Time to Rethink Basic Assumptions about the Murray and the Planned Water Reform

TONIGHT the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Media Watch program put together a garbled defence of the consensus position on water reform and the Lower Murray, a position based on ‘junk science’.

The program omitted to declare that the federal government, the same government that funds Media Watch, has committed $10 billion for the implementation of the water reform plan.

My objections to the A$10 bilion plan are explained in part in my recent report ‘Plugging the Murray’s Mouth: The Interrupted Evolution of a Barrier Estuary’. Extracts from this report follow:

FOR thousands of years before the European settlement of Australia, when there was good snowmelt in the Australian Alps, the Murray River would tumble down from the mountains, then spread west over the vast black soils of the Riverina, wind its way south through the limestone gorges of the Riverland, before flooding into Lake Alexandrina. Lake Alexandrina is still a vast body of water covering an area of 570 square kilometres; so vast that looking back across the lake from Point Sturt, shorelines recede into the distance and it’s impossible to see Pomanda Point near where the river enters the lake.

While the lake is vast, its outlet to the sea is a narrow and shallow channel between the sand dunes of Encounter Bay – an outlet that sometimes closes over.

In April 1802 British explorer Matthew Flinders, while circumnavigating Australia, described the shoreline as low and sandy topped with hummocks of almost bare sand. There was no river mouth on his map. Historians have written that this acclaimed navigator and cartographer “missed” the Murray’s mouth. It is much more likely that the inlet had closed-over.

Twenty-eight years later, in February 1830, another famous British explorer, Charles Sturt, visited the region but from the inland, travelling-down the Murray in a whaleboat. Captain Sturt described the place where the river enters the lake, which is about 60 kilometres from the Southern Ocean, as the end of the river. He wrote in his journal that:

“We had, at length, arrived at the termination of the Murray. Immediately below me was a beautiful lake, which appeared to be a fitting reservoir for the noble stream that had led us to it; and which was now ruffled by the breeze that swept over it.”

On the third day, Captain Sturt attempted to manoeuvre his whaleboat from the lake to the Southern Ocean but was blocked by sandbars.

“Shoals again closed in upon us on every side. We dragged the boat over several, and at last got amongst quicksands.”

It was not until the fourth day that Sturt conceded that it would be impossible for his men to drag the whaleboat any further over the sand bars and sand flats. So, again in February 1830 the Murray’s sea mouth was closed-over.

When Captain Sturt’s diary was later published it included comment that:

“Australian rivers fall rapidly from the mountains in which they originate into a level and extremely depressed country; having weak and inconsiderable sources, and being almost wholly unaided by tributaries of any kind; they naturally fail before they reach the coast, and exhaust themselves in marshes or lakes; or reach it so weakened as to be unable to preserve clear or navigable mouths, or to remove the sand banks that the tide throws up before them.”

In fact, the Murray River often ran strong in spring and summer, but by autumn had slowed and then a south westerly wind would pick up and the sea would pour in.

Since European settlement there have been many attempts to widen and deepen the Murray River’s sea mouth to make it more permanently navigable including through blasting and dredging. More recently, a national consensus has formed around the idea that if there were less irrigation upstream, the Murray’s mouth could be restored to its former glory. But it’s a myth that the Murray’s mouth was ever deep and wide.

A single narrow and shallow inlet between sand dunes is a characteristic of many southern Australian estuaries with their central basins known as Intermittently Closed and Open Lakes and Lagoons (ICOLLs). For example, from Sydney to the Victorian border there are 70 ICOLLs with local governments regularly making decisions about whether or not to open them to the sea.

The greatest risk from a closed ICOLL is flooding. In South Australia the state government insists the Murray’s mouth be kept open. In contrast NSW state government policy does not support the artificial opening of ICOLLs unless local councils can demonstrate that the social, environmental and economic benefits greatly outweigh any potential adverse impacts. In NSW there is a specific policy against the development of flood prone land on the margins of ICOLLs. In contrast, the South Australian government has actively promoted the subdivision of farmland on the shores of Lake Alexandrina and the development of this land into new housing estates, resorts and marinas.

These new developments will flood. In 1956, when the Hume Dam was already in place, Lake Victoria and Yarrawonga already developed, and levees already built along much of the lower Murray River, there was still extensive flooding including of the townships of Milang and Goolwa on the shores of Lake Alexandrina. Flooding has never been as bad as 1956 , but very large volumes of water still regularly empty into Lake Alexandrina in most years. Average flow over Lock 1 from 1968 to 2010 was 5,920 GL. Putting this in some perspective, Port Jackson, that includes Sydney Harbour, holds about 560 GL at high tide: so enough water has been flowing into Lake Alexandrina on average each year for the last 42 years to fill about eleven Sydney Harbours each and every year. In 1974, despite river regulation 31,879 GL flowed over Lock 1: that’s 57 Sydney Harbours full of freshwater.

It is generally assumed, however, that the most significant issue facing the Lower Murray, including Lake Alexandrina and the Murray’s mouth, is a reduction in flows because of upstream extractions and diversions for irrigation – not flooding. It’s true that the building of upstream water storages has reduced both the magnitude and frequency of major floods. Some of the water that once flowed out to the Southern Ocean during flood events is now restrained by the large storages in the upper catchment and also the development of Lakes Victoria and Menindee as water storages.

River regulation was designed to “drought proof’ the Murray Darling and because of the upstream dams and weirs, drought impacts are not as severe. The main channel of the river no longer dries up as it did, for example, in 1915. But, because of the construction of the Murray mouth sea dykes that dammed the Murray River’s estuary, Lake Alexandrina is particularly susceptible to low flows because it is now totally dependent on the upstream dams to feed this end-of-system freshwater reservoir.

In 2006 water levels in Lake Alexandrina fell precipitously from 0.85 metres above sea level to -1.10 metres below. There was simply not enough water in upstream dams to keep both Lake Alexandrina and the adjacent smaller Lake Albert supplied with adequate water. In earlier times, for example, during the Federation drought (1895-1902), as flows from upstream slowed, the seawater pushed in taking over the entire lake and extending many kilometres up the main channel of the river. But during the Millennium drought (2002 to 2009), the 7.6 kilometres of concrete sea dyke engineered and built in the 1930s, held back the Southern Ocean.

The South Australian government could have opened the 593 gates within the five sea dykes to let the Southern Ocean in, but instead it kept the gates shut tight. That the South Australian government chose not to open the gates during the drought and let the Southern Ocean flood in, was not generally reported in the national media which instead focused its television cameras on either the receding lake waters or the sand dredge working to keep the Murray’s mouth open conveniently avoiding images of the massive sea dykes in between.

As soon as the floodwaters arrived in the spring of 2010, the government opened the gates to let excess water out.

According to the website of the South Australia Department of Water the sea dykes were not opened during the drought because: “The State Government is committed to maintaining the Lower Lakes as a freshwater system.” Interestingly, at the website, this is not justified on the importance of the lake as a supply of freshwater for irrigation or for Adelaide, but on the false claim that the lake has always been a freshwater lake and that letting in seawater would spoil its ecological character.

