What Happens In Wieambilla, Stays In Wieambilla

Six people died at Wieambilla. Not two. Not three. But six. Almost lost in the public clamour about the deaths of the police officers, is the death of the neighbour, already attributed to the now-dead occupants of the property. Unlike the police officers, he was not doing his job, he was not following the orders of his boss. He was being a neighbour.

The three occupants of the property have been tried and convicted of three murders in the court of mass media mediated opinion. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the only trial they will get. The Queensland Police Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) has ensured that. No-one in public discourse has offered a word of dismay or regret for the deaths of these three people. Let me do so. I am dismayed that these people are not in custody. I regret that they shall not be put on trial so that allegations against them can be tested. There will be a coronial inquest, but that is no substitute for a trial in which the interests of the defendants are forcefully put. Who will cross-examine the police?

This leads to the burning question that no-one is asking: why are these people not in custody? A police recruiting document for SERT included the following elements of the job description:

Siege incidents
SERT has the capability to provide specialist tactical skills for the containment, evacuation, negotiation and resolution of siege incidents.
Armed offender intervention
SERT has the capability to provide specialist tactical skills for the detention, apprehension and arrest of armed offenders.
High Risk Warrant Execution
SERT can perform entry to premises in high risk situations for the purpose of detaining people…

SERT possesses a Lenco Bearcat (one of which we have seen in action against demonstrators in Melbourne recently), a Lenco Bombcat, for the Explosives Ordnance Response Team, and a OzBot Titan robot, “that can remotely, breach doors and windows, assist in the rescue of hostages, deliver and retrieve items in dangerous locations, and improve situational awareness with its digital camera.”

There was a 28km2 exclusion zone around the property. SERT was present, as were a large number of other Queensland police officers, and the Police helicopter. It seems that conditions were conducive to the resolution of the siege without further loss of life. Yet all three of the alleged offenders are dead, and, if the broadcast sound of the final volley of shots is to be relied upon, they all died within a few seconds.

As far as I am aware, Queensland Police have not even attempted to explain why a peaceful resolution was not possible. On the face of it, a decision was taken to kill these three people, and that decision was carried out by SERT. If such a decision were made, who made it? To any reflective observer,  let alone one with a commitment to the rule of law, this possibility is profoundly disturbing. If, and I stress if, a militarised, heavily armed Police force decides that it can take the law into its own hands, a great leap forward has been achieved in the progressive totalitarianism to which we are being subjected.

Note the irony here. At least one of the three had expressed just such concerns. If it turns out that SERT has obliged with a demonstration of their validity, Heaven help us.

Andrew Norton on higher education policy

Andrew Norton (the only classical liberal in Carlton) has made a career out of keeping an eye on developments in higher education after a spell as the editor of the Policy quarterly at the Centre for Independent Studies. This is a meditation on 25 years in the business.

Twenty-five years ago today I started my career in higher education policy – although I did not then know I was starting a career rather than a job – when I began in education minister David Kemp’s office as his higher education adviser. Since leaving this role I have been a higher education policy adviser to University of Melbourne vice-chancellors, the higher education program director at the Grattan Institute, and now ‘professor in the practice of higher education policy’ at the ANU.

Few people spend most of their careers in higher education policy. Career paths are limited or at least not easily planned in advance. Three of my four higher education jobs did not exist before I was appointed to them. At various points I considered alternative careers but higher education policy opportunities appeared and I took them.

Gary Johns and Karl Popper on ethnic self-determinism

Gary Johns has written a lucid and compelling book to support the resistance to The Voice (The Burden of Culture, Quadrant books.) He points out that the demand goes far beyond fixing obvious problems to something very different – the demand for self-determism for ethnic and racial minorities.

Popper sounded an alarm about this movement in the Sixth Eleanor Rathbone Memorial Lecture, delivered at the University of Bristol in 1956. Eleanor Rathbone was a British MP and a stalwart campaigner on issues including female circumcision in Africa, child marriage in India and forced marriage in Palestine.

The theme of the lecture was “an optimist’s view of modern history.”

At the time Popper considered that the optimist’s view had considerable rarity value because “the wailings of the pessimists have become somewhat monotonous”. This was the height of the Cold War and many people considered that it was only a matter of time before one side or the other precipitated a disastrous military confrontation.

Popper considered that, by 1956, there was no need for further criticism of the communist system and he proceeded to criticise the nationalist faith which he regarded as equally absurd, when expressed as the doctrine of national self-determination.

The principle amounts to the demand that each state should be a nation-state: that it should be confined within a natural border, and that this border should coincide with the location of an ethnic group; so that it should be the ethnic group, the nation, which should determine and protect the natural limits of the state.

He noted that apart from the possible example of Iceland there are virtually no nation states of that kind and the attempt to realise that state of affairs has caused endless conflict and strife when ethnic minorities demanded that they be allowed to break away or join an adjacent state where they would be the majority. For example Czechoslovakia was formed under the principle of national self-determination but as soon as it was formed the Slovaks demanded (in the name of the same principle) to be free, and finally it was destroyed by the German minority, in the name of the same principle. The latest example of this principle is the demand for a Palestinian nation state which is used as a rationale for waging war on Israel.

