More Government Regulation Won’t Save the Great Barrier Reef from Scientists — or Politicians. Oink.

Reposted from Jennifer Marohasy’s blog

July 16, 2019 By jennifer

THE idea that the Great Barrier Reef is in need of saving from catastrophe is popular, especially among academics and politicians. In 2003, I published an article in the IPA Review entitled ‘Deceit in the Name of Conservation’ concerning the then Queensland Premier and Chief Scientist. In an earlier article entitled ‘WWF says Jump, Governments ask How High’ I explained the extent to which there was collusion within members of a Reef Protection Taskforce, that including activists and the CSIRO, to the extent that they felt a need to invent evidence of damage to the reef — least none existed.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull approved a $443 million grant to the tiny Great Barrier Reef Foundation. That grant includes an allowance of up to $86 million for ‘administration’.

Those with a belief in the general competence of government and academics might assume that there are some big questions reef scientists have prioritized and are in the process of answering through their reef research. But. It is perhaps more a case of individual researchers confirming the end is nigh in accordance with the consensus, while denying Nemo, his corals and the crystal-clear blue waters that is the reality at 319 percent of this deep nature … that is for those who still put their heads under the water without drowning from a ladder while entangled in a fishing net.

The Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP) passed a resolution at its conference on the weekend to establish an ‘Office of Science Quality Assurance’ to check the science that is being used for policy decisions — with the push for the creation of this office coming from those now very concerned about yet more regulation that could mean the end of the sugar industry as a proposed solution to saving the reef from ruin.

The conference was attended by many politicians, and they all spend much more time on Twitter than ever visiting the Great Barrier Reef.

In bureaucratic speak such an ‘office’ could mean almost anything, but usually an ‘office’ is just a branch of a government department. Somewhat like a polp within a corallite that is anchored to the colony for better or worst as sea levels fall.

Here is my mother, then Joan Edith Pearce, standing knee deep at the Great Barrier Reef in 1955 before coral bleaching was an issue … this now almost 90 year old great grandmother was photographed in front of a bleached micro atoll almost certainly a colony of Porites cylindrica that could be described as already dead on top from exposure to falling sea levels back in the mid-twentieth century with the top of the Porites colony perhaps regularly pruned by heat, cold and rain.

This ‘Office of Science Quality Assurance’ may pride itself on its independent advice.  For example, Finance and Treasury sometimes give independent advice which may conflict with what the Cabinet and the Government wants to do.  Such advice is usually ignored.  This is the reason there are Cabinet-in-Confidence laws: to prevent publication of such internal discussions and possibly differing views. 

There have already been commissions set up by government specifically to investigate corruption within institutions and organisations — even universities that undertake reef research in Queensland.

In facts claims of the need for quality assurance, could be a euphemism for ‘the scientists are taking the money and just making-stuff-up’.

Presently each Australian state has an anti-corruption commission. In Queensland there is the Crime and Corruption Commission (QCCC). The core function of this office is to investigate such allegations.

Indeed this branch of the Queensland government — with the grand title ‘Commission’—has far reaching powers to compel testimony and examine evidence. The QCCC actually receives thousands of complaints each year concerning misconduct by politicians, government officers even scientists — but finds time to investigate less than 5 percent of what is lodged by the tax-payers who funds this office/commission, as well as all the reef research.

The other 95 percent of the complaints lodged annually at the QCCC are referred straight back to the organisation against which the complaint has been lodged!

So, if you as a citizen of Queensland lodge a complaint against the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, for example, chances are that you will have your complaint investigated by — the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

I know of a complaint of corrupt conduct lodged against a Queensland university (not James Cook University) by a former staff member in about 2016 that was immediately referred back to that same Queensland university. Despite all the evidence meticulously complied by the well-qualified former staff member concerning their misconduct, that university’s management determined that it simply did not have a case to answer.

Concerned that his detailed allegations had ended-up back with her university management that wouldn’t let him back on the ladder, the former staff member made a ‘Right to Information Request’ to the QCCC. He wanted to know how often this was the course of action, and how effective such an approach might be — essentially asking the vixens to inspect the chickens, dead and alive.

The QCCC responded that there was no relevant documentation at all. To be clear the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission has never undertaken an assessment of the effectiveness of their complaints referral process. Yet this is where 95 percent. of the complaints from Queensland citizens reside.

