Thursday, August 16, 2012

Report doctored

I saw a copy of the Herald Sun lying on a table whilst waiting at the local GP.

“Why not?” I thought. Silly me, I’d forgot there’d be an Andrew Bolt column.

How can she remain?” screamed the headline. No prize for guessing who ‘she’ is.

Anyway, the column is typically a polished regurgitation of the stuff he’s pedalled all week on his blog.

Funny how he likes to quote, or rather misquote, from a report of an Expert Panel whose authority he’s refused to accept until he found it could be incrementally milked to support his partisan agenda.

For example, he says the only qualification the Expert Panel made with regard to the Coalition’s boat turn-back policy is that it must be safe to do so and with the “permission or acquiescence” of Indonesia.

Wrong again...

3.77 Turning back irregular maritime vessels carrying asylum seekers to Australia can be operationally achieved and can constitute an effective disincentive to such ventures, but only in circumstances where a range of operational, safety of life, diplomatic and legal conditions are met:

  • The State to which the vessel is to be returned would need to consent to such a return.
  • Turning around a vessel outside Australia’s territorial sea or contiguous zone (that is, in international waters) or ‘steaming’ a vessel intercepted and turned around in Australia’s territorial sea or contiguous zone back through international waters could only be done under international law with the approval of the State in which the vessel is registered (the ‘flag State’).
  • A decision to turn around a vessel would need to be made in accordance with Australian domestic law and international law, including non-refoulement obligations, and consider any legal responsibility Australia or operational personnel would have for the consequences to the individuals on board any vessel that was to be turned around.
  • Turning around a vessel would need to be conducted consistently with Australia’s obligations under the SOLAS Convention, particularly in relation to those on board the vessel, mindful also of the safety of those Australian officials or Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel involved in any such operation.

The obligation of non-refoulement is perhaps the most problematic ‘operational’ consideration. Strictly speaking, you’d have to do some kind of reasonably rigorous assessment of the claims of each and every asylum seeker on board each and every boat before towing it back out to the open sea.

You see, Doctor Easychair? — it’s all somewhat more complicated than your one-line reformulation for idiots. How many times must we correct your simple-minded reading and comprehension?

Later today I came across a puff piece on our good Doctor Easychair by former Labor leader Mark Latham, e.g.

Bolt, in effect, is Australia’s de facto shadow minister for boat people policy, climate change scepticism, Aboriginal welfare, freedom of speech and the culture wars in general.

Read the above piece in its absurd entirety, then try reading the following sentence without gagging with laughter:

Mark Latham was once the prospective leader of this nation.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Leak suppressed

I only came across this today, but it seems to me a bit of a News £td beat-up or stunt or something...

For cartoonist Bill Leak, the nanny state is real. It has just snuffed out his attempt to launch a new business aimed at poking fun at the government.

Leak had been planning to sell cardboard covers for packets of cigarettes that would have obscured and ridiculed the graphic images of gangrenous legs and cancerous mouths that have been mandated by federal legislation. ...

He made contact with manufacturers and developed the outlines of a business plan. But after he took advice from a Sydney silk about the impact of the government’s plain packaging laws, the project was dead.

The risk of being dragged through the courts was too great. ...

Leak said the law had stifled his ability to make a political point while developing a new business.

“It was an attempt to deploy satire as a weapon against the nanny state, but the nanny state has a bigger, nastier bite than I thought.”

Oh puh-lease!

It’s written by Chris Merritt, The Australian’s legal affairs editor who offers no insight whatever on Bill’s “advice from a Sydney silk.”

He features a quote from Nicola Roxon being all defensive about the government’s plain packaging legislation, presenting the A-G as creepily unhumorous while giving no context about what prompted her remarks.

Apparently one of Bill’s mock fag packets was ‘branded’ Roxon’s Nicolatinas. Gee, subversive yet classy. And hysterically funny at some level, I’m sure.

