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Tony Abbott interview: “The prime minister is probably a little more than first amongst equals”

Tony Abbott is striving for the athlete’s discipline in this final election week. When The Conversation interviewed him at his Parliament House office, after his National Press Club address, it was clear…

Tony Abbott has set forward his plans if he was to win the election. AAP/Alan Porritt

Tony Abbott is striving for the athlete’s discipline in this final election week. When The Conversation interviewed him at his Parliament House office, after his National Press Club address, it was clear that he was thinking forward to government, although careful to add the necessary qualification about winning. In a wide-ranging discussion, he spoke of how he sees the prime ministership and the rather surprising highlight of his campaign.

Michelle Grattan: You’ve asserted a couple of times today at the National Press Club that you thought a Labor opposition would capitulate and agree to the repeal of the carbon tax.

Tony Abbott: That’s assuming there is the a change of government.

MG: Previously you have said that if they won’t you would go to a double dissolution. If your assessment turned out to be wrong…

TA: That view hasn’t changed. I just think it is highly unlikely to be necessary.

MG: So that is still a core promise that wouldn’t be broken under any circumstances?

TA: I would be amazed if it becomes necessary, but we’re going to abolish the carbon tax, we’re going to abolish the mining tax, no ifs, no buts, we’re going to.

MG: How long would you give the Senate - would you at least wait until the new Senate?

TA: I’m just not going to speculate … but as I said, I just think it’s almost inconceivable that the Labor Party would want to commit political suicide twice on this thing.

AAP/Lukas Coch

MG: More generally, you have gone after the Greens ferociously. If you were in government and the Greens happened to retain sole balance of power how would you try to deal with the situation?

TA: Well, I’d expect them to respect the mandate. My door is never closed to people, but I would be governing, should I get there, as a Coalition prime minister. not as someone who has suddenly gone all left of centre on the grounds that the Senate made me do it.

MG: But you think you could negotiate with the Senate if balance of power were held by right wing senators?

TA: You always have difficulties if you have to negotiate a majority, but I think we’ll be ok.

MG: But a Greens Senate might end in tears or a double dissolution?

TA: I reckon the Labor Party will want to run a million miles away from The Greens if they lose and I think the Labor Party will be very pragmatic after the election.

MG: We’ll get the mid-year budget update around October-November - do you think it’s likely we’ll again see a deterioration in the budget numbers?

TA: I don’t want to second guess what Treasury might tell me if we win the election this Saturday, but my instinct tells me that the fundamentals haven’t changed over the last few months and there was this dramatic deterioration in the budgetary position between March and July, and the PEFO certainly adverted to many downside risks.

MG: So you’re saying you’d expect it to get worse?

TA: No - I wouldn’t be surprised, but I’m not necessarily expecting it.

MG: You’ve promised a “no surprises” government, but inevitably your commission of audit will produce a number of surprises, some of them unpleasant…

TA: Well the commission of audit will give us a report and it will no doubt make some recommendations, but we will only act in ways that we think are consistent with the mandate.

MG: You have said you won’t break promises. But do you think this is realistic and what circumstances do justify breaking promises?

AAP/David Crosling

TA: I think you should move heaven and earth to keep commitments. I accept that in some rare circumstances for a whole host of reasons things might happen, beyond your control, which make the situation different to that which it was. But you should move heaven and earth to keep commitments and only if keeping commitments becomes almost impossible could you ever be justified in not keeping them. And I suspect the electorate would take a very dim view even in those circumstances.

MG: For example, one of the Whitlam government’s problems was that Whitlam refused to break election promises even when circumstances changed dramatically.

TA: One of the reasons why we’ve made what I think are pretty modest promises is because I don’t want to make commitments that I don’t think we can keep.

MG: There’s been discussion of a separate trade and investment portfolio, does this mean there would be a breakup of the present Foreign affairs and Trade department.

TA: No, it doesn’t. Without flagging precisely what might happen after the election if we win, it’s more than possible to have a trade and investment minister within the [current] arrangements.

MG: On higher education: you have at present in opposition the higher education area under the general education portfolio, while the government has it with the industry portfolio. Which way would you go with it in government?

TA: Again, I don’t want to flag what might happen after September 7, but what I’ve said all along is that people can assume they will be doing the same thing after the election as they’ve been doing before the election, so I guess the likelihood is that things will stay more or less as they are.

MG: Because you could have the people doing the same thing, but still shift it, given it’s a junior portfolio.

TA: You could do all of those things, but I’m just not going to say what might happen if we win.

MG: How do you see the prime role of higher education – as a contributor to boosting Australia’s productivity, or education for its own sake?

TA: Well I’m pretty old fashioned. Obviously the higher education sector is a contributor to GDP, and it is important for our economy, but in the end universities are there to pursue learning, they’re there to be the guardians of truth, they’re there to push the boundaries of knowledge. And while there are all sorts of economic spin offs as a result of that, my conservative old- fashioned view says these things are worthy in and of themselves, not just as a means to an end.

MG: How did you come to that view, were you influenced by your Oxford experience?

TA: I think I was probably influenced by Cardinal Newman. Cardinal Newman wrote about the university and Cardinal Newman was beloved by the Jesuits who taught me.

MG: You said today that you would like to see federal and state levels of government have more autonomy in their respective areas of responsibility, but as I remember you used to have quite centralist ideas.