This same commission, set up by government to provide some oversight of government, including government science at universities, has an annual budget of more than $60 million.

The Royal Commission into misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services found these non-government organisations also had oversight committees, and the committees were often aware of serious misconduct and possible criminal behaviour impacting on customers. Yet they mostly failed to do anything about it: they failed to properly self regulate.

Previously, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia uncovered that senior church officials were aware of sometimes hundreds of individual cases of abuse, yet their response though internal investigation was denial extending over the decades as victims suicided.

So, why would the LNP — currently the opposition government in Queensland — think that an ‘Office of Science Quality Assurance’ within a government department or other, will be able to make a difference to research research – or the plight of sugarcane growers who happen to farm next to the Great Barrier Reef?

Investigation into the veracity and quality of Great Barrier Reef scientific findings, is going to be infinitely more difficult than an investigation into a transaction between the Commonwealth Bank and yet another customer looking for some help with their superannuation.

Research institutions across Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the ARC Centre for Excellence and the Australian Institute of Marine Science are now as conformist and corporatist as banks — while almost totally dependent on government funding but under no obligation to archive their data.

The idea that these government-institutions run by bureaucrats (each on a ladder) will do anything except ensure such an ‘Office of Science Quality Assurance’ endorses the research that they manage, while squashing dissent, is so naive as to be dangerous.

The term Fourth Estate is sometimes used with reference to the mainstream media, suggesting they are as important as the three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial for the correct functioning of a democracy. But we know they are as wedded to the idea the Great Barrier Reef is ruin, as Barrack Obama who, also, has never visited it.

There is a need for a revolution: for individuals within governments to become accountable again, for individual scientists to interest themselves in matters of truth, and for individual journalists to take an interest in their evidence.

Instead we increasingly persist in a society where legitimacy resides only with those embedded in such institutions that are increasingly conformist and corporatist — intent on limiting the potential of the individual particularly the individual who dissents. Through constant negotiations — mostly behind closed doors — the special interests of reef research charities and renewable energy advocates, alike, are growing.

Regulation and oversight of government by government does not work anymore — if it ever did.

The best response to the current corruption so obviously now embedded in Great Barrier Reef research would be for the LNP to pass a motion to severely restrict tax payer funding to those so animated by the prospect of reef ruin.

This could potentially limit the waste, and deceit — and who really would miss them? Only politicians who must save things, and journalists too lazy to find real stories — and to check if there really is coral beyond that mud flat to the immediate south of Bowen.

The corporatist culture that increasingly rules Queensland means an ‘Office of Science Quality Assurance’ within any branch of this state government, as proposed by the LNP on the weekend, will only inevitably end-up another brick in the wall against creativity, innovation and independent thought … all so important for the progress of science.

Indeed, all our science is primitive and childlike when measured against the reality of the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef — that has existed for 10,000 years despite floods, droughts and climate change.

There are corals, including so much Porites cylindrica, the other side of this mud flat but for the sake of fake news so many reef researchers deny it.

***
The feature image is by The National Archives UK – Animal Farm artwork, No restrictions.

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31 thoughts on “More Government Regulation Won’t Save the Great Barrier Reef from Scientists — or Politicians. Oink.

    • Treat yourself tothe boxed set of the BBC’s “Yes Minister!”. It shows just how guvemnts work, through their respective Civil Services! The golden rule was always, “Never ever hold a public enquiry unless you know the outcome in the first place!”. The same can be said in this case, no heads must role, no one must be blamed, unless they’re close to retirement & their taxpayer funded pension can be substantially enhanced, as a big thankyou for their unstilting dedication to the service of their country! Sarc!

  1. … the reality at 319 percent of this deep nature … that is for those who still put their heads under the water without drowning from a ladder while entangled in a fishing net.

    OKAY then … and you can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd either.

  2. The Office of Science Quality Assurance appears to be created as the rubber stamp of government approval for Climate Fraud. Do we really expect honesty from an ‘Office’ created by government criminals??
    Buehler? Buehler?? Anybody???

  3. Rather than this constant we say, they say back and forth why doesn’t the sceptic side fund a completely independent, accurate and exhaustive fly-over and detailed photographic record of the ENTIRE reef as it stands today and every year for the next decade so we know exactly what the truth is (or more importantly hold irrefutable evidence) regarding reef health. Many people actually believe half the reef is dead and gone. Seems to me that just as with the rest of CliSci, all kinds of people are saying whatever the hell they want and claiming it as simple fact. I just now heard the Melbourne has declared a climate emergency. I mean for Gods sake!!!…it’s really beyond a joke now.

