Follies of the Mad Monk | A tweet and a leak too far … “fight back from the far right ratbags”


A tweet and a leak too far …

The pond was in a state of wild excitement.
Would the rest of the pack of hounds pick up on the story of Abbott the war monger this tabloid Sunday, or would they go to water?
Was it just one rabid dog in the pack, frothing and foaming at the mouth?
Would the pond have to settle for the tweets too far, the link to Abbott’s war movie hashtag, thoughtfully provided by a reader and available here.

That one’s not far off the mark. The warrior has regularly shown his military style:

Careful, it’s gone off like a bomb:

Sadly, it seems that the rest of the pack have left it to the rabid dog to do the work, but that dog still has a bit of bite, a canny capacity to nip at the heels of the user of weasel words like “formal” and “fanciful”:

Uh huh. Where does that leave the Bolter calling foul?

Well actually it leaves the Bolter in a state of despair, but that despair’s all about another leak.

Look, there on the top right of the page,  you can just see the yarn:

Oh no, not the HUN, not the home of the Bolter.

Let’s zoom in a little. ECU please, DOP:

Now you can easily find Samantha Maiden’s EXCLUSIVE story  – it’s spread right across the Sunday Murdoch tabloids and it’s in the Sunday Terror as PM scuttled secret plan to kick millionaires off the aged pension.

The story itself is pretty much what might be expected from Mr. Fairness and his crew – a concern about their own necks, and avoiding looking like they’d broken yet another election promise, compounded with a desire to protect the wealthy, and instead inflict the maximum amount of pain on everyone:

Yes, jolly Joe was in on the caper too.

But the real point of the yarn comes in the third par.

“In another stunning leak from the nation’s most powerful cabinet committee …”

The rats are now working with a giant sieve, and however you look at it, Abbott is toast, dead meat walking …

Which brings the pond back to the Bolter, now in a deep funk.

Oh it’s vicious sabotage alright, betrayers, smearers, exaggerators, traitors, treacherous back stabbers and rat finks.

And worst of all, it’s being done by and with the Murdoch rags … and if big Malaise gets the gig, the fight back from the far right ratbags will be something to behold …

This is, to borrow a phrase, the best of times, and the best of times …

Raptors feuding over turf, and the black knight mortally wounded …

It means today will be a day of relaxation and merriment at the pond, as we now wait on Monday, and that promised trip into the bunker …

Yes, the pond will be taking the tour inside the bunker, just before the fearless leader seizes the moment to pound the drums of paranoia and xenophobia, whipping up fear, anger and hatred by blathering on about national security…

… though if you pause a moment to reflect, it hardly seems necessary.

He’s already achieved his goal:

That story, with links, is at the Graudian here.

Naturally the likes of the Bolter are wildly indignant.

The Islamic barbarian hordes are gathering at the gates, and we’re all doomed, doomed I tells ya …

Luckily, there’s a simple answer.

We need to put the country on a war footing.

Thank the long absent lord there’s a natural leader to hand, a genuine Churchillian, robust and willing to do the hard yards, with a solid team behind him.

Don’t worry about munitions and ordnance and kit. That’s all in hand:
Now let’s get on with the party:

Brief Review; New Australian PM signifies further right-wing shift


New Australian PM signifies further right-wing shift

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By Mike Head

Today’s swearing-in of Tony Abbott as prime minister of a Liberal-National Coalition government marks another rightward turn in official Australian politics and underscores the yawning gulf that separates the entire political establishment from the broad mass of working people.

Only six years ago, following the landslide defeat of the previous Howard government in 2007, Abbott was seen as so overtly right wing, and tainted by his key roles in Howard’s government, that he was regarded by his Liberal Party peers, and himself, as “unelectable.” Pulling out of the initial post-election contest for Liberal Party leadership, Abbott noted that he was “obviously very closely identified with the outgoing prime minister.”

Now, after six years of its relentless implementation of the agenda dictated by both Washington and the Australian corporate elite, the Labor Party is so reviled among working people that it has paved the way for an Abbott-led Liberal government. The new government will press ahead with the ongoing assault on the social position of the working class, and with Australian involvement in US-led wars.

Abbott commenced his political career, in the 1970s, on the far-right of the official political spectrum, and entered the mainstream of the Liberal and Labor parties as they shifted ever further to the right to embrace the economic restructuring required by global capital.

