December 28, 2012

Three Scenarios

CSIS-CNAS: Security Implications of Climate Change

Summaries of the Three Scenarios

Climate Scenario 1: Expected Climate Change

By 2040 average global temperature rises 1.3°C above the 1990 average.
Warming is greater over land masses and increases from low to high latitudes.

Generally, the most damaging local impacts occur at
  • low latitudes because of ecosystem sensitivity to altered climate and high human vulnerability in developing countries, and
  • in the Arctic because of particularly large temperature changes at high northern latitudes.

Global mean sea level increases by 0.23 meters, causing
  • damage to the most vulnerable coastal wetlands with associated negative impacts on local fisheries,
  • seawater intrusion into groundwater supplies in low-lying coastal areas and small islands, and
  • elevated storm surge and tsunami heights, damaging unprotected coastlines.
Many of the affected areas have large, vulnerable populations requiring international assistance to cope with or escape the effects of sea level rise.
Marine fisheries and agricultural zones shift poleward in response to warming, in some cases moving across international boundaries.
The North Atlantic MOC is not affected significantly. …

The largest and most widespread impacts relate to reductions in water availability and increases in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.
The Mediterranean region, sub-Saharan Africa, northern Mexico, and the southwestern United States experience more frequent and longer-lasting drought and associated extreme heat events, in addition to forest loss from increased insect damage and wildfires.

[N]orthern mid-latitudes see a mix of benefits and damages.
Benefits include
  • reduced cost of winter heating,
  • decreased mortality and injury from cold exposure, and
  • increased agricultural and forest productivity in wetter regions because of longer growing seasons, CO2 fertilization, and fewer freezes.
Negative consequences include
  • higher cost of summer cooling,
  • more heavy rainfall events,
  • more heat-related death and illness, and
  • more intense storms with associated flooding, wind damage, and loss of life, property, and infrastructure.

Climate Scenario 2: Severe Climate Change

Average global surface temperature rises at an unexpectedly rapid rate to 2.6°C above 1990 levels by 2040 …

[T]he rate of [polar] ice flow into the sea [accelerates] rapidly, resulting in 0.52 meters of global mean sea level rise.
[There is] high confidence that the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets have become unstable and that 4 to 6 meters of sea level rise are now inevitable over the next few centuries.

Water availability decreases strongly in the most affected regions at lower latitudes (dry tropics and subtropics), affecting about 2 billion people worldwide. …
Crop yields decline significantly in the fertile river deltas because of sea level rise and damage from increased storm surges.
Agriculture becomes nonviable in the dry subtropics [due to:]
  • low water availability and
  • increased soil salinization resulting from more rapid evaporation of water from irrigated fields.
Arid regions at low latitudes expand, taking previously marginally productive croplands out of production.
(p 42)

North Atlantic fisheries are affected by significant slowing of the North Atlantic MOC.
Globally, there is
  • widespread coral bleaching,
  • ocean acidification,
  • substantial loss of coastal nursery wetlands, and
  • warming and drying of tributaries that serve as breeding grounds for anadromous fish (ie, ocean-dwelling fish that breed in freshwater, eg, salmon).
Because of a dramatic decrease in the extent of Arctic sea ice, the Arctic marine ecosystem is dramatically altered and the Arctic Ocean is navigable for much of the year.

Developing nations at lower latitudes are affected most severely because of climate sensitivity and low adaptive capacity.
Industrialized nations to the north experience clear net harm and must divert greater proportions of their wealth to adapting to climate change at home.

Climate Scenario 3: Catastrophic Climate Change

Between 2040 and 2100 the impacts associated with climate scenario two progress and large-scale singular events of abrupt climate change occur.
The average global temperature rises to 5.6°C above 1990 levels …
[M]ean sea level rises [of] 2 meters [render] low-lying coastal regions uninhabitable, including many large coastal cities.
The large fertile deltas of the world become largely uncultivable [as] inundation and more frequent and higher storm surges … reach further inland.

The North Atlantic MOC stops at mid-century, generating large-scale collapse of North Atlantic marine ecosystems and associated fisheries.
Northwestern Europe experiences colder winters, shorter growing seasons, and reduced crop yields …
[Globally, t]he MOC collapse increases average temperatures in most regions and reorganizes precipitation patterns in unpredictable ways, hampering water resource planning around the world and drying out existing grain-exporting regions.
Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region … continue to experience hotter, drier summers with more heat waves, more frequent and larger wildfires, and lower crop yields.

Agriculture in the traditional breadbaskets is severely compromised by alternating persistent drought and extreme storm events that bring irregular severe flooding.
Crops are physiologically stressed by temperatures and grow more slowly …
Even in … regions with increased precipitation, summertime soil moisture is reduced by increased evaporation.
Breadbasket-like climates shift strongly northward into formerly sub-arctic regions with … little infrastructure …
[E]xtreme year-to-year climate variability … makes sustainable [agriculture] difficult on the scale needed to feed the world population.

Mountain glaciers are virtually gone and annual snow pack dramatically reduced in regions where large human populations [have] relied on glaciers and annual snowfall for water supply and storage, including Central Asia, the Andes, Europe, and western North America.
[T]he area requiring remote water sources for habitability [increases] dramatically [as] such remote sources [become] less available.
{Half of the world’s human population experiences persistent water scarcity.}

Arid regions expand rapidly, overtaking regions [previously able] to support dense populations.
The dry subtropics, including the Mediterranean region, much of Central Asia, northern Mexico, much of South America, and the southwestern United States are no longer [habitable.]
(p 43)

[T]ropical and mid-latitude storm activity and associated wind and flood damage becomes much more intense and occurs annually, leading to frequent losses of life, property, and infrastructure in many countries every year.

