Home > Boneheaded stupidity, Oz Politics > Greg Hunt: Can’t add, can’t read

Greg Hunt: Can’t add, can’t read

January 14th, 2013

Last time I paid attention to Opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt, he was talking to the Oz, making absurdly inflated claims about the impact of a carbon price[1] on household electricity bills. Now he’s at it again, with a statement to Imre Salusinszky at the Oz, claiming that I endorsed Jonathan Moylan’s (reported) actions in the Whitehaven hoax, and that I supported market manipulation more generally. From that, he draws the conclusion that I have breached my legal obligation under the Public Service Act to comply with the law in all matters relating to employment, and therefore that I an not a fit and proper person to be a member of the Climate Change Authority. Here are the money paras from Salusinszky’s email to me and Hunt’s statement to the Oz

Greg Hunt says your public support for Jonathan Moylan raises a potential conflict with your role on the Climate Change Commission (sic), because the public service code of conduct deems that “an APS employee, when acting in the course of APS employment, must comply with all applicable Australian laws.” Hunt’s point is that by supporting Moylan you are implicitly endorsing stock market manipulation.

Under the Public Service Act it is clearly inappropriate and irresponsible for Statutory office holders to be supporting market manipulation and the use of false and misleading information. This raises deep questions in terms of both the Act and the public service Code and values on a number of fronts. The simple answer is that no public official should ever be endorsing the use of false and misleading information to manipulate the share market

Obviously, this is a grotesque misrepresentation. My view of Moylan’s (reported) actions was summed up by the observation “I’m not a big fan of hoaxes”[2]. My posts on the subject were not concerned with the ethics of the hoax, but with the absurdity of the reactions to it.

But the claims that I acted unlawfully under the Public Service Act take Hunt’s silliness out of the normal political category, and well into the realm of defamation. Of course, Hunt is safe enough so far. I haven’t got the time, energy or financial resources to pursue him, other than through this blog. News Limited is a different matter. Given their deep pockets and demonstrable history of malice towards me, they’ll make a tempting target if they are silly enough to publish Hunt’s libels. I don’t usually read the Oz, but I will certainly do so with care tomorrow.

Update When he was advised of my response by Imre Salusinszky, Hunt backed off, though with bad grace (he stated to me in email that it was more than he thought I deserved) and in a way that makes his claim of a breach of the Public Service Act even more nonsensical (leaving aside the fact that, at least according to Bernard Keane, I’m not covered by the Act anyway). The resulting article, in which Hunt also attacks Clive Hamilton, is here.

While checking on that report, I found another Hunt piece, a passionate defence of free speech against the “un-Australian” threat of litigation. Published in the Oz, of course, and only five days ago.

Finally, I should say that I don’t have any complaints about Salusinszky’s actions in this matter. He advised me of the accusations and took my response back to Hunt. The report as published is an accurate representation of what I wrote.

fn1. A policy he supported for decades, until it became necessary to oppose it.
fn2. I never mentioned Moylan by name, and I have no knowledge as to whether he acted as reported and, if so, whether this constituted manipulation of the share market. As I said on Twitter, that’s his problem, not mine.

Categories: Boneheaded stupidity, Oz Politics Tags:
  1. Fran Barlow
    January 14th, 2013 at 19:33 | #1

    Classic, PrQ. The Murdoch stable really is this country’s best resourced coterie of bullies — and ignorant and lazy ones at that.

  2. Hal9000
    January 14th, 2013 at 19:34 | #2

    Hunt is pathetic. This absurd charge is worthy of Eric Abetz at his most desperate. Saluszinsky is a fool to entertain Hunt’s rantings for a second. Did he even bother to read the blog posts in question?

    I’ll put on the rubber gloves and open up the Australian tomorrow with some interest.

    It looks as though your critique of Opposition policy and tactics have stung, Prof Q. I’m guessing this is part of laying the political groundwork for the release of the Costello Commission final report. They’re clearly worried you’ll blow it out of the water, so in time-honoured LNP style, they’re going the smear in attempt to muddy the waters. They truly are a grubby lot.

