Is freedom of speech dead in Australia?


A few months ago I wrote that freedom of speech is dead in Australia. This was prompted by two incidents — the trial of blogger and broadcaster Andrew Bolt, who had had the temerity to suggest that white-looking Australians with only a tiny proportion of aboriginal blood in them might possibly be taking the piss by using their supposed “traditional owner” ethnic status to screw money, influence and sympathy out of Australia’s guilt-ridden welfare system. The other was the report on media regulation by Australia’s answer to Leveson — activist lawyer Raymond Finkelstein — which demanded stringent new codes of practice to ensure that in future all Aussie media outlets looked, sounded and read like the ABC and/or Fairfax group.

Now to this list of shame we can add a third item of gob-smacking imbecility: the consignment of Australia’s most popular broadcaster, Alan Jones, to a political re-education class for having got a factual detail wrong on one of his radio shows. (H/T Warren C Herrick)

The Australian Communications and Media Authority yesterday released a damning report on Jones’ show, finding he breached broadcast rules by falsely claiming Australians contributed just “1 per cent of .001 per cent of carbon dioxide in the air”.

‘The percentage of man-made carbon dioxide Australia produces is 1 per cent of .001 per cent of carbon dioxide in the air,” Jones told his listeners on March 15 last year. “Nature produces nearly all the carbon dioxide in the air.”

2GB told the media regulator Jones had done his own research for the claims, but neither he nor the station could provide any evidence.

University of Melbourne climate change scientist David Karoly said Australians were in fact responsible for .45 per cent of total carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. “Obviously, we would much rather prefer that the comments of people like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt were, in fact, correct, so it is pleasing to get this ruling from ACMA,” Dr Karoly said.

Interesting use of the word “damning” there in the unusual sense of “trivial, nit-picking and of no significance whatsoever to anyone outside the weird, warped world of left-wing political activism.”

Even more interesting citation of David Karoly, there, as an apparently unimpeachable source of scientific expertise. It was Karoly, of course, who earlier this year was raving about the Aussie climate science equivalent of the Hitler Diaries — a paper he had co-authored with aclimate activist named Joelle Gergis purporting to the show that recent Australian warming was the scariest and most dramatic in at least a millennium.

Naturally — as Jo Nova noted — this shocking story exposing man’s greed, selfishness and wanton refusal to accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change received widespread coverage in all the usual media outlets:

“1000 years of climate data confirms Australia’s warming”said the press release from University of Melbourne. It was picked up by  The Guardian: “Australasia has hottest 60 years in a millennium, scientists find”; The Age and  The Australian led with “Warming since 1950 ‘unprecedented’. The story was on ABC 24  and ABC news where Gergis proclaimed:” there are no other warm periods in the last 1000 years that match the warming experienced in Australasia since 1950.” It was all over the ABC includingABC Radio National, and they were “95% certain“! On ABC AM, “the last five decades years in Australia have been the warmest. ” Plus there were pages in Science Alert,  Campus Daily  Eco news,  The ConversationReal Climate* andThink Progress.

Problem was the paper was deeply flawed. So flawed that it quickly become known as Australia’s very own Hockey Stick and had to be withdrawn on the grounds of it being completely useless and embarrassing and wrong.

Was the Gergis et al paper’s withdrawal reported with quite the same enthusiasm as its alarmist claims had been? Strangely, not. But you’re not going to hear news outlets like the ABC apologising for having promulgated such egregious untruths any more than you’re going to hear them apologising for or correcting the woefully inaccurate prognostications about rising sea levels and increasing droughts regularly spouted on its airwaves by alarmists such as Tim Flannery.

So why, given that the ABC (and its fellow-travellers in the print media such as the embarrassing and lame Sydney Morning Herald) get it badly wrong on climate change pretty much every time they cover the subject have they not also been hauled up for censorship by the Australian Communications and Media Authority? Why are not their crappy environmental correspondents, their hysterical leftist beardies (that means YOU, Jon Faine) and their vast batteries of union-protected support staff being subjected to a day or two’s lecturing on hard climate science by Ian Plimer or Bob Carter?

Why, silly me for asking. The answer’s obvious: because Alan Jones is a popular right-wing talk show host whose opinions conflict dangerously with the prevailing left-liberal orthodoxy. It goes without saying — as it did with the Bolt affair — that the apparatus of the state must be used to crush all such voices of dissent.

UPDATE — Andrew Bolt sums it up brilliantly here. (H/T Bufo)