This claim, that the lake has always been fresh, is never juxtaposed, for example, against the observations in the diary of Charles Sturt that the waters of Lake Alexandrina were salty in February 1830 or the presence of a thriving mulloway fishery in Lake Alexandrina, until construction of the sea dykes.

It would be difficult for a rational person, familiar with the available evidence, to come to the conclusion that Lake Alexandrina has been a predominately freshwater lake for 7,000 years. Yet this is the advice in a recent report by CSIRO scientists and also the advice from scientists at the Australian Wetlands and Rivers Centre. And this popular claim has been bolstered recently by a prominent statement in the executive summary of a report commissioned by the South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage prepared by Jennie Fluin, Deborah Haynes and John Tibby. These scientists are recognised experts at reconstructing the past history of lakes and wetlands based on the presence or absence of particular species of diatom in sediment cores. Diatoms are unicellular algae.

The scientists incorrectly state in the report that:

“There is no evidence in the 7,000 year record of substantial marine incursions into Lake Alexandrina.”

This claim, while consistent with South Australian government policy, is at odds with not only what we know about how Southern Australian estuaries evolved and now function, but also many studies published in reputable scientific journals including research papers authored by the same scientist, Drs Fluin, Haynes and Tibby. Indeed the claim is inconsistent with the specific diatom assemblage described in their published papers and also in their report to the South Australian government.

Research by other scientists into diatoms and also another group of microfossils known as foraminifera , and more generally into the sedimentology and geomorphology of the region , provides evidence for three distinct phases in the evolution of Lake Alexandrina and the Murray River’s estuary: a period of maximum marine influence when the estuary was starting to form, then a period of maximum freshwater influence after a sand barrier formed across the estuary, followed by a third phase with conflicting evidence as to whether Lake Alexandrina was becoming generally fresher or saltier at the time the sea dykes were built. It is agreed that this third phase was interrupted by construction of the sea dykes that have fundamentally changed water quality in Lake Alexandrina and converted the water body from a wave dominated estuary to a freshwater reservoir. That there have been three distinct phases in the evolution of the Murray River estuary is consistent with what is generally known about the evolution of wave dominated, hydrostatically positive estuaries in Southern Australia. But let’s start at the beginning and place the natural history of Lake Alexandrina in a geological context.

Very different coastal processes are at work depending on whether sea levels are falling, static or rising. Rivers cut downwards into the underlying substrate when sea levels are falling, so, for example, about 900,000 years ago the Murray River cut down forming a trench about 65 metres deep where the river now meets Lake Alexandrina. Fast-forward from 900,000 to 120,000 thousand years ago and the earth’s climate had warmed. Very significant polar icecap melt meant sea levels rose to above present sea-level. Then the earth cooled again, and the Southern Ocean again retreated.

For tens of thousands of years conditions were much colder, windier and drier than they are today. Then, about 18,000 years ago, the climate changed yet again. The earth started to warm somewhat abruptly and sea levels started to rise again by on average 130 metres around the world. About 10,000 years ago sea levels dipped, then rose again. During the last 6,000 years sea levels and climate have been relatively stable.

It was during the last period of significant sea level rise, which was about 7,000 years ago, that the Southern Ocean flooded in to the area we now refer to as Lake Alexandrina. As the sea pushed in, the Murray River was pushed back, and the seawaters spread out across an area of natural subsidence. A new estuary began to form with the Southern Ocean regularly washing in to the entire area through a wide opening.

From the beginning, localised wave action would have deposited sand at the margins of the seaward opening of the young estuary slowly building sand flats, then beaches. Beaches build as sand from wave action is deposited higher and higher. When dry sand from the beach is blown beyond the reach of the waves, and then a bit further, sand dunes start to form. The shoreline across the Murray River estuary has accumulated so much sand over the last six thousand years that 5,000 tonnes of sand may be in motion at any one time along just 10 kilometres of beach.

In 1802 Matthew Flinders named the coastline in front of the sand barrier, hiding Lake Alexandrina, Encounter Bay. Later the sand barrier was named the Younghusband Peninsula after a prominent South Australian. The sand peninsula formed from water currents running along the early beach face dropping sand across the top of the estuary forming shoals. Typically shoals will consolidate into a sand-spit. Then through beach building processes a sand-spit develops into a beach, then a sand dune, that eventually extends across the entire estuary. Studies of the deposition of sand and sediments within Lake Alexandrina suggesting sand pit formation was complete by 2,300 years ago. Other studies suggest the sand barrier was already in place about 3,600 years ago and that at this time Lake Alexandrina was predominately a freshwater lake. This period is thought to have corresponded with a period of climatic aridity within the Murray Darling Basin when there were no big floods to break open the sand barrier and so it consolidated.

Provided there is adequate freshwater inflow, lakes and lagoons protected by sand barriers, even without a sea inlet, can remain healthy functioning freshwater ecosystems. Paradoxically it is when freshwater inflows are too high that overtopping of the sand barrier will typically occur, followed by “lagoon breakout”, and then a rise in salinity levels as the lagoon is reconnected with the ocean.

The dynamic high-energy coastal processes of beach and dune formation across the Murray River’s estuary would have occasionally been interrupted when there was significant flooding in the Murray Darling. Then large volumes of water would have rushed across Lake Alexandrina and pushed over and eventually eroded through the developing Younghusband Peninsula: chopping it into pieces. Thus in the early stages of development of the modern Murray River estuary there was more than one outlet to the Southern Ocean and many discrete sand islands.

Southern Australian barrier estuaries in their early stages of development are dependent on flood events to open their sea entrance. But the Murray River estuary had moved beyond this stage of evolution at the time of European settlement. The position and opening of the River Murray’s sea mouth was becoming fixed and increasingly dependent on the ocean as explained by South Australian historian J. C. Tolley:

“The position of the channel at the mouth is governed principally by the ocean… During the great 1956 flood, the highest ever recorded on the lower Murray, the river outlet, although wider and deeper than normal, was situated in the easterly section of the overall movement pattern and was in a similar position as the situation of the mouth during the dry year of 1914.

However in April 1938, during a violent storm the mouth doubled its width in a few days and a great deal of sand at the western extremity was washed away. Within two months the channel had narrowed and when surveys were carried out 12 months later the position of the outlet was in almost the same situation as before the storm. During this period there was no great fluctuation in the volume of fresh water coming down the river.”

Working from the barrier estuary conceptual model endorsed by the National River Health Program, the Murray River’s estuary was probably at an intermediate stage of development at the time the sea dykes were built. From the beginning the Murray River would have brought sediment to the newly forming estuary. However, the high-energy action of the waves would have meant that mud flats could not properly develop until after the sand barrier started to form, reducing tidal scouring. After the barrier formed, sediment carried down the Murray River started to fill the central lagoon behind the sand barrier. Infilling of this area, known as Lake Alexandrina, had been occurring for at least 2,300 years and the sea entrance had become channelized. Typically as a barrier estuary matures many channels will coalesce into a single channel.

