Unions

Can we defund SBS too?

This isn’t journalism. This is alarmist quackery for the sake of it. Venice has been subject to flooding for centuries. While the floods in Venice now are the highest for over 50 years, it still means that floods were higher in 1966. Let that sink in. Presumably it wasn’t climate change driven back then.

One can only imagine what a Venice Council could possibly do to combat climate change? Perhaps ruin the skyline with wind turbines and solar panels atop the roofs of the Rialto Bridge or San Marco Square?? To alarmists, no amount of tokenism is too little. Claim a climate emergency and show how worthy you really are.

No matter what the Venice Council does to “combat” climate change it will have no effect. Maybe the gondola union can indulge in some crony capitalism and demand that the €7.50 Vaporetto passenger ferries are banned so they can charge €150 to go from Santa Croce to Piazza San Marco instead. At least gondolas are zero emission vessels.

The SBS needs to grow up and deliver proper well reasoned content for the $400m in taxpayer funds it receives.

Former Fire Chief inflames the climate debate

Greg Mullins, the former chief of NSW Fire and Rescue said today, “Just a 1 degree C temperature rise has meant the extremes are far more extreme, and it is placing lives at risk, including firefighters…Climate change has supercharged the bushfire problem.”

CM could not hope to hold a flame (no pun intended) to his knowledge of fire behavior but why does the WA Government’s own fire service website, Bushfire Front (BFF) contradict him,

Compared to slope, wind strength, fuel quantity and dryness, temperature is an insignificant driver of fire behaviour. Experienced firefighters do not fear a 40-degree day per se. This is because even on a hot day, a fire in one or two-year old fuel can be controlled; on the same day a fire in 20-year old fuels with high winds would usually be unstoppable.”

One of them must be right. Could it be that Mullin’s personal beliefs about climate change are a factor? After all he serves as an author for the Climate Council.

Mullins also said that ” We saw it coming. We tried to warn the government.”

Indeed BFF notes clearly,

““Large wildfires are inevitable”

This statement is, to put it politely, bosh. Large wildfires can only occur when there is a combination, at the same time, of three things:

• an ignition source,

• severe fire weather and,

• a large contiguous accumulation of fuel.

Remove any of these three and you cannot have a large wildfire (= megafire).

We obviously can’t control the weather, nor can we hope to eliminate all possible avenues of ignition. The only factor we can control is the large contiguous accumulations of fuel. Therefore, broadscale fuel reduction burning is the only defence we have against large wildfires. This will not prevent fires occurring, but it will ensure fires are less intense, are easier and safer to control and will do less damage.

Does it work? Yes it does, as has been shown many times, over many years, by the experience of Western Australian forest managers. The “proof of the pudding” is the incidence of large wildfires in Western Australian forests over the last 50 years. There were a number of very large fires in Western Australian forests from 1900 to 1960, but after the 1961 Dwellingup fire disaster, the wide-scale fuel reduction program carried out by the then Forests Department, ensured that the fuel accumulation was well controlled. The graph below demonstrates this very clearly. It was only after the burning program gradually fell away following a diversion of resources away from forest areas, that the area of wildfires began to climb again after about 1990.

How is it that so many of these fires have been started by arsonists? A 16-yo has been alleged to have started fires in central Queensland. Johannes Leak’s cartoon was absolutely on the money.

Even assuming Australia pandered to Mullins and went zero carbon emissions tomorrow, could he guarantee that the bushfires would slow or end? Even though Australia is such a tiny contributor to global CO2 emissions? Could he show the science behind his beliefs on fires and the link to climate change even though 85% are deliberately, suspiciously or accidentally lit?

Of course the climate alarmists immediately endorse his words because he is a firefighter. Although are his words on climate change anymore relevant than those of the AMA?

Maybe we should reflect on the politics within the upper echelons of the fire services? Not so much the rank and file front line fire fighters but the bureaucrats who make daft decisions such as buying a Boeing 737 fire-bomber which can only be used at 4 airports rendering it highly inflexible (as much as it’s a great political sales point) or a military helicopter which spends 5hrs in maintenance for every hour it is in the field working. Or replacing 1yo trucks with brand new ones because records are poorly kept?

Nope, just blame climate change for it. Get out of jail free card for everything.

