President's Report 2010

Hugh Morgan

Members and Friends,

I present the President's Report for the year 2009-2010.

I wish to thank you all for coming this evening. Thanks are also due to the members of the Board who have guided our activities during the year. Ian Webber, who has been our vice-president since our formation, has indicated he would like to step down and Philip Wood, our very active Sydney member, has agreed to take on that role. Jim Brooks, a distinguished geologist who worked at the highest levels of policy advice in Canberra for many years, but who retired to Adelaide, has agreed come onto the board. Our thanks also go to the Secretary, Ray Evans, who has done his best to fulfil the board's requests.

The Lavoisier Group was established just over ten years ago when it was realised that several of the most senior members of the Canberra mandarinate were committed to the introduction of a carbon tax, and were seeking to establish a climate of opinion which held that a carbon tax was "inevitable" and that we would all have to adjust to this new regime of de-carbonisation.

The aim of the Lavoisier Group was to try to ensure that the Australian electorate was fully aware of the arguments for introducing such a regime and of the consequences which would follow, and in the years that followed we published a number of tracts, we held conferences and occasional meetings, several of our members addressed many meetings of community groups such as Probus, and we established an email data base of members, friends and supporters whom we circulated regularly with news of developments on this issue from home as well as from overseas.

On 1 July 2009, it seemed that everything we feared, back in 2000, might happen, was indeed going to happen.

The Rudd Government had introduced a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill, which if it had passed into legislation, would have transformed Australia into a green despotism. The governing Labor Party, despite containing within its senior ranks some closet sceptics concerning the scientific arguments which the Minister Penny Wong briefly put forward in her second reading speech, was united behind the legislation. The Coalition, in Opposition, was led by Malcolm Turnbull, who shared with the Prime Minister a strong conviction that this Bill, or some variation of it, was essential to Australia's future well-being. However, the great majority of his party room colleagues were overwhelmingly hostile to the legislation, but were torn between loyalty to the Party Leader and their distaste for the legislation.

The political support which Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull then enjoyed for this regime was extraordinary in its breadth and scope. The Greens of course, and the Socialist Left were there; but the wealth and influence of the army of rent-seekers who lined up for their share of the spoils was almost incalculable. The financial services sector, with its eye on opportunities based on emissions trading were energetic in promoting the Bill. Every industry body (excluding to some small degree the Minerals Council) but including even the NFF, were lobbying continuously. Every university, the CSIRO, most of the economic consultancies, the various professional bodies such as the IEAust, and even the AusIMM, the various academies, were all in the global warming cart. The media, notably the Fairfax Board and the ABC, were impassioned and calculating partisans in the debate. When the role of the ABC in this debate is questioned the name of Robyn Williams comes immediately to mind. Here are two quotes from the speech he gave at the lunch in the NSW Parliament on Commonwealth Day (8 Mar 2010) in the presence of the Governor of NSW.

    And if massive evidence is offered dismissing your arguments about the Earth cooling, or the Sun Did It, or, It's happened before - naturally - then ignore it, and just retort with the same old denial, as Goebbels did, only more loudly. The tradition of The Big Lie.

He concluded with the comment

    By all means debate the widest range of credible views, but recognise the cowboys, the misfits and the sons and daughters of Dr Goebbels for what they are.

When an edited version of this speech was published on the ABC's Drum website, these references to Goebbels were deleted.

The Commonwealth Treasury, under Ken Henry's leadership, has been a committed and completely partisan player in this great debate.

Against these principalities and powers were organisations such as the IPA, and the Lavoisier Group; individual columnists such as Andrew Bolt, Terry McCrann and Miranda Devine; a few courageous scientists such as Bob Carter and Ian Plimer who put their academic careers on the line by speaking out against the so-called scientific consensus; and a number of retired scientists with distinguished careers behind them, Bill Kininmonth and Garth Paltridge were important examples.

At the beginning of November 2009, Malcolm Turnbull declared he did not wish to lead a party opposed to a modified CPRS Bill. On November 19, Nick Minchin made a speech in the Senate, which was akin in its consequences to Luther's 95 theses. He concluded with these words

    Indeed the bill's provisions in this respect subvert the rule of law by abolishing the right to silence; by reversing the onus of proof; and by setting aside privacy laws. This so-called 'authority' established by this legislation to enforce compliance with the draconian rules and regulations required to make its cap-and-trade scheme operate will be the envy of every past and present authoritarian regime on the planet.

