Tactics Against Bipartisan Climate Change Policy in Australia – Limits to Growth?

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A recent ABC article ‘The day that plunged Australia’s climate change policy into 10 years of inertia‘, endeavoured to describe how climate change consensus was broken by former Liberal MP Andrew Robb who claimed he had followed the ‘Limits to Growth’ (LTG) theory via the Club of Rome but changed his mind, hence withdrew support on bipartisan support on carbon emission measures (?).

And so it was that Andrew Robb made one of the most extraordinary and — by most conventional measures — indefensible tactical decisions in the history of political chicanery.

Also reported in climate science denial blog in the USA Watts Up With That with post titled ‘How “The Limits to Growth” Broke Australia’s Bipartisan Carbon Tax’, as did Catallaxy Files in ‘Australia Follow the climate money and the time when Tony beat Malcolm by one vote’ which also promotes climate science denialism.

In fact the LTG theory, ‘a riddle wrapped up in an enigma’, is irrelevant to climate change as it was developed as a PR construct of liberal and environment ideas or theory then (misre)presented publicly as grounded and tested empirical science to confuse debates, then both opponents and protagonists.

The pseudo-science of LTG was developed and presented via the Club of Rome and applied by some of the participants and collaborators including Herman Daly’s ‘Steady-state economy’ (autarkist economy), Paul Ehrlich’s ‘population bomb’ and his Zero Population Growth (ZPG) colleague John ‘passive eugenics’ Tanton to support immigration restrictions for non-Europeans.

Interesting was that the Club of Rome was hosted on the Rockefeller (Standard Oil/Exxon) estate and sponsored by Fiat and VW, while ZPG had support from Rockefeller Brothers, Ford and Carnegie Foundations; strong whiff of fossil fuels, global corporates/oligarchs and eugenics.

LTG helped encourage a pincer movement of seemingly unrelated ideas or constraints which in fact protect the corporate and personal interests of such global players.  Daly’s autarkist Steady-state theory stresses nation states, avoidance of trade agreements (and environmental regulations) etc. while allowing long standing global corporates (with existing footprints) to operate without commercial, competitive or regulatory constraint (James Buchanan’s radical right libertarianism for all, i.e. ‘Public Choice Theory‘, except when there is state support for global corporates).

From University of Sussex on Limits to Growth or ‘Models of Doom‘:

‘An interdisciplinary team at Sussex University’s Science Policy Research Unit reviewed the structure and assumptions of the models used and published its finding in Models of Doom; showing that the forecasts of the world’s future are very sensitive to a few unduly pessimistic key assumptions. The Sussex scientists also claim that the Meadows et al. methods, data, and predictions are faulty, that their world models (and their Malthusian bias) do not accurately reflect reality.’

How could they promote not just junk science but inequitable libertarian economics to the masses for the benefit of the few and have ‘Turkeys vote for Christmas’?

Brexit is a good example, Trump also and Australia since Tampa refugee incident, i.e. dog whistling immigration, population growth, and white nationalism, then encourages borders, withdrawal from trade agreements and insular view of the world, while allowing global corporates to fly under the radar and conservative political parties to gain votes (especially amongst the upper median age cohort) to implement the right policies (or not at all).

 

The day that plunged Australia’s climate policy into 10 years of inertia

BY ANNABEL CRABBUPDATED SUN AT 1:28PM

Ten years ago Andrew Robb arrived at Parliament House intent upon an act of treachery.

No-one was expecting him. Robb was formally on leave from the Parliament undergoing treatment for his severe depression.

But the plan the Liberal MP nursed to himself that morning would not only bring about the political demise of his leader, Malcolm Turnbull, but blow apart Australia’s two great parties irrevocably just as they teetered toward consensus on climate change, the most divisive issue of the Australian political century.

They have never again been so close.

A decade later, according to the ABC’s Australia Talks National Survey, climate change is a matter of urgent community concern. Eighty-four per cent of respondents said that climate change was real and that action was warranted. When offered a range of 19 issues and asked which were of gravest personal concern, climate change ranked at number one.

As bushfires ravage the landscape and drought once again strangles vast tracts of the continent, the inability of the Australian Parliament to reach agreement on how to answer the threat of climate change — or even discuss it rationally — may well be one of the drivers of another shrieking headline from the Australia Talks research: 84 per cent of respondents also feel that Australian politicians are out of touch with the views of the people they represent.

This is the story — told on its 10th birthday — of a political event that changed the course of a nation’s history.

How bipartisan policy fell apart

Robb was on sick leave from his job as shadow minister for climate, managing the notoriously difficult transition from one anti-depressant medication to another.

