Today’s poll in Fairfax press shows the Coalition at 46/54 on a TPP basis, the same as in the previous poll, but Abbott is down one point at minus 24% on his net rating and Shorten is at minus 10%. In the Australian, Phillip Hudson notes that Howard had a similar experience after his first two years and suggests that it might help Abbott if he adopted a major reform strategy as Howard did by announcing a risky GST. But that was on the eve of announcing the election and it seems unlikely that Abbott could maintain leadership until the next election without an early major “new” announcement on policy. The obvious one would be to indicate that an assessment of sworn evidence given to the Royal Commission on Trade Unions by Shorten, various union officials and some badly treated under existing arrangements indicates that the Coalition will be announcing major reforms in industrial relations for consideration at the next election. An announcement in the near future could draw on sworn evidence to indicate the main areas of reform and could point out that no question of bias arises from such evidence. There has also been media support for reform.
Labor has also created the opportunity to do that with its attack on Dyson Heydon. Some have said it has kicked an own goal.
Dyson Heydon & Workplace Relations
This article by Andrew Bolt (Bolt on Attack on Heydon, Shorten) outlines the serious problems facing Shorten arising from the evidence he gave at the Royal Commission and, now, his party’s attack on Heydon. There is no doubt that this has caused Labor to attack Heydon and the RC itself.
If the Coalition can get its act together, it can use this attack to undermine the credibility of Shorten and expose the urgent need for reducing the quasi-monopoly power of trade unions. Note that at long last the CEO of the ACCC has announced that he recognises that some arrangements between unions and businesses may infringe the competition requirements. There is likely to be scope for strengthening the relevant legislation.
As for the attack on Heydon himself, there is ample scope to argue that this is no more than an attempt to prevent the evidence being used in the final report. These letters published in today’s Age are (naturally) all against Heydon but my penetration of Age letters offers one possible response viz
No suggestion by Heydon of Liberal links(Letter published in The Age, 17/8)
Your editorial’s heading that “Dyson Heydon must resign” (Saturday Age, 15/8) is followed by an acknowledgement that the Royal Commission has “done some excellent work” and “must proceed”. Mr Heydon has led the commission in producing that excellent work, has not said anything that would suggest a liaison with the Liberal Party, and has now declined to speak at a Liberal Party function. Aren’t you in danger of declaring him guilty before he has even spoken?
Des Moore, South Yarra
Heydon has now responded this afternoon to an ACTU request to release relevant documents relating to the invitation to address a Liberal Party function (see this report by the ABC on Heydon Releases Documents). His claim to have “overlooked” that it was such a function is unfortunate but does not establish that his making of an address on a now dead High Court Chief Justice means he has been or would be biased. However it would not be surprising if the ACTU attempts to pursue that allegation in the High Court.
Climate Change Debate
The publication of my letter in The Australian on 14 Aug arguing “there is no evidence, either scientific or statistical, to establish the dangerous warming thesis” has developed into a debate in that paper’s letters. I include below the various exchanges.
Most importantly, the former head of Australia’s National Climate Centre, William Kininmonth, points out in today’s Australian that claims that carbon emissions are responsible for warming “lack direct evidence”. He also draws attention to an article published in Science, a journal which rarely publishes analyses critical of the dangerous warming thesis. This article by a climate alarmist who has been a lead author in IPCC reports, Kevin Trenberth, acknowledges that since early in the 20th century there have been two periods when there has been a hiatus in temperatures and that one of those occurred “in the presence of fast-increasing greenhouse gas concentrations”. Trenberth appears to define a hiatus not as one where there has been no increase in temperatures but as one with “much lower rates of increase” in temperatures. He acknowledges that the failure of temperatures to increase as expected was due to various “natural” fluctuations. In fact, he lists a number of such influences but claims the main one as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO),which reflects variations in ocean temperatures reflecting sudden replacements of cold water with warm water (the cause of such fluctuations is unknown and this is not mentioned by T). In what can only be described as a very confusing analysis, Trenberth concludes by arguing that further decreases in temperatures will become “less likely” but “there will be fluctuations in rates of warming and big regional variations associated with natural variability”.
What does this mean? According to Trenberth, we must “expect such fluctuations and plan for them” – presumably by employing experts such as Trenberth!
It is difficult to believe that, apart from such possible forward planning, any government could justify measures to reduce usage of fossil fuels on the basis of this analysis by warmist Trenberth. But as published in a supposedly prestigious journal, it might provide an opportunity for the Abbott government to draw attention to the acknowledged natural influences and to request a review by experts including sceptics for the Paris meeting.