Monday, September 28, 2015

Moaning about the demise of Maurice Newman, Australia's high profile climate conspiracy theorist

Sou | 5:47 PM Go to the first of 13 comments. Add a comment
On Anthony Watts' climate conspiracy blog WUWT, Eric Worrall is moaning about Maurice Newman (archived here). In another move showing that he does take climate change seriously (albeit within political constraints), Australia's new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, will not be re-appointing Maurice to the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council, which he chaired under Tony Abbott.

Maurice Newman is an uber conspiracy theorist of the Tim Ball kind. I've written about his wacky ideas on a number of occasions. He's not just a denier, he's a hard core conspiracy nutter who thinks, for example, that the sustainability action plan, Agenda 21, is some sort of evil plot. Eric Worrall couldn't be more wrong when he writes:
Releasing outspoken skeptic Maurice Newman from his advisory role seems unlikely to help Turnbull’s credibility on climate issues. 

Contrary to what Eric thinks, it will be a relief to almost everyone. I'd say most especially to the other members of the council. And it will lift the PM's credibility in regard to climate.

The National Party in Australia is the coalition partner of the Liberal Party, without which it could not form government. Malcolm Turnbull had to make an agreement with the deniers in the National Party and possibly with the extremists in the Liberal Party to stick to Tony Abbott's Direct Action plan for carbon mitigation. It won't be enough, and might not even be better than nothing at all. Time will tell.

However Malcolm Turnbull has been able to tweak things even while stuck with the Direct Action plan. For example, according to an earlier article in the Guardian, he has:
  • Moved the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) from the industry department to the department of the environment. This agency was created by the previous Labor Government to increase the use of renewable energy. Shifting it signals that Turnbull is going to use it, not mothball it.
  • Moved the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) from treasury and finance to the environment portfolio. Tony Abbott tried but failed to dismantle this organisation. Again, this signals that Turnbull regards the funding of renewables as important.
  • The article in the Guardian also suggests that the current ban on the CEFC investing in wind or small scale solar will be lifted. 

The conspiracy theorists at WUWT are up in arms. They didn't like Tony Abbott being ousted by the Liberal Party. You won't see right wing extremists admitting it, but Tony Abbott only got to be leader (over Malcolm Turnbull) by one single vote, back in 2009.  In this year's spill, Malcolm Turnbull was elected leader by ten votes (54-44).

Eric is sceptical about Malcolm Turnbull sticking with Direct Action. He wrote:
Given Turnbull’s track record as a fervent supporter of carbon pricing, this commitment to continue with Abbott’s climate policies, is not considered credible by at least some leading Aussie skeptics.

If Malcolm is still PM after the next election (which is due next year I think), then I am sceptical too. For one thing, international pressure will probably force the Australian government to take stronger action.

From the WUWT comments

The first person to comment wasn't your normal WUWT-er. Svante Callendar said how it was "excellent news".
September 27, 2015 at 11:28 pm
Excellent news!
The elected government has the privilege of appointing their own advisors. But no-one wants an advisor who bases his views on pseudoscience.

Ben Palmer doesn't know anything of science history, and wrote plaintively (as if he is still waiting, hoping, for someone, anyone, to overturn 200 years of science):
September 27, 2015 at 11:39 pm
“But no-one wants an advisor who bases his views on pseudoscience” And of course for you, science which is does not toe the mainstream is “pseudoscience”. Remember Galileo, remember Alfred Wegener?

Scottish Sceptic thinks that anyone who accepts well-established mainstream science must be "gullible". Does he think that people who accept physics, chemistry, geology and biology are "gullible"? Is Scottish Sceptic also an evolution denier and a flat earther, I wonder?
September 27, 2015 at 11:57 pm
What amazes me is that people as gullible on the science as Turnbull can get to run a government. Indeed it amazes me that people actually vote for such people. Fortunately, by the shear overwhelming quantity and quality of sceptic voices on the internet these days, people like Turnbull might be able to fire a few employees but they can’t turn the tide which has clearly and unequivocally turned against the climate extremists. 

Phill Williams wants to keep things in perspective. Notice how he didn't mention how Tony Abbott got elected by only one vote, whereas Malcolm had 10 votes up his sleeve.
September 28, 2015 at 12:00 am
Let’s keep it in perspective, less than 60 people voted for Malcolm Turnbull.

Patrick can only think of money, which is not unusual for the scientific illiterati at WUWT:
September 28, 2015 at 12:15 am
Turnbull (Turncoat) wants an ETS. He, and his mates at Macquarie Bank, stand to make billions out of any such system. He’s rich enough anyway, so no skin off his nose. 