TA: My views have evolved a bit here. As circumstances change different elements in your own thinking can come to the fore. And let’s not forget that five or six years ago I was a health minister in a Coalition federal government that was perceived to be competent and we were dealing with Labor state governments that were perceived to be less competent, and inevitably people demanded that the federal government to do something to address the perceived failings of state governments.

In more recent times, we’ve had a federal government that is perceived to be incompetent, dealing with state governments which are more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt because they are newer, and they are Coalition governments. As well, I’ve gone from being a senior member of a government to being the leader of the Coalition and the natural orientation of the Coalition is federalist rather than centralist.

So way back when I was the health minister, I wasn’t tempted to a stronger role for the feds because I was a philosophical centralist, I was tempted to a stronger role because there were problems that the state’s weren’t addressing. At the moment I think the states are addressing those problems and I don’t think any pragmatic nationalist, which is where I think I’ve always been, would want to get involved in something which the states are handling more or less well.

MG: Kevin Rudd calls himself an economic nationalist…

TA: Well he never used to, he used to call himself an economic conservative, then he became a born again socialist and now he says he’s an economic nationalist. Kevin’s anything.

MG: Are you and economic nationalist or an economic rationalist?

TA: I don’t like tags and I think markets are very important and we should be reluctant to tamper with them; on the other hand sometimes they fail and sometimes even if they’re not failing there might be some overwhelming national interest that requires elements of non-market decision making.

MG: Turning to climate change, do you think Australians care less than previously about climate change?

AAP/Alan Porritt

TA: I think people are very passionate about the environment. I regard myself as a committed conservationist. I think people are less anxious about climate change, for three reasons.

First, I think they’re more conscious of the fact that the argument among the experts is not quite the one-way street that it might have seemed four or five years.

Second, the drought, which was a fairly severe drought, has well and truly broken in most of Australia anyway.

And third, Copenhagen changed any idea that there was some international consensus on how to deal with climate change.

MG: In broad terms what are the main differences between you and Kevin Rudd in foreign affairs?

TA: The focus would be Jakarta not Geneva. I think I would be less inclined to be presumptuous. Australia has a certain weight in foreign affairs and where we can make a difference and where it’s important to us, we should be more than ready to speak out and do what we can. But, I don’t think we should be getting too big for our boots in these matters.

There are so many areas in which Australians have an opinion and not a capacity, and we have to appreciate that.

MG: If you were prime minister, how you would run the cabinet, what style would you bring to that? The chairman of the board or something more upfront and out there?

AAP/Alan Porritt

TA: I don’t really want to say how I’m going to do a job that I’ve never done before. But I think I’m ready for it, given that I was a senior member of a functioning cabinet for seven years and I was a close student of an effective prime minister, John Howard, for many years before that.

The prime minister is probably a little more than first amongst equals, but any prime minister that tries to micromanage portfolios is going to come unstuck. A, it is impossible to do it with complex modern government and B, your colleagues will deeply resent it.

Most of the time you’ve got to allow colleagues to run their portfolios, it would only be if there was a serious problem that you would yourself get deeply involved.

MG: Do you think most things would go to the full cabinet or is having a kitchen cabinet important?

TA: All the significant decisions of government, where possible, should go to cabinet.

MG: Just reflecting on the campaign, the highs, the lows…

AAP Pool/Mike Bowers

TA: Well, without trying to predict the result, because a lot can happen in five days, so far, there haven’t been any lows. There has been a lot of activity, just about all of it purposeful and productive.

For me, probably the most exciting moment in the campaign was doing that PT session with the first armoured regiment in Darwin.

I loved it for two reasons, first, because it was an honour to be able to muck in with serving members of our armed forces. Second, it was a thrill to be able, more or less, to keep up, so I just loved every second of it. The only slight downside was when the PT instructor, one Corporal Youngs if I’m not mistaken, very kindly told a journalist that I’d done pretty well, but then added the rider: “for someone who is so old”.

So that’s been the highlight.

MG: If you manage to find yourself in the Lodge - you will be living in the lodge not in Sydney?

TA: I’m not getting ahead of myself, my disposition would be towards orthodoxy.

MG: So what about the exercise? Would you still be biking up Red Hill in the morning?

TA: I’d expect to still be going up Red Hill.

Join the conversation

91 Comments sorted by

  1. Lee Emmett

    Guest House Manager

    Tony Abbott hasn't shown any particular skill in negotiating outcomes over the past six years. His record is bellicose opposition, so in the situation of the LNP not having the numbers in the Senate, the carbon tax would not necessarily be abolished. Then Tony Abbott would either have to dump his promise, or call a double dissolution.

    If we want to know what happens with a LNP 'commission of audit' it is informative to see how Peter Costello was one of the people conducting this sort of thing…

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    1. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Lee Emmett

      Lee

      Your comments continue to impress - Guest House Management must be a very comprehensive career, as you clearly have an incisive mind.

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    2. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Lee Emmett

      "recall some of the Coalition's $31.5 billion savings: ...Dumping carbon tax, which would include ending associated programs - $7.5 billion"

      Porkies! Not True (yet again).

      Largely by dodgy accountancy measures similar to those of Hockey's in 2010 that attracted fines when analysed post election for deception and professional misconduct there is misleading claim of $4.5B in this bull, leaving at best (and it will asuredly down change too) only some $3.5 billion.