Abbott began as a Sydney University protégé of Bob Santamaria, the longtime leader of the National Civic Council (NCC), a virulent anti-communist Catholic movement in the trade unions and Labor Party that was formed in the 1950s. The NCC was a strident defender of the “Cold War” launched by US imperialism against the Soviet Union, and a fervent supporter of Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War. NCC “industrial groupers” took control of some unions and orchestrated a split in the Labor Party in 1955, resulting in the formation of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP). The DLP, which gained seats in the Senate, supported the Liberal-Country Party coalition governments of the 1950s and 1960s.

After initially entering a Jesuit seminary for three years, Abbott was employed during the 1980s as a journalist for the Bulletin magazine and then for Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspaper. Both publications had close ties to the US and Australian security apparatuses. In those circles, he developed friendships with senior Labor figures, notably future Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who urged him to join the Labor Party. Abbott is known to have voted for Labor in the 1988 New South Wales state election and, with the backing of Carr and others, could have become a Labor MP.

After seeking Santamaria’s advice, however, Abbott turned toward the Liberal Party and rose rapidly in its ranks. By 1990, he was press secretary to Liberal leader John Hewson and worked closely in launching Hewson’s notorious program, titled Fightback ! as the basis for the 1993 election. This 650-page manifesto sought to accelerate the “free market” restructuring that had been implemented by the Hawke and Keating governments from 1983, as well as by Thatcher in Britain and Reagan in the US.

Fightback! featured abolition of award wages and conditions for workers, elimination of unemployment benefits after nine months, the scrapping of Medicare bulk-billing, severe welfare cuts, introduction of a 15 percent Goods and Services Tax and sweeping income tax cuts for middle- and high-income earners.

By spelling out so specifically the agenda required by the corporate elite, Hewson lost what had been regarded, because of intense hostility towards the Keating Labor government, as an unloseable election for the Liberals. Drawing the lessons of this experience, Abbott parted company with Hewson on the eve of the 1993 election and increasingly moved into the orbit of John Howard, who was to regain the Liberal leadership in 1995. Abbott was installed in a safe Liberal seat on Sydney’s north shore in 1994, supported by a glowing reference from Howard.

Howard led the Coalition to victory in 1996, exploiting working class disaffection with Labor’s pro-corporate restructuring of the economy. By contrast to Hewson, Howard adopted a “small target” tactic of not spelling out his plans, while making a pitch to the so-called “battlers” who had suffered under Labor.

Under Howard’s wing, Abbott enjoyed a rapid ascension. He immediately became a parliamentary secretary for employment and youth affairs (1996–98), then employment services minister (1998–2001). In those posts, he oversaw the imposition of some of Howard’s real agenda, notably forced “work for the dole,” the privatisation of federal employment services and the establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission. The ABCC, with draconian powers to interrogate and prosecute building workers, became the first instalment in what was later titled WorkChoices—forcing workers onto individual contracts in order to further decimate wages and conditions.

By 2001, Abbott was elevated into cabinet. He became workplace relations minister, manager of government business in the House of Representatives and one of the most vocal defenders of Howard’s policies. He unwaveringly advocated participation in the criminal US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and backed the invocation of the “war on terrorism” to introduce police-state measures, such as detention without trial. Abbott was also in the forefront of fomenting anti-refugee xenophobia to divert mounting social discontent. He stridently defended the government’s “Pacific Solution” of consigning asylum seekers to be detained on remote Pacific islands.

From 2003 to 2007, Abbott was handed the key health portfolio, where his predecessor, Kay Patterson, had provoked outrage among doctors by too openly winding back the Medicare health insurance system. While publicly eschewing any intent to slash public health spending, Abbott pioneered a system of shifting the budgetary burden onto the states and local health authorities, a blueprint that was further developed by the Rudd Labor government. Controversially, Abbott also blocked women’s access to the abortion pill RU486.

By 2007, however, Howard had substantially lost the support of the ruling class, which accused him of backing away from the pro-market measures being implemented globally, and of indulging in populist “middle class welfare” to try to retain office. In the 2007 federal election, most of the media and corporate establishment swung behind Kevin Rudd, who pledged, as a “fiscal conservative,” to cut government spending.

