QED

Please, Santa, an Axe for Christmas

santa axeOne remarkable thing about the Liberal government elected in 2013 is that, apart from those leaky boats and the carbon tax, it had no idea what it should achieve. The actuality is worse than that, as a number of hand-on-heart promises turned out to be non-core.  Promises that should have been discarded, such as keeping the ABC whole, well fed and free from effective supervision, were kept. Meanwhil, promises which should have been kept, such as repealing 18C, were casually  discarded.

It is never too early to get policies sorted, but first let’s see what the major parties have on offer at the moment. The Liberals’ policy page has the substance of a will-of-the-wisp. Searching for statements of policy on the Labor Party website is even more futile. It seems they have only one spelled-out policy: increase the proportion of renewable energy in our power supply to 50% by 2030. Thanks to a presentation by the Minerals Council of Australia to the Coalition Resources and Energy Committee in March this year, we can get a good idea of what that will do to the cost of power:

archy chart

Renewable energy was 17.3% of Australia’s power supply in 2016, with the result that power is now twice as expensive as it should be. All things being equal, the cost of power will double again from here under Labor’s policy. The Minerals Council of Australia is unlikely to be providing such analysis again. BHP knocked off the previous chief executive because he wasn’t green enough for their liking.

There is no competition of ideas in the nation’s policy debate. It is a near-complete vacuum. To provide a framework for filling that vacuum we will use the organisation of the federal government by departments and agencies as shown here.  There are 18 departments and 189 agencies.  Let’s work through them in order of listing.

Attorney-General’s Department

Repeal of 18C is first on the agenda. After that matters less important than the suppression of free speech can be addressed.

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

The Liberal Party went into the 2013 election with the undertaking to build 100 dams across Australia’s north. Such a precise number betrays they had no real idea what they were talking about.

What is needed is a study listing the remaining dam sites in Australia with an analysis, in the vein of this study of the water resources of the Kimberley, of the amount of water each would provide and capital cost. They could then be ranked in terms of internal rate of return. From that we could determine what is Australia’s potential for growth in agricultural production. No such study currently exists.

Department of Communications and the Arts

This is the department that runs the ABC and SBS, both of which can be abolished now that the internet provides abundant access to news content. The ABC was established in 1932 when it was thought that commercial radio stations might not give the public an unbiased news service in the then-new medium.

Now the situation is reversed: the ABC is biased to the point of toxidity while the internet provides a million points of light.

There are roadblocks to reforming the national broadcaster, but also ways around them. How would Managing Director and alleged Editor-in-Chief Michelle Guthrie react, do you reckon, were she informed that the national broadcaster is to be decentralised with head office re-located to, say, Dalby, or better yet, Andamooka.

Department of Defence

Major wars are traumatic events. Australian spending on its war effort reached 47% of GDP during World War 2. Prior to the war, defence spending had fallen to 1% of GDP. After the war, it was accepted wisdom that defence spending should be at least 3% of GDP for the country to have a chance of being safe and secure. Right at the moment, Australia has an aspiration to spend 2% of GDP on defence but has yet to generate the willpower to get to that modest level.

Far worse, much of the equipment we are buying is useless. In fact the last two Liberal prime ministers destroyed Australia’s defence capability – Abbott with his commitment to 58 more of the hangar queen F-35s, the latest manifestation of the Pentagon’s taste for baroque weapons systems that do wonders for procurement officers careers but little meet actual defence needs. Turnbull, as is his wont, then made things far, far worse by ordering French vapourware submarines.

If enemy aircraft can be interdicted far from our shores, we are safe. If enemy ships can be sunk far from our shores, we are safe. The role of the army is to destroy any forces that get through those two screens. The larger our army, the larger the enemy force that has to be landed.

Our armed forces are pathetically small, with only three combined arms brigades in the Army. We have only 9,000 frontline troops to defend a nation of 24 million. On top of all that, the management of the department, uniformed and civilian, is infested with social justice warriors. Those who believe hormone shots and silicon breasts are essential elements of the national defence deserve not promotion, speaking engagements and Australian of the Year nominations, but to be eliminated from the public payroll. It is that simple.

We have signed on to get up to 72 F-35s at some $200 million per aircraft with a commensurate maintenance spend to keep the things flying. The F-35 program is likely to be cancelled, so we should hedge out bets by acquiring the Gripen-E from Sweden. This aircraft is more capable than the F-35, has half the capital cost and one sixth the operating cost. The aircraft would be built in Australia, copying the arrangement under which Brazil will be building its Gripen-Es.

One of the few correct decisions that Abbott made as Prime Minister was to plump for the Japanese Soryu class submarines. The U.S. Navy rates these as the most capable diesel-electric submarines in service anywhere. To make them more suitable for Australian service all that needed to be done would have been to add an eight-metre section in the hull for more fuel.