In his absence, acting shadow minister for climate Ian Macfarlane had successfully negotiated, with the authority of Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull, a deal with the Rudd government to land the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, or CPRS.

An extraordinary tactic

And so it was that Andrew Robb made one of the most extraordinary and — by most conventional measures — indefensible tactical decisions in the history of political chicanery.

Parliament House is no stranger to mental illness. Historically, its sufferers have covered their tracks, loath to be seen as vulnerable.

But this must be the only recorded occasion on which mental illness has been used as a tactic.

Robb ripped himself a scrap of paper and scrawled a note to Turnbull.

“The side effects of the medication I am on now make me very tired. I’d be really grateful if you could get me to my feet soon,” he wrote.

Turnbull called Robb to speak soon after. He rose, and denounced the proposed scheme in forensic detail, his words carrying significant weight as the erstwhile bearer of the relevant portfolio.

The deal never recovered. The meeting went on for six more hours. Turnbull — a streetfighter when cornered — added the numbers of shadow Cabinet votes to the “yes” votes in the party room and declared that he had a majority.

Leadership contest

The party room wasn’t buying it. Turnbull was cooked.

One week and one day later — December 1, 2009 — a ballot was held for the leadership of the Liberal Party.

Tony Abbott — who nominated against both Turnbull and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey — won by a single vote.

The Abbott opposition was born, with its strident campaign against Labor’s “great big new tax on everything”.

The next day, the emissions trading scheme legislation went to a vote in the Parliament and was defeated soundly.

Both the Coalition and the Greens voted against.

The Rudd government relinquished its attempts to put a price on carbon. Rudd himself was overthrown mid-2010. Julia Gillard staked her political life on installing a carbon price, but lost it at the 2013 election in the face of Abbott’s muscular anti-carbon-tax campaign.

Abbott installed his “Direct Action” model which survives to this day, despite Turnbull’s subsequent prime ministership, during which he tried and failed to introduce the National Energy Guarantee, a legislative device aimed at establishing reliable supply and reduced emissions from the energy sector….

….’You can still see the scars’

For Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, the past 10 years are a tale of intense frustration.

“What happened back then has just so fundamentally shaped the direction and the context for climate and energy policy ever since,” he says…..

…..Visiting Sydney this week, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, British-born Michael Liebreich, was brutal in his assessment of Australia’s contemporary energy situation.

“It’s unbelievable how you can have a country with such cheap solar power, such cheap wind power, frankly such cheap natural gas and yet you still have expensive power and an unreliable grid,” he told ABC’s AM.

“I mean, how do you do that? It’s a government failure.”

Turnbull, in an interview published on Saturday by The Guardian, said the climate debate in Parliament was hostage to “insurgents” inside the Coalition.

“There are plenty of odd beliefs out there and conspiracy theories but what I have always struggled to understand is why climate denialism still has the currency that it has, particularly given the evidence of the impact of climate change is now so apparent, and it is particularly apparent to people living in regional and rural Australia,” he said.

“Precisely what has been forecast is happening.”…..

…..Robb admits that his was an extraordinary intervention in a sliding-doors juncture of Australian political history.

“I’ve seen so often in my career where something monumental gets down to one vote. Then when the vote’s taken, it sticks, and the world adjusts. It was the beginning of Tony — who won by one vote. Democracy’s an amazing thing, really. And it does show you that if you’ve got half of the votes or just over half or just under, that can reflect community attitudes too,” he says.

“This is not a fault of democracy, it’s a fact.”

He mentions that when he was a much younger man, he was “a great student” of the Club of Rome, an association of scientists, bureaucrats, politicians and public thinkers who in 1972 published the book Limits To Growth, warning that the world’s resources could not withstand the depredations of ceaseless economic growth indefinitely.

Limits To Growth is still the highest-selling environmental book in the history of the world, having sold 30 million copies in more than 30 languages.

But Robb’s early fascination with the work gave way to distrust of its conclusions and primitive computer modelling; he says its warnings of resource exhaustion and economic collapse towards the end of the 20th century were overstated.

“The thing they didn’t talk about was technology. That you could find gas 300 kilometres offshore, for example, and find a way to bring it onshore. Because of this, the Club of Rome — which was quite a reputable group of people — looked more and more ridiculous as the years rolled on.”

The Club of Rome has its critics and its defenders; Limits To Growth was commonly derided by the 1990s as a misguided Doomsday scenario, but has enjoyed something of a renaissance lately. The CSIRO published a paper in 2008 finding that the book’s 30-year modelling of consequences from a “business as usual” approach to economic growth was essentially sound.