John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia.  is no different, and touts another WUWT fan in Australia's Parliament. I've written about Dennis Jensen and his pseudo-science, too:
September 28, 2015 at 12:16 am
The Goldman Sachs man triumphs! Dennis Jensen, the only scientist in the Government, is a climate (AGW) sceptic. Although he supported TurnBULL, he will never get a post in the cabinet.

References and further reading

Climate sceptic Maurice Newman not reappointed as government adviser - article by Lenore Taylor in the Guardian, September 2015

Turnbull government signals new approach to climate policyarticle by Lenore Taylor in the Guardian, September 2015

From the HotWhopper archives


  1. The dog whistle has changed frequency. The Australian electorate knows that Turnbull is a climate realist and it is prepared to cop pricing.

    Turnbull will pretend that it's BAU to all the Cory Bernardis in the Australian parliament but he will skilfully weild his electoral support to cut the legs off the deniers. I suspect he'll even attend Paris.

    1. I'm not even a neophyte at Aussie politics, but wouldn't Paris be a dangerous move at this point? Wouldn't he be loath to play around with the support of the crazies/deniers in his caucus at this juncture?

  2. "Releasing outspoken skeptic Maurice Newman from his advisory role seems unlikely to help Turnbull’s credibility on climate issues. "

    These people really do live in opposite-land.

    1. It's like they are in their own little bubble where facts and reality just slide right off their teflon coated shield of denial.

  3. I hadn't heard of Australian Liberal MP Dennis Jensen before, but I suppose this passage from a SMH article contains all I need to know:

    (Jensen) claimed that pointing to a scientific consensus on climate science "indicates your argument is weak".

    "When is the last time you heard the consensus of the world scientists is that the earth is roughly spherical?" he said.

    "You get the appeal to consensus when the data and the evidence is weak and it's an appeal to authority rather than examining the data and the evidence."

    'Your argument is weak': Climate scientists offer briefing to sceptical Liberal MPs Dennis Jensen and Chris Back

    1. What a lazy poorly thought-out talking point! The pointing to the consensus is a result of deniers claiming there is no consensus, that the science isn't settled, that scientists are divided on the issue.

      If politicians were busy denying that the earth was roughly spherical, and if they kept claiming the science wasn't settled yet, and that scientists are divided on the issue, then we would most certainly be pointing out the consensus that the earth is roughly spherical.

    2. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

      Or appropriately revised, "When your position leaves you with only a big sack of horseshit to make arguments from, make horseshit arguments."

    3. Even weaker is an argument based on making up a lack of consensus and pointing to that. Richard Tol should take note.

  4. I loved the comment by 'Svante Callendar'....the simple truth, and he got in first.

    Then I thought 'what's the betting the glass-jawed Watts will erase it?'...so I visited the live page.

    Sure enough, it's been purged.

    1. It was my comment - for technical reasons I was forced to use an alternate Wordpress account. Pure luck I got in first.

  5. I'm waiting to see if Turnbull can turn the bull.

    I always had the suspicion that Newman was saying what Prime Minister Abbott would have said if he hadn't considered it politically expedient to avoid being explicit about what he really thought.

    The new PM is acting like someone who made deals to avoid pressing hard on the climate issue; if he shores up his position he may push harder but I don't recall a single senior member of this government that said anything about action on climate that was both for it and said with conviction, except perhaps Turnbull himself. That those who have any such conviction have so assidiously kept heads down for so long - and still do - doesn't suggest Turnbull can easily turn the climate obstructionist Conservative beast.

  6. Turnbull is the same sort of Tory turd as the ones he sucked up to before becoming 'leader'. The man is a joke. He has destroyed the NBN with methodical stupidity.
    He is just like that twit Tony but a bit more flash. If Tony is the rat then Turdball is the rat with a gold tooth!
    Nothing has changed! The same demented rabid nut wing right wingers are still in charge. Or as I prefer RWNJ or right wing nut jobs.
    At least Tony had the courage of his convictions NONE! Turdball is just as slimy but a bit smoother.
    I wonder if I suggested that members of Parliament who charged the Australian people $270 a night for staying in their wife's Canberra investment property should have this right taken away as it is anachronistic like so called Sunday penalty rates? We could go further with their very generous travel allowances etc.

    They would bleat like pigs with lipstick on! Bert

    1. I don't know what you base that on, Bert. Politically Malcolm Turnbull is not as far to the right as Tony Abbott. Not by a long shot. They are poles apart on a lot of issues.

      In regard to recognising the need for climate action, Turnbull is probably about the same as the average of Labor politicians in Australia, though more informed on the subject than most of the Labor politicians would be.


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