Unofficial Election Campaign Starts – But Slowly
While Morrison says he will not attempt an early election, the New Year is seeing the re- emergence of debate on issues such as border controls. It is pointed out that, while “Labor softened its asylum-seeker policy at its national conference last month by formally endorsing doctor-ordered medical evacuations off Manus Island and Nauru, it remains committed to boat turnbacks when safe to do so, offshore processing and regional resettlement.” But Morrison claims “they will abolish temporary protections visas and last year voted to end offshore processing as we know it in the parliament. And they had no clue what they had done’’ (see Dispute over OZ Border Policy).
However, the most “issues-attention” has been given by Treasurer Frydenberg and Home Affairs Minister Dutton and there is no sign yet of a more comprehensive presentation of Coalition policies even though Turnbull has gone and he seems to receive less media coverage. The decision by Morrison to make the present official visit to Vanuatu and Fiji is obviously driven mainly by the increasing attention being given by the Chinese to Pacific Islands. But the development of a comprehensive Coalition policy seems more important and the Foreign Affairs Minister should be able to handle the Pacific Islands. True, a more knowledgeable/presentable person than Payne could be useful (she was initially appointed by Morrison after Bishop resigned). Indeed, it would be desirable to have a major re-shuffle of Cabinet before the election, including the re-appointment of Abbott and Abetz.
An important election issue has emerged from the revelation in an OECD report that Australia relies on revenue from company taxes for 16 per cent of budget revenue, which is the highest share in the advanced world and compares with an advanced nation average of 9 per cent. As David Uren points out, “the failure of the Turnbull government to break the Senate gridlock last year to legislate a phased reduction in the company tax rate for big businesses to 25 per cent has left Australia among a group of 18 nations with a standard company tax rate of at least 30 per cent, nearly all of them developing nations” (see Australia Has High Company Tax Rate).
Another important election issue is, of course, energy policy and the promise to reduce electricity prices. I drew attention in the 12 January Commentary to Alan Moran’s analysis showing there is scope to start doing this by effecting a reduction in government subsidies. Recent evidence of statements by warmists which have been shown to be badly wrong could also be used as a basis for justifying the moderation of Australia’s policy.
These include a survey by the UK’s The Global Warming Policy Foundation, started by a former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, from 1983-89. The incorrect warmist sayings are summarized below for each month of 2018:
January 2018: Worst-case global warming scenarios not credible: Study. PARIS (AFP) – Earth’s surface will almost certainly not warm up four or five degrees Celsius by 2100, according to a study released Wednesday (Jan 17) which, if correct, voids worst-case UN climate change predictions. A revised calculation of how greenhouse gases drive up the planet’s temperature reduces the range of possible end-of-century outcomes by more than half, researchers said in the report, published in the journal Nature.
February: ‘Sinking’ Pacific nation Tuvalu is actually getting bigger, new research reveals. The Pacific nation of Tuvalu — long seen as a prime candidate to disappear as climate change forces up sea levels — is actually growing in size, new research shows. A University of Auckland study examined changes in the geography of Tuvalu’s nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014, using aerial photographs and satellite imagery. It found eight of the atolls and almost three-quarters of the islands grew during the study period, lifting Tuvalu’s total land area by 2.9 percent, even though sea levels in the country rose at twice the global average.
March: BBC forced to retract false claim about hurricanes. You may recall the above report by the BBC, which described how bad last year’s Atlantic hurricane season was, before commenting at the end: “A warmer world is bringing us a greater number of hurricanes and a greater risk of a hurricane becoming the most powerful category 5.” I fired off a complaint, which at first they did their best to dodge. After my refusal to accept their reply, they have now been forced to back down
April: Corals can withstand another 100-250 Years of climate change, new study. Heat-tolerant genes may spread through coral populations fast enough to give the marine creatures a tool to survive another 100-250 years of warming in our oceans.
May: Climate change causes beaches to grow by 3,660 square kilometers. Since 1984 humans have gushed forth 64% of our entire emissions from fossil fuels. (Fully 282,000 megatons of deplorable carbon “pollution”.) During this time, satellite images show that 24% of our beaches shrank, while 28% grew. Thus we can say that thanks to the carbon apocalypse there are 3,660 sq kms more global beaches now than there were thirty years ago.
