974 price-fixes could be elaborate. With frozen vegetables, there was a national agreement among all producers involving fourteen pages of text, twenty-one pages of pricing schedules (each page with about 100 prices), fifteen pages on terms, payments and discounts, and five detailed zoning maps.[9] One prominent trade association included among its imperious rules:

To stabilise prices by controlling and regulating the wholesale and retail prices and terms and conditions of sale generally and to eliminate unreasonable and unfair competition in buying and selling by manufacturers, wholesalers or retailers and to control and regulate supplies.[10]

At late 1974, there were 2721 registered anti-competitive agreements among manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. There were also 9289 restrictive distribution agreements (including some conglomerates writing deals for each of thousands of their distributors).[11] The registered deals had increased by 3558 since 1968.[12]

As I look around my study, the following items in the Menzies era would have involved pricing cartels: desk and chairs; books; lamps; stationery; hammer and screwdriver; building materials; heater; shoes and clothing items. If nature calls, I’d go to our price-fixed china pedestal (in one year, three of the four makers decided to lift their fixed prices by a whopping 18 per cent) or I’d apply price-fixed toilet paper.

Beyond my study, add smokes; bread; beer; chocolate; biscuits; soft drinks; ham and bacon; wholesale wine and liquor; greeting cards; classified advertising; optical goods; bicycles; sporting ammunition; paint; pressed steel baths; venetian blinds; pharmaceuticals; car parts and windshields; tyres, tubes and retreads; batteries; builders’ hardware; electric cables; ceramic tiles; concrete pipes and roofing tiles; electrical accessories; industrial safety products; welding electrodes …[13]

Here’s a grass-roots case: In 1965 the Franklins sixty-four-store chain in New South Wales mutinied against the machinations of the Chocolate and Confectionary Manufacturers Association. Franklins’ managing director, Norman R. Tieck, revealed that the association had chopped his supplies because he cut prices of chocolate blocks from 2/- to 1/9, still with a comfortable profit. The chocolate cartel was hitting “many thousands of industrial workers and housewives in their daily struggle to make ends meet”, he told the Sydney Morning Herald, perhaps over-stating chocolate as a staple food.[14]

The thousands of restrictive practices were given the government’s blessing of secrecy and provisional legality in 1965, pending public-interest examination at some distant future date. Meanwhile families and customers were none the wiser.

No one knows how much the price fixes hurt the family purse. Bob Hawke claimed in 2002 that one just one facet alone—manufacturers dictating prices to retailers—had cost Australian families “scores of billions of dollars”. A Treasury Round-Up issue (4/2008) referred to the “immense detriment anti-competitive practices caused to the Australian economy”.

In Victoria the Bolte conservative government not merely tolerated price-fixing but in respect of beer, enforced it through the Liquor Control Commission to ensure “a comfortable level of profit”[15]. As did, until 1976, the South Australian Licensing Court. Adelaide, city of churches, was also a bastion of retail price fixing, perhaps because of its small, clubby and long-standing business families. Some habits continued even after 1974. For example, hoteliers traditionally offered discounts on packs of a dozen beers in the run-up to Christmas. A leading hotelier disparaged this at a friendly lunch with three rivals on November 22, 1977. Next thing, the discounts disappeared. The prime mover was later fined $8000. Around the same time Adelaide retailers of name-brand bed linen had the convenience of a circulated price list that delivered a 70 per cent mark-up.[16]

Collusive tendering to authorities, “an elaborate pretence”, was also standard.[17] As Billy Snedden told Parliament, business was “agreeing first, who will win; second, the price; third, the higher ‘cover price’ which the others then tender”. [18] Menzies’s Attorney-General Garfield Barwick cited nineteen suppliers each bidding £27,578/14/2. Authorities were being held up to public mockery, he complained. Alex Hunter, professor of economics at the University of New South Wales, in 1963 estimated that 40 to 70% per cent of shires’ purchasing was hurt by rigged bids, as was 40 to 50 per cent of purchasing by all levels of government.[19]

 

I can insert here some personal stories, before my evidence for Menzies as guardian of the cartels.

Leaving high school in 1958, I became a cadet reporter while a pal got a chemistry cadetship with Midland’s Government Railway Workshops. The Premier, Bert Hawke (uncle of Bob), the same year launched a royal commission into price fixing. Perth had only 500,000 people but hosted no fewer than 111 trade associations, busily fixing prices and assisting with collusive tendering. Business reps made it clear they wanted not free enterprise but literally “private” enterprise, free from public scrutiny and government interference.

 

Q: Can you indicate why you are not in favour of government control and yet are in favour of private control in relation to price fixation?

Business witness: Yes, because firstly, we stand primarily for free enterprise and the voluntary conducting of our affairs without being bound by statute.[20]

 

The companies were exploiting the Railway Workshops by identical tendering on forty-six products, including sleepers, cement, electrical cables, wire, car parts, fuels and toilet rolls.[21]

Bert Hawke’s 1956 Unfair Trading and Profit Control Act was replaced by his Liberal successor David Brand in 1959. Brand banned collusive tenders only if they were “contrary to the public interest”, top penalty being a mere £500.

Around 1960 my young pal’s Midland bosses decided to do battle against the bid-riggers on high-value white undercoat and red paint for wagons. So instead of requesting standard paint, the workshop labs created chemical performance specifications for each paint item, and called for samples from bidders before considering prices. “It busted the cartel apart. We had rival paint manufacturers knocking at our door,” my pal told me.

Soon after, Perth supermarket owner Tom Wardle, branding himself as “Tom the Cheap”, took on the grocery cartel buttressing the profits of the dominant Charlie Carters and Freecorns. Wardle ran his no-frills, high-turnover stores on margins of 10 per cent compared with his rivals’ typical 25 to 30 per cent. His rivals, in cahoots with about twenty key manufacturers, cut off his key supplies, forcing him to truck in goods from other states. He cultivated his “bad boy” image as a stripe-suited felon, and even took out newspaper ads naming companies that denied him supply. When the West Australian refused the ads, he brought out his own free weekly.

His business expanded by 1969 to 185 stores and $200 million turnover in four states. He ran Australia’s third or fourth-biggest grocery chain. He became Perth’s Lord Mayor and was knighted, but went broke in 1977 over property and Swiss low-interest loans. Tom the Cheap’s saga illustrated the huge resources needed to take on the entrenched cartels.[22]

 

In 1971 I joined the Canberra Press Gallery as the Age’s economics writer. One week in March 1972 I did a ring-around of Melbourne local authorities, and was told of the following level-tender rackets: Box Hill Council—concrete pipes; Camberwell—pipes, road metal, petrol; Doncaster—pipes; Essendon—petrol, diesel and power kerosene; Collingwood—petrol; Coburg—petrol, and each make of car requested. The Coburg municipal clerk said he’d complained to Canberra for years.

A chief of a large local authority told me that on electric cabling, nails, bolts and hardware, he would get twenty-five identical bids every time. He had busted one ring by awarding supply to the same bidder every time—it didn’t help him but it hurt the rest of the ring. On another product ring, he read suppliers the riot act. They agreed to cut their price by 10 per cent. But once out the door, they quickly restored the status quo by a 10 per cent price rise. On lamp globes, he said he had split supply nine ways to frustrate the bidders, “although it was hell administratively”.[23]Looking back, I’m mystified that Victoria had an Act (from 1965) banning collusive tendering to government. Maybe local government didn’t count.

In Tasmania, a royal commission in 1965 found the customary web of cartels and collusive tenders. For beer, all hotels had to be members of the Hotels Association to qualify for brewers’ rebates. The association also fixed the retail prices of bottles at hotels. The Royal Commissioner, J. McB. Grant, reported that the Tasmanian retail mark-up on booze was nearly double that in Victoria and New South Wales.[24]

But where was the Labor Party on this issue that degraded the living standards of millions of workers? It was preoccupied with factional squabbles and the lesser issue of monopolies, with an eye to controlling or nationalising them at the first opportunity.

Some unions enforced minimum price fixes of their own. When Sydney supermarkets offered a 5 per cent discount on day-old bread in 1977, the bread delivery unions black-banned 700 stores and shut down half the bread supply to Sydney. To sustain carters’ jobs, bread-makers agreed to sell to retailers at union-specified prices minus 14 per cent, an interesting twist on the staff of life.

The Transport Workers Union in New South Wales in 1975 banned petrol deliveries to stations displaying discount petrol prices. New South Wales motorists had to pay around seventeen cents a litre extra for tanker drivers’ job security.[25]

Bob Hawke, who saw that busting price-fixing could raise workers’ prosperity just as wage rises could, vainly argued this as advocate in late 1960s national wage cases. Then in 1971, as ACTU President, he launched a joint venture with the owner Lionel Revelman of the large Bourkes store, Melbourne. This venture was aimed at busting retail price-fixes demanded by the stores’ Dunlop and other name-brand suppliers. Dunlop refused supply unless Bourkes-ACTU marked up the goods at 42.5 per cent rather than the store’s preferred 22.5 per cent. Twenty other suppliers joined the blockade of Bourkes, including Julius Marlow, Crestknit, Bata and Parker Pens. On March 17, 1971, Hawke organised twelve unions to stop all goods to and from Dunlop companies in Victoria. Two days later Dunlop’s managing director Eric Dunshea capitulated, on orders from his London directors, followed by the others. [26]

The Prime Minister, William McMahon, was caught on the hop. Any support for price-fixers was not a good look with voters. The Liberals had first promised voters more than a decade earlier to break up price rings. Even so, McMahon continued to equivocate:

 

There are many arguments for and against retail price maintenance. A lot of people say they believe in orderly marketing and that orderly marketing is the best way there is of selling goods cheaply in the shops. [27]

 

Whitlam made all McMahon’s plans irrelevant with Labor’s win in December 1972, despite Whitlam’s own cluelessness on matters economic—“The vices of a regulated economy must be replaced with the virtues of a planned economy.”[28]

Meanwhile the Hawke venture was troubled from the outset by union in-fighting. Some unions even urged their members to boycott Bourkes-ACTU because these unions had discount deals with other outlets. The joint venture limped to failure. In 2002 Hawke recalled with pride and some exaggeration about “smashing the collusive practices of big business supported as they always had been by conservative governments. And, as always, the hypocrisy of that unholy alliance stank to high heaven.”