But what’s not deniable is that this work influenced one young man who grew up to be one member of a parliamentary party with a singular role to play in one vote on a policy that would either change or not change the course of a country.

Democracy, he says, is an amazing thing.

Or an infuriating thing. Or mysterious. Or random.’

 

For more articles and blog posts about population growth, immigration and white nationalism click through.

 

White Nationalist Extremism – Mainstreamed by Politicians and Media

After the tragic white nationalist extremist event in Christchurch’s mosques by an Australian extremist white nationalist gunman, we have observed attempts by local and international politicians and media to explain.  However, they are also guilty of propagating or encouraging white Nativism, white nationalism and nowadays promoting ‘western civilisation’ for attention, power, influence over policy making and elections while demonising diversity and multiculturalism.

White nationalist extremism encouraged by mainstream politicians and media

Diversity and Multiculturalism (Image copyright Pexels).

In past decades, emanating from the US (according to Nancy MacLean author of ‘Democracy in Chains’), has been radical right libertarianism for corporates e.g. Kochs et al. and/or fossil fuel related sector to deny global warming, attacking science and education, demanding lower taxes, smaller government etc., while co-opting ageing conservative Christian evangelicals and white nationalists to vote the right way aka Trump and Brexit.

However, dog whistling and divisive narratives focused upon non-WASPs and non-Europeans, are also symptoms of a long-standing ideology, i.e. eugenics, which while being one and the same, has re-emerged amongst politicians, media and voters of the right in the Anglo world and parts of Europe (but described benignly as an electoral tactic), after becoming unpopular due to the Nazis’ experiments and holocaust.

This ideology, or power structure, is manifested and presented in multiple ways and media in Australia with refugees and ‘boat people’, US with Trump and UK with Brexit; back grounded by old WASP culture and isolationism.  Manifested as raw racism or promoting ‘whiteness’, ‘final solutions’ (to immigration), ‘globalisation’ (of people), promotion of border control or security, withdrawal from trade agreements, alarm round ‘high immigration’ or ‘exponential population growth’, use of offshore detention (camps/prisons), back grounded by criticism of ‘refugees’, Islam, and even local minorities whether women, recipients of welfare, LGBT, workers, indigenous or youth.

In addition to the poisonous ideology,  masked by dog whistling and proxy issues, is the transnational and systematic nature of the ‘architecture’ via academia, politicians and media (‘assembly line’ according to author of Dark Money, Jane Mayer) to normalise and spread the negative messaging; funded by (mostly) US radical right libertarians, oligarchs and selected think tanks.

Key architect, funded by oligarchs et al., was the recently deceased John Tanton, described in a New York Times article as the ‘most influential unknown man in America’, linked with Paul Ehrlich, Club of Rome, ZPG Zero Population Growth (supported by Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie etc. foundations), Population Matters UK, Sustainable Australia, white evangelical Christians, white nationalists and his US Inc. based network now influences (or even writes) White House immigration policy.

‘Tanton’s own Social Contract Press has been influential: ‘The Social Contract Press (TSCP) routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists. The press is a program of U.S. Inc, the foundation created by John Tanton, the racist founder and principal ideologue of the modern nativist movement. TSCP puts an academic veneer of legitimacy over what are essentially racist arguments about the inferiority of today’s immigrants.

Not only had Tanton also supported the white Australia policy, liaised with ‘Sustainable Population Australia’ and its elite ‘environmentally minded’ local patrons, his TSCP also published and reviewed one of the most infamous white nationalist screeds which influences the controversial Steve Bannon et al., ‘Camp of the Saints’ (reviewed by Australian Academic Katherine Betts), from Sutherland in The Guardian 2004 ‘Far right or far wrong?’:

The book currently generating the most chatter is Jean Raspail’s Camp of Saints. First published in 1973, in France, no British publisher (a gutless crew) has been brave enough to take it on. In America, publication was sponsored, in 1985, by the ultra-right (ultrawrong), anti-immigration Laurel Foundation, under whose aegis it now sells like hot cakes.

Camp of Saints foretells an imminent “swamping” of Europe by illegals from the orient. Forget passports or border controls: they just hijack tankers and come, an armada of subcontinental sub-humanity: a brown tsunami. Europe is so enervated by liberalism and postcolonial guilt and depopulated by “family planning” that the alien tide (“with a stench of latrines”) just laps over the continent. A small resistance band (the “Saints”) is liquidated – by the French government. The immigrants come, they settle, they rape, they steal. Above all, they breed. Raspail calls it “the Calcutta solution” – genocide by stealth. Europe becomes a Dark Continent.

