Doomed Planet

Melbourne’s closed minds

John Styles on "Melbourne’s taxpayer-funded climate gabfest (minus sceptics)"

Portraying Australia as petty and parochial, [ABC radio announcer Jon] Faine complained:

The other thing I noticed on coming back from being away over a long period of time on long service leave, I came back and I thought, gee, it’s terribly tit-for-tat all the time. They said, therefore the other side said. They think, therefore we have to hear from the other side. And you don’t get that in a lot of other countries.

(Bear in mind that Faine, the ethnophile, spent his long service leave motoring through such “bastions of democracy and free and open debate” as China, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, etc, etc. Tit-for-tatting and two-sided debate definitely not encouraged in some of those places. In fact, Faine was so carried away by his experiences in Asia and the Middle East that he suggested that the new name for Australia should be “Kangarooistan”.)

The Wheeler Centre’s director didn’t tit-for-tat on that point:

We’re seeing that with climate change, aren’t we? I mean, you know, someone said to me the other day, why do we always have to always balance it out with a sceptic?

I mean, really, when 99.9 per cent of scientists in the world believe in climate, that something is happening to the climate, why, you know, we don’t do this with tobacco do we? We didn’t get on, you know, if we talk about how bad tobacco is, we don’t ask for someone to come in and represent the tobacco companies. I do think we’re seeing that in climate change.

Only amongst true believers like Faine would Sharp be able to get away with the tobacco analogy red herring, comparing scepticism about the man-made nature of climate change with denial of the link between tobacco and lung cancer, or her “99.9 per cent of scientists” claim.

Director Chrissy Sharp should reconsider the composition of the climate panel she has assembled. It is difficult to reconcile the speakers’ lists with her Wheeler Centre mission statement, as expressed on the Conversation Hour. Sharp proclaimed that she wanted “to create a really, really broad program that will appeal to a whole lot of different audiences”. She also said she felt that “there is real interest and a real hunger, if you like, for people just to come to participate in quirky or serious or controversial discussions on a whole range of issues”.

If the taxpayer-funded Wheeler Centre is to remain true to the director’s expressed vision, Ms Sharp needs to bring a few sceptics to the Brave New World? lectern.

Story and audio at Australian Conservative

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