 

It’s time now to narrow the focus to Menzies and the cartels.

I checked an armful of books and lectures on Menzies and his era and found just one discussion (by John Howard) and one mention of the pricing rings that luxuriated in Menzies’s shadow. For example, Allan Martin’s two-volume Robert Menzies: A Life—nothing.[29] Ditto Gerard Henderson’s Menzies’ Child: The Liberal Party of Australia 1944–94—nothing.[30]

Instead, we get the St Robert line. David Kemp writes in last year’s Menzies: The Shaping of Modern Australia:

 

Menzies liberalism was based on a deep faith in the capacities of each human being, in the desirability of “a fierce independence of spirit” and “a brave acceptance of unclouded individual responsibility”. These values would build a better society.

 

Kemp, in praising the Menzies ethos, scores an own goal by quoting Menzies further, from November 24, 1942, apropos of a fair deal for the public. Menzies began, “We must beware of cheap substitutes for the rule of Parliament. We must resist the rule of any sectional body, whether the employers’ association or the trades union.” Kemp’s quote extract follows:

 

There is some tendency today, as there was in the Italy of the early Mussolini, to organise the community by giving to each trade or industry a separate collectivist control of itself through the employers and employees engaged in it …

 

Thousands of employers’ price-fixing and restrictive agreements by the late 1960s weren’t far off what Menzies had decried in 1942.

The C-word  (for cartel) pops up once in that book, in the economic essay by Henry Ergas (ex-OECD) and Jonathan Pincus (Adelaide University). Neither seeming familiar with pre-1974 cartels, they remark that wage moderation, “cartels” and trade protection generated high returns for many producers, and that, reportedly, widespread collusion allowed inefficient firms to survive and efficient ones to earn “supra-normal returns”.[31] That’s all you’ll find in 390 pages, apart from a footnote.[32]

Petro Georgiou’s 1999 lecture in the Menzies Lecture Trust annual series on liberalism is one of a number showing incompatibilities between St Robert and reality. Georgiou held Menzies’s former seat of Kooyong. He said, “Alongside Menzies’ philosophical commitments to enterprise and initiative, to the incentive to prosper and create, was a commitment to social justice. A commitment embracing a better distribution of wealth …” (my emphasis).

Menzies himself remained adept at concealing his hand, generally equivocating about cartels in public utterances. Certainly, federal constitutional powers over cartels were a vexed issue, but Menzies, unlike Barwick, had been content to let sleeping dogs lie. This is from Menzies’s 1951 election stump speech (emphases added):

 

We have, as a nation, pursued a policy of increasing costs by reducing the working week, by restrictive practices, by too much inefficiency, by hot competition in wages, by vastly increased social services. I do not say that these are all bad things; some of them, on the contrary, are very good. But if we want them, we must pay for them …

 

His syntax magically conceals whether price rings are good or bad.

In the run-up years to the 1961 election, Barwick began working up anti-cartel proposals, combining moral and economic justification. By 1960 inflation (4.5 per cent) was a further incentive against price-fixing. The Governor-General Viscount Dunrossil’s parliamentary opening for Menzies in 1960 included—as a second-last sentence afterthought

 

The development of tendencies to monopoly and restrictive practices in commerce and industry has engaged the attention of the Government which will give consideration to legislation to protect and strengthen free enterprise against such a development.

 

What? “Development of tendencies”? As if price-fixing were not already saturating the economy! Economist Alex Hunter at the time estimated there were 600 trade associations at work, two-thirds promoting collusive practices.[33]

In Menzies’s election policy speech on November 15, 1961, his “supplement” on restrictive practices included:

 

It would be most undesirable to have an elaborate system of government controls which restricted true development, efficiency, and enterprise. On the other hand, the public interest must be paramount; exploitation must not occur.

 

Barwick had not yet formed proposals, he said, and when finally cabinet made some decisions, there would be six months for submissions “so that no proper consideration will be overlooked”. Not exactly fighting words against cartels.

In April, Menzies had written to his family:

 

But the men who have under my Government enjoyed unexampled prosperity for ten years and have become accustomed to high incomes and a minimum of competition, are the first to complain if they find their profits and dividends declining even by a fraction. [emphasis added][34]

 

Note that Menzies is complaining about big-business owners’ ingratitude: he was not showing any principled concern about their officially-sponsored feather-bedding. (Buttressing the cartels were effective import protection rates for manufacturing in the late 1960s of 61 per cent for metal products; 52 per cent for paper and printing; and overall 36 per cent).[35]

Still, Barwick’s 1962 proposals were the high point for the Liberals in (hypothetical) anti-cartel severity. That lawyer’s draft even cracked down on fixed fees for lawyers. But the proposals met plenty of internal opposition. As the SMH’s political correspondent wrote, “There is a lot of doubt whether the Prime Minister was really convinced either of [Barwick’s plan’s] political wisdom or necessity …”[36] It was another five years—and one year after Menzies retired—before the public got even token government protection from cartels.

A mysterious anti-cartel speech was delivered in 1962 by backbencher Billy Snedden, the future Liberal leader. He was morally outraged about what he called the multitudinous, harmful and untenable cartels victimising the “defenceless public” through “virulent and obstructive practice”. He seemed to hint at a revolt by a ginger-group of Liberals if government inaction continued.

Of restrictive practices, Snedden said that “the refinements are as exotic as the fire from a cut diamond”. Fixes were disguised as “orderly marketing” or a “code of ethics”:

 

They raise prices; they restrict production; they boycott people out of business; they prevent others from competing; they concentrate economic power improperly; and they care not for the public interest …

… agreements by one group beget similar and usually intertwined agreements by other groups in the distributive process. In its worst form it fixes prices much higher than they need be. In the lesser form it fixes prices to allow a comfortable margin of profit without the risk of a loss.

 

Sanctions by the cartels—fines and expulsions—could drive transgressors out of business through denial of supply or refusal to stock the products.

 

Businesses divide into groups, each group interlocking with others to enhance the power of collective boycotts, and sharing of market and conditions of sale …

 

He warned that if the Barwick scheme was not rapidly implemented, the Liberals faced the threat of wilder, ignorant legislation by a Labor government criminalising business people with new laws “absolute in terms and extreme in penalty”. “Not only does the public want it [Barwick’s scheme] but the nation must have it,” Snedden said.[37] There was no love lost between Snedden and Menzies, who later described Snedden as “a good junior but a hopeless leader”.[38]

John Howard in his book The Menzies Era provides his own revealing take on Menzies’s distaste for his own government’s anti-cartel push. Howard, who in the early 1960s was a mere Liberal apparatchik, writes that Barwick’s anti-cartel proposals:

 

had a rough time, with Menzies ultimately stepping in, in response to business concerns that the plan was too interventionist … All of the major organisations reacted badly to Barwick’s proposals. Menzies was specially sensitive to the opposition of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, which had been highly critical of the Coalition in the 1961 election campaign … By the middle of 1963 the final shape of the legislation was still unresolved … Menzies publicly hinted at major changes, saying the tabled proposals “were by no means the last word” and promised a second look at the “sweeping, clumsy and autocratic plans of the Attorney-General”.[39]

 

Did Menzies really describe Barwick’s plan as “sweeping, clumsy and autocratic”? Howard gives no source. It would be incredibly disloyal and inflammatory of Menzies towards his eminent cabinet colleague. Regardless, Howard makes no bones about Menzies undermining Barwick’s efforts.

Menzies also had kind words for the conspirators of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures. Opposition Leader Arthur Calwell charged that Menzies had repudiated Barwick when addressing industry chiefs at a Chamber dinner in September 1963.[40] Menzies said their submissions were “the most balanced, sensible and impressive ideas” he had heard. Calwell’s translation of Menzies: “Let Little Gar have his fun, but don’t worry, Uncle Bob will fix it, boys!”

Barwick left politics for the High Court in April 1964, and the tatters of his anti-cartel proposals, after scores of debilitating amendments, were brought in next year. Cartels were given a further two years’ grace and then restrictive practices were merely subjected to registration and prolonged case-by-case examination—except for collusive tendering, which was banned.

Menzies retired, trailing his clouds of glory, in 1966. There are many reasons to praise Menzies’s policies and achievements. But please don’t bang on about his concern for thrifty and ambitious families. He didn’t care if business combinations—economic bandits—exploited them mercilessly.

Tony Thomas was Economics Writer for the Age in Canberra from 1971 to 1979, and wrote for BRW Magazine from 1981 to 2001.


[1] J.R. Nethercote (Editor). MENZIES -The Shaping of Modern Australia. Connor Court Publishing, 2016. p135-6

 

[2] Age 10/9/65, p2

 

[3] Age 17/7/65 p5

 

[4] AGE June 24. 1957 p7

[5] Restrictive Trade Practices Bill 1971, Second Reading debate from Nov 25.

 

[6] Australian Trade Practices: Readings. Ed JP Nieuwenhuysen, Croom Helm, London, 1976, p75

 

[7] SMH 2/4/71

[8] Billy Snedden, Hansard 16/8/62 p422

[9] Pengilley, Warren: Collusion – Trade Practices and Risk Taking. CCH, North Ryde 1978, p51.