Raspail’s loathsome novel has recently achieved something like respectability. The author has a website and has been hailed “the Frantz Fanon of the White Race”. Camp of Saints articulates a western nightmare fashionable among neo-conservatives. Civilisations won’t “clash”. The developed world (and in the Middle East, Israel) will simply be out spawned into extinction.

What we now observe is frantic dissembling by most conservative politicians desperate to separate themselves from extremists, after their own unethical and divisive Nativist utterances or dog whistling from the past and present.

 

 

NOM Net Overseas Migration – Immigration – Population Growth

Population, Immigration and Net Overseas Migration NOM

Interesting article on immigration and NOM net overseas migration by former Australian Department of Immigration Deputy Secretary Abul Rizvi endeavouring to insert some understanding and clarity round the ‘immigration’ debate when most misunderstand, misinterpret or misrepresent immigration and population data.

 

 

This is manifested in media, political and public narratives that focus upon the NOM and the false notion that it is both unusually high and can be micromanaged; underpinned by lack of detail or ‘solution’ to lowering the NOM (without assessment of broader societal impacts).

 

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Putting the numbers back into the immigration debate

ABUL RIZVI 20 FEBRUARY 2018

Drastically reducing net migration would be neither easy nor wise, says a former senior official.

How governments manage migration is a big deal. A perception of too many arrivals drove the Brexit result in Britain, helped define the Trump presidency, and fuelled the rising populist vote in Europe. Japan’s ageing population is driving its government to increase immigration — but ever so cautiously, recognising the likely backlash from its largely homogeneous population. And the same demographic forces have driven China to try to attract back part of its huge diaspora.

Yet, despite our long immigration tradition, Australia’s immigration debate is tortured and surprisingly poorly informed. Until very recently, this was not helped by the Turnbull government’s eerie silence on immigration levels and population policy. Immigration minister Peter Dutton’s tentative foray late last week should therefore be welcomed.

Given the complexities, immigration ministers have an obligation to be accurate with the data and honest about the range of issues to be considered in significantly reducing the intake. Dutton was neither.

 

Issues and Critique of Net Overseas Migration Statistics and Data

 

The NOM is a measure of movements, not designed as an ‘immigration’ target but merely measures numbers of people (irrespective of nationality, visa status and includes Australians) who enter Australia with the intention of remaining longer than 12/16+ months (ABS, 2017).

Rizvi cites several variables or inputs that would be required to control or lower the NOM.  This would include restricting rights of Australians marrying foreigners, restricting numbers of international students, preclude second year visas for working holiday makers doing agricultural work, close the refugee program, limit New Zealanders and seek out overstayers.

Other issues or features neither understood nor highlighted:

  1. Few nations use the same NOM as a measure to estimate resident population apart from Australia, UK and NZ then e.g. in the EU Schengen Zone it’s impossible due to free movement and that most nations appear to estimate from e.g. residency registration or census data (UN, 2015).
  2. Rizvi also fails to mention the cumulative statistical impact of an ageing population of citizens and permanent residents (includes significant numbers of British subjects) who were already in country 2006 when line was drawn in the sand on population; many have neither departed nor returned to Australia long term and have two impacts upon the data (and census). First is longevity due to better health hence staying in the data longer (though invisible) being attributed to ‘immigration’.  However, this will change when the baby boomer demographic starts departing this earth in the medium long term in about five years onwards i.e. deaths will outnumber births for long term thus impacting the estimated resident population significantly.  This is also set against already declining fertility rates and global population ex. Sub Saharan Africa, expected to peak by mid-century as explained by development, medical and statistics expert Professor Hans Rosling (Gapminder, 2013).
  3. A significant financial reason for encouraging temporary residents with no likelihood of permanent residency outcomes, whether students, backpackers etc., is as net financial contributors paying taxes without future access to state services. In other words, they support or subsidise increasing numbers of retirees needing pensions, health care etc. dependent upon healthy state budgets (with decreasing dependency ratio of workforce tax payer numbers to retirees).
  4. Further, statistical analysis has found that not only is the NOM very confusing, it may over estimate Australia’s population significantly, through double counting those not in country but not outside for more than 12/16+ months:

Except on migration. On this single metric, it’s as if the entire world converges into a deafeningly silent consensus. Population! At last a hard number. Something tangible, physical, consistent. The cacophony of economic debate subsides as everyone gather’s around to pay homage at the altar of the purest, simplest driver of demand, production, and everything else. The one undisputed back-stop to debate…Trying to find a simple and defensible explanation of a complex issue isn’t easy. But for migration, I think there is one. I’ll describe it here in prose, and in a later post gather some of the graphs and data that support it. There has been a level shift. But it hasn’t been in ‘migration’, as everyone actually intends and understands the word. The shift that we should be talking about has been in mobility.’ (Quixotic Quant, 2017a).