  3. Hal9000
    January 14th, 2013 at 19:47 | #3

    An addendum. They know Qld is vital to Abbott’s election plans and so Newman has to be rehabilitated with the electorate. The new kinder Newman seen today – guaranteeing public service jobs (albeit with slippery language) and plans to buy new ambulances is part of this plan. Costello has to provide the rationale ex post facto for the slash and burn policies over the last year.

    An aside. It is a great pity federal Labor has allowed Costello’s reputation as a Great Treasurer to stand. The man is a Potemkin village in human form.

  4. Ikonoclast
    January 14th, 2013 at 19:50 | #4

    Why does the phrase “fascist bully-boy” come to mind? I haven’t even watched “The Young Ones” recently.

  5. Katz
    January 14th, 2013 at 19:50 | #5

    JQ, is running this blog one of your responsibilities as a member of the Climate Change Authority?

    If not, then your opinions expressed herein does not constitute “acting in the course of APS employment”.

  6. Jordan
    January 14th, 2013 at 20:06 | #6

    Pr. Q
    This potential campaign against you and your work for APS could be effective at you loosing the position. You have to fire on all cannons to prevent it taking hold and developing further.
    And do not hold your punches, show your self confidence.

  7. John Quiggin
    January 14th, 2013 at 20:07 | #7

    Apparently, he’s looking at the wrong Act anyway. He fails on so many levels.

  8. Ikonoclast
    January 14th, 2013 at 20:34 | #8

    @Jordan

    I wouldn’t worry Jordan, a little bit of intellectual Aikido on Mr Hunt and he won’t even know why he is falling.

  9. Jim Rose
    January 14th, 2013 at 21:00 | #9

    its the silly season. Hunt should go back on holiday.

  10. m0nty
    January 14th, 2013 at 21:01 | #10

    Bush lawyering at its best.

  11. BilB
    January 14th, 2013 at 21:02 | #11

    This is the sort of boneheaded politically self indulgent exploit that a party hack ideologue lacking the burden to deliver intelligent and meaningfull policy in the public interest engages in to justify their existence.

    How much parliamentary time has this desperate leadership “wannabe” wasted in personal attacks this last 18 months. What a waste of public funds paying Greg Hunt is.

  12. Hermit
    January 14th, 2013 at 21:11 | #12

    What actually are the limits to the remit of the Climate Change Authority? This seems to be a grey area, not clarified by the website
    http://climatechangeauthority.gov.au/
    I would think they can freely comment on topics like bushfires and sea level rise. However when they reviewed the RET some regarded that as rubber stamping the government’s pre-picked technology winners, nuclear and CCS being off the table. Then again in 2011 the IPCC wrote a whole report on renewables.

    What would really throw a cat among the pigeons is if the CCA said something sharp edged about coal exports. Either good or bad. It’s a topic that’s not going away.

  13. Jordan
    January 14th, 2013 at 21:17 | #13

    @Ikonoclast
    I do not realy know how it goes in Australia but in USA this kind of hackery work and did a lot of damage until resolve to stop it have built up. Just the most recent one was the case of Susan Rice who applied for Scretary of State position and GOP succesfully attacked her and forced her to remove herself from the list. Her explanation was to remove problems for Obama in defending her, so she delisted.
    GOP attacked her for not talking about facts that acctually CIA did not clear.

  14. John Brookes
    January 14th, 2013 at 21:38 | #14

    Threats of legal action are standard for the more loony right (and it seems that is most of the right). I comment under my own name at a climate denialist blog. One of the denizens there contacted my supervisor at work to try and get me into trouble.

  15. Will
    January 14th, 2013 at 21:59 | #15

    John Brookes :
    Threats of legal action are standard for the more loony right (and it seems that is most of the right). I comment under my own name at a climate denialist blog. One of the denizens there contacted my supervisor at work to try and get me into trouble.

    That reminds me of SatP who fairly recently threatened ProfQ with using his business influence (in air quotation marks) to undermine JQ’s works and future employment prospects. Where do they dredge up these piles of excrement?

    I could spend days discussing this authoritarian mindset, replete with themes of dominance, power, and combat, in which ever-present ideological enemies must be destroyed no matter the cost, but you good folk have doubtless heard it all before.