Left alone to develop into a mature, and fully tidal system, the Mundoo channel may have come to dominate the Murray River’s estuary as the other channels and margins of the lake infilled with sand and sediment.

The Goolwa channel generally carries more water, but this water has less energy as it elbows around Hindmarsh Island following the old riverbed. In contrast, the Mundoo channel has the steepest gradient to the sea and is immediately behind the Murray’s sea mouth. Back in 1856, South Australia’s Surveyor General George Woodroffe Goyder recognised the potential of the Mundoo channel to scour the Murray’s mouth. He suggested the natural process of deepening and widening of the Murray’s sea mouth by this channel be enhanced by cutting though a natural calcareous sandstone bar across the channel thus further concentrating tidal water inflow and river water outflow.

Instead, early settlers worked hard to block off the Mundoo channel because they wanted to keep the lake fresh, they did not want the tidal force concentrated through the mouth, then along Mundoo channel and into Lake Alexandrina. A wooden barrage with sluice gates was built across the Mundoo channel in 1915. The current sea dyke, built in the late 1930s, is 800 metres long, partly earthen embankment protected with heavy stone pitching and partly concrete stop-logs. Even when fully open to allow floodwaters out, flow is still restricted to about 20 per cent of the natural channel width. In short, inflow along the Mundoo channel has been stopped and outflow has been significantly curtailed.

Without a channel for the tide to scour, shoaling, which had always been common at the seaward side of the Mundoo channel immediately behind the Murray River’s sea mouth, consolidated into a permanent sand island. This sand island had four metre high sand dunes in 1988 and was a kilometre in diameter by 2000. The development, growth and consolidation of Bird Island are a direct consequence of blocking the Mundoo channel. Bird Island has not only changed the geomorphology of the region and interrupted the estuaries evolution to a fully tidal system, but Bird Island also blocks water released through the gates of the Goolwa sea dyke purported for the Coorong.

Geoscience Australia classifies the Murray River’s estuary as a wave-dominated estuary with positive annual hydrodynamics. It is wave dominated because coastal processes rather than river flow, has most influenced its evolution. It has annual positive hydrodynamics because it receives a relatively large and constant freshwater supply throughout the year that exceeds evaporation. Many South Australian estuaries that close over become hypersaline and eventually turn into salt marshes because they have a negative hydrodynamics. This is a real possibility for both Lake Albert and the Coorong but not Lake Alexandrina. Many freshwater lakes in South Australia become saltpans. There is a real fear in South Australia that Lake Alexandrina could become a saltpan, but this fear is misplaced. Upstream river regulation has not affected the positive hydrodynamic status of Lake Alexandrina. Annual evaporation from the lake system is between 878 and 1,083 gigalitres, which is a very large volume of water, but significantly less than average inflows of nearly 6,000 gigalitres.

The biggest issue for Lake Alexandrina and all the new surrounding land developments and subdivisions, including on Hindmarsh Island, is flooding from a blocked river mouth. The Murray’s sea mouth is choking, and it is principally the fault of the Mundoo sea dyke – not upstream irrigators.

Everything science tells us about coastal processes would suggest that an inevitable consequence of blocking the Mundoo channel would be the eventual permanent blocking of the Murray’s sea mouth. Unfortunately discussion of these coastal processes has been omitted from planning and policy documents developed under the Commonwealth government’s $10 billion water reform program. There is a budget for the ongoing dredging of the Murray’s mouth on the basis that large volumes of freshwater have been taken by upstream irrigators. The Water Minister Tony Burke has suggested that if some of this water is returned the problem will be alleviated.

But damming the estuary has changed the hydrology of the region, and subsequently its geomorphology. The process will inevitably be one of growth and consolidation of Bird Island until it eventually blocks the Murray’s mouth irrespective of how many sand dredges the government tries to fit into the shrinking space or how much water is returned as environmental flow.

Rather than using the $10 billion budgeted under the Water Act 2007 to reduce the size of upstream irrigation based on an invented narrative about a lake that would always be brimming with freshwater if it weren’t for greedy irrigators, a better way would be to spend the money working to enhance the coastal processes that would have once acted to deepen and widen the Murray River’s sea mouth. In particular the 800 metres of sea dyke needs to be removed from across the Mundoo channel.

If the calcareous sandstone bar across the channel, which is a relic of sea level rise 125,000 years ago, were also removed, then Bird Island would quickly be eroded away. And so the Murray River’s estuary could continue to evolve to eventually become fully tidal and so more independent, resilient and over time more biologically diverse.

A fully tidal Lake Alexandrina could support a rich fishery and even grow mangroves and seagrass. Importantly the Lake would be resilient to drought in the basin and water quality could be maintained by regular flushing with the tides of the Southern Ocean at no cost to Australian taxpayers.

********

A fully footnoted and referenced version of this document can be found here: http://jennifermarohasy.com/publications/

I have noted that Media Watch have uploaded this report to their website in breach of my copyright.

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70 Responses to Time to Rethink Basic Assumptions about the Murray and the Planned Water Reform

  1. David Holder March 20, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    A wonderful article revealing facts about the Murray and its history which I never knew before.

    You have my support regarding the extraordinary bullying by Media Watch Dog. This seems very much part of the current regulation and regime of intimidation which now reins in the media against those not toeing the alp/green line.

  2. Tom March 20, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    Jen, I think only good things can come of the ABC’s attempted stitch-up of your work last night. The first and most important is that many more people than before now realise that Media Watch is an unaccountable, agenda-driven trojan horse that is being used to advance the political objectives of its staff that have nothing to do with the media. Second, many more people now know of your excellent work in applying commonsense, rather than zombieish dogma, in environmental science – a position that the vast majority of the population supports. I hope you will reap the rewards in years to come.

  3. Stephen Williams March 20, 2012 at 7:01 am #

    I reckon the Media Watch attack will turn out to be an own goal. Your argument will get much more coverage than it otherwise would have.

  4. WB March 20, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    I have noted that Media Watch have uploaded this report to their website in breach of my copyright.

    You go girl. Don’t let up.

  5. spangled drongo March 20, 2012 at 7:36 am #

    Good to see that most of the commenters can see through the ABC Media Watch hypocrisy.

    http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3458728.htm

  6. Bob from Arana Hills March 20, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    So “Media Watch” says, “But in all the media reports we’ve seen, nobody did look at the science…” and “Well it’s not Media Watch’s job to argue with Dr Marohasy on the science.”

    So “Media Watch” will instead attempt to smear Jennifer by spending a large part of the segment implying her connections with IPA and AEF are somehow bad and therefore her “contentious” report could not be correct.

  7. Bernie Kelly March 20, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    Good on you Jennifer! You must be onto something if the ABC has singled you out for “special” treatment. The upside is that this issue will get more attention. On even a basic level, the barrages are not a natural feature, so I find it difficult as to why ‘environmentalists’ want to keep these. Is it a prejudiced view of irrigators?