 

[10] Pengilley, Warren: Collusion – Trade Practices and Risk-Taking. CCH Australia, North Ryde, 1978, p28

 

[11]

Trade Practices Commission, First Annual Report, 1974-75, p65

[12] JP Nieuwenhuysenm and NR Norman, Australian Competition and Prices Policy, Croom Helm, London, 1976 p19

[13] Sources: Miscellaneous including Royal Commissions, CTP annual reports, court cases, press reports.

 

[14] SMH 15/10/65 p34

 

[15] Review of the Liquor Control Act 1968, Vol 2, p684

[16] Round, DK and Siegfried, JJ. Horizontal Price Agreements in Australian Antitrust. Review of Industrial Organization, Vol. 9, No. 5, 10/1994, pp 569-606

[17] CTP second annual report, p8

[18] Hansard, 16/8/62, p424

[19] SMH, 18/2/63 p2

 

[20] Karmel PH and Brunt, Maureen: The Structure of the Australian Economy. Cheshire, Melbourne, 1962, p95

[21] Australian Trade Practices: Readings. Ed JP Nieuwenhuysen, Croom Helm, London, 1976, p176

 

[22] Westralian Portraits, ed Lyall Hunt. UWA Press, Perth 1979 pp287-95

[23] Age 10/3/72.

[24] Australian Trade Practices: Readings. Ed JP Nieuwenhuysen, Croom Helm, London, 1976, p31

[25] Tony Thomas, Age 28/4/1977 p21.

 

[26] Age 20/3/71, SMH 19/3/71, D’Alpuget, Blanche, Hawke: the Early Years, p277-86

 

[27] Age 1/4/71

 

[28] Age 26/11/65 p3

 

[29] Martin AW, Robert Menzies, A Life. Carlton, Vic. : Melbourne University Press, 1993/1999.

[30] Henderson, Gerard: Menzies’ Child- The Liberal Party of Australia. Harper Collins, Sydney, 1994

[31] J.R. Nethercote (Editor). MENZIES -The Shaping of Modern Australia. Connor Court Publishing, 2016. p152 and 158.

[32] Economist and regulation specialist Dr Alan Moran argues that cartels are not important in explaining inefficiency since they tend to implode from their internal tensions or can be undermined by new competitors. But cartels aided and enforced by government (e.g. the former two-airline policy) can have persistent harmful effects. Moran says that despite import protection, there is no evidence of super profits being earned, possibly because gains were leached off to organised labor. (Interview, 4/6/17)

[33] Australian Trade Practices: Readings. Ed JP Nieuwenhuysen, Croom Helm, London, 1976, p177

 

[34] Robert Menzies A Life. Vol 2 1944-1978. A W Martin, MUP 1999, p432

 

[35] Industries Assistance Commission, 1976, Assistance to Manufacturing Industries. AGPS Canberra.

[36] SMH 30/10/62

 

[37] Hansard, 16/8/62, p421-4

 

[38] Henderson, Gerard: Menzies’ Child- The Liberal Party of Australia. Harper Collins, Sydney, 1994 P186

[39] Howard, John, The Menzies Era. Harper Collins, Sydney 2014, p276

 

[40] SMH 17/9/63, p4

The Trump Doctrine on Energy

If you go by the mainstream media’s lockstep ‘coverage’ of the US president’s first six months, he is no more nor less than a tweeting buffoon. A comforting narrative for cant-addicted newsroom hacks and groupthinkers, it handily avoids any and all mooting of Australia’s need to follow his lead

blackout state IIIOur federal and state politicians scuttle about looking for innovative new ways to strangle the Australian energy sector. But across the Pacific, America is unleashing a world-changing energy revolution. The world’s energy fundamentals are in transition. Donald Trump is liberating American coal, gas, oil and nuclear industries from eight years of Obama’s harassment and restrictions.

The consequences for us as a player in energyexport markets are dire. In an officially supportive environment, Australian energy could hold its share – intrinsically, it has  global competitiveness. But politics here involves ‘renewables’ targets and other sacrifices to please the climate gods,  bans  such as Victoria’s on normal and fracked gas exploration, official and green lawfare against every new energy project (think Adani), impromptu Turnbull restrictions on LNG exports, Sargasso seas of red tape, and  on-going fatwas against nuclear proposals.

Domestically, American industry will enjoy cheap energy inputs, while our own industry’s  energy becomes as expensive as anywhere in the world. This disparity will play out in Australian factory closures and capital flight to the US.

A banana republic couldn’t do a better job of destroying its own wealth.

The US is now estimated to have 20% more oil than the Saudis – at USD50 a barrel, a storehouse of USD $13 trillion. The US has been a net energy importer since 1953, but thanks to fracking is now likely to be a net exporter as early as 2020. American LNG could move into net export surplus as early as this year. By 2040, US natural gas exports alone could bring in USD $1.6 trillion, and generate USD $110b in wages. US gas reserves are also enough to meet domestic needs for a century. The American energy revolution – in Trump’s word, “dominance” –  seldom makes the mainstream media here, which is fixated on the schoolyard narrative of Trump as a tweeting buffoon.

Want to know what’s really important? Trump on June 29 addressed the Department of Energy’s“Unleashing Energy” conference in Washington.

His policy announcements were so shattering to the green/left ideology – he talked of “clean, beautiful coal” for example – that his message went almost unreported here. Trump said

The golden era of American energy is now underway.  When it comes to the future of America’s energy needs, we will find it, we will dream it, and we will build it.

American energy will power our ships, our planes and our cities.  American hands will bend the steel and pour the concrete that brings this energy into our homes and that exports this incredible, newfound energy all around the world. And American grit will ensure that what we dream, and what we build, will truly be second to none.

Today, I am proudly announcing six brand-new initiatives to propel this new era of American energy dominance.  

First, we will begin to revive and expand our nuclear energy sector   which produces clean, renewable and emissions-free energy.  A complete review of U.S. nuclear energy policy will help us find new ways to revitalize this crucial energy resource.  [US nuclear plants have been shuttering because of cheap gas and low power demand].

Second, the Department of the Treasury will address barriers to the financing of highly efficient, overseas coal energy plants.  Ukraine already tells us they need millions and millions of metric tons right now.  There are many other places that need it, too.  And we want to sell it to them, and to everyone else all over the globe who need it. [Geo-strategically, US coal and LNG could weaken Russian energy hegemony in Europe. Cheniere Energy  has just delivered the first U.S. cargoes of LNG to Poland and the Netherlands].

Third, my administration has just approved the construction of a new petroleum pipeline to Mexico, which will further boost American energy exports. [This New Burgos Pipeline will deliver up to 180,000 barrels a day. The US is Mexico’s main petroleum supplier.]

Fourth, just today, a major U.S. company, Sempra Energy, signed an agreement to begin negotiations for the sale of more American natural gas to South Korea.

Fifth, the United States Department of Energy is announcing today that it will approve two long-term applications to export additional natural gas from the Lake Charles LNG terminal in Louisiana.  It’s going to be a big deal.  [Currently the US exports LNG only through Sabine Pass, Louisiana, but four other terminals should come on line between 2018 and 2020, competing with Australia, Qatar and Russia].

Finally, to unlock more energy from the 94 percent of offshore land closed to development, we’re opening it up, the right areas. Under the previous administration, so much of our land was closed to development.   – we’re creating a new offshore oil and gas leasing program.  America will be allowed to access the vast energy wealth located right off our shores.  And this is all just the beginning — believe me.

Is Trump merely rhapsodising? No way. His energy track record in his first half-year — again, carefully ignored by Australia’s mainstream media — speaks for itself.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency was ordered to dump Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” designed to bump up household electricity rates by 14%
  • The long-frustrated Keystone pipeline from Alberta to Illinois/Texas got fast-tracked approval
  • Obama’s ban on new coal leasing on federal land was revoked  – these lands involve 40% of US coal production.
  • The US has dumped its Paris Climate commitments, which Trump says will save taxpayers USD3 trillion, and protect 6.5m US industrial jobs. “Maybe we’ll be back into it someday, but it will be on better terms,” he said last week
  • Hundreds of thousands of hours of red-tape energy regulations – including on fracking –  were abolished.

Trump spelt out his energy philosophy. “With [our] incredible resources, my administration will seek not only American energy independence that we’ve been looking for so long, but American energy dominance.

“And we’re going to be an exporter — exporter!” he promised. “We will export American energy all over the world, all around the globe.  These energy exports will create countless jobs for our people, and provide true energy security to our friends, partners, and allies all across the globe.”

Unlocking energy would generate millions of jobs and trillions in wealth, he said.  For over 40 years, America was vulnerable to foreign regimes using energy as an economic weapon. Americans’ quality of life was diminished by the idea that energy resources were scarce.

 Many of us remember the long gas lines and the constant claims that the world was running out of oil and natural gas.    

Americans were told that our nation could only solve this energy crisis by imposing draconian restrictions on energy production.  But we now know that was all a big, beautiful myth.  It was fake.   The truth is that we have near-limitless supplies of energy in our country.  Powered by new innovation and technology, we are now on the cusp of a true energy revolution.

We have nearly 100 years’ worth of natural gas and more than 250 years’ worth of clean, beautiful coal.  We are a top producer of petroleum and the number-one producer of natural gas.  We don’t want to let other countries take away our sovereignty and tell us what to do and how to do it.  That’s not going to happen.  

But this full potential can only be realized when government promotes energy development instead of obstructing it like the Democrats.   We have to get out and do our job better and faster than anybody in the world.  This vast energy wealth does not belong to the government.  It belongs to the people of the United States of America.   Yet, for the past eight years, the federal government imposed massive job-killing barriers to American energy development.