[W]ater availability and loss of food security disproportionately affect poor countries at lower latitudes …
[However,] extreme weather events are more or less evenly distributed, with perhaps greater frequency at mid-latitudes because of stronger extratropical storm systems, including severe winter storms.
(p 44)



Scenario-based Approach

Underlying Assumptions

General Patterns of Projected Climate Change

December 27, 2012

Carbon Capture and Storage

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

George Marshall:
There are currently eight large-scale CCS projects and eight more under construction …
[W]e will need sixteen thousand more plants … to deal with current emissions [and] another thousand plants [per year] to keep up with the annual increase [in emissions.]
(Don't Even Think About It, 2014, p 179, emphasis added)

Scenarios that are likely to maintain warming at below 2°C include
  • more rapid improvements in energy efficiency and
  • a tripling to nearly a quadrupling of the share of zero- and low-carbon energy supply from renewable energy, nuclear energy and fossil energy with carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS), or bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) by the year 2050.
(AR5 Synthesis Report — Longer Version, 1 November, 2014, p 39)

Electricity, industrial emissions and transport deliver 40 to 75% of cost-effective national abatement by 2050 (assuming successful deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies) …
Modelling confirms that successful global deployment of carbon capture and storage has a crucial role in limiting the rise in global average temperature to 2°C.
(Australian National Outlook, October, 2015, p 25)

Costs and Potential

In most scenarios for stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations between 450 and 750 ppmv CO2 and in a least-cost portfolio of mitigation options, the economic potential of CCS would amount to 220-2,200 GtCO2 (60–600 GtC) cumulatively, which would mean that CCS contributes 15–55% to the cumulative mitigation effort worldwide until 2100, averaged over a range of baseline scenarios.
It is likely that the technical potential for geological storage is sufficient to cover the high end of the economic potential range, but for specific regions, this may not be true. …

For CCS to achieve such an economic potential, several hundreds to thousands of CO2 capture systems would need to be installed over the coming century, each capturing some 1–5 MtCO2 per year.

The actual implementation of CCS, as for other mitigation options, is likely to be lower than the economic potential due to factors such as
  • environmental impacts,
  • risks of leakage and
  • the lack of a clear legal framework or public acceptance. …

[T]he inclusion of CCS in a mitigation portfolio is found to reduce the costs of stabilizing CO2 concentrations by 30% or more.
(p 12, emphasis added)

Three industrial-scale storage projects are [presently] in operation:
  • the Sleipner project in an offshore saline formation in Norway,
  • the Weyburn [Enhanced Oil Recovery] project in Canada, and
  • the In Salah project in a gas field in Algeria.
(p 7)

Tim Flannery

[W]hen compressed to liquid form, [the daily CO2 output of Australia's coal fired power plants] would take up a cubic kilometre …
[Given that] Australia accounts for less than 2 per cent of global emissions [i]magine injecting 50 cubic kilometres of liquid CO2 into the Earth’s crust every day of the year for the next century or two.

If geosequestration were to be practised on the scale needed to offset all the emissions from coal, the world would very quickly run out of [safe and / or readily accessible] reservoirs …
(p 254)

(The Weather Makers, 2005)


What is CO2 capture and storage and how could it contribute to mitigating climate change?

What are the characteristics of CCS?

What is the current status of CCS technology?

What is the geographical relationship between the sources and storage opportunities for CO2?

What are the costs for CCS and what is the technical and economic potential?

What are the local health, safety and environment risks of CCS?

Will physical leakage of stored CO2 compromise CCS as a climate change mitigation option?

What are the legal and regulatory issues for implementing CO2 storage?

What are the implications of CCS for emission inventories and accounting?

What are the gaps in knowledge?

December 24, 2012

Counterpoint: 2011


Mark Steyn (1959):
In a democratic age, you can't buck demography — except through civil war.
The Serbs figured that out: if you can't outbreed [Muslims,] cull 'em.
The problem Europe faces is that Bosnia's demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.
(America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, Regnery Publishing, 2006)

Mark Steyn:
[If Obama] can establish federal spending at 25% of GDP as the new baseline, then he fundamentally transforms the nature of American society in a way that is tremendously advantageous to those of his political disposition. …
(Armageddon will be brought to you by "the experts", 26 September 2011)


In Praise of Mediocrity

Keith Windschuttle: A Threat to Freedom

The Emperor's New Clothes

Climate, Culture and Conflict

Religous Environmentalism

December 22, 2012

Tony Abbott

Blue Army: Persons of Interest

(Sarah Ferguson, The Killing Season: The Long Shadow, ABC Television, 2015)

(Adam Elliot, Harvey Krumpet, 2003)

Refusal to believe a problem exists.
(Wiktionary, 24 May 2014)

Tony Abbott:
[If] you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax?
(How to successfully market an ETS, Sunday Extra, ABC Radio National, 16 July 2015)

Tony Abbott:
Coal is essential for the prosperity of Australia.
Coal is essential for the prosperity of the world.
And coal is the world's principal energy source and will be for many decades to come.
(Geoff Thompson and Deborah Richards, The End of Coal?, Four Corners, ABC Television, 15 June 2015)