    I am a Namoi catchment irrigator (Lucerne and grazing). At dinner recently my sister, a teacher, commented that cotton and rice irrigators are selfish, and that irrigation of these crops should never be allowed in such a dry country. I can’t remember the last time she was west of the ‘sandstone curtain’ (except at 35,000 feet up), and certainly not to my or any other irrigation property. This ignorance in understanding of the methods and benefits of irrigation is common amongst city people especially, surprisingly, among the otherwise well educated. How can we sell the message better than we do?

  8. jennifer March 20, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    Bernie

    Thanks for your comment. Of course cotton and rice suit a land of drought or flooding rains… because they are annual crops and the same fields can be left fallow during drought. Almonds, oranges and grapes need water every year.

    And why do the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Australian Greens, and so many others remain silent on the issue of the barrages… because they hate irrigated agriculture more than they love the environment?

  9. spangled drongo March 20, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    If Media Watch are truly alarmed by corruption in climate science why don’t they report on this:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/19/crus-new-hadcrut4-hiding-the-decline-yet-again-2/#more-59625

  10. Shal March 20, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Jennifer, MW was not about the validity or otherwise of your position on the MD basin. It was about transparency and your failure to declare your interests. Your silence on that issue in this post is deafening.

  11. jennifer March 20, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    Shal

    What interests? What interests should I declare?

  12. Minister for Common Sense March 20, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    Spot on SD…but they dont have the right support people to do any decent analytics. Just lefty university political science hacks.

    ..and whats more they are complete hypocrites in the way they try to put Jennifer down because of her so called connections, (and incredible meagre funding), but say nothing about the way the alarmists NGOs like Climate Institute, WFF, and Greenpeace etc etc are loaded with money, to press their greeny causes and even include many of Australias leading publically funded alarmanistas like Karoly et al on their scientific advisory panels.

    Nooooh cant say anything about that ..it just would do our lefty image any good now would it.

    Nor have they ever done anything within the ABC to highlight the fraud and farce that is Peer Review and how many IPCC reports/assessments have been nothing more than mates reviewing mates papers.

    Not have they ever done anything on the ARGC funding of everything to do with supporting the alarmist cause, but bugger all has ever gone to anything likely to have the slightest whiff of possibly invoking any doubt or scepticism.

    Nor have they everdone anything to point out the likelihood of a Maunder Minimum in coming years whic suggest that we may all be wanting warmer underwear and extra blankets

    Nor have they ever pointed out just how philosphically bankrupt they are when they dont question the academic ninnies about their frequent idiotic statements that “science is settled”…as if it ever was.

    If MW is what passes for balanced reporting then I will just use the off switch more frequently in future…the same as I do for all the other loaded public affairs airings by the ABC.

  13. Debbie March 20, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Shal,
    ‘It was about transparency and your failure to declare your interests.’
    Are you serious?
    It was not about science and neither was it about transparency and some type of failure on Jennifer’s part to declare her interests.
    It was most definitely a blatant attack on Jennifer’s credibility.
    Jennifer has NEVER, EVER, EVER been backwards in coming forwards about her ‘interests’ concerning this particular topic.
    What interests do you think you are referring to?
    As Media Watch stated themselves, it is all available publicly and Jennifer also freely supplied answers.
    If you didn’t like the answers that only means you didn’t like the answers….nothing whatsoever to do with transparency or a failure to declare.

  14. Minister for Common Sense March 20, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    Andrew Bolt beat me to it, and wrote it up much better

    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/

    Scroll to his commentary on MW/Marohasy

  15. Alex Stuart, Chair, AEF March 20, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    Holmes & Media Watch vs Marohasy & AEF

    Jonathan Holmes last night, in his Media Watch piece attacking Dr. Jennifer Marohasy’s research into the Murray’s lower lakes, raised questions about the very name of the Australian Environment Foundation: his piece was titled ‘What’s in a name?’.

    Jennifer’s work is extremely important to public debate and, I hope, future policy formulation, but Holmes’ fatuous insinuations about AEF call for rebuttal.

    Holmes purported to focus his reporting on the question of journalists’ research into those who take public positions. But Holmes’ main implication was that AEF is pretending to be something it isn’t. Yes, indeed – it isn’t your typical deep-green, issue-driven, highly political advocacy group with an anti-business, anti-employment, anti-farming focus. You don’t have to be a youthful, long-haired, latte-sipping, inner-city dweller to care about the environment. We aren’t, and we do.

    We care particularly when governments base public policy on politics and vote-pandering, not on solid research and real evidence. You have only to look at climate policy in this country to see a glaring example of how this distorted motivation is likely to cost our communities billions of dollars and extinguish thousands of jobs, for absolutely no benefit at all to climate or environment.

    Holmes dwelt at length on the origins of AEF, all of which are matters of public record, as they should be. And what does it matter anyway? This is a free country, where freedom of speech still prevails. AEF, like any other group, has the right to take any position it chooses on outcomes of scientific research. But the question arises: how often has Holmes similarly researched the origins and backgrounds of deep-green groups and their proclivities for political advocacy?

    The real motivation behind Holmes’ take on AEF’s positions is that he doesn’t like them. He doesn’t like any views that question his belief in the supposed need to buy back and divert more MDB water into ‘environmental flows’, only to have much it evaporate in the lower lakes, just as he dislikes any countervailing views to his belief (for that is what it is) in the still-unproven hypothesis that man-made CO2-driven global warming will lead to a climate catastrophe.

    As a publicly-paid broadcaster, he has a responsibility to be more even-handed on these issues and to air his prejudices less.

  16. Brian March 20, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    If MW had not been doing “junk journalism” and their researchers had bothered to research newspaper articles from the early 1900’s at http://www.trove.nla.gov.au they may have actually learned some useful background information.
    Shame MW didn’t apply the same procedure to Michael Mann when interviewed by Emma A – but, as Jonathon said, he (himself) isn’t a scientist.
    On that basis, I would quite understand that he wouldn’t recognize “junk science” if it jumped up and bit him on the left buttock.
    Apparently not providing fair and balanced reporting of a subject is part of the MW brief.
    Every time I make pancakes they always have two sides – but it appears most journalistic efforts relate to one-sided pancakes.
    Hang in there, Jennifer – even though this country is “dumbing down”, there are still quite a few citizens out there who have eyes that see, ears that hear and brains that think – and who use all three in conjunction.

  17. spangled drongo March 20, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    “Shal

    What interests? What interests should I declare?”

    Come of it Jen! We’re a wake up. You actually want to look at the fundamentals.

    You know, the history, the science, the facts!

    ‘Our’ ABC doesn’t deal in that sort of stuff.

    We can’t ‘ave that!

  18. Admiral Jacobus Ambu March 20, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    Popped in from that rum chum Blair’s site, not prepared for a lecture in Australian exploration, the Murray’s history both geologic and recent evolutionary events caused by man and for me the most important aspect on names of foundations and their relevance.