      "...nowhere close to the loss of A$9.7 billion in revenue from abolishing the price on carbon." https://theconversation.com/coalition-climate-figures-dont-add-up-17600

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  2. George Harley

    Retired Dogsbody

    I don't know what weight division Tony Abbott boxed in, but every time I read or hear him, I am more and more convinced he is an economic, foreign and domestic policy lightweight. This MG puff piece does not help to dispel any of those convictions.
    If, as looks probable, the LNP is returned on Sat, I will look forward to an interesting Senate, with TA offering to show his negotiating skills in the parliamentary car park.

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  3. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    A lot of people might expect a PM be to be a master of all trades if Kevin Rudd's claims are anything to go by and then even being a master motormouth is pretty meaningless.
    Tony has demonstrated many times that he is reliant on having a strong political team and a well functioning bureacracy and that is how it should be with ministers bearing their responsibilities and a PM not attempting to micro manage.
    One big difference between Kevin and tony could be in that Tony acknowledges the great importance of having a mentor, a former PM who had also been through the hoops and strangely one of Rudd's constant attack ploys is that Tony is unsuitable whereas he in fact has as much if not more parliamentary and government experience than Kevin, Kevin not really having had a mentor to learn from.
    Perhaps that is why there has been little semblance of teamwork within Labor , right from when Rudd first became PM.

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    1. Ronald Ostrowski

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      "Tony has demonstrated many times that he is reliant on having a strong political team and a well functioning bureacracy and that is how it should be with ministers bearing their responsibilities and a PM not attempting to micro manage". Rewriting history, are we Greg? I remember how the LNP decentralised pay and conditions in the Australian Public Service and how AWA (hardly any productivity measures within them as a rule) were either rates for mates or an imposed ideological position. Both measures blew out the salaries of public servants where work value assessments became a secondary consideration. The AFP was brought in to investigate supposed leaks at the drop of a hat and, disguised as operational costs, former public servants were brought in as expensive contractors, particularly in the IT functional areas as the damning findings of the Gershon Report revealed.

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ronald Ostrowski

      Perhaps you dwell too much on remembering dark aspects of which all politicians likely have a few tucked away Ronald.
      To take a squeeze from the shaken sauce bottle, a bit of forward vision can do you the world of good and as for politicians having vision, it ought to go without saying that visions should also encompass economic and practical realities or at least get considered extra closely rather than unfounded promises being based on visions.

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    3. Janeen Harris

      chef

      In reply to Ronald Ostrowski

      Ronald. I find it refreshing that a conservative considers a mere mortal to be worthy of any consideration. A strong political team can be equated with frogs. It doesn't matter how many of them you put together, they'll never do anything but croak. The economy is a crock. A mere excuse for putting yourself first.

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    4. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Greg North

      "One big difference between Kevin and tony could be in that Tony acknowledges the great importance of having a mentor..."

      Abbot's mentors are: BA Santamaria, M Thatcher, G Pell, R Murdoch, G Rinehart.

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  4. Comment removed by moderator.

  5. John Newton

    Author Journalist

    He regards himself as a committed environmentalist and is going to the people with a policy that will wreck our chances of reducing emissions to a tolerable - only tolerable - level, having lied for three years about the effects of the price on carbon.

    Some environmentalist.

    My only hope is that if and when he becomes prime minister, the nation's scientists take him aside and give him a briefing. Even that may not be enough to change the mind of this stubborn zealot.

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to John Newton

      Having a 15,000 strong greening Australia team seems to show some commitment to the environment John.

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    2. Dave Satterthwaite

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      You mean sending out Newstart recipients to pick up trash? We'll be a paradise in no time at all!

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    3. Janeen Harris

      chef

      In reply to Dave Satterthwaite

      According to the average tax payer it's a good thing that newstart recipients have something to do. I agree. But why are the arts still neglected? Whatever happened to the artisan? Why can't we let people be creative in the the time between jobs? Surely people must not be looked at as useless or defective. People do not deserve contempt. A fair society sees the members of society as being the only assets we have to draw upon. The rest is a gift.

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    4. Dave Satterthwaite

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Janeen Harris

      Good lord, if you're suggesting we hand Newstart recipients crayons and ask them to look within themselves to draw out reflections of late-stage capitalist disenfranchisement and hardship that can be hung on the walls of the National Gallery, I think you may have a winning idea!

      It's a damn sight more useful than anything else suggested by our elected (or allegedly soon-to-be-elected) leaders.

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    5. Janeen Harris

      chef

      In reply to Dave Satterthwaite

      Dave, crayons are already available. I'm talking about furniture and hand made clothing. Isn't this what we used to do? Mass manufacturing is exploitative. Rich use the poor. I would love to see things made to last. Art.

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    6. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Janeen Harris

      Me too.

      Art also is neglected by our leaders and before anyone dares to differ, consider comparing sports related subsidies to art's miserly support.

      http://www.abc.net.au/arts/stories/s3724886.htm

      "Over the past decade, there have been countless studies about the impact of arts and culture on individuals and communities, which themselves reveal the extreme difficulties of measuring the impact of work in which the major value is essentially unquantifiable. Different studies have demonstrated that cultural participation improves people’s lives in myriad ways; from reduced crime rates to lower blood pressure, from improved mental health to urban and regional renewal. But many feel, not without reason, that judging the worth of art and culture in extrinsic terms is perilous: it leads to an inevitably reductive notion of culture as social or economic instrument. "

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    7. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to John Newton

      His environmentalism is of the clean up some graffiti and abandoned shopping trolley sort. And in being the lash wielding overseer of a "green" army of slave workers sprucing up the burb's.