The irresponsibility of socially responsible investing

United Nations Sustainable Development Logo

Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) has been heavily pushed by members of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) for a while now. Apart from cynically cashing in on the generally higher fees generated by these “woke” funds, the returns have been nothing much to write home about. As Milton Friedman once said, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.

If we look at YTD, 1 or 10-year performance all of the SRI portfolios as indicated by published performance (listed on their websites) of local ACSI members, they have “underperformed” the benchmark index. One outperformed in the 5-year category. Hardly anything to crow about. So as much as they might feel warm and fuzzy for turning these funds into virtue-signalling investment vehicles, the outcomes for the monies entrusted to them is far from ideal. While investors should bear ultimate responsibility for where they deploy retirement funds, do they realise how much money they are torching by believing in this nonsense?

So why do these funds try to bully top-performing companies to conform to their irrelevant ideals which on the face of it do not appear to be working? If one reads through the fine print, many superannuation administrators pat themselves on the back that they are aligning portfolios to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If one wants to champion best in class ethics, the UN is the last place anyone should look. Just look at the unethical scandal that occurred at UNAIDS. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what these SDGs are – eliminating hunger, wiping out poverty, promoting gender equality, good health, clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy etc. All wonderful things in and of themselves, but surely if the market agrees with them,  shouldn’t share prices reflect that?

Friedman spoke of free-market economics, “Well, first of all, tell me: Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus [including the UN]. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.

In Australia,  it would seem that many high performing companies, that aren’t ‘compliant as they should be‘, are being pressured to increase diversity, women on boards and all manner of meaningless benchmarks preached by the ACSI and its members.

Take the 30% Club which pushes to have 30% women on boards. While this started in the UK in 2010, it has spread across multiple jurisdictions including Australia. The 30% Club emphatically quotes from a McKinsey study,  “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams are 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.” What this study doesn’t say is that the bottom quartile of companies maybe just poorly run, in spite of the genitalia of the board.

Don’t mistake the most important point to be made. If a board is best served by all women, you won’t hear a peep from investors if they can produce the best results. As soon as we start to try to enforce gender quotas, performance becomes predicated on chromosomes rather than capability. What next? Ensure fair representation of LGBT on boards? Religions? Races? Disabilities? Where does it stop when all that matters is ability that produces performance?

Take a look at the disaster that has befallen PG&E in recent times. In the interests of pandering to all these irrelevant SDGs, it can tell you the exact breakdown of the diversity of its workforce but can’t tell you the status of much of its infrastructure, some which have been directly responsible for the devastating wildfires in California. The company was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Did diversity help shareholders? If one’s house is on fire, do we worry about identity? Or who has the skillsets to put out the blaze the fastest? QED.

Yet our woke investors keep pushing these trends. IFM Investors waxes lyrical about its climate change, 30% Club and carbon disclosure project. Good for it. It has a choice. It should live by the sword and die by it. If that is what it wishes to focus on why not allow the free market to; a) decide whether superannuation holders want to deploy funds in such a manner and b) let corporates decide if SRI is good for their businesses.

Yet, the latest push by these socialist fund administrators is to ensure that companies conform to the ‘Modern Slavery Act.’ Are these people for real? Who are they to try to enforce federal law? Talk about self-imposed authority. It is a safe bet that 99%+ corporates listed on the ASX behave are compliant in this regard because if not the punitive outcomes will be severe.

Moreover, if some of these funds own stocks like Tesla in their international portfolios, perhaps they might consider such a hip and trendy investment has an indirect connection to child-slave labour in DR Congo where 70% of the world’s cobalt is mined to go into the Li-ion batteries.

There is one absolute truth in finance. In good times, any mug CEO can be successful. It is only when markets turn sour that the “quality” of decent management is truly appreciated in how they successfully manage to mitigate risk in an ugly downturn. In a difficult market climate, only the fittest survive and if companies have strayed off the reservation to appeal to investors, it will soon become self-evident in the results.

As we stare at the precipice of a potentially deep global recession, the previous paragraph will be all that matters. Because those corporates too busy hitting diversity targets, installing genderless bathrooms and ensuring they have double-checked all employees have complied with Earth Hour will be slaughtered when markets take a pounding.

These SDG focused funds will soon see that they are part of one giant herd and as performance starts to suffer in this crowded trade, the stampede toward the exit will reveal just how irresponsible the push to ram through such irrelevant metrics at the very companies who caved in was.