    Doc Jen has been on the gun sights of those foul bilge rats at media witchhunters (MW for short)for a couple of weeks and I wondered how it would end fully knowing the doc is a big girl who will not bow to gutless spaven name callers masquerading as caped crusaders but in truth lickspittle defenders of anti science political groups and vested interest with deep hidden pockets mostly stolen from government and hence us taxpayers.

    As usual hand the girl a gun and she never misses, the only real issue is that media witch hunters have no real audience and hence wont drive much traffic for enlightenment to this font of environmental reality discussions both historic and scientific, mores the pity.

    You made my head hurt again Doc but then then you always do. ABC was once a prized Government broadcaster on science and current affairs and has now become a neolithic midden of gossip and rumor with truth and fact scattered before the winds of history.

  19. John Sayers March 20, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Hang in there Jen – this is just the start.

    Tim Blair also weighs in.

    http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/timblair/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/word_disapproved/

  20. Bob_FJ March 20, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    Jennifer,
    As some consolation this should surely give more exposure to all the crap about saving the lakes from their former natural estuarine ecology.
    As of a moment ago there were 59 comments at with the great majority very critical of the Media Watch transcript:
    http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3458728.htm
    I intend to email the producer (Buckfiel.Lin@abc.net.au) asking why no mention of key stuff, like the history since Sturt, and copy it around a bit, followed by a formal complaint to the ABC (audience and Consumer Affairs).

  21. Bob_FJ March 20, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Whoops,
    The Email address for the exec producer should be: Buckfield.Lin@abc.net.au

  22. CARFAX March 20, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    What a great tradgedy for for Australain Society when Media Watch ‘opinion’ can be used to attack careful scientific observation and research.
    The tradgedy is even greater when the scientific literacy of the wider population is so poor that the ignorance of the journalists is not immeddiately obvious to all.
    The Marohasy analysis of the problems of the Murray Darling basin stands in stark contrast to the unsupported speculation and ‘consensus view’ of post modern media commentators and fashionable green agenda.
    Sadly our once great scientific institutions such as the CSIRO and the BOM have been corrupted in order to support a postmodern view of the world which aids the politics of deception.

  23. val majkus March 20, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Jen great article
    I don’t watch the ABC any more but I have read last night’s media watch transcript and quite frankly I don’t see the point of the show; how does what was aired last night fit MW’s brief.
    I see what is said at the start of the transcript ‘When and (sic) environmental lobby group claims that a major government policy is based on junk science, shouldn’t journalists ask questions?’ Well, if that’s the question why does MW not investigate the junk science behind the AGW scare and the IPCC’s reports or does partiality only extend to the ‘non consensus’ viewpoint

    You have written an excellent detailed and quick response

    I completely agree with Bob_FJ on the course of action he proposes and will do the same

    and I’m hoping that the AEF will receive increased donations from those of us who still believe in people being entitled to an opinion and particularly scientists being entitled to a ‘non consensus’ opinion; after all consensus science is not science in the historic sense

  24. Susan March 20, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    It is becoming so obvious to anyone studying the facts that the lakes were indeed estuaries. It is beginning to seem like the childhood fable, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’.

    Hang in there Jen!

  25. Charles Bourbaki March 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Jennifer,

    You’re missing the point with your aticle. These debates should not conducted using scientific evidence and logic. They should be conducted using smear and innuendo.

    Are you sure you watched Media Watch last night?

  26. val majkus March 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    time for a bit of a laugh?

    One of those obnoxious climate sceptics, may they perish in the eternal flames (should it stop raining long enough for those flames to burn the way they used to), has written querying a report on the ABC science blog. That report suggests climate change is to blame for yes, obesity: “Steadily rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may be affecting brain chemistry and contributing to the obesity epidemic”. The sceptic (may he perish etc.) complains this assertion does not seem to be based on any evidence.

    Isn’t that classic? That’s the trouble with these sceptics. They just don’t get the scientific method. For here’s the test that proves the report’s claim. I’ve done it and I can assure you it works.
    Take a random sample of 100 people, 100 wombats, and 100 wattles. Randomly assign them into a treatment group (who will be subjected to the experiment) and a control group. Allow the control group to undertake their usual routine, and especially make sure they breathe in those fumes from the atmosphere. Allow the treatment group to do whatever they want EXCEPT breathing. Continue the treatment for a week.
    And here are the results. Of the control group (who were allowed to consume the noxious fumes associated with “steadily rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”), 45 percent gained weight over the period with fully 15 percent moving towards obesity.
    In the treatment group, who were protected from the noxious fumes (and from any other form of breathing, but who otherwise were no different from the control group) NOT ONE, yes NOT ONE, gained any weight.
    Applied to these results, the Mann–Whitney–Wilcoxon rank-sum test leaves no room for doubt: the difference in weight gain between the control and treatment groups is statistically significant. Does carbon dioxide contribute to obesity? My word it does.
    So, concerned about those bulging wombats littering our roads? Fear no more – the ABC science blog is here to help. Prevent them breathing and those ugly side handles will stop their inexorable spread. It’s exactly the sort of elegant thinking we’ve come to expect and respect.
    http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/henryergas/index.php/theaustralian/comments/there_is_inspiration_in_respiration/

    sorry cut and paste the lot but it’s not too long

    climate sceptics (may they burn etc) and climate believers (or what ever they’re called these days) may they be sainted etc

  27. spangled drongo March 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    But obesity causes AGW as well as AGW causing obesity so we are faced with our tipping point right there.

    Runaway AGW!

    A stinkin’ hot world full of stinkin’ fat people. Getting hotter and fatter by the day.

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/05/16/2247103.htm

  28. Mark A March 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Hi there Jennifer, I don’t watch MW so I had to be alerted that they finally aired the episode.

    After watching it, I came to the conclusion that overall, you and the organisations supporting you will, in the end come out on top.

    Have to admit I stopped watching the show soon after that lawyer fellow finished, so I am not up to date as to what subjects they actually pursue, but Jonathan having admitted that they were ill equipped to examine the science in detail I failed to see the point of this exercise at all.

    As someone else said, they scored an own goal, drawing attention to the issues.
    Nothing will sway the rusted on ABC viewers, they don’t look for facts, it only confuses them, they go with the vibes.

    But others might now look at the problem and see a different picture and seek answers, lets hope so anyway.
    If nothing else they will donate to the cause, I certainly did my bit for the AEF today, every little bit helps.

    Don’t be shy Jennifer put up the PayPal link again, it must cost you time and money to maintain this blog.
    Cheers, and don’t despair, plenty of us out here who support you.

