Thursday, May 28, 2020

Stuffed emu: how ABC education fails to educate

Stuffed emu: how ABC education fails to educate

Peter O'Brien has an excellent article on Quadrant (Bruce Pascoe’s Whoppers: In a Class of Their Own)  dealing with ABC Education's deeply flawed web presentation featuring Bruce Pascoe and his book Dark Emu. Peter mentions the addition of a note on that page that reads: 
Note also that since 2019, Pascoe’s work has been evaluated differently by some people, who don’t agree with his interpretations of historical sources. This resource contains excerpts from the original texts and scientific evidence that Bruce draws on. We encourage you to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all historical sources.

The text below provides some insight into how that note came about....

ABC have a statutory responsibility under their charter and editorial policies to ensure their output is impartial and reflects a diversity of views. The aim being to "equip audiences to make up their own minds".

On a number of topics ABC has demonstrably failed to live up to this principle and the message is less about providing the public with a range of views so they are able to judge for themselves and more about the ABC preaching their own views and their own opinions regardless of the facts and evidence. The tale of the stuffed emu outlined below is another example of that failure. This time it involves a site developed by ABC education that promotes one man's point of view about Australian history while ignoring errors in that view and failing to provide an alternate perspective supported by the historical evidence.

ABC picks and chooses where it follows its editorial guidelines. One area where the public must insist the principles are followed is on its education site.

Stuffed emu

ABC education note: Note also that since 2019, Pascoe's work has been evaluated differently by some people, who don't agree with his interpretations of historical sources. This resource contains excerpts from the original texts and scientific evidence that Bruce draws on. We encourage you to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all historical sources.

Bruce Pascoe is a writer and claims to be an Aboriginal man with links to a number of Aboriginal communities. His claims of Aboriginal heritage have been challenged by members of those communities and a genological study was unable to find any evidence of Pascoe's Aboriginal past. He has thus far failed to provide any answers to the serious questions raised about his claims. In a letter (see below) published by the Koori Mail on 20 April 2011 Pascoe himself highlighted issues with non-Aboriginal writers entering literary prizes reserved for Aboriginal writers without sufficient proof of identity. He indicated that even a "statutory declaration was not sufficient proof of identity".  We leave readers to make up their own minds about the strength of Pascoe's claims and the morality of his receipt of various writing awards and other prizes reserved for people with Aboriginal heritage.
From Koori Mail 20 April 2011

In 2014 Pascoe published Dark Emu: Black seeds: agriculture or accident?. The book is essentially Pascoe's interpretation of early explorer's accounts of interactions with Aboriginal peoples. Pascoe believes his version of those accounts provides evidence that Aboriginal people should not be viewed as Hunter-Gatherers but as settled farmers who used sophisticated agricultural methods. 
The book won a number of awards most notably in context with the information above, the NSW Premier's Literary Awards: Book of the Year and the Indigenous Writers' Prize, but it took some time for Pascoe's views to be challenged. It took a while for someone to check those historical sources but when they did they found Pascoe's interpretation of the explorer's journals to be deeply flawed. The most comprehensive challenge came in late 2019 from writer Peter O'Brien who published "Bitter Harvest: The illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu". The book is described thus:
"Bitter Harvest is a comprehensive appraisal of Bruce Pascoe’s book Dark Emu. Pascoe postulates that, rather than being a nomadic hunter-gatherer society, Australian Aborigines were actually sedentary agriculturalists with ‘skills superior to those of the white colonisers who took their land and despoiled it’. Dark Emu has enjoyed extraordinary public and critical acclaim, winning Premier’s literary awards in New South Wales and named Book of the Year. Professor Marcia Langton called it ‘the most important book on Australia’. Its ideas have already been taken up in school texts and the ABC is producing a documentary series about it.

But nothing in Dark Emu justifies its success. Bitter Harvest is a forensic but highly readable examination which reveals that Bruce Pascoe omits, distorts or mischaracterises important information to such an extent that, as purported history, Dark Emu is worthless. Even worse, it promotes a divisive, victim-based agenda that pits one Australian against another."

In May 2019 ABC education released a "digibook" featuring Bruce Pascoe discussing concepts from his book. The "digibook" is intended for use by schools and is directed at school children studying Australian History. The digibook draws heavily from Dark Emu. Like much of ABC's content the site went largely unnoticed until late 2019 when media drew attention to extensive criticism of Pascoe's work. 

A complaint is raised:
Having read both Dark Emu and Bitter Harvest and looked over ABC Education's Digibook we were concerned children viewing the page would be critically misinformed and on 13 November 2019 we raised a complaint to the ABC about the content and failure to follow ABC editorial guidelines with respect to factual content and diversity of views: 

Subject: Factual errors and omissions in ABC education piece about Bruce Pascoe

Comments: ABC education are promoting the work of Bruce Pascoe's "Dark Emu" but there appear to be significant factual errors in Pascoe's past and his story that would result in the intended school age audience being critically misinformed. Revelations about Bruce Pascoe's ancestry on the Bolt Report 12/11/2019 cast doubt on Pascoe's claimed Aboriginal ancestry which has a major bearing on claims he makes in the videos and his credibility as an indigenous writer. Fact checking of Pascoe's book "Dark Emu" from various sources including by writer Peter O’Brien in his book "Bitter Harvest: The illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu", by Quadrant Books need to be considered by ABC and properly addressed. O'Brien writes: “Almost every significant claim that Pascoe makes that is sourced, turns out to be either false or misrepresented. As purported history, Dark Emu is worthless. Even worse, it promotes a divisive, victim-based agenda that pits one Australian against another.”