Job-killing [Obama] regulations are being removed. I’m dramatically reducing restrictions on the development of natural gas.  I cancelled the moratorium on a new coal leasing on federal lands.  

We have finally ended the war on coal.  And I am proud to report that Corsa Coal  just opened a brand-new coal mine in the state of Pennsylvania, the first one in many, many, many years

We’re ending intrusive EPA regulations that kill jobs, hurt family farmers and ranchers, and raise the price of energy so quickly and so substantially.

From all this are two take-home messages: in the US, you ain’t seen nothing yet. And for Australia, we can either change tack on energy madness or fall under the wheels of the US juggernaut.

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

 

COMMENTS [8]

  1. Bushranger71

    See this well-reasoned argument from a ‘Greenie’ that is supportive of clean coal derived energy:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-02/next-financial-crisis-not-far-away

  2. Bill Martin

    This article, particularly the quotations from Trump’s speech, read like an enthusiastic song of praise to sanity. That, of course, makes it an anathema for the insane.

  3. en passant

    Trump has set out the winning agenda for any Australian political party that adopts it.

    Do not worry about the screaming trolls and the MacBot sea level rise fakery, just get on with exploiting our wealth while we are still a sovereign nation.

    Oh, and how effective are the violent screaming trolls at winning elections by shouting everyone else down? Just ask Whitlam.

  4. Ian MacDougall

    First, we will begin to revive and expand our nuclear energy sector which produces clean, renewable and emissions-free energy.

    Nuclear energy is finite. (We have not got up to controlled fusion, though there are some promising signs. Its fuel would essentially be sea water, and we are not likely to run short of that anytime soon.) But fission fuel is still not ‘renewable’, and is only ‘clean’ if one disregards the problem of how to dispose of the highly radioactive waste.
    Moreover, ‘emissions-free’ only has importance if one concedes that there is a problem with emissions in non-nuclear, conventional coal sources. But Trump as a fully paid-up member of the Ostrich School of Climatology, denies that anyway.

    He obviously needs a new speechwriter or supervisor. From Trump’s point of view, the existing staff leave something to be desired.

  5. Doc S

    You’re dead right about the almost total lack of reporting on this in the US (and thus the Australian media). A recent media monitoring centre analysis of broadcasting content in one news cycle recorded nearly 350 broadcast minutes on Trump and the Russia investigation – the next was terrorism at less than 15 minutes but every other theme of vital interest to your average American such as healthcare, education, and yes climate change (not forgetting Trump had just withdrawn from the Paris Accords) all got less than five minutes of broadcast time. Its insane. And our media here are not much better. Landmark events like Trump’s DoE address barely rate. Of course Trump realises energy security is the key to prosperity – cheaper and reliable sources of energy will be key to driving the US economy. The Finkel Review encapsulates our government’s view on energy security but is light years away from the American position under Trump (that is happening NOW) and of course not forgetting this all goes against the current climate warming narrative so beloved of the kool-aid drinkers of all political stripes including the Turnbull government. As for the ultimate clean energy – nuclear – well you can just forget about THAT sunshine!

  6. Ken

    Trump is playing the media for the suckers that they are. They spend too much time looking for nasty things to say about him and fail to see just what he has already achieved. Thinking people are enjoying the reactions of ” true believers”.

  7. Keith Kennelly

    An Aussie PM that dumps renewables and subsidies to renewables, promotes coal and gas would turn around the economy and would be PM for ever.

    Tony Abbott should replaceMalvolmTurnbull right now.

Surely Your’re Crying, Mr Feynman

June 28th 2017 print

Back in 1974, the US physicist and polymath warned graduating students of ‘cargo cult science’ and the careerist urge to confirm the flawed orthodoxy of earlier and inaccurate results. Climate “science” was then in its infancy but the trajectory of its corruption has confirmed all his worst fears

feynmanThe trouble with mainstream climate scientists is that they’re third-rate scientists, and the reason they’re third-rate is that they’re dishonest. My authority for this statement is physicist Richard Feynman (picturd), who has been dead for 29 years but was ranked by  his peers as one of the ten greatest  physicists of all time. Feynman set out the parameters for honest science in general, and I’ve never yet seen a mainstream climate scientist live up to Feynman’s honesty test.

In 2015 I was transiting through Los Angeles airport and killing time in a bookshop.  I bought Feynman’s paperback   Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman! because it seemed unusual for physicists to take pride in being funny.

In the book’s first essay he tells how, as a small kid, he earned pocket-money repairing people’s radios. A customer would tell him about a fault, and that would be enough to diagnose the problem without even turning on the set.

The book’s final essay – in between there’s wonderful entertainment – is called “Cargo Cult Science”. It’s  the commencement address he gave to freshers at Caltech in 1974. The original cargo cults, as you probably know, involved post-war tribesmen in PNG building mock airstrips and control towers in the hope that this would attract US cargo planes to again deliver their cargoes of desirable goods. “They follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land,” Feynman told the students. He went on to talk about what is missing in bad science – honesty.

 

It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty—a kind of leaning over backwards.  For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid—not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked—to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

“Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them.  You must do the best you can—if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong—to explain it.  If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it.  There is also a more subtle problem.  When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

“In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.

“We’ve learned from experience that the truth will out.  Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. [Climate science is intrinsically not experimental but its modelling can now be checked against reality].  Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll disagree with your theory.  And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind of work.  And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in Cargo Cult Science.

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.  So you have to be very careful about that.  After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists.  You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

“I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the layman when you’re talking as a scientist…I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you’re maybe wrong, that you ought to do when acting as a scientist.  And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.

“For example, I was a little surprised when I was talking to a friend who was going to go on the radio.  He does work on cosmology and astronomy, and he wondered how he would explain what the applications of this work were.  ‘Well,’ I said, ‘there aren’t any.’  He said, ‘Yes, but then we won’t get support for more research of this kind.’  I think that’s kind of dishonest.  If you’re representing yourself as a scientist, then you should explain to the layman what you’re doing—and if they don’t want to support you under those circumstances, then that’s their decision.

“One example of the principle is this: If you’ve made up your mind to test a theory, or you want to explain some idea, you should always decide to publish it whichever way it comes out.  If we only publish results of a certain kind, we can make the argument look good.  We must publish both kinds of result.

“I say that’s also important in giving certain types of government advice. Supposing a senator asked you for advice about whether drilling a hole should be done in his state; and you decide it would be better in some other state.  If you don’t publish such a result, it seems to me you’re not giving scientific advice.  You’re being used.  If your answer happens to come out in the direction the government or the politicians like, they can use it as an argument in their favor; if it comes out the other way, they don’t publish it at all.  That’s not giving scientific advice.

“So I wish to you the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity.  May you have that freedom. [The following para is in the original but not in the book] May I also give you one last bit of advice: Never say that you’ll give a talk unless you know clearly what you’re going to talk about and more or less what you’re going to say.”

What is fascinating about his common-sense tenets of scientific honesty is that today they are forgotten, ignored, corrupted and trampled upon by supposed scientists  in all fields playing ‘publish or perish’ and ‘get that grant’.  The climate scientists are particularly bad because the stakes in grants, influence and reputation are now so high. When the Climate Council’s CEO Amanda McKenzie talks about “carbon pollution”, why don’t the scientists on her board (Flannery, Hughes, Steffen, Bambrick) correct her and say carbon dioxide (not “carbon”) is  a plant food essential to life on earth, not “pollution”?  That’s what Feynman surely would want.

There must now be tens of thousands of peer reviewed mainstream studies relying on the output of temperature computer-modelling for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since the 5th IPCC report of 2013, each such study, on Feynman’s honesty test, should include in the preamble that the   5th report noted [1] that 111 of 114 such model runs over-estimated actual temperatures from 1998-2012  — and they’re still over-estimating for 2012-2016, as demonstrated by John Christy’s satellite graphs provide in Congressional testimony last March.

A minor negative example: a month ago ABC radio, print and TV was running hot with “coastal koala extinction” stories. Koalas are good talent and we all love these cute little beasties. We learn that, according to the most conservative climate modelling, seas will rise lots and lots between now and 2067 and 2117,  and this will kill the gum trees that many koala populations  feed on – putting them on  “a steady downward run to extinction”.

The tale emanates from research done at the Port Macquarie City Council. It doesn’t seem to have made the published science literature but there is an account of it at a national koala conference at Port Macquarie last month. This account makes no mention of the damning 111/114 fail rate of the main IPCC climate models, and thus it violates Feynman’s integrity test.[2]

Another great Feynman-test fail   is all this science-y stuff about hottest year ever. Surface based records (that have been ruthlessly adjusted by lowering the early-year temperature data) may show recent hottest years, but the 38-year satellite records don’t – at best the 2016 peak was within the margin of error relative to 2015. How can any honest scientist (on Feynman’s definition) fail to mention the awkward satellite data when assessing hottest years? There was even the case in 2015 where NASA put out a press release saying that 2014 was the hottest year since 1880. But within days it had to own up that because of data margins of error, there was only a 38% chance that its ‘hottest year’ tale was valid. Would Feynman say that NASA has scientific integrity? No, I don’t think so.[3]

In my reading on climate over the past decade,  I’ve never seen Feynman’s prescription about honest science referred to in mainstream climate literature. It’s easy to imagine why.

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


[1] Chapter 9, text box 9.2, page 769. And why was this crucial information not included in the all-important Summary for Policy-Makers?

[2] Another Feynman-style koala check not mentioned would be the nearest tide gauges, to see how much these seas have risen to date. Port Macquarie gauges only go back 30 years and show a 7.8cm rise, i.e. if extrapolated, about one foot per century. Fort Denison in Sydney Harbor shows a mere 6.5cm per century rise based on 128 years of data.