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  6. Gordon Alderson

    Management Consultant

    Two quotes from the MG-Abbott interview are very interesting:
    On the prime role of higher education:
    “… in the end universities are there to pursue learning, they’re there to be the guardians of truth, they’re there to push the boundaries of knowledge.”
    And on Climate Change
    “I think (people are) more conscious of the fact that the argument among the experts is not quite the one-way street that it might have seemed four or five years.”
    They remind me of the quote from Abbott's conversation at Beaufort in December 2009.
    “The argument is absolute crap. However, the politics are tough. Eighty per cent of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.”
    If he becomes Prime Minister on Saturday I reckon those universities who have been less than “guardians of truth” on climate science would be wise to quickly let go any dishonest climate science academics.

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  7. John Crest

    logged in via email @live.com.au

    T-4 days to decent, competent government...

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    1. David Stein

      Businessman

      In reply to Michael Rowan

      Excellent comment Michael.
      From a political perspective, the Greens and Labor are going to the election on a platform of an ETS. If the people elect Labor and the Greens to a controlling position in the Senate, the 'Abbott doctrine' of adhering to your election policies come what may would tell them to vote against scrapping the ETS.
      Abbott now seems to be saying he would be perfectly comfortable for Labor and the Greens to lie to the electorate - do one thing before the election and the opposite…

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    2. Andrew Nichols

      Digital Drudge

      In reply to Michael Rowan

      A grave disservice indeed.

      This attack on science is one of the more chilling aspects of the entire campaign.

      I am anxious about the great leaps backward Australia will be taking with this man as Prime Minister.

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    3. Dave Satterthwaite

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andrew Nichols

      As someone who teaches Science Journalism, I will be using this part of the 'interview' as an object lesson in what not to do. The role of a journalist is to bring out the truth (or as close a facsimile as can be found) for open and frank analysis, not supply a platform for your interviewee to spruik their ideological talking points.

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    4. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Michael Rowan

      You're being somewhat harsh there Michael for this article is more about covering quite a few of Tony Abbotts beliefs or whatever you may want to call them, more so than engaging him in detail on any one topic.
      I also do not see Tony's response as an ideological attack on science and he has certainly changed his views somewhat since a number of years ago.
      Even disregarding the extent of differing views, some not so expert, there is always new information coming to the fore and just in this past…

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    5. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to David Stein

      You are attempting to complicate politics David for you would know full well that it is the lower house that has always been accepted as the driver of political direction and that if a government wins decisively with represntation in the HR, they are considered to have a mandate.
      The Senate though have representation on state/territory lines does seem to be far more controlling these days than what it ever used to be and the Greens using that particularly as we saw with Gillard.
      I do not see how you can claim that Abbott is going to be comfortable for Labor/greens senators to start lying whereas he would expect recognition of a mandate.

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    6. Yoshua Wakeham

      Science Student

      In reply to Michael Rowan

      Absolutely right, Michael. The Conversation is above this lightweight journalism – or at least it should be, especially on the subject of climate science.

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    7. Dave McRae

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael Rowan

      Thank you Michael.

      The View from Nowhere - when will journalists use easily verifiable facts to call out rubbish assertions? Or is it a condition of interview?

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  8. Tom Orren

    Retired Teacher

    I couldn't tell if this was a transcribed interview or a script provided by the LNP.

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  9. Stefan Treyvaud

    Marcomms Specialist

    I'm not a fan of Ruddderless or Mr Bigot but I can't help feeling empty after listening to or reading Tony's interviews. Aside from his worn out slogans, he has nothing of substance to say, won't commit, can't disclose and constantly deflects to either the success of Howard or the failures of Rudd/GIllard.
    All will be revealed once he becomes PM but I for one hesitate to imagine exactly what will surface.

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  10. Jason Begg
    Jason Begg is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Perpetually Baffled Lawnmower Man

    Direct Action can be conveniently dumped after he is elected. Much like other promises that won't be fulfilled.

    Abbott is an ideological zealot and his true colours are about to emerge. At least we'll have a happy military to keep Abbott's Fortress Australia isolated, insecure, scared, fearful, trembling, paranoid. When combined with his friend Rupert's media and his friend Cardinal Pell's religion we can be sure that a new & dreadful era of conservatism is upon us. Keeping the "plebs" in their rightful place...

    The less time I spend thinking of Tony Abbott and his vision for Australia the happier my day will be!

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  11. Decortes Fleur

    Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

    I feel Tony Abbott could swim from Cuba to Florida before he turns 60.
    Quite an inspiration to see a politician tackle Defence workouts.
    A key difference if the Coalition win office would be the quality of debating.
    In the OZ parl't Heckling 'babble' and verbosity took precedent over key issues like Solar vs Nuclear during a heatwave for example. A relevant topic.
    Policies govern parties people elect representatives and expect debates.
    Despite there being 3xtimes the number of representatives Westminster have shown swift fluent and focused, sophisticated 'adult' debating on key topics and changing circumstance.