  16. Tyler
    January 14th, 2013 at 22:17 | #16

    I was under the impression that Salusinszky was one of the less contemptible murdoch drones, apparently not. Hopefully they print it and treat you to a belated christmas present

  17. iain
    January 14th, 2013 at 22:57 | #17

    “I’m guessing this is part of laying the political groundwork for the release of the Costello Commission final report.”

    Or laying the ground work for when he becomes Climate Change Minister this year?

  18. Here’s the text
    January 14th, 2013 at 23:20 | #18

    Hunt alleges climate conflict
    By IMRE SALUSINSZKY

    THE federal opposition has raised concerns over comments by two of Julia Gillard’s top climate change experts regarding Whitehaven Coal hoaxer Jonathan Moylan.
    Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt yesterday queried whether comments on Mr Moylan by economists Clive Hamilton and John Quiggin were in conflict with their role as board members on the Climate Change Authority.
    The authority advises the government on carbon pricing and renewable energy targets.
    Mr Hunt said Professor Hamilton and Professor Quiggin were bound by provisions in the public service act, which required them to uphold the law and maintain the “highest ethical standards”.
    “It is clearly inappropriate and irresponsible for statutory office holders to either support market manipulation and the use of false and misleading information, in the case of Mr Hamilton, or to downplay and dismiss it, in the case of Mr Quiggin,” he said.
    Professor Quiggin rejected Mr Hunt’s claims.
    “For the record, I don’t endorse hoaxes, including (Mr Moylan’s),” Professor Quiggin said. In blog entries last week, Professor Quiggin suggested the consequences of Mr Moylan’s hoax press release — which asserted ANZ was cancelling a $1.2bn loan to Whitehaven — were being exaggerated.
    In the entries, Professor Quiggin dismissed as “silly” claims “mum and dad investors” were being fleeced of hundreds of millions of dollars and asserted that “systematic criminality is part and parcel of modern financial markets”.
    Professor Hamilton said yesterday: “I have been writing about climate change, including climate change activism and the role of civil disobedience, for more than a decade.
    “I have carefully reread the Australian public service code of conduct and do not believe I have contravened its letter or its spirit.”
    Last week on The Conversation website, Professor Hamilton said Mr Moylan’s “highly creative” actions pioneered “a new phase of climate campaigning aimed at making it more difficult for coal and oil companies to do business”.

  19. Katz
    January 14th, 2013 at 23:34 | #19

    Salusinszky has redacted Hunt’s alleged threat since he sent his email to JQ.

    ‘”It is clearly inappropriate and irresponsible for statutory office holders to either support market manipulation and the use of false and misleading information, in the case of Mr Hamilton, or to downplay and dismiss it, in the case of Mr Quiggin,” he said.’

    Note that now Hunt is alleged to have stated that downplaying and dismissing a statement may now be a hanging offence.

    In which version is Salusinszky lying about what Hunt said?

  20. iain
    January 15th, 2013 at 00:14 | #20

    “or to downplay and dismiss [market manipulation] …JQ’s blog post highlighted that market manipulation was rife and wrong. Hardly, downplaying and dismissing.

    “the public service act, which required them to uphold the law”…as opposed to any other act?

    Both Hunt and Salusinszky are puppets. Their puppet masters are just sending them off to show.

  21. January 15th, 2013 at 00:45 | #21

    Imre is a dunce. He has often been referred to as “Rupert Murdoch’s Brain”.

    Murdoch is beneath contempt.

    Hunt, Hockey, Turnbull and so on are idiots for thinking they can simply get re-elected by being Murdoch suckholes and doing Gillard ‘Me-Too-ism’.

    Gillard has both out-Howarded and out-Murdoched them. Maybe she really is clever and will force them to run this country in a decent way if they are to win Govt.

    Unfortunately Imre & Rupert are playing Thelma & Louise with the LNP in the back seat and the ALP in the boot.

