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In 2009 Greg Sheridan wrote a brief and thoughtful, if confronting, article about the Rudd government’s misuse of the office of the Governor General.

The article was not primarily about Quentin Bryce’s political views, but about the then Prime Minister’s willingness to use any means, even obviously inappropriate means, to lobby for a seat for Australia on the UN Security Council, something that was widely seen as potentially adding weight to Mr Rudd’s assumed personal UN ambitions.

Even earlier, in 2008, Andrew Bolt had questioned aspects of Quentin Bryce’s speech at her swearing-in, and these words in particular:

I promise to be open, responsive and faithful to the contemporary thinking and working of Australian society.

Which Andrew interpreted to mean:

Contemporary thinking for Bryce will be what the Left agrees it is, whatever the more conservative majority may say in opposition.

Certainly the Governor General has spoken out on political issues rather more freely than we have been accustomed to, and has consistently spoken from a leftist perspective, on issues such as the 2008 apology for the ‘Stolen Generations’, and on global warming.

This makes a mockery of claims by some of her friends, including Tony Fitzgerald, QC, that Quentin Bryce is so impartial that after havng known her for nearly fifty years, he still has ‘no inkling of her political persuasion.

I haven’t know Quentin Bryce for nearly fifty years. I spoke with her for about five minutes at a dinner at Government House in Brisbane a few years ago. She struck me as a graceful, capable and intelligent woman.

But her comments on disputed political matters make it very clear where her sympathies lie. That is a pity, because it brings her ability to act impartially into question.

It is a nonsense, for example, to claim that any concern about possible conflicts of interest is ‘a storm in tea cup.’

Bill Shorten, Quentin Bryce’s son-in-law, is a Labor politician. This has lead to calls for her to recuse herself from any decisions about who should form government after the recent Federal election.

It is not just that Quentin Bryce’s son-in-law is a Labor politician. As others have pointed out, political connections as strong as those of Bill Hayden or Paul Hasluck were not seen as undermining their ability to act appropriately as Governor General.

Quentin Bryce is a sensible woman. Mostly.

I think she would try to make the right decision, without regard to the feelings of her daughter Chloe, or of Chloe’s husband Bill, even though Bill may well be a future Labor leader. Possibly in the near future.

But just as justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done, so for the dignity of the office of Governor General, decisions must not only be made impartially, they must be seen to be made impartially.

Quentin Bryce’s willingness to involve herself in political debate has made that a problem.

That was the front page headline in Saturday’s Adelaide Advertiser: Change or Perish.

Very dramatic.

Except that when you actually read it, the article was about some Adelaide professor of dictatology telling everyone that because it was so hot and dry and all, and the climate is changing so it will be even hotter and dryer, people in South Australia should be planting drought resistant plants, because otherwise they won’t be able to water them enough to keep them alive, and their daffodils will die.

Yes, change or perish!

Even though we have just come through an unusually cold and wet Winter, the Saturday Advertiser editorial staff obviously thought the heated prognostications of the professor of dictatology were the most important thing to have happened in the last week.

Australian soldiers dying in Afghanistan? Pish!

Fallout from the Federal election. Whatever.

Floods in Pakistan. Bah!

Slaughter in Mogadishu. Where?

And people wonder why printed news publications are in decline…

From Family Security Matters writer Fiona Kobusingye, co-chair of the Congress of Racial Equality Uganda:

I wish I had a shilling for every time someone told me spraying homes with DDT to prevent malaria is like using Africans in evil experiments. I would be a rich woman.
 
That claim is a blatant falsehood. Even worse, it hides the many ways poor Africans really are being used in environmental experiments that cause increased poverty, disease and death…

Bluntly put, environmentalists are using African parents and children in anti-DDT experiments. Against all the evidence from decades of using only nets and drugs and maybe other insecticides, they want to keep ignoring DDT as a long-lasting spatial insect repellant. They want to keep us doing what has at best worked only partially, on the assumption that maybe it will work better next year – or that a 30% malaria reduction is good enough.
 
They are playing with our lives. So are the government agencies, health NGOs and others who support their policies. This is wrong and immoral. And it is only one of the ways they use Africans as experimental laboratory animals. They are also denying us access to other modern technologies that can improve and save lives…

600 million people in sub-Sahara Africa live on two million shillings ($900 USD) or less per year. Nearly 700 million never have electric power for lights, refrigeration, schools, shops and clinics – or have it only a few hours per week. Millions die from diseases that would be prevented, if they did not have to burn wood and dung, and had safe water, better healthcare and higher living standards that reliable, affordable electrical power would bring.
 
But environmentalists constantly block coal, gas and hydro-electric power plants. They want us to live in experimental societies where people get whatever limited electrical power can be generated day to day with wind turbines or solar panels. They pressured the World Bank to reject loan applications for power plants in Ghana and South Africa, and support President Obama when he says Africans should focus on wind, solar and bio-fuel power, instead of fossil fuels.
 