John Quiggin:
Tony Abbott was, by a wide margin, the most anti-science prime minister in Australian history.
(Innovation: the test is yet to come, Inside Story, 10 December 2016)

Daniel Kahneman:
[A] reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth (p 62). …
[People] can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers (p 217).
(Thinking Fast and Slow, 2011)

George Megalogenis:
Before Abbott, the conservatives had replaced three sitting prime ministers: In each case, the basic complaint was leadership style: arrogance …
(Balancing Act: Australia Between Recession and Renewal, Quarterly Essay, Issue 61, 2016, p 4)

Keri Phillips:
Within a few hours of being sworn in as Prime Minister, Tony Abbott announced a significant reorganisation of several government portfolios.
Just short of its 40th birthday, AusAID, an independent statutory body, would become part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
(Australian Aid, Rear Vision, ABC Radio National, 22 December 2014)

Raimond Gaita:
National pride and national shame … are two sides of the same coin …
The wish to be proud without sometimes acknowledging the need to be ashamed is that corrupt attachment to country … that we call jingoism. …
The present and the past of most countries is a mixture of good and evil.
One can be proud of the good things and ashamed of the evil while loving the country and its people.
Sometimes it is a painful love. …
I do not remember a time in Australian politics when I heard the word "un-Australian" used so often.
Nor … a time when jingoism was so persistently mistaken for patriotism.
(Breach of Trust: Truth, Morality and Politics, Quarterly Essay, Issue 16, December 2004, pp 8, 10, 15, emphasis added)

The Language of Evil

Raymond Gaita

Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy, King's College London

[The] concept of evil, really, has no serious place in politics.
I can't think of any political event whose understanding is deepened by describing it as 'evil'.
[It's] just absurd to say that the beheading of that person is an act of pure evil. …
{[It doesn't have] any explanatory value …
[To] call someone evil, or to call an act evil offers no understanding of its genesis and motives and so on …
That doesn't mean it plays no role in the characterization of what was done, and some of our responses to it.
But that's quite different from thinking it has any explanatory role in our thought at all.}

There are things that are morally terrible, and … much of what ISIL has done is morally terrible.
But, obviously, if you were to say: … we're going to wage war against the morally terrible.
That doesn't have the same kind of rhetorical appeal as: we're going to wage war against evil.
Especially if you imply that this is a [Manichean] war between Good and Evil. …

I can't take seriously [Abbott's] concept of evil when … a few months before — when he was confronted with the evidence about torture in Sri Lanka — he said: oh well, sometimes bad things happen (something to that effect). …

There's so many different conceptions of evil.
But, in so far as I take it seriously, I don't think it characterizes the person.
One thing … is uncontroversially true, which is: that evil deeds can be done for quite banal motives. …

[In] the case of ISIS we have perfectly good concepts in international law to describe what they're doing.
They're no doubt committing crimes against humanity.
They no doubt, also, have genocidal intent.
That's enough.
What more do you need?

James Dawes

Professor of American Literature, Literary and Language Theory, Macalester College, Minnesota

[Calling something evil] is a sign of insecurity and weakness. …
If you are fighting evil, you are not a helpless victim of a traumatic event in a declining empire, you are a powerful enactor of almost mythic heroism. …

In the case of the United States … evil is often more about what we want to do, than what is happening. …
Genocides have occurred and the United States has not condemned them as evil.
Calling something 'evil' is just our effort to psychologically, collectively, prepare ourselves to do injury to others — because it's hard to make citizens tolerate the images of death and destruction at our hands, abroad.
So evil is a word we use to prepare our population for violence …
And once you get your population embedded in this notion of the absolute evil of the other, it makes it almost impossible to step back from violence.
And you've seen some pretty catastrophic American invasions resulting from this. …

We don't want to treat opponents as if they have ideas … or beliefs that need to be understood. …
They rise only to the level of moral condemnation and not ideological discussion.

(Good v Evil: The politics of language, Sunday Extra, ABC Radio National, 19 October 2014)

Would you like to know more?

Countering Violent Extremism

Tony Abbott:
There are now well over 100 Australians fighting with terror groups in Iraq and Syria.

Andrew Zammit:
[Most] of the people who go fight with jihadist groups overseas don't become a threat on [return; however, the] very small number [who do] often prove extremely dangerous …
[Thomas Hegghammer, a prominent European researcher, has said that] up to a maximum of one in nine has ended up proving a threat in return, although he has often said that the real figure is more likely to be around one in 20.
The one in nine estimate, the maximum one, is the one that gets used a lot.

David Malet [Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Melbourne]:
The vast majority of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria today are from Arab states.
Out of 25,000 there may be 3,000 or 4,000 Westerners. …
It's hard to get an exact count, but Australia has been one of the leaders per capita in Western countries or even the entire world of foreign fighters, first in Syria and then in Iraq. …

[Osasma Bin Laden] is exhibit A of what happens when somebody is stripped of their citizenship, which is what Saudi Arabia did …
[In] continental Europe you're seeing a very different approach [compared to the hard] line taken by Commonwealth countries.
Denmark in particular is offering not only amnesty but they are offering rehabilitation services, job training, psychological counselling, anything you want to foreign fighters, and they are saying their numbers of people going off to fight have dropped off from a couple of hundred to just one last year.