    In closing, this is one of the worst packages of bills ever presented to the Senate. The Senate overwhelmingly rejected this abomination in August; it should do so again.

On November 23, at a tense Coalition party room meeting, Andrew Robb made a speech in which he tore to shreds the compromise package which Ian Macfarlane had negotiated with Penny Wong, and on which Malcolm Turnbull had gambled his political fortune. That "compromise" was then doomed. Finally on December 1, Malcolm Turnbull was defeated by Tony Abbott in a leadership ballot by just one vote. But at the same meeting Abbott's position on the issue was supported by a large majority. In the fortnight before this ballot on December 1, the Coalition parliamentarians experienced a deluge of emails, faxes and letters in an unprecedented and spontaneous wave of rank and file hostility to what was happening in Canberra. Enough of them realised that if Malcolm Turnbull was not deposed, then there would be no one to hand out how-to-vote cards at election time; an election which could take place whenever Kevin Rudd decided to go to the polls. This was the first time in Australian political history that a party leader had been deposed by the rank and file of the party. This revolt by the party rank and file did not happen because of a press campaign against Malcolm Turnbull. Over the years preceding these events, but particularly in the preceding twelve months, the voice of the sceptics began to be heard through the land, despite the efforts of the chattering class media, and the government, to dismiss that voice as deluded or even criminal. Ian Plimer, for example, had published a best seller called Heaven + Earth, and had stumped the country, particularly rural Australia, explaining what was going on. That book sold an extraordinary 40,000 copies in Australia, and more in the US. At the same time Bob Carter was also stumping the country. His book did not come out until recently, and President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic wrote a great tribute to Bob, and to the book, in a recent issue of the Australian Spectator.

Bill Kininmonth had been giving talks at Rotary and Probus clubs for years. The Lavoisier tracts were distributed all over Australia, and "Back to the Nineteenth Century", published in September 2009, influenced the debate in the Senate in November 2009.

At the beginning of 2010, Christopher Lord Monckton conducted a lecture tour of Australia, and spoke to overflow audiences at every venue. The chattering-class media did its best to ignore him, but Alan Jones made up for that, and there is no doubt that in that speaking tour, Monckton made a big contribution to getting this issue back onto the political agenda at a time when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was trying to work out a post-Copenhagen position.

Just two weeks after Tony Abbott had been elected Leader of the Liberal Party, the world-wide campaign by the Greens, the EU, and the Environmentalist movement in the US, came to a climax at the UNFCCC meeting, COP 15, at Copenhagen. It was a great jamboree of Green enthusiasm for a carbon-free world, held in freezing temperatures compounded by completely inadequate facilities for processing the thousands of spectators who had come to join in the festivities. Their confident expectation was that a successor Protocol to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, complete with enforceable reductions in CO2 emissions and subject to international inspection by the UN, would be successfully negotiated. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd shared these expectations. Why he did so is a complete mystery since it was obvious to any reasonably competent observer that neither India nor China would agree to any of these ambitions, and without those two nations on board, nothing was going to happen.

The meeting which finally punctured the illusions shared by Kevin Rudd and which dramatically symbolised the new balance of power in the world, took place took place in Copenhagen on the afternoon of Friday 18th December. President Obama had attended a meeting of Heads of Government that morning which included a deeply frustrated PM Kevin Rudd, where all the usual banalities of the global warming scam were recited ad nauseam. China was represented at this meeting by a low level official and President Obama's demands to meet with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiaboa, had been politely rebuffed.

Learning that PM Wen was closeted with his counterparts from India, Brazil and South Africa, President Obama broke into their meeting room, was politely offered space at the corner of the table and a chair was brought into the room for him. There he agreed to the Copenhagen Accord, the essence of which was

1. No compulsory limits on carbon emissions.

2. No emissions reductions at all unless the West paid for them.

3. No international monitoring of any emissions reductions not paid for by the West.

4. No use of "global warming" as an excuse to impose protectionist trade restrictions on countries that did not cut their carbon emissions.