[3] On checking, I find he’d already written off NASA management as scientific frauds.  “NASA managers claimed that there was a 1 in 100,000 chance of a catastrophic failure aboard the [Challenger] shuttle, but Feynman discovered that NASA’s own engineers estimated the chance of a catastrophe at closer to 1 in 200. He concluded that NASA management’s estimate of the reliability of the space shuttle was unrealistic, and he was particularly angered that NASA used it to recruit Christa McAuliffe [lost in the explosion] into the Teacher-in-Space program. He warned in his appendix to the commission’s report (which was included only after he threatened not to sign the report), “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

The Serpent’s Egg

… a serpent’s egg,
Which, hatch’d, would as his kind grow mischievous.
Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene I

May Issue, Quadrant 2012

In June 1988, US Senators Tim Wirth and Al Gore invited a noted climate scientist to brief their committee on global warming. Dr James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the senators: “The earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements … The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.”[1]

It was a day of fierce summer heat in Washington. The USA in 1988 was in the grip of heat, drought and potential crop failure comparable to the 1930s “dust bowls”. Hansen gave the media a new angle on the heatwave, and they ran with it. Thus the warmist show for the masses got on the road. “The show” is correct because the hearing itself was a piece of stagecraft. Senator Wirth, with pride, told all to the PBS Frontline special in April 2007:

Timothy Wirth: We called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer. Well, it was June 6th or June 9th or whatever it was [actually, June 23]. So we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo, it was the hottest day on record in Washington, or close to it.

Deborah Amos: Did you also alter the temperature in the hearing room that day? 

Timothy Wirth: What we did is that we went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right, so that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room. And so when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and double figures, but it was really hot … The wonderful Jim Hansen was wiping his brow at the table at the hearing, at the witness table, and giving this remarkable testimony.[2]

Hansen’s one-time NASA supervisor, the atmospheric scientist John S. Theon, wrote in 2009 that Hansen “embarrassed NASA” with his alarmism: NASA in 1988 knew little about any human-caused warming. Theon himself was responsible for all NASA weather and climate research, including Hansen’s.[3]

Hansen’s later activism included being arrested in 2009, 2010 and 2011 during his anti-coal-mining demonstrations. In 2007, in testimony to the Iowa Utilities Board, he likened coal trains to “death trains”, saying they would be “no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species”.[4] Hansen has also called for chief executives of big fossil fuel companies to be tried for “high crimes against humanity and nature”.[5]

Enough of Hansen, typically described as “one of the world’s leading climate scientists”. This article will go back further to see how the warming crisis originated, and where the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has taken this issue by 2012.

The theory that human-caused carbon dioxide warms the planet goes back to the Swedish scholar Svante Arrhenius in 1896. He thought this would be wonderful:

By the influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates, especially as regards the colder regions of the earth, ages when the earth will bring forth much more abundant crops than at present, for the benefit of rapidly propagating mankind.[6]  

However, he hugely underestimated how long the doubling from pre-industrial levels would take: he thought 3000 years; we now think it is likely to happen between 2050 and 2100.

The next big Swede was Bert Bolin. He should be (but isn’t) a household name as the man who galvanised the modern world about carbon dioxide. Bolin pioneered computerised weather forecasting (using the original ENIAC electronic computer) and was quick to endorse the then-sketchy hypothesis that carbon dioxide “pollution” from fossil fuels was a threat to civilisation.

The computerised climate models of those days were ineffably crude—even today, after billions in research funding, climate models are still conceded by the IPCC to have serious flaws and limitations. However, the time was ripe for this new environmental cause. The scare de jour was the Club of Rome’s “limits to growth”; but catastrophic global warming went one better on the angst scale.

Bolin led the science effort, through his chairing from 1964 of the International Council of Scientific Union’s (ICSU’s) key committee on the atmosphere. This high profile led him to chair conferences, become lead editor for reports, and chair successor bodies run jointly with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) from 1967. From there he vaulted to the inaugural IPCC chair (1988–97).

He propagated modelling results predicting that doubling carbon dioxide would boost warming not by the accepted 1 degree Celsius but by as much as 5.5 degrees through hypothesised “feedbacks”. The attention-getter was that this would occur within the time of one’s grandchildren—from around 2030.[7]

Bolin’s able supporter was Mostafa Tolba, Egypt’s head of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) from 1975 to 1992. Tolba’s landmark success was the Montreal Protocol on CFC chemicals and the ozone hole in 1987. He also took up the cudgels against acid rain, which turned out to be localised glitches.

The carbon dioxide politicisation got under way at a key conference at Villach, Austria, in 1985, run by the ICSU, the UNEP and the WMO. Even the conference’s title specified that carbon dioxide was the villain in warming, although this had yet to be demonstrated. One hundred scientists and bureaucrats attended the conference by personal invitation and in their personal capacity. They were encouraged to make their resolutions without accountability to parent bodies.[8] The ICSU had prepared a dire, model-based climate report. After a single day’s discussion, the report was officially adopted, although attendees agreed to tone down the top warming estimate from 5.5 degrees to 4.5 degrees to make it more politically saleable. They also cut the upper limit of the forecast sea-level rise from 165 centimetres to 140 centimetres, for the same reason (hence science by consensus). A fly in the ointment was that the WMO declined to affirm that carbon dioxide was causing global warming, so the report had to be equivocal on that.[9] This Villach science report became the received text for similar environmental conferences and reports that followed, such as the 1987 Brundtland Report (Our Common Future), assembled under the guidance of Bert Bolin.

The UNEP’s style under Tolba was to go over the heads of national politicians direct to green lobbies and the media. This forced the politicians into action. Momentum came to a head at the June 1988 “Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere”, which brought together the governmental, scientific and activist communities. Incidentally, three months prior to this conference Bolin was already calling for a carbon emissions tax.[10]

Of the conference’s 341 delegates (mainly bureaucrats), fifty were green groupers from forty-six countries, and only seventy-six were physical scientists.[11] As for the media, “extra press rooms had to be added to handle the hordes of descending journalists”, according to the late Dr Stephen Schneider, the same media-savvy scientist who told Discover magazine in 1989: “To capture the public’s imagination … we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”[12]

The thirty governments formally represented at Toronto pledged to cut their carbon dioxide emissions voluntarily by 20 per cent (from 1988 levels) by 2005, to head off warming and sea-level rises. They also set their seal on the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with Bolin as first head. The IPCC’s pre-foundation brief was to encourage and sum up the science as guidance for governmental policy decisions—no mention there of “human-caused” climate change. Technically, this was a neutral agenda.[13] In practice, as Tolba put it to the first IPCC session, the IPCC should “bravely inform the world what ought to be done”.[14] In the event, the IPCC charter in 1988 hardened up. It said the goal was to assess “the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change”.[15]

Among the embryo IPCC’s keenest backers was the think-tank TERI in New Delhi, run by the IPCC’s future chair, Dr Rajendra Pachauri. TERI ran a manifesto in 1989 which for its tone shocked even IPCC chair Bert Bolin:

Global warming is the greatest crisis ever faced collectively by humankind. Unlike other earlier crises, it is global in nature, threatens the very survival of civilisation, and promises to throw up only losers over the entire international socio-economic fabric. The reason for such a potential apocalyptic scenario is simple: climate changes of geological proportions are occurring over time-spans as short as a single human lifetime.[16]

The newly formed IPCC rushed out its first report by 1990—in two years instead of the later reports’ five or six years—with the intention of making it a key document for the 1992 conference in Rio de Janeiro. This first report was based heavily on the findings of the 1985 Villach conference and on the Brundtland report. To its credit, the 1990 report was moderate in tone. Its key tract was in the Executive Summary of the human-attribution chapter: “The fact that we are unable to reliably detect the predictive [carbon dioxide] signals today does not mean that the greenhouse theory is wrong, or that it will not be a severe problem in the decades ahead.” In Bolin’s memoir he pointed out that “The IPCC conclusions were carefully worded and did not say that a human-induced climate change was under way.”[17] He complained: “It was non-government groups of environmentalists, supported by the mass media, who were the ones exaggerating the conclusions that had been carefully formulated by the IPCC.”[18]

The IPCC’s 1990 report was of course unsatisfactory to the green movement, from top level (UNEP) down. Putting the political cart before the science horse, the UN drew up its “Framework Convention on Climate Change” (UNFCCC) treaty, which asserted human causation in no uncertain terms, and foreshadowed a regime of emission controls. At the famed “Earth Summit” in Rio in 1992, 154 states signed on. In somewhat Orwellian fashion, the “Earth Summit” redefined the term “climate change” to literally mean “human-caused climate change”. Natural climate change was then re-defined as “climate variability”.[19] Additionally, according to Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC charter was modified to explicitly state that it was to support the UNFCCC.[20]

What is missing from my dry tale is the emotional punch generated during that Earth Summit. The pre-summit ceremonies included the “Declaration of the Sacred Earth Gathering”:

The responsibility of each human being today is to choose between the force of darkness and the force of light. We must therefore transform our attitudes and values, and adopt a renewed respect for the superior law of Divine Nature.