  29. Bob_FJ March 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Susan @ March 20th, 11:47 am
    Further to your comment that it’s obvious that the lakes were once estuarine; It’s not just a matter of overwhelming historical record, but as I said somewhere recently; paraphrasing; if it looks like, waddles like, and quacks like an estuary, then it is an estuary. Why on Earth did early explorer Sturt proclaim amongst other things that the Murray ended where it entered what we call Lake Alexandrina?
    We had about 100-years of knowledge of the estuarine situation there prior to 1930’s barrages, so why did they build those barrages. Well, not to maintain the long standing ecosystem, but to change it to fresh water for some other purpose. (I suspect the P-word; Politics)

  30. Bob_FJ March 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    Further to my comment to Susan just above, I should have mentioned that by looking at the maps in Jennifers expose, it sure does look that way!

  31. Raredog March 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Media Watch is censoring comments now. Furthermore, the Media Watch server handling Reply ABC Online comments, as at 3:10pm AEDT, is down.

    Jennifer, your strong stand and the support you have received will pay dividends – the maintenance of an artificial freshwater Murray estuary during dry times will soon be well known. Now if we could just get one of these earth system scientists to admit there are problems with their hydrological models (ask the poor scapegoated engineers at Wivenhoe Dam) as there are with climate models then it would not be unreasonable to assume down-the-track that reasonably minded ABC employees will start to take a more even-handed and sceptical approach to all science-based discussions.

  32. cohenite March 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    I thought Holme’s remarks about the peer review of Jennifer’s paper were defamatory.

  33. Bob_FJ March 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    I tried to make another comment on the Media Watch website, but unfortunately got the following message:

    WEB SITE UNAVAILABLE
    The ABC Website service you are requesting is temporarily unavailable.
    Normal service will resume as soon as possible.

    Oh dear, but here it is for the record:

    I assess that a common view here is that Holmes with his selective snide and clear body language has presented his hostile opposition on the science and historical facts about the estuarine conditions prior to the barrages, despite the clarifying Email from Dr Marohasy to Media Watch last week.
    If Holmes et al have actually read and understood the detailed response to the gobsmacking MW Email interrogation of Dr Marohasy, then it is incriminating that they did not consider some crucial elements in that response in their broadcasted attack on her!
    Putting aside that this seems to be outside the remit of MEDIA WATCH anyway, the fact is that it is a big topic that cannot be adequately handled in a mere few minutes on the Media Watch telecast. If someone wants to do a better job then perhaps Four Corners could go into more detail. I have already suggested it to the Science Show, although traditionally they have ONLY presented the so-called consensus view, and their Email responses have so-far not been encouraging in this case.

  34. Debbie March 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    Just for the record.
    Figures released from NSW Office of Water last week re water returned to rivers for re use and of course therefore for ‘end of system flows’.

    Water recovery for MDB rivers in the past 25 years.
    * 860GL/yr surface water …(note that is PER YEAR!!!).
    * 942 GL reduction in groundwater entitlements in 6 major alluvial aquifers since current WSP.
    * 64 GL reduction in GAB extractions
    * Cumulative credit in NSW under MDB caps on river diversion is 3,582GL.
    That last figure is actually a credit, that means extra water in the rivers over and above everything else that has been recovered for re use.
    In anyone’s language that is a lot of water.

    Yet still we have the mantra from SA crying for more, more, more and the attempted discrediting of Jen via Media Watch (of all places) because she asks reasonable questions and supplies credible, well referenced research about the history of water use and water reform?

  35. val majkus March 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Just in relation to what MarkA said above about using the paypal link again I’ve looked at this lately and the problem is that if Paypal doesn’t deem the recipient a registered charity then the recipient can’t use the ‘donate’ button
    see this article for the problems
    http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/the-saga-of-this-blogs-paypal-donate-button/

    Jo Nova had this problem and she has got around it by using a tip jar button – check out her site for it

    her button at the top right hand side is called ‘tip jar’ and if you click on it you get an explanation of why it is so

    On Jo’s site the ‘tip jar’ still goes through paypal
    and of course you can still do on line contributions if you have an online banking account

    So Jen needs someone far more expert than I to help her set up a ‘tip jar’

    And I do agree for all the information she should do it

    Go Jen!!!!
    (May I be burned etc) carrying on the Henry Ergas theme, I want to marry that guy, is he free?

  36. val majkus March 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    sorry got carried away; here’s the link
    http://joannenova.com.au/about/donations/

  37. Neville March 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    Jennifer has caused media watch to look like a pack of leftwing, totalitarian loonies and like many here I’m sure she’ll gain an advantage from this uneven brawl. ( uneven for them)

    Just thought I’d add a direct link to Bolt’s take on this and everyone should read this column to understand the millions of dollars that flow into some of these leftwing institutions.

    The mind boggles, but in spite of their money these fools still don’t understand simple kindy maths.

    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/lets_do_a_media_watch_on_the_climate_institute/

  38. Johnathan Wilkes March 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    cohenite
    I thought so too, given the number of unquestioned “peer reviews” by mates in the climate industry it struck me as odd that he mentioned it, let alone made something out of the fact that they were known to each other.

    I think the reviewer definitely has a case, and consequently so does Jennifer.
    Is it worth following up with real money spent on lawyers?
    Don’t know.

  39. Mark A March 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    val
    Go Jen!!!!

    So Jen needs someone far more expert than I to help her set up a ‘tip jar’
    And I do agree for all the information she should do it
    ———————————————————-
    Thanks for that explanation val.
    I’m using PayPal paying for stuff I buy on online auction sites, so I know they transfer money to every Tom Dick and Harry securely, wasn’t aware of the “Donate” button issue?

    ””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””’

    Very off topic delete at leisure!

    (May I be burned etc) carrying on the Henry Ergas theme, I want to marry that guy, is he free?

    Don’t know if he is free but I’m far better looking and may I say a lot younger too, why not marry me?
    Although there is a slight hurdle of a current Mrs Pamela A to get over. LOL. Just joking she is the best sort there is! (not to mention she is looking over my shoulder right now)
    Cheers

  40. cohenite March 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Johnathan; the imputation was that professor Ridd had allegedly said he favourably peer reviewed Jennifer’s paper as a favour. Holmes’s clear inference was that this was not a proper peer review.

    It should be cleared up as to what Ridd actually said; and if he didn’t say what Holmes said he said or was taken out of context then I would recommend a lawyer’s letter.

  41. Johnathan Wilkes March 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    cohenite
    See what you mean, not having been privy to the actual conversation, can’t comment on what was said but in my opinion no sane person would admit on TV that they passed a paper on the grounds of doing a favor to a friend?

    In any case there are questions to be answered either by Holmes and crew or by Ridd to Jennifer.
    Does not look good.

  42. val majkus March 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Mark A my compliments to your wife

    and as a climate sceptic (may I be burned) I don’t think I’m fit to marry anyone (especially if they’re climate believers or what they’re called these days ) may they be sainted

    I’m in the ‘to be burned’ category

    But notwithstanding made a contrib to AEF today (may it be burned)

    thanks to MW (may it be sainted)

  43. John Sayers March 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    I suspect Professor Ridd is also in the MW sights as he was the one who said that The GBR was the most pristine environment in the whole of Australia.