Meanwhile, they live in wealthy countries, with all the electrical power they need. With the health, opportunity and prosperity electrical power brings. With freedom and mobility that cars and fossil fuels bring. With blessings most Africans can only dream of.

There’s more, and it’s all worth reading.

From the BBC:

Astronomers have discovered a planetary system containing at least five planets that orbit a star called HD 10180, which is much like our own Sun.

The star is 127 light years away, in the southern constellation of Hydrus.

The researchers used the European Southern Observatory (Eso) to monitor light emitted from the system and identify and characterise the planets.

They say this is the “richest” system of exoplanets – planets outside our own Solar System – ever found.

This is worrying.

Reason magazine reports an investigation of South Carolina’s state forensic science lab has found that:

.. though the crime lab’s results were presented to juries with the authoritativeness of science, laboratory procedures were geared toward just one outcome: putting as many people in prison as possible..

The report found that SBI agents withheld exculpatory evidence or distorted evidence in more than 230 cases over a 16-year period. Three of those cases resulted in execution. There was widespread lying, corruption, and pressure from prosecutors and other law enforcement officials on crime lab analysts to produce results that would help secure convictions.

The article raises questions about whether it is even possible for state crimes labs which work with prosecutors to be impartial.

I was reminded as I read that article of an aquaintance of mine, Henry Keogh. Henry was found guilty of the murder of his fiance, and in 1996 was sentenced to 26 years in goal . I have spoken with Henry in goal a number of times.

His conviction was based almost entirely on the evidence of now discredited chief forensic pathologist Colin Manock.

Despite this, he is now in his fifteenth year in goal for a crime it can no longer even remotely be claimed ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ he committed .

Incidentally, Henry Keogh is also quite an accomplished artist:

Beggar by Henry Keogh

This story is a couple of days old now, but it has been hectic at work, and I have not had time to post anything the last few days. Or to play World of Warcraft either, which really shows just how busy it was!

The Toronto Sun reports that 71% of Tamils who were granted refugee status in Canada, on the basis they faced life-threatening persecution, have returned home for a holiday since.

That would be like Jews who fled Nazi Germany deciding to go back to Berlin to hear the opera. Sorry, it just doesn’t add up.

The Tamils are playing us for fools. They’re not genuine refugees. Genuine refugees don’t go back to a country that’s persecuting them.

I guess the situation would be similar in Australia.

We have an obligation to help those less fortunate than ourselves. And we must be generous in offering shelter to those who are persecuted.

But opening our borders to anyone who turns up means that monetary and human resources are taken from people who are in real need or danger, and who don’t have the money or connections to bypass the channels that protect them and us from fake claims and unnecessary costs.

Letting in people who claim to be refugees but who then head back to their country of origin for a holiday means real refugees are left in danger or languishing in camps.

It is not lack of compassion that demands border protection – just the opposite.

Most Iraqis don’t want US soldiers to leave.

From anti-jihad site the Religion of Peace:

Ramadan 2010 Scorecard
 

Day 14In the name of
The Religion
of Peace
In the name of
All Other
Religions
Terror Attacks 860
Dead Bodies3790

And this picture:

Ramadan 2007 Scorecard

 Does anyone still not think there is a problem here?

And just to make what should not need to be stated absolutely clear, I don’t have a problem with muslims. I have two I count as friends – a Turkish man and an Indonesian woman.

She is more serious about her faith than he. She fasts, prays, keeps Ramadan, does not eat pork or lobster. But when I asked her to name a few things in the Koran she found especially inspiring, she could not answer. Eventually she admitted she had never read it.

I have.

Neither of my two muslim friends, it seems to me, have any real idea what their religion teaches.

A problem with muslims? No. A problem with Islam? Yes.

And for those who insist there is no moral difference between Islam and Christianity, because of, say, the Spanish Inquisition, it might be worth remembering the number of people killed every year in the name of Allah is greater than the number of people killed after being handed over to secular authorities by the Spanish Inquisition in its entire 350 year history.

That count of jihad murders does not include the deaths that would have occurred had numerous other plots and attacks succeeded.

Even if Christianity had been as bad a thousand years ago as Islam is now (and it wasn’t) why on earth would that be a reason not to take the present threat seriously?

I find these guys annoying. There is far too much pointless swearing – it’s intrusive and sometimes offensive. So you couldn’t show this a to a group of students, or your Rotary Club, which is a pity. And Penn and Teller are often arrogant and sometimes wrong.

But there is enough good research and good argument in this episode to make it worth watching (the three video segments linked below make up a single half-hour episode).