ABC have a responsibility under its editorial policies to provide factual information. It is currently promoting a work that is "worthless". It is clear that facts concerning Pascoe and his book are lacking and ABC need to correct the information.

We got the following reply from ABC sent 20 December 2019, but only received by us on 29 January owing to it ending up in our spam folder: 

With regard to your contact of 13 November, this was assessed as not requiring a response; it is general in nature and does not identify or reference any specific aspects of the ABC content to support the view that there are inaccuracies and omissions. Should you wish to resubmit your complaint, please indicate which editorial standards ( you believe to be relevant to your complaint, and why you believe the content failed to meet those standards – with examples from the content.

Your comments regarding a forthcoming ABC documentary are noted; Audience and Consumer Affairs investigates complaints regarding content that has been broadcast or published.

Yours sincerely

Denise Musto
Investigations Manager
Audience and Consumer Affairs

In light of Ms Musto's request to resubmit our complaint with more information, we submitted a 13 page letter dealing with specific issues with the content of the website (content is provided below) on 5 March 2020.

Ms Musto replied on 1 May 2020 with the following:

Thank you for your complaint regarding the ABC Education resource Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity. I apologise for the delay in responding.

Your concerns have been considered by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC.  Our role is to review and, where appropriate, investigate complaints alleging that ABC content has breached the ABC’s editorial standards:   

In essence, your complaint asks Audience and Consumer Affairs to make a determination on the accuracy of Dark Emu, in response to criticism of it and Bruce Pascoe by Peter O’Brien and others, including the Dark Emu Exposed website.  While noting your concerns,  Audience and Consumer Affairs have concluded that the substantial investigation you seek is not warranted and nor is it a proportionate use of the ABC’s complaint handling resources for the following reasons:

  • This ABC Education resource has been available online since May 2019; as you would be aware, Audience and Consumer Affairs do not generally accept complaints for investigation which are received more than six weeks after broadcast or publication of the content in question.  You have not provided any reasons for the delay in submitting your complaint.  Nonetheless, we accept that since this resource was published, there has been some criticism of Dark Emu, and in light of this and in good faith we have broadly considered the matters you raise.  

  • This resource is based on the acclaimed, award-winning book Dark Emu by author Bruce Pascoe.  Since its initial publication in 2014, the book has been generally well-received, as evidenced by the number of awards it won or was shortlisted for, as well as numerous positive reviews in the media and in academic journals. It was selected as the inaugural book for the Parliamentary Book Club and has been praised by politicians and other public figures. We are advised by ABC Education that Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity was produced for a number of reasons: the unit received a number of requests for a resource to be developed based on the book; the children’s version Young Dark Emu is being used in some classrooms; and more broadly there is a high demand from their audience for Indigenous history resources.  Given these facts, Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied that Dark Emu is a credible and appropriate subject for an ABC Education resource.  

  • Audience and Consumer Affairs is aware that since 2019, Dark Emu has been the subject of some sustained criticism from a range of mostly non-expert sources, much of it relating to the accuracy of Dark Emu and Bruce Pascoe’s interpretation of sources.   Given this somewhat persistent criticism, we have viewed the fact checking documentation undertaken by ABC Education for this resource, which demonstrates that reasonable efforts were made to ensure accuracy. We have also considered the context in which this resource is presented.  Following receipt of your complaint, we note that ABC Education have updated the prologue to Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity to appropriately include this information:  Note also that since 2019, Pascoe's work has been evaluated differently by some people, who don't agree with his interpretations of historical sources. This resource contains excerpts from the original texts and scientific evidence that Bruce draws on. We encourage you to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all historical sources.  The presentation of this module, as the name suggests, prominently features Bruce Pascoe and it is clear that he is presenting an alternative viewpoint, underpinned by research, which challenges the belief that Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers.  The ABC’s Editorial Policies allow for this point-of-view style of presentation. 

While we have declined to further investigate your complaint, please be assured that your concerns are noted and have been made available to ABC Education.  Thank you again for writing to us.

Yours sincerely

Denise Musto
Investigations Manager
Audience and Consumer Affairs

Once again ABC's minions thumb their noses at their charter and editorial guidelines, ignoring the historical evidence and promote their own warped world views. 

We understand production of a new documentary featuring Bruce Pascoe is in progress readers are encouraged to watch and see if it meets ABC's policies with respect to facts and diversity of viewpoints and if not direct your complaints to this site: ABC Complaints.