Alas, Abbott was knifed before the Japanese choice could be set in concrete. Turnbull was more smarmy than usual in reversing his victim’s call and opting for a notional French submarine instead. To add injury to injury, in the interim, before the French submarines are supposed to arrive, we will be spending as much on sustaining the geriatric Collins submarines as it would take to replace them with newly built Soryu submarines. Cancel the French contract before the inevitably astronomical cost overruns involved in converting nuclear boats to diesel further boost the national deficit. No matter how much has been spent, any further expenditure is good money after bad. Scuttle the French deal and acquire the Japanese offering with haste.

With respect to the RAAF, some fixed roles should be given up to the Army. The Army should control its own fixed wing transport aircraft because the RAAF will be flat out keeping its own operations supplied and won’t prioritise the Army as much as it should. The Army needs at least 80 low-stall speed transport aircraft, such as the M28 Skytruck. It should also get at least 30 C-295 aircraft.

With respect to early warning, our Jindalee over-the-horizon radar network is now quite capable, but the radar stations are well back from the coast. We need to be able to see further out and to do that we need another row of stations on our northern coastline which will see threats, airborne and marine, another 1,400 km away.

The Army is now organised on a brigade structure, each combined arms brigade being of about 3,000 men and “organic” with tanks and artillery. Tanks continue to be necessary in warfare because your casualties are three times higher if you try to advance without tanks than if you didn’t have them. Our first problem is that we only have three brigades when at least three times that number might still be less than what we actually need.

Secondly, we have the wrong tanks. The 59 M1 tanks in service are powered by gas turbines which have half the fuel economy of diesel engines. They use 20 litres of fuel to start. They use just as much fuel at idle as when they are moving. They are impractical for use in the Australian operating environment. Our neighbouring countries to the north, Singapore and Indonesia, have much larger numbers of Leopard 2 tanks, which is the type we should acquire – at least a couple of hundred of them. It is the same situation in artillery – Singapore and Indonesia have self-propelled howitzer and rocketry. We don’t. And it’s not as if we don’t need them, just that no Australian government has been serious about defence for decades. We should go to South Korea for self-propelled howitzers and Israel for rocket artillery.

With respect to the RAN, what are missing are two types of aircraft. Seaplanes, such as the Japanese US-2, are needed to pluck people from the water and converted passenger aircraft, such as the Boeing 737, are needed as anti-ship cruise missile carriers.

Department of Education and Training

Much of what this department does at a cost of some $45 billion per annum is to try to achieve equality of outcomes instead of equality of opportunity. For example, child care rebates transfer money from parents who may not want or need childcare to those who think they do. Most of this department’s activities should be closed and individuals could decide what they need from their own resources.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

This department spends $2.2 billion a year administering itself and gives a further $4 billion a year away to other countries. Some of that goes to nations which don’t need it, such as Indonesia, which gets some $350 million per annum. Foreign aid can be cut to about $500 million per annum, which is what we give Papua New Guinea. The cost of running the department could be cut to under a billion dollars annually. This is of a kind with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is trying to achieve in the U.S.

Any government that writes cheques to Yassmin Abdel-Magied quite obviously has more money than it needs. Although Foreign Minister Julie Bishop thinks otherwise.

Department of Health

This department spends $800 million a year administering expenditure of $64.8 billion per annum.  Under its umbrella is the Australian Sports Commission, swallowing $290 million per annum as well as the Australian Sports Foundation for a further $48 million. Add in the Australian Digital Health Agency for $286 million per annum and there is a quick half billion in savings without harming anything productive.

Department of Human Services

Human Services runs Centrelink, Medicare and child support, using $7.5 billion a year in the process. Amongst smaller operations, it also has an energy-assistance payment of $75 a year for pensioners. There will be a lot more call for that it Labor’s renewable energy policy is implemented. There is much that could be done with respect to child support. For starters, the biological relationship between the parents and the children should be confirmed by DNA evidence. Otherwise, in a number of cases, the federal government would be participating in a fraud. The paying parent should also have guaranteed access to the children with the option of joint custody. This will make Australian society much fairer.

Department of Immigration and Border Protection

Australia’s immigration intake needs to be wound back. There are no benefits to having Australia’s population larger than it is now. Low tariff barriers mean that there are no economies of scale from having a larger domestic market. During droughts Australia’s wheat production falls to the level of domestic consumption. We do not want to become a net food importer at any time.

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

This department spends $2.2 billion a year on a grab bag of things, at least half of which could be stopped without anybody noticing. For example, the last three incumbents of the position of Chief Scientist have all been duds. All three stated a belief in global warming. The current Chief Scientist wrote a report on energy supply that was, and deserved to be, widely derided. Similarly, this department has the CSIRO, also been captured by the global warmers. It also has the Australian Institute of Marine Science which seems to do nothing but promote global warming.

The department puts a lot of effort into worrying about innovation, seemingly without understanding a fundamental truth: government can’t do anything about innovation except provide a good patents system and a low tax rate.  This department should be halved before its green-eyed warmists and those who think governments are good at picking “winners” have a chance to squander even more billions of other people’s money.

