Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Finkelstein, AGW and the Coalition

Finkelstein, AGW and the Coalition
by Anthony Cox
Secretary of the NO CARBON TAX Climate Sceptics
also published at On Line Opinion
Janet Albrechtsen
According to Janet Albrechtsen, PM Gillard has instructed her ministers to warm up the electorate about the need for greater media control.

The alleged need for greater media control is justified by the Finkelstein report on the media.

The Finkelstein report in turn was based on the urging of then Senator Bob Brown and as a response to the Phone Hacking scandal in the UK.

The irony is that Brown’s reasons for wanting to have greater control of the media based on the Murdoch “hate media” and the UK phone hacking by Murdoch’s media had no reality to what was happening in Australia with the only hacking being allegedly done by the Fairfax Press.

In other words there was no cogent reason for either the Finkelstein report or Brown’s petulance and ultimately Gillard’s pressing on with media control. This has not stopped Gillard who has already set up a new Media Advisory Panel consisting of 5 people who all conform to Finkelstein’s elite definition of who is suitable to read news unfettered, a luxury Finkelstein is unwilling to risk by sharing with the rest of the population.

The real reason for this government wanting greater control over the media is the lack of slavish support by the media, particularly the Murdoch Press, for the government’s support of man-made global warming, AGW.

Finkelstein actually uses the example of the Telegraph’s reporting of aspects of AGW as his primary illustration of the irresponsibility of the media in ‘stirring’ up the masses. The crucial point is that everyone has a right to express their individual view about AGW, or any issue. The standards which determine which individual views prevail are arrived at by legal, scientific and electoral processes.

For those 3 arbiters of standards or "truth", as Finkelstein says, to be valid there must be transparency, participation and enfranchisement. The media plays a fundamental role in at least one of those processes but none of these process qualities have been adequately present in the AGW debate.

It is not by accident, therefore, that Finkelstein uses AGW as a prominent example of defects in the current regulation of the media; what he is proposing will make the process of involvement in the democratic process more problematic, especially in regard to the issue of AGW. Gillard seems intent on making sure Finkelstein’s blueprint is foisted on the Australian public. This would be without any electoral authority creating a perfect symmetry with her disclaimer on the ‘carbon tax’.

So what is the Coalition’s position on all this?

In a recent speech Shadow Attorney-General, George Brandis gave a spirited defence of free speech in the context of the Bolt case.

There is no doubt the Bolt case is a flawed Judgement based on a deeply flawed piece of legislation, the Racial Discrimination Act [RDA]. It is regrettable that Bolt and his employer did not appeal the judgement.

There was some blog scuttlebutt around at the time of the Bolt judgement which suggested the litigants would have succeeded in defamation against Bolt but did not proceed with that option because they did not want to be tainted with the money motivation.

In fact the defamation option provides an appropriate context for how the media is being threatened by Finkelstein. Defamation has an objective criteria whereby a litigant has to establish that their reputation is damaged in the context of the community and as determined by what an average person in the community would think.

The Bolt case was determined on the opposite of this objective, community criteria. In Bolt it was sufficient that the litigants have their claim based on reference to their own personal standards; at paragraph 15 of the Judgement, Bromberg, J. Says:
"Whether conduct is reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate a group of people calls for an objective assessment of the likely reaction of those people. I have concluded that the assessment is to be made by reference to an ordinary and reasonable member of the group of people concerned and the values and circumstances of those people. General community standards are relevant but only to an extent."

At paragraph 23 Bromberg, J. Goes onto say:
"The reasons for that conclusion have to do with the manner in which the articles were written, including that they contained errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language."

The Judgement discussion of the errors of facts is at paragraphs 380-383. Supporters of the Bromberg, J. judgement stress that these errors of fact are egregious. But according to Professor James Allan they are problematic and Chris Kenny notes this:

"Much has been made of the findings about errors of fact. Errors are always unfortunate and sometimes egregious but in this case they are hardly the central point. Some of what Bromberg cites as factual error is more a matter of emphasis. It is a canard to suggest the case was about disputed facts: it was about apparent offence caused by Bolt's controversial and strongly worded opinion."

Is the coalition viewpoint about Finkelstein the same as George Brandis’s fine rhetoric on Bolt?

In a recent interview Malcolm Turnbull advised that Finkelstein:
deserves careful study and community discussion

John Roskam took Turnbull to task for this “meandering and mealy-mouthed statement”.

Turnbull deserved nothing less. Finkelstein is 474 pages of fatuous rodomontade whose scant pretensions to scholarship can be distilled to one word: censorship.

As noted, Finkelstein hangs its censorious hat on the media’s misrepresentation of AGW. Turnbull is an avowed believer in AGW, as are other prominent members of the coalition such as Hunt. Even Abbott has currently been muted in his opposition to the ‘science’ of AGW.