Complaint #2

Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity
Errors, misrepresentations and omissions
Text from ABC education site in numbered italics and issues identified listed below each.
The ABC Education website Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity
breaches ABC’s editorial code for:
Includes errors of fact and false and misleading information
Impartiality and diversity of perspectives
Does not provide for facts presented by experts that demonstrate Pascoe is in error. This is particularly egregious considering the presentation is for school children.
Remove site from ABC Education, or provide room for alternate views.
Specific issues
The section below provides commentary on the text of the website detailed specific issues. It is broken down into chapters on the website.
1. Bruce examined the journals of the early explorers and found evidence of a complex civilisation that was using sophisticated technologies to live, farm and manage the land.
Pascoe’s book has been thoroughly debunked by Peter O’Brien’s Bitter Harvest and the Dark Emu exposed website. His work also called into question by prominent academics and other writers. Students using the ABC education website should be informed of the controversy concerning Pascoe’s book.
Bitter Harvest: The illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu
Bitter Harvest is a comprehensive appraisal of Bruce Pascoe’s book Dark Emu. Pascoe postulates that, rather than being a nomadic hunter-gatherer society, Australian Aborigines were actually sedentary agriculturalists with ‘skills superior to those of the white colonisers who took their land and despoiled it’. Dark Emu has enjoyed extraordinary public and critical acclaim, winning Premier’s literary awards in New South Wales and named Book of the Year. Professor Marcia Langton called it ‘the most important book on Australia’. Its ideas have already been taken up in school texts and the ABC is producing a documentary series about it.
But nothing in Dark Emu justifies its success. Bitter Harvest is a forensic but highly readable examination which reveals that Bruce Pascoe omits, distorts or mischaracterises important information to such an extent that, as purported history, Dark Emu is worthless. Even worse, it promotes a divisive, victim-based agenda that pits one Australian against another

Dark Emu exposed
When we first read Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, we were captivated by his story. Many of our friends had read it too and said they felt good about the “fact” that the Australian Aborigines were not “just” a hunter-gatherer society when the British settled Australia in 1788, but they were in fact, as the Judges of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards claimed “..liv[ing] sophisticated  lives…[in an] Aboriginal democracy [that] created ‘the 'Great Australian Peace’ on a continent which was extensively farmed, skilfully managed and deeply loved.”
However, a little digging into the “evidence” presented by Mr Pascoe has deflated our enthusiasm and the more we dig, the more disappointed we become. When it comes to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, we all know they are not “true”, but it is nice to promote the narrative, as it is all in a good cause and a delight to our children. However for adults, the accuracy of history is important and historical facts should not be fabricated, bent or manipulated to serve ideological ends, or to satisfy the needs of a “virtue-signalling” readership.
As we upload our reviews and critiques in blog-posts over the coming months, let the reader decide as to whether Mr Pascoe :
“…puts forward a compelling argument for a reconsideration of the hunter gatherer label for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians…[where] the evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing - behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag.” - from Dark Emu dust jacket blurb;
or whether his arguments fail to overcome the accepted, Australian belief of :
“They [the Australian Aborigines] are, of course, nomads — hunters and foragers who grow nothing, build nothing, and stay nowhere long. They make almost no physical mark on the environment…They move about, carrying their scant possessions, in small bands of anything from ten to sixty persons…Their tools and crafts, meagre — pitiably meagre — though they are, have nonetheless been good enough to let them win the battle for survival, and to win it comfortably at that. With no pottery, no knowledge of metals, no wheel, no domestication of animals, no agriculture, they have still been able to people the entire continent…”
- W.E.H. Stanner, The Dreaming & Other Essays, Black Inc Agenda, 2010, p 64,65 & 70 - (our emphasis)
The site is edited by Roger Karge and, as of December 2019, has around 30 independent researchers. Unfortunately, in the current climate in which we live, most of our researchers need to operate under pseudonyms to protect their careers. Some work within academia, or government departments, that are strongly Progressive Left and, needless to say, any criticism of Mr Pascoe and his book Dark Emu is likely to lead to their ostracisation!
We are independent and all the work by our contributors is on an unpaid, voluntary basis and we do not receive any outside funding. We are not aligned with, or funded by, the Herald Sun, The Australian or Quadrant magazine, but we greatly appreciate their interest in our project and their reporting on it from time to time.
Taking sides over ‘Dark Emu’
How the history wars avoid debate and reason
