Friday, December 27, 2013

Where did ABC get its advice from?

Letter in The Australian today...

WRITING in The Australian about the ABC's publication of stolen intelligence documents that damaged Australia's relations with Indonesia, the ABC's director of news Kate Torney said: "We took advice from Australia's intelligence authorities on the matter and redacted sensitive operational information that might have compromised national security" ("Criticism of ABC's spying scoop reeks of sour grapes", 26/11).
A Freedom of Information request I made to the ABC for copies of the advice produced the following response from ABC's head of corporate governance: "The requested documents do not exist and therefore access to them is refused pursuant to s24A of the FOI Act."
As the ABC is a trusted source of news, perhaps Torney could explain where the advice came from.

This sent to the OZ on the 23rd of December. As readers here will know ABC's Head of Editorial Policy, Alan Sunderland has since provide clarification on the nature of communications, indicating they were provided "face to face" and ABC did not create any documents detailing that advice, hence the failure of my FOI request.

I have sent a follow up letter to the OZ indicating this and also asking some follow up questions of the ABC. Wait and see.

Update...That letter in Saturday's Australian...

SINCE my letter requesting the ABC reveal the source of intelligence advice it sought in relation to stolen intelligence documents (Letters, 27/12), the ABC's head of editorial policy, Alan Sunderland, has indicated it was provided face-to-face and the ABC kept no records.
Questions remain about which agencies the ABC contacted and the nature of the advice provided. If the agencies involved had Australia's best interests in mind, they would have objected to the ABC's involvement in reporting the documents. Why did the ABC ignore this part of the advice? If objections were not made by agencies supposed to have the national interest at heart, then why not? In the ABC's justification for reporting this story, its news director Kate Torney concluded: "We will not succumb to pressure to suppress or ignore legitimate stories to protect those in power." Will the ABC live up to this?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fact checkers a waste of time and money

ABC's fact checkers give themselves a back slap about the work they've done since starting claiming over a 100 reports: Here are a few facts that put their tremendous efforts into perspective:

Time claimed to be working: 1 year#
First report published: 14 August 2013
Last Fact check report published: 17 December 2013
Actual days fact checking to 17/12/2013: 88* = 0.24% of 1 year

Number of stories (from the fact check website to 17/12/2013): Total: 94
Number claimed: "over 100 stories"

Staffing: 10
Estimated Cost: 10 Journalists at an average cost of about $150,000 each, plus admin costs and overheads @20% of salaries: Estimated Total annual cost of unit: $1.8M. Estimated cost for 125 days***= ($1.8M x 125/365) =$661,438.36

Number of stories per member of staff during period of operation: 94/10=9.4
Stories per staff member per working day = 94/10/88=0.11
Cost per story: $661,438.36/94=$7031.58

How accurate: Not Very... eg: ABC Fact Check unit's Palmer report riddled with errors

#From ABC Fact checkers own headline: The year that was: Fact, fiction and everything in between
*Working days (M-F) 14 August-17 December: 88 (less NSW Labour day-7 October)
**Wrong 23, Correct 26, inbetween 45. Excludes report about itself published ABC web site 26/12/2013
*** Total Days 14 August to 17 December

Relentless heatwave continues

BOM's Christmas heatwave continues....

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dramatic photos of Sydney's Christmas heatwave

Warwick Hughes reports on the disparity between BOM's recent Christmas weather forecast and reality. In ABC's report of BOM's forecast this dramatic image forboding of the coming doom:
ABC/BOM: About one-third of the country is expected to be hit by a heatwave over Christmas, with temperatures likely to reach 40 degrees Celsius or more.

This was the heatwave as it passed over Sydney this morning...

Will ABC report on BOM's bomb? 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Questions remain about agencies contacted by the ABC in Snowden scandal

We will not succumb to pressure to suppress or ignore legitimate stories to protect those in power.
Kate Torney ABC News Director

In November, 2013 ABC reported on Top secret Australian DSD documents that showed Australian Spy agencies tapped the mobile phones of the Indonesian President and his wife in 2009. The report included copies of Top Secret Defense Signals Directorate Powerpoint slides stolen by US contractor Edward Snowden, currently hiding from US authorities. Public disclosure of this information has done significant damage to Australian Indonesian relations. The Australian Newspaper recently provided important background information missing from ABC's reporting that provides an explanation for Australia's interest in the private conversations of the Indonesian President and his wife.

ABC justified its reporting and collaboration with The Guardian on the basis that release of the information was in the public interest. In senate estimates ABC Managing Director Mark Scott indicated that prior to the report being published the ABC discussed the story with "Australian Authorities". According to Alan Sunderland the communications were done face to face and the ABC retained no records, explaining the failure of an FOI request we made to see documents related to this advice.

Questions remain as to which agencies the ABC contacted and the advice that was provided.

We assume if the agencies involved had Australia's interests in mind they would have strongly objected to the ABC's involvement in reporting the documents in collaboration with the Guardian. Why did the ABC ignore these requests? If objections were not made then this would represent a serious breach of duty of care to our national interests. This is a matter of public interest and as such we will attempt to obtain more details of the advice ABC was provided.