Best line? About halfway through the second segment, when Penn says ‘Ahh.. subsidies. That’s when the government takes tax money from you by force, and spends it on something you wouldn’t be willing to pay for..’ ‘Governments tell you to recycle because it saves money and resources. But if it saved money and resources, you’d be paid for doing it – that’s the way money works.’

Instead of which, of course, recycling costs governments and local communities millions of dollars each year ($8 billion per year in the US), precisely because it costs energy and resources.

The argument that recycling creates jobs is also well handled. Jobs created by recycling programs are pointless ‘make work’ which have to be funded by additional fees and taxes which reduce cash flow and consequently reduce funds available to employ people in work that creates useful goods or services.

Enjoy!

The Australian Electoral Commission has declared Brisbane for the Liberals.

That leaves only Hasluck and Corangamite in doubt. Both still too close to call. But in Hasluck, Family First, Christian Democratic Party and Climate Sceptic preferences will all go strongly to the Liberals. That, along with the fact that postal and absentee votes tend to favour the Liberals, should be enough to get them over the line.

I said on Saturday night that the Liberals would probably need Corangamite to win.

Sally-Anne Brown’s preferences will go almost entirely to Labor. Family First’s mostly to the Liberals. As the votes presently stand, Greens’ preferences would need to run almost two to one Labor to Liberal for Labor to retain the seat. And they are running almost two to one. The only hope for the Liberals here is for Sarah Henderson to come in very strongly in the last 15% of the vote. But there are only about 600 votes separating the Labor and Liberal, so this is entirely possible.

If Hasluck and Corangamite come to the Liberals, and though Sarah is behind I think this is the likely result, final numbers will be, Labor 71, Liberal 74, 1 Green, 4 independents.

If the Liberals win Corangamite, Labor will not be able to form government, even with the Green and three of the independents. The Liberals will only need two of the independents, and will get them.

If Labor wins Corangamite, final numbers will be Labor 72, Liberal 73, 1 Green, 4 independents.

For Labor to form government they would need the Green and three independents – that is, all of the independents except Bob Katter, who, even though he has no love for the Nationals, will not co-operate in returning a manifestly inept Labor government.

Oakeshott seems to me a compete dimwit. Anyone is who hopes for a cabinet lead by Julia Gillard and starring Malcolm Turnbull.

So it may come down to Tony Windsor. But he doens’t want nuclear power, and thinks the NBN is a great idea. So not much brain power there either.

If Labor wins Corangamite, they may be able to form a very untidy government.

If Oakshott and Windsor have any integrity in relation to the trust placed in them by their electorates, they will support Tony Abbott, and help him to form a government which will put an end to the astonishing waste and incompetence of the last few years.

If they don’t, they are both likely never to be elected again, and justly – they will have betrayed the people who voted for them.

So… 65% chance the Liberals will win Corangamite. If so, they will be the next government.

If Labor wins Corangamite, it depends on the integrity of two of the independents, and their fear of not being re-elected if they do the wrong thing.

I am hopeful.

PS

I got a very polite email this afternoon from Corangamite independent candidate Sally-Anne Brown:

I was interested to read on your website in the article ‘election musings’ that my preferences would go almost entirely to the ALP in the seat of Corangamite.
 
I am writing to advise you – in case you were under the impression I did a direct preference to the ALP in Saturday’s election – that in fact I did not preference one major party ahead of the other – leaving this for voters to decide ie: I did a ‘split ticket’.

I hadn’t suggested that she had made a preference deal, or directed her preferences to one party over another. Rather, given her policy views, it seemed likely that those who gave their primary vote to her would be much more likely to feel an affinity to Labor than Liberal.

Sally-Anne issued a press release the day before the election explaining her position.

And not radical islamists?

Given that Sarah is an attractive, powerful, intelligent woman who is successful in her own right and has challenged and beaten corrupt men and corporations?

And that she doesn’t believe, for example:

  • Women are inferior to men.
  • Women should have fewer rights and responsibilities than Larry the Cable Guy.
  • Women count for one-half of a dude in giving evidence in a court of law.
  • Women should be horse whipped if they ever make their husband feel like a dork.
  • Victoria’s Secret Miraculous Bra (with extreme level 5 cleavage) makes God angry.
  • Women can’t say squat in regard to whom they’ll marry, what they’ll wear, where they’ll live, or whether or not they can divorce their cheating and/or abusive husband.
  • Girls can be wed beginning at the ripe old age of frickin’ nine.
  • Women should be cool with hubby having a couple of hoochies or female slaves on the side.
  • Women, on the pretext of “honor,” should be locked up, isolated and unable to have a girls’ night out at Mango’s on Ocean Drive.

While radical islamists do believe those things, and are earnest about putting them into practice, to the point of killing people who disagree.

It’s a mystery.

I believe there is genetic influence on human behaviour. Call it human nature if you like.