After the Howard government’s defeat, Abbott sought to rewrite history, claiming to have opposed the hated WorkChoices industrial laws, which had contributed to the popular antagonism toward Howard’s regime. In a 2009 book, Battlelines, effectively setting out his case for the Liberal leadership, Abbott described WorkChoices as a “political mistake,” but not “an economic one.” In other words, the policy of tearing up jobs, wages and conditions was correct, but poorly executed.

Battlelines restated Abbott’s support for global “American leadership” and unequivocally defended the invasion of Iraq, despite its catastrophic human cost. In fact, he advocated stepping up Canberra’s participation in US-led militarism. “It’s wrong to expect America to be the world’s policeman with only a token assistance from its allies,” he wrote. “If Australia is to matter in the wider world, Australians should expect more, not less, future involvement in international security issues.”

In that book, Abbott also foreshadowed the turn to austerity measures, aimed at forcing the working class to bear the burden of the worldwide economic meltdown that began in 2008. He criticised the scale of the stimulus measures launched by the Rudd government to bail out the financial markets, declaring “you can’t spend your way out of a recession.” Instead, he insisted, the slump had to be utilised to impose “reform,” citing the example of the Hawke government, which had “used the recession of the early ’80s to justify floating the dollar, deregulating the banks and lowering tariffs.”

Abbott made clear his readiness to gut social spending in order to restore profits, declaring: “The global financial crisis will make the quest for lower, simpler taxes more urgent, not less.” He set out a regressive welfare policy, including reinforced “work for the dole” requirements, tougher rules to force disabled people into employment and “automatic income management” of all “welfare dependent families with children under sixteen.” Taking direct control over how people spent their welfare benefits would “send the clearest possible message that people on welfare have obligations as well as entitlements.”

Abbott also signalled his opposition to the emissions trading scheme (ETS) being negotiated between Rudd and the Liberals under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull. Both Rudd and Turnbull, who has close connections with the financial elite, sought to generate a lucrative new market in emissions trading. Abbott, however, more aligned to the mining sector and smaller nationally-based industries, dismissed global warming and declared that it “didn’t make sense” to “impose certain and substantial costs on the economy now, in order to avoid unknown and perhaps even benign changes in the future.”

At the end of 2009, Abbott led a walkout by senior members of the shadow ministry over the ETS issue, culminating in his defeat of Turnbull by a single vote in the party room. As the new Liberal opposition leader, Abbott set about emulating Howard in pushing right-wing nationalist campaigns to divert mounting economic and social tensions, vowing to “stop” refugee boats, axe the “carbon tax” and boost spending on the military and “national security.”

With the Labor government wracked by conflicts that culminated in the coup against Rudd in June 2010, and his replacement with Julia Gillard, and then Rudd’s reinstallation in June 2013, the media and business elites swung behind Abbott, despite their vocal doubts about his willingness to impose a European-style social counter-revolution. Big business opposes Abbott’s “Howard-style” parental leave scheme, which would impose a levy on large companies to provide six months’ leave on full pay, up to $150,000 a year, for all working mothers following childbirth.

Acutely conscious of the overwhelming opposition among ordinary people to the corporate agenda of austerity and militarism, Abbott spent the entire 2013 election campaign covering up the program that he was preparing to implement on behalf of the ruling class. Now that the election is out of the way, the business and media establishment has begun to bring forward its demands: with commodity prices falling and the mining investment boom collapsing, the incoming government must move rapidly to slash social spending, reduce corporate taxes, gut the public sector and impose more “flexible” workplace laws.

Abbott has wasted no time in underscoring his commitment to the US alliance, unequivocally backing the Obama administration’s plans for war against Syria. He is under mounting corporate pressure to prove the same preparedness to push ahead with his government’s domestic war against the working class.

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An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes


An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes

By Victoria Rollison

LaurieOakes

Dear Laurie Oakes

I am writing seeking clarification. I can’t help but notice that you seem to be a little confused about your appraisal of the performance of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

I’m wondering if you perhaps want to rethink your description of Abbott, the Prime Minister, in the book you have been trying to flog – Remarkable Times – Australian Politics 2010-13: What really happened. I won’t pretend to have read this book. In fact, I found it near impossible to read even an extract, so predictable and so utterly boring and so obviously not about ‘what really happened’. You see, Laurie, between 2010-13, what really happened bore so little resemblance to what you and your fellow political journalist hacks reported as happening, you are the last person I would go to for insights about Australian politics in Australia across any period, let alone the previous three years.