But throughout Dark Emu, Pascoe regularly exaggerates and embellishes. One example: he quotes Thomas Mitchell’s description of large, circular, chimneyed huts Mitchell observed near Mount Arapiles, in western Victoria, on July 26, 1836, but leaves out the words “which were of a very different construction from those of the aborigines in general”. Pascoe adds his own commentary: Mitchell “recorded his astonishment at the size of the villages”; he “counts the houses, and estimates a population of over one thousand”; and “the evidence is everywhere that they have used the place for a very long time”. But in his own journal, Mitchell doesn’t express astonishment, he doesn’t count and he doesn’t estimate a population size. Nor does he present any evidence that would support a conclusion about longevity of residence. Granville Stapylton, Mitchell’s second-in-command, recorded seeing one hut “capable of containing at least 40 persons and of very superior construction” on July 26. Pascoe includes this, but not the rest of Stapylton’s sentence: “and appearantly the work of A White Man it is A known fact that A runaway Convict has been for years amongst these tribes.” That could be a reference to the well-known escapee William Buckley (who was found by John Batman the previous July), or it could be a racist myth. The point is that Pascoe simply left it out.
By themselves, examples like these split hairs. But they’re all the way through Dark Emu. Together, such selective quoting creates an impression of societies with a sturdiness, permanence, sedentarism and technical sophistication that’s not supported by the source material. In speeches and interviews Pascoe is known to reach even further. And far too often Pascoe relies on secondary sources, including those obviously pushing ideological barrows.
2. Researchers continue to discover new evidence of the earliest human occupation of Australia. A recent scientific study in south-west Victoria suggests Aboriginal Australians may have been living on the continent for 120,000 years.
The study in question is highly speculative and has not been independently confirmed. It is not an appropriate remark for an education site without further commentary of the surrounding issues and should eb removed or amended to reflcet current consensus ie about 50,000 years. If humans were in Australia 120000 years a significant part of current understanding of pre-historical movement of humans out of Africa would be overturned.
3. we learn about the vast agricultural fields, ingenious aquaculture systems, sophisticated use of fire and successful industries that existed in Australia prior to colonisation.
As detailed in Bitter Harvest and elsewhere Pascoe’s claims are distortions, misrepresentations and exaggerations. The ABC education site requires significant room for alternate view points and discussion of areas where Pascoe claims do not stack up.
Chapter 1.
4. “Bruce Pascoe is a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man.”
While Brice Pascoe claims his has Aboriginal ancestry he has not been able to demonstrate this or provide firm evidence through documentation. An independent genealogical study has found no aboriginal ancestors in Pascoe’s past (See )
He has also been disowned by members of the Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian Aboriginal communities see
All reference Pascoe’s claims aboriginal heritage should be removed from ABC websites until his claims are proven.
Through the remainder of Chapter 1 Pascoe’s addresses the ABC audience as though he is aboriginal, but he isn’t.
Chapter 2.
5. “They weren't Stone Age people.” 
They were in fact stone age people. The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric period during which stone was widely used to make implements with an edge, a point, or a percussion surface. The period lasted roughly 3.4 million years and ended between 8700 BCE and 2000 BCE with the advent of metalworking.
6. I come from this country. This is Yuin country. This is my law. 
Chapter 3.
7. I read that Sir Thomas Mitchell rode through nine miles of stooped grain and that grain grew higher than the saddle on his horse. The country was that rich. But the Aboriginal people had harvested nine miles of that and stooped it, stacked it into sheaves right across the country.
This is a complete fabrication and misrepresentation of what Mitchel saw and wrote. What Mitchell actually said in his 1848 Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia, on page 90 (1969 reprint), was :
“Dry heaps of this grass, that had been pulled expressly for the purpose of gathering the seed, lay along our path for many miles. I counted nine miles along the river, in which we rode through this grass only, reaching to our saddle-girths, and the same grass seemed to grow back from the river, at least as far as the eye could reach through a very open forest. I had never seen such rich natural pasturage in any other part of New South Wales.”
So, Mitchell records that he rode through nine miles of rich, natural pasturage (grass) standing up to his horse’s saddle-girth (that is, not fields of human cultivation, but just tall, wild grass fields), with some dry, pulled grass laying in heaps along the way; he did NOT appear to ride through a continuous “nine miles of stooked grain”.
Mr Pascoe also seems to incorrectly cite this in Dark Emu as being from Mitchell’s other cited journal, Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia, when in fact we found it in Mitchell’s 1848, Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia, on page 90 (1969 reprint).
The voice over text must be amended to reflect what Mitchell actually wrote. There was not 9 miles of stooped or stooked grain.
8. And Lieutenant Grey.....couldn't walk across the fields that Aboriginal people had been growing yam on in Western Australia. They'd been so deeply tilled.
What Mr Pascoe doesn’t tell the reader however, is that he has lifted this isolated section from the brilliantly detailed work of Gerritsen, and totally omitted any reference to the crucial paragraphs before, and after, this section. These paragraphs detail Gerritsen’s theory that Dutch survivors from the Batavia shipwreck and mutiny landed on the West Australian mainland and befriended the local aboriginal tribe, the Nhanda, inter-married with them, and introduced them to the cultivation of the Asian yam variety that the Dutch were most probably carrying as supplies.
Section should be amended to include full reference to suggestions by Gerritsen that Dutch survivors introduced Yam cultivation.