    • yeah its a greenpeace campaign pushing people to call councils and get em on the idiots expesss to nowhere
      I get the greenp*ss emails to keep an eye on em
      so tomorrow I and I hope a whole pile of angry locals will be calling OUR council to tell em how UNhappy we will be should they join in;-)

  4. Too bad the billionaires are already fully invested in the climate/NWO enterprise. One of those could bankroll a scientific institution dedicated to having bad science retracted. Steve McIntyre was a one man wrecking ball in that service.

    The size of the effort needed, though, became clear to me when Cook apparently sampled 11,000 (eleven thousand!!) Climate science papers published over a 10 year period (only!) for his “97% consensus hogwash. While everyone was pouring over the papers and methodology and arguing his percentage, I was struck speechless that in a work year of 220 days, papers were being researched, reviewed and churned out 5/day in this woeful science having only one equation that hasn’t been updated since Tyndall and Arhenius put out their sheepskin scrolls in the 19th century.

    I don’t think all of science in history up to 1950 had that much literature and it was pithy stuff indeed. When I was a boy, I was told it was possible for one person to read all the scientific literature there was. No goverment commission is ever going to make a dent in this landfill of papers. Indeed, since it is selling basically one theme, the CO2 control knob theory with one catechismal equation, the best way to deal with it is to cull 20 papers at random as representative and throw the rest out. Alternatively, given that it is faith-based, get the Gideons to distribute the to the worlds hotel rooms.

    • Scientific fraud should be a criminal offence especially in cases where it threatens the lively hood of others.

      • yeah..so tell that to the FDA who approve meds with cruddy data and dont do much until thousands die
        or the many busted cancer research papers that are duds but dont get pulled and people use that to base their ongoing studies on..
        science fraud is widespread lucrative gets em a name and a position, and once gained removing them and their damage is damned near impossible.
        cli-sci is just another fine example

    • This, of course, is why the IPCC has the ‘Summary for Policymakers’. Nobody actually reads the underlying scientific stuff from Working Group 1 ( according to Lindzen). And the ‘Summary’ doesn’t necessarily match WG1.

  5. Yes, internal regulation has never worked in religion, it has never worked in government (so we invented democracy), it has never worked in finance (e.g. GFC, sorry Alan Greenspan- who was ‘deeply shocked’ that companies didn’t ‘protect the interests of shareholders’), and it has never worked in science either. Individuals within will always seek and find ways to protect the system and benefit themselves at the expense of others-even for short term gain- it is a very strong motivator.

    A new way of running science in general must be found, allowing it to internally regulate itself won’t work.

    • ‘Office of Science Quality Assurance’
      This is like all the new “Ethics” committees in scientific organizations, a sign of it’s too late! Probably not a coincidence that they coincide with pushing for “Communication.”

      Mud flats have rights too, produce different gas. Fish not as colorful.

  6. Jennifer: “There is a need for a revolution: for individuals within governments to become accountable again, for individual scientists to interest themselves in matters of truth, and for individual journalists to take an interest in their evidence.”

    thingadonta: “A new way of running science in general must be found; allowing it to internally regulate itself won’t work.”

    I suggest a Citizens Jury of randomly chosen voters do the overseeing. It would have funds to hire facilitators, investigators, clerks, even a PR spokesperson!

    • One of the demands of the Extinction Rebellion group is that a citizen committee is formed, but if it was truly made up of a random selection of the population I doubt it would reach the conclusions that ER require. So no doubt ER consider that the committee should be made up of the ‘faithful’.

      I do think the idea of doing a photographic survey of the GBR is a very good idea.
      Are there satellite photos available?
      In the UK satellite photos are used to determine what farmers are growing in their fields, and the size of the crop areas, so it should be possible to do it with the GBR.

      • StephenP

        The last time I posted here it was just after I returned from Bramston reef.
        Comment was made I should have got some pictures with a drone. I suggested someone buy me one.

        Skido (who reads this blog) got in touch and got me some funds to buy a drone (Mavic 2 Zoom from DJI).

        I’m now in the process of mastering dronedeploy.com mapping software. I’m really impressed. It is based on the WGS 84 Global Reference System. If only I had more hours in every day. There is nothing more fun than paddle boating across the local estuary with the drone in my backpack … and then sending it up.