In ABC's justification for reporting this story its News Director Kate Torney concluded:
We will not succumb to pressure to suppress or ignore legitimate stories to protect those in power.
We shall wait and see whether ABC live up to this maxim? Or are those words mere confetti?

UPDATED FOI-request for records of communication with appropriate authorities

UPDATE: Alan Sunderland ABC's Head of Editorial Policy takes a WEB break and provides the following:

The advice provided by intelligence was not provided in writing, it was provided face to face. That is why there are no documents of the kind you sought. The ABC itself also did not create any documents detailing that advice.
Merry Christmas,
Alan Sunderland (currently on "well-earned" break)
Head of Editorial Policy

To which I replied:

Thanks Alan,
ABC MD Mr Scott in senate estimates referred to multiple authorities -see transcript below. In the public interest can ABC indicate which authorities it spoke directly with. Based on your response it seems there was only one agency involved in which case Mr Scott may have mislead senate estimates (ed. on the number of agencies it took advice from).

From senate estimates transcript:

Mr Scott : I think there were discussions with The Guardianbut there were also discussions with appropriate authorities. As would usually be the case with a story, we went to appropriate figures


Reply From Alan Sunderland:

I'm not proposing to go into any further details, but I can confirm that the MD's advice was accurate. 

Our response:

Dear Alan,
Thanks again. The ABC justified publication of stolen top secret classified documents on the grounds of public interest. I am using the same grounds to request for further details about ABC's communications with authorities.  In particular which agencies ABC spoke with (I am not requested the names of individuals) and the nature of the advice they provided. I find it hard to believe that the agencies involved condoned the release of stolen top secret information and on this basis would suggest on this basis that the ABC went against the advice of the agencies it contacted. It would be in the public interest to discover that the agencies involved did not recommend to the ABC that the documents not be reported upon in the first instance by the ABC. 

Look forward to your response. Appreciate your time away from WEB. Note in the public interest our correspondence is posted at the ABC NEWS WATCH blog.


Original Post below
In light of revelations that ABC do not have any documents that confirm ABC took advice from Australia's intelligence authorities, before it published stolen top secret information, we put the following request to ABC's FOI coordinator, perhaps a slightly different wording may reveal traces of the communication:

Dear FOI coordinator,
I refer to the following extract of the Hansard Transcript of ABC's managing director's testimony to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee - 19/11/2013 - Estimates - COMMUNICATIONS PORTFOLIO

I request under FOI any records related to the ABC's communications with "appropriate authorities" referred to by Mr Scott in the transcript below.

Senator LUDLAM: Mr Scott, I am going to take you back to where you began in response to some remarks that you made on questioning from my colleague Senator Ruston. I was watching and listening fairly attentively from my office downstairs and appreciate the candour of your comments regarding the story that the ABC and The Guardian broke yesterday. I think it was extremely well put. I am interested in the process of redaction. I notice that, of the slides you published, six or so slides have been redacted. Have you done that in collaboration with The Guardian, or is that something separate?
Mr Scott : I think there were discussions with The Guardian, but there were also discussions with appropriate authorities. As would usually be the case with a story, we went to appropriate figures—I will not go into detail on that—saying that we were aware of these matters, that we had seen these documents and that this was the shape of the story that we might be running. There was some consultation around that. I think that, in light of representations that were made, a decision was made to withdraw some elements on those slides. I will not go into the detail of that information, but that was a decision that we came to. That is not an atypical process.
Senator LUDLAM: Were you at that point coordinating with the editors of The Guardian?
Mr Scott : I believe I was aware the story was coming together and finally briefed on its shape before it went to air, but I believe that, even though, when the ABC was aware of this material, the ABC reporting staff made its own calls, made its own inquiries and wrote and filmed our own stories independently from The Guardian, there were points where there was discussion with The Guardian, including around the time when the story would be published.
Senator LUDLAM: Presumably in what form the primary source material would be published.
Mr Scott : Yes. I think there was an agreement around what material would be redacted and the reasons for that.
Senator LUDLAM: Can we assume that some of those redactions are a direct response to your process of checking with various authorities?
Mr Scott : Yes you can.
Senator LUDLAM: Publishers including The GuardianThe New York Times and others in the United States rest on first-amendment protections when they put this material to air or online, but in the UK, you are no doubt aware, the offices of The Guardian have been not quite raided but have had the editor told, 'Time's up; you've had your fun' and The Guardian has been forced to drill out and destroy hard drives containing the source material and, effectively, told to stop publishing. To their credit, they have not. What is the legal situation here in Australia? On what constitutional protections, if any, do you rest when you put a story like this to air?
Mr Scott : I do not have precise detail in front of me. We had this story legalled. We did not believe there was any legal impediment to broadcasting this material, but I do not have that precise legal advice in front of me this afternoon.
Senator LUDLAM: Okay. Do you publish under some kind of implied freedom of publication or are you exposed in the same way as publishers in, for example, the UK?
Mr Scott : We clearly do not have the first amendment here. In our discussions with authorities yesterday there were no other issues raised with us that was an inhibitor on us publishing this material.
Senator LUDLAM: That is good. I know it would not normally be the practice.
Mr Scott : And our act does require us to comply with the law. This is one of the reasons why we seek legal advice prior to publication.
Senator LUDLAM: I guess I am more concerned that the law is silent rather than containing any explicit prohibition for you to do what you have done. The law in the Australian Constitution is silent.
Mr Scott : That is true. There is no prevailing first-amendment protection.