But, without having read it, I think I’m safe to assume your book has a similar theme to all your political reporting between 2010-13, summed up concisely in this extract. Describing Abbott’s first 11 days as Prime Minister, you say his behaviour over these 11 days is evidence of his new approach to government as being “careful and methodical”, where Abbott would “behave in a way that was ‘clear, consistent and coherent’”.

In contrast, you explain the difference between Abbott’s government and the previous Labor government using these words:

“But as far as the public and the media were concerned, it was 11 days of unaccustomed quiet after the Labor years of crisis, chaos and constant politicking. No-one complained. The nation was over politics and welcomes a respite”.

When you say ‘clear, consistent and coherent’, what I hear, as an informed voter, is a political hack using Peta Credlin’s press release to explain, without scrutiny, what Peta Credlin wants Australians to think an Abbott government is going to be like. When you say ‘crisis, chaos and constant politicking’, what I hear, as an informed voter, is a political hack using Peta Credlin’s press release to describe, without fact, the approach of the Labor government. When you say ‘no-one complained’, you’re not talking for me, you’re saying Peta Credlin was without complaint. When you say ‘the nation was over politics and welcomes a respite’, you are again speaking for Peta Credlin and saying what Peta Credlin hoped the nation felt, when in actual fact the only politics the intelligent part of this nation was ‘over’ was your false brand of horserace, completely lacking in policy detail, substance and fact. And this is what I mean when I say you are predictable, you are unreliable, you are presumptuous in speaking for people you know nothing about, and most importantly, you are wrong.

But here’s where I think you’ve suddenly come unstuck. The real performance of the Abbott government, only weeks into the job, has proven how wrong you have been. Because reality doesn’t lie.

Perhaps you thought all your Christmases had come at once, when you got the Abbott government you had wished for, and campaigned for all those years. But like a child who is promised a brighter future, and instead ends up with a sack of coal, the Abbott government has actually turned out to be just as incompetent, just as immature, just as dangerous and just as down-right unintelligent as people like me warned people like you it was going to be between 2010-13 and before. So you have found out the hard way ‘what really happened’. But your book is out now, and it’s too late to correct your inaccurate record.

Apparently you seem to be coming to terms with this grave error, with the news this week that you’re unhappy with the Abbott government’s secretive modus operandi. Whereas in your book you say, in an appreciative tone:

“Here was a Prime Minister-elect obviously serious about not feeding the hungry media beast”,

and by beast, I assume you mean people like you who love words like ‘chaos’, ‘crisis’, ‘scandal’ and of course ‘JuLiar’. Yet, only a few weeks later, you somewhat ironically backflip on this appreciation, having been quoted as saying:

“You (Abbott) can’t thumb your nose at the voters’ right to know and you can’t arrogantly say ‘we’ll let the voters be misinformed and we won’t help journalists get it right’. That’s just a disgusting attitude.”

I happen to agree with you, Laurie, that keeping voters uninformed is a pretty disgusting and arrogant attitude. And to this, I will say two things – pot kettle black, and, what the fuck did you expect?

You have kept voters uninformed by completely failing to scrutinise what Abbott was going to do as Prime Minister. You perpetuated the utterly ridiculous notion that Abbott could move from nasty, messy, attack-dog to mature, competent Prime Minister. I’m sorry Laurie, but this concept is idiotic. An incompetent, lazy, rude, mean, un-charismatic, unreliable, unintelligent, misogynistic, unscrupulous, inarticulate thug is always going to be all of these things, whether he lives in the Lodge with his apparently attractive daughters or not. He wasn’t just all of these things when he was Opposition Leader because it suited his agenda at the time. It’s not a coat he can just take off. This is it. This is Tony Abbott. With Peta Credin barking instructions into his earpiece. This is Tony Abbott.

Have you ever considered why Abbott’s office has disappeared into the cone of silence? Have you considered it’s because they’re completely over their heads and don’t actually have any idea what to say about their revolting plans for this country? This is not some grand master plan. This is a grand retreat into nothingness. This is incompetence personified.