  22. rog
    January 15th, 2013 at 05:20 | #22

    Is Hunt merely playing his part in the Great Unhinging? http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/09/08/let-the-great-unhinging-begin/

  23. January 15th, 2013 at 06:03 | #23

    I’ve had no respect for Salusinszky’s intellect for years. He was on the radio some years ago purporting to be an expert on Bob Dylan, and his expressed understanding of one of Dylan’s songs (can’t remember which, but one of the Bobster’s blunter offerings) completely missed the point.

    I think his problem is that he doesn’t get irony.

  24. John Quiggin
    January 15th, 2013 at 07:46 | #24

    Hunt watered down his initial comments after Salusinszky advised him of my response. But, in email to me, he said the published version “is in fact far weaker than is I believe deserved.”

    The problem is, of course, that in conceding that I simply stated that the hoax was a trivial matter, Hunt is pushing his claim that this constitutes misconduct even further.

  25. Ikonoclast
    January 15th, 2013 at 08:00 | #25

    @David Irving (no relation)

    Interesting that His Bobness is mentioned. Plagiarism claims against BD are looking to hold a lot more water now. It appears he is a serial offender from way, way back. No doubt, i will offend rusted-on BD fans by saying this. If we have a discussion on this (after all, the issue is Intellectual Property) then we would have to take it to the sandpit.

  26. Ikonoclast
    January 15th, 2013 at 08:09 | #26

    @John Quiggin

    It’s very typical now for the right wing loonies to attempt to silence scientists and academics who don’t agree with the “laws” of the rightwing denial-verse.

    Unfortunately, a lot of the people who operate in the political system and the halls of ideology have completely lost sight of the fact that there exists a well-studied, well-documented, well-corroborated general phenomenon called objective reality. The right-wing religio-political ideology is entirely faith based. If they believe it, it’s true… or so they think.

  27. Uncle Milton
    January 15th, 2013 at 08:11 | #27

    It’s unlikely that Hunt believes most of what he says, or at least it’s hard to tell. He is merely reflecting the persona and ideology of his leader. If Turnbull were the leader of the Opposition, Hunt would be saying different things.

  28. January 15th, 2013 at 08:19 | #28

    I don’t think Greg Hunt is a fit and proper person to be even the Shadow minister for Climate change, but that’s just me.

  29. rog
    January 15th, 2013 at 08:49 | #29

    @Uncle Milton He may well be conflicted in his views but this cognitive dissonance is dangerous in a potential Minister.

  30. January 15th, 2013 at 08:59 | #30

    These kind of bonehead stupidity wouldn’t have happened if the Imre Salusinszky actually bothered to read the post(s) by Professor Quiggin. I know the standard of journalism hardly ever apply to the Murdoch media such as to actually check source rather than relying on he said she said. Or do they simply think that when he/she is a rightwinger there is automatic truth in what they say when it is against the left? If thats the case, statements by the Monckton’s crew should be automatically in the “national paper”.

  31. rog
    January 15th, 2013 at 09:02 | #31

    @rog Perhaps “doublethink” is a more appropriate term.

    When Greg Hunt talks about “conflict” he seems to be on home ground.

  32. Katz
    January 15th, 2013 at 09:26 | #32

    What about all the thousands of statutory officers of the crown who ignored Moylan’s statements altogether?

    Does Hunt believe that their silence on the mater of Moylan implies consent?

    What an unedifying episode. Hunt is a dolt. Salusinszky is a cowardly bully.

  33. Tyler
    January 15th, 2013 at 09:27 | #33

    No doubt he’ll bravely decide to defame you within parliament instead, assuming he even remembers this utter non-story at that point.
    Long-term policy may be utterly beyond the opposition but long-term dishonesty and bad grace seems par the course.

  34. Fran Barlow
    January 15th, 2013 at 09:53 | #34

    @Katz

    Let’s recall the sympathy Salusinszky bears one Michael Costa, now a devotee of Friedman and Hayek.

    I won’t pretend that I can evaluate with certainty the cognitive accomplishments of Hunt, Salusinszky, Costa and others from the right in this country. They certainly behave variously, like fools, charlatans, bullies and misanthropes. I can at best speculate on the provenance of this conduct. My best guess is that it is reflexive boss class culture war, and that fighting for that side is corrosive of one’s cognition and humanity. Of course, not having much cognition or humanity to begin with might well predispose the hope that serving the boss class would earn you an easy life. Perhaps that explains the presence of the apparently exceptionally stupid on the right. A tour of Catallaxy or a grab from Abbott or Hockey or Barnaby always presses that thought to the front of my mind.