In between theology and philosophy I had time for a little bit of science. One of the units I took was Sociobiology – a branch of population genetics devoted to understanding genetic influence on animal behaviour. There is no doubt this is real and that certain behaviours are ‘inbuilt’ in certain species, eg dogs turning around before lying down to sleep, bees dancing messages, etc.

But I have been amused by the frequent media claims that scientists have discovered a gene for, take your pick, being fat, being gay, being an alcoholic, being outgoing. There is no one gene that accounts for any human behaviour, and in any case, one of the things that makes us human is that we can stand back from our instincts and make choices based on reason.

Too often the ‘it’s my genes’ argument has been used to justify a refusal to take responsibility. I didn’t choose to want to do that. So it must be in my genes. So it must be natural. So it must be good. So you have no right to criticise me for what I do. Or even, this is part of who I am, so it must be part of God’s plan for who I am, so you should support me and celebrate my gayness, laziness, whatever it is.

So I enjoyed this post on Maggie’s Farm. A collection of news headlines from the last three about the latest fat gene, friendly gene, bad driving gene.

Here are a couple:

Fat Gene

Lonely Gene

Sleep Gene

One of the things this demonstrates is how easily, if it makes good headlines, a mere suggestion by a group of scientists can suddenly become ‘settled science.’

I am not normally given to swearing, but honestly, for f&#%’s sake.

As if you needed another one, reason number 126,475 never to go into an Anglican church again.

Gay vicar, 65, to ‘marry’ Nigerian male model half his age.

According to the article, they met and fell in love at a Christian conference in Togo.

And don’t they look lovely together:

Gay vicar to marry male model

Gay vicar to marry male model

Really, for f&#%’s sake.

I haven’t always been a fan of Michael Kroger, or at least, I regretted the apparent division between him and Jeff Kennett, and the harm it did the Victorian Liberal party.

But boy I am a fan now.

We really do need more politicians and business people to stand up to the arrant nonsense peddled by people like Wayne Swan, who, never having run a business themselves, and having no idea how to do so, ceaselessly lecture those who do, and who therefore generate tax income, employment, and useful goods and services.

via Tim Blair:

Amidst the deafening and ceaseless talk about environmental sustainability, Australia seems to have lost any reality based sense of the need for a sustainable balance between production, taxation and expenditure.

By Walter Starck on the Quadrant website.

All over the world developed nations have created more government than their increasingly uncompetitive, over-regulated, over-taxed economies can support. Deficit spending is epidemic and borrowing is reaching the limits of capacity to even maintain payments on interest. Increasing numbers of local, state and national governments are running on empty. Unpaid bills, layoffs and cuts to welfare and essential services are spreading. Financially desperate governments seem determined to seek and destroy any remaining pockets of economic viability via increased taxation and regulation.

While better off than most, Australia is not immune to this global malaise. We too suffer from chronic balance of trade deficits, unsustainable government commitments and proliferating bureaucracy strangling any productive activity. Australia has the highest house prices in the world, the highest level of personal debt, the steepest increases in food prices of any OECD country over the past decade and a declining manufacturing sector that is now the smallest in the developed world.

The city-centred cult of environmentalism puts up dire tales of species loss and climate change as barriers to new resource development, energy production, and manufacturing projects. But these tales frequently have no connection to reality, and draw their ‘facts’ from the popular media.

Like over-indulged children, the non-producers feel neither guilt nor gratitude, but rather a sense of entitlement. To this purpose environmentalism serves an important role. The world of non-producers begins at the shop and ends at the rubbish bin and it largely exists in an urban realm wherein nature has been virtually exterminated. From this viewpoint, only producers despoil the natural environment. Environmentalism affords non-producers a satisfying sense of moral superiority over those who support them. Not surprisingly, it is a popular belief commonly held with great conviction and righteousness. 

Anyone who produces anything is seen as an irresponsible exploiter. Our failure to make sensible use of our own fisheries is just one example:

In fisheries the situation is even worse. With the largest per capita fisheries resource in the world, we have the lowest production and our harvest rate is the lowest in the world at only 1/30 of the global average. Our fishing fleet has already been reduced to one-third of what it was two decades ago. All this is entirely because of bureaucratic mismanagement and over regulation. None of it is due to overfishing.

That we now have to import two-thirds of the seafood we eat, and all of it comes from much more heavily exploited resources elsewhere, is unconscionable. That we are selling off non-renewable resources to pay $1.7 billion annually to import a renewable one we ourselves have in abundance, then call this sustainable management and pat ourselves on the back with self-proclaimed status as the world’s best fishery managers, is beyond moronic.

Over the last few years, at both state and federal level, we have seen increased government spending, massive debt, manufacturing hampered, land and other resources locked up, and a failure to build and maintain transport and energy infrastructure.

How is this responsible and sustainable?