Cardimona guest post. Dodgy reef science escape clause

Just when you thought the rent-seekers and trough-snouters couldn’t possibly get more deceptive and sneaky, this ugly bit of butt-covering emerges from the Queensland regulatory swamp.

In 2008 an amendment was inserted into the GBRMPA Act to give our persistent reef-wrongologists enough wriggle room to run an athletics carnival. Here’s the meeja release I sent out this morning.

Media release: Independent candidate for Hill slams 12yo Reef science escape clause

An independent candidate for the rural seat of Hill in October’s state election has harshly criticised a 2008 amendment to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act of 1975 that gives “wrongologists an escape clause for damage done to farmers by their questionable expertise and advice to government”.

Peter Campion of Tolga, a retired fireman, is a long-term climate change sceptic and energy realist who has been a regular contributor to the Cairns Post’s ‘Letters to the Editor’ column. Mr Campion is standing for Hill against the Katter Party’s Shane Knuth.

“The GPRMPA Act came about due to concerns for the Great Barrier Reef, which initially stemmed from early Reef tourism operators’ misunderstandings of natural reef systems and cycles – especially relating to the ‘gardeners of the Reef’, the Crown of Thorns starfish,” he said.

“The GBRMPA Act had been in operation for 33 years before Reef researchers felt the need to have an escape clause inserted,” he said. “To me, that suggests that by 2008 they had realised there was a fair chance they were wrong.”

The amendment that has drawn Mr Campion’s scorn is in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2008, which inserts a “precautionary principle” clause.

“The amendment describes the precautionary principle as ‘… the principle that lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing a measure to prevent degradation of the environment where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage.’”, Mr Campion said.

“On the basis of this blatantly ridiculous ‘precautionary principle’ all farms , industries, towns, sewage systems, and roads should be closed as they all represent a threat to the environment,” Mr Campion said. “A better precautionary principle would be the proper Popperian scientific method that automatically assumes all science is only correct until such time as it is proved that it is not – which happens far more often than you’d think.”

“It is just horrific to think that these scientists, who completely failed to produce their proof to the recent federal Senate inquiry into the Palaszczuk government’s anti-farmer reef regulations, suspected 12 years ago that their work might not be reliable. Why else would they lobby for an escape clause to give cover for their own malfeasance?” he said.

The scientists at the focus of Mr Campion’s anger, Ian Chubb, Geoff Garrett, and Ove Hoegh-Gulberg, took to the far-left website The Guardian to attack the Senate inquiry as a form of defence of their research. Notably this is the research that Professor Peter Ridd was sacked from JCU for suggesting might be unreliable.

Mr Campion noted, “In their own article they still had to admit that ‘little more than 3% of the coral’ may be negatively affected by water quality issues. That means 97 per cent of the Reef is unaffected, but they still want to impose draconian controls on our food producers. This is an outrage. These individuals, and their institutions, are unworthy of any further support from taxpayers and the Palaszczuk government’s anti-farmer Reef regulations must be repealed immediately.”


Peter Campion

Independent Candidate for Hill   Tolga

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9 Responses to Cardimona guest post. Dodgy reef science escape clause

  1. Entropy

    I suspect the precautionary principle was inserted there to justify what they were wanting to do without evidence more than give them an escape clause. I am pretty sure accountability was not on their minds.

  2. Leigh Lowe

    Your bottom (“Now”) flowchart needs to include a “harvesting grant funding” loop.

  3. pete m

    Also show how correlation must mean causation without any allowance for natural factors.

  4. jo

    Cardi, what we desperately need now is the Crown of Thorns to go through the political system.

  5. jupes

    Superb Cardi.

    Any chance of a paper publishing or writing an article based on it?

  6. Bruce of Newcastle

    Well on the science I see the Reef is just fine.
    It adapts well to temperature as Berkelmans’ group found a decade ago.

    How the reef became blue again (Australian, 2009, now paywalled)

    You can get a bit of the story from this except I posted some time ago.

    Dive boat operators have said the same thing. You think they might know a bit about it since their livelihood depends on the health of the reef.

  7. Entropy

    You can go on a snorkelling tour in Hawaii where they will tell you the GBR is dead unlike their lovely reef. Any aussies in that tour would goggle at the sheer chutzpah due to the fact that the worst parts of the GBR leave anything Hawaii has for dead.

    The point of the story though, is that for political advantage a bunch of Arseholes have trashed the reputation of our excellent reef.

  8. Fess

    I didn’t think there was any such thing in science as a “precautionary principle”, or am I wrong? Engineering deals with these sorts of issues as risk and associated trade-offs.

  9. RobK

    The precautionary principle is what you defer to when you don’t have any science or knowledge on a matter.
    Using it as a policy tool invariably leads to poor outcomes.

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