The sacred earth drummers maintained a continuous heartbeat near the conference centre, “as part of a ritual for the healing of our Earth to be felt by those who are deciding Earth’s fate”.[21]

The next IPCC report, scheduled for 1995, could hardly maintain the 1990 report’s “neutral” stance, given the Rio and UNFCCC anti-carbon-dioxide politics. In the event, the 1995 all-important summary for policy makers said: “The balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate.” This itself was a compromise, watering down the draft’s wording of “appreciable” human influence. Bolin says he also ensured that the conclusion was qualified with a phrase, “fully recognising the uncertainty”, but media, lobbies and governments subsequently ignored it. He also complained that many other points in the summary should have been qualified for uncertainties, but were not.[22]

Given that the 1995 summary gave an elephant stamp to the carbon dioxide pollution story, what (if anything) underpinned that summary? Frederick Seitz, president emeritus of Rockefeller University and chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, Washington, claimed critical caveats in the 1995 body text were deleted to permit the activist summary. Bolin denied this and said there were merely normal reviews of drafts. The deleted passages cited by Seitz included:

No study to date has positively attributed all or part [of the climate change observed to date] to anthropogenic causes …

None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases …

Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced …  

Seitz, a former president of the US National Academy of Sciences and of the American Physical Society, said he had never witnessed “a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events which led to this IPCC report”.[23]

Bolin himself let a cat out of the bag. He revealed that the chapter heads Ben Santer and Tom Wigley had claimed, after inspecting the reviewed draft, that new evidence had arrived in the literature justifying a stronger conclusion on human causation.[24] The chair of the science group, Sir John Houghton, thought this summary-strengthening was warranted and the bulk report was retrospectively amended. Human causation thus became scientific orthodoxy. But tangling the web that way offended some delegates, “who emphasised more the need to safeguard the credibility of the assessment process”, as Bolin put it.[25]

Houghton was highly influential in the IPCC’s first decade. He had been Professor of Atmospheric Physics at Oxford and chief executive of the UK Met Office before leading the IPCC’s hard-science Group 1 team for the 1990, 1995 and 2001 reports. A devout church-goer, he told the London Sunday Telegraph in 1995:

If we want good environmental policy in future, we’ll have to have a disaster. It’s like safety on public transport. The only way humans will act is if there’s been an accident … God tries to coax and woo, but he also uses disasters. Human sin may be involved; the effect will be the same. [26]

He also quoted approvingly in 2002 a study estimating there would be 150 million “environmental refugees” by 2050. This was even scarier than UN’s original “climate refugees” scare of 2005, predicting 50 million by 2010.[27] (When the 50 million failed to show up by 2010, the UN discreetly substituted “2020” for the originally forecast “2010”.)[28]

Melbourne IT expert John McLean, who has studied Houghton’s role in this souping-up of the conclusions of the 1995 report, says that the “new evidence” involved was a five-page draft paper submitted to Nature but not yet reviewed, let alone published. And who co-wrote this draft article? The chapter heads Ben Santer and Tom Wigley, along with about seven authors of the IPCC chapter and five other names.

Sherlock Holmes would conclude that the chapter team, lacking evidence to back up their desired post-review rewrite, had written a paper and sent it off to Nature specifically so they could cite it for the IPCC report. The paper itself was clubby, thirty-two of its fifty-nine references involving papers by the chapter members, according to McLean. Four of the fifty-nine references were not even published work, and eight referred to IPCC documents. Of those, three were circular, referring to the impending 1995 IPCC report itself![29] The Nature paper was not published till July 1996. It was of the “state-of-the-art models suggest” kind, and it concluded rather weakly, “It is likely that this [warming] trend is partially due to human activities, although many uncertainties remain, particularly relating to estimates of natural variability.”[30]

Somehow this conclusion had justified the 1995 IPCC summary: “The balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate.” The saga was prolonged when several of the paper’s authors were selected as authors of the 2001 report, which in turn cited the Nature paper approvingly.

With human causation now “consensus”, the 2001 and 2007 reports toughened the language, upping the causation from “likely” (2001) to “very likely” (2007), on the basis of further modelling. The 2001 report also splashed in seven places the now-discredited Michael Mann “hockey stick” graph showing current temperatures to be at their highest for a thousand years. It is not quite true that the hockey stick disappeared in the 2007 IPCC report but the one reproduction there is accompanied by discussion about its validity.[31]

Governments have various ways of pressuring IPCC authors about what they write. For example, the UK Department for Environment (DEFRA) briefed the first scoping meeting for the science section of the 2007 IPCC report:

There is general consensus, presented in the TAR [2001 IPCC report] and widely accepted, that climate change in the latter half of the twentieth century, is due to anthropogenic forcing, and the emphasis for WG1 [the science section] should be on anthropogenic change rather than shorter term variability.

This document went on to urge that the 2007 report writers play down paleoclimate information—how the earth’s climate has behaved over recent geological periods, which is something sceptics like to cite.[32]

The IPCC’s current role, apart from supporting the UNFCCC climate treaties, includes 

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

Note that human causation is a given, and that the charter does not encourage the IPCC to investigate potential natural causation. Such processes could be solar cosmic rays seeding clouds and influencing temperatures, and the mystery mechanism driving the Pacific Decadal Oscillation cycles (which correlate well with the temperature record).[33] [34]

The IPCC charter has instead generated a circular process. Research funds pour into the human-attribution issue. Non-human causation has become the Cinderella of science, starved of funds and likely to kill your promotion prospects. Such research could put the IPCC out of business, and evaporate a lot of the science and technology funding (of which something like $80 billion has been spent since 1989 by the USA alone).

The IPCC’s melting-glacier scandal of 2010 and the “Climategate” e-mail scandals (2009 and 2011) have arguably forced the IPCC into a more disciplined approach, with the determination not to be further caught out on scientific bias. The fruits of this new approach emerged in November 2011 with the IPCC’s special draft report on extreme weather events.[35] Thanks to anodyne IPCC press releases, the mass media (which avoids non-summarised material) failed to notice a bombshell finding. Translated from long-winded science-style language, it says:

  1. for the next twenty to thirty years, man-made warming effects on climate extremes will be swamped by natural climate variability;
  2. the man-made warming may even be beneficial by reducing the number of extreme events; and
  3. neither IPCC models nor emissions forecasting are good enough to forecast extreme weather events up to the end of the century.

These IPCC authors won’t be thanked for giving the IPCC modellers a hotfoot. But the 2001 IPCC report, in a bit of buried text, had said something similar: “The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”[36]

Indeed, the IPCC report in 2007 pulled the rug from under its own models. It said that in terms of sixteen major climate forces, the “level of scientific understanding” was less than “medium” for thirteen of them, and for five, it’s “very low”.[37] It is remarkable that IPCC scientists can build climate models—and trumpet the outputs—when they don’t understand climate. But as things now stand, the modellers will nearly all be retired or dead by the time their new grace period of twenty to thirty years is up.

Doubts about modellers’ outputs wouldn’t matter if this was all just a morning tea debate among Kevin Rudd’s “humourless scientists in their white coats who go around measuring things”. One wishes it were only that.

Tony Thomas, a retired journalist, worked for thirty years with the Age and BRW. He contributed “The Fictive World of Rajendra Pachauri” in the March issue.


[6] Worlds in the making: the evolution of the universe, p63 Harper, 1908.

[9] Franz op cit p10

[10] “Introduce a tax on Carbon Dioxide”, Bert Bolin & Mans Lonnroth, in Dagens Nyheter newspaper, 24/3/1988

[11] Wendy Franz, op cit., p25

[13] Bolin, Bert: A history of the Science and Politics of Climate Change, Cambridge UP, 2007, p51

[14] McLean, John, Climate Science Corrupted. SPPI, Nov 20, 2009, p7.

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/climate_science_corrupted.pdf

[16] Bolin, A history op cit P55.

[17] ibid p63

[18] ibid p112.

[20] Laframboise, Donna, Delinquent Teenager, Avenue Press, Toronto, 2011, p41

[22] Bolin: A History op cit p112-113

[24] Bolin, A History, op cit p113

[25] Bolin, A History, op cit p114

[29] McLean, John, We have been Conned – an independent review of the IPCC, p30-32. http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/we_have_been_conned.html

[31] (Box 6.4, WG1).

[32] Op cit McLean, Climate Science Corrupted, p17. The quote is from p36 of the un-numbered pdf file cited

[36] P771, chapter 14, TAR.

[37] Table 2.11, p 201, Chapter 2, WG1, IPCC 4AR.

Andrew Bolt attacked – Thuggery in Carlton in daylight

bolt-front-page.jpg

Tony Thomas, on hand to record the fascist left’s latest attack on those with whom it disagrees, describes the assault in Lygon Street, Melbourne, today on Andrew Bolt:

Andrew Bolt was ambushed and assaulted by a trio of thugs at 11.55am today as he entered Il Gambero Restaurant in Lygon St, Carlton to speak at the launch launch of Quadrantcontributor Steve Kates’s new book.

Bolt was unhurt.  Two of the thugs wore ‘hoodies’ to conceal their faces, according to witnesses, and one was filming the ambush.  The thugs came off worse. Bolt, who is tall and strongly built, told his audience shortly after about his self-defence: 

“It is important when you have a chance, if you don’t mind, because I am an alpha male. You need to assert your masculinity even in times like these. It is important to smash one of the f*****s in the face (audience laughter) and when you have knocked him down, to kick him in the balls.

“I should not have said that word, I hope it goes nowhere…Western civilisation after all. They would hold it against Trump too, wouldn’t they?” 

He continued, “I beg them to release the video they were making of it , release all of it.” 

Bolt wore a white shirt with sleeves rolled up. On his left sleeve he had a tennis-ball sized patch of pink  color  and on his collar, a smaller patch of blue from the dye the thugs sprayed on him.

He said, “They hope, by punishing someone symbolic, they will silence and intimidate the rest of us. It didn’t work on Donald Trump and it shouldn’t work on anyone here. It’s important to keep going.”