Department of Environment and Energy

Another department large devoted to global warming. It runs the Australian Renewables Energy Agency, the Climate Change Authority, the National Wind Farm Commissioner, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Clean Energy Regulator. It also has the Bureau of Meteorology which also sees its mission as promoting global warming. When Abbott repealed the carbon tax he left in the place the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act (NGER) of October 2007 — John Howard’s last dark deed before he was voted out of office. Thus the parasitic and energy-sapping climate taxes and regulations came back in full force. Their main effect, apart from chilling pensioners who can’t afford to heat their homes, has been to enrich funders of wind farms and other parasitic energy-sappers and rent-seekers while suppressing growth and economic activity.

First order of business will be to repeal the NGER and all the other global-warming legislation. Environmental matters should be sent off to another department and the new Department of Energy should be devoted to ensuring Australia’s energy future. That starts with liquid fuels – petrol, diesel and jet fuel. In an increasing fractious world, Australia now imports half its fuel requirements. We only refine half of what we consume and the rest has to be imported as bowser-ready product. We need to stockpile fuel, just as we are required to do as a signatory to the International Energy Agency. Our commitment is to hold a stockpile equivalent to 90 days of imports. We need to go well beyond that and hold a stocks equivalent to at least 180 days of consumption. This would cost about $15 billion for the liquids and a similar amount for the storage capacity.

The next thing to do is to make Australia self-sufficient in transport fuels by preparing for the time when petrol and diesel made from coal will be cheaper than from refining oil. To do that we should build three 5,000 barrel/day coal-to-liquids plants, one each in the black coal states of Queensland and New South Wales and the third on Victoria’s brown-coal fields.

Thirdly, we should skip using uranium-burning light-water reactors and go straight to thorium molten salt reactors. Australia should start its own program, as the Dutch are doing,  to commercialise that reactor technology. We could end up at the forefront of Western and have a major export industry.

Agencies No Longer Needed

ABC – Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Even if it weren’t biased, there is no need for the ABC now that the internet is with us.

Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency

We stopped mining asbestos decades ago and it has been banned for just as long. Asbestos can only harm you if you breathe it in, and only as fibres of a certain length.  It is time to let it go.

Australia Council for the Arts

This is another nesting site for those who decry Australian culture, not to mention of nest of cronies scratching each other’s backs.

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

As an indication of the utility of this agency, it puts out blog posts with titles such as “Building gender equality in Myanmar”. It is not needed.

Australian Civil-Military Centre

This one is a doozy. You shall judge it by the title of the reports it produces, including Side by Side, Women, Peace and Security; Gendered Crises, Gendered Responses; and Conflict-related Sexual and Gender-based ViolenceIt seems to be a sheltered workshop for the chronically unemployable. This agency will not be missed.

Australian Egg Corporation Limited

In 2013 this company was fined $30,000 for faking an egg shortage during an oversupply to boost their profits. The Australian Government should sever any legal connection it has with this entity. See page 38 of the Egg Corporation’s annual report to see the extent of taxpayer assistance, then wonder why, if eggs are so vital to the nation, we don’t also have a National Toast Authority?

Australian Film Television and Radio School

The cost of video and audio recording equipment, and editing equipment, has fallen to near zero. There is no need now for the public to be funding education in such things.

Australian Human Rights Commission

What has been noticeable about this agency for the last few years is the loathing that the commissioners have had for Australians and Australian culture. No doubt Dr Tim Soutphommasane enjoys touring the country he insists is full of racists who cannot pronounce his name properly, but the common good would not be diminished were to pay his own travel and hotel expenses. Just close it down.

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Studies

Anything that sets out to divide Australians by race or class should be eschewed. Thus this agency should be shut down.

Australian Institute of Family Studies

In this day and age, you would expect an agency with such a title to have an anti-family agenda.  And so it does. A recent publication “explores the collective impact framework and its ability to create population-level change on complex social issues.” This agency is a sanctuary and citadel for social justice warriors.  Shut it down.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

This institute collects health data. There is not much for them to do so they overwork the problem to justify their existence. They should be folded into the Bureau of Statistics.

Australian Institute of Marine Science

These people are best known for lying about the state of the Great Barrier Reef. That is understandable in these false concerns help justify their existence but tourism operators in north Queensland are objecting because claims that the reef is dead are stopping tourists from visiting. Australia is surrounded by lots of ocean but nothing will change once this particular set of lying scientists are closed down.

Australian Pork Ltd

There is no need for the Federal Government to get involved in the promotion of pork. Leave that to the pork producers themselves.

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency

This agency doesn’t have much to do. It should be folded into the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

Australian Research Council (ARC)

Have you been wondering where the money to fund commercialisation of thorium molten salt reactors will come from?  It will come from this agency which in early November announced grants for research totalling $225.6 million for 2017. Research topics include improving our ability to model tidewater glaciers. There aren’t any such glaciers in Australia but the researcher who landed the grant should be able to get some interesting trips to Alaska and beyond.

