Oz Blog News Commentary

Senator Back To The Future!

July 7, 2015 - 10:28 -- Admin

“Senator Back: In terms of the effects, I did ask the Chief Medical Officer of South Australia in Adelaide the other day whether or not stress or annoyance is an adverse medical condition. He said to me, ‘Senator Back, yes, it is.’ I said, ‘If in turn it leads to sleeplessness, to depression and to an inability to function, is that an adverse medical condition?’ He said, ‘Yes, it is.’ The other day in Melbourne, Dr David Iser gave us evidence of the fact that one of his patients in the room at the time was suffering from a condition. A person writing to me today talks of sleeplessness and severe pain in the ears.”

Senator Chris Back is one of the two Liberal sceptics on Climate Change. Or rather, one of  the Liberal sceptics who are actually saying so in public. So it’s strange that he’s so easily convinced by the word of the Chief Medical Officer on the negative effects from a wind farm when he’s so distrustful of climate scientists and so worried that we should take their word without strong examination of their data.

Interestingly, “stress or annoyance” is an “adverse medical condition”, so I’m lookng forward to the appointment of an Abbott Government Commissioner to look at the adverse effects on the Health of Australian citizens.

But as Senator Back tells us, he has a “scientific background” – he trained as vet and was involved in the great technological achievement of using satellities to track fires in remote locations – and this enables to see that the science of climate change is “weak”. As he puts it:

“When is the last time you heard the consensus of the world scientists is that the earth is roughly spherical?

“You get the appeal to consensus when the data and the evidence is weak and it’s an appeal to authority rather than examining the data and the evidence.”

Well, I’d suggest that you do get told that the general consensus of the world scientists agree on the shape of the world when you start arguing that it’s flat. Until then, most people just presume that everyone agrees with the scientific consensus.

Of course, political consensus is another matter. When Labor or The Greens disagree with your policy, it’s quite ok to attack them for just being “negative”.

So, of course, when Senator Back was talking about that “fad of the moment” same sex marriage he didn’t refer to consensus at all:

Is this relevant to us in Australia? I do not know. Canada is a country with which we often likened. We are both, if you like, recipients of the Westminster system of law. We are fairly similar in many ways. The point that she is making very, very strongly is that children do need protection and should be considered in the circumstances. She makes the point that parents can never replace the missing biological parent or parents.

Now, this was after he appealed to some other authority – Dawn Stefanowicz. You appeal to authority when your data is weak… now where have I heard that before? Still, Senator Back is a vet, so this gives him some insight into who’s worth listening to.

I heard some debate go on earlier in this session this afternoon about the child and the rights of the child. I made it my business to actually see if there was anything definitive written. In the few minutes left to me, I want to reference the comments of a Dawn Stefanowicz, who is an internationally recognised speech and author. She is a member of the Testimonial Committee of the International Children’s Rights Institute from Canada. She was presenting on 24 April. It the title of her commentary was ‘A warning from Canada: same-sex marriage erodes fundamental rights’. These not my words; these are her words.

And what was it that gave her words such importance? Such gravitas? Apart from being “an internationally recognised speech”!  (One day, I hope to be a speech too. And simply being internationally recognised makes one worth listening to. That’s why Hermione Granger was allowed to address the UN, before it was discovered that she was just an actor and didn’t actually have any magical powers, so world leaders would actually have to try and solve some of the world’s problems themselves.)

Well, Ms Sefanowicz was one of six adult children of gay parents who filed in the US Supreme Court asking for the marriage act to be kept the same. Six – gee that must be every single child of gay parents in the US. Although Dawn was from Canada, so I guess that only leaves a potential five who were actually US citizens.

Why? Because she felt embarrassed by her parents growing up and didn’t feel like going outside. Mm, if being embarrassed by your parents is to be a consideration in this, then it’s a strong argument against heterosexual marriage too. To be fair, she also faced ostracised and threats. Which is I suppose is an argument against letting anyone from a minority group marry.

But I get back to my three main points of confusion.

  1. Gay marriage wasn’t allowed in Canada when Dawn Stefanowicz was born. Changes to the marriage act wouldn’t do anything to change her experience, but they might mean that it was a little less unusual for the future children of gay parents. As Penny Wong told us, the horse has already bolted on this one.
  2. While Chris Back’s veterinary degree qualifies him to judge climate science because it gives him a scientific background, why does he think that appealing to consensus and authority makes your argument weak in respect to climate change, but is quite ok when talking about gay marriage.
  3. Barnaby Joyce. Mm, probably enough said.


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