Tuesday, 21 April 2015

It took some time for Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki to understand that the 2015 Intergenerational Report was always a politically partisan document created by the Abbott Government

On 5 March 2015 Abbott Government released its 2015 Intergenerational Report

“Dr. Karl” begins to voice doubts about the report in The Canberra Times on 14 April 2015:

The man appearing on television screens across the country promoting the Abbott government's Intergenerational Report - science broadcaster Karl Kruszelnicki - has hardened his stance against the document, describing it as "flawed" and admitting to concerns that it was "fiddled with" by the government.
Dr Kruszelnicki, widely known as Dr Karl, has previously revealed that he had not read the full report before he agreed to front the taxpayer-funded campaign, which is expected to cost millions.
The Intergenerational Report - a snapshot of Australia's economy and society in 40 years - was criticised by Labor as a "highly political document" for, among other things, downgrading climate change from its own chapter in 2010 to three-and-a-half pages in 2015.
"As far as I can see, it's a flawed report," Dr Kruszelnicki told Fairfax Media.
He singled out the reduced focus on climate change in this year's report for criticism. "In no way am I endorsing the government's stance on climate change. I think it is incredibly short-sighted," he said. 
Dr Kruszelnicki - who has appeared in advertisements for the report running prominently on commercial television, news websites and social media - has also tweeted comments criticising the government for cutting funding to the CSIRO. The report emphasises the value of scientific research and innovation. 
Dr Kruszelnicki said: "The only reason I agreed to do it [promote the report] is because I was told that it would be independent, bipartisan and non-political.
"If it turns out to have been fiddled with or subject to political interference from one side of politics I would deeply regret playing any part in it whatsoever."
Dr Kruszelnicki said he agreed to front the campaign after reading extracts on the ageing of the population and the changing nature of work.
He said the independence of the document is now unclear.

Unfortunately at that stage he still appears to believe that the report was created by the Australian Treasury and public servants. Hence, the idea that it may have been “fiddled with” once it left their hands.

The Abbott Government did not have to fiddle with the report – the entire document was assembled at the direction of government ministers.

Thirteen days after the report’s release the Deputy Secretary, Fiscal Group, from the Dept. of Treasury made it clear to the Senate Select Committee Into The Abbott Government’s Budget Cuts that it was not a treasury document:

Mr Ray : The document is the government's document. We work with the government to prepare it. Generally, this is the government's document, not ours.

By 15 April Dr. Karl had become blunter in his assessment of the situation when quoted by ABC News:

Dr Kruszelnicki blames himself for trusting the Government. He turned to Aesop's Fables to explain himself.
"The scorpion says to the frog, 'can you take me across the flooded river?' And the frog says, 'No, you'll stab me and kill me.'," he said.
"And the scorpion says, 'No, I won't do that because I'll drown myself." And the frog says, 'Yes, you'll drown.' So the frog says, 'hop on my back', takes him half way across the river and then the scorpion stabs him.
"And the frog says, 'Hey, you stabbed me, I'm going to die! And so are you! Why'd you do that? Are you crazy?' And the scorpion said, 'I can't help it. It's my nature.'
"It was my fault for not realising the nature of the beast that I was involved with.
"I really thought that it would be an independent, bipartisan, non-political document."
However, Dr Kruszelnicki said he had not asked for the ad campaign to stop.

Finally that night, Dr. Karl must have realised that his participation in government advertising was an issue with the potential to damage his own reputation and, this was the result:

Unlike the good doctor, The Guardian had the measure of this intergenerational report early and on 9 March 2015 pointed out its glaringly obvious partisan nature:

Every intergenerational report is only as good as the assumptions on which the predictions are based – especially those pertaining to demographics. And while some of the predictions about the ageing population and the implications that will have on employment participation and economic growth are worth considering, the assumptions about government spending over the next 40 years are pretty much a farrago of idiocy.
For no good reason whatsoever, Hockey has decided for the first time to include in the report projection based on policies of the former government. But he takes as the ALP’s “previous policy” that represented in the 2013-14 mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (Myefo) – a document produced by the Abbott government and which saw the 2013-14 deficit increase by $10.26bn due to “policy decisions” taken by the Abbott government.
The 2013-14 Myefo was itself designed to make it appear the ALP had blown the budget, and thus using that as the starting point to predict budget deficits over the next 40 years is a fairly dodgy exercise.

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