 

The alternative story is that sometime in the mid-2000s the Australian Bureau of Statistics changed the definition of an official statistic called “Net Overseas Migration”. The arbitrary definition they had at the time was malfunctioning, and the next arbitrary one they changed to has been malfunctioning even worse. A blithely ignorant press didn’t even notice the change, let alone query the disfunction that inspired it, so the entire country has been putting their faith soaring population figure that has the integrity of custard. The harder alternative figure shows that our migration rate is actually flat’ (Quixotic Quant, 2017b).

 

  1. By using ‘Migration’ in NOM to describe the definition may simply be a linguistic coincidence, however, it is highly suggestive of a direct correlation with permanent immigration and long-term population growth, which does not exist (except by some indirect correlation set amongst other factors).
  2. The local and global NGOs, think tanks, institutes, commentators, ‘ecologists’, media and politicians who constantly highlight supposed negative aspects of immigration and ‘sustainable’ population growth have been influenced or manipulated by the US white nativist movement, with the latter being influential amongst Republican Party and Trump (SPLC, 2001) in turn influenced by Darwin’s cousin Galton’s ‘science of eugenics and racial hygiene’ (Das, 2015).
  3. Post WWII prior to the formation of the UN Population Council the Rockefeller Foundation (Standard Oil/Exxon Mobil) co-opted the American Eugenics Society (AES) which had become discredited by the Nazis and their ‘research’ at The Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes in Germany, to then form the UN Population Council (Kurbegovic, 2005 & Novielli, 2017).
  4. Also, to emerge with support of same and similar oligarchs’ (fossil fuels and auto) foundations were Zero Population Growth (ZPG) (Bentley Historical Library – University of Michigan, 2018), Zero Economic Growth (ZEG) (Daly, 1980) and the Club of Rome ‘limits to growth’, etc. constructs (Green Agenda, 2018) to popularise negative perceptions of population growth and immigration as ‘liberal and environmental’ concerns (Stern, 2005).
  5. Demographically it is now coming to a head for many whether middle Europe or the ‘Anglosphere’ with the refrain, ‘brown people, Moslems etc. are going to outnumber white people or WASPs leading to demographic suicide….’.

 

Reference List:

 

ABS – Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017) 3412.0 – Migration, Australia, 2015-16 Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/exnote/3412.0 (Accessed on: 25 February 2018).

Bentley Historical Library – University of Michigan (2018) John Tanton Papers: 1960-2007. Available at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/b/bhlead/umich-bhl-861056?byte=53770321;focusrgn=bioghist;subview=standard;view=reslist (Accessed on: 27 February 2018).

Daly, H. (1980) Why the Industrial World Needs Zero Economic Growth (Recording). Available at: https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/34007423?selectedversion=NBD22971101 (Accessed on 27 February 2018).

Das, S. (2015) Francis Galton and the History of Eugenics at UCL.  Available at: https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/museums/2015/10/22/francis-galton-and-the-history-of-eugenics-at-ucl/

Gapminder (2013) Don’t Panic – The Facts About Population. Available at: https://www.gapminder.org/videos/dont-panic-the-facts-about-population/ (Accessed on: 25 February 2018).

Green Agenda (2018) The First Global Revolution. Available at: http://www.green-agenda.com/globalrevolution.html (Accessed on: 27 February 2018).

Kurbegovic, C. (2013). Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics (KWI-A). Available at: http://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/connections/5233cdc25c2ec500000 Accessed on 25 February 2018).

Novielli, C. (2017) The Population Council has a shocking 65-year history, and it’s nothing to celebrate. Available at: https://www.liveaction.org/news/population-council-founded-eugenicists-promoting-abortion-turns-65/ (Accessed on: 25 February 2018).

Quixotic Quant (2017a) The state of debate: A bird’s-eye on migration. Available at: https://www.quixoticquant.com/post/the-state-of-debate-a-bird-s-eye-on-migration/  (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

Quixotic Quant (2017b) The Missing Million: Is Australia’s migration rate actually high? Available at: https://www.quixoticquant.com/post/the-missing-million/ (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

SPLC Southern Poverty Law Center (2010) Anti-Immigration Groups. Available at: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2001/anti-immigration-groups (Accessed on 25 February 2018).

Stern, M. (2005) Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America. California: University of California Press.

UN – United Nations – Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2015) International Migration Flows to and From Selected Countries: The 2015 Revision. Available at: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/data/empirical2/docs/migflows2015documentation.pdf (Accessed on: 25 February 2018).