Monday, December 23, 2013

FOI - Did ABC take advice from Australian intelligence authorities?

On the 26th of November 2013, The Australian newspaper published an op-ed piece by Director of ABC News Kate Torney defending ABC's collaborative publication of a report about stolen US documents that indicated Australian agencies had tapped into mobile phones of the Indonesian President and his wife. Titled: Criticism of ABC's spying scoop reeks of sour grapes, the piece contained this statement:

"As the ABC's managing director made clear at Senate estimates last week, that simply isn't true. We did not publish everything we had access to. We took advice from Australia's intelligence authorities on the matter and redacted sensitive operational information that might have compromised national security."

I was interested in looking at what "advice" ABC had been provided by "Australia's intelligence authorities" so filed an FOI request with the ABC for: “copies of the advice provided to the ABC by Australia’s intelligence authorities [as mentioned in a piece by Kate Torney published in The Australian newspaper on 26 November 2013]”.

Below is ABC's response which raises some serious questions about the veracity of Torney's claims that ABC took advice from  "Australia's intelligence authorities on the matter". It seems no documents can be found to support this claim!

We have sent the following question to ABC's Mark Scott, cc'd to Malcolm Turnbull Communications Minister and Senator Ann Ruston member of the senate's Environment and Communications Legislation Committee:

Dear Mr Scott,
In light of the results of an ABC FOI search (see attached) that could not locate any documents that confirm ABC sought advice from "Australia's intelligence authorities" in relation to stolen US documents reported upon by the ABC that have significantly damaged Australia's relations with Indonesia can you please confirm that ABC sought advice from "Australia's intelligence authorities" prior to publication of the documents, and the nature of that advice. The basis of the request is a claim made by ABC's director of news Kate Torney in an op-ed piece published by The Australian newspaper on the 26th of November, 2013 in which Ms Torney claims: "We took advice from Australia's intelligence authorities on the matter and redacted sensitive operational information that might have compromised national security."

Scott's initial reply...I am currently travelling on annual leave.


I refer to your request for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) in your email of 26 November 2013. You have sought access to the following documents:

“copies of the advice provided to the ABC by Australia’s intelligence authorities [as mentioned in a piece by Kate Torney published in The Australian newspaper on 26 November 2013]”.

I am authorised by the Managing Director under section 23 of the FOI Act to make decisions in respect of requests made under that Act. Following is my decision in relation to your request.

Locating and identifying documents
I have taken reasonable steps to identify and locate all relevant documents. My search for these documents involved contacting:

  • Office of the Director, News;
  • Head of Policy and Staff Development in the News Division; and
  • Managing Director’s Chief of Staff.

I requested that searches be conducted of all hard and soft copy records for documents which fall within the scope of your request. As a result of those searches, no documents were identified.

In the present case, I consider that all reasonable steps have been taken to locate relevant documents. I am further satisfied that the requested documents do not exist and therefore access to them is refused pursuant to s24A of the FOI Act.

Judith Maude
Head, Corporate Governance

UPDATE: as the same article appeared on THE DRUM under a different headline we have lodged a complaint of factual error with the ABC.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Reading, Christmas wishes

I ordered a copy of The Doomsday Syndrome by John Royden Maddox for New Year Reading.

Maddox is an interesting character. He was a physicist, science writer, and for many years editor of the journal Nature. Readers may be interested in this 2009 obituary by Lawrence Solomon...

Sir John Maddox, the legendary editor of the science journal Nature, died this week at age 83. The obituaries were laudatory, as might be expected given his role, over a 22-year career, in elevating Nature to one of the world’s great journals.
But few obituaries referred to Maddox’s reputation as a skeptic of doomsaying environmentalism and a skewerer of politically correct science.

In a 1997 interview he had this to say about the ABC's current bugbear.....

Global warming is the scenario that's supposed to happen when, because of the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the temperature on the surface of the earth is increasing. I'm in a very odd position on this. I accept that global warming, because of carbon dioxide, is going to be a reality at some stage in the future. I disagree with the way in which the forecasts have been made by the organization called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is under the UN umbrella, although it's really a child of the United Nations Environmental Agency and the World Meteorological Organization.
These people have produced so far two assessments of the seriousness of global warming, and they predict that during the next century the temperature will increase by between two and three degrees centigrade - which doesn't sound much but actually would be a lot. This is the average temperature, and that would mean that in places like the southern Sahara it would become even more like a desert, and it might even mean that in some parts of the United States, like Texas, it would become a bit like the Sahara.
But the real problem is that all this is based on computer modeling, and while I'm fully enthusiastic about computer modeling as a way of understanding scientific problems, and comprehending large amounts of data, I think it's dangerous to rely on computer modeling when you are trying to make predictions about the real world. In fact the satellites that have been used to measure the temperature show that the temperature is increasing less rapidly than the computer models predict, by a factor of three. So I think that the scenario is less gloomy than the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change says.