9. In Australia, they went out of their way to prove that Aboriginal people weren't human
A statement completely unsupported by any factual evidence- remove.
Chapter 4.
Claims about earliest bread are unsupported. In fact grinding stones have been identified from three Palaeolithic sites across Europe. If Pascoe can speculate that Aborigines baked bread one the basis of the grindstones then we can make the same assumption of other stone age peoples. Recently the starch grains were identified on 30,000 year old grinding stones from three Palaeolithic sites across Europe: Bilancino II in Italy, Kostenki 16 in Russia, and Pavlov VI in the Czech Republic. The starch includes Brachypodium grass and Typha, commonly known as bulrush.
ABC to include reference to other Palaeolithic grindstone locations.

Chapter 5.
10. Pascoe with the help off ABC Education editorial staff misrepresent an encounter between Charles Sturt and a group of natives.
BRUCE PASCOE: One of the really, um, interesting stories that I came across was that Charles Sturt, who was one of the more kindly explorers in the country - that is, he didn't kill anyone, uh, but his brother was pegging out all the land, so they were still avaricious, they were still greedy for land... But Sturt was dying. Uh, he had scurvy. All his party had scurvy. The horses were so weak, they couldn't ride them anymore. And they climbed a sand dune. They'd been climbing them for weeks. They climbed one last sand dune and 400 Aboriginal people hailed them.
VOICEOVER: And on gaining the summit were hailed with a deafening shout by 3 or 400 natives... I had never before come so suddenly upon so large a party. Had these people been of an unfriendly temper, we could not by any possibility have escaped them.
BRUCE PASCOE: And as the men staggered down the sand dune... And Sturt said they couldn't have stopped themselves from going down that hill, because the momentum was carrying them, and that if those Aboriginal people were in any way aggressive, they were dead.
VOICEOVER: Several of them brought us large troughs of water, and when we had taken a little, held them up for our horses to drink; an instance of nerve that is very remarkable.
BRUCE PASCOE: Now, they'd never seen a horse and, yet, they recognised the horse as a...another animal.....a sentient being, and they gave water to that creature because they knew the horse needed water. That was an act of kindness that Sturt recognised.
VOICEOVER: Placing the troughs they carried against their breast, have allowed the horses to drink, with their noses almost touching them... They likewise offered us some roasted ducks, and some cake.
BRUCE PASCOE: Roast duck...and cake. Roast duck and cake in the desert? Well, it wasn't a desert for those people. They were harvesting that desert and they were living a really good life and they had a village of houses and they offered Sturt a new house they'd built.
VOICEOVER: They pointed to a large new hut and told us we could sleep there. I had already determined to remain, and on my intimating this to the natives they appeared highly delighted. When the natives saw us quietly seated they came over, and brought a quantity of sticks for us to make a fire, wood being extremely scarce.
BRUCE PASCOE: Firewood. They gave him more bread. They looked after him as you would look after a visitor to your house.
VOICEOVER: At sunset all the natives left us, and went to their own encampment; nor did one approach us afterwards, but they sat up to a late hour at their own camp, the women being employed beating the seed for cakes, between two stones. The whole encampment with the long line of fires, looked exceedingly pretty, and the dusky figures of the natives standing by them or moving from one hut to the other, had the effect of a fine scene in a play.
BRUCE PASCOE: It's a great moment in Australian history because the...the humanity of the moment cannot be mistaken. The humanity of the moment - to give water to a creature you've never seen and to give water to another human in need. It's a great moment in history.
Peter O’Brien outlines the facts about the encounter in Bitter Harvest: Pages 82-92 copies provided to ABC. The alternate view by O’Brien should be reproduced to provide balance to the presentation.
Chapter 7.
Pascoe’s claims about Murnong debunked  in Bitter Harvest P11-26

Chapter 9.
Pascoes claims about aquaculture debunked. Bitter Harvest P69-80

Chapter 11 Housing
Pascoes claims about Aboriginal Housing debunked in Bitter Harvest  P 80-113

Friday, May 1, 2020

Covid19 Fail: models vs reality

On April 7 the Federal government released its epidemiological modelling of the Covid19 outbreak in Australia. The models were used to justify strict quarantine and isolation measures enforced by Federal and State governments that will see Australia experience its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. ABC has thus far failed to provide any meaningful coverage of the models and their failure to match reality.

The rationale behind the government's "flatten the curve" strategy was to enforce strict physical distancing measures to ensure enough ICU beds were available to handle the caseload.

Under the government's model peak ICU demand with strict Level 3-4 Quarantine + isolation + social distancing measures in place was predicted to occur in week 43 (see graph below) which would be well into November with nearly 5000 ICU beds required, about double our capacity.

It seems reality played out quite differently.

The first case of Covid19 was reported in Australia on 25 January and around 14 weeks later it seems the "curve" has been well and truly flattened with only a handful of cases now reported daily.  We never reached more than 5% of ICU bed capacity with maximum daily use being around 100 beds way back in week 10 prior to the effect of level 3-4 measures being felt and the release of the Government's epidemiological modelling. The pandemic for us is well and truly over and we now face the social and economic consequences of a completely disproportionate response. Handling of the Covid19 pandemic by Australian Governments at all levels has been perhaps the worst example of Risk Management in history.

The ABC costs us well over $1 billion annually, we could fund 15000 nurses for that figure, yet somehow it lacks the integrity to take the government to task over models that were effectively disproven on the day they were released.

Data sources:
ICU bed use from April 5 via Dep Health infographic series 

Total number of ICU beds:

More model fails:



Thursday, March 5, 2020

Missing News: RIP Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson passed away last week (28 Feb). One of the world's greatest thinkers in physics. He was outspoken on many issues. On climate change he was completely unconvinced it was a major problem. He wrote recently:

To any unprejudiced person reading this account, the facts should be obvious: that the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide as a sustainer of wildlife and crop plants are enormously beneficial, that the possibly harmful climatic effects of carbon dioxide have been greatly exaggerated, and that the benefits clearly outweigh the possible damage.
I consider myself an unprejudiced person and to me these facts are obvious. But the same facts are not obvious to the majority of scientists and politicians who consider carbon dioxide to be evil and dangerous. The people who are supposed to be experts and who claim to understand the science are precisely the people who are blind to the evidence. 

ABC failed to report his passing. The taint of the ideological spin coming from Ultimo so great that the passing of one of our best and brightest goes unnoticed because of his scientific scepticism. Utterly shameful!

RIP FREEMAN DYSON, your equations and words live on.

Dyson's Awards

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

OZ media spectrum - ABC sits in the looney left quadrant

Survey finds ABC sit at Looney left, low-quality end of Oz media spectrum.