(Tackling foreign fighters, Rear Vision, ABC Radio National, 15 July 2015)

Andrew Zammit

Researcher, Global Terrorism Research Centre, Monash University

The Australian Government has described the foreign fighter threat as its “number-one national security priority” and raised the National Terrorism Public Alert from medium to high in September 2014.
(p 11)

In response to the threat [posed by DAESH, the Australian] Government has
  • joined the US-led military coalition against IS,
  • provided $630 million in extra funding to intelligence and security agencies, and
  • introduced extensive new counter-terrorism legislation.
The Government’s response also includes a softer element, in the form of a renewed (CVE) effort.
This term refers …
(p 2)

After its election in 2013, the Abbott Government … made substantial funding cuts to [Countering Violent Extremism programs ie non-coercive efforts to dissuade involvement in terrorist activity.]
However, in August 2014 … it announced that it would [spend around $35 million on CVE.]
(p 13)

Thomas Hegghammer’s study of all known jihadist plots in Western countries between 1990 and 2010 found that 46 per cent involved foreign fighters.
Moreover, those plots that involved foreign fighters were more likely to result in fatalities.
This is consistent with research conducted by Marc Sageman and Paul Cruickshank that also found that plots were more likely to succeed if some of the conspirators had fought or trained abroad. …
(p 3)

In May 2014, a gunman who allegedly had returned from training with IS in Syria murdered four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium.
The incident was only unusual in that the attack was successful; in Europe, Syria returnees have been involved in around ten alleged jihadist plots so far.
(p 4)

Van Zuijdewijn’s study of Western jihadist foreign fighters involved in European terror plots found that two-thirds had trained, while only one-third had actually engaged in combat.
A study by Jonathan Githens-Mazer on UK foreign fighters … found that many jihadist combat veterans often went quiet on return or actively discouraged others from becoming involved …
(p 6)

ASIO has estimated that, as of February 2015, around 90 Australians were fighting for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, that up to 30 have returned, and that over 20 have died.
Several have appeared in propaganda videos for Jabhat al-Nusra and IS, three are believed to have carried out suicide bombings, and some Australians are occupying leadership positions.
Some have also boasted of war crimes, and explicitly threatened Australia. …

So far, neither Jabhat al-Nusra nor IS appear to have made attacks in the West as high a strategic priority [as al-Qaeda. …]

However, [research indicates that it is] those foreign fighters who receive training but see little actual combat tend to be more likely to attempt attacks on return than jihadist combat veterans.
Combat experience increases their likelihood of foreign fighters becoming disillusioned, killed, or coming to the awareness of Australian authorities. …
Moreover, a decade ago Australia’s security services were far less prepared for terror plots than they are today, having gained dramatically increased funding, powers, staff, and counter-terrorism experience.
(p 10)

Therefore, while the scale and seriousness of the Syria-Iraq mobilisation greatly exceeds any of Australia’s earlier jihadist mobilisations, suggesting a greatly increased threat, the actual threat may prove less than feared.
Apart from any decisions by IS to use foreign fighters for terrorist attacks abroad, much will depend on
  • how many return,
  • what their intentions are,
  • what activities they undertake on return, and
  • what influence they have on like-minded individuals. …

A blanket attempt to imprison foreign fighters (such as in France, which recently jailed two underage boys who had returned voluntarily after becoming disillusioned with IS) could have a radicalising effect on the returnees' friends, families, and communities, reinforcing a perception of a wider war between the West and Islam.
Just as the justice system allows flexibility in dealing with a range of non-terrorist criminals (such as diverting some offenders into drug treatment rather than jail), including a CVE element in Australia’s counter-terrorism approach can allow similar flexibility.
(p 11)

[There] are currently some community-driven CVE efforts in Australia, which work directly with individuals on a radicalisation trajectory, but these programs are struggling to operate with little to no support.
Moreover, the poor consultation by the government with the Muslim community on much of Australia’s new counter-terrorism legislation as well as the Prime Minister’s claim that Muslim leaders are not doing enough to speak out against radical ideas have undermined the prospects for effective cooperation. …

Framing social-cohesion programs (that are often worthy in themselves) as counter-terrorism initiatives risks further stigmatising large sections of the population as potential terrorists and prompting backlashes that may worsen the problem.
However, that these programs will be run by the DSS rather than the Attorney-General’s Department may reduce this risk.
(p 15)

(Australian Foreign Fighters: Risks and Responses, Lowy Institute for International Policy, April 2015)

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

The religion of the Prophet [Mohammed] was a simple monotheism, uncomplicated by the elaborate theology of rite Trinity and the Incarnation.
The Prophet made no claim to be divine …
He revived the Jewish prohibition of graven images, and forbade the use of wine.
It was the duty of the faithful to conquer as much of the world as possible for Islam, but there was to be no persecution of Christians, Jews, or Zoroastrians — the "people of the Book," as the Koran calls them …

The Syrians, who were largely Nestorian [Christians,] suffered persecution at the hands of the Catholics, whereas Mohammedans tolerated all sects of Christians in return for the payment of tribute.
Similarly in Egypt the Monophysites, who were the bulk of the population, welcomed the invaders. …

The populations, moreover, in order to escape the tribute, very largely abandoned Christianity for Islam.