Based on the evidence I think so to! Best Wishes to readers and their families over the Christmas and New Year period. We shall return in 2014 once again to be a small thorn in our old Aunty's thick backside.

Friday, December 20, 2013

More on climate sensitivity

Since starting the blog we have run a few articles covering ABC's reluctance to cover any stories that run against the CAGW meme. The C being for Catastrophic. The notion of "Luke"warming just as distasteful to ABC's activist ashen cloth reporters as the notion of no warming or even cooling. It's a weird form of doomsday syndrome funded by the Australia taxpayer.

Judy Curry, a climate expert that the ABC has so far avoided speaking with, provides a link and commentary to a series of submissions to the UK Parliament's review of the IPCC 5th assessment report. Amongst the submissions and definitely newsworthy is a piece by Nic Lewis.

On this Curry states:
A number of submissions make scientific arguments that they believe refute the IPCC’s conclusions.  Of these, Nic Lewis‘ submission is a tour de force.  Not surprisingly, his submission is on the topic of climate sensitivity. This is the clearest explanation I’ve seen of the problems with the IPCC’s arguments regarding climate sensitivity.

The intro and summary to Lewis'submission reads as follows:
Introduction and summary
1. The terms of reference for this inquiry ask various questions. I address the following 
questions; my related conclusions are italicised.

  •  How robust are the conclusions in the AR5 Physical Science Basis report (AR5-WG1)? 

In the central area of climate sensitivity, they are misleading. The substantial divergence 
between sensitivity estimates from, on the one hand, satisfactory studies based on 
instrumental observations over an extended period and, on the other hand, from flawed 
studies and from computer models was not brought out.

  • Does the AR5 address the reliability of climate models? 

Not adequately. Shorter-term warming projections by climate models have been scaled 
down by 40% in AR5, recognising that they are unrealistically high. But, inconsistently, no 
reduction has been made in longer term projections.

  • Do the AR5 Physical Science Basis report’s conclusions strengthen or weaken the economic case for action to prevent dangerous climate change? 
Although the conclusions fail to say so, the evidence in AR5-WG1 weakens the case since it 
indicates the climate system is less sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

ABC audited by BFF BBC

ABC's new chairman James Spigelman must have a screw loose if he thinks an audit of the ABC by its bestest friend the BBC will produce anything other than a white washed outcome. 

If Mr Spigelman seeks an independent evaluation of the ABC's performance it need look no further than this little blog. And it's free!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Quick fix on alarmist report

A quick fix that does nothing to repair the lack of balance in this alarmist report.

Thank for contacting the ABC regarding an interview aired on The World Today Tuesday December 3rd.

As a result of your complaint we have corrected the transcript on our website

I hope this resolves the matter for you but please feel free to contact ACMA if you feel you need to take it further.


Paula Kruger
Coordinating Producer
ABC Radio Current Affairs

Score +1

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Recommended Reading

Some insightful Op Eds in today's Australian....

First a piece by Greg Sheridan that puts ABC's decision to throw Australia's relationship with Indonesia under a bus into perspective:

Spy story shows ABC at its left-wing worst
THE ABC emerges from the Indonesian spy scandal a diminished organisation, morally compromised and journalistically discredited.

The second exposes ABC's willful ignorance of what may be one of the biggest news stories of a generation:
When Aunty turned a blind eye
THIS year, the ABC has studiously ignored every major development in the Victoria Police major fraud squad investigation into the Australian Workers Union scandal. Even the proceedings of Victoria's courts on the matter - the bread and butter of local journalism - have eluded the national broadcaster's local reporters. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

James from Perth or NEW South Wales. ABC don't give a stuff

In October we noted some conflicting ABC reports about where the new climate council's first donation originated from. At the time ABC reported the following:

James in Perth?
'We had our first donation in last night from James in Perth - $15,' Dr Flannery told Breakfast this morning.

or James in New South Wales?
"We had our first donation from James in New South Wales for $15 at midnight," he said at the time.Tim Flannery suggested

We requested ABC follow this disparity up and yesterday we received this report from the Head of Audience and Consumer Affairs, Kirstin McLiesh:

Thank you for your email.  I regret the delay in responding to you.

The ABC accurately reported Dr Flannery’s statements on both occasions, as demonstrated by the video and audio footage accessible on the webpages to which you refer.  Whether the $15 donation was made by James in Perth or in New South Wales was not a material fact for the purposes of either of these reports and the ABC will not pursue this matter further.

ABC provided the climate council with free advertising and they can't even bother asking simple questions about un-important things like, um... facts!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Which Pm's partner first in a war zone? UPDATE

Back in July we asked the question: Which Pm's partner first in a war zone?

This followed some conflicting history from the ABC and the National Archives Prime Ministers page. The later suggested Dame Pattie Menzies was worthy of the title. After some questions and suggestions National Archives now advise the following:

Thanks for your feedback.
We've had advice from the Museum of Australian Democracy, and have changed the text on Robert Menzies' "In office" page to reflect that advice.
Thanks for your contribution.

The conflicting history has been removed and the text now reads....
While in Britain, Robert Menzies experienced first-hand the devastation caused by German air raids. He was deeply moved by what he saw and visited a number of provincial British cities and war factories to help boost morale. But Menzies was unable to achieve an increased commitment from Britain for Singapore's defence. With the blitz still in progress and the threat of German invasion not yet passed, Churchill promised only to keep Australia's concerns in mind.