  44. J.Hansford March 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    Good article Jenifer….. Makes sense to this ol’ ex fisherman.

    Noticed on JoNova’s site there was a bit were it was mentioned that they used to have a Mulloway fishery in Lake Alexandrina…… Geez, be nice to get it back again.

    As for Meeja Watch…. Don’t watch it anymore, might occasionally wash up there during a channel surf, but only in passing…. I’ll have to go on the ABC’s taxpayer funded, ridiculously expensive website and hold back my nausea and watch the episode in question… If it’s there of course and not disappeared down the memory hole.

  45. Geoff Sherrington March 20, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    This drifts a little off thread, but here is a response from the MDBA that is both self-explanatory and (to me) unexplainable. I can’t find my original letter, gone in a disc crash, but their letter says it all.
    http://www.geoffstuff.com/mdba.JPG

    Perhaps farmers found a cash crop that the mdba members enjoyed before writing letters.

  46. J.H. March 20, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    Arrrrhhhg….. Just finished watching Meeja Watch. Gah, what hypocrites. Holmes seems offended that Jenifer has the word “Environmental” in the name of the Group she is associated with! WTF, Skeptics aren’t allowed to be environmentally concerned in the opinion of Holmesy…. Apparently we have to call ourselves the Grand Wizards of the sKeptics sKool of sKience or something. What conceited wanker.

    Secondly…. His “Concern” that Journalists gave Jenifer “uncritical” reporting…… FFFFFFf, well excuse me!… what about Tim Flannery, serial confabulator of catastrophic climate crisis extraordinaire. Mr bluddy Ghost cities under th’ bakin’ sun, and the doe eyed response of the main media, Including Meeja Watch…. Jaysus H Christ on a bluddy stick. Holmes is officially an idiot.

    …..and there’s more, but I’d rather chew me bluddy arm off than watch it….. Jonathon Holmes is Journalistic Doggerel incarnate and ambulatory.

  47. Luke March 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    Guys – all this Media Watch hoo-har is a distraction. If you want to assist Jen’s POV help her get a documentary on the barrages done.

  48. John Canberra March 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    Jennifer
    It is difficult to comprehend what has happened to this country in recent years. Not long ago we would have revelled in the depth of research and the intellectual integrity of your work.

    Unfortunately we now have pumped-up pontificators masquerading as serious commentators whose sole purpose seems to be aggrandizement of their self-assessed relevance in what used to be seriously regarded as public debate. Denigration and ridicule of worthwhile people making sincere contributions to important topics has now become the focus of weak-minded elitist buffoons.

    MW and Q&A in particular and the ABC in general are sad examples of the loss of integrity in public reporting in recent times. Sadly, it is taxpayer money funding this disgrace.

    Worry not Jennifer. There are millions of Australians (and others, I’m sure) who admire and respect what you do. And we want you to keep doing it.

  49. Minister for Common Sense March 20, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Geezus Luke…. give us a break ..thats at least 2 good ideas you have had in that last 5 years.. or more

    …now… if only I could remember what the other one was.

  50. Gowest March 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    Jennifer – being a history buff I have enjoyed your trips back in history thanks to the MW attack highlighting your work. Keep up the good work.
    I really feel sorry for the scientists currently under the political control of our state and federal governments. All of these governments are running very large deficits that depend on high levels of economic growth to service the loans. When the current taxes destroy the economy as they must a lot of those scientists will be looking at lower wages or job loss. In many ways you can understand why they pressure their public servant mates in the ABC to protect their jobs.
    Enviro conundrums I have noted in the mining industry. Christmas Island had 300 booby birds before mining. There are 1000’s now that they are endangered by mining? Rehabilitation of old mining areas has produced declared rare fauna (DRF), but mining has to stay clear and not disturb these DRF in future.

  51. Doug Proctor March 21, 2012 at 1:32 am #

    I’m a geologist. You are good. More than good.

    By the way: I just came from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where I looked at the coastal sabkhas. The history of the coastal sabkha is that 7000 years ago the sea were higher, and flooded up to 18 kilometers inland. The extra height is said to be 1.0 m, but I looked at some relect sand dunes, clipped and covered by near-shore carbonate sands with shell fragments, that now covered with the current sabkha, and conclude the sea-level rise was closer to 2.0m than 1.0. Since then dropping sea-levels and the natural, chemical nature of gypsum-anhydite deposition have pushed the coastline back to where it is today. That drop of sea-level started about 3750 years ago, according to detailed geological studies.

    So the events of the Murray River estuary tie in neatly with the Arabian Gulf. Cool, huh? (cool for those who find geological history interesting, that is).

    I worked with an engineering vice-president who claimed, vehemently, that you couldn’t make money at 50 bopd back in 1984. I pointed out that small companies, individuals not only did so, but became millionaires in the process. He said that that was not true, that all their money was stolen from their investors, squirreled away from the tax-man, and overall a scam. I wondered how he could say such things and then realised that he had to: the Corporation told him he couldn’t spend any money on such things because “it’s uneconomic”, which actually meant “we’re spending it elsewhere”. The only way he could justify to himself, as well as others, while claiming that he was working hard to make his operations profitable, was to drink the grapejuice.

    It is this self-delusion that I believe allows scientists (and others) to write, defend and extend reports that intellectually they cannot agree with. The bigger picture becomes what counts, and all benefit of the doubt, plus some weaseling, goes to the determined outcome. The fact that previously they wrote differently is only an indication that their prior work was narrowly focused and limited in its conclusions. A broader picture, they can say to themselves, is that their current understanding is different.

    The ability to self-delude is one characteristic that appears uniquely human. Fires will approach our homes and we will stay in them, convinced that ours will be spared. A small, typed document and a memo-to-follow are nothing.

    You do well. You must be deer-in-the-headlights at times, though. I am.

  52. JOhn V K March 21, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    The bit that Media Witch hunters got truly wrong.

    Jo Nova and Doc Marohasy, should be science presenters or science documentarians on our ABC, if not full time then from time to time.

    They both have high scientific standards and hence would help our ABC return to it’s very own charter to intelligently explain environmental issues if differing why the differing opinions.

    Of course media witch hunters cannot be saved, as historically it has been devoid of intellect and talent for more than a decade, perhaps a change to presenter with Ms Jane and Mr Squiggle dusted off might turn it around.

    Generally speaking the pretence of holding to account fails dismally at ABC allowing people to express feelings and its wrong and its bad opinions instead of asking the talking heads for defined alternatives with proven examples elsewhere.

    I except their business and sporting coverages which seem to be spot on in the main to the ABC’s charter.

    Finally key pieces of undemocratic pieces of legislation are passing the Australian senate so of course a suspicious mind might attibute ulterior motives for the assault.

  53. Robert March 21, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    “Guys – all this Media Watch hoo-har is a distraction. If you want to assist Jen’s POV help her get a documentary on the barrages done.”

    Luke, I have to admit I am not aware of what steps you have taken to develop your excellent idea of a Marohasy doco. Keep us informed.