He told Quadrant, “They’d been waiting half an hour for me. When I arrived they shouted something and one came at me from behind over my shoulder. I punched one in the head and he fell over. I turned to face the other and the first scrambled up and I kicked him between the legs. Two came up to me to fight – it’s a bit blurred in my mind – one tried to hold me tightly and then they all ran off.”

Bolt says their operation was similar to that of the Antifa (Anti-Fascist)   group.

Bolt was interviewed half an hour after arrival by a male and female police member.

“It was frightening,” says Phoebe M., who was about to enter the restaurant with her husband at the same time. “I saw people attacking this man and there were outdoor chairs and tables flying about and I thought it might be a terror attack.” 

Her husband Michael M., who was closer to the action, said the two attackers wore black hoodies, rather than masks Bolt thought. “They were swinging blows at him but Bolt landed more on them. I can’t remember whether he knocked one down.”

Phoebe said, “I shouted to them, ‘Get out of here, leave him alone’. After, I asked the staff if Bolt was all right and they said he had gone  to the washroom to clean himself up.”

The incident is likely to have been caught on security cameras nearby.

Bolt on his blog this afternoon wrote, “Police are now looking for a Left-wing fascist with a big bruise on his face and another between his legs. They also want to speak to a tubbier protester once he’s stopped running.” 

Bolt was calm when he came to the stage on the upper floor to introduce economist Steve Kates and Kates’ book of blog entries he made while covering the US election, “Donald Trump: The Art of the Impossible”.

Bolt began, “Thanks Steve for inviting me. Next time I hope to get a better sort of reception. We are facing something     that is what it  pretends to oppose. It is the new fascism I met outside the door.

“This is, unfortunately, Melbourne today. The same sort of people have attacked at a number of other (conservative) meetings.

“We had to cancel my  own Melbourne book launch because of such threats. Groups had put up inciting posters all around the city. The police told us they could only offer to deploy one to three police to defend us because they were committed to a massive police operation to provide security at the annual South Sudan beauty pageant, which had involved extreme violence three times.

“That is where Victorians are today.

“Last night there was another attack by a refugee only a couple of weeks after the ASIO director said there was no connection between refugees and such events. There’s been four attacks in a row involving Muslim refugees. If you point this out you yourself  face violence in the streets from people who are against the freedoms we have, especially free speech. Without that freedom you can’t defend any  other freedom. 

“Laws are also being used to make it almost impossible to express dissent on some issues without being sued or risking physical attack. That’s poor and very sad.”

This, he said, was under a supposed “Liberal” government practising Labor-style finances, Labor-light social policies and looking for bi-partisan global warming policies. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had appointed a committee to better locally enforce UN treaties on our business leaders about  “human rights”, and Bishop had appointed ex-ACTU President Jennie George to help advise her.

“We don’t have a Liberal government any more, this one has no stomach for a  fight,” he said.

For more, visit Andrew’s blog via the link below.

Continue reading…


http://catallaxyfiles.com/2017/06/06/bolt-attack-tony-thomas-reports/

cropped-Six-day-war.jpg

Bolt Attack – Tony Thomas reports

Over at Quadrant Online (be sure to subscribe) Tony Thomas describes the aftermath of the attack on Andrew Bolt:

Andrew Bolt was ambushed and assaulted by a trio of thugs at 11.55am today as he entered Il Gambero Restaurant in Lygon St, Carlton to speak at a book launch.

Bolt was unhurt.  Two of the thugs wore ‘hoodies’ to conceal their faces, according to witnesses, and one was filming the ambush.  The thugs came off worse. Bolt, who is tall and strongly built, told his audience shortly after about his self-defence:

“It is important when you have a chance, if you don’t mind, because I am an alpha male. You need to assert your masculinity even in times like these. It is important to smash one of the f*****s in the face (audience laughter) and when you have knocked him down, to kick him in the balls.

“I should not have said that word, I hope it goes nowhere…Western civilisation after all. They would hold it against Trump too, wouldn’t they?”

He continued, “I beg them to release the video they were making of it , release all of it.”

Astonishing – a politically motivated attack on a journalist in broad daylight on the streets of Melbourne. And yet – no twitter coverage, no stories in the media. Nothing. Contrast that with the immediate confected outrage against our good friend Roger Franklin last week.

Update: Tim Wilms reports:

It was Midday and we were all awaiting Andrew’s arrival which we had been informed was minutes away. I was very nervous myself as MC for the event, as I wanted to put on a good show for the attendees as well as for the speakers. Then all of sudden a familiar face at these events rushed up to me to tell me Andrew Bolt had just been attacked on his way in by two assailants and had thrown punches at him.

My heart sunk, this was not the welcome I wanted Andrew Bolt to have to our event. After our initial reaction of shock and horror we learnt that Andrew was fine and that the event would proceed as planned. Andrew emerged after cleaning himself up, he had been doused with red and blue die. But undeterred, like he has been for his entire career he emerged to give his speech almost unflustered.

We soon learned that it was his attackers who came off second best, Andrew courageously fought back and sent the cowards running. We also learned that there was a third person who was there to film the attack for the assailants, it was clearly a well-planned ambush. Andrew commented after he fought back that whichever group arranged this attack they would dare not release for fear of their members being exposed as weaklings who can dish it out but can’t take it.

Update IISky News clip. If you can identify those individuals call police – 8379 0800

Update III: Andrew has a short note at his blog:

Luckily the cameras do not capture me kicking one between the legs. I cannot have my children see me acting like a thug.

Never mind his children – I suspect kicking someone in the nuts would be an excessive use of force in self-defence. Mind you, we’re yet to plumb the UK’s “Run, Hide, Tell” level of surrender-monkeyism.

HAL G.P. COLEBATCH: A Master Craftsman Journalist. Review of my book

HAL G.P. COLEBATCH

A Master Craftsman Journalist

That’s Debatable: 60 Years in Print
by Tony Thomas
Connor Court, 2016, 246 pages, $29.95
___________________________

 

Tony Thomas is either a born journalist or has worked to make himself a consummate master of the craft, or, as I suspect, both. One way or another he has a master’s touch seen too rarely nowadays.

Not only does his investigative work burrow far deeper than that rewriting of press handouts which often passes for journalism today, but like all masters of difficult skills, he makes it look easy. Further, he has a heavy battery of that often overlooked weapon, common sense.

He is, in fact, near the ideal of what a journalist ought to be and, perhaps, more often used to be. What has struck me most about his writing over the years, apart from the knowledge and research behind his work, is his gift for packing an enormous amount of information into the absolute minimum of words, while making the piece witty and entertaining (my mother used to paste some of his best features in a scrapbook). His piece on Biggles, unfortunately not included here, was one of many that could be called a classic of its kind.

Thus his great strengths are a rapier-like flashing wit, a professional’s taut style, and, backing up all his pieces when necessary, assembled heavy legions of facts—a great combination that we see far too rarely today. I cannot recommend the pieces in this book too highly as models for any aspiring journalist.

I first met Tony when I was a cadet reporter on the West Australian, and he, in addition to reporting assignments, was turning out a stream of feature pieces almost it seemed daily, all entertaining, all written with consummate skill. It is a pity that some more of these West Australian pieces, such as an interview with gorilla-like wrestlers and one on the kangaroo-paw souvenirs sold at the airport—both kangaroo-paw flowers and the chopped-off paws of kangaroos made into bottle-openers—have not been included.

He was always ready to share tricks of the trade with us cadets (we never saw the editor, Griff Richards, and probably wouldn’t have recognised him if we had). When I had my first major assignment—interviewing a senior visiting admiral—Tony went through my prepared list of questions with me, rephrasing them so as to encourage the most newsworthy answers (unfortunately, when the time came the admiral was incapably drunk).

Although now a thorn in the side of the Left, and particularly the greenies and eco-nuts, with his savage and unanswerable pieces in Quadrant and Quadrant Online, Tony came from a communist family and was a Young Communist in adolescence. I used to see his mother, still a red-hot red, at the West Australian Writers’ Fellowship, and though we were poles apart politically I respected her seriousness of purpose and her readiness to help young writers.

We were surprised when he left the West Australian to be an economics writer for the Age. The job seemed too dry and uncreative for his talents.

This book is a collection of pieces he has written over many years but of course the most topical are those he has written since his retirement for Quadrant and Quadrant Online. However, the earlier pieces on growing up red and of the Australian communist world of the time are of real historical interest.

He recalls from his Age days attending one lecture by Jim Cairns, who was then the federal Treasurer. With Junie Morosi squatting at his feet, gazing adoringly up at him, the Treasurer seriously proposed abolishing money, which would be replaced with love as the medium of exchange between human beings. The story was never filed because, Tony thought—probably correctly—no one would believe it.

A major theme of seven of the later pieces is the debunking of climate doom-mongers, with their panoply of scare-tactics and bad science. There are four pieces on the mythologising of Aboriginal life and especially the ghastly reality that Aboriginal women have endured. There is a probing investigation into “The Naughty Nation of Nauru” with its kleptocratic leadership, and the squandering of both its phosphate-derived wealth and Australian aid.

Tony’s years as an economics writer may have been valuable in tackling the anti-mining, anti-growth freaks and the bizarre energy-less utopias they prescribe, though it is truly alarming that, fake Nobel Prizes and all, many are taken seriously not merely in the media but in academe. “The Joy of Yurts and Jam-Jar Glassware” is truly Swiftian in its slashing demolition of pseudo-academic Luddite lunacy. As one who loves the Barrier Reef I was pleased to read his article putting its many predicted deaths in their place.