(A History of Western Philosophy, 2nd Ed, 1961, pp 413-4)

The Logic of Bigotry: Muslims, Terrorists, and Refugees

Tony Abbott

DAESH is coming, if it can, for every person and for every government with a simple message:
Submit or die! …
The tentacles of the death cult have extended even here …

(Opening Address, Counter-Terrorism Summit, 11 June 2015)

The world has woken, this morning, to another televised decapitation.
This just demonstrates [that] we are dealing with pure evil.
This is a hideous movement.
That not only does evil: it revels in evil, it exalts in evil. …
Sometimes dire and dreadful measures are necessary in response to the pure evil we are now seeing.

(The Wrap: real estate, Islamic State and vaccinating paramedics, Drive, ABC Radio National, 12 June 2015)

We are also determined to engage in every closer consultation with communities, including the Australian Muslim community.
When it comes to counter-terrorism everyone needs to be part of Team Australia …

(Heath Aston, Tony Abbott dumps controversial changes to 18C racial discrimination laws, SMH, 5 August 2014)

My position is that everyone has got to be on Team Australia.
Everyone has got to put this country, its interests, its values and its people first, and you don't migrate to this country unless you want to join our team …

(Lisa Cox, You don't migrate to this country unless you want to join our team': Tony Abbott renews push on national security laws, SMH, 18 August 2014)

[While] the overwhelming majority of Muslims don't support terrorism … many still think that death should be the punishment for apostasy. …

Many Muslims want to kill apostates.
We are apostates.
Many Muslims want to kill us.

If you are not with us, you are against us.
A triumph of moral reasoning worthy of Aquinas and Loyola.
A first class education does not, evidently, always succeed in broadening the mind:
  • Jesuit primary and secondary schooling,
  • University of Sydney (BA Law and Economics),
  • Queen's College, Oxford (BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics) on a Rhodes Scholarship, and
  • three years in Jesuit seminary.

Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902):
[I bequeath all my] estates and effects of every kind … to the Secretary of State for the Colonies … for the purposes of
  • extending British rule throughout the world,
  • for the perfecting of a system of emigration from the United Kingdom to all lands where the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labour, and enterprise,
  • the consolidation of the Empire,
  • the restoration of the Anglo Saxon unity destroyed by the schism of the eighteenth century,
  • the representation of the colonies in Parliament, "and finally,
  • the foundation of so great a Power as to hereafter render wars impossible and to promote the best interests of humanity."
(Last Will and Testament)

[No] country or continent can open its borders to all comers without fundamentally weakening itself.
This is the risk that the countries of Europe now run through misguided altruism. …

Our moral obligation is to receive people fleeing for their lives.
It's not to provide permanent residency to anyone and everyone who would rather live in a prosperous Western country than their own.
That's why the countries of Europe, while absolutely obliged to support the countries neighbouring the Syrian conflict, are more-than-entitled to control their borders against those who are no longer fleeing a conflict but seeking a better life.

This means turning boats around, for people coming by sea.
It means denying entry at the border, for people with no legal right to come; and it means establishing [concentration] camps for people who currently have nowhere to go.

It will require some force; it will require massive logistics and expense; it will gnaw at our consciences — yet it is the only way to prevent a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever. …
Perhaps for the better.
Historically, the US and Australia benefited enormously from fleeing Europeans at the time of the Second World War — and from Vietnamese refugees after the American War.
That is to say, refugees can make countries stronger rather than weaker.

[Too] much mercy for some necessarily undermines justice for all. …
This is not about justice.
It is about self-justification.
The victory of narrowness of spirit over breadth of mind.
Of ideology over conscience.

(Second Annual Margaret Thatcher Lecture, 27 October 2015, emphasis added)

Gerard Henderson: Executive Director, Sydney Institute

Sure, the overwhelming majority of Muslim Australians are peaceful and law-abiding.
But a small minority are not.
All those who are serving, or have served, time in Australian prisons for terrorism-related offences are Muslim. …

It is unlikely the radicalisation of young Muslims can be substantially reduced by a change of tone on the part of the government. …

Australia has large communities of Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs, among others.
Yet there are not even small minorities within these communities who wish to wage a war against Australians or to overthrow democracy and establish a theocracy in its wake.

Australia is a tolerant, accepting country.
This can be gauged by the fact Australia has a relatively low level of ethnic-motivated crime and a relatively high level of intermarriage between the various ethnic groups. …
[Consequently, calls] on Australians to unite against a backlash directed at Muslim Australians [are] quite unnecessary since there is no evidence of acts of murder or assault by non-Muslims against Muslims just because they are Muslims. …

The Muslim community in Australia and elsewhere is deeply divided — between the Sunni and Shia sects and more besides.
This is vividly demonstrated in the Syrian civil war.
In recent years the Australian Defence Force has been dispatched to Afghanistan and Iraq to protect some Muslims against attack from other Muslims. …

It is unfashionable to say so, but Abbott’s “Team Australia” makes a lot of sense.