As a contrarian investor, the best investments will be in exactly those companies that shun(ned) this foolhardy exercise and forged a path in the spirit of Milton Friedman. Afterall they understood what it really means to be “free to choose.” So back up the truck in tobacco, mining and fossil fuel stocks on any pullback. After all, mean reversion will see these stocks outperform if nothing else.

Don’t forget Harvey Norman (HVN). How could it be that the company is worth 4x the combined value of Myer and David Jones, the latter two businesses focused on pleasing the United Nations rather than customers?  Hmmm.

Isn’t that the ultimate ready reckoner for these SDG funds? The market is always right. If the performance of the funds deployed isn’t making the grade, don’t attempt to force the best of breed to comply to your self imposed standards. Embrace companies that follow their lead. Not the other way around. It begs the question, what on earth are people who should believe in free markets doing to thwart it functioning efficiently?

Perhaps investors have the clearest indication of socialist activism by the very requirement to join the club. “ACSI drives strong ESG performance in companies in which our members invest because ESG creates long-term value…We use our collective impact to influence companies and financial markets in the interests of our members as long-term investors…Commitment to these beliefs is a pre-requisite for membership of ACSI.

Never has it been a more sound decision to set up an SMSF.

Too many chiefs, not enough indians

Minimum temperature outlook map

Did you know that 85.1% of the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) staff are classified as APS6 or higher? That means the overwhelming majority of people in BoM are classified as senior management with executive responsibilities within the public service. The APS website notes the following:

An APS Level 6 employee would generally be required to undertake work that is complex in nature, work under limited direction with the opportunity for reasonable autonomy and accountability. Employees at this level exercise both initiative and judgment in the interpretation of policy and in the application of practices and procedures.

Of the 1,671 staff, the BoM has 3 apprentices, 5 graduates, 1 APS level 1, 3 APS level 2, 61 APS level 3, 29 APS level 4 and 115 APS level 5. All data gleaned from the Annual Report 2017-18. Almost $180m in salaries are spent on them.

Is there a real need to have so much senior management, especially as the outputs have come under much scrutiny in recent years? The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has 50.8% of its staff in APS6 positions or above. It too is a data collector. Shouldn’t seniority numbers more closely align with the ABS at the BoM?

The Deptartment of Environment & Energy has 51% of its staff at APS level 6 and above. The Department of Finance 57.2%. DFAT 67%. The Department of Health 71%. Alarming that half of staff are in senior positions in many government agencies, but 85% for BoM?

Should we be surprised at the number of hiccups with measuring equipment when the BoM’s field offices have consolidated from 55 to 36 in the last 5 years? Should we applaud the consolidation as decisive leadership on cost containment or question larger sized field offices leading to suboptimal reporting outcomes and the propensity for making mistakes from remote stations?

JoNova notes a whole raft of incidents at the BoM. From using temperatures in Victoria to help adjust temps in Tasmania to installing thermometers atop hot tin roofing and bitumen. Homogenized data. The lot. It is frankly disgraceful.

Several highly dedicated amateur meteorologists are methodically going through the BOM’s weather stations. Approximately 18% of them do not meet the BOM’s own criteria for “best practice”. Not only that but the BOM’s electronic thermometers record the temperature every second. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) states that records must be continuously averaged over each running two minutes to cut out the risk of temperature “spikes”. However the BOM refuses to do this meaning that a thermometer at the edge of an airport, for example,  receives a three second spike from a taxiing aircraft, that becomes set as the maximum temperature for the day.

Remember the BoM went on the offensive claiming the hottest day ever until having to retreat with a tweet,

#SydneyHeat: Sorry, in our earlier checks we missed a 47.8 degrees C temperature recorded at an old #Richmond station (now closed) in 1939. 47.3 today still beats the previous #Penrith record.

Yes it was hot, but so eager to push their warming bias, that they fell foul to poor governance controls.

Of the 1,671 staff, only 55 are recorded as ‘research scientists.‘ While this number has grown in recent years, shouldn’t the BoM be investing in more people to ensure the data isn’t prone to so many errors?

For an organization that spends nearly $400m pa, shouldn’t things be reassessed? Shouldn’t the government look at how much bloat is in the BoM ranks? Don’t hold your breath at the new blood entering BoM. Trainees undertaking the Grad Dip in Meteorology is at a 10 year low.