  35. John Quiggin
    January 15th, 2013 at 10:32 | #35

    To restate, while I have plenty of disagreements with Salusinszky, I don’t have any complaints on this occasion. It’s one of the rare occasions I’ve had fair treatment from the Oz.

    This one is all down to Hunt

  36. Rob
    January 15th, 2013 at 11:07 | #36

    “…breached my legal obligation under the Public Service Act to comply with the law in all matters relating to employment, and therefore that I an not a fit and proper person to be a member of the Climate Change Authority.”

    Do parliamentarians have and similar act or code of conduct? I’m tired of them being able to lie, mislead and misconstrue and then walk away without consequence. Is Hunt really a fit and proper person to be a member of parliament?

  37. iain
    January 15th, 2013 at 11:07 | #37

    You are far too gracious to the oz. There are actual misrepresentations being quoted and propogated. There is a reason why grubby political puppets go to these reporter puppets: they know their smears will go through a porous fact filter, and be published. The incoming Climate Minister then has his gunpowder handy, as and when required.

  38. John Quiggin
    January 15th, 2013 at 11:21 | #38

    I think the incoming Climate Minister has me, Clive and the whole CCA on the target list anyway. He’d be better advised to hold fire until we are in range.

  39. Ikonoclast
    January 15th, 2013 at 11:28 | #39

    Uncle Milton :
    It’s unlikely that Hunt believes most of what he says, or at least it’s hard to tell. He is merely reflecting the persona and ideology of his leader. If Turnbull were the leader of the Opposition, Hunt would be saying different things.

    That’s a very interesting point. I read a good essay biography of Andrew Bolt (I forget author and title). It made a very good case and the basic thesis was that Andrew Bolt too does not believe most of what he says. He simply found that by agreeing with bigots and writing what they wanted to hear he could make a very handy career for himself. So yes, these people are totally Machiavellian opportunists who know they are peddling damaging lies and bigotry and care not one iota. It’s all about their self-interest and to heck with the public good.

  40. frankis
    January 15th, 2013 at 11:34 | #40

    What are Hunt’s options, as he would see them? He’s been shown up by Lateline (IIRC) and John Quiggin, and by the CSIRO and by …. the list continues …. for his ridiculous storytelling on soil carbon sequestration and pathetic attempts at arithmetic and ….. list continues.

    What can he do? – he either concedes to himself the sorry truth that he is what he is as he’s been shown to be or, that being a bit too much for the poor fellow’s gentle psyche to bear, pushes back against the irritants whose criticisms ought to threaten his ambitious political trajectory. Meanwhile the impartial outside observer sees a different kind of trajectory that Hunt is following, and may wish him well.

    NB I don’t like Salusinszky but he seems to have dealt competently here with his Oz agenda of airing Hunt and any other would-be critics of science, decency, reason, Quiggin, …. list continues.

  41. Katz
    January 15th, 2013 at 12:15 | #41

    Clearly, from Salusinszky’s email to JQ, the following occurred:

    1. Salusinszky noted JQ’s and Hamilton’s comments re Moylan.

    2. Salusinszky contacted Hunt. Salusinszky pointed out the difference between Hamilton and JQ.

    3. Salusinszky tried to persuade that there was not as much difference as Hunt was prepared to concede, but failed.

    4. Salusinszky emailed JQ, gloating about the trouble JQ was in, plainly hoping for a usable quote either to incriminate further JQ in Hunt’s eyes and/or to spice up his story.

    5. JQ maintained his sang froid and provided no further usable copy.

    6. Slightly deflated, Salusinszky put his weaker version of the story to bed.

  42. Katz
    January 15th, 2013 at 12:32 | #42

    In any case, a real journalist would have sought comment from Greg Combet, as the responsible minister, and/or from the Attorney General.

    Instead, Salusinszky chose to be a guttersnipe.