(Ex-PM Tony Abbott’s ‘Team Australia’ makes a lot of sense, The Australian, 10 October 2015)

Free Tertiary Education

Chris Graham: Editor, New Matilda
David Marr:
In Tony Abbott’s Australia, a young woman faces jail because word got out that one of his daughters was given a $60,000 scholarship to study at the Whitehouse Institute of Design. …
{The chair of the institute is Liberal Party donor and friend of the prime minister, Les Taylor.}
News of Frances Abbott’s [windfall] provoked a two-month investigation by the New South Wales Police and a charge of accessing restricted data without authorisation.
Penalty: imprisonment for a maximum of two years. …
(Freedom Abbott, The Monthly, September 2014)
I don't think that people who act in the public interest should be charged with a public crime.
I think if you act in the public interest you deserve the protection of the public.
But if you are going to charge whisleblowers for acting in the public interest … then this sort of outcome is preferable.
Not only is she on a bond, but importantly no conviction will be recorded if she behaves herself [for the] two years. …
In the case of the Whitehouse Institute of Design, it accesses public funding to provide education but people who work [there] not afforded the same [limited] protections as [are] public servants. …

… Frances Abbott was not awarded this scholarship on merit, as the Prime Minister claims. …
Frances Abbott was the only person to whom this scholarship was available. …
The college's own website [clearly states] says that scholarships are not available …
Frances was pursued by the Whitehouse Institute of Design to study there when she was considering studying at a rival school …

[Keep in mind] that the government [has] just handed down a federal budget that was proposing to, in many cases, double the cost for everybody else to get a tertiary degree. …
[Furthermore, this] very same government is now seeking to make available to these … private colleges $800 million in [new] public funding …

… Tony Abbott has used [the] parliamentary interests register to tell people when his daughter Frances … got free tickets to the movies.
How he can apply that standard to a free movie ticket and not to a $60,000 secret scholarship [is remarkable.]

For a scholarship to be acceptable to the Australian Tax Office … it must be available to a wide number of people …
[This] scholarship was not known to anybody outside a couple of very senior people and the owner at Whitehouse Institute of Design and, of course, [the Abbott family.]
It wasn't available to any other students …
It wasn't even known by other senior staff at the college …
[So] you've got a private institution seeking access to large buckets of government money, and a recipient of the largesse of that institution is the daughter of the [then federal opposition leader (and soon to be Prime Minister) …]
If that's not a matter of public interest … I don't know what is. …

We saw Christopher Pine, Minister for Education, today tweeting that he thought the sentence was inappropriate. …
I understand why people in Christopher Pine's position, a position of enormous power and privilege, will feel that this sort of whistleblowing deserves a much much stiffer sentence …

(Could whistleblowers be better protected?, Drive, ABC Radio National, 25 November 2014)

The Accidental Prime Minister

Phillip Adams

We should remember of course that Abbott won the [opposition leadership in 2009 by just] one vote from [Malcolm] Turnbull
Mungo MacCallum:
… and only because Joe Hockey didn't want it.
Joe Hockey refused to bend on giving the party a free vote on climate change and therefore the great warlord Nick Minchin said:
No, you're not acceptable, we're going to have to go to Tony Abbott.
He was always the fallback.
(Campaign 2013 wash up, Late Night Live, ABC Radio National, 30 September 2013)

Paul Kelly

Editor at Large, The Australian

I can't begin to describe the extent and depth and confusion as Turnbull, Hockey and Abbott were manoeuvering in those last couple of days before the party meeting.
And, eventually, the three of them … ended up as candidates.
[Hockey expected] that he'd end up Liberal leader because he didn't think, if the leadership was declared vacant, that Turnbull would run.
[So Turnbull and Hockey] misunderstood one another.
Abbott, when he went into the party room meeting, didn't think he'd end up leader.
… I think Abbott's comment — that he ended up leader by accident — is correct. …

The only way the conservative side could stay united [and electorally viable] was on an anti-carbon pricing position.
[Abbott succeeded by turning opposition to carbon pricing] into a very populist campaign. …
Abbott … stands for opposition to carbon pricing.
That's his ideological position. …
Now, depending upon what happens in the world in the [next] couple of years … it may well be that international developments render obsolete the position Abbott now has.

(The Rise and Fall of Labor, Big Ideas, ABC Television, 24 October 2014)

NewSpeak Dictionary

  • Efficiency Dividend = Funding Cut

    More than 400 people [at the ABC] will lose their jobs as a result of federal government funding cuts. …
    Among sweeping changes … Bush Telegraph here on RN [will be axed,] and five small regional radio stations will be closed. …
    Bill Shorten [Leader, Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition]:
    Did the Prime Minister say, on the night before the election on SBS television …
    No cuts to the ABC or SBS …
    Tony Abbott:
    I never said there would be special treatment for the ABC.
    Everyone knew there was going to be an Efficiency Dividend applied across government. …
    [What] we are doing to the ABC, is applying an Efficiency Dividend …
    (Fran Kelly, Nationals Senator protests ABC cuts to rural services, RN Breakfast, ABC Radio National, 25 November 2014)

  • Advocacy = Criticism of the Government
    Tony Abbott:
    {I’m a passionate supporter of free speech.}
    [However, the] problem with a bill of rights is that it takes power off the elected politicians. …

    George Brandis [Federal Attorney General, 2013]:
    [We] in the Liberal Party are the party of human rights. …
    [George Brandis decrees that] artists who refuse private sponsorship on political grounds may be stripped of public funding.
    Troubled by Transfield’s links to offshore detention centres, a handful of artists had pressured the company to withdraw sponsorship from the Sydney Biennale. …
    He directs the Australia Council to find a formula for deciding when public funding will be withdrawn because private sponsorship has been “unreasonably” rejected.
    … Brandis wants artists to know they will pay a price for embarrassing the government. …