        Eventually I would like to map individual reefs at the GBR. Perhaps beginning with Bramston Reef, using the drone I’ve name Skido … I’m planning to start end of August, though it may just be experimental.

        Walter Starck is coming to help with coral ID.

        If you/others can help, let me know.

  7. The biggest change to the Great Barrier Reef in the last 50 years is the number of people visiting it. The dirty little secret is that tourism is doing more damage to the reef than anything else.

    If they truly wanted to “save” the reef”, they would ban all tourism to it – including “scientific” tourism. But that ain’t going to happen.

    • I saw this on the Pacific Islands as well. The divers I went with were very careful not to disturb the reef in any way, but some of the tourists would walk along the shallow reef breaking the branches off as they went. Then there were the others who would take a piece home as a souvenir, but rather than picking up a piece already broken off, they would break off another piece.

      The best diving reefs in the Pacific are the ones that aren’t accessible from the shore – far fewer tourists.

  8. When I read Queensland had established this new authority The office for quality control of scientific research, my heart sank.
    Not because of the futility of such an idea, but because a state government would actually propose such a pointless office and imagine the public would have any confidence or belief in its independence.
    The authorities really do think, we are as thick as they themselves clearly are.

    • Hi Rod
      The authority has NOT yet been established. The concept is being promoted by Peter Ridd. It has been passed as a resolution at the State Conference of the opposition Liberal National Party (LNP).
      I wrote this blog post, in part, because I’ve been receiving emails from many people assuming I’m in favour of the idea … when I’m not at all!
      Every time I see/hear the concept promoted, I have an image of the already long suffering in the stocks/pillory … placed their by ‘The Office for Science Quality Assurance’. Shivers.
      Bureaucracies never support and/or promote independent thought, creativity or innovation … both of which are necessary for true progress in science.

  9. No one really cares about the TRUTH, that’s the heart of the matter. Not just in scientific research, but in general. Hence legalization of abortion or even way back to the Reformation.
    Belief in what is convenient trumping finding out the truth.

  10. I wonder how long it will take before certain groups realise that it could become, like the medieval Inquisition in Catholic Europe, a powerful tool for combating and punishing heresy in the field of climate science.

    • Mike, I agree with you. I’ve been saying for some time to Peter Ridd (who has been promoting this idea) that the first thing such an office would do/could do is set about insisting anyone with a contrarian perspective justify it, in the most absurd of ways … so the least resourced would be encumbered with regulation. In order to download data and crunch some numbers it could become necessary to first have some sort of accreditation, and be registered. It could quickly become yet another way of enforcing the current paradigm, and ridiculing the dissenting voices.

      • Jennifer, thanks for that. The small comfort that they haven’t yet set up the blocking agency for scientific debate is something.
        Suffice to say, the world is going through a phase of collective insanity.
        Here in the UK our Parliament are in the committee stage of passing the Zero carbon by 2050 legislation.
        If that goes through which it looks certain to do, the UK is as good as announcing the end of the developed economy. Without use of fossil fuels or nuclear power, the UK will be unable to compete on the world stage.
        When will sanity return?

  11. “The best response to the current corruption so obviously now embedded in Great Barrier Reef research would be for the LNP to pass a motion to severely restrict tax payer funding to those so animated by the prospect of reef ruin.”
    >>

    Thank you for your analysis Jennifer, agree with your conclusion.

    PS: when a boy myself and dad I used cast nets on that same mudflat area. There was a small sandy mangrove creek on the western side of it. Surprising to see it again on WUWT, with Gloucester Island in the background. Cheers.

  12. Jennifer Marohasy ==> You have really gotten this right. In my youth, I worked for a branch of a corporation that was charged with internal investigations, investigating present executives for malfeasance, and vetting proposals for future executive hires — all very hush-hush and totally independent. Much like your “Commissions”. Unfortunately, when it was real extremely important, the vetting of a proposed CEO-type, my warnings were kicked back — the proposal had the support of my highest level superior and “had to be approved” regardless of the data. I refused and soon left the firm — my immediate superior faked a vetting with an approval. The result was disaster for the company.

    You can’t win when the bureaucracy is stacked against you. The most important thing is the integrity of the individuals in the investigative group — and they must have the absolute trust and authority from the very highest levels.

    It is a tough nut to crack.

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