One of the most notorious grants made by the Australian Research Council was in 2011 when it gave $24 million to the University of Western Australia to establish a Centre of Excellence in the History of Emotions. Some of the money handed out annually might do some good but most vanishes down the academic s-bend.

Quadrant’s Philippa Martyr had a good close look at ARC. It is not a pretty sight.

Australian Sports Commission

The main role of this agency is to increase the number of gold medals won at the Olympics. The hundreds of millions involved could be put to better use. Believe it or not, there is also an Australian Sports Foundation.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Set up to provide another source of strategic advice, this agency has drifted to become another sheltered workshops for unemployable academics. Most of what this lot produces is dross.

Australian Wool Innovation

Funded by a compulsory levy on wool sales, this agency does far less good than the grower’s funds it consumes.  Shut it down.

Cancer Council

Governments around the world, and private industry too, spend tens of billions of dollars a year on cancer research and have been doing so for decades. The chance of any Australian government research in cancer doing any good is infinitesimally small.  Close it down.

Commonwealth Grants Commission

This agency was founded in 1993 to achieve equality of outcomes between the states. Today that amounts to taking most of the GST raised in Western Australia and giving it to the mendicant states of South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. Even the ACT, pampered and clean as it is, is given more than its fair share of GST revenue.  The concept might have been valid back in the 1930s but now South Australia and Victoria are pursuing an ideological agenda to destroy industry.  There is no reason that Western Australia or anyone else should reward South Australia and Victoria for blowing up their coal-fired power stations. Close it down and each state should keep all the GST raised within its borders.

CSIRO

This is a scientific organisation that believes in and promotes global warming. Therefore their standard of research is execrable. The CSIRO has drifted off to irrelevancy. Besides we need all that money, currently mostly wasted, for the thorium molten salt reactor.

Family Court of Australia

The creation of the corrupt Lionel Murphy, this mob have always been a malign influence on Australian society.  It should be shut down and the role of sorting out divorces etc. should be handed back to the Federal Court system.

Grains Research and Development Corporation

Funded by a compulsory levy on grain growers, this lot do far less good than the money taken from growers. The levy is a big suppressor of farm profitability and value.  It should be shut down as soon as possible.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Shut it down and fire all the staff. Consider the following extract from this letter dated 12th May, 2017 by the authority’s chairman, Russell Reichelt:

The Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014 found the overall outlook for the Reef ecosystem is poor and worsening. This assessment was reached after taking into account 150 years of past and accumulating human-caused impacts such as poor water quality and crown of thorns starfish outbreaks, and then secondly taking into account the very poor forward outlook for the reef under the present and increasing levels of Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere.

Humans do not and have not ever caused crown of thorns starfish outbreaks. The letter goes on for 11 pages, mostly with more rubbish about the great global warming monster.  Lying to the public should never be rewarded.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency

This agency was instituted as a result of an act with the same title. No discussion need be entered into – this is one for the bin. Senator Leyonhjelm provides a longer discussion of the usefulness of this agency here.

Government Debt

Borrowing by the government competes for funds with the private sector and depresses economic activity. Expenditure by government tends to be poorly targeted, thus things like the $24 million Centre of Excellence in the History of Emotions and its retinue of academics.

The recent history of debt in this country is that the Howard government paid off the debt it inherited from the discredited Keating regime and built up a surplus. After Howard, the Rudd/Gillard tag team of poor governance ran up debt again while cutting back on vital national interests such as defence. It was expected the following Abbott government would have some fiscal rectitude and get the budget back into surplus straight away. Abbott didn’t have the stomach for that and government debt continued to blow out.

Of course the current Turnbull circus has abandoned any pretence at good governance and the increase in debt is accelerating. This can only end in tears.

Cutting back on government expenditure, as outlined above by department and agency, will achieve that without resort to increasing taxation.

David Archibald is the author American Gripen: The Solution to the F-35 Nightmare

20 comments
  • [email protected]

    An excellent start. My suggested additions to the list:

    – Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority
    – Australian Law Reform Commission
    – Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority
    – Fair Work Commission
    – National Disability Insurance Scheme
    – nbn Co Ltd
    – Special Broadcasting Service Corporation

  • Keith Kennelly

    Include any and all renewable energy rebates and subsidies.
    Include an assessment of research at our universitiesc and stop all funding for doubtful ’research’.
    Wind back Gonski.

    Ban government use of consultants.

    Halve the salaries, pensions and all benefits of politicians with the appropriate flow on to public service management salaries.

    Limit all public service salaries to a max of $200, 000 pa. And no special super schemes.

  • pgang

    The F-35. Get over it David, you’ve lost the argument. There is nothing else out there for us, in spite of Lockheed’s corporate incompetence and cronyism. The aircraft comes with enormous tactical capability and it is quite ridiculous to deny that. Sure, Lockheed have lost control of the project. That’s what big corporations do best; win a big project – stuff it up. That doesn’t change the fact that the US is allowing us to buy into the most sophisticated military technology out there.

    And the Gripen? Please. We gave up on HQ Holdens back in the 1980’s. Sure, it’s nice to be able to tie on a pair of pantyhose when the fan belt breaks, but not in the fierce environment of electronic warfare.