    [Scott Morrison (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection)] strips the Refugee Council of Australia of half a million dollars allocated in the budget only ten days before. …
    Scott Morrison:
    It’s not my view, or the government’s view, that taxpayer funding should be there for what is effectively an advocacy group. …
    [Under Labor, government] funding for NGOs [came] with the guarantee that they were
    [Free] to enter into public debate or criticism of the Commonwealth, its agencies, employees, servants or agents.
    Under Abbott, [this] guarantee disappears [— as do] many sources of independent advice.
    The budgets of
    • the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service,
    • the Environmental Defender’s Offices and
    • the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
    are slashed.
    Axed are
    • [the Climate Commission,]
    • the Social Inclusion Board,
    • the National Housing Supply Council,
    • the National Policy Commission on Indigenous Housing,
    • the National Children and Family Roundtable,
    • the Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing, and …
    • the Immigration Health Advisory Group.

    (David Marr, Freedom Abbott, The Monthly, September 2014)

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  • Budget Emergency = Austerity
    Joseph Stiglitz:
    In the United States, a full time male worker, median, income has stagnated for a third of a century.
    No increase.
    Household income today is the same as it was 15 years ago.
    All the increase to the income has gone to the top. …

    [As] the incomes of most American's were stagnating, or declining.
    We said:
    Don't let it bother you.
    Keep spending as if your income was going up.
    And they did that very well. …

    [The] remarkable thing is that countries, like the UK [and Australia,] that have a choice, are voluntarily putting themselves through austerity.
    And, almost certainly, we know what will happen.
    The economy will get weaker.
    Unemployment will go up.
    And there will be an enormous amount of unnecessary suffering.
    (Keynes, Masters of Money, BBC Two, 17 September 2012)
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques = Cruel and unusual punishment (including torture)
  • Business As Usual = Recipe For Disaster
  • Saving Lives At Sea = Destroying Lives On Land
  • Illegal Maritime Arrival = Legal Asylum Seeker
  • Economic Rationalism = Moral Insanity
  • Laissez Faire = I Don't Care

Simplistic Ideological Solutions

Tony Abbott: President of the Student Representative Council (SRC), University of Sydney

[In] the economic environment, in the marketplace, you have workers and employers involved in … an economic struggle for survival.
But if you look, on the other hand, at students and administrations, there is no clash of economic interests between the students and the people who run the universities.
[This] is the fundamental difference between the two situations.
And I think that eliminates the need for a compulsorily funded student organisation. …
I don't think the government has any real interest in victimizing students in anything like the same way that employers might have an interest in putting the knife into their employees. …

At Sidney University, we've always had a penchant for getting involved in esoterica and, what one might say, trivial extravagance, particularly in the Arts and Economics faculties.
There's an awful lot of courses here which can only be described as so much nonsense.
For instance, the General Philosophy course, Aesthetics courses — devoted entirely to a study of punk rock.
However enjoyable that might be, it doesn't seem a suitable subject for a course leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree.

In the Government Department, for instance, you have extensive courses on things like: Feminism, and The Political Exploitation Of Women …
[These courses are not only trivial] but they are attempts by unscrupulous academics to impose simplistic ideological solutions upon students.
[To] make students the cannon-fodder for their own private versions of the Revolution.
If there were further cuts to the education system, then we would certainly see the universities cracking down on that sort of course.
The fact that they can offer that sort of course at the moment is proof to me that there is room for further cuts. …
Certainly Political Economy and General Philosophy are thinly disguised attempts by, as I said, unscrupulous people to impose a very simplistic, and … quite wrong ideological solution on students. …

I find it a little alarming that people today think of themselves … not so much as members of the community, but as women, blacks, migrants, homosexuals, or whatever.
Similarly, people on campus don't seem to think of themselves as students — but they very often think of themselves … as women, homosexuals and what have you. …
[It] seems to me, that if there is adequate representation for students as a whole [this would automatically provide] adequate representation for all these other groups [as well. …]

[All] people should have equal opportunity …
… I think, certainly, there should be provision for the severely underprivileged to get to university for free …
[I] strongly support the idea that those who are underprivileged should certainly have the state intervene to try and correct that situation.
So that — if they are sufficiently capable in themselves — the fact that they were born into a poor family will not permanently disadvantage them. …

… The people attending universities are … an overwhelmingly middle-class group. …
[So] I do not think that the government should … be going around giving all students handouts to study. …

I would like to see the universities brought back to a situation where they cherished excellence and learning.
And where they actually inculcated into students a real love of truth and learning, and what have you.
And I think, with the enormous expansion of the universities, this has been lost to a certain extent.
I'd also like to see a situation where all students were assured of jobs when they left university. …
So not only would I like to see universities revert back to this quest and hunger for excellence and learning, but I would also like to see the numbers at university reduced and the courses made … more attractive to employers.
So that everyone will have a job when they leave.

I would to see the universities prepare students, more than they are at moment, to take a role in changing our society — not into some Marxist Utopia, because I don't think that can exist — but into a society which is based on a genuinely Christian principle.
And into a society where every [man or woman] is free to develop his or her unique talents in the way they best see fit as individuals. …

I see women as having having an equal opportunity in every area as men have.
Just as I think all groups should have an equal opportunity.
Mind you [I should emphasize] that while I think men and women are equal, they are also different.
[Consequently,] I think it's inevitable, and I don't think it's a bad thing at all, that we will always, say, have more women doing things like physiotherapy and an enormous number of women simply doing housework, and probably more men doing things like digging ditches and that style of thing.