This was a catastrophic outcome for those who had gambled their political future on the outcome of the Copenhagen meeting, including Kevin Rudd. To reduce a long story down to two sentences, he announced on 23 April 2010 that his government would delay any attempt to pass decarbonisation legislation until 2013, and on 23rd June, he was deposed as Prime Minister and Julia Gillard took over the leadership of the Labor Party and the office of Prime minister.

Prior to the federal election of 21 August last, PM Gillard announced the deferment of any consideration of a carbon price or a carbon tax until 2013. It seemed then that the battle had been won.

But the election produced a hung parliament with the Greens holding a powerful bargaining position vis a vis the Gillard Government, so a "carbon price" is back on the political agenda, and the rent-seekers are again out in force, seeking to obtain a favourable position under any regime which might be accepted by the Parliament.

These rent-seekers should take note of the dangers of sovereign risk. A government which can grant favours can take them back, and the recent experience of the solar panel installation industry in NSW should serve as a warning to those industries and companies now spending a lot of time, energy and money, in lobbying the government in the hope of obtaining a favoured position under a decarbonisation regime.

I have been discussing the political events of these twelve months because they must guide the Lavoisier Group's thinking about our future programme. During these twelve months we published "Back to the 19th Century" and I have alluded to the success of that publication earlier.

Our major published venture was an analysis of the Climategate Emails, edited and annotated by John Costella, a Melbourne born and educated research physicist, who was challenged by his wife to justify to her, his acceptance of the "scientific consensus" concerning anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and global temperatures.

His position at that time was that if the peer reviewed journals backed the IPCC's position then that position should be accepted.

Having thus been challenged he undertook a through analysis of the Climategate Emails which had just been placed on an obscure Russian website and subsequently broadcast around the world. What he found shook him to the core and the result is this book, which we published in April 2010, after raising $25,000 from our members and friends to cover the editing and printing costs. The text is colour coded so that it is easy to follow who is writing to whom, and it is interspersed with explanatory comments.

The only regret we have is that we did not include photographs of the various players in this extraordinary saga.

The university at the centre of this story is the University of East Anglia, (UEA) and the group which provide the dramatis personae is the Climatic Research Unit CRU, headed by Phil Jones.

This is not the occasion to summarise the various attempts in the UK and in the US to whitewash the Climategate Emails and the people involved in them, but with a new Republican majority in the US Congress and the restructuring of the key congressional committees it is likely that there will be a very thorough investigation from an American perspective of this whole episode.

One other consequence of the recent US election results is that there is not the slightest chance now of any attempt at what the Americans call Cap-n-Trade legislation seeing the light of day. It is not only that the Republicans have captured the House of Representatives in an unprecedented swing against the incumbents, but that a number of former Republican incumbents, who were inclined to take Obama's proposals for Cap-n-Trade seriously, were defeated in the primaries by Tea Party candidates who challenged these congressmen on this very issue.

So despite all President Obama's infelicitous talk about "skinning the cat in other ways", we can predict with complete confidence that the cat will survive with his skin completely intact. We will see in the US, from now on, a rapid withdrawal from all the follies of the global warming scam. Those rent-seekers in Australia, who have been staking out positions for favourable treatment under a Gillard decarbonisation policy, should take note.

In Australia we have to start cleaning up the mess which 15 years of playing at decarbonisation has created. The most pressing problem is the electricity supply industry. Australians have enjoyed one of the lowest cost electricity industries in the Western world - a situation enabled by easy access to vast reserves of very cheap brown coal, and large reserves of low cost black coal. We have been doing everything possible in recent years to destroy our coal-fired electricity industry in the superstitious belief that carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

We are soon going to be paying an horrendous price for this. However, a resolute commonwealth government could ameliorate this situation greatly, provided it acted in complete defiance of the Greens and of the chattering class opinion which is still locked into Gaia worship.

This issue may well be the focus of the Lavoisier Group's attention and activity.

In concluding I summarise the activities for the past twelve months on our website, and note again the contribution which our webmaster, Chris Ulyatt, makes to the success of the website.

Lavoisier Website Page downloads for 12 months to October 2010

Nov-09 18255
Dec-09 16150
Jan-10 10941
Feb-10 10369
Mar-10 9730
Apr-10 8328
May-10 8142
Jun-10 8198
Jul-10 7209
Aug-10 8227
Sep-10 6572
Oct-10 8833

Hugh Morgan
9 November 2010

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