    “This aircraft is more capable than the F-35…” Uh-huh. And a HQ is more capable than a Ferrari in driving through potholes.

    • Biggles

      Archibald is certainly correct in stating that the Army should have its own fully-functional air wing. Those who were around at the time well recall the sniping that went on between the Army and the RAAF in Vietnam.

    • David Archibald

      The F-35 has enormous tactical capability? It is almost unarmed – two bombs and two missiles. Its fat shape means that it has to fly low and subsonic. Below 25,000 feet it has to open its bomb bay doors to let the heat out – every 10 minutes. It is so hot in the bomb bays that the electronics of the missiles are being cooked. When it returns to base it has to have air con and a power supply that is just so. Lockheed haven’t lost conrol of the project. They plotted maximum dollar extraction decades ago and now they have their agent installed as Secretary of the Air Force. The signs are that most of the 72 F-35s we are supposed to buy won’t turn up. It won’t pass Milestone C. One sign is that the RAAF is getting F-35s at one third the rate of the USAF out of the block buy. They are using the last of the production run to fleece the foreign buyers as much as possible before the whole circus collapses. Unfortunately Trump is now emotionally invested in the F-35 after getting a supposed US$600 million price cut on a batch of them. That is why when he meets military personnel he keeps asking for affirmation that it is a great plane.

      Come next February will be the next DOTE report. After Michael Gilmore’s departure, we will see how the new bloke goes. Right now the Norwegian Air Force is trying to figure out how to turn off the F-35 reporting to Lockheed exactly what it has done and where it has been after every mission. Fun fact – the RAAF is requiring trainee F-35 pilots to spend 280 hours in the simulator before their first flight. Because it costs almost A$,1000 per minute to have one in the air, some of those pilots are realising that they won’t be getting much time actually flying the thing.

  • ian.macdougall

    Trouble is, the more tooled up with the latest hardware in abundance, and the more warriors in our armed forces, the more we tend to start a regional arms race, increasing the probability of a regional outcome comparable to the one which occurred in Europe in August 1914.
    But there is an alternative, which is to not push further investment into an expanding shopping list of ever-criticised hardware, but to make an attack on Australia not worth the likely cost in the calculations of any potential aggressor.
    This would be IMHO best achieved by a general training and arming of as much of the military-age population as possible, in the general strategy of making the country unoccupiable, and a hornet’s nest in the eye of any potential aggressor.
    The Dibb Report of 1986 is still relevant in this regard. Any attack on Australia is likely to come from or through Indonesia. It is, I think, best to think in those terms.
    Trouble is, our best potential friends in the region: the West Papuans and our old WW2 allies, the East Timorese, have been stabbed in the back and thrown to the wolves by governments of both sides in their eagerness to fawn and grovel to the Indonesians: which the latter can only view as a sign of weakness, not strength.

  • Jody

    “But there is an alternative, which is to not push further investment into an expanding shopping list of ever-criticised hardware, but to make an attack on Australia not worth the likely cost in the calculations of any potential aggressor.”

    What you’ve written here is the basis of an arms race!! That’s why nuclear deterrents have been such a favourite in the past. The western world is hoping that North Korea has anticipated “the likely cost (lives) …. of any potential aggressor”. In short, mine’s bigger than yours so watch out!!

    • ian.macdougall

      Actually Jody, the example of strategy we need to follow is that of the Vietnamese. All they had was defensive weapons; small arms, some tanks, ground-to-air missiles, but nothing at all to carry the French War over to France or the American War, really a continuation of the French War, back to the US. Theirs was a totally defensive arms strategy, and with it they decisively beat first France (which was flat broke coming out of WW2, and had to be bankrolled by the Americans for its Indochina War) and then the US: the mightiest military power in the world.
      With, I might add, minimal assistance from outside. Just after the shambolic collapse of the South, TIME magazine calculated the total aid given the Vietnamese by their principal external supporter: the Russians. It turned out to be about equal to the total aid give by AUSTRALIA to the antidemocratic South Vietnamese regime.
      And the Vietnamese did not provoke a regional arms race. Peace-loving Buddhist Thailand, which generously and peacefully allowed the unpeaceful American military to make use of its peaceful territory for air raids on Vietnam, is in no danger today of Vietnamese reprisals.
      As for N. Korea, the magnitude of its sabre-rattling is arguably the best indicator the world has of the scale of its own internal economic crisis.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/11/world/asia/china-north-korea-border.html

      • Jody

        It’s all frightening, but I don’t place a scintilla of credibility on anything written in the New York Times.

  • ian.macdougall

    And as for the rest of this Curate’s Egg of a rant: Shut down Arctic research, the CSIRO, and anything else that supports the AGW proposition, and the outrageous notion first proposed over 100 years ago by the chemist Svante Arrhenius that CO2 traps heat.
    What David Archibald has produced here is the best case I have yet seen for self-inflicted mass ignorance: very cheaply achievable if you ask me, by requiring the entire population to wear thick black bags over their heads at all times.