(Radio interview with Steven Horrocks, Campus Wide, TUNE FM, 1979)

Would you like to know more?

Bipartisanship and the National Interest

Greig Gailey: President, Business Council of Australia
Tony Abbott:
[An emissions trading scheme is a] so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one.
[The Business Council of Australia (BCA)] supports the [Rudd] Government’s intention to introduce an emissions trading scheme …
[And we] agree that industry must assume part of the burden in doing this.
(p 13)

It is probably the most significant economic decision any government will have made since the introduction of the GST [by the Howard Coalition Government in the late 90s. …]
As such the BCA believes that it must be a bipartisan decision.
Uncertainty is the great enemy of investment. …

The BCA implores the Government and the Opposition to work together constructively on the design and implementation of the CPRS.
The impact of the CPRS is just too great for us to be at the mercy of party politics.
We ask both parties to forswear opposition for opposition’s sake. …
The payoff from emissions policy bipartisanship will be a stronger Australian economy.

(The Great Climate Change Challenge, Address to the Sydney Institute 27 August 2008, p 12)

Preaching to the Converted

Tony Abbott

[The] Coalition will …
  • repeal the carbon tax,
  • abolish the Department of Climate Change,
  • abolish the Clean Energy Fund. …
  • repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act …
  • abolish new health and environmental bureaucracies …
  • {repeal the mining tax [and]
  • stop throwing good money after bad on the [National Broadband Network.]}

[Furthermore, we will:]
  • deliver $1 billion in red tape savings every year. …
  • develop northern Australia. …
  • create a one stop shop for environmental approvals. …
  • privatise Medibank Private [and]
  • trim the public service …

(70th Anniversary Dinner, Institute of Public Affairs, 4 April 2013.)

A Political Jesuit

Tony Abbott:
I have been under the Santamaria spell ever since [1976. …]
He was the greatest living Australian …
[Bob Santamaria's] real role was to create a type of secular religious order, something like a band of political Jesuits …
[A] group of men and women whose religious values translated into strong commitment, not necessarily to any political party, but to a set of social principles.
Honi Soit [Student Newspaper, Sydney University]:
[After narrowly losing a vote for a position on the university senate Abbott] came down to the SRC and kicked a glass panel on the front door in …

Tony Abbott [SRC Presidential Address, Orientation Week, 1979]:
[All] human works are quite insubstantial in the parade of eternity — only God endures.
In all ages progressive thinkers have announced the death of God. …
For most of us, he refuses to die.
This is the FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH that has been forgotten by the university in its rush to be fashionable …

Lawyer and former student political activist:
I can't recall a constructive policy for the benefit of the student body that he ever put forward …
My lasting impression is of negativity and destruction. …

Tony Abbott:
The SRC is unnecessary and superfluous.


The Logic of Bigotry: Muslims, Terrorists, and Refugees

Free Tertiary Education

NewSpeak Dictionary

An Accidental Prime Minister

The Politics of Pure Evil

An Australian Hero

Simplistic Ideological Solutions

(Big) Business as Usual

Extremism in the Defense of Liberty

Shooting the Messenger

The Committee of Public Safety

A Political Jesuit

The Politics of Climate Change

Would you like to know more?

December 10, 2012

Tyrants and Revolutionaries

Bertrand Russell: Power

Naked Power

[If] human life is to be … anything better than a dull misery punctuated with moments of sharp horror, there must be as little naked power as possible.
The exercise of power, if it is to be something better than the infliction of wanton torture, must be hedged round by safeguards of law and custom, permitted only after due deliberation, and entrusted to men who are closely supervised in the interests of those who are subjected to them. …

It involves …
  • the elimination of war, for all war is an exercise of naked power. …
  • a world free from those intolerable oppressions that give rise to rebellions. …
  • the raising of the standard of life throughout the world …
  • some institution analogous to the Roman tribunes … for every section that is liable to oppression, such as minorities and criminals [and]
  • above all, a watchful public opinion, with opportunities of ascertaining the facts.

It is useless to trust in the virtue of some individual or set of individuals. …
No real solution of the problem of power is to be found in irresponsible government by a minority …
(p 71)

Revolutionary Power

A government without psychological authority must be a tyranny.
(p 80)

The decay of Liberalism has many causes, both technical and psychological.
They are to be found
  • in the technique of war,
  • in the technique of production,
  • in the increased facilities for propaganda, and
  • in nationalism, which is itself an outcome of Liberal doctrines.
All these causes, especially where the State has economic as well as political power, have immensely increased the power of governments. …
A modern community, just as much as those of the eighteenth century, requires, if it is to remain happy and prosperous, a sphere for individual initiative, but this sphere must be defined afresh, and safeguarded by new methods.
(p 81)


Naked Power

Revolutionary Power

December 4, 2012

Priests and Kings

Bertrand Russell: Power

Both religious and secular innovators … have appealed, as far as they could, to tradition, and [sought] to minimise the elements of novelty in their system.
The usual plan is to invent a more or less fictitious past and pretend to be restoring its institutions.
(p 39)

In the United States at the present day, the reverence which the Greeks gave to oracles and the Middle Ages to the Pope is given to the Supreme Court [— which] is part of the forces engaged in the protection of the plutocracy.
(p 49)


Priestly Power

Kingly Power