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    1. Decortes Fleur

      Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

      In reply to Decortes Fleur

      Contributions to debate in the parliament moving away from hysterics should perhaps aim for a higher volume of speakers on any given topic with a fast intelligent response to each front he Prime Minister of the Day When you see David Cameron's Westminster Parliament in full flight its so impressive and effective....not at all limiting. Opening up topics for broader debate rather than tired 'old' question time and 'pre-paid' rhetoric playing to the gallery would make for better politicians and BETTER VALUE FOR MONEY for the nation as so much time has been wasted in the national capital in recent years in personal posturing and tirade.
      Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott though dis-similar are both great debaters.

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  12. Paul Munro

    Retired

    I find it amazing that our media heavyweights have tolerated for so long the notion that the Coalition is in any position to denounce failure to honour pre-election "promises" as lies. What senior journalist has chosen to recall Senator Brandis' description of John Howard as a "lying rodent". To me Howard still stands out as the politician who most clearly abandoned an important pre-election commitment. The detail is worth recalling because of the high probability that tony Abbott, once in government…

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    1. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Paul Munro

      i would guess that means moving heaven and earth to avoid breaking commitments to Murdoch

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  13. Dianna Arthur

    Environmentalist

    Abbott says:

    "So way back when I was the health minister, I wasn’t tempted to a stronger role for the feds because I was a philosophical centralist..."

    and then goes on to say:

    "I don’t like tags..."

    However, there are tags he likes no matter that there is no evidence for his claims:

    "I regard myself as a committed conservationist."

    Yet is not prepared to do very much about AGW.

    Abbott also said:

    "Well he (Kevin Rudd) never used to, he used to call himself an economic conservative, then he became a born again socialist and now he says he’s an economic nationalist. Kevin’s anything."

    My question is:

    "What are you, Tony Abbott?"

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    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Gordon Alderson

      Yes, NASA, NOAA, MIT, Oxford University, Melbourne Uni, ANU, CSIRO

      They are all lying to us, and we can tell they are lying because of a youtube clip

      also I loved this comment from one of the viewers

      "Kevin Rudd say the science is indisputable, like his claim that gays are born gay"

      Seems you are in good company

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    2. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Gordon Alderson

      I agree with Keynes, ironic that the same was not applied to Julia Gillard when she successfully negotiated with the Greens and Independents.

      As for your link, it is just a dress-up for doing as little as possible on climate change. No scientist has suggested that AGW can be stopped, all we can do is mitigate the worst and adapt. Nor am I going to indulge you on a debate about climate change as I value my time.

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    3. Gordon Alderson

      Management Consultant

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Diana,
      Do yourself a favour and go through the IPCC's data-based mathematics.
      There's a link to it on the video.

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    4. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Gordon Alderson

      1. Please spell my name correctly.

      2. Do not tell me what to do.

      3. I have studied and researched most thoroughly the science of climate change.

      4. I repeat, I will not enter into debate with you about climate change.

      5. Will not be responding to you again.

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    5. Janeen Harris

      chef

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna, stay exactly as you are. I've always enjoyed your posts. Climate change is indisputable.The only problem with climate change is that much of the population have no memory of 50 years ago. I do. Climate change is real. I live in Melbourne. We are tropical in a way this part of the world never used to be. The people who debunk climate change are either young and stupid, {not listening to their elders] or older but lower in IQ. The world's climate has changed in my lifetime. You'd have to be braindead not to notice.

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    6. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Janeen Harris

      Aw shucks, colour me blush pink.

      I live in the Dandenong ranges and have lived in Victoria all my life, I can only concur with your observations. In particular, change has taken a dramatic exponential rate in the past ten years - indigenous plants in my garden which have been here for decades have either died and others are still showing the impact of January's unprecedented heat wave.

      http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/updates/summer-heatwave-2013.shtml

      Your comment about "brain dead" is most apt - the zeitgeist is revealed in the popularity of zombie films - film genre often reflects the angst of the times.

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  14. James Edsall

    Consultant

    So if Abbott gets in on the weekend will someone please torment him from Monday morning relentlessly for the broken promises - starting with the tedious promise that we will know all the dribblers costings 'in good time before the election'. The phrase means nothing, but the impied promise is already broken for me - the election is in four days time. So from day one that's one big lie he needs to live with. Start counting.

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  15. David Thompson

    Marketing Research

    "MG: Are you and economic nationalist or an economic rationalist?"
    Oh dear, Michelle must have been on assignment the day The Age cub reporters had a whole training morning devoted to economics. Michelle, economic rationalism is good, very good, for the nation's economy. They are not binary opposites.

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  16. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    In 2013 a politician states the science is not settled on whether climate change is real or not

    The interviewer, also editor, responds with....ohh that's right, nothing

    Media Watch dogs or Lap dogs? Thanks for that hard hitting reporting Michelle

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  17. Janeen Harris

    chef

    Michelle, you've lived in a well paid bubble for too long. Stop being so biased. God, I hate Abbot.

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    1. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Janeen Harris

      Janeen

      I guess the following link will not further endear you to Abbott & Co:

      ww.independentaustralia.net/2013/politics/the-coalitions-twitter-madness/

      What won't the LNP do to win?