ABC News and current affairs heavily weighted towards the looney left

An independent survey of media consumers has confirmed suspicions that ABC has a strong left-wing political bias. Oz Media watchers were requested to rank various Australian news sources on their perception of quality and right or left-wing political bias. The unsurprising results found a strong left bias among Oz media outlets overall. The Australian Newspaper was ranked highest for quality, while SkyNEWS returned a neutral bias ranking.
ABC news programs were perceived to have a very strong left-wing bias with its main news and current affairs outlets falling into the Looney left side of the political spectrum. This must be of concern for ABC's chairperson Ita Buttross who has stated previously the organisation might have issues with bias, despite having a charter that is supposed to ensure it is apolitical.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The bias marches on... and on.

Gerard Henderson's column in today's Weekend Australian highlights the fact ABC is firmly stuck in trolley tracks of left-wing bias and nothing looks like shifting it back to the centre. Worth a read as usual....

ABC’s leading journos out of touch with Australia’s key issues

It is just four months since the ABC’s mission to Bankstown in southwest Sydney. Led by ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose and managing director David Anderson, dozens of the ABC family headed to the outer suburbs for a planning workshop aimed at making content that was more relevant to average Australians than what had previously been on offer. That’s how ABC management described the mission at the time.

Gaven Morris (ABC director news, analysis and investigations) told Nine Entertainment newspapers there were “some parts of the community that we don’t serve as well as we could”. This implied the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster was in search of the “quiet Australians” to whom Scott Morrison had referred to immediately after the May 18 election last year.

The Coalition’s victory had stunned many journalists, but none more so than the ABC’s key political commentators — virtually all of whom got the result wrong. So certain was 7.30 political correspondent Laura Tingle that she told 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales on the eve of the election the Labor Party “will” win and dismissed the possibility of a Coalition victory with a laugh.

It is not clear what, if anything, the ABC learned from the mission to Bankstown of recent memory. Maybe only that it is a long way from its head office in the inner-Sydney suburb of Ultimo. Certainly the ABC is just as much a conservative-free zone as it ever was — perhaps even more so.

Subscription required to read the rest

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Lacking of inquiry: Where are the Bushfire Experts?

ABC continue their deranged crusade in all things climate uncritically spruiking a letter on the recent Bushfire crisis from 80 academics. members of the "group of Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellows". The list includes many esteemed academics from a range of fields oddly enough including anthropologists, economists, psychologists, lawyers and astronomers etc, but we could only find two, just two, on the list that appeared to have any expertise in Bushfire Science (highlighted below). Surely if you want to link Climate Change and the Bushfires then you would ask a credible voice. Recent expert lists on climate change have included the likes of Professor Mickey Mouse and Professor Dumbledore. At least Mickey has fire fighting experience and we wonder why he was left off the list this time!
At least Mickey and his team have fire fighting experience!

The overwhelming opinion of Bushfire experts has been that while Climate Change has had an influence the major problem this summer is in the area of Forest management and drought, and “…as far as the climate scientists know there is no link between climate change and drought.”

Here's CSIRO's David Packham explaining the issue... Former CSIRO scientist David Packham has urged the government to do more to combat the “most important” factor contributing to the current bushfire crisis - the build up of very dry fuel" 

Bushfire Expert Roger Underwood writing in Quadrant: An Inferno of Incompetence and Obfuscation "I reject the ‘blame it on climate change” position because it has two killer flaws: firstly, it ignores fuels, which are the main contributor to uncontrollable fires during a drought; secondly, it provides no practical solutions to the immediate problem. Both of these factors render the climate change argument utterly unsustainable, indeed ridiculous."

Once again ABC fails to ask any questions when it comes to climate change and its audience are left in the dark.

List of Laureates and areas of expertise below.
Expertise in bushfire science
Steven Sherwood, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
Physical Meteorology and Atmospheric Climate Dynamics
Quentin Grafton, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU
Professor of Economics
Trevor J McDougall AC, School of Mathematics and Statistics, UNSW Sydney
Oceanic processes (excl. climate related), physical oceanography.
Matthew England, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
Prof England’s research explores global-scale ocean circulation and the influence it has on regional climate, large-scale physical oceanography, ocean modelling, and climate processes
George Zhao, School of Chemical Engineering, U. Queensland
Prof Zhao’s research focuses on nanoporous materials for sustainable energy storage and conversion, as well as for environmentally friendly chemical processes and products.
Michael Bird, College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University
My research interests include the terrestrial carbon cycle, biochar, geoarchaeology and understanding the trajectory of past and future environmental change in the tropics.
Tamara Davis, School of Mathematics and Physics, University of Queensland
Professor Tamara Davis is a cosmologist interested in investigating new fundamental physics, such as the properties of dark energy and dark matter and the mass of the neutrino
Mark Westoby, Dept of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University
 PhD (Wildlife Ecology)
Eelco J. Rohling, Research School of Earth Sciences, ANU
High-resolution investigation of ocean/climate changes during the Neogene, and in particular the Quaternary, to determine the nature, timing and magnitude of natural climate variability. 
Lesley Head, School of Geography, University of Melbourne
I am a geographer whose research examines human-environment relations, both conceptual and material
Chris Turney, Chronos 14Carbon-Cycle Facility, UNSW Sydney
To do something positive about climate change, I helped set up CarbonScape, a clean-tech company using microwave technology to make green products (
Trevor Lithgow, Centre to Impact AMR, Monash University
Uncovering clues to new disease control strategies
Paul Mulvaney, School of Chemistry, University of Melbourne
current interests include the optical properties of single quantum dots, surface plasmon spectroscopy of single metal particles, nanocrystal based electronics, nanomechanics and solar energy conversion
Zheng-Xiang Li, School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Curtin University
research interests are mainly in regional to global tectonics and paleogeography, paleomagnetism, and geodynamics.
Peter Hodgson, Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University
research includes steel processing and the development of new alloys
Philip Boyd, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania
Professor of Marine Biogeochemistry 
Madeleine JH van Oppen, School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne
ecological geneticist with an interest in microbial symbioses and climate change adaptation of reef corals
Lisa Kewley, Research School for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University
Warwick Anderson, Department of History and Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney
Janet Dora Hine Professor of Politics, Governance and Ethics
Chennupati Jagadish, AC, Research School of Physics, Australian National University
Distinguished Professor and Head of Semiconductor Optoelectronics and Nanotechnology Group
Sue O’Connor, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University
Areas of expertise
Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Archaeology
Archaeology Of Asia, Africa And The Americas
Archaeological Science
Archaeology Of New Guinea And Pacific Islands (Excl. New Zealand)