June: Antarctica not losing ice, NASA researcher finds. NASA glaciologist Jay Zwally says his new study will show, once again, the eastern Antarctic ice sheet is gaining enough ice to offset losses in the west.
July: National Geographic admits they were wrong about notorious starving polar bear-climate claims. The narrative behind the viral photo of a polar bear starving, reportedly thanks to climate change, has been called into question by the National Geographic photographer who took it in the first place.
August: New study shows declining risk and increasing resilience to extreme weather in France. This risk factor for French residents of cities stricken by a disaster has been falling with every passing decade.
September: Coral bleaching is a natural event that has gone on for centuries, new study. Coral bleaching has been a regular feature of the Great Barrier Reef for the past 400 years, with evidence of repeated mass events dating back to well before European settlement and the start of the industrial revolution.
October: Climate predictions could be wrong in UK and Europe. Current climate change predictions in the UK and parts of Europe may be inaccurate, a study conducted by researchers from the University of Lincoln, UK, and the University of Liège, Belgium, suggests.
November: Number and intensity of US hurricanes have remained constant since 1900. There’s been “no trend” in the number and intensity of hurricanes hitting the continental U.S. and the normalized damages caused by such storms over the past 117 years, according to a new study.
December: Alarmist sea level rise scenarios unlikely, says climate scientist Judith Curry. A catastrophic rise in sea levels is unlikely this century, with recent experience falling within the range of natural variability over the past several thousand years, according to a report on peer-reviewed studies by US climate scientist Judith Curry.
Today’s Australian also runs an article by climate expert Emeritus Professor Ian Plimer disparaging the claim still often made that 97 per cent of scientists conclude that humans are causing global warming. Plimer asks “Is that really true? No. It is a zombie statistic. In the scientific circles I mix in, there is an overwhelming scepticism about human-induced climate change. Many of my colleagues claim that the mantra of human-induced global warming is the biggest scientific fraud of all time and future generations will pay dearly” (see Plimer Disparages 97% Consensus on Global Warming).
There are many other examples of errors, in some cases deliberately made by “scientists” including for reasons not actually scientific, which could be used as a basis for reducing the emissions target set in Paris by Malcolm Turnbull when PM, but who had no scientific expertise on the causes of climate change.
Another important development in this context is the establishment by climate expert Viv Forbes of a Saltbush Club to conduct a national campaign to support Australia’s immediate withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Along with many others I have joined this club, which has now issued a press release pointing out, inter alia, that “Australia will suffer badly from the destructive energy policies being promoted in the UN’s war on cheap, reliable hydro-carbon fuels such as oil, diesel, gas and coal and the backbone industries that rely on them – mining and smelting, farming, fishing, forestry, processing and manufacturing” (see EXIT PARIS AGREEMENT- Break the Climate Chains Now).
Unfortunately, Morrison has already said that Australia must stick with the Paris Agreement even though it is not binding. He has probably been heavily influenced in making this decision by advice from his department, which includes staff who are strong believers in the dangerous global warming thesis. But, one way or another, he needs in the Coalition’s interests to over-rule such advice.
US Wall Policy
In the Commentary of 12 January I argued that “the President of the US is correct in identifying an immigration problem” arising in part from the absence of adequate control on the border with Mexico and noted that Greg Sheridan took a similar view. Subsequently, Trump has “declared he will never back down from his border wall to protect Americans, paving the way for a prolonged deadlock over what is already the longest government shutdown”. This view was strengthened somewhat by “a Washington Post-ABC News poll which shows that while a majority oppose the wall, support for it has grown over the past 12 months, from 34 per cent to 42 per cent” (see Trump on Walls).
It may also be strengthened by a survey published by Breitbart showing that government agencies and prominent individuals make use of walls. The survey shows extensive photos of such walls including those constructed by Hungary, Israel and Bulgaria (on the border with Turkey) as protection against illegal migrants. The survey covers a number of prominent US politicians (including Hilary Clinton) who have opposed the funding of the Mexican wall but who have themselves used protective walls in the US (see photo of Hungary’s Border Wall).
No doubt the controversy over the wall and the partial shut-down in Washington will continue. The latest development is an attempt by Speaker Pelosi to alter the State of Union address by Trump scheduled for 29 January. It appears that her reasons for alteration are rejected even by Democrat-leaning media (see Pelosi Tries to Postpone State of Union Address).