You and some of your colleagues don’t like that Abbott’s not telling you stuff. No doubt this has nothing to do with concern for the Australian community and how informed they are, and rather more to do with your difficulty in finding something to talk about, having relied on press releases from Peta Credlin, complete with Abbott’s talking points, and leaks from Rudd for all those years. But guess what Laurie, this is the least of the problems we, the informed public, have with Tony Abbott.

I’m less concerned with what he’s not saying, and more concerned, if concerned is a strong enough a word, with what he is doing. Handing responsibility for massively important decisions about government spending to a business lobbyist. Cutting funding to scientific research. Embarrassing Australia on the global stage. Slashing and burning public sector jobs. Ripping up future-proofing infrastructure by destroying the NBN. Raising the debt ceiling to all time highs with no explanation as to why just weeks after claiming a ‘budget emergency’. Cancelling the Carbon Price for an expensive joke of a Direct Action Policy which is beyond humiliating for the country, right at the same time when the public are finally starting to realise that electricity bills are not more important than the safety of the planet.

Lying about deals he’s made with Indonesia to turn back boats and pretending the very act of him becoming Prime Minister has stopped the boats. Not to mention the real ‘chaos’ and ‘crisis’ which Abbott refuses to address – his and his minister’s fraudulent use of taxpayer funds for expensive travel and accommodation for their own egos and personal entertainment. And you thought Julia Gillard’s dodgy ex-boyfriend from 20 years ago constituted a ‘scandal’ because some nut-job internet troll said so? You still said she had ‘questions to answer’ even after she answered every snide and absurd question you are your malicious colleagues in the National Press Club could conjure up? Seriously Laurie, you have no right to tell anyone ‘what really happened’. You’ve been negligent to the extreme in informing the public what to expect from an Abbott government. Now you’re worried that Abbott’s secretive non-consultative strategy is keeping voters misinformed? I really hope you don’t live in a glass house with a ready collection of stones.

Moving on to ‘what the fuck did you expect’. You seem quite surprised now that Abbott isn’t turning out the way you anticipated. So I say again, what the fuck did you expect? Did you fall for the ‘they are just the same’ tactic, used to refute people like me who said, for years, that Abbott was going to be a disaster again and again and again no matter whether people wanted to hear it or not? Whenever I think of Abbott, and what a setback he is for Australia, I can’t help but hear the words of Paul Keating from this interview in 2010 where he said:

“If Tony Abbott ends up as Prime Minister of Australia, you’ve got to say, God help us, God help us. A truly intellectual nobody. And no policy ambition. You know, I mean, is that all there is?”

As I knew, and as you are quickly learning, Abbott is all there is. And thanks to the lack of scrutiny of him by people like you before the election, Australia is stuck with him. For one term at least. And now you’re saying you’re not happy with Abbott’s performance? Spare a thought for people like me, who saw it coming and are now justified to say over and over again – ‘I told you so’.

Yours Sincerely Victoria Rollison

Crap, Hogwash, Wikipedia and Other Strong Evidence


Crap, Hogwash, Wikipedia and Other Strong Evidence.

By rossleighbrisbane

“I mean in the end this whole thing is a question of fact, not faith, or it should be a question of fact not faith and we can discover whether the planet is warming or not by measurement. And it seems that notwithstanding the dramatic increases in man made CO2 emissions over the last decade, the world’s warming has stopped. Now admittedly we are still pretty warm by recent historical standards but there doesn’t appear to have been any appreciable warming since the late 1990s.”

Tony Abbott: A REALIST’S APPROACH TO CLIMATE CHANGE Speech – July, 2009

From Abbott’s Interview with Andrew Bolt:

Bolt: (Volunteering to fight) the fires. Was there an element of running away from the office?

PM: Ha! Mate, I got up to the station at 4pm Saturday and I got back to the station at 10 Sunday morning. So there’s no question of running away from the office, because the office is closed then. The office is closed.

AB: I’ve been struck by the insanity of the reaction in the media and outside, particularly linking the fires to global warming and blaming you for making them worse potentially by scrapping the carbon tax.