Ronald Rapee, Centre for Emotional Health, Macquarie University
Professor of Psychology
Jolanda Jetten, School of Psychology, University of Queensland
Doctor in Psychology, University of Amsterdam
Richard G. Roberts, School of Earth, Atmospheric & Life Sciences, University of Wollongong
Centre for Archaeological Science,
Katherine Demuth, Centre for Language Sciences, Macquarie University
Professor in Linguistics
Gottfried Otting, Research School of Chemistry, Australian National University
PhD (biomolecular NMR)
John Dryzek, Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra
Democratic Theory, Democratization, Environmental Politics, Climate Change and Global Governance

Belinda Medlyn, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University
My research focuses on how plants, especially forests, respond to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate change.
Adrienne Stone, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne
Primary Interest
Free Speech Law

Ben Andrews, Mathematical Sciences Institute, Australian National University
Research interests
Differential geometry: I am interested in many areas of differential geometry, including
geometry of curves, surfaces and hypersurfaces;
Riemannian geometry; effects of local curvature conditions on global geometry and topology;
geodesics, minimal surfaces, and related problems;
isoperimetric inequalities;
differential geometry associated with conformal transformations, projective transformations, affine transformations and other groups;
general relativity and semi-Riemannian geometry;
geometry of convex bodies;
Finsler geometry.

Stuart Wyithe, School of Physics, University of Melbourne
Primary Interest

Leann Tilley, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Melbourne
Professor Tilley’s group undertakes research in the areas of cell biology and drug development related to the malaria parasite,
Geoffrey McFadden, School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne
Primary Interest
Origin Of Plastids

Matthew Bailes, ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery, Swinburne University of Technology
His research mainly concerns developing instrumentation for time domain astrophysics and using it for pulsar and Fast Radio Burst discovery
John Quiggin, School of Economics, University of Queensland
research economist and as a commentator on Australian economic policy
Bernard Degnan, Centre for Marine Science, University of Queensland
Research Interests
Genomes, Development & Evolution
1. Origin of animal complexity
2. Marine biology and biotechnology
3. Genomics and evolution of biomineralization

Jon Barnett, School of Geography, University of Melbourne
political geographer whose research investigates the impacts of and responses to environmental change on social systems in the Asia-Pacific region.
Martin Asplund, Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Australian National University
Research interests
Stellar astrophysics, origin of the elements, formation and evolution of the Milky Way, the first stars, Big Bang nucleosynthesis and the cosmological lithium problems

Ivan Marusic, Melbourne School of Engineering, University of Melbourne
He is known for his work on turbulence at high Reynolds number, using both theoretical and experimental approaches. 
Edward Holmes, School of Life & Environmental Sciences and School of Medical Sciences, University of Sydney
known for his work on the evolution and emergence of infectious diseases,
Kate Smith-Miles, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne
I'm interested in most branches of applied mathematics, but especially optimisation, pattern recognition, and modelling of complex systems.

Current projects include developing new methodologies for objective assessment of algorithm performance; generating new test instances for various classes of optimisation problems; improved scheduling algorithms; and expensive black-box optimisation.

Justin Marshall, Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland
Marshall's principle aim is to understand how other animals perceive their environment
Peter Goodyear, Sydney School of Education & Social Work, The University of Sydney
Learning sciences; psychology of education
Learning technologies and new media
Learning, cognition and motivation
Research on teaching and learning
Learning and teaching in higher education