    • ianl

      > ” Curate’s Egg of a rant …”

      We agree that’s your speciality.

      > “Arrhenius that CO2 traps heat …”

      1) Arrhenius knew nothing of any significance of the carbon cycle, so his estimates of CO2 greenhouse effects were way too high. Rant away now, trollster. Repeat your alphabet soup of authority entities with actual quotes, such as the CSIRO’s commonplace let-out clause.

      2) A CO2 molecule does not *trap* reflected heat of limited and specific wavelength for longer than 0.002 seconds. It then re-radiates the photon with about 50% this re-radiation occurring back towards the planetary surface. The greenhouse contribution from this is very modest, such as 0.8C in 150 years. No, it’s not melting the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets, despite activist attempts to scarey-bear the populace. Glacial advance/retreat is still globally about balanced, as is the see-saw of Northern and Southern Hemisphere polar sea ice. [For actual empirical evidence of this see-saw, the Russian shipping records are a wonderful ledger]. As noted several times previously, water (H2O) is the prime condensable greenhouse gas. Rant away now, trollster.

      Satellite altimetery is not well suited to comparing coastal sea-levels, measured by tide stations, to open-ocean sea-levels. It’s comparing apples with oranges. Your last rant on this showed you didn’t know or care that is is so. Google Scholar has many pages of peer-reviewed references on exactly this and the many attempts to reconcile the different metrics. But you wouldn’t know or care. Peer review ? You prefer the Guardian.

      You rant on about ignorance ad nauseum. Presumably all your mirrors are covered.

      If indeed we should be concerned about 400ppmv of atmospheric CO2 when the planet has had multiple cycles with over 10x that concentration, then to preserve our civilisation we need to build and deploy modular nuclear reactor networks, unthreatened as most of Aus is by either tremors or tsunamis.

      • ian.macdougall

        ‘ianl’, or whatever your real name is:

        First let me thank you for the unusual level of courtesy you show in your response.
        ” Curate’s Egg of a rant …” By which I mean ‘good in parts.’ I do not disagree with all of it.
        1)” Arrhenius knew nothing of any significance of the carbon cycle, so his estimates of CO2 greenhouse effects were way too high.”
        News flash: scientists refine their disciplines all the time, through constant examination and critique of each others’ work, and as equipment and theoretical understanding improves. Hence the ludicrous resort of the Ostrich School to an international conspiracy theory: the notion that the AGW ‘scam’ is all about lust for research grants, a motive that somehow never applies to medical, agricultural or indeed any other area of scientific research. Nor in any other area of science are there political attacks and calls for defunding, whose aim can only be the spread of the sort of black-bag-over-the-head ignorance I have outlined above. Tony Abbott is a world leader in this field.
        2) “A CO2 molecule does not *trap* reflected heat of limited and specific wavelength for longer than 0.002 seconds…” which of course is all the time it needs, before passing that energy to other molecules to become increased average atmospheric molecular kinetic energy, otherwise known as heat. And warming the atmosphere as a result.
        “As noted several times previously, water (H2O) is the prime condensable greenhouse gas.” Yes. And the key word there is ‘condensable’. Water precipitates out of the atmosphere as rain, hail, sleet and snow: the higher the humidity, the more readily this occurs. Hence the only way a planet like ours could ever have an atmosphere where gaseous H2O is comparable to the Venusian atmosphere of ~98% CO2 gas would be by being constantly above the necessary water condensation temperatures and pressures at every level in it.
        By way of contrast, the only known processes of CO2 ‘condensation’ and ‘precipitation’ on Earth are a. photosynthesis and b. solution in sea water. But photosynthesis requires other factors like soil moisture at appropriate levels: And solution into sea-water; where it can form dilute carbonic acid up to a point, and cause problems for animals with calcareous shells. (Even the coldest polar weather is still too hot and low in pressure to bring it about directly, as in the formation of ‘dry ice’, or of liquid CO2; you probably need to go to the far reaches of the Solar System for that.) But Observatories like Cape Grim in Tasmania report a steady increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration despite this. So CO2 generation and discharge into the atmosphere is still overwhelming atmospheric CO2 removal, despite the Paris Accords and such.
        “Satellite altimetery is not well suited to comparing coastal sea-levels, measured by tide stations, to open-ocean sea-levels. It’s comparing apples with oranges.” Is that so? Then your fellow AGW ‘secptic’ Ian Plimer in Heaven+Earth was wrong to concede the accuracy of satellite altimetry? Because the fact of isostasy enables endless disputation of tide gauge records, which unfortunately for a large part of the time period since they began, are the only record we have. So why launch the Topex and Jason satellites for this purpose if tide gauges, with all their conceded problems, are still good enough?
        “Your last rant on this showed you didn’t know or care that is is so. Google Scholar has many pages of peer-reviewed references on exactly this and the many attempts to reconcile the different metrics. But you wouldn’t know or care.”
        A citation or two from you would be handy there.
        “Peer review ? You prefer the Guardian.”
        Suppose you cite me an article or two from the Groan and show us all precisely how and where it is wrong.
        “If indeed we should be concerned about 400ppmv of atmospheric CO2 when the planet has had multiple cycles with over 10x that concentration…”
        But those concentrations occurred in periods of low continental profile: a very different Earth indeed. Never before the last 3 million years or so, (since the closure of the Isthmus of Panama) and over its entire geological history, has Earth had icecaps at both poles, threatening possible catastrophic sea level rise if glaciers like the Totten in Antarctica and the Greenland glaciers follow the lead of most of the other glaciers and keep on their accelerating slide seawards; not just the relatively modest rise rates revealed by satellite altimetry, but relatively rapid ones sufficient to flood every port city in the world. That is what is possible in this particular stage of geological time. But of course, there is only one sure way to find out…
        “… then to preserve our civilisation we need to build and deploy modular nuclear reactor networks, unthreatened as most of Aus is by either tremors or tsunamis.” So not say, near Newcastle, or anywhere else in the Sydney Basin to be potentially affected by movement on the Lapstone Structural Complex: which implies a more remote location and longer power lines. Fukushima showed that nuclear power station authorities are not good at staying free of earthquake zones. Keeping costs down tends to trump such considerations, and the falling price of solar installations and improving storage of solar-generated power only makes things increasingly worse for the nuclear lobby. Hence Tony “the future is coal” Abbott’s desire to completely defund everything to do with renewables, in spite of the US$452 billion annual global subsidies for fossil fuels.