While it is true the coalition’s policy is to repeal the destructive ‘carbon tax’ the policy statement of the coalition about AGW is still emphatically supportive of AGW.

This is despite overwhelming evidence that AGW science is deeply flawed, supported only by failed computer models and disproved crucial predictions.

The RET has already been a gigantic impost on the Australian economy, diverting massive amounts of capital towards renewable energy projects which are at best ideological pipe-dreams. As well the coalition is promoting its Direct Action Plan. Direct Action may be cheaper than the ‘carbon tax’ but it is similar to the ALP/Green’s Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011. The Carbon Farming Initiative legislation encourages farmers to stop using their land for agricultural purposes and instead use it as a carbon sink. Several large working properties have already been purchased with a view to cease their agriculture and food production and gain government revenue from carbon credits. Direct Action will also cause large areas of land to be removed from potential agricultural use.

It has been suggested that the coalition is merely paying lip service to AGW and the RET because it does not want to present a target for the ferocious supporters of AGW in the media such as the ABC and Fairfax.

If this is the case then it is understandable that the coalition should support Finkelstein; the fact that the coalition may want to muzzle the media, in respect of AGW, for the opposite reason that the current Green led government wants to suppress dissent is beside the point. At the end of the day it will still be the case that politicians are not subject the fullest scrutiny which a free and open society requires.

It is about time the coalition stared down the oppressive tendencies of this current government and, in respect of AGW, consider the damage to Australia which is being caused by allowing this failed theory to continue to deleteriously influence public policy.

Acting like a Dick.

Image: IPA.
Dick Smith gives us "Food" for thought.

It all started when Dick Smith took a swipe at Rupert Murdoch. A couple of points where he is wrong, one dangerously so.

From SMH 23/7 (link):
Entrepreneur Dick Smith has launched a stinging attack on News Corp and Kim Williams, the head of its local operations, News Ltd, branding the media organisation's campaign against proposed media reforms as hypocritical.
Mr Smith said News Ltd's claim that proposed media regulations would curtail freedom of speech was "claptrap" because his papers and organisation regularly censored any criticism of it.  
In the letter, Mr Smith, who is a vocal supporter of the need to act on climate change, said that it was in News's commercial interests to oppose the idea that people were responsible for the rise in global temperatures.
"And I'm on to you. When friends ask me why your organisation runs such opposing views on climate change – from Fox News's claims that it's all bunkum to The Australian newspaper occasionally claiming it's accepted science - I am able to say: 'It's simple,'" he writes.
"It's all about making more money. They have worked out they will get more advertising and make more money on Fox News if climate change is debunked using sensationalism while they are likely to get greater circulation and more advertising dollars if The Australian shows a different view, so staff are directed accordingly."
First, let's address the idea that "proposed media regulations would curtail freedom of speech was "claptrap."

Having worked under the Soviet Regime and having seen that regime's censorship of media, we have to be very afraid of the censorship proposed by the Finkelstein report.

The Institute of Public Affairs are holding a series of meetings regarding Freedom of the Press. Read more at their FreedomWatch site (LINK).  Institute of Public Affairs writes:
The Gillard government is also considering a government-funded super-regulator for the media that would impose what politicians consider to be ‘balance’ and ‘fairness’. This anti-democratic idea would allow the government to select those who are supposed to be holding them to account. It comes from the Finkelstein Inquiry recommendations that are an attack on freedom of speech and a free press.
Finkelstein’s proposals included awarding a new government regulator the power to censor news by forcing media outlets to remove material from the internet. They would apply not just to major news outlets but also magazines and even blogs. Membership of the regulator would be compulsory – amounting to licensing of newspapers by stealth. And there’s only one reason why a government would give a newspaper a license to print news – so that the government can take it away again.
The Left takes this seriously. Enemies of freedom of speech have already bombarded politicians with demands to regulate the media until it becomes more compliant to their agenda. And they’ve bombarded private media companies with demands to block prospective owners who have the ‘wrong views’.
Mr Smith's second point is his belief that people are responsible for the rise in global temperatures.

Look at this graph showing the relationship between CO2 (the so-called dangerous forcing gas) and temperature. As you can see over 4,600,000,000 years there is no correlation between CO2 and temperature.
But isn't it modern industrial usage of carbon fuels that are warming the atmosphere?

All the major bodies agree that although CO2 continues to rise, temperature is falling. Below Britain's HadleyCRUT and US's NASA:GISS (Graphs from Professor Ole Humlum's Climate4You - LINK.)

So Dick, do some of your useful work like promoting Australia's food products. Don't worry about News Limited being one of the few sources in the media willing to print the truth about  the hoax of man-made climate change; and don't be taken in by the alarmists pushing the man made climate change hoax.