David Lindenmayer, Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University
Landscape Ecology050104
Environmental Management050205
Forestry Management And Environment070504
Terrestrial Ecology060208
Wildlife And Habitat Management050211
Environmental Monitoring050206
Forestry Fire Management070503
Conservation And Biodiversity050202
Natural Resource Management050209
Ecological Applications0501
Forestry Sciences0705
Forest fire management
Alexandra Aikhenvald, Language and Culture Research Centre, James Cook University
 prolific body of research that included Berber languages of North Africa and Hebrew but focused on tropical languages, predominantly those of Amazonia, the Papuan languages of New Guinea and Aboriginal Australia.
David Bellwood, College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University
research interests encompass the evolution and ecology of reef fishes
Glenda Sluga, Laureate Research Program in International HIstory, THe University of Sydney
published widely on the cultural history of international relations, internationalism, the history of European nationalisms, sovereignty, identity, immigration and gender history.
Enrico Valdinoci, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Western Australia
Enrico's research interests mainly focus on partial differential equations, nonlocal equations, calculus of variations, and dynamical systems.
Michelle Coote, Research School of Chemistry, Australian National University
published extensively in the fields of polymer chemistry, radical chemistry and computational quantum chemistry
Jennifer L Martin AC, University of Wollongong
renowned protein crystallographer and structural biologist.
Ian Reid FTSE, University of Adelaide
His research interests include robotic and active vision, visual tracking, SLAM, human motion capture and intelligent visual surveillance
Hilary Charlesworth, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University and Melbourne Law School
Theory and practice of international law; law and society; feminist legal theory; human rights law at international, national and local levels; peacebuilding; and justice and democracy after conflict
Bostjan Kobe, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland
Structural biology of infection and immunity
Peter Visscher, The University of Queensland
research focuses on understanding individual differences betweeen people in traits that are important for health outcomes and ageing
Terry Hughes, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University
coral reef ecosystems
William F. Laurance FAA, Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, James Cook University
His research focuses on the impacts of intensive land-uses, such as habitat fragmentation, logging, hunting and wildfires, on tropical forests and their biodiversity.
Kaarin Anstey, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales
research interests include dementia risk assessment and risk reduction, late-life development and ageing, mental health in older adults, and older drivers
Hugh Possingham, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland
His research projects are in the field of decision theory in conservation biology
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, ARC Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies & School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, is a biologist specialising in coral reefs
Jamie Rossjohn FAA, Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University
Professor Jamie Rossjohn's research is centered on an understanding immunity.
David Studdert, Stanford Law School, Stanford University
David M. Studdert is a leading expert in the fields of health law and empirical legal research. 
Maria Forsyth FAA, Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University
Associate Director

Peter Taylor, ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers, University of Melbourne
PhD in Applied Mathematics
Michael Tobar, ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems and the ARC Centre  of Excellence for  Dark Matter Particle Physics, Department of Physics, University of Western Australia
Professor Michael Tobar is a leading researcher in precision and quantum limited measurement and testing fundamental physics
Jason Mattingley, Queensland Brain Institute & School of Psychology, The University of Queensland
PhD in Psychology
Rose Amal, School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW Sydney
Professor Rose Amal is recognised as a pioneer and leading authority in the fields of fine particle technology, photocatalysis and functional nanomaterials 
Marilyn Fleer, Conceptual PlayLab for STEM education, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Melbourne
The Conceptual PlayWorld is a model of intentional teaching that Monash Professor Marilyn Fleer developed based on extensive research and experience working with young children and how they form concepts in science, technology and engineering.
Matthew Spriggs, College of Arts and Social Sciences, The ANU
“research interests are areally the archaeiology of Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, and also Cornish Studies.”
Joy Damousi, SHAPS, University of Melbourne
Her current research includes war, trauma and post-war Greek migration to Australia; sound and the two world wars; and child refugees and war.
Dan Li, Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Melbourne
Research interests
Colloidal processing of advanced materials
Electrochemical energy materials and devices (e.g. supercapacitors, batteries and fuel cells)
Flexible electronics
Graphene-based materials and related atomically thin materials
Materials systems engineering
Nanoionics and nanofluidics
New ion separation technologies such as capacitive deionization
Julian Gale, School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Curtin University
Research interests include the nucleation and crystal growth of minerals, nanoporous frameworks, materials for energy storage and conversion, and molecular crystals of relevance to pharmaceutical application.
Mark Finnane, Griffith Criminology Institute and School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences, Griffith University
His research in Australia and Ireland has focussed on the history of mental hospitals, prisons, punishment, policing and the criminal law
Lorraine Mazerolle, School of Social Science, University of Queensland
research interests are in experimental criminology, policing, drug law enforcement, regulatory crime control, and crime prevention
Alex Haslam, School of Psychology, University of Queensland
His research focuses on the study of group and identity processes in organizational, social, and clinical contexts.
Barry Pogson, ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, Australian National University
Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology
Michael Fuhrer, ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies, Monash University
Michael's research explores novel two-dimensional materials such as graphene
Zhiguo Yuan AM FTSE, Advanced Water Management Centre, The University of Queensland
PhD degree in aeronautical engineering 
Lianzhou Wang, School of Chemical Engineering and Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the University of Queensland
Director of Nanomaterials Centre 
Barry Brook, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, University of Tasmania
ecologist interested in conservation biology and global change
Paul S.C. Tacon, Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith University, Queensland
Rock Art Research and Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology

Update complaint issued: 
ABC report on a letter signed by 80 academics that links the recent bushfire crisis with climate change. The list only includes two academics with expertise in bushfires and includes many non-scientists. There is no coverage for alternate views by recognised Bushfire experts such as David Packham or Roger Underwood.

Report breaches ABC editorial guidelines:
2. Accuracy - the link between climate change and droughts is contested.
4. Diversity of perspectives. The subject of the letter merited obtaining the opinion of actual experts (like Packham and Underwood).

The report also lacks journalistic integrity in not being sceptical of the claims made or who they are made by. What relevance, for instance, does inclusion of the opinion of non-bushfire experts have? I'm waiting on the reporter's breathtaking report on the opinions of the Nail painting industry on the relationship between bushfires and climate, they have as much relevant expertise as many on the list.