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    2. Brett Bailey

      Self Employed

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      The Independant Australian is so far removed from that lofty title that it is ridiculous site of absolutely group think like minded anti anything LNP - they are pro ALP to the MAX - they are pro Thomson - they are pro Slipper - they are pro everything execpt alternative views - in that area they are eexceptionaly ANTI anything that contradicts their authers comments - regardless of factual or accurate basis - indeed any production of evidence which contradicts a authors viewpoint is discarded by…

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    3. Janeen Harris

      chef

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      There is no hope of endearing the LNP to me.I believe they are the advocates for greed and selfishness. Unfortunately that is also why they are ahead in the polls. We haven't evolved past greed yet. I believe the bible called it the separation. Glad to see Kevin last night, was able to answer the "pastor" on Q@A with a sensible reply. I, personally would ask the "pastor" what he does for Christ? No doubt he spends time on his knees, but does he do anything for anyone else? I'm sorry to be such a skeptic but Christianity is a very old concept that Christians don't seem to believe in.

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    4. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Brett Bailey

      Brett you are entitled to your opinions. Given that MSM is primarily an ongoing advertisement for the LNP, why do you resent the Independent Australian from having a say? Until September 7, we still have something of a democracy and if Abbott loses, we may still have an Australia for all people not just the self entitled.

      As for IA - it is only one of many newsblogs I access. Perhaps you could consider some hard science instead of mere opinion:

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-limits-economy-basic.html

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    5. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Janeen Harris

      I would say both the major parties are advocates for greed and selfishness. They are both being paid by the same lobbyists. the crucial difference being how much they think they can get away with.

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  18. Florence Howarth

    logged in via Facebook

    If Mr Abbott has the numbers on the floor of both houses, he will have a mandate.

    If not, he does not.

    No one is obligated to vote, as Abbott demands.

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    1. Brett Bailey

      Self Employed

      In reply to Florence Howarth

      Correctly the Senate is not a house of Government - it i sthe states house. The House of Representatives is the house of Government and that is where based on policies presented that mandates are given by the voters. Your assumption is flawed in the actual sense of the purpose of the two Houses - however in practical terms of legislative outcomes - the Senate may choose to exercise its right of review - but that is not a mandate. But could result in a DD which is the preogative of the Government in the House of Reps to enforce upon the Senate - who have no say in election timing. Until the new Senate sits in July 2014 - who is to say what occurs from that point. Until then the old Senate sits.

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    2. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Brett Bailey

      For the same reason as Rudd on AGW, or indeed anything, Abbot will never go to a double dissolution. To do so would see duopoly seat numbers radically reduced in the following senate, a push by that senate for electoral reform, and a duopoly no more.

      We can wish though.

      Perhaps, if the mad monk was truly first amongst equals unfettered he would bring the house down...

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  19. Tim McMaster

    Software Developer/Environmental Mgmt Student

    As an apparently smart guy, how can Abbott be so ignorant about climate change?

    To say "the argument among the experts is not quite the one-way street that it might have seemed" is just purely wrong and ignorant. It's equivalent to saying 3 guys riding bicycles against traffic on an 8 lane highway equates to 2-way traffic. The overwhelming consensus is in agreement on the sources of climate change and he's just got his head in the sand on this issue.

    The fact that "the drought, which was a…

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    1. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Tim McMaster

      Agree, Tim

      While neither Labor or the LNP have exactly proven themselves remotely effective or even displayed an understanding of climate change, Abbott is the most disastrous choice at a critical time if we stand any chance of mitigating and adapting to climate change:

      http://www.independentaustralia.net/2013/politics/the-future-election-and-the-wrong-man-for-the-times/

      "We imperil our children by voting LNP on Saturday. If we credit 97% of the world’s scientists and the warnings issued every other week by international agencies ‒ including the World Bank, IMF, UN, OECD and IEA ‒ there is simply no excuse for entrusting our future to Tony Abbott. He poses a clear threat to the viability of our children’s wellbeing into the future. He is by all peer-reviewed measures a dangerous man to place in a position of such historic and unprecedented responsibility."

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    2. Brett Bailey

      Self Employed

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Now the comment which infers that 97% of the worlds scientists concur with climate science is a fiction.
      There are many scientists who have alternative points of view - some at Univeristies - some at research facilities - some meteorlogists - but for some reason they are discounted as if a weight of numbers means so muych - if that was the case then clearly on 8 September should LNP romp in their weight of numbers should mean they can put their policies and have them agreed to. It isn;t always weight…

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    3. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Brett Bailey

      Read my response to Gordon Alderson.

      I will not be goaded into a debate about climate change - the science is proven, the evidence is there for eyes to see.

      Take up your argument with climate scientists and see how far you get with your rhetoric.

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    4. Andrew Nichols

      Digital Drudge

      In reply to Brett Bailey

      That there is some sort of "scientific dissent" about anthropological climate change is the fiction here.

      When someone says "there are many scientists who have alternative points of view", I ask "who? where are their papers, where are their publications?"

      The answer is always contains the same little grab-bag available from five minutes web-searching.

      There is no dissent. There is no disagreement.

      There are variations in the way data is gathered and interpreted, and therefore a margin of error in all conclusions, that is the way science works.

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    5. Decortes Fleur

      Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      This 'emotional blackmail' is not as raw as it seems. Climate Change will probably impact in 5 years with sea levels rising. Imperil of kids has been used for everything from WAR with IRAQ to Gonski - give it a BREAK Dianna! Sounds like a Christine Milne advert - Greens and others pushing for Barrier Reef protection have been heard and Greg Hunt is so far offering a dugong and turtle protection plan, Indigenous Rangers and a Reef Management Fund for QLD. Thats a great start - particularly if Greg Hunt is to be the new Environment minister. It has to start somewhere and the choice is not an obvious one anymore as KRUDD has backed down from Climate Change.
      We emphasise Government and yet its impossible for us to ignore the role we all play outside of government in 'doing something'. Personally I feel its a good contest and believe Australia will deal with these pressing issues no matter who wins.