        And now, I suggest you hose off the foam that must be all over your computer; with whatever hose you have handy.

        https://www.marketforces.org.au/campaigns/ffs/

  • Doc S

    An excellent summary of where we can fruitfully cut spending but there is little disgussion of the two things that would have the greatest affect on the nation’s health and future – cheap clean energy (well, reduced costs anyway)and continued development of our natural resources – in particular the building of dams on the driest continent on the planet.

    What policy there is both inadequate to address these challenges and scattered across a myriad of government ministries, agencies and associated NGOs (in other words a complete shambles). BUT buried in the first bit is a little gem – the link to David Archibald’s 2011 visionary proposal the West Kimberley Grain Project, containing as it does a proposal to capture some 7 billion gigalitres in water run-off and outflows from the Fitzroy river system with construction of a series of dams.

    We note that David suggests it would cost in the region of $5.5+ billion BUT offset with potential increase from agricultural earnings from rice alone estimated at $5 billion per annum (all $$$ as of 2011 to be sure. The whole scheme centres around a dam across Dimond Gorge and that’s where the trouble starts (and typical of all such proposals regarding the harvesting of the country’s most significant water resources across northern Australia)as traditional owners and environmentalists vigorously oppossed this idea since it was suggested in the late 1990s. A recent proposal also costed the Dimond Gorge dam alone at now $6 billion – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-27/new-plan-to-dam-was-fitzroy-river-and-create-cotton-powerhouse/8743228

    I note also in David’s paper reference to a spillway on the Lake Argyle Wier that enabled a 30 MW hydro that in turn eliminated the need for the diesel generated power for the region (pity the turkeys running the ACT government didn’t think of that for the 1/2 $ billion Cotter Dam upgrade) SO the benefits of dams addressing two of our greatest needs are readily demonstrated.

    But as David points out, there is NO study for these visionary projects, let alone the political nous to promote them – beyond rhetoric from the current mob anyway. Am I missing something here? Dams = effective water resource management = zero emissions hydro power = jobs, investment and potential economic prosperity that would dwarf that of the Snowy scheme, the last visionary project actually completed. All we need is the political leadership to start it right? Oh bugger…

  • padraic

    Looking at the list I think there is a bit of tongue in cheek going on plus some genuine cases. I agree that the major departments could shed some of their more esoteric programs and save money and get rid of the Human Rights Commission or replace it with a slimmed down “Human Duties Commission”. Some of the other quangos beggar belief and should go. The CSIRO should get rid of its warmist scientists to a snowflake university and focus on research that can be commercialised, as in the past. I would worry about getting rid of the Commonwealth Grants Commission which is responsible for our fiscal equalization scheme and has served us well. Other countries like Canada with states and a federal constitution have had to do the same so the services provided by governments across all the states are about the same cost to all citizens. In the late 19th Century before Federation Tasmania was begging to become part of Victoria because its small population provided the State government with an inadequate tax base to provide comparable services with similar costs to what the citizens of NSW and Victoria were getting, e.g. education, road tax, health etc. I agree with Ian that we should have a national military service for all but also keep up with the latest weaponry such as the Swedish planes recommended by David. Get rid of NDIS and Gonski, both of which will be rorted to death.

  • Len

    David, while I agree with much of your article I think it is going a little too far to suggest that the Liberal government elected in September 2013 had no idea what it should achieve. The Abbott government established the National Commission of Audit on 22 October 2013 with the objective of reviewing the performance, functions and roles of the Commonwealth Government. The Terms of Reference included the Commission making recommendations to return the budget to a sustainable surplus of 1% of GDP by 2023/24.