    On the other hand, it’s important to to stay focused on Media Watch – until we have ridiculed these smug self-loathers and misanthropes out of a job.

  54. Minister for Common Sense March 21, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    “Unfortunately we now have pumped-up pontificators masquerading as serious commentators whose sole purpose seems to be aggrandizement of their self-assessed relevance in what used to be seriously regarded as public debate.

    Denigration and ridicule of worthwhile people making sincere contributions to important topics has now become the focus of weak-minded elitist buffoons.”

    Well said Sir.

    The auther of this, “John Canberra” (see above)…. knows how to use the English langage. It is a delight to read as well as being right on the button.

    More please.

  55. Luke March 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Robert – my thought was about communicating the message. You can rail against the unfairness and bias of Media Watch until the cows come home. Won’t change much.

    It’s a contest of ideas. So how do you communicate the alternative ideas. So if you could do the alternative Two Men in Tinny doco would be of significant impact.

    Small issue of funding – ahem….

  56. Mark A March 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    right you are Luke, when you first mentioned this, the Two Men doco sprang to mind plus the funding of course.

    Even at the standard of Al Gore’s production, by using comp simulation and PowerPoint slides one still would have to have excess to old chart, documents and as much old memory recollection anecdotes from living people and old records as possible, and then collate it all.

    To make it scientifically sound, the Two men doco, in comparison, was a walk in the park the scenery carried the day. the inane commentary was almost a distraction.

    Not an easy task.

  57. Robert March 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    “You can rail against the unfairness and bias of Media Watch until the cows come home. Won’t change much.”

    Well, you know what Sinatra sang about the ant and the rubber-tree plant; and the ram butting the dam. Eventually…

    Anyway, posh leftism is the ABC’s hobby, my hobby is attacking it. I enjoy my hobby. Giving it to Big Smug is fun.

    Re a Marohasy doco: I know nothing of production, funding etc, but will be most interested in what you undertake in that area, Luke. I’m sure you won’t let your outstanding idea die on paper.

  58. val majkus March 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Warwick Hughes linked to Topher’s work some time back
    Here’s the link
    http://topher.com.au/videos.html
    I recall in one (and it may be the MDBA one) he dressed up as a scientist and stood fishing on a bank
    check out his work, I think he’s great – I know he’s working on a free speech one at the moment but he might be prepared to take on free the Murray mouth when that’s finished

  59. val majkus March 21, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    and check out his about page
    My name is Topher and I’ve been asked to write a little something about who I am and why I do what I do. So here goes.

    First the easy stuff: What I do.

    I make documentaries! So far my subject has been water, and in particular the POLITICS of water. Sounds boring doesn’t it? Well it is boring and many boring hours of reading boring reports and boring studies and boring political stuff go into each of my doco’s. But the good news is that I do my best to bypass all that boring stuff and get straight to the good juicy stuff in my doco’s. Ain’t I nice?

    http://topher.com.au/about.html

  60. John Sayers March 21, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Yes – Topher is good at what he does. He’d be perfect.

    Let’s all ask him, I have.

    http://topher.com.au/contact.html

  61. KeithH March 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    I have just read all the comments on the MW website and think I can confidently assert that on the matter of MW having totally lost sight of it’s charter and under the cunning but obvious smokescreen of allegedly taking a fellow ABC journalist to task (Anne Delaney), used their program to smear and try to discredit a reputable scientist, the science is settled and there is almost overwhelming consensus (approx. 97 percent of commenters) that Holmes and his crew have fatally demeaned themselves, their program and the ABC!

    In other words, a massive”own goal”. You little beauty! All power to you Jennifer.

  62. val majkus March 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    KeithH – how did the comments on the MW website assist you to reach that conclusion?

  63. jennifer March 21, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    My favourite documentary is still “Mine Your Own Business.”
    More info and the trailer is here http://www.mineyourownbusiness.org/ .

    The makers of that doco, Philem McAleer and Ann McEhinney, are still making docos but would need to be paid. There would need to be a fundraising effort.

    More info on them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phelim_McAleer

    I would love the opportunity to be involved in something like that/a documentary on the barrages and the need to restore the murray river’s estuary.

    p.s. i spent some time trying to convince Topher to do something on the barrages early last year, but without success. but maybe Luke will be more persuasive?

  64. val majkus March 21, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    and Jen what costs would you envisage the makers of your fav doco would need
    If we could find that out who would go about fundraising – would it be AEF

    I prefer Topher’s approach to your fav doco makers but quite frankly doesn’t matter who makes it so long as it’s professionally done and on point

    Could you get back to us about whether your fav doco makers would be interested or should we simply pounce on Max Rheese from AEF

    I’d certainly contribute and I suspect others amongst your fan base would as well

  65. Mark A March 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    Jennifer, in case someone will be interested in backing you for a documentary on the barrages I’m sure more of us would be willing to contribute.

    I have seen some really lousy docos about boring subjects, wonder how they get funded?
    Self maybe?

    OT
    Using an automatic word correcting software.

    Yesterday I installed an add on to Firefox that supposed to correct spelling and some grammatical errors automatically. Looks like a total fail so far. Or my spelling and grammar is beyond its power.

    have excess should be ACCESS to old charts

  66. val majkus March 21, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    MarkA – proof reading is easier

  67. Mark A March 21, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    true val, but!
    I’m only visiting four other blogs on a regular basis and I am used to having the preview and edit facility where I can look at the draft and if happy, submit. On a tech blog I contribute to, due to the nature of the subject, we are allowed to go back any time later and say “oops!” and correct the mistake pointed out.

    Still can’t have it all, happy Jennifer offers us a chance at all.

  68. jennifer March 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    Val,
    you would need a dedicated team/individual to fund raise with all the money going to the doco makers. i would not involve the AEF, they have no expertise in the area and are not good at fundraising. serious doco makers might be interested if you could raise A$100,000.

  69. val majkus March 22, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    the organisation of the Lord Monckton tours was I thought very well done but I can’t remember who did it; does anyone know? Oh found it, Case Smit and John Smeed – you can read more about them here http://www.galileomovement.com.au/who_we_are.php#A

    and a UK article about the 2010 tour

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/jan/13/climate-scepticism-talk-lord-monckton

    I would suggest the first course of action though would be to get some quotes from doco makers – does anyone have any other ideas

  70. SadSkeptic March 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Thank you. I used to walk the banks of the Great Lakes as child. I used to admire the amazing salt bush country with my father. The lakes are obviously, with the barrages removed, Great Salt Lakes, converted to fresh water reservoirs. I remember the few times when I was young when the Murry flowed to the sea. It was always a big event. This is a long time ago. And I remember my history taught at school, the reason for the establishment for the port at Victor Harbour – there was no reliable mouth of the Murry available for small river steam boats to cross.
    It is a shame when so called “science” ignores history, ignores the evidence obvious to youg child walking on the banks of the lakes, and ignores pure science articles for the sake of bad funding
    Why not set up a PayPal account to help fund you documentary.

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