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    6. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Decortes Fleur

      Give it a BREAK, yourself Descortes, you like to put forth you views, so do I.

      Disagree with me all you like, however, you do not get to tell me what to do.

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    7. Decortes Fleur

      Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      My reply speaks ONLY of what will be done. Do you enjoy discussing or raising points or feel 'persecuted' over 'emotional blackmail'. Interesting! The Great Barrier Reef is very important for Australia. As for the future - its a little sooner than you've pleaded Dianna. Thats my point. The Barrier Reef has been formally acknowledged in this election. Sea levels are rising. I mean there are no instructions for you to obey when it comes to any online conversation - really! But with climate change and all it represents we need to cut some emissions - everywhere. When forests get whole felled it heats up the local environment. When its too hot in the water whales and seals will get sick. I love whales and seals......I genuinely appreciate Greg Hunt DOING SOMETHING about the Coral Coast. Bravo!

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    8. Decortes Fleur

      Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      I will not be lectured on rhetoric by this...
      I will not be lectured on morals by this
      I will not be lectured on climate change by this....
      I will not be lectured ......I will make light of it.

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    9. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Decortes Fleur

      "...Indigenous Rangers and a Reef Management Fund for QLD." Where's the costing?

      Truly the "first amongst equals" in NQ is Noel Pearson who unelected will be given a position and sole funding control by Abbott to implement his neoliberal agenda and wreck the northern environment. Did you see the letter this morning co-signed by the nine Cape York (elected) mayors?

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    10. Decortes Fleur

      Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      Said to be two million dollars and 12 rangers
      Have not heard what local Cape York / Torres Strait candidate for the seat Mr B.Gordon has to say.
      A Tribal Warrior-Lord scenario emerging...love to hear more
      thx

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    11. Decortes Fleur

      Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      Now mate (to quote Kevin Rudd) Here is a 'clip' from the Candidate for Leichardt Billy Gordon 's website.
      A TOTAL SPEND BY LABOR SO FAR OF $6.75 million...compared to the Coalition announced this week $40 million out of a $200 million REEF FUND......plus $2 million on Indigenous Rangers.
      Clearly competition for hearts and minds from the Reef to the Straits is HOT!

      Billy Gordon's recent media release on Dugongs and Turtles says ...
      "Mr Gordon, who himself managed the Turtle and Dugong Conservation…

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    12. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Decortes Fleur

      "A Tribal Warrior-Lord scenario emerging...love to hear more"

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-03/cape-york-mayors-snub-pearson-initiatives/4931044?section=qld

      http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/09/03/noel-pearson-rejected-cape-york-councils

      This will be in cahoots with CantDo Newman getting bak into neoliberal gear again once the fed election is over with... trash, slash, burn, bulldoze, tunnel, frack, dredge, shoot, fish, sell off...

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  20. Clement Victor Clarke

    logged in via Facebook

    I attempted to get this question asked last night on ABC QandA...Question to the Australian Prime Minister ....
    "Re Balanced Budgets. We all know know that "Quantitative Easing" is about printing money or creating money from thin air. This means we have an unlimited amount of money. Why then, do we have poverty and hardship? And can budgets ever be balanced when banks can effectively create an infinite amount of money? And housing prices are pushed through the roof by the banks?"

    The question…

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    1. Janeen Harris

      chef

      In reply to Clement Victor Clarke

      Money is a form of control. You can get people to do what you want if you give them money. It's all nonsense but if you live in the world, you live in the economy. We have poverty so we can have an elite class.

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    2. Decortes Fleur

      Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

      In reply to Clement Victor Clarke

      Australia would do well do buy in more gold given that Gold Reserves were sold off under a Howard Government in 1999 to 'cash in' for a surplus. I am for boosting gold reserves. Its a good point in this election.

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    3. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Clement Victor Clarke

      "If money is made from nothing (and it is), then selling the New South Wales Electricity system is the same as giving it away, isn't it?"

      Would it be the same to you if you gave away something of yours of value, a car say, or sold it in exchange for for Aussie dollars? Didn't think so. In like manner NSW has to go with AUD as they also don't mint currency of their own.

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  21. Dianna Arthur

    Environmentalist

    The verdict is in.

    Tony Abbott's Direct Action is indeed "crap".

    http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/tony-abbotts-climate-policy-the-science-is-still-crap-26327

    "It is hard to avoid any other conclusion, following his revelations on Monday in response to questions about his Direct Action policy at the National Press Club, and again on the ABC TV’s 7.30 Report on Monday night, that even the Coalition’s 5 per cent reduction target was no longer binding - See more at: http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/tony-abbotts-climate-policy-the-science-is-still-crap-26327#sthash.bhdEEf0K.dpuf

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    1. Gordon Alderson

      Management Consultant

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Hey Dianna,
      Victory!! We agree - "Tony Abbott's Direct Action is indeed "crap" "
      But OOPS!!!
      Your reasons are totally different from mine.
      Since the science is corrupt the Client Science King has no clothes!!
      Corrupt Science equals a non-issue. The global spend on this non-issue runs into $billions.
      Just imagine the screams of horror from the rent seekers in climate science when Mr Abbott calls for a Royal Commission into whether the science is corrupt or not.
      Bring on 7th September.
      Oh but I know that you will not truck with me on this issue.
      At least I spelled your name correctly this time. AND please forgive me for this reply.
      I just could not resist.