  43. Rob
    January 15th, 2013 at 12:41 | #43

    Katz :
    Clearly, from Salusinszky’s email to JQ, the following occurred:
    1. Salusinszky noted JQ’s and Hamilton’s comments re Moylan.
    2. Salusinszky contacted Hunt. Salusinszky pointed out the difference between Hamilton and JQ.
    3. Salusinszky tried to persuade that there was not as much difference as Hunt was prepared to concede, but failed.
    4. Salusinszky emailed JQ, gloating about the trouble JQ was in, plainly hoping for a usable quote either to incriminate further JQ in Hunt’s eyes and/or to spice up his story.
    5. JQ maintained his sang froid and provided no further usable copy.
    6. Slightly deflated, Salusinszky put his weaker version of the story to bed.

    … or Salusinszky wanted to let Hunt walk into a bear trap of his own making (“gotcha journalism” stylee) but unfortunately for the journalist, Hunt backed of at the last minute…

  44. Ikonoclast
    January 16th, 2013 at 05:24 | #44

    Fran Barlow :
    @Katz
    Let’s recall the sympathy Salusinszky bears one Michael Costa, now a devotee of Friedman and Hayek.
    I won’t pretend that I can evaluate with certainty the cognitive accomplishments of Hunt, Salusinszky, Costa and others from the right in this country. They certainly behave variously, like fools, charlatans, bullies and misanthropes. I can at best speculate on the provenance of this conduct. My best guess is that it is reflexive boss class culture war, and that fighting for that side is corrosive of one’s cognition and humanity. Of course, not having much cognition or humanity to begin with might well predispose the hope that serving the boss class would earn you an easy life. Perhaps that explains the presence of the apparently exceptionally stupid on the right. A tour of Catallaxy or a grab from Abbott or Hockey or Barnaby always presses that thought to the front of my mind.

    We don’t always agree Fran but on this occasion you have characterised the situation very well. We are driven to the conclusion that many on the right are stupid or vicious or both.

  45. canberra boy
    January 16th, 2013 at 09:56 | #45

    Paddy Manning, writing for Fairfax, has finally put an accurate figure on the hypothetical ‘losses’ by getting access to timed course-of-sales data. This shows exactly how many shares traded at what price and what time. He says the ‘losses’ were $450,360. The first bit of serious MSM journalism on the subject. Congratulations Paddy.

  46. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    January 16th, 2013 at 10:58 | #46

    Yes, good article by Manning. This, of course, hasn’t stopped the Shrill Shill aka Planet Janet from banging on in today’s Opposition Organ about the losses suffered by the “mum and dad investors”.

  47. Ootz
    January 16th, 2013 at 11:24 | #47

    I am with you rob, there is so much skullduggery going on and inflated self-interests floating around, too much for my civil liking. The scale of the problem we are facing with CC is not the real scary thing. What is scary, is the social complexity and politics involved in addressing the risk in a professional and ethical manner.

  48. Katz
    January 16th, 2013 at 12:04 | #48

    In the article mentioned by Canberra boy, Greg Hunt is quoted:

    ”It is the principle of the hoax which is the issue. Since when has it been right to take action which impacts on others in such a negative way? People have a right to oppose and protest but they must respect the law.”

    I guess that Greg Hunt will be first demanding that the police prosecute his ex-parliamentary colleague Mal Brough for requesting illegal possession of Peter Slipper’s stolen diary.

    http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/152629/brough-hasno-regrets-in-affair/?cs=8

  49. BilB
    January 16th, 2013 at 15:55 | #49

    There are a lot of Can’ts on the Coalition side of politics,

    and the latest one to be illuminated via Crikey is their ability, lack of ability, to understand and add up the mounting evidence on Global warming. So from the Goddard NASA research facility here is the unmistakable evidence

    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012-temps.html

  50. NathanA
    January 16th, 2013 at 20:43 | #50

    @Bilb

    Well according to Lib MP Craig Kelly, in 1790 it was hot in Sydney one day so therefore Global warming isn’t happening, or something.

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/impeach-craig-kelly/

    I’m sure he thinks he knows what he’s talking about though

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