In keeping with the clubby News £td milieu, the story has been picked up by the likes of the IPA and Tim Blair as an example of the imminent threat to free speech by instinctively totalitarian nanny-statists, etc. etc. etc.

Tragic to think in what useful capacity these bods might ever be employable if their imaginary wicked nanny-statists were ever successful in ‘silencing’ them.

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Gillard ‘backflip’ is courageous and honourable

In so far as it’s possible to do so in a race to the bottom, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has this week acquitted herself with courage and honour.

When Parliament rose at end of June with the country crying out for a solution to the critical impasse, the PM undertook to abide by whatever recommendations were arrived at by the expert panel.

True to her word she has thus far done so, and at great political cost to herself and her party.

The Opposition’s demand for an apology from the PM is utterly risible. It demurred with regard to the expert panel, sitting with comfort on its hands as the boats kept coming. As Peter van Onselen wrote at the time:

One well-placed Liberal source told The Australian that Abbott would rather see Labor continue to bleed politically with ongoing boat arrivals. If that means deaths at sea continue, he said, so be it.

Or as Graeme Richardson more succinctly put it:

Abbott won’t budge, won’t compromise and won’t lose a wink of sleep over it...

Abbott has apparently “stopped short” of condemning the PM for having “blood on her hands” over deaths at sea since Rudd and Gillard dismantled the Howard-era Pacific Solution.

It remains to be seen whether this is some kind of quaint magnanimity, or whether he simply fears it may come back to bite him in the event Pacific Solution Mk II fails to stop the boats.

As well it may.


I wonder if there’s been a cynical, opportunistic, “blood on their hands” political blame-game in the Euro Zone...

Rescue operations in the Mediterranean are hampered by poor coordination, disputes over responsibility, disincentives for commercial vessels to conduct rescues, and an emphasis on border enforcement, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper published today.

People fleeing persecution or seeking a better life attempt the dangerous crossing from the North African coast to Europe, often in unseaworthy and dangerous boats. An Eritrean man lived to tell of the deaths of all 54 of his fellow passengers when their small dinghy sank in the Mediterranean in early July, 2012, bringing the known death toll this year to 170. As many as 13,500 people have died in such efforts at crossing since 1998, including at least 1,500 in 2011, the deadliest on record. [My emphasis.]

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Regime uncertainty and base partisanship

The Catallaxy Files site regularly presents a rich seam of idiocy. Most recently I was amused to read resident Perfessor Sinclair Davidson blaming Rudd and Gillard for Howard Government policy.

The argument is that spiralling energy costs commenced at mid-2007 specifically with the release of the Shergold report on emissions trading.

That enunciation of “vague government policy” contributed a significant inflationary effect on energy prices, by virtue of a handy little construct known as regime uncertainty.

But the Perfessor notes...

We can hardly blame events in 2007 on the Rudd-Gillard government. Well maybe we can.

Well, of course we can! You see, on the release of Shergold’s report...

At that point climate change policy became bipartisan with the Howard government adopting ALP policy...

See how it works? There ain’t nothing that can’t be blamed on the GillardGillardGillard.

There’s a slight  difficulty, however, for the Perfessor’s account: Climate change policy in fact became “bipartisan” somewhat earlier than he suggests.

Howard announced Shergold’s Task Group on Emissions Trading in December 2006; thus, it was obviously firmly Coalition policy before even then.

And the Task Group released an Issues Paper in Feb 2007, which surely would have given investors the jitters well before the final report was issued at end-May of that year.

Still, I’m sure such trivial details will present no difficulties for the Perfessor.

Nor will the fact that Gillard after all has now delivered certainty for the energy sector.

Or that Abbott’s blood-oath to repeal carbon pricing arrangements — which, it’s been argued, he’ll be unable to do — can only serve to undermine that certainty, with the consequence of more regime uncertainty to further exacerbate our energy price woes.

So, next time you open another shocker of a power bill... Blame Tony Abbott.

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