PM: I suppose, you might say, that they are desperate to find anything that they think might pass as ammunition for their cause, but this idea that every time we have a fire or a flood it proves that climate change is real is bizarre, ’cause since the earliest days of European settlement in Australia, we’ve had fires and floods, and we’ve had worse fires and worse floods in the past than the ones we are currently experiencing. And the thing is that at some point in the future, every record will be broken, but that doesn’t prove anything about climate change. It just proves that the longer the period of time, the more possibility of extreme events … The one in 500 year flood is always a bigger flood than the one in 100 year flood.

Bolt: The ABC, though, has run on almost every current affairs show an almost constant barrage of stuff linking climate change to these fires.

Abbott: That is complete hogwash.

Bolt: It is time to really question the bias of the ABC?

Abbott: But people are always questioning the “bias” of the ABC.

Later in the same interview:

PM: I would say that there tends to be an ABC view of the world, and it’s not a view of the world that I find myself in total sympathy with. But, others would say that there’s a News Limited view of the world.

     From “The most depressing Discovery about the Brain, Ever”

“In other words, say goodnight to the dream that education, journalism, scientific evidence, media literacy or reason can provide the tools and information that people need in order to make good decisions.  It turns out that in the public realm, a lack of information isn’t the real problem.  The hurdle is how our minds work, no matter how smart we think we are.  We want to believe we’re rational, but reason turns out to be the ex post facto way we rationalize what our emotions already want to believe.

For years my go-to source for downer studies of how our hard-wiring makes democracy hopeless has been Brendan Nyhan, an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth.

Nyan and his collaborators have been running experiments trying to answer this terrifying question about American voters: Do facts matter?

The answer, basically,  is no.  When people are misinformed, giving them facts to correct those errors only makes them cling to their beliefs more tenaciously.”

And just in case you missed it at the time:

“I am, as you know, hugely unconvinced by the so-called settled science on climate change.”

People are entitled to their own point of view. We all accept that. It’s a free country, after all. I’m sure that Andrew Bolt would agree that we’re all entitled to express a point of view. Even if it’s demonstrably wrong. For goodness sake, if Bolt had to rely on facts for his point of view, he wouldn’t have a column.

The trouble with the exchange of opininons is that it very rarely goes beyond, “You’re wrong and  I’m right, therefore nothing you have to say could change my mind.”

And so I find our beloved leader’s comments – the ones I highlighted – in the Bolt interview disturbing. Tony Abbott seems to be saying that extreme events aren’t evidence of anything, and it doesn’t matter how many we have, that’s just the nature of things. Records are made to be broken, after all.

This is fairly consistent with the way in which climate deniers view things. One extreme weather event is just the exception. Two is just coincedence. Three, well, that’s the norm – we have weather like this all the time.

Now, I think that there is a discussion to be had about how much of a link can be drawn between climate change and the current bushfires. And I have some sympathy for the view that maybe Adam Bandt could have timed his comments a little more sensitively. I can accept that we’ve always had large bushfires and that, in the distant past, some of them even occured in October.

However, I think that we need to actually look very closely at the evidence – even if it means hours on the computer looking up Wikipedia. To say, as one person wrote in response to the Climate Council’s Bushfires and Climate Change in Australia – The Facts (which suggested that bushfires in the last thirty years had been more frequent),  that we had large bushfires in the past too. The person then went on to talk of three over the space of sixty years prior to 1983.

It’s difficult to argue about climate change when people like Bolt and Abbott seem to suggest that every event can be taken in isolation and therefore nothing is part of any pattern. Bolt may be right. There may be no significant warming. But he is no more of less qualified to assert his position than the bloke down at the pub who tells me that Greater Western Sydney will make next year’s Grand Final. He is not an expert and lacks formal training in the area – something that he is quick to point out about those he disagrees with. After arguing for years that the climate is actually cooling, Bolt jumped on the IPCC report which suggested the planet wasn’t WARMING as fast as they predicted, completely ignoring the fact that this went against his contention.

So, records are always being broken, according to the Prime Minister. Linking the fires to climate change is “complete hogwash”. We don’t need a Climate Commission to look at evidence. We know these things. Who needs a Science Minister? It’s either part of trade, or something you do at school. Science, itself, what’s that?

As for the Audit Commission, who thinks that they may recommend delaying or scaling back the Liberal’s Direct Action initiatives?