Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, August 06, 2004
THE CORRUPTION OF OUR SENATE becomes daily more evident.

The cause? Try the rise of the Greens, the desperation of the disappearing Democrats, and the spinelessness of the Labor Opposition.

One symptom of this decline into a sounding board for sectional bile is the way Senate committees are endorsing far left bigotries.

General Cosgrove, who spends an inordinate part of his time attending the fishing expeditions of the alienated left, has finally erupted in
mild rebuke.

General Peter Cosgrove says he is concerned by comments made this week by senators investigating the military justice system, when they questioned the independence and impartiality of those administering the ADF's internal complaint handling processes.
Yesterday Labor's Trish Crossin and her Labor majority put their stamp of approval on the Greens' long campaign against Australia's Chief Scientist, Robin Batterham, by accusing him of conflicts of interest.
There has been a renewed call for Australia's chief scientist to either resign from the position or step down from his role with the mining giant Rio Tinto. A Senate report into the office of the chief scientist has found a clear conflict in his duties.

Batterham, whose day job is chief technology adviser to Rio Tinto, has served the Howard Government as Chief Scientist on a part-time basis. In the process he has won the support and admiration of the research community. He has also gained the hostility of the Greens for backing further work on geosequestration of carbon.

The idea of putting back in the ground the carbon produced by burning fossil fuels has won support from researchers and policy-makers, but remains an infant technology. On early estimates, Australia could safely store one to two millenia's worth of its annual carbon output. The Greens think this bright new idea needs to be aborted before it reaches term.

The problem with sequestration, as far as the Greens are concerned, is not its novelty, but the risk that it will be successful. If it is, it will help make the burning of fossil fuels compatible with meeting carbon targets. That is, it will reduce also the case for putting the hairshirt on our economy, the ultimate goal of our deep Greens.

From a Green perspective, there should be no more fossil-fuelled generators, just strip development of wind generators along our coasts and regular black-outs.

If science won't discredit the geosequestration proposal, then the science must be discredited. Since Rio is a fossil fuel producer, Batterham makes a convenient target for Green spleen.

It's been a long campaign. Auntie's Green pulpit, Earthbeat has, of course, been
helpful in the task of undermining Batterham's reputation, but nowhere near as helpful as the Labor Senators.

The bad behaviour of Labor in the Senate may be related to their new leader, Mark Latham.

Contempt for policy-making is bound to lead for contempt for policy-makers. Labor has been led by its opportunism to favour subjecting this expert policy position to normal public service controls, a guarantee that its future occupant will be a second-rater and lack the confidence of his/her Prime Minister.

What the hell. Knowledge Nation was so very Beazley.

Strange behaviour for a Party that has accused the Howard Government of politicising the public service.