Is a Royal Commission into our BoM not being conducted for fear of discrediting the practices of an organisation that must be revered by we mere peons for our temperature data?

With so many chiefs and not enough indians, is it any wonder that the BoM seems more about the politics of weather than the actual science?

Spectacular own goal scored by our elitist academics

Image result for marxist university poster

The beauty of those that wrote this open letter supporting the Extinction Rebellion throws up some very enlightening facts. Read it and weep. Not the letter – the stats.

Perhaps the most hilarious signatory to the letter is Matthew Flinders of Flinders University. Unless the university website has another Matthew Flinders listed as an active member, our esteemed explorer seems to have navigated his way back to life…simply adding to the total lack of credibility of the cabal of 268 academics who believe they have some sort of intellectual superiority over us. If one ever wanted proof of our judiciary leaning hard left, 12% of the people that signed this document were in law-related fields.

Yet, why couldn’t they sign up a majority of scientists in the profession of the very climate change emergency they wish to sanctimoniously lecture us on? And we are paying billions to these schools to educate us? Hmmm.

Many of the woke academia come from fields such as stand up comedy, poetry, arts/education, sports management, archaeology, LatAm studies, sex, health and society, social services, veterinary biology, culture, gender, racism…are you catching the drift of those supporting XR? Even Monash University’s Campus Operations Manager and Telephony Application Administrator signed it! Wonderful individuals but should we hold our educators to such high standards when anyone’s opinion will do?

Eerily, over 90% of the signatories do not appear to be renowned experts in teaching science, much less climate science. Which means, why weren’t the scientists in these universities willing to commit their names to a cause that fits their ideology? Who needs them when one faculty member from Monash University deals with ‘Imaginative Education‘?

61% of the signatories were from universities situated in the Democratic People’s Republic of Victoria. Within that, 65 (more than all those that signed from NSW universities = 63) of those 164 names from Victoria were from RMIT, the school where the lecturer offered bonus points for sending selfies from the school climate strike. Precious little free thought one imagines.  Monash had 44. So two universities in Melbourne made up 109 of the 268 Add La Trobe University and half of the signatories are from Victoria. Premier Dan Andrews must be proud.

Tinonee Pym, a research assistant at the Swinburne University of Technology in NSW helped pen,

C’mon, no one wants a dick pic’: exploring the cultural framings of the ‘dick pic’ in contemporary online publics

Undoubtedly this research has only certified climate science credentials at Swinburne University to convince sceptics of the validity of XR.

Southern Cross University was the only group of signatories where the majority had a connection to a faculty related to climate science.

On reflection we should be exceptionally happy these woke academics have opened themselves up to how empty their rhetoric is. The overwhelming majority of signatories are from liberal arts backgrounds. Surely with the aggregate IQ of 268 people they could have realized the flaw in pushing a cause where the qualified people that can prosecute the argument for them are conspicuously absent.

We need a Royal Commission on our education system. The gaping holes in standards are self-evident. This is an unmitigated clown show.

ABC lowers the bar (again)

Good to see our tax dollars get allocated so wisely at the public broadcaster. ABC’s JJJ music wing thought an article on oral sex titled, “A beginner’s guide to blowies” was just what the audience required. It will probably get put down as an oversight with assurances it won’t happen again until it does.

Nazi scum?

Just a day before the 75th anniversary of D-Day, where 156,000 allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy to defeat the Nazis, unhinged protestors in London can scream at a person with different views as  “Nazi scum”. We can always count on the tolerant left to engage in thoughtful, respectful and open debate. Their generosity has now spread to offering unsolicited milkshakes to those they disagree with.

What is striking within all of this, is 1) the police did absolutely nothing (no surprise in Mayor Khan’s London and to be honest the constable looked riddled with fear);  2) every other grievance of the left seems present at the march from the Extinction Rebellion, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism (ironically practiced by numerous members of the Labour Party which aligns with many of their protests), a call for a general election (which would likely see even bigger swings against this lot) etc; and 3) so many protesters hiding behind masks. What is it with these people who can’t own their protest?  Maybe the Univesity of Mons can hand her an honorary doctorate for standing up to Trump?

Welcome to 2019. To think of the 4,500 poor young allied soldiers who lost their lives on that fateful day 75 years ago trying to defend against the very tyranny these people wish to reintroduce. Those calling others Nazis should take a long stone cold look in the mirror to see what true fascism looks like.