Rather than...
While in Britain, Robert and Pattie Menzies both experienced first-hand the devastation caused by German air raids. They were deeply moved by what they saw and visited a number of provincial British cities and war factories to help boost morale. But Menzies was unable to achieve an increased commitment from Britain for Singapore’s defence. With the blitz still in progress and the threat of German invasion not yet passed, Churchill promised only to keep Australia’s concerns in mind.

ABC NEWS WATCH we take it one fact at a time!

PS this service provided free of charge, ABCs fact checking unit on the other hand...

Coral Reefs Delay the Effects of Ocean Acidification

One wonders if ABC will look into this good news story...

Can Coral Reefs Delay the Damaging Effects of Ocean Acidification?
Research shows that reefs are able to counteract the trend toward acidity through their own biochemistry, but at a cost 
Scripps Institution of Oceanography/University of California, San Diego
According to a paper published Nov. 17 in Nature Climate Change, coral reefs may respond to ocean acidification in ways that will partially offset expected changes in seawater acidity taking place as the oceans take up human-produced carbon dioxide.

Andreas Andersson, a chemical oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and lead author of the paper, said that most predictions of seawater acidification on coral reefs are based on observations from the open ocean. But the effects of increasing CO2 on coral reefs are very different than the changes in the open ocean, because the reef itself modifies the chemistry through various biogeochemical processes.

The study, based on observations of the Bermuda coral reef ecosystem, predicts that changes to this system in response to ocean acidification could offset human-induced, CO2-driven decreases in pH by 12 to 24 percent. Andersson and colleagues also predict that these reef responses will counteract a predicted decrease in the seawater aragonite saturation state, a measure of the availability of carbonate ions, by 15 to 31 percent.  This is an important parameter because corals need these ions to build their calcium carbonate (CaCO3) reefs.

“Other researchers have shown that different benthic communities can alter the chemistry on the reef, but we’re the first to show it on this scale, the whole ecosystem scale, over five years of observations,” Andersson said.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide has gone up by 42 percent and global average temperatures have increased by 0.8°C (1.4°F) since the Industrial Revolution. These changes have well-defined effects on the open ocean, increasing both the acidity and temperature of surface seawater. This decrease in ocean pH has left many scientists concerned about the detrimental effects it could have on coral reefs.

Increasing temperature and decreasing pH make it harder for corals to build calcium carbonate, and also cause calcium carbonate to dissolve more readily. The reef’s total ecosystem organic carbon production (photosynthesis minus organic matter consumed) will also be affected. All of these processes – calcification, dissolution, and ecosystem organic carbon production – affect seawater pH. By modeling how the balance between these processes will change in the future, Andersson and his coauthors discovered that the expected changes may actually increase the pH on the reef relative to the open ocean, thus partially offsetting the decrease in pH owing to uptake of COfrom the atmosphere.

Many laboratory and field experiments have studied the effects of rising temperatures and ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystems. Although scientists aren’t sure exactly how much reef processes will change, they are confident that calcification will decrease and dissolution will increase as the ocean becomes more acidic. These changes to calcification and dissolution could be so drastic that eventually the coral reefs’ dissolution rate will catch up to the rate at which they build, resulting in stunted growth or deterioration.

“This is something that a lot of experiments and models have predicted will happen,” Andersson said. “This means the reef is dissolving as fast as it’s producing calcium carbonate, and this was the scenario in which we saw the greatest pH offset.”

A reef’s survival depends on putting down more calcium carbonate than is dissolving or it won’t be able to grow, so a reef in this state is not a healthy one, even if it’s able to maintain a more beneficial pH.  This outcome tempers the seemingly good news that corals can “fight” ocean acidification—these offsets will come at the cost of major changes to reef processes and ecosystem composition. The reefs may change from being dominated by calcifying corals to non-calcifying algae, a condition that may diminish their functional and biological diversity.

But there is some positive news in these results, Andersson says. Scientists believe some marine organisms may have “tipping points,” certain pH thresholds below which they aren’t able to survive. This reef feedback may buy them some more time.

“The take-home message [of these results] is that to understand the effect of ocean acidification on a coral reef we have to consider not just how seawater chemistry on the reef is changing owing to uptake of anthropogenic CO2 and how that affects the biogeochemical processes on the reef, but how these processes actually control the chemistry,” Andersson said.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

FOI Request

ABC is in deep doo doo over its publication of secret information stolen and leaked by a rogue US intelligence contractor.

We submitted the following FOI this morning. Based on past experience we are not too optimistic. But ABC have managed to release sensitive data by accident so who knows maybe it will eventually get out through unofficial channels. (ed This should be of concern to Australia's intelligence authorities).

Dear Sir/ Madam,
In an op ed piece in today's Australian Newspaper, ABC's Director of news Kate Torney states:

"As the ABC's managing director made clear at Senate estimates last week, that simply isn't true. We did not publish everything we had access to. We took advice from Australia's intelligence authorities on the matter and redacted sensitive operational information that might have compromised national security. What was left was the central revelation that we considered then and consider now to be a matter of legitimate public debate. The allegation that we recklessly dumped unfiltered data doesn't stand up to the most cursory examination."