A quite alarming piece is on the feminisation of the military, and the feminist push to have women in front-line combat roles, so they can come home to their children in body-bags. Tony is, of course, able to quote a list of cases where this has already happened. Since women do not, as a rule, have the upper-body strength required for serving heavy guns or lifting wounded in a hurry out of burning tanks and aircraft, with 100 per cent failure-rate on some tests, required standards of strength are being lowered so women can pass. One British officer has described modern unisex infantry training as “aggressive camping”. I don’t think we have reached the point reported from Britain, where recruits are given cards to produce if their delicate nerves are jangled by drill-instructors bawling at them.

Mentioned briefly is the 2016 Australian of the Year, General David Morrison, with his transsexual aide, who seems more interested in promoting “diversity” than combat efficiency in the armed forces (Wikipedia indicates that this “hard-as-nails warrior”, who joined the army several years after Vietnam, may not have heard a shot fired in anger in his entire career). This essay goes with George Orwell’s observation that civilised men can only be civilised as long as rough uncivilised men guard them.

Thomas casts an informed, dispassionate eye on his own youth, growing up in a committed communist household, and the now-available documents of ASIO and the Communist Party (one ASIO agent infiltrated a party branch of just three members). It complements the memoirs of some disillusioned ex-ASIO agents as to the Keystone Cops element, hopefully now left behind, of the early days of the organisation. Yet one also gets the impression, reading this insider’s account, that the Communist Party, despite elements of farce and Carry On bedroom antics, at times had more real power and influence than any except perhaps its natural enemies on the Right gave it credit for.

What might be called the far Right gets a hammering too, with his account of covering police behaviour at a demonstration in Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland. The collection concludes with a nicely balanced and objective piece on his travels in America and the American conservative showman Glenn Beck.

Hal G.P. Colebatch lives in Perth. His book Australia’s Secret War: How Unionists Sabotaged Our Troops in World War II (Quadrant Books), shared the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History in 2014.

Conscripting Babies in the Culture Wars

TONY THOMAS

Red nappies, green nappies — that’s how the progressive Left grooms its social justice warrior babies, a process that begins, as one kiddie-book author asserts, ‘fresh out of the womb’. Join us now at storytime and learn that  ‘A’ is for ‘Activist’, ‘L’ for LGBTQ and ‘T’ stands for for ‘Trans’

radical baby suit IIProgressives are concerned about the “indoctrination gap” which leaves many kids untouched by Green Left ideology. This gap involves the important demographic from birth through to three- and four-year-olds.

From four onwards, the kids are safely captured by state interventions, such as the Victorian Labor government’s political and gender-bending education down to pre-school and kindergarten level. For example, Premier Dan Andrews is now rolling out a $3.4 million program for 4000 educators to eliminate four-year-old boys’ “hegemonic masculinities”.

Closing the gap is under way through radicalising picture-books for toddlers. These include those board-books with hefty cardboard pages. Traditionally their content was of the “My First Colours” kind; the new authors fill them with images of their better society.

The gap-closing has gained momentum from the election of President Trump, to American progressives a near-unthinkable disaster. Some authors’ explicit goal is to raise a new generation programmed to avert any Trump lookalike in coming decades. “We’re going to have to start in utero,” one reviewer says.

feminist baby IIFeminist Baby is by New Yorker and BuzzFeed worker Loryn Brantz. It’s for babies “fresh out of the womb” up to two-year-olds, as she puts it. Published in April and “the perfect baby-shower gift for today’s new parents”, it’s flying off the shelves at Australian bookstores and libraries.

Brantz told Time magazine, “Why not start kids off right away? Hopefully if we raise a whole generation of kids with Feminist Baby and with older books for kids about feminism and activism, something like this [Trump’s election] will never happen again.” Brantz is marketing the book with comics aimed at adult buyers. In these, “Feminist Baby serves as an under-age heroine bent on smashing the patriarchy and subverting tired traditions like the ‘gender reveal’ [that is, binary male or female].” In one panel, Feminist Baby punches Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who is dressed as a Nazi.

Brantz started to write the book pre-Trump, but obviously, “his administration is complicit in oppressing women of all shapes, sizes and colors”, which is why her book is so very important. Feminist Baby “is decidedly the one we need right now”, says another reviewer. “She’s here smashing your patriarchy, speaking her truths, and not taking anybody’s crap.”

Feminist Baby’s first words (tongue in cheek) are “Gender is a social construct.” In Brantz’s world, the feminised cradle-dweller “lives how she wants and doesn’t let the patriarchy keep her down”:

Feminist Baby chooses what to wear
and if you don’t like it she doesn’t care! 

When it’s snowing, let’s hope she doesn’t choose sandals.

And do it tough, Dads. If you coo to Feminist Baby that she’s beautiful, the infant swipes back, “And I’m smart and capable too!”

Another reviewer says presciently that the book should “imbue your tiny tot with all of the important characteristics necessary for her (or him) to become a lifelong, probably insufferable, feminist”.

Brantz sees toddlers’ books opening a cot conversation about “intersectionality and feminism”. (No, I don’t know what intersectionality is either.)

Another such author is Innosanto Nagara, whose book for children up to three years old A is for Activist has sold 50,000-plus copies. He’s “calling children and parents to action” on things like social justice and immigration. His board book is “unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for”.

A is for Activist came out for in 2013 and was re-issued for over-fives last November. “I love reading this to my nine-month-old,” gushes one mum. Writes another, “Never too early to get progressive thoughts brewing in little minds.”

Nagara lives and works at an artists’ social-justice collective in Oakland, California, comprising five families. He helped raise seven children there before introducing his own infant to concepts like transsexualism. He had no experience with kids’ books, but crowd-funded $4000 for a home-brew edition of 3000 before Seven Stories Press took it up.

The typical family buyers are “unflinching progressives” who go on anti-war marches, and put up gay-marriage signs in their front windows. He says, “This family understands that even a two-year-old can appreciate a word like ‘camaraderie’ … It’s pretty awesome to hear a three-year-old saying ‘union power’.”

Nagara draws parallels between the oppression by the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia in 1977 and “Trump’s America”. He’s had earnest discussions with his now six-year-old son about the presidential election “and what we’re going to do between elections, given the outcome”.

This essay appears in the current edition of Quadrant.
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A reviewer suggests that families that have endured war, discrimination, repression and hardship have had to find ways to talk to their children about their traumas. Likewise, Trump’s election is another “difficult subject” to relate to toddlers without generating fear and despair.

Nagara’s first draft included, for “A”, “Actively Acting Against Atrocities”. Atrocities are just what toddlers need to know about. “C” was “Comrades Countering the Corporate Vulture”, later toned down to omit the “Comrades” reference. “L” was also toned down from “Lesbian and Gay. We’re here to stay.”

A is for Activist is nothing short of a masterpiece for the newly literate, writes queer reviewer Lindsay Amer. Her bio says, “When she’s not completely overwhelmed by adulthood, she’s probably plotting ways to overthrow the patriarchy while playing her ukulele.”

Author Naomi Klein, who wants grass-roots campaigns to overthrow capitalism, proclaims the book “Full of wit, beauty, and fun!” Try “Q” for such wit, beauty and fun: “Q is for Question. Querying coercion. Querying Qualities counter false assertions.”

The book starts, “A is for Activist. Advocate. Abolitionist [?]. Ally. Actively answering A call to Action. Are you An Activist?”

“C”, as amended, reads: “C is for Co-op. Cooperating cultures. Creative Counter to Corporate vultures.” Any baby enjoys a debate about incorporated vulture-like entities versus unincorporated mutuals.

“D” mystifies me. “Little d democracy. More than voting, you’ll agree. Dictators Detest it. Donkeys Don’t get it. But you and me? We Demand equality.” The own-goal here is that the illustration shows a blue donkey butting heads with an aggressive red elephant. Nagara seems unaware that the donkeys (that “Don’t get Democracy”) signify Democrats and the elephants signify Republicans.

A second howler is at “N”, not a bad score for a small board book. “N is for NO. No! No! No! Yes to what we want. No to what must go. No! No! No!” All well and good, except the illustration shows one kid holding up a sign, “NO war”, and another kid, “NO justice. NO peace.” Some mistake, surely?

Gender arrives in execrable doggerel. “L-G-B-T-Q! Love who you choose, ’cuz love is true! Liberate your notions of Limited emotions. Celebrate with pride our Links of devotion.”

t pageBy “S” we have a plug for solar power, contrasted with “Silly Selfish Scoundrels Sucking on dinosaur Sludge. Boo! Hiss!” Then “T” is for Trans … Trust in The True. The he, she, They, That is you!”

“X” is a stretch for Nagara, who settles on Malcolm X (Nagara is totally fluent in English after decades in the USA). “Remember Parks. Remember King. Remember Malcolm. And let freedom ring!” Reality check: Malcolm X, at twenty-one, was sentenced to ten years for burglary. On release he helped launch a black Muslim separatist movement, which was riven by infighting. In 1965 he was shot fifteen times by three disgruntled members of the Nation of Islam. Toddlers may wonder at Malcolm X’s relevance to their daily round of Play School, naps and Teletubbies.

With “Z”, Ragara’s desperate solution is “Z is for Zapatista. Of course.” Of course, indeed. The illustration shows an angry young man in a black hood with a horizontal eye-slit. He looks more like a rent-a-rioter for Berkeley campus than a Mexican rebel. A balaclava wearer doesn’t seem a good note on which to settle in a two-year-old for the night.

Politicisation aside, Nagara’s book is incompetent in any literary sense. Rhymes don’t rhyme. Lines don’t scan. The language level and content baffle adults, let alone toddlers.

His latest book is Counting on Community. Number 8, for example, is “Eight picket signs showing that we care”.

Pity these people don’t care about their offspring. In all my explorations, not once did I find a progressive wanting to leave kids to be kids.

Tony Thomas’s book of Quadrant essays, That’s Debatable: 60 Years in Print, is reviewed in the June edition.