The model of a modern Liberal

rob stokes IIRob Stokes, modern Liberal, attends to the education of NSW’s young.

In this Dastyarian age, when an elected servant of the people can say one thing, deny he said it, admit he said it and then avow that he can neither remember nor is responsible for the words that leave his lips, it is almost a pleasure to come across the likes of NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes. Yes, he is a warmist shill for the settled scientists and their pipeline of grant-fed alarmism. And, yes, he is a favoured son of the state party’s factional overlords, the same people who relegated Jim Molan, a man of integrity and proven competence, to the unelectable seventh slot on the NSW Senate ticket. But give him this: the man has principles and sticks by them. They are the wrong principles, true, but honest sincerity must count for something even when placed at the service of corrupted science and costly stupidity.

Last week, when Minister Stokes addressed the Committee for Sydney, he brandished those principles in an address the Sydney Morning Herald correctly identified as a thinly veiled assault on Tony Abbott for the former prime minister’s increasingly public scepticism of the climate-change industry and the immense damage it has wrought. The SMH, favoured these days almost exclusively by that small section of the market which wishes only to have affirmed what it already “knows”, graced the report with an approving headline: “Rob Stokes warns Tony Abbott climate ‘anti-intellectualism’ undermines education system”. In the cause of putting down not merely anti-intellectualism but the dreaded and virulent  “populist anti-intellectualism”, the man who oversees the school system’s preparation of the state’s young minds had this to say:

He argued that “arriving at an informed explanation of any phenomena – whether it is scientific, political or historical – requires the examination and analysis of structures and processes that are not always directly observable”.

Neat trick, examining that which cannot be observed, and NSW’s schoolkids are going to master this theological approach to physics and the material world if the minister has anything to do with it, which, sadly, he does.

“Yet if a student comes home from school having learnt about the greenhouse effect – only to turn on the TV and see a public leader dismiss the subject as an elitist falsehood not supported by ‘common sense’ evidence – whom are they supposed to believe?” Mr Stokes asked.

There is no surprise in silly people saying silly things — less so in the minister’s case as he has been dribbling inanity into the public record since his maiden speech, and probably long before. Indeed, quite possibly since early childhood, as it must have required a considerable effort over many years to develop the arrogance that girds so much error in the armour of unchallengeable certainty. Yet, somehow, the party that is alleged to represent the conservatism of sober rationality awarded preselection to a man who made the remarks below. Again, give Mr Stokes credit: his faith in nonsense is pure and absolute. The entire speech can be read via this link or the one at the foot of this post. In the meantime, let these flash-card quotes establish that the Minister for Education and member for Pittwater, a seat once held by Sir Robert Askin, is the vacant face of the modern Liberal Party:

…My consciousness was formed in the knowledge that our growth, wealth and society depend on limited and dwindling resources…

… our houses have bloated, our cars have bloated  …

…what are we doing? Building more coal fired power stations so our kids can play computer games and building a desalination plant so we can wash our sport utility vehicles…

…Government is running out of time to address the consequences of environmental injustice…

…To create a new environmental ethic based on the justice to future generations and to the earth itself, we must encourage our community to be conscious of our consumption …

…every home and business relying on non-renewable energy supplies should be smart metered so that people are always conscious of how much energy they are using…

Mr Stokes’ speech was delivered in May, 2007, when he was an ardent advocate of the desalination plant that has never produced a drop of worthwhile water and is never likely to be called upon to do so. As for those cheap, reliable coal-fired power stations, the minister’s wish has come true: they’re being blown up, rather than built. Likewise his yearning to see consumers made painfully aware of “how much energy they are using.”

It would be fair to say the minister’s Malthusiastic embrace of green gullibility hasn’t quite worked out as he anticipated, but again some credit is due. Contrary to the prophesies of Mr Stokes’ former constituent, Tim Flannery, the dams did fill. Oh, and electricity costs tripled. How’s that for keeping citizens “conscious” of the power they are using! Climategate demonstrated the venality and legerdemain of climate careerists. And three years after the future state minister’s maiden speech, the federal leader of his own party, then-opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, was turfed by fellow Liberals for seeking to impose the same green hobbles on the economy that Mr Stokes continues to espouse. Mr Turnbull made it back, albeit with somewhat more muted recent views on the need to pay hard and heavy for the luxury of living in a world without blackouts, but Mr Stokes has stayed the course.

And now he is in charge of the NSW education system. Good luck, kids.

— roger franklin

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