Under FOI can you please provide me with copies of the advice provided to the ABC by Australia's intelligence authorities on this matter mentioned by Ms Torney above. It is in the public interest to see exactly the advice ABC were provided to better judge ABC's handling of this sensitive issue. For instance which particular advice did ABC apparently ignore while participating in the publication of information that has damaged Australia's relations with Indonesia, putting lives at risk?

We note Ms Torney closes her piece with the following line:  "We will not succumb to pressure to suppress or ignore legitimate stories to protect those in power." Given ABC does not want to be branded a hypocrite we expect the documents will be expedited through ABC's FOI process.

what you get when you pay peanuts

A good article in The Australian by Hedley Thomas looking at errors made by the ABC's Fact Checking unit about Clive Palmer...

ABC Fact Check unit's Palmer report riddled with errors
THE ABC's Fact Check unit has made a series of factual mistakes in its analysis of Clive Palmer's business interests, wealth and companies and relied on accounts that are almost 17 months out of date. 

It just goes to show that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

ABC in the news round up 6

In this week's brief edition, ABC throw Australia under a bus, and amazing rates of pay....

Part 1. ABC throw Australia under a bus. ABC decide to reveal the contents of illegally obtained secret DSD documents and throw Australia under a bus in the process. If the ABC is more interested in supporting Indonesian interests than those of the Australian tax payer  perhaps it is time they sought their funding from Jakarta rather than Canberra. The IBC has a certain ring to it. Perhaps Tony Abbot can gift it to Indonesia. 

Astonishing Mark Scott said this: And I am confident that the job of advancing Australia’s international interests is in not just the most efficient and effective, but the safest possible hands.

Part 2. Your taxes at work. The Australian reported on leaked documents that reveal the salaries of notable ABC presenters. No doubt this will now cause considerable internal disruption as the trough feeders find out others have been scoffing up more than their fair share. 

The leaked documents which ABC Chief Mark Scott formerly denied access reveal former Media Watch Presenter Johnathan Holmes was paid an amazing $187380 for 2011-2012. Assuming this covers the 39 15 minute episodes for the 2011-12 financial year. This works out to be about $320 per minute. Not bad money. 

Andrew Bolt has more under the headline: Bloody, bloody ABC hypocrites

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The significance of numbers

ABC are quite excited about the Climate action rallies held on Sunday. ABC report that:
"Organisers say about 60,000 participated at the rallies, which were held in capital cities and more than 130 towns and regional centres."

With Australia's population now over 23,283,000, this would mean that the rallies involved 0.26% of the population. 

It seems the real story is that 99.74% found something more worthwhile to do!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

more one sided coverage

Honestly the pap and crap just goes on and on at our expense. This week's Media Report featured an interview with the un-sceptical  activist Wendy Bacon. This was a one sided affair, the sort of one sided conversation that only happens in the Goldfish bowl that is our ABC. Ironically an organisation that is supposed to represent us all.

Don Aitkin, foundation chairman of the Australian Research Council and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canberra. Provides a much needed counterpoint.....

I listened last week to an astonishingly ignorant radio interview of a professor of journalism who had measured the proportion of news stories in the Australian press that dealt with ‘climate change’ between 2011 and 2012 in the same three-month periods, and had discovered not only that the numbers declined over the period but that the proportion that seemed sceptical in tone had risen. ‘Quite extraordinary’, said the professor, and went on to say that scientists and journalists were both seekers after the truth, and when 97.4 per cent of scientists said that human beings were caused climate change, and they (the scientists) are truthful, why would newspapers be saying in effect that ‘climate change’ was a matter of open debate?

Read the rest at the link. 

Andrew Bolt, subject of much of Bacon's attention also offers this reposte....

Last night I said Wendy Bacon should resign from teaching journalists at the University of Technology, Sydney.
My reasons: 
Her new report on media coverage of global warming notes in approval a ban by Fairfax newspapers on articles by people sceptical of the so-called “consensus” position on catastrophic man-made warming.
Bacon is critical of News Corp editors for letting me write articles critical of the consensus position.
Bacon’s report devotes pages to criticising my writing on global warming issues without once identifying a mistake. The implication is that my error lies simply having a bad opinion - one that many (but very far from all) climate scientists don’t share. 
Bacon is advocating not reporting but a shutting down of debate. A closing of the mind.
This is promoting not journalism but propaganda.

Friday, October 25, 2013

More Spring bushfire stats help put out ABC's alarmism

ABC continue the mistaken meme that the current Sydney Bushfires are unprecedented (see reply from ABC news to our query below). One reason this might be the case is that official sources of bushfire information provide incorrect data.

For instance if you look up the 1951-2 fire season, one of the worst on record, on the governments's AUSTRALIAN EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT KNOWLEDGE HUB it provides the following:


From November 1951 to January 1952, there were 11 reported deaths when approximately 5000 fires burned 4.5 million hectares of western New South Wales. Fires were estimated to have cost £6 million at the time. November saw 371,000 hectares of cypress pine forest and bush burned in the Pilliga area, and 266,000 hectares of grass-land burnt in the Dubbo / Forbes district. In January 1952, 330,000 hectares were burned out at Mangoplah near Wagga Wagga. Two people died and 10,000 hectares were burnt in the Australian Capital Territory with fires bearing down on the urban areas of Canberra.

