I always enjoyed John Quiggin’s columns in the AFR. They were thought-provoking. I was disappointed when his column was terminated. More generally I get much of my news from the AFR. The articles there are punchier and better quality than the mainstream non-bogan press in Victoria such as The Age. The Australian has lost all credibility in recent years and bogan tabloids like the Herald-Sun never had much to begin with.
But the AFR now seems to be following the course of The Australian and the bogan tabloids even if, as yet, to not quite the same extent. This nonsense by Garth Paltridge misrepresenting the science of climate change is an example*. This insidious article argues without a shred of evidence the standard Quadrant/IPA/looney right claim that climate science provides a distorted alarmism.
More generally the number of op eds in the AFR by the IPA nitwits seems also to have increased. Is the IPA dominance because it has created an industry of preparing poorly-written unreasoned critiques of every environmental ands social policy?
The changed tone at the AFR and the ending of the Quiggin column seems to have been associated with the appointment of M. Stutchbury as editor-in-chief of the AFR. Stutchbury has always struck me as one of the better journalists on the right and I would be disappointed if the associations I am suggesting here are real. But there do seem to be persistent campaigns of disinformation being launched in the AFR that do seem out of character. A recurrent thread in editorials and news articles is the alleged high cost of the government’s carbon tax. For example the front page Saturday had the bold claim ‘Threat to energy security. Generators raise alarm on carbon tax’. Generators are getting compensation, can pass higher electricity costs onto customers and face no possibility of carbon leakages through trade. None of this gets mentioned. There is however reference to one ‘unnamed’ company shifting investments to other countries**.
Many of us are focused on the implications of Gina Rinehart taking control of Fairfax and vandalising it with Andrew Bolt-style shock jock journalism. But has a destructive program already begun at least, at AFR? I hope not as it would be a significant reduction in Australia’s quality print media provision.
* The claim is that uncertainties in climate science lead to an inevitable overstatement of the problem – particularly because the ‘left’ of politics can use this campaign as a pretext for global domination. Hence ‘cherry picking’ occurs in valid science that serves international socialism. Scientific journals become biased against politically incorrect contrarian science and the output of sceptics on weblogs becomes undervalued. Moreover, commercial incentives to gain access to funding dominate the ideals of science. It is all a priori claim but then the clinching assertion based on claimed demonstrated truth “But why do mainstream scientists go along with the inevitable overstatement associated with the activism business?” . Who has suggested that they do? Terrible stuff by someone who describes himself a scientist.
** (Update). Here is a response by Sinclair Davidson to this issue. He claims I don’t understand the “impact on the carbon tax on business”. I have (at least) a better understanding than Davidson (not that this says much) because I have at least used GE models to analyse these effects. Here is a short analysis in Australian Economic Review – a more complete analysis is in the forthcoming Economic Record. But the nits at Catallaxy (and the IPA) would prefer to believe the tales of woe from the interest groups that fund the IPA than to think about issues in terms of evidence. The comments on the Davidson Catallaxy post are moronic.