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    2. Andrew Nichols

      Digital Drudge

      In reply to Gordon Alderson

      Gordon,

      are you honestly alleging that there is some sort of conspiracy within the climate science community, and by extension the wider scientific community to...

      ...do what exactly?

      Extract R&D dollars? Improve investment in "better world" renewable energy technology? To further the aims of the world's trans-national corporations and the Governments they control?

      I'm struggling to accept that anyone can believe that what must be, at least, thousands of scientific professionals are somehow in cahoots to hoodwink the world to...

      ...do what exactly?

      This is so far beyond 9/11, moon-landing and mind-control theory that its just breathtaking.

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    3. Gordon Alderson

      Management Consultant

      In reply to Andrew Nichols

      Andrei,
      Like many others, I used to 'believe' in climate science. I even became very involved in a community group that forced a major big oil company to spend a lot of money on improving the environmental performance of a complex oil refinery. Our efforts resulted in a significant improvement in the public health of a large city.
      Then I did what we did in the community group; I dug into the data - the truth about so-called global warming. I had to lick my wounds of pride for a considerable time. I was wrong about Global Warming. I had been conned. Like most human beings, I do not enjoy being proven wrong.
      I strongly recommend the Topher Video to you.
      Then watch and pick the eyes out of some of the associated videos. Say David Evans, Joanne Nova, Anthony Watts and especially Fred Singer.
      When you have done this please let me know of any criticisms of what I have written in this blog.

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  22. Dan Bryant

    Baked Bean Counter

    WOW! The ALP have outdone themselves deploying the trolls on this one! It doesn't matter what you all think, come Saturday the country will speak and Tony Abbott and his competent team start correcting the daily FUPAR's created by the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd circus over the last term. Thanks for this article Michelle, I apologise for those who expected a novel instead of a decent roll-up of the man who is about to Govern our fine country.

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    1. Tim McMaster

      Software Developer/Environmental Mgmt Student

      In reply to Dan Bryant

      Get over yourself Dan.
      The world is not some big conspiracy that requires "deploying the trolls" to combat what you clearly believe is the vast consensus of opinion that Tony Abbott is the right man for the job and all right-thinking people should agree with this.

      Simply, this is a website run largely by universities, and I believe, followed mostly by those who believe at least in the veracity of peer-reviewed science, and perhaps in a world that is not dominated purely by economic thinking.
      Or as some may choose (inaccurately) to put it "latte-sipping lefties".

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    2. Dan Bryant

      Baked Bean Counter

      In reply to Tim McMaster

      It simply amazes me how most of you "university" types love to cry conspiracy at the drop of a hat, Tim.

      Poke your peer reviews. Whenever the peer is paid to review a certain subject one must believe that review to be biased. Climate change is an excellent example of this.

      And since the ALP has already been busted a number of times injecting "peers" into their public forums, I'll consider your retort as a simple gust of wind.

      Enjoy your day, Tim.

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    3. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Dan Bryant

      No, you don't apologise for me, but it does seem you are an Abbot and Grattan apologist. Goodluck.

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  23. Graeme Henchel

    Educator

    If Abbott wins he will have vindicated his model of how to act in opposition. That is oppose everything and constantly talk down the Government and the economy. I would expect a future labor opposition would have every right to follow his path. On the other hand if he loses we will get Turnbull as an opposition leader and some genuine political debate may return.

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    1. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Graeme Henchel

      Abbot's opposition model fully imported from the USAian republican party relies on the bias of next to nil scrutiny and massive spin support across the entire sell-out msm. That in turn relies on having the full backing of vested powerful, wealthy, sectarian, and partisan minority interests, and their lickspittle lackeys.

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  24. Jack Crosby

    logged in via Facebook

    I'm guessing they took out every time he said 'ah', 'uhm' and 'but uh' on the grounds that it would break the internet the file would be so big.

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  25. Katherine Richardson

    Professor

    While perusing the internet in preparation for some teaching I am engaged in regarding the international response to climate change, I ran across this interview with Honourable Tony Abbott and his comments regarding the consensus among climate scientists regarding climate change prompt me to respond. Mr. Abbott’s apparent belief that there is still considerable debate among climate scientists regarding the role of humans in changing climate conditions we are experiencing is, unfortunately, one that…

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    1. Gordon Alderson

      Management Consultant

      In reply to Katherine Richardson

      Katherine,
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment.
      I suggest that you watch http://t.co/C2y44SQG2N
      I suggest that you also review, the interviews especially of Dr David Evans, Anthony Watts and Professor Fred Singer which are some of the sources for Topher's 9min 30 sec YouTube video.
      Please keep in mind that mathematics does not have a personality; it is incapable of emotional response. If the mathematics is proven correct then we need to carefully consider its conclusions. I am advised that, so far, no-one has questioned the mathematics whereas some have reacted emotionally to the YouTube video, probably because it offends their world view of this vexed issue. We humans do not enjoy having to admit to being wrong in our beliefs or opinions.

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