“There are ethnic minorities everywhere. The proper aim cannot be to “liberate” all of them, rather it must be to protect all of them. The oppression of national groups is a great evil; but national self-determination is not a feasible remedy… Few creeds have created more hatred, cruelty, and senseless suffering than the belief in the righteousness of the nationality principle; and yet it is still widely believed that this principle will help to alleviate the misery of national oppression. My optimism is a little shaken when I look at the near-unanimity with which this principle is still accepted — even by those whose political interests are clearly opposed to it.”

This is a summary of the key points in the lecture.

Postscript. With the benefit of five decades of hindsigh it is apparent that Popper was wildly over-optimistic. Who would have predicted that, with the disasters of Stalinism about to be admitted by the Soviet leadership, within a few years radical youth in the west would make brutal thugs like Che and Mao into cult figures?

That the “liberation” of the Third World from western colonisation, and the delivery of untold billions of aid would result in the worst famines and genocides that Africa has ever seen?

That left liberalism would become a religion with all the attendant intolerance and prejudice, and be widely promoted in the universities of the western world?

That a civilisation with leading figures like Shakespeare, Milton, Beethoven and Mozart, would produce generations that would assign cult status to the purveyors of narcissistic and self-indulgent entertainment provided by the Beat generation and the aftermath.

That Popper’s ideas would be marginalised in the academic community by a series of fads and fashions – logical empiricism, language analysis, POMO? What next?

So much for optimism. Lets give pessimism a chance.

The world hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;

And we are here as on a darkling plain

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,

Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthe Arnold, Dover Beach.

 We decay
Like corpses in a charnel; fear and grief
Convulse us and consume us day by day,
And cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay.

Shelley, an elegy on the death of John Keats.

Downside of EVs. Not enough power



Western societies are charging into the electrification of transport and heating without actually providing the electricity. This cannot be wished away.
In January, the then secretary of state for trade in Britain, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, told Parliament that “we are going to be requiring up to four times as much electricity” to meet demand for electrified heating and transport. Yet we are not building four times as much electric generation capacity.
The energy legacy of the Conservatives will be the loss of reliable energy. For example, only two years ago, the UK was running 15 operational nuclear reactors, but by 2030 it will be just three, and that’s assuming no further delays. The reality is that we have created two parallel energy systems; one of which works, while the other does not. The politicised grid mashes them together, making the one that provides reliable and low cost energy both expensive and unstable.  
And then along comes a genuine cold snap which exposes our new reliance on nature, and sub-prime energy technologies. Climate change campaigners who are inclined to view any weather event as a policy message dictated personally by an Earth deity should remember this trick works both ways.
During our recent dunkelflaute – a period of high pressure, freezing temperatures and no wind – our onshore wind blades stood still for three weeks, consuming power, but not generating any. What wind power we got, and it wasn’t very much, all came from offshore facilities.
The Germans have bulldozed wind farms to get to the good stuff beneath: coal use in Germany is up 13pc in 2022. But over there, the industrialists and manufacturers have more influence, while our Oxford PPE-dominated policy classes in Whitehall are united in their groupthink – and immune from the consequences of their decisions.

See also The Downside of EVs, Briefing Note 21.11

The additional electricity required
A study of the likely cost of supporting 100% EVs turned up astronomical numbers for the increased demand for electricity and the amount of additional installed capacity of wind and solar power required to provide it.  Refer: How Much More Electricity Do We Need To Go To 100% Electric Vehicles 

For example, in Germany, replacing 44 million cars would call for 30% more electric power and 40% more installed capacity  at a cost of  $US 230 Billion. Replacing 60GW of coal and nuclear power would call for some 140GW  of additional wind and solar power at a cost of 650 billion.

In the Netherlands replacing 8 million cars would require 21% more electricity and 24% more installed capacity at a cost of 27 billion.

In the UK, with 26 million cars the numbers are 36%, 50% and 140 billion.

For the US, 260 million cars, 30%, 44% and $1.4 trillion.

China, 154 million cars, $750 billion.

One of the hopes is to use the cars as mass storage facilities in addition to their transport function. Assuming 100% conversion, all the cars in the UK could store 100 times the amount of power in the Dinorwig pumped reservoir but that is only enough to power the UK for about a day. So after a couple of windless and sunless days the whole fleet would have dead batteries in the absence of conventional power.

The volume of resources required.
The International Energy Agency calculated that the needs for “energy transition minerals” such as lithiumgraphitenickel and rare-earth metal would rise by 4,200%, 2,500%, 1,900% and 700%, respectively, by 2040. Refer The Role Of Critical Minerals in Clean Enery Transitions

In cautious and bureaucratic language the report noted that the world doesn’t have the capacity to meet such demand and there are no plans to fund and build the necessary mines and refineries.