Note the start date of 1 November.
AEM provide a list of sources for this summary that includes the following article from the Canberra Times: The Canberra Times, 20 May 1952, ‘NSW £ 6 ½ million in six months’. This contains the following information:

"Bushfires caused at least £6,500,000 damage in New South Wales between October, 1951 and March, 1952, the State Bushfire Committee has reported to the State Government"

We have requested AEM correct the error in their dating.

UPDATE: AEM advise the text corrected:
Thanks for your email. We have corrected the copy, which now states that the fires began in October 1951.

A quick response, something ABC could learn from.

Also of note is this entry for 1968:


During the period 15 October until 3 December, a bushfire damaged the Blue Mountain region. Winds recorded up to 100 km per hour, intensified the fire front. Due to an unusually dry spring, conditions allowed the fire to burn for approximately four weeks. Widespread damage was caused to infrastructure, houses and buildings. A total of 1,500,000 ha were burnt and 14 people died.
Other areas affected included; Valley Heights, Warrimoo, Blaxland and Emu Plains. The damage bill was estimated at approximately £1,500,000.
It is quite clear that the recent fires are not "unprecedented". It is embarrassing that a News organisation the size of the ABC is unable to undertake its own research on this.

Reply from ABC re Lateline misinformation received 24/10/2013:

Thank you for your recent email and research. Emma Alberici's question was based on comments in the Australian newspaper and elsewhere attributed to Mr Phil Koperberg. The Lateline program has not been able to find any record of the comments being disputed by Mr Koperberg.

Here are his comments from that newspaper, dated October 19, 2013:

The unusually early fires that swept through NSW over the past two days would have proved too fast for any warning system, according to former Rural Fire Services commissioner Phil Koperberg.
The former NSW environment minister and current chairman of the State Emergency Management Committee was yesterday appointed Blue Mountains Emergency Recovery Co-ordinator.

He said there had been worse bushfire disasters in the Blue Mountains - in 1952, 1957 and 1968 - but what was unprecedented was it happening in October.

"It's not the worst, but it is the earliest. We have never had this in October," Mr Koperberg said. "This is a feature of slowly evolving climate. We have always had fires, but not of this nature, and not at this time of year, and not accompanied by the record-breaking heat we've had."

Here is Emma Alberici's question on Lateline:  "Now, the former Rural Fire Service Commissioner Phil Koperberg says the fire in the Blue Mountains isn't the worst we've seen, but it's certainly the first time bushfires of this magnitude have happened in October. Why has the season started so early this year?"

The ABC believes Ms Alberici's question was an accurate reflection of the former Commissioner's comments.

While the material you have provided in your complaint points to a number of serious past fires, it does not seem to clearly establish that this latest one was not the worst, taking into account the factors Koperberg listed.

Again, thank you for your feedback.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Doyle
ABC News

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fact check Lateline: Bushfires in October

7:30 report Lateline last night....

EMMA ALBERICI: Now, the former Rural Fire Service Commissioner Phil Koperberg says the fire in the Blue Mountains isn't the worst we've seen, but it's certainly the first time bushfires of this magnitude have happened in October. Why has the season started so early this year?

The fires below appear to refute this statement. Had they occurred with the same spread of development and population as we currently have who knows what the damage would have been. One supposes similar to the disaster in progress.

October fires around Sydney and New South Wales, some examples:
From Sydney Morning Herald 24 October 1951, Page 1 headlines:
FIRES BLAZE IN BIG AREA Buildings Lost On N. Coast
Firefighters battled yesterday with more than 100 bushfires near Sydney and in the country. Some fires were still burning fiercely last night.
STATE FORESTS Fires were burning in nine State forests yesterday.

Scores of firemen and civilians fought three bushfires in southern suburbs of Sydney nearly all day yesterday and prevented serious damage to many homes that were menaced. Firemen said last night the fires, fanned by a strong, gusty wind, were the worst since last summer. Some firemen col-lapsed from the effects of heat and smoke.

From Sydney Morning Herald 25 October 1951, Page 1 headlines:
State Bushfires Checked: Huge N.T. Blaze
Most of the bushfires in New South Wales were brought under control yesterday, but the Minister for Conservation, Mr.G. Weir, stressed that extreme. danger remained. TERRITORY Biggest Fire Ever.

From Sydney Morning Herald 25 October 1951, Page 1 headlines:
Bushfires Devastate 64 State Forests
Sixty-four State forests on the North Coast were devastated yesterday by bushfires which firefighters described as"the worst in history." Thousands of acres of grassland in the north-east corner of the State was also burned out.

From Sydney Morning Herald 25 October 1951, Page 1 headlines:
Big Timber Loss In Northern Fires
Forestry officials say that bushfire in N.S.W. in the last 10 days have destroyed at least 250 million super feet of timber- enough to have built 40,000 three bedroom houses.
The Forestry Com-missioner, Mr. L. S.Hudson, said when he returned to Sydney last night after touring North Coast fire areas that it was "quite impossible" to estimate the damage. "But at least 50,000 acres of forest land have been burnt," he said."Probably more than this has been burnt, but we cannot give a definite figure until mopping:up operations have been finished.