    The Commission produced two reports: The Phase One Report dealing mainly with improving the sustainability of finances was published in February 2014. The Phase Two Report published in March 2014 dealt with public sector performance and accountability and infrastructure. I think the speed with which the Commission was established and of its reporting shows that at least some members of the government had a clear idea of what was necessary and what they wanted to achieve.
    The Phase One Report indicated that the Commission’s main focus was on the largest and fastest growing areas of Commonwealth spending, industry assistance and other programmes and the rationalisation of Commonwealth bodies and agencies. It said that a more detailed review of every portfolio will no doubt find further ways of improving government.
    Further, it said of the $409 billion of total Commonwealth spending in 2013-14 only 12 per cent (or just under $50 billion) is categorised as agency and departmental spending. The remaining 88 per cent of spending (or some $360 billion) is classified as ‘administered’ payments. The vast majority of these payments are governed by legislation and established eligibility rules which mean there is little discretion as to whether they are made. They largely include demand-driven payments in social security and health.

    So what happened. The Liberal Government did not control the Senate. The Coalition held 33 seats, Labor 35 seats, the Greens 9 seats, The Palmer United Party 3 seats, and 5 seats were held by minor parties and independents. Many 2014 Budget proposals were rejected by the non-Government Senators and others were only accepted with amendments or after time-consuming negotiations.

    Unless the Senate can be controlled by a government, with or without other like-minded Senators, with the will to adopt the sort of measures proposed by the Audit Commission, the prospects for expenditure control appear bleak.

    • whitelaughter

      Len, money bills can only be proposed in the lower house and expire every year. The Senate isn’t the problem: the problem is no govt has the balls to simply refuse to fund dud quangos. Granted it would be chaos for a while, but *if* a govt did so, they could simply demand that legilation be passed winding the organisations up before severance pay was authorized for the now unpaid staff.

      • Len

        Whitelaughter, the annual appropriation bills provide funds for the ordinary annual services of government eg, Appropriation Bill No 1 for 2017-18 provides $88.75 billion and Appropriation Bill No 2 provides $15.6 billion for certain other specified expenditures such as payments to the States. The Bills also provide for special appropriations for specific programmes.

        The aggregate of estimated Commonwealth government payments for 2017-18 is $459.7 billion. The bulk of the balance of $355 billion comprises “administered” payments provided under specific legislation and specified eligibility rules which, unless these are altered by amending legislation, provide little or no discretion as to the expenditure and eligibility. These payments include programmes such as: income support for seniors ($45.4 billion estimated for 2017-18), medical benefits ($22.98 billion), pharmaceutical benefits (11.75 billion), assistance to the States for public hospitals ($19.56 billion) and job seeker income support ($10.04 billion). For an example of such detailed eligibility provisions see those applying to various social welfare programmes set out in the 4 volumes of the Social Security Act 1991.

        While some expenditure savings could probably be made from the sorts of proposals put forward by David and Richard H, they are relatively small compared with the already large and growing expenditures of the “administered” payments. Moreover that disparity appears likely to grow further over the next few years without significant changes to things like social welfare and health programmes and revenue raising.

        The Government produces The Intergenerational Report every 5 years. The last report was produced in 2015 and covered the period to 2055. The report produced projections of the long-run drivers of economic growth: population, labour force participation and productivity. We have an increasingly ageing population: the number of Australians aged 65 and over is projected to more than double by 2055 and life expectancy is projected to increase for males from 91.5 years to 95.1 years and for females from 93.6 years to 99.6 years in 2055. These changes will have an enormous impact on the cost of social welfare, health and education programmes. There will also be significant implications for the workforce with a lower proportion of the population in the age range 15 to 64.

        Changes to the legislative provisions of the programmes will be necessary if expenditure is to be contained over time. Such changes will be possible if a Government has the numbers in the House, but not if it can’t also muster sufficient numbers in the Senate.

  • whitelaughter

    fundamentally a good start, but rather than opposing immigration you’d be better off taking a leaf from the LD handbook and selling the right to come here. They want to use the money to pay off the deficit (a good use, I admit) but as I’ve said before, if the money goes towards buying military hardware from Israel we get the secondary advantage of discouraging the dregs of humanity – Islamofascists, marxists, neonazis etc.

  • padraic

    Having money does not equal civic virtue, unfortunately. Look at George Soros et al for example. It’s the islamofascists, Marxists and neo-Nazis who are cashed up and can afford the plane fares and people smuggler boat charges to get here.

    • padraic

      A belated addition. Get rid of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal – another sinecure for leftoid boy and girl lawyers and interferes with the democratic system of representative government. It’s a disgrace that when a Minister for Immigration wants to deport some criminal and illegal so and so – as he is entitled to do under legislation – his decision is challenged by the so and so (more taxpayer funded boy and girl lawyers) and the so and so stays and is no doubt financially rewarded.

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