Archive for the ‘NBN’ Category

Malcolm Turnbull: climate change (apd) and (massively reduced) living standards
July 21, 2011

For some time I have argued that the foundation of policy in response to climate change (apd) is to reduce living standards. Evidently, when per capita “Australian emissions” (of CO2?) equal those of China and India, Malcolm Turnbull will be content. A number of critics of western governments’ obsession with climate change (apd) have held that the object is to reduce the possibility of rising living standards in the developing world. This always seemed a somewhat forced line of reasoning. To the degree that it was true, it also held for people of the west whose living standards, as Mr. Turnbull makes abundantly clear (and as have many before him) must reduce greatly. Anybody arguing for renewable forms of electricity generation have that as their starting point.

Then, too, Mr. Turnbull holds the old furphy that sceptics of means—presumably he includes scientists such as Richard Lindzen—simply endeavour to maintain the filthy sources of their wealth. Thus:

Mr Turnbull said parties with vested interests were trying to muddy the waters on climate science to prolong the export of coal, comparing their actions to tobacco companies discrediting the connection between smoking and lung cancer.

Some may do so; there’s always someone. Otherwise the claim is outrageous. It tells, again, of the pitiful state of Australian political and intellectual life. One should make mention, at this point, of the rent-seekers pursuing so-called renewable energy.

And contrary to this particular best friend of the ABC, this is an ideological issue for it is about remaking the world in which we live, mostly with a view to stamping out the human frailties that have resulted in climate change (apd). Contrary, too, to the ABC (AM and radio news), Mr. Turnbull appears not to have defended the science of climate change (apd). Rather he implicitly denies the right of Liberals—for starters—to ponder arguments of sceptics, what he reviles as denial. Science represents a monopoly of truth, what Bob Hawke used to call consensus.

In that context he is right to observe that the Liberal Party offers no substantial alternative to the government in the race to reduce living standards not only of those least able to manage but of the great majority of the population.

He also offers a false argument, or rather creates degree a straw man by which to indulge his want of curiosity. Opponents of the carbon tax, he said, would castigate a Liberal government no less than they do the incumbents. In short:

[T]he opponents of the science of climate change will be criticising that expenditure as pointless and wasteful with as much vehemence as they are currently denouncing Julia Gillard’s carbon tax. . . .

I mentioned a few days ago the public is piling a great deal onto the phrase “Julia lied”. Evidently Mr. Turnbull has failed to recognise this. He assumes that criticism of the carbon tax is based on the public’s perception of the science of climate change (apd). No doubt that is a part of it. Even so, the great bulk of the criticism is that the Prime Minister lied in order to win re-election.

No effort at parsing events and statements can change that. It provides the essence of the current political climate. If the government has not the courage of its convictions—even with the collaboration of numerous Liberal Members of Parliament such as Malcolm Turnbull—then it may expect to pay a very heavy price in future time. What form that price may take remains to be seen. At present the public is encountering the very heavy head winds of parliamentary despotism, despotism supported by the media which, much to its chagrin no doubt, has found itself heaping fuel onto the fire by its own overt support of the ideology and implicit support of the government.

Bear in mind that no branch of Australian media questions climate change (apd), least of all The Australian (although that paper has, apparently, ignored Mr. Turnbull’s speech). Look at the language of any article; one or two op-eds a year change nothing even if they are too much for true believers for whom absolute control of the debate is reckoned a proper duty. The political outlook is most discouraging.

Which brings us briefly to the NBN. In short what proportion of the public will be able to afford an internet connection when the entire system is controlled by a government monopoly? The great attraction for government and, it seems, opposition, is to stifle even the possibility of dissent. Like smoking, stamp it out by means of price.

Update:  “Tony Abbott says he and Malcolm Turnbull are at one on climate change.” If so, then the Liberal Party is irrelevant, at least on this issue—and probably well beyond. They could fight an election on the government’s apparent determination to terminate the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. meanwhile mark Colvin of the ABC makes the absurd claim that “The former Opposition leader gave a strong defence of climate change science last night”. He did nothing of the sort. Instead he denied that citizens here (0r elsewhere for that matter) have a right to question the so-called “science” of climate change (apd—which he fails to acknowledge).


And so it goes . . . name your poison
July 4, 2011

1.  “New Jakarta ban shuts down live cattle trade.”

The price of utter amateurism:

Indonesia has slapped its own ban on live cattle imports, citing the Australian government’s export embargo that has paralysed the northern cattle industry.

No real surprise there. Australian governments have for long seemed to enjoy boasting or their (assumed) superiority over neighbouring states. Now the tables seem to have reversed. Who pays the price? Not government, that’s for sure. The cattle industry most immediately. And taxpayers, as always.

Unremarkably, government denies responsibility for the mess:

A spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said last night . . . the government would continue to work with the Indonesian government to resume trade as quickly as possible.

As though the fault lay with the Indonesians.


2.  “RBA is facing a tough inflation challenge.”

When you look at the problems facing many economies around the world, you would think it should all be beer and skittles in Australia.

This is reportage, Australian-style. Who knew that economies are interconnected. I never cease to be amazed by the number of people I meet who anticipate excellent economic conditions over the next several years. But with comments like that, added, say. to the remarks of Jamie Dimon, global chief executive of J. P.Morgan, last week, perhaps I should not be. In a somewhat simple sense Dimon was right. It’s just that the likelihood of the US ‘shaking off the gloom’ is very slight indeed.


3.  “Kevin Rudd says Middle East turmoil forced Labor’s intervention in TV tender bid.”

Kevin Rudd says growing tensions in the Middle East forced the federal government to redraft its tender for the Australia Network, which had appeared set to be won by Sky News over the ABC.

His subsequent regarding ABC correspondents in the Middle East is, frankly, self-serving (and, at least in part, unclear) and denies the actual quality of reporting that characterises them. Wishful thinking on the partof ME correspondents is not confined to the ABC by any means but to suggest that we, the public, depend on them for pertinent analysis and reportage is nonsense.

A larger question regards the tender and appointment processes generally that have operated under Labor in the last couple of years. Rules seem to change at the last minute to serve not the public but ministers’ (usually ideological) convenience.


4.  “NBN deal ‘absurd, wasteful’.”

The Gillard government faces demands to abandon proposals to pay Telstra to maintain its ageing copper network in the bush where the NBN Co will also roll out a taxpayer-subsidised network.

The critics say nothing about price. No surprise there even as one might expect that demand for telecommunications services will, as with any other product, be price-dependent. As it is, the monthly price for NBN services from Internode is a few cents shy of $140 per month. Given the monopoly status of the NBN that is unlikely to fall. Price will, in all likelihood, force many users away from the internet. So the complaint about maintenance of the copper network is somewhat peculiar. It suggest that critics of the Telstra deal anticipate that people will continue to use the internet regardless of cost. Time will tell, but I doubt they’ll be proven right.



So much for science . . .
June 26, 2011

No doubt Professor Chubb has read the pertinent critiques of climate change (apd*); otherwise he would not speak as he has been reported. Nor is he scientifically precise to claim that the scientific literacy of politicians ‘is not high’. Like the Liberal Party, he denies the right to speak for Dr. Dennis Jensen, MP for Tangney, WA. Jensen earned a PhD in Materials Science and Physics from Monash University in 1995 for a dissertation on ‘Duplex toughening of ternary zirconia ceramics’.[1] He is sceptical of anthropogeneric global warming.

Because reports of migratory movements of “plankton, fish and even whales to into the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific” owing to “climate change”. Naturally, “the signs already point to far more trouble than benefit from climate change”. (The term “reports” refers not only to the report in the Telegraph (UK) but also to the same material being heard on both ABC and BBC but not mentioned on web sites of either institution.)

The Telegraph reports:

Warming ocean waters are causing the largest movement of marine species seen on Earth in more than two million years, according to scientists. . . .

Professor Chris Reid, from the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, said: “It seems for the first time in probably thousands of years a huge area of sea water opened up between Alaska and the west of Greenland, allowing a huge transfer of water and species between the two oceans.

“The opening of this passage allowed the wind to drive a current through this passage and the water warmed up making it favourable for species to get through.

“In 1999 we discovered a species in the north west Atlantic that we hadn’t seen before, but we know from surveys in the north Pacific that it is very abundant there.

“This species died out in the Atlantic around 800,000 years ago due to glaciation that changed the conditions it needed to survive.

“The implications are huge. The last time there was an incursion of species from the Pacific into the Atlantic was around two to three million years ago.

Interesting is it not that the article makes no mention of the Northwestern Passages for it’s through there that this water must flow. Given that the medieval warming period (very roughly 950–1250 AD) made for temperatures much like recent decades (and perhaps even higher) but with higher rainfall, what do pertinent data tell, assuming any exist, of the passages then? And, accordingly, of marine migration.

Meanwhile the ABC has two other pertinent stories. The first reports Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, keenly anticipating the demise of coal mining in Australia: “the coal industry has to be replaced by renewables,” he said. The ABC also tells of the horror of life for most in North Korea. They might have a slightly higher standard of living as a result of Senator Brown’s renewable sources of energy, but not by much. Nor will Professor Chubb be discommoded by carbon taxes: most will. And that for scientific falsehood.

Marxism, be it remembered, was also reckoned scientific. It’s leading scientist was Trofim Denisovich  Lysenko. He lived by a code that seems very much alive today:

“In our Soviet Union, comrades, people are not born. Human organisms are born, but people are created.”[2]


Scientific dissent from Lysenko’s theories of environmentally acquired inheritance was formally outlawed in 1948, and for the next several years opponents were purged from held positions, and many imprisoned.

Given the nature of the National Broadband Network, in terms of expense and capacity for censorship, the outlook not only for personal liberty but also for the integrity of scientific research is dim indeed. Already Professor Chubb has “criticised the media for giving sceptics the space to make their arguments”. Perhaps he could prove that point scientifically. With proof.


[1] Use <;. Key in Jensen, Dennis. Under “Material Types” choose “Theses”. Click “Go”.

[2] Quoted by Thomas Meaney, ‘Never Say Die’, WSJ, April 6, 2011. Review of John Gray, The Immortalization Commission. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2011.

Bad, apparently irreversible law: the NBN
June 24, 2011

These are days of demise. Not a dramatic turn of phrase, yet ending in a whimper starts somewhere. And so it is with the NBN. The impetus from government is totalitarian; from Telstra and, I suspect, much else among the nation’s telcos, is rent.

At least someone, Henry Ergas writing in The Australian has recognised that monopoly is involved. Terry McCrann takes the story further. (At least I think he did for he continues to write in his familiar and largely shambolic manner.)

The whole arrangement fro the NBN smacks of corruption, definitely moral and political, and probably financial and legal. The framework for the NBN appears consonant with a totalitarian government. It was said during the republic debate, years ago, that a much more serious issue warranting attention was getting government to obey the law. To the surprise of no-one watching that didn’t happen.

The NBN is about control, not only of various forms of telecommunications hardware but, more importantly, who can do what with them, who can read with them (movies present no risk to left-wing governments). Clearly many of us will have no ability to read dissenting material (e.g. Wall Street Journal, to which I subscribe, among much else), not only because government will mandate what is suitable reading but because the new arrangements will have removed the copper network upon which I and many others are dependent. The point here being that the replacement fibre will be prohibitively expensive and that’s just getting physically connected let alone anything else.