From Sydney Morning Herald 12 October 1948 Page 1
Gales and the greatest dust storms in many years swept across the eastern half of the continent yesterday and last night, and blew thousands of tons of inland soil toward New Zealand and New Guinea.
Queensland's Director of Meteorological Services, Mr. A. S. Richards, last night described the dust storm  as one of the worst in the State's history.

From Sydney Morning Herald 13 October 1948 Page 1
FIGHT FOR HOMES Bushfires At Mt Colah.
More than 40 homes were threatened by bushfires in the Mt. Colah district yesterday. The outbreak started at Roff's Park on Monday after-noon. Firemen and police had con-fined it to a rocky gully by dawn yesterday, but during the afternoon the wind freshened and fanned the blaze towards homes along Pacific Highway and Galston Gorge.

From Sydney Morning Herald 22 October 1948 Page 1
Bush Fire Threatens Farms Near Mona Vale
Thirty firemen, police, and civilians fought throughout last night and early this morn-ing to prevent bushfires en-gulfing two Mona Vale farm properties.

From Sydney Morning Herald 28 October 1948, Page 1 headlines:
Many Bushfires as Heat Sets Four-year Record 
Fierce bush and grass fires swept many parts of the State yesterday as the temperature again soared over 90 degrees to set a four-year record. Temperatures in Sydney early this morning fell suddenly after a south-westerly change. Most serious outbreak was on the South Coast, where the village of Termeil, 12 miles from Ulladulla, was practically destroyed.

From Sydney Morning Herald 8 October 1928, Page 11 headlines:
Fires and Storm
The city was encircled by bushfires, and many buildings were Unroofed.

Damage estimated at £20,000 was caused bya bush fire which swept through the bush country surrounding Ocean Beach, Ettalong, and Booker Bay to-day. Forty-five week-end cottages were completely destroyed. The flames were Irresistible, and in the terrible heat many of the fire-fighters dropped exhausted.

Bush fires have bean raging all day along the coast from the Hawkesbury River to Newcastle. Several houses along the shores of Lake Macquarie have been burnt down, and many more are in danger.

FIRES ON MOUNTAINS. Motorists' Exciting Time.
Bush fires broke out at various points on'the Blue Mountains yesterday, and residents experienced many anxious moments.

In common with the greater part of New South Wales and the whole of the southern States, the city experienced an exceptional wind storm and excessive heat, which created a maximum of discomfort. In the early after-noon. Great volumes of dust from Inland districts and smoke from extensive bush fires produced a thick yellow haze In the city, making visibility poor, and adding to the general discomfort.

See other reports of the above:

Gale and fire, red steer loose

Also September fires....

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gale and fire, red steer loose

A few news items from past times to mull over...

Gale and Fire Nepean Times 13 October 1928 
"Last Sunday was a Black Sunday on the Mountains and in the Nepean district. A fierce gale made havoc with property, and on the Mountains the flames destroyed much property. The whole countryside, from Warrimoo to Lawson, was alight."

Gale and Fire The Queenslander 11 October 1928
"A SCORCHING westerly gale which swept from the inland districts to the coast to-day wrought havoc in many areas. Many houses were unroofed in the suburbs. There were numerous bushfires, one having disastrous consequences. Many reports are to hand of minor damage by the wind. A message from Woy Woy, the popular watering place north of Sydney, states that a fire broke out early in the day enveloped 30 week-end cottages, all of which were destroyed. The damage is estimated at £20,000."

"Red Steer" Loose As Heat Wave Flames The Land 29 October 1948
"THE RED STEER," old bushland name for a bushfire, was loosein the eastern districts of New South Wales in the early part of this week,set free by the hottest October weather in recent years and fanned on its way by scorching westerlies."

Many Bushfires as Heat Sets Four-year Record SMH 28 October 1948
"Most serious outbreak was on the South Coast, where the village of Termeil, 12 miles from Ulladulla, was practically destroyed."

N.S.W. Under Smoke Pall Townsville Daily Bulletin 24 October 1951
"SYDNEY, October 23.— Bushfires are burning in nine State forests in New South Wales.Over 100 separate bushfires were reported during the dayand night.Veteran fire fighters said it was one of the worst days for bushfires in the State's history.The fires extended along the coast from the Shoalhaven and the Tallaganda Shires in the south to the Queensland border. They also raged in the north-west of the State."

Sydney, Wed.: Bushfires ravaging the northern NSW coast have caused more than £1 million worth of damage. Yesterday fire destroyed, several houses, a sawmill, a banana plantation, a bridge and threatened scores of other dwellings and. several small townships. Police on the north coast said only, a drop in the wind. had averted a "holocaust" today."

"Boisterous gales swept New South Wales to-day, blinding dust storms raged in the inland districts,high seas lashed the coast, and driving rain fell in parts of the southern areas. Gales -are raging over the Tasman Sea, and air services were partially disorganised. The city was encircled by bushfires, outbreaks occurring in practically every suburb. Fences were